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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, November 26, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 827 new cases, 19 deaths (media)
• EU warns Kosovo of consequences for not allowing Serbian President visit (Express)
• Hoti responds to Lajcak: We are for the freedom of movement (RTK)
• Ekaterina Trendafilova reappointed President of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (Express)
• The Albanian Parliament approves establishment of a special commission for Dick Marty’s report (Koha)
• Mustafa criticizes Minister Haradinaj-Stublla (RTK)
• Haxhiu: LVV does not support any candidate for President without elections (RTK)
• Lindon Kqira: I do not recognise Vjosa Osmani’s decision (RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

• 52 new Covid-19 cases and four deaths registered in Serbian communities (Radio Mitrovica Sever)
• Stano: EU works daily to facilitate Belgrade-Pristina agreement (Tanjug, Kosovo Online)
• Doctors in Gracanica Clinical Hospital Center warn of alarming state in the health care, the director claims everything is fine (VoA, KoSSev, KiM radio)
• US Ambassador in Pristina says Embassy supports agreement implementation (N1, RTS)
• Petkovic alerts international representatives of Haradinaj-Stublla’s behavior (KoSSev)
• Dacic: Stublla’s statement is the culmination of Pristina’s hypocrisy (Kosovo Online, Tanjug)
• Discovery of new graves reveals new crimes (KiM radio, TV Show ‘Sporazum’)
• New indictment on the assassination of Oliver Ivanovic returns everything to the beginning (RTV Puls, Vecernje Novosti)
• KLA General Staff: In the draft law, it governed the KLA; in The Hague – it only existed on paper (KoSSev)

Opinion:

• Under Biden, the US will push for a ‘EU-goslavia’ (opendemocracy.net)
• Stuck in the Russian Web (visegradinsight.eu)
• Two realities: Roma in the EU and Roma in the Western Balkans in the eyes of the EC (EWB)

International:

• Serbia Pledges to Exhume Suspected Kosovar Mass Grave Soon (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Learning a neighbor’s language in Kosovo: It’s easier when we know at least one word (RFE)
• Women of Southeast, Central Europe Protest Rise in Male Violence (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 827 new cases, 19 deaths (media)
  • EU warns Kosovo of consequences for not allowing Serbian President visit (Express)
  • Hoti responds to Lajcak: We are for the freedom of movement (RTK)
  • Ekaterina Trendafilova reappointed President of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (Express) 
  • The Albanian Parliament approves establishment of a special commission for Dick Marty’s report (Koha)
  • Mustafa criticizes Minister Haradinaj-Stublla (RTK)
  • Haxhiu: LVV does not support any candidate for President without elections (RTK)
  • Lindon Kqira: I do not recognise Vjosa Osmani’s decision (RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

  • 52 new Covid-19 cases and four deaths registered in Serbian communities (Radio Mitrovica Sever) 
  • Stano: EU works daily to facilitate Belgrade-Pristina agreement (Tanjug, Kosovo Online)
  • Doctors in Gracanica Clinical Hospital Center warn of alarming state in the health care, the director claims everything is fine (VoA, KoSSev, KiM radio)
  • US Ambassador in Pristina says Embassy supports agreement implementation (N1, RTS)
  • Petkovic alerts international representatives of Haradinaj-Stublla’s behavior (KoSSev)
  • Dacic: Stublla’s statement is the culmination of Pristina’s hypocrisy (Kosovo Online, Tanjug)
  • Discovery of new graves reveals new crimes (KiM radio, TV Show ‘Sporazum’)
  • New indictment on the assassination of Oliver Ivanovic returns everything to the beginning (RTV Puls, Vecernje Novosti)
  • KLA General Staff: In the draft law, it governed the KLA; in The Hague – it only existed on paper (KoSSev)

Opinion:

  • Under Biden, the US will push for a ‘EU-goslavia’ (opendemocracy.net)
  • Stuck in the Russian Web (visegradinsight.eu)
  • Two realities: Roma in the EU and Roma in the Western Balkans in the eyes of the EC (EWB)

International:

  • Serbia Pledges to Exhume Suspected Kosovar Mass Grave Soon (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Learning a neighbor’s language in Kosovo: It’s easier when we know at least one word (RFE)
  • Women of Southeast, Central Europe Protest Rise in Male Violence (Balkan Insight)

 

 

 

Albanian Language Media 

 

COVID-19: 827 new cases, 19 deaths (media)

827 new cases of COVID-19 and 19 deaths have been recorded in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. 574 persons have meanwhile recovered from the virus. 

The highest number of new cases is from the municipality of Prishtina (306). 

There are currently 14,361 active cases of coronavirus in Kosovo.

EU warns Kosovo of consequences for not allowing Serbian President visit (Express)

The EU special representative on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, wrote an official letter to Kosovo prime minister Avdullah Hoti protesting a decision of Kosovo authorities last week preventing Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic from entering Kosovo.

“As set out in the Freedom of Movement Agreement, individuals of each party are able to travel freely with the territory of the other. Specific rules apply for persons of each party holding public office, as set out in the Agreement for Official Visits. The Arrangements for Official Visits, and its amendment that forms an integral part of that Agreement ensure an orderly handling and execution of official visits. These arrangements, together with the Freedom of Movement agreement have proved very useful, and they constitute an achievement in the work between you and Belgrade, which should be preserved,” Lajcak writes in his letter published by Kosovo media. 

Lajcak reminds Kosovo PM Hoti that both agreements (Freedom of Movement and Visits), represent Dialogue commitments and must be respected by both Kosovo and Serbia. 

“Non-respect of these agreements sends a very negative signal about Kosovo’s credibility as part of the dialogue process. Additionally, such breaches undermine the efforts to normalize relations between the parties and escalate tensions on the ground; this in turn seriously impacts on the ongoing discussions on the future Comprehensive Agreement,” Lajcak wrote in his letter. 

Hoti responds to Lajcak: We are pro freedom of movement (RTK)

The Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti said he has received a letter from the EU Special Envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak.

He said they will respect the agreements for the freedom of movement and that all the open issues will be discussed in the dialogue process.

“We will certainly respect the agreements, we are pro freedom of movement, we are working on the dialogue processes in order to conclude all the open issues, however, sometimes they are very sensitive. I have received Lajcak’s letter and I will respond to it. Any request for a visit will be treated within the context of sensitivity that we are going through,” he said.

The EU Special Envoy has sent a letter to Hoti as a sign of protest for banning the visit of the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to Kosovo.

Ekaterina Trendafilova reappointed President of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (Express) 

Ekaterina Trendafilova will serve a second term as president of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC). Reappointment in this position was done by the Head of EULEX, Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark. 

The KSC in a statement Thursday said the Appointing Authority, Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, reappointed Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova as President of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) for a term of four years effective 15 December 2020, in accordance with Article 30(4) of the Law on Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office. President Trendafilova’s current term of office is set to expire on 14 December 2020.

“President Trendafilova expressed her appreciation for ‘the confidence that has been placed in [her] to continue to serve the KSC as it has embarked on a new and important phase with the commencement of judicial proceedings’. President Trendafilova stated that she is confident that the proceedings will be undertaken in a secure, independent, impartial, fair and efficient manner, in accordance with the KSC’s mandate,” the KSC said in a statement.

The Albanian Parliament approves establishment of a special commission for Dick Marty’s report (Koha)

With 83 votes in favor, 10 against and 10 abstentions, the Albanian Parliament has approved the establishment of a Special Commission for the report of Dick Marty, which implicates the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

This commission started with the initiative of the head of the Socialist Parliamentary Group Taulant Balla and will consider all the claims raised in the resolution of the Council of Europe, based on the report of Senator Dick Marty.

“The commission must draft a detailed summary and informative report on all these issues and present it to the Albanian Parliament within three months. The complete documentation available to the public institutions should be made available to the Commission, in accordance with the legislation in power, with the official and classified documentation. The commission must, at the end of the work, based on the object and the approved summary report, draft a draft resolution of the Albanian Parliament on the issues,” Balla said at the Albanian Parliament today.

Mustafa criticizes Minister Haradinaj-Stublla (RTK)

Isa Mustafa, leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) said that Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla has not coordinated with Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti on the appointment of general consuls.

Mustafa said he also understood about the appointment of Kadri Veseli’s former adviser as consul in Frankfurt, Germany, which he also said was done without Hoti’s approval.

“It is said that this is not the only case. I was informed by a diplomat that the same thing was done at the consulate in Frankfurt, which speaks of a lack of coordination between the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the government in decision-making. This practice needs to be eliminated and corrected. Accountability should not be missing either,” Mustafa said.

Prior to his resignation, former President Hashim Thaci had appointed Gazmend Krasniqi, consul general in Frankfurt. Krasniqi worked as chief of protocol in the cabinet of former Parliament Speaker Kadri Veseli (PDK), whose party is now in opposition.

The Office of the Presidency in a press release announced a review of the documentation to see if the legal procedures have been followed, but there is still no decision on this case.

Haxhiu: LVV does not support any candidate for President without elections (RTK)

Member of the Vetëvendosje Movement (LVV) leadership, Albulena Haxhiu,  said her political entity does not support any candidate for president. “There will be no consensus without going to the polls,” she said, wondering why other parties are in a hurry, because Kosovo has Vjosa Osmani as acting President.

“The issue of the president is being discussed extensively and unnecessarily. Kosovo already has an acting President. “Vetëvendosje does not support any candidate for president without holding general elections and without having a new leadership”, she said, among other things.

The news portal reports however that the campaign for the position of the President has already started, initially by the leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) Ramush Haradinaj.

“The president’s seat also attracted independent candidates. It was the former chairman of the Kosovo Judicial Council, Nehat Idrizi, who through a public letter presented his candidacy for the head of state,” reports RTK.

Haxhiu said that she is not aware that Nehat Idrizi’s candidacy letter reached the LVV. 

“As far as I know, this letter has not arrived. I cannot say for sure because I do not have information,” she said. “Regarding the candidacy of Mr. Nehat Idrizi, we know that he is one of the participants in the scandal with notaries, so he is not credible and appropriate for this position and as such LVV will not support him,” Haxhiu said.

The leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), Isa Mustafa has stated these days that talks for president between political parties in Kosovo will take place next week. 

Meanwhile, Sejdi Hoxha from the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), said yesterday that the position of President should belong to the PDK.

Lindon Kqira: I do not recognise Vjosa Osmani’s decision (RTK)

Lindon Kqira, who until yesterday was consul at the Embassy of Kosovo in Skopje, said that he would not recognize the decision of the acting president of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani to dismiss him. 

Through a statement to the media, Kqira said that Osman’s decision is arbitrary and political.

“I do not recognise the arbitrary and political decision of Acting President Osmani! 

With complete awareness and responsibility, I declare that I do not recognise and do not take into consideration the decision for my dismissal, from the position of Consul-Minister Counselor, at the Embassy of the Republic of Kosovo in Skopje, by Mrs. Vjosa Osmani, Speaker of the Assembly of Kosovo and acting President of the Republic of Kosovo. 

This decision is first of all biased, arbitrary, political and divisive, and above all it is unconstitutional and unprecedented in Kosovo’s diplomacy,” Kqira wrote.

 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

52 new Covid-19 cases and four deaths registered in Serbian communities (Radio Mitrovica Sever) 

The North Mitrovica Crisis Staff announce today that 52 new cases of Covid-19 were registered and that four people died, reported Radio Mitrovica Sever. 

Two people from North Mitrovica died, one from Zubin Potok and one from Kosovska Kamenica. 

Out of 181 processed samples, positive cases were recorded in the municipalities: North Mitrovica (16), Leposavic (14), Zvecan (8), Zubin Potok (8), Gracanica (5), Strpce (1).

21 people recovered – nine from North Mitrovica, two from Zvecan, four from Leposavic and 6 from Zubin Potok.

58 people were hospitalized in the North Mitrovica Hospital, and one patient in the Nis Hospital.  

The measure of home isolation was determined for 766 people.

Stano: EU works daily to facilitate Belgrade-Pristina agreement (Tanjug, Kosovo Online)

The European Union is working every day to facilitate an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina, and that process is underway, even if it is not visible to the public, says the spokesman of the head of EU diplomacy, Peter Stano, reports Belgrade based news agency Tanjug.

“The dialogue continues even now. EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak is working every day on things that serve the progress of this process. This work is being done not only with Belgrade and Pristina but also with member states and other international partners, in order to reach understanding and agreement between the two sides,” says Stano.

He answered the question whether the break in the talks between the representatives of Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels means that the dialogue is stuck again, and he explains that the dialogue “is not just meetings of chief negotiators, expert delegations and leaders”.

“Meetings will be organized in Brussels when the conditions are created, including those related to measures against the pandemic. We are now limited and crowned with measures that limit physical meetings and the possibility of travel,” Stano states.

When asked by Tanjug whether Pristina is committed and determined to continue the talks, as is the case in Belgrade, Peter Stano answered that it is up to Pristina officials to answer, and that the EU is there to create conditions for holding talks. 

At the same time, he notes that there is a huge expectation in the EU from the new administration in the United States, when it comes to progress in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.

“We expect more dialogue, coordination and cooperation on many issues from the new administration in the United States,” Stano emphasizes.

Asked whether cooperation between Brussels and Washington is expected on the implementation of the Washington Agreement, including the issue of moving the embassy to Jerusalem, the EU spokesman assessed that the implementation of the agreement is a bilateral issue between Serbia and Washington.

“These are bilateral agreements, and it is up to Serbia and Kosovo to see how they will resolve it in relations with the United States. What we are saying is that both Serbia and Kosovo must be aware that they are in the process of joining the EU and for that they must meet European criteria and do nothing that is contrary to that,” Stano said.

He reiterates that Serbia is expected to gradually and progressively harmonize with the EU’s foreign policy, and that without that there will be no entry into the EU, reported portal Kosovo Online, quoting Tanjug.

Doctors in Gracanica Clinical Hospital Center warn of alarming state in the health care, the director claims everything is fine (VoA, KoSSev, KiM radio)

Doctors of the Clinical Hospital Center Pristina (KBC) based in Gracanica, Ratko Perenic and Dragan Peric, claim that the situation in health care on the territory of the Municipality of Gracanica is alarming and that they will be without staff in a year or two. On the other hand, the director of KBC Bratislav Lazic says that everything is in the best order, but he still admits that some equipment is missing, reported portal KoSSev, quoting the report of VoA in Serbian language. 

Our health care is deteriorating, we will not have enough staff in a year or two, said Ratko Perenic, a member of the Municipal Assembly of Gracanica from the Serbian List, who is also a doctor at the KBC Pristina based in Gracanica.

“Let’s take one of your patients for ‘surgery’ now, to see if he will be able to be given adequate surgical intervention. Now, right now. People, I’m telling you, I have already said once – the health care, since we brought it here from Pristina, has remained at that level. We don’t have a CT machine. Peric begs for one CT. You can’t convince me it can’t be obtained. Our people are leaving from here, so sick, they go and pay for all that private,” Perenic said at the session of the Gracanica Municipal Assembly.

Perenic, who also spoke at the previous sessions about the problems in health care in the municipality of Gracanica, pointed out that he was aware that he would bear the consequences and pressures because of what he said. Perenic was supported by his colleague, doctor and councilor Dragan Peric, who said that only the facts were presented.

“Really, every day is getting harder and harder for us, the state should invest in our health care. We only have some verbal support, we don’t have real support, and not to say we are constantly changing directors,” said Dragan Peric, a member of the Serbian List and a doctor at the KBC in Gracanica.

On the other hand, the director of the KBC in Gracanica Bratislav Lazic claims that this institution functions without any problems.

“People have no reason to worry, we are functioning stably, we have everything we need, and I am sure that thanks to the Republic of Serbia and all bodies of the Republic of Serbia that care about us, it will continue in continuity,” said the director of KBC in Gracanica Bratislav Lazic.

When asked by journalists how he evaluates the claims of his colleagues Perenic and Peric, who are also councilors in the Municipal Assembly of Gracanica, that the health care in Gracanica is “failing”, Lazic answered:

“We need to address each other in an argumentative way and come to the real truth through a conflict of arguments. I do not accept such statements,” said Lazic.

When the journalists stated that, for example, Perenic and Peric said that KBC did not have a CT machine, Lazic, who said only a minute before that they had everything they needed, admitted that they did not have a CT machine.

“We do not have a CT machine, but we have it in Kosovska Mitrovica, so whenever there is a need for additional diagnostics, we can perform that procedure very successfully, and we are performing it very successfully and we have a quality diagnostic procedure as it should be,” he said. 

Yesterday was one of the rare occasions when journalists could ask questions to the director of the KBC Bratislav Lazic, because the assistant director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Svetlana Miladinov, visited Gracanica and handed over an X-ray machine to the KBC Pristina based in Gracanica that was provided by the Health Insurance Fund of the Republic of Serbia in cooperation with the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, wrote the portal.

US Ambassador in Pristina says Embassy supports agreement implementation (N1, RTS)

The US Ambassador in Pristina Philip Kosnett expressed support for the implementation of the Washington Agreement by both Kosovo and Serbia.

He told an online AmCham Kosovo meeting that his embassy and its partners support the fast implementation of the agreement signed by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti at the White House. He said that the economy and its benefits to the population should not be ignored because that makes progress more difficult, the Serbian state TV reported.  

The ambassador said that the American embassy in Pristina and its partners in Washington are providing support to Kosovo and Serbia in implementing the agreement because improving the lives of ordinary citizens is crucially important to the regional economy. He added that the regional economy is one of the reasons why the agreement focuses on upgrading infrastructure which makes the cross-border movement of people and goods easier.  

According to Kosnett, Kosovo is in the center of the Balkans and its neighbors need Kosovo as much as Kosovo needs its neighbors to build a regional economy and infrastructure. He said that Kosovo has to get past its reservations towards the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) and the mini-Schengen initiative and start working with its regional partners.    

See at:https://bit.ly/2V6R8vn

Petkovic alerts international representatives of Haradinaj-Stublla’s behavior (KoSSev)

Kosovo Minister of Foreign Affairs, Meliza Haradinaj is ”contributing to the destabilization” of the situation in the region; ”her unruly behavior” can no longer be tolerated – the head of the Kosovo Office, Petar Petkovic criticized the Kosovo FM today.

Petkovic’s reaction quickly followed Haradinaj’s claim to ban Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic from arriving in Kosovo until he ”apologizes and until those responsible for the genocide are prosecuted before an international court”.

”Her statement that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will not be allowed to come to Kosovo until further notice is a manifestation of political violence and an unequivocal violation of the Belgrade-Pristina agreement which regulates visits of officials and freedom of movement, as well as all rules of civilized behavior,” Petkovic said in a statement.

The President of Serbia confirmed last night the Kosovo media reports on his request to visit Kosovo after the Kosovo Minister of Foreign Affairs had previously intended to visit nearby Raska where another mass grave had been located last week. Vucic said, however, that Haradinaj-Stublla wanted to create a ”political show”.

Haradinaj Stublla reminded Vucic that the place he visited recently, showcasing construction work on a hospital are on the same site of a mass grave with 744 bodies of Kosovo Albanians, including her uncle.

”You are not allowed to visit Kosovo until you apologize for the genocide committed against our people and until international justice prosecutes those responsible for that genocide, ” she tweeted.

Petkovic’s public alert includes his criticism towards Stublla’s comment directed at the late Serb Patriarch Irinej.

”I remind you that Meliza Haradinaj made indecent and inappropriate comments during the three-day mourning for the late Patriarch Irinej. We did not react out of respect for the grief and pain of our people, but her unruly behavior can no longer be tolerated,” Petkovic said.

Pertkovic assessed as impossible to work on the normalization of Serbian-Albanian relations in an atmosphere in which ”hatred and hostility towards Serbs and Belgrade are the dominant political ideology” in Pristina.

The head of the Kosovo Office also sent a message to other Kosovo representatives, saying that they must ”realize” that this is not the year 2000 or 2008. He also urged them to replace their ”retrograde public appearances and the practice of constant obstruction of the normalization process with a modern and constructive policy that will benefit the entire region”.

In contrast to such remarks, he further claimed that Aleksandar Vucic is the main initiator and promoter of the process of reconciliation and normalization of relations in the region.

Also, Petkovic pointed out that he informed the relevant international authorities about the ”latest outburst” of Haradinaj-Stublla.

Last week, Haradinaj-Stublla accused official Belgrade of covering up crimes committed in Kosovo and concealing the locations of the graves of killed civilians. This statement quickly followed the confirmation from the Serbian side that a mass grave had been found in a quarry near Raska.

Such harsh political back-and-forth statements indeed arrive amidst the ongoing process of exhumation of human remains from this location.

Also, as Serbian and Kosovan sources from both working groups have confirmed, preparations are being made to investigate possible mass graves in Kosovo.

One of the points of the agreement recently signed in Washington, as well as the new phase of negotiations in Brussels, launched this summer, includes the issue of resolving the fate of missing persons. As Miroslav Lajcak, the EU special envoy for the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, confirmed during his latest official visit to Pristina, the chapter of the future ”comprehensive agreement on the normalization of relations” on the missing has already been concluded.

See at:https://bit.ly/3lgKzkR

Dacic: Stublla’s statement is the culmination of Pristina’s hypocrisy (Kosovo Online, Tanjug)

“Statements of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo that the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, will be banned from entering Kosovo until he “apologizes for the genocide”, are the culmination of Pristina’s rudeness and hypocrisy,” said the Speaker of the National Assembly of Serbia Ivica Dacic last night, reported portal Kosovo Online.  

“This is not just a violation of the agreements and the Brussels Agreement, but also the Washington agreement, according to which Pristina undertook to enter the “mini Schengen”, which implies the free movement of people, goods and capital,” Dacic said in a press statement. 

“It is obvious that Pristina”, he added, “with the departure of Donald Trump, renounces the Washington agreement, or rather the obligations that arise from it”. 

“Serbia stands behind its obligations agreed in Brussels and Washington, but if Pristina does not want that, then Serbia will think carefully about our commitments. The Washington agreement is either valid or not for either side. If the President of Serbia is prohibited from entering Kosovo, what kind of reconciliation then we are talking about?! Especially at a time when the whole world is witnessing KLA crimes against Serbs,” he stressed.

Discovery of new graves reveals new crimes (KiM radio, TV Show ‘Sporazum’)

Although more than 20 years have passed since the end of the armed conflict in Kosovo, neither Pristina nor Belgrade have enough political will to resolve the issue of missing persons, because neither side is ready to make a concession, said the director of New Social Initiative Jovana Radosavljevic in the show ‘Sporazum’ (Agreement), reported KiM radio. 

“In a situation where we have two public discourses, Kosovo and Serbia, politicians on both sides spread misinformation about the ethnicity of the victims and ignore or neglect victims from other ethnic groups. It often happens that the victims of others are appropriated, which is offensive to the victims themselves and their families,” said Radosavljevic, who until recently was a member of the Preparatory Team for the formation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Kosovo.

The director of the Humanitarian Law Center of Kosovo Bekim Blakaj says that both sides manipulate with the numbers and ethnicity of the missing, but emphasizes that the working groups of Pristina and Belgrade have accurate and confirmed lists with the names and surnames of the missing, so their nationality can be determined.

“In Kosovo, there is constant talk about mass graves in Serbia and the responsibility of the Serbian side in discovering graves and the need for Belgrade to open archives and publish information. Almost no one from the political life in Kosovo mentions missing non-Albanians, especially Serbs, whose number is very high. Of course, no one can expect their bodies to be buried in some secret locations in Serbia. The bodies of the missing Serbs must be somewhere in Kosovo and someone must have information about that,” claims Blakaj.

Ivan Djuric, the program director of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Belgrade, says that the civil sector can make a certain contribution in resolving the issue of the missing, although the primer responsibility is on the institutions.

“There is not enough political will, but also not enough courage for someone from state positions to start that process. When we talk about the fate of the missing, we often talk about things that provoke empathy in people, and it seems simple to “politically swallow” and determine the fate of people, where they are and how they ended up and for families to find some peace. But the moment a mass grave is discovered, as it is now in Serbia, then another committed crime is revealed, and then later the crime of covering up that crime. In any normal country, that would mean determining the responsibility of those who committed those crimes,” says Djuric. 

The results of the survey from the show’s Facebook page were also published.  When asked “do they believe in the work of the Specialized Councils of Kosovo”, 69 percent of the respondents answered affirmatively and 31 percent negative, reported KiM radio.

New indictment on the assassination of Oliver Ivanovic returns everything to the beginning (RTV Puls, Vecernje Novosti)

According to the original indictment for the assassination of Oliver Ivanovic, his secretary and close associate Silvana Arsovic was a member of a criminal group, now she is suspected of being a direct participant in the murder without any evidence, said Ksenija Bozovic, from the CI SDP, commenting a new, third indictment filed by the Kosovo Special Prosecutor’s Office by order of the Court of Appeals in the case of a brutal crime in northern Mitrovica, reported RTV Puls, quoting daily Vecernje Novosti.

Apart from the statement that the lives of the suspects, who are charged without any concrete evidence, are not being considered at all, Bozovic reiterates her belief that the Kosovo judiciary cannot be expected to shed light on Ivanovic’s murder.

“At the next hearing on December 4, the trial will return to the beginning. After three years of some kind of court procedure, we come to the beginning where the suspects will plead again. That is why we are wondering what happened with the previous proceedings.” 

And Jovana Filipovic, Silvana Arsovic’s defense attorney, also points out the numerous illogicalities of the new indictment, citing the abolition of Article 33, which refers to assistance in committing a crime, which was replaced by Article 89, which “says” that the suspects committed the crime of aggravated murder.

“This primarily refers to Nedeljko Spasojevic, Marko Rosic, Rade Basara and Silvana Arsovic, who were previously” treated “as helpers, while now they are charged with being, although there is no evidence, direct perpetrators of the crime,” states Filipovic.

She adds that the next illogicality is that they are charged with committing the criminal offense of abuse of official position, even though they are not persons who were in a certain official position.

KLA General Staff: In the draft law, it governed the KLA; in The Hague – it only existed on paper (KoSSev)

One of the former KLA leaders and the former Kosovo President, Hashim Thaci claimed in one of his testimonies before the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague that the KLA General Staff only existed on paper. Thaci also denied that staff members had control over other formation members. On the other hand, the strongly disputed draft law on the Protection of the Values of the “KLA“ struggle claims otherwise, wrote portal KoSSev.

“Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) – military formation armed and organized on voluntary basis with uniforms and distinctive signs, organization units and the chain of command headed by the Headquarters, under the civil control of political leadership, with a clear mission for protection of the population of Kosovo and liberation of the country from the armed and police forces as well as occupying administration of Serbia settled in Kosovo” – reads Article 3, paragraph 1.2 of the current version of the draft of this law.

Seeing as the four members of the KLA General Staff, Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi, and Jakup Krasniqi were charged by the Kosovo Specialist Chambers with participating in a joint criminal enterprise, the first arguments of the defense counsel, namely the defense attorney of one of the sponsors of this draft law – Kadri Veseli, Ben Emerson, read that a JCE could not have been formed because “the KLA was minimally organized“ and “the chain of command and communication within the KLA was poorly organized and fragmented.“

On the other hand, the testimonies of Hashim Thaci regarding the role of the KLA General Staff, according to one of the prosecution documents, appear to be even more drastic:

“There was no KLA secret service, nor have the KLA headquarters or the interim government ever functioned. They only existed on paper,“ Thaci told the Special Prosecutor in July this year.

See more at: https://bit.ly/2KEHcY5

 

 

Opinion

 

Under Biden, the US will push for a ‘EU-goslavia’ (opendemocracy.net)

By Timothy Less

Biden must work within the parameters of this new reality – not the one that existed in the 1990s when Biden formed his views about the Balkans. But has the strategic logic changed?

What matters in international politics is not what a leader wants to do but what that leader must do to uphold their country’s core national interests. Understanding this is key to understanding the impact of Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election on American policy towards the Balkans.

There can be little doubt that the incoming Biden Administration would like to cancel the last four years of American policy, characterised by a rapprochement with Serbia and a bullying of the Kosovo Albanians, a flexible attitude to borders and an apparent disregard for the reputations of US diplomats who crafted the current settlement in the region. Biden’s recent assertion that Serbia must recognise Kosovo within its existing borders, his courting of Albanian and Bosnian voters in the US and his recent recalling of the 1995 Bosnian Serb massacre in Srebrenica – as well as his liking for multilateral government and desire to restore values to American foreign policy – all point to a revival of the pre-Donald Trump approach.

As the region continues to stagnate, some nostalgists are already anticipating a more muscular American policy, involving a pushback against the Serbs and their dreams of a new territorial settlement, a drive to strengthen democracy and the rule of law and a renewed attempt at Euro-Atlantic integration. However, such thinking ignores the new strategic reality in the region. For various reasons, the process of European integration has broken down: the United Kingdom, formerly the EU’s main proponent of enlargement, has left the EU; France and other western European countries, which now call the shots, are reluctant to enlarge the EU into the Balkans; and the region itself has struggled to meet the EU’s onerous conditions for entry while simultaneously trying to resolve primary questions about statehood, identity and territory.

Meanwhile, Serbia has restored its position as the foremost state in the Balkans following the emergence of a strong leader who ended the chaos of the 2000s, and a period of structural reform which has harnessed Serbia’s inherent advantages as the region’s largest economy and natural centre of gravity. Serbia has also engaged in some shrewd diplomatic manoeuvering that has allowed it to leverage the support of various non-western powers which want a presence in the Balkans – Russia to buffer itself against western expansionism, China for economic reasons and Turkey as part of its bid for great power status.

That has strengthened Serbia’s position in relation to the US, since Belgrade can simultaneously determine how influential these powers are in the Balkans and lean on their influence to push for an advantageous resolution of the Kosovo question. If President Biden wants to stay true to the long-standing American goal of establishing some kind of durable settlement in the Balkans that allows its internal development and external integration with the West – and thereby ceases to be a problem the US has to solve – he must work within the parameters of this new reality – not the one that existed four years ago and even less the reality that existed in the 1990s when Biden formed his views about the Balkans

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Stuck in the Russian Web (visegradinsight.eu)

Does the Kremlin Hold the Key for Serbia’s Access to Europe?

The Kremlin’s idea of Russian-Serbian solidarity is that Belgrade will not do anything that Moscow does not approve of. Russia is not interested in a definitive solution to the Serbian-Kosovo issue, as it fears that as a result it would lose its position in the Balkans as the dominant force most suited to resolving conflict situations. Hence, Russia is actively trying to impede Serbia’s growing relationship with Western Europe every step of the way.

Political developments in former Yugoslavia have gained considerable momentum in 2020, intensifying in recent months, particularly within both a Balkan and European context.

Montenegro is currently in the process of forming a new pro-European government after parliamentary elections in August. The new government will be formed by representatives from the opposition parties, bringing an end to incumbent President Milo Djukanovič’s government and his party’s 30-year rule.

After finally resolving a long-standing issue surrounding its name, Northern Macedonia became the 30th member of NATO in March 2020. At the same time, the EU approved the beginning of accession negotiations regarding the possibility of full membership in the Union.

This approval provides Northern Macedonia with the opportunity to start preparations for the gradual opening of individual accession chapters.

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Two realities: Roma in the EU and Roma in the Western Balkans in the eyes of the EC (EWB)

The European Commission (EC) recently presented communications on two important policies which are both of relevance for the countries of the Western Balkans: the 2020 Enlargement Package and the new EU Roma Strategic Framework for Equality, Inclusion and Participation.

The new EU Roma Strategic Framework for Equality, Inclusion and Participation calls upon the Member States to recognise the impact of antigypsyism (racism towards Roma) as the root cause of discrimination against and exclusion of Roma, and to step up the fight against it. The EC proposes a two-pronged approach when combatting antigypsyism: on the one hand, a stand-alone approach to the issue, and on the other, a cross-cutting approach in the priority sectors of education, employment, housing and health. The EC also emphasises that the new EU Roma Framework shall also apply to the countries in the accession process.

The Commission admits that “many of the continent’s estimated 10-12 million Roma continue to face discrimination, antigypsyism and socioeconomic exclusion in their daily lives” and declares that the “fight against discrimination and antigypsyism should be a key objective and cross cutting priority in each policy area, complementing the inclusion approach”.

“These are important developments, but when it comes to the situation in the Western Balkan countries, more efforts are apparently necessary to achieve this understanding.”

While Roma in the European Union face widespread antigypsyism and, consequently, discrimination and social exclusion, the European Commission’s progress reports for the Western Balkan countries hardly refer to antigypsyism or discrimination against Roma, despite referring to the status of Roma on several occasions. These progress reports seem to be caught in the tradition of previous ones, ignoring the impact of antigypsyism and discrimination on the actual situation in which Roma persons find themselves.

Although the manifestations of antigypsyism may differ from country to country, it exists all over Europe, including in the countries of the Western Balkans. Hate speech and hate crimes are its most visible manifestations. Further expressions include discrimination in the labour market, in schools and housing, and the overall negative attitudes towards Roma demonstrated in the results of the Balkan Barometer. But even the very limited implementation of Roma inclusion policies in the last two decades could be considered a manifestation of antigypsyism.

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International

 

Serbia Pledges to Exhume Suspected Kosovar Mass Grave Soon (Balkan Insight)

An expert commission formed by a court in Serbia is to determine the exact starting date for the exhumation of a suspected mass grave in southern Serbia – which is likely to begin work shortly.

Exhumation of human remains – thought to be Kosovo Albanian victims of the Kosovo independence war – found at Kizevak, in Raska, in southern Serbia – should start next week, when the whole terrain is prepared for work, officials say.

A judge of the Higher Court in Belgrade’s War Crimes department formed a court expert commission on Wednesday; the exact date of the digging has yet to be decided.

“The start of works will be determined following expertise on the geological situation in the field, which will be determined by the commission and forensic archaeologist Andrej Starovic,” the court told BIRN. It added that the information should be submitted no later than Friday.

The head of the Serbian Commission for Missing Persons, Veljko Odalovic, told BIRN that preparatory works were ongoing and that exhumation “in full capacity will start from Monday”.

The work would begin “when the expert team is completed [and] the location must be equipped first, with tents, electricity, water and so on,” Odalovic explained.

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Humanitarian/Development

 

Learning a neighbor’s language in Kosovo: It’s easier when we know at least one word (RFE)

Ivana Pavlovic from Leposavic, one of four Serb-majority municipalities in northern Kosovo, decided to learn Albanian when she moved to Pristina two years ago, where she got a job. 

“It was stupid of me not to know anything in Albanian, considering that it is the language of the majority people living in Pristina. Plus, I found friends and I want to know their language,” Ivana told Radio Free Europe (RFE). 

She learned the basics of the Albanian language through courses organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) according to the Vocup methodology. 

By the way, Vocup is an internet platform for learning Albanian and Serbian, dedicated primarily to young people, in order to master the basic skills of conversation between the two official languages in Kosovo. 

Ivana thinks that knowing the Albanian language is very useful “because the locals have a different approach when you speak their language”. 

Nine hundred applications 

For the next Albanian and Serbian language course, which should start in a month, 900 people have applied with the desire to learn one of these two languages. Due to the pandemic, it will be held online. 

Nazmi Elezaj enrolled in a Serbian language course in order to improve it to the maximum. 

“People go to conferences, symposia and seminars across the region, such as in Belgrade, Podgorica or Sarajevo. When they know (Serbian), they can talk to others,” points out Nazmi, who is a lawyer by profession. 

Bosniak Melida Bacvac from Novi Pazar, who lives in Pristina, also decided to study Albanian. She realized that she could not function without a basic knowledge of the Albanian language, so she applied for the course. 

“I hang out with Albanians; I don’t know what they are talking about. I really needed to learn the Albanian language and I saw an advertisement for Vocup, and it was great, I also learned grammar,” says Melida for RFE. 

The basis of new friendships 

Shenaj Belegu teaches Serbian, and Redzo Kojic teaches Albanian and vice versa. 

Belegu told RFE that young people are very interested in learning Serbian or Albanian, and notes that they are very active during classes. There will be 20 to 30 participants in one group. 

“In the end, we have a few extra classes when participants from the Albanian and Serbian language courses get to know each other, spend some time together and talk in the language of others”, Belegu said. 

She is very proud of the course participants and calls them her “heroes” who, in addition to learning the language, get to know each other and their culture, but also make new friendships. 

For three years now, Redzo Kojic has been teaching Albanian and Serbian to the participants of the course organized by IOM according to the Vocup program. Lately, he says, he has been teaching Serbian mainly due to his great interest. 

“It is important that they learn to introduce themselves, to learn letters, numbers. I must mention that we focus on preparing people to be able to have some conversation after the course. The plan is to enable people to talk to each other,” he says. 

Kojic believes that it is very important to speak both official languages, Kosovo and Serbian, in Kosovo. 

“What is the obligation of us lecturers is to create bridges and cooperation between communities. Many of my students had good relations after the lecture, we had the opportunity to share experiences.” 

The courses are free and the Vocup platform is available to everyone who wants to learn Serbian or Albanian. 

What is the Vocup platform? 

The Vocup platform for learning Serbian and Albanian was designed about two years ago by the NGO Center for Social Initiatives. For that, the NGO received the support of the British Embassy in Kosovo, the IOM, the Office of the Language Commissioner, which functions within the Office of the Prime Minister of Kosovo, and the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). 

The Vocup platform contains video lessons, textual explanations, exercises and a dictionary of new expressions. It is available anywhere and at any time through the website and Android and iOS applications. 

Women of Southeast, Central Europe Protest Rise in Male Violence (Balkan Insight)

On the international day calling attention to violence against women, both police data and unofficial reports from Central and Southeast Europe highlight that this deep-rooted problem is not going away.

As women’s rights activists marked International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25, official figures show that violence against women in Southeast and Central Europe remains a serious problem that governments are not dealing with.

According to police and unofficial data, hundreds of women were killed in the region by men in 2020, while an important number of complaints to police that year were made by women about violence they had endured from partners, fathers and even sons.

See more at: https://bit.ly/2V7lFJH

 

 

 

 

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