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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, January 14, 2021

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, January 14, 2021

Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 279 new cases, four deaths (media)
• Vetevendosje and Osmani’s list to run under joint ticket (media)
• Hoti: Kosovo entered dialogue with Serbia on clear principles (media)
• ECAP rejects VV’s complaint over verification of Diaspora voters (media)
• CEC warns of an unauthorised online application form (media)
• Votes from Serbia to arrive through transit post (RFE)
• Former Kosovo Police director, Rashit Qalaj, joins PDK (media)
• AAK to present candidates for MPs on Friday (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Eight newly infected persons, two deaths in Serb areas in Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio)
• Vucic: Reeker and Lajcak very important, but to change the Washington agreement someone must ask Serbia too (KoSSev)
• Dacic: Kosovo is also mine, as it is Thaci’s and Kurti’s (Kosovo-online)
• Petkovic banned from entering Kosovo to deliver aid (N1)
• Serbian List: EU to react to violation of agreement on freedom of movement (KiM radio)
• EC: EU’s position on Kosovo status is known and unchanged (RTS, Tanjug)
• On eve of 3rd anniversary of Oliver Ivanovic’s murder, Serbian weekly publishes book (KoSSev)
• The Tanjug team after seven hours of waiting allowed to enter Kosovo (Tanjug, Radio Mitrovica sever)
• Serbian power company buys shares in Montenegrin counterpart (N1)

International:

• Erdogan’s great game: Turkish intrigue in the Balkans (Financial Times)
• Kosovo State Radio Accused of Censorship and Discrimination (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Denmark Allocates €6 Million to Western Balkans Countries to Help Them With Border Controls & Repatriation of Migrants (schengenvisainfo.com)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 279 new cases, four deaths (media)
  • Vetevendosje and Osmani’s list to run under joint ticket (media)
  • Hoti: Kosovo entered dialogue with Serbia on clear principles (media)
  • ECAP rejects VV’s complaint over verification of Diaspora voters (media)
  • CEC warns of an unauthorised online application form (media)
  • Votes from Serbia to arrive through transit post (RFE)
  • Former Kosovo Police director, Rashit Qalaj, joins PDK (media)
  • AAK to present candidates for MPs on Friday (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Eight newly infected persons, two deaths in Serb areas in Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio)
  • Vucic: Reeker and Lajcak very important, but to change the Washington agreement someone must ask Serbia too (KoSSev)
  • Dacic: Kosovo is also mine, as it is Thaci’s and Kurti’s (Kosovo-online)
  • Petkovic banned from entering Kosovo to deliver aid (N1)
  • Serbian List: EU to react to violation of agreement on freedom of movement (KiM radio)
  • EC: EU’s position on Kosovo status is known and unchanged (RTS, Tanjug)
  • On eve of 3rd anniversary of Oliver Ivanovic’s murder, Serbian weekly publishes book (KoSSev)
  • The Tanjug team after seven hours of waiting allowed to enter Kosovo (Tanjug, Radio Mitrovica sever)
  • Serbian power company buys shares in Montenegrin counterpart (N1)

International:

  • Erdogan’s great game: Turkish intrigue in the Balkans (Financial Times)
  • Kosovo State Radio Accused of Censorship and Discrimination (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Denmark Allocates €6 Million to Western Balkans Countries to Help Them With Border Controls & Repatriation of Migrants (schengenvisainfo.com)

 

 

Albanian Language Media 

 

COVID-19: 279 new cases, four deaths (media)

279 new cases of COVID-19 and four deaths have been recorded in Kosovo over the last 24 hours.

Meanwhile, 441 recoveries have been reported over the same time period.

According to Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health figures, there are currently 5,401 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

Vetevendosje and Osmani’s list to run under joint ticket (media)

Leader of the Vetevendosje Movement (VV) Albin Kurti and acting President of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani signed an agreement to run under one ticket in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Osmani’s initiative will be joining that of Vetevendosje whereas Kurti will be candidate for the new prime minister and Osmani for president of Kosovo. 

“Today when we are a month away from elections, we are happy to announce that we will run together under one ticket. You can find Osmani and me at the same place, with the same goal,” Kurti said today at a joint press conference with Osmani.

He said the February 14 elections will be a referendum. “Different obstacles will certainly come on our way but they will never stop us, be it of the legal interpretation or political aspect. There are no obstacles that can stop us anymore. It is true there is a fierce battle in Kosovo among old parties. This battle is for the second place in the February 14 elections,” he added. 

Kurti said 2020 showed Kosovo needs a new prime minister as well as a new president. “We have a great deal of work ahead but also a great victory. We will serve with humility for the freedom and equality of citizens and the success of the country.”

Osmani at the same time said the agreement signed with Vetevendosje embodies the will of the citizens. “We will run with Mr. Kurti for prime minister. I will be the person seeking to be relegitimised because the president of the country represents the unity of the people. A president with legitimacy best represents this,” she said.

“For two decades our country has been led by a wrong mindset. To change this we are running together with a list which will speak just as you speak,” Osmani said. 

Commenting on how many candidates her list will have in the VV’s ticket, Osmani said “there will be enough representatives in the ticket so as to achieve a plebiscitary victory.” Koha however quotes sources saying that Osmani’s initiative will have ten candidates in the election ticket. 

Hoti: Kosovo entered dialogue with Serbia on clear principles (media)

Outgoing Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti said in a Facebook post that he wished to clarify the position of the Government of Kosovo and his own concerning the dialogue with Serbia in light of “untruths” being said about the process.

“We have entered the dialogue with Serbia on clear principles: The roadmap was and remains the Constitution of Kosovo. Territorial integrity of Kosovo is non negotiable. Kosovo’s constitutional order is inviolable. There is no association with executive powers. Final agreement needs to include mutual recognition between the two countries,” Hoti wrote. 

His statement follows remarks by the acting President Vjosa Osmani at the conclusion of her visit to Brussels where she said that the current Government of Kosovo led by Avdullah Hoti made a big mistake in reopening the issue of the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities. “The protection of the constitutional order and the internal functioning of the country should be among the key priorities because notwithstanding the fact that the idea of border changes is extremely dangerous and we should all reject it, a similar danger can be posed by ideas which can create separate entities in the north of the country because this means that after a few years this may result in partition,” she added.

ECAP rejects VV’s complaint over verification of Diaspora voters (media)

The Elections Complaint and Appeals Panel (ECAP) has rejected the complaint submitted by the Vetevendosje Movement against the decision of the Central Election Commission to verify the identity of Diaspora voters through phone.

ECAP said that the Vetevendosje’s complaint, as well as that filed by the NGO Germin, are not ‘appealable’. “The decisions of the CEC are not appealable unless clearly stipulated by law. In this case, the appealed decision of the CEC does not fall into the category of decisions that can be appealed,” ECAP said in a statement.

CEC warns of an unauthorised online application form  (media)

The Central Election Commission warned that an unauthorised application form for registration of voters is circulating online and that it is collecting citizens’ data from outside Kosovo as well as donations.

CEC said the application is in violation to the law and damages the integrity of the electoral process. “The CEC would like to notify citizens with the right to vote outside Kosovo who meet the legal criteria to register as voters outside of Kosovo to complete their applications only through the method specified by the Central Election Commission and by following the steps published on our official website.”

The CEC said that it has informed relevant authorities about the unauthorised application form. 

Votes from Serbia to arrive through transit post (RFE)

RFE reported that the mailing of votes from people living in Serbia with the right to vote in Kosovo elections remains one of the challenges facing the electoral process.

In the previous elections, in 2019, a certain number of votes from Serbia were declared void as they did not arrive through post. At the same time, the posts of Kosovo and Serbia have no cooperation agreement in place.

Acting Director of the Kosovo Post, Xhevdet Smakiqi, said that Kosovo Serbs living in Serbia and eligible to vote in Kosovo elections can mail the ballots the same way they did in 2019, through transit via the post of North Macedonia. 

“We have transits in the North Macedonia Post. Even if they send them through the Montenegro Post, we also have an agreement with them regarding international traffic,” Smakiqi said.

Meanwhile, Randjel Nojkic, former director of the Kosovo post that operated under Serbia’s system, confirmed there is no cooperation between Kosovo Post and Serbia Post. He said the previous practice was that the OSCE collected the ballots and delivered them directly to the Central Election Commission. 

Former Kosovo Police director, Rashit Qalaj, joins PDK (media)

Former director of the Kosovo Police, Rashit Qalaj, officially joined the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) today. 

“I am honoured today to be a member of the PDK. I have many friends and fellow fighters in this party. It was not easy to take this decision and it was also emotional. Everything we did in Kosovo is a merit of my colleagues but the circumstances in the last year changed and an enormous degradation of the security system began and so I decided to enter politics and give my contribution,” Qalaj said at a press conference.

Acting leader of the PDK, Enver Hoxhaj, confirmed Qalaj will be running for MP under the party’s ticket.

Qalaj was dismissed from the Kosovo Police director’s job by Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti in October of 2020.

AAK to present candidates for MPs on Friday (media)

The Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) will present candidates running for elections on Friday, said today the party leader Ramush Haradinaj.

Haradinaj said he would be leading the AAK ticket but that he is running for the post of the future president of Kosovo and not for prime minister.

“AAK will contribute to the parliament and the government and with me as president make Kosovo a country with which all can be proud of and join NATO and EU,” he said.

Haradinaj said that two-thirds of the party’s ticket will consist of young people.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Eight newly infected persons, two deaths in Serb areas in Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio)

The North Mitrovica Crisis Staff announced today that Serbian areas in Kosovo two people died as a result of the coronavirus, eight new cases of infection were registered, while 25 people came out of isolation, reported Kontakt plus radio.

The deceased are from Zvecan.

Out of 32 processed samples, positive cases were recorded in the municipalities: Leposavic (2), North Mitrovica (1), Zvecan (1), Gracanica (1), Priluzje (1) and Gnjilane (1).

331 cases are currently active.

In Serbian areas south of the Ibar, a total of 1,042 cases of infection have been registered so far.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, a total of 12,900 people have been tested, of which 3,672 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

So far, 94 people have died in the Serbian communities in Kosovo as a result of Covid-19.

Vucic: Reeker and Lajcak very important, but to change the Washington agreement someone must ask Serbia too (KoSSev)

President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic attended the opening of the gondola on Zlatibor, from where he told the USA and the EU that someone must ask Serbia as well on a possible change in the Washington Agreement. He also had a message for opposition leaders that he will recognize Kosovo through transcendental meditation, wrote portal KoSSev.

When asked about the meeting between the EU special envoy for dialogue Miroslav Lajcak and the US Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker, at which the amendment of the Washington Agreement was allegedly agreed, Vucic said that for something like that Serbia must be asked. 

“I am very glad that Reeker and Lajcak met, nice, they are very important, but someone must talk to Serbia about the part that Serbia is signing, and that Serbia accepts. We are ready to talk to everyone, but if something was done there because the Americans and the Europeans or the Germans and the German representatives met, it is not,” Vucic said today on Zlatibor mountain.

He added that it was interesting to him that all those who criticized the Washington agreement, saying that it was not in favor of Serbia, are now mostly silent because they see that both Albanians and some in Europe oppose it. 

Reeker and Lajcak met on January 12, when Lajcak announced that strong European-American cooperation in the Western Balkans was renewed on that occasion.

“We also talked in detail about the situation in the region and discussed future activities,” Lajcak wrote on Twitter.

Full moon

Vucic also responded to the accusations of opposition leaders, Sanda Raskovic- Ivic and Mladjan Djordjevic.

To Raskovic-Ivic’s assessment that he would recognize Kosovo, but not in writing, Vucic sarcastically replied that he would do it with transcendental meditation, but also that it must have been a full moon yesterday because he heard a lot of nonsense.

On the other hand, he told Mladjan Djordjevic, who said that support for Vucic in Kosovo was conditioned by blackmail, that he was insulting the Serbian people.

“Elections in Kosovo and Metohija are controlled by the OSCE. If someone thinks that you can blackmail our people in Kosovo and Metohija, then you are talking badly about our people in Kosovo. I think that no one can blackmail Serbs in Kosovo,” adding that they know very well who is helping them.

Dacic: Kosovo is also mine, as it is Thaci’s and Kurti’s (Kosovo-online)

We have no hidden intentions regarding Kosovo and we said it very clearly since the moment Aleksandar Vucic and I made a coalition that we want a compromise on Kosovo, and this compromise must take into consideration both interests of the Serbs and interests of the Albanians, Serbian Assembly Speaker and leader of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) Ivica Dacic said in an interview with Kosovo-online portal.

Dacic in particular highlighted the fact that 19 states revoked recognitions of Kosovo, something that created a new political reality on the international scene, and not only Pristina but also those in the West must be aware of it.

He also spoke about misconception of the Kosovo issue among the Western politicians, noting that Albanian people used their right to self-determination by creating Albania and they can’t have two rights to self-determination and creation of two states. Dacic also spoke about the arrest of Hashim Thaci and frequent attacks by the Serbian opposition against the Serbian state leadership accusing them of “betraying Kosovo”.

Q: Former US Ambassador to Serbia, William Montgomery in op-ed for Kosovo-online said “the West to his astonishment still doesn’t realize what Kosovo means to Serbia” and as long as the situation remains as such there would be no progress in the dialogue. How would you comment on this statement and what were your experiences during the tenure as head of diplomacy and intensive contacts with Western politicians you had, do they really not understand the essence of the Kosovo issue?

I.D. – I think Montgomery was right to speak there is a huge misconception of the Kosovo and Metohija importance to the Serbian people and Serbian state, and I would say there is also a huge misunderstanding on the importance of the Kosovo case for foundations of international law. While there are talks on the topic – why did they recognize Kosovo – first you face a great wall of misunderstanding and general ignorance of the situation. Some of them do not even know where Kosovo is, and some of them had no contact with our state for the last 10, 20 or 30 years, although we were great friends during the Non-Alignment Movement. This was a mistake of our administration at the time of Tadic, Djilas and Jeremic.

But when you start talking to them about their problems and you link it with a possibility that the Kosovo case could become a rule rather than an exception, then the story completely changes. For example, the Union of the Comoros for decades has problems with one of its two islands, taken by France and they recognized Kosovo. Or Somalia has a problem with Somaliland and they recognized Kosovo as well, and thousands such examples. And when you talk to them they say “no, we firmly stand by the principle of territorial integrity”. A part of blame goes on us as well. There are two sorts of blame, one is ours and it was that we didn’t work enough to acquaint the countries in the world, and world leaders in general on the importance of the Kosovo and Metohija issue to Serbia, and second was that many world leaders and many countries simple do not want to enter discussion on the importance of Kosovo to the Serbian people, and if they would enter such discussion they would no longer have a solid ground for legalization of their wrong policy towards the Balkans during the nineties of the last century.

For example, Great Britain certainly invested a lot in creating an independent Kosovo. And during World War I in Great Britain, 28 June was marked as a Day of Serbia, respectively Kosovo battle as Serbian Day, and there are many such examples across the world.

And I absolutely agree with what Montgomery said. And as Jerusalem is important to Israelis, they should know we would certainly not be happy, and for us it would be a very unpleasant fact that they recognize Kosovo.

Q: How much diplomatic success achieved over the last couple of years with the states that revoked recognition of Kosovo is important in Belgrade-Pristina relations?

I.D. – In fact, we have created with our activities a new political reality on the international scene. Until then, everything was possible to do also without Serbia. Now, such a possibility no longer exists. 19 states revoked recognition of Kosovo and at this moment out of 193 UN member states in the best case scenario Kosovo could count on support of 92 votes only.

Therefore, they no longer have a majority and this creates a completely new political reality, and this is something that not only Pristina but also those in the West should be aware of. As a matter of fact, should this not be the case, they would not invest such efforts to exert pressure upon us to accept a moratorium on retracting recognitions.

Q: We do recall your exchange of arguments at the Security Council with Kosovo representative Vlora Citaku who used a strange thesis that Serbia colonized Kosovo. At the same time, Vjosa Osmani is pushing forward a story on Serbian genocide against Albanians. In your opinion what do Albanian politicians want to achieve by doing this, and is it about an old intention to disqualify Serbia as an equal interlocutor and thus gain better positioning in the dialogue?

I.D. – It’s a cliché. It is a story where we pulled different integral parts out of it and this story is shaky. I am talking about international frameworks. One could clearly see it was based on lies. Based on that story, in fact they want to justify everything what the West did for them, in order to support independent Kosovo, justifying it by “colonialism and genocide”, “Albanian victims”, “rapping”.

It is indisputable to us that anyone who has committed crimes should be held responsible. But, after the Holocaust, there were no more Jews, there were less of them. If a genocide was carried out against Albanians in Kosovo, how come there are more Albanians, and less Serbs there (then before the conflict). If the genocide (against Albanians) was carried out, how come that in Pristina today you have less than 100 Serbs living in the city, and before 1999 there were 40.000 of them. In my hometown, Prizren 10.000 Serbs were living there in 1991, and today only 20.

And speaking about colonialism, it is an insult to all peoples who got liberated from it. Everybody at the Security Council ridiculed such statements of Vlora Citaku, because it was exactly known what term decolonization refers to. Serbia was never a colonial power, to our regret. And as to who lived in Kosovo, Turks know it the best. Why were there battles between Serbs and Turks in Kosovo, if there were no Serbs?

Why didn’t they fight in Prokuplje or Smederevo, but they fought in Kosovo, where the seat of the Serbian state was? And the population records from the Ottoman part could also be well checked, where it is seen how many Albanians were there, and how many Serbs, But this is a history.

Then, they do not understand one point. The right to self-determination belongs to single people. They should declare if they are Albanian or Kosovo people. If they are Albanians, then Albanian people used their right to self-determination by creating Albania. It can’t be that a single people have two rights to self-determination and creation of two states. This is about creation of a new state on the territory of another state. Everybody in the world could justify it as an exception, sui generis case, but it would “hit them back to their detriment”.

Q: Could one, at this time of the crisis in the EU and the crisis in the USA, expect something regarding the dialogue this year? There are talks that Germany would take over initiative, could one expect that German Chancellor Angela Merkel before concluding her mandate undertake some attempts regarding Kosovo this year?

I.D. We have no hidden intentions regarding Kosovo. We said it very clearly, since the moment Aleksandar Vucic and I made a coalition that we want a compromise on Kosovo, and this compromise must take into consideration the both interests of the Serbs and interests of the Albanians. If one wishes for the dialogue to be successful, it can be based on this. If there is no proposal for a compromise, there is no initiative that would bring about that Serbia must accept something. And that to be based on the stance Serbia must accept the independence of Kosovo and there is no any compromise.

Many “jumped” against my proposal for delimitation, then President Vucic spoke about it, but no one ever made any other proposal for compromise (…).

Trump’s administration was the only one to realize there is a need to find specific compromise and sooner some European countries realize it and force Pristina to talk about compromise, sooner the solution would be reached.

As far as we are concerned we want regional peace and stability. Not a single act of ours would be directed against the peace and stability. This implies, regardless of disagreements, constructive relations between Serbs and Albanians in Pristina, also constructive approach of Serbian List when it comes to the problems existing in Pristina, and of course protection of the Serbs’ right to live and remain in Kosovo.

Q: An impression was created that the EU so far had no honest and good-intended approach in resolving the Kosovo issue. Statements of the EP Rapporteur for Kosovo, Viola von Cramon on a daily basis demonstrate significant hypocrisy and bias. How does it look to you?

I.D. Von Cramon is not different from those who were on that post before her. That approach has failed. I am now head of the delegation of the Serbian Assembly at the Council of Europe, and there are announcements that Kosovo would apply for membership, to consider some issues, although they are obliged, as per Washington agreement, to moratorium on applying to international organizations, for one year. They do not understand one thing that the times have changed. That the time of them being “good boys” and Serbia being “bad guy” has gone. The sooner they realize it, the better would be for them.

Q: What do you think will the absence of Hashim Thaci influence the outcome of forthcoming elections in Kosovo and whether possible victory of Albin Kurti, that everybody is forecasting, would bring about some important change in the stance of Pristina when it comes to the normalization of relations with Belgrade?

I.D. – We can not influence as to who Albanians would vote for. We can influence and cheer for who the Serbs would vote for in Kosovo and Metohija, and I expect Serbian List to win again and get all seats in the Parliament. No matter who would head the Pristina government and be in a position of the so-called president, they would act as Ramush Haradinaj said it once, that they do not have their foreign policy, but rather that one of the US. At least back then he was “in love” with the US. That is why our foundational approach is peace and stability and to implement signed agreements (…).

Q: Did you expect the arrest of Hashim Thaci and other KLA commanders would happen? There were no excessive reactions regarding that in Kosovo, while in Serbia suspicion prevailed about honest intention of the Court in The Hague? Would there be any punishment?

I.D. – To tell you honestly I expected that much sooner. This court has done nothing for years when it comes to raising indictments. But I also need to tell you, this cort was not a result of good will of the international community, but rather the result of a strong public pressure following Dick Marty’s report. If Kosovo didn’t agree to form that court based in The Hague, Security Council would establish it, that was a very clear decision.

At the end, the time for justice and reconciliation has come. It means we need to strive that all crimes are investigated and sanctioned. Whoever did the crimes, should be held responsible. Regardless of being Serb or Albanian, it is irrelevant.

Q: How do you comment on frequent attacks by part of the opposition regarding “betrayal of Kosovo”?

I.D. – During our mandate 19 states revoked recognition of Kosovo. During their mandate Kosovo declared independence and was recognized by almost 90 states. That would be much to say about this.

At the International Court of Justice they posed the wrong question. They moved dialogue from New York to Brussels. Everybody got it clear if we wanted to betray Kosovo we would certainly do it by now. I can guarantee you, as long as there is this state policy, President Vucic and my coalition with him, not only that it doesn’t cross our mind, but we would do our utmost that Serbia and Serbs in the best way protect our state and national interests.

Q: A statement of an academic Kostic that “Kosovo is not ours” caused many reactions in the Serbian public recently. How statements as such could contribute to resolution of this issue, and how do you see the final resolution of the Kosovo knot, could it be reached and within what timeframe?

I.D. – The Kosovo knot has been tied for centuries. Of course, many opportunities to resolve it have been missed. My opinion has always been that this problem should be resolved by Serbia and Albania, because it was about Albanian national minority living in Serbia. Now it is late to lament who made mistakes or didn’t make mistakes, and also about who is more or less guilty. That is why it is important to have a clear approach, and it is that we seek compromise and we want compromise. It means we are ready for a compromise, but we also ask the other side the same. What would compromise be, let’s present ideas. We presented one idea, let us see if there are others. Some think it should be the dialogue in which the final solution is that Serbia recognizes Kosovo. This is unrealistic and won’t happen. That is why one should be practical, to propose a sustainable solution, and for the time being there is no such solution.

On the other hand, even if somebody could agree with the statement of Mr. Kostic that Kosovo is not Serbian, the same way someone else could also say that Kosovo is not Albanian either. Neither Serbia has full sovereignty over the entire territory of Kosovo, nor Kosovo as an allegedly independent state has full sovereignty over the entire territory of Kosovo. That is the essence of the problem.

(…) That is why we stick to the negotiation table and we look for the solution, and we want it to happen as soon as possible. I have started the dialogue, we also published the photos several days after it, because it was unthinkable to meet with Thaci. Therefore, a step ahead was made and that dialogue produced effects, but the problem is what has been agreed upon is not being implemented and this makes the dialogue meaningless. I expect this dialogue to continue, no one can divert Serbia from the dialogue, it is our principle and we would stick to it. No one could accuse Serbia of obstructing the dialogue.

Q: Is there an answer to a question whose Kosovo is?

I.D. – Kosovo is of the Serbs and Albanians living there. You know I was born in Kosovo and when I was in Prizren, I walked around the city and one man told me I do not belong there. I asked him – why, I was born here, where were you born? He didn’t reply; he was probably born across the mountains, in Albania.

So Kosovo is also mine, as it is Thaci’s or Kurti’s. That is why it is much better to negotiate, and if somebody is guilty for the crimes, then should be held responsible for those crimes. It is hypocritical accusing Serbia of defending the war criminals and not wanting to seek victims buried here, and at the same time to have more requests for excavation of graves in Kosovo, that nobody wants to decide about or talk. There should also be justice for the Serbian victims, not only for the Albanian ones.  

Petkovic banned from entering Kosovo to deliver aid (N1)

Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija said on Thursday that Pristina’s authorities banned its director Petar Petkovic from entering Kosovo where he intended to deliver humanitarian aid to areas hit by floods, N1 reports.

“It’s obvious the election campaign in Pristina already started and the Serbs are the target again. The Albanian politicians’ move shows that political marketing was more important to them than the people’s life and safety. At the same time, such an attitude shows that the European Union is not capable of securing the respect of the agreed documents including that of the freedom of movements“, Petkovic said in a statement.

He added he did not want to add to the tensions in Kosovo and said “there is one thing we all can be sure about – no one can stop us from helping our people. As we promised, Serbia’s aid will reach our people endangered by floods in Kosovo and Metohija”.

Parts of Kosovo have been hit by heavy floods recently.

Serbian List: EU to react to violation of agreement on freedom of movement (KiM radio)

The Serbian List strongly condemned the decision of the Kosovo authorities not to allow the director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic to visit the flood-endangered Serbian households in Kosovo today.

This party, which is part of the Kosovo institutions, calls on the EU to react urgently to, as they point out, the flagrant violation of the Brussels Agreement, but also the “acquis of the European Union on freedom of movement”, reported KiM radio.  

“At a time when our citizens are facing terrible floods that take away everything that these hard-working hosts have acquired with great difficulty over the years, and when, thanks to the Office for Kosovo and Metohija and the Government of Serbia, teams are solving urgent needs and problems in flooded areas in Pristina some political games are being played for the sake of gaining cheap political points in the election campaign,” state the Serbian list.

They also say that they are disappointed with the silence of the international community, which, as they say, is the most invited to react to provocations and violations of the agreement. “We wonder if this silence is a sign of approval?”, reads the statement of the Serbian List.

EC: EU’s position on Kosovo status is known and unchanged (RTS, Tanjug)

Concerning the video post of the European Commission (EC) service referring to Vjosa Osmani as “acting President of the Republic of Kosovo”, Tanjug news agency said the European Commission told the agency the mistake “was corrected” and the disputable post on Twitter “deleted”. The EC also said “when it comes to the status of Kosovo, the position of the EU is well known and remains unchanged”, RTS reports.

“Position of the EU when it comes to the status of Kosovo is well known and remains unchanged”, the EC Spokesperson Ana Pisonero said in a statement delivered to Tanjug, RTS added.  

On eve of 3rd anniversary of Oliver Ivanovic’s murder, Serbian weekly publishes book (KoSSev)

The January 14th issue of the Serbian weekly newspaper NIN comes with a gift in the form of a book titled “Oliver, kao brat za brata“ (Oliver, amongst brothers) dedicated to the memory of Oliver Ivanovic, who was assassinated on January 16, 2018, in Mitrovica North, KoSSev portal reports.

The Serbian weekly newspaper publishes the book “Oliver, kao brat za brata“ on the eve of the third anniversary of the assassination of the Kosovo Serb leader. Not only is the trial for Ivanovic’s murder  over, but it is also practically at its beginning, as the latest indictment was filed on December 11th.

Marko Rosic, Nedeljko Spasojevic, Silvana Arsovic, Zarko Jovanovic, Dragisa Markovic, Rade Basara are accused in the trial led by the Kosovo Special Prosecutor’s Office before the Basic Court in Pristina. Milan Radojicic and Zvonko Veselinovic are accused of being the leaders of a criminal group, the portal added.

A decision by the Court of Appeals in Pristina in September returned the case of the murder of Oliver Ivanovic to the beginning. In the pre-trial proceedings, only one hearing was held on the 11th February when the accused pleaded not guilty. A month ago, a hearing was postponed indefinitely.

The author of the book is journalist Milan Radonjic – whose (part of) interview with Oliver Ivanovic came out posthumously. Radonjic spoke with Ivanovic in October 2017 when the topic of Kosovo local elections was discussed at length.

According to the author and editor of the book, the book is a “testimony of life in a hijacked society“. The book raises several questions for now – “until they are finally answered by an independent, international investigation into Ivanovic’s murder“.

See more at: https://bit.ly/39vMUnZ

The Tanjug team after seven hours of waiting allowed to enter Kosovo (Tanjug, Radio Mitrovica sever)

After seven hours of waiting at the Jarinje administrative crossing, the Tanjug news agency team was enabled to enter Kosovo tonight after 7 pm.

According to Tanjug, the journalist and cameraman waited for hours at Jarinje crossing, after the Kosovo police set them aside, asking them to wait for the approval from Pristina to enter, reported Radio Mitrovica sever.  

Without explanation and further address by the police, the team of the agency waited in the car for approval to continue the journey, while the other vehicles, after a short delay, due to the usual check of documents, crossed Jarinje. When asked what they are waiting for, the Kosovo police officer answered that, since they are journalists, he had to ask for approval from Pristina to enter Kosovo.

The Tanjug team eventually entered Kosovo after an approval arrived, reported Tanjug.

Serbian power company buys shares in Montenegrin counterpart (N1)

The Serbian power grid company (EMS) said on Wednesday that it bought an additional five percent of the shares in the Montenegrin power transfer system (CGES) for EUR 6.9 million from small shareholders and with the approval of the Serbian Government, N1 reports.

The purchase means that EMS now owns 15 percent of the shares of the CGES following the purchase of 10 percent of the shares in December 2015.

EMS said in a press release that the purchase of CGES shares is justified because the Montenegrin company is successful and is part of the same industry. “EMS has the right to dividends and expects profits”, it said. The purchase is part of the EMS strategic determination to play an active role in strengthening links across Europe and developing the European electricity market. “EMS is strengthening its position as regional leader”, it said.

See at: https://bit.ly/35DBn51

 

 

International

 

Erdogan’s great game: Turkish intrigue in the Balkans (Financial Times)

String of extractions of Turkish citizens from countries beholden to Ankara is raising alarm

This is the third part of a series exploring Turkey’s geopolitical ambitions. Previous instalments include Erdogan’s great game: Soldiers, spies and Turkey’s quest for power and Erdogan’s great game: The Turkish problem on the EU’s doorstep Just over a year ago, Turkish citizen Harun Celik was released from an Albanian prison and whisked away to the airport. Hours later he was back in Turkey, where state media boasted that he had been returned in an operation carried out by the Turkish intelligence services.  Mr Celik, a teacher, had been arrested by Albanian authorities in July 2019 for trying to enter the country on a forged visa. But in Turkey he was wanted for his alleged role as a senior figure in the shadowy Gulen movement that stands accused of orchestrating a violent attempted coup in July 2016.  His mysterious journey — reminiscent of the highly contentious extraordinary renditions conducted by the CIA in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks — is the latest in a string of extractions of Turkish citizens across the Balkans and other nations that are dependent on Ankara for financial, political or humanitarian support.

See more at: https://on.ft.com/3bCxPUg

Kosovo State Radio Accused of Censorship and Discrimination (Balkan Insight)

Kosovo-based human rights and transitional justice NGO Integra accused public broadcaster Radio on Wednesday of censoring its radio drama series ‘Living with the Memories of the Missing’ after an episode told the story of a Serb woman whose husband disappeared as a result of the 1990s conflict.

Integra said that the episode, the second in the series, was broadcast on December 21, but was not aired again the day afterwards as planned because Radio Kosova halted the broadcasts.

Integra alleged that the decision was made because the woman was a Serb. The series includes seven dramas based on the stories of ethnic Albanians and three based on the stories of Kosovo Serbs.

“The only truth is that they only wanted to broadcast stories of Albanian victims,” Kushtrim Koliqi, the director of Integra, told BIRN.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3nGZzJN

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Denmark Allocates €6 Million to Western Balkans Countries to Help Them With Border Controls & Repatriation of Migrants (schengenvisainfo.com)

Denmark has once again allocated millions in order to help the six countries located in the Western Balkans deal better with migrants that are currently located in their territory, as well as to strengthen their border controls in order to prevent further illegal migration.

The Danish government has allocated almost DKK 45 million (over €6 million) from development aid to two regional projects in the Western Balkans, which intend to strengthen both border control and the repatriation of irregular migrants and rejected asylum seekers.

“The government has decided to strengthen border controls and the repatriation of migrants in the six Western Balkan countries Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo by almost DKK 45 million,” the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs explains in a press release.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3id2k4D

 

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, March 8, 2021

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