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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, March 5, 2021

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Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 564 new cases, seven deaths (media)
• Hoti: Kosovo facing a new wave of COVID-19, first vaccines to arrive in March (media)
• Kurti-led government expected to be formed on 25 March (Koha)
• Non-Serb community parties appeal election result (media)
• Osmani: KSF to deploy on its first mission abroad this week (Telegrafi)
• SPO ready for commencement of trial against Salih Mustafa (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• In Serbian areas in Kosovo 56 new cases of Covid-19, two deaths (Radio Mitrovica sever)
• Lajčák: Both Belgrade and Pristina understand dialogue has no alternative (N1)
• Analysts:Citizens committed to change and reforms, but present differing views on cooperation with SL (KoSSev)
• Petkovic: We continue the joint struggle for the survival of our people (RTV Puls)
• US diplomat: Biden to condemn statement on Kosovo’s unification with Albania (N1)
• German FM: Serbia will get 300,000 vaccines from COVAX programme (DW, N1)
• Selakovic: Von Cramon’s views do not reflect official German policy (Kosovo Online, Tanjug)
• Vecernje Novosti: “Lajcak didn’t bring anything new to Belgrade, left with a clear message from Vucic” (B92)
• The Court of Appeals revoked the decision on the detention of seven young men, but will not be released until a new decision (Kosovo Online)
• Ambassador says France committed to supporting Western Balkans (N1, FoNet)
• Biden deleted Trump’s plan to invest in Serbia? (Danas)

Opinion:

• The Times They Are a-Changin’: But For Better or Worse? (Balkan Insight)

International:

• Serb Ex-Policeman Claims Alibi for Kosovo Family’s Killings (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 564 new cases, seven deaths (media)
  • Hoti: Kosovo facing a new wave of COVID-19, first vaccines to arrive in March (media)
  • Kurti-led government expected to be formed on 25 March (Koha)
  • Non-Serb community parties appeal election result (media)
  • Osmani: KSF to deploy on its first mission abroad this week (Telegrafi)
  • SPO ready for commencement of trial against Salih Mustafa (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • In Serbian areas in Kosovo 56 new cases of Covid-19, two deaths (Radio Mitrovica sever)
  • Lajčák: Both Belgrade and Pristina understand dialogue has no alternative (N1)
  • Analysts:Citizens committed to change and reforms, but present differing views on cooperation with SL (KoSSev)
  • Petkovic: We continue the joint struggle for the survival of our people (RTV Puls)
  • US diplomat: Biden to condemn statement on Kosovo’s unification with Albania (N1)
  • German FM: Serbia will get 300,000 vaccines from COVAX programme (DW, N1)
  • Selakovic: Von Cramon’s views do not reflect official German policy (Kosovo Online, Tanjug)
  • Vecernje Novosti: “Lajcak didn’t bring anything new to Belgrade, left with a clear message from Vucic” (B92)
  • The Court of Appeals revoked the decision on the detention of seven young men, but will not be released until a new decision (Kosovo Online)
  • Ambassador says France committed to supporting Western Balkans (N1, FoNet)
  • Biden deleted Trump’s plan to invest in Serbia? (Danas)

Opinion:

  • The Times They Are a-Changin’: But For Better or Worse? (Balkan Insight)

International:

  • Serb Ex-Policeman Claims Alibi for Kosovo Family’s Killings (Balkan Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

COVID-19: 564 new cases, seven deaths (media)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health announced that 564 new cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths have been recorded in the last 24 hours. 

380 persons have recovered from the virus during this time.

Hoti: Kosovo facing a new wave of COVID-19, first vaccines to arrive in March (media)

Outgoing Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti warned about the threat of a new wave of COVID-19 infections.

Hoti said the epidemiological situation in Kosovo was discussed in a meeting with Health Minister Armend Zemaj, director of the Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health Naser Ramadani and the Director of the director of the University Clinical Hospital Service of Kosovo Valbon Krasniqi. He called on all relevant institutions and citizens to strictly adhere to anti-Covid measures. 

“With regards to the vaccine rollout, the first shipment of 33,000 vaccine doses from COVAX is expected to arrive this month. Kosovo will get 100,800 vaccine doses from this mechanism and is currently under intensive negotiations with other manufacturers to secure the necessary amount of vaccines so as to immunise the whole population,” Hoti wrote on Facebook today.

Kurti-led government expected to be formed on 25 March (Koha)

Kosovo is expected to get a new government in three weeks’ time, Koha Ditore reports today adding that the Assembly of Kosovo is expected to vote on the new Government led by Vetevendosje’s Albin Kurti on 25 March, exactly a year from when Kurti-led government suffered a vote of no confidence. 

A year later, the paper notes, Vetevendosje has doubled the number of votes from the previous elections and has secured as many seats as almost all other parties together.

Vetevendosje spokesperson Perparim Kryeziu did not comment on possible dates for when the new government is to be voted but said they would be extending coalition invitation only to certain MPs that represent non-Serb communities. 

The party has already received the support from two such MPs – Elbert Krasniqi and Emilia Rexhepi – increasing the support to 60 votes and that there are also two other legislators from the Turkish Democratic Party which are expected to join the ruling coalition.

Incoming prime minister Kurti has said he would not be inviting Albanian parties that have been in power in the past to join his government and although under this scenario the new government would not have a comfortable majority, Kryeziu insists it will be a compact majority and will function in pushing forward the government programme. 

Non-Serb community parties appeal election result (media)

A number of non-Serb community political parties have filed complaints before the Elections Complaints and Appeals Panel following the announcement of the final election result yesterday. They accuse the Serbian List of manipulating new parties in a bid to increase parliamentary power.

Former Bosniak MP, Duda Balje, head of the Social Democratic Union, said they are ready to appeal to higher instances if their case is dismissed by the ECAP. “We believe we have MPs that have not been voted by the communities they represent and we are ready to go as far as the Constitutional Court,” she said.

At the same time, Veton Berisha from the Egyptian Liberal Party said they possess facts showing that the Serbian List is behind vote manipulation. “We allege there has been orchestration of votes and we are appealing against the Romani Initiative which has received votes from Serb settlements and residents. Two elected MPs from the Romani Initiative are not Roma representatives but represent the Serbian community,” Berisha said.

Osmani: KSF to deploy on its first mission abroad this week (Telegrafi)

Acting President of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani said that the Kosovo Security Force will deploy its first ever peacekeeping mission abroad this week.

In her remarks during the ceremony marking the KLA Epopee, Osmani told members of the KSF: “Just as Adem Jashari once, today you have ahead a noble mission to defend Kosovo so that it stays one and whole. This week our military will be leaving on its first peacekeeping mission with Iowa’s forces.”

Osmani added that Kosovo’s strategic mission is NATO membership. “Alongside NATO, KSF is developing further as a military force, interacting with NATO forces. Therefore membership in NATO remains the strategic objective of our country.”

SPO ready for commencement of trial against Salih Mustafa (media)

The Specialist Prosecutor’s Office said at a status conference hearing today in the case against Salih Mustafa that it has concluded investigations with the exception of two outstanding investigation activities but that it is nevertheless ready for commencement of the trial. 

Meanwhile, Mustafa’s defence counsel is expected to undertake two visits to Kosovo between March and April to finalise its case.

Salih Mustafa, former KLA commander, stands accused of war crimes including arbitrary detention, cruel treatment, torture, and murder committed at the Zllash detention compound.

 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

In Serbian areas in Kosovo 56 new cases of Covid-19, two deaths (Radio Mitrovica sever)

Another 56 cases of coronavirus infection were registered in Serbian communities in Kosovo, out of 110 tested samples, the North Mitrovica Crisis Staff announced today.  

Two people died. 

30 people came out of isolation today.

Of the 56 newly infected, 30 were registered in North Mitrovica, eight in Leposavic, six in Zvecan and Zubin Potok, five in Priluzje and one in Kamenica.

Currently, there are 657 active cases.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, in Serbian areas in Kosovo, the coronavirus has been confirmed in 4,638 cases. 15,595 samples were tested. 113 coronavirus-positive people died.

Lajčák: Both Belgrade and Pristina understand dialogue has no alternative (N1)

The European Union Special Envoy for the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relation Miroslav Lajčák told N1 TV in an interview that his main conclusion from talks in both capitals was that the two sides were willing to resume the dialogue and understood it did not have an alternative, adding that if there was will, a deal could be reached in several months.

He added that one of his goals was to inform Albin Kurti, the leader of the Self-determination movement and its candidate for the next Kosovo Prime Minister and the chief negotiator with the Serb side, about the process so far.

”I see as an important thing that he decides on his platform, programme and priorities based on what he has to know regarding the dialogue,” Lajčák said.

He told N1 TV that some parts of the future agreement had been agreed upon – about missing persons, internally displaced, and economic cooperation, while currently, the property issue was on the agenda.

Lajčák said there weren’t different interpretations of those parts and that it was clear who, when and how would do that. 

”But we haven’t published those texts because there is a principle – we negotiate a comprehensive agreement, and that means that nothing is agreed upon until it is. For me, there must be no double interpretation.”

Regarding the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM), Lajčák said the EU did not give up the agreed.

”I think we have enough room, and I expect the first meeting (of the two delegations) in a reasonable time after Pristina forms all institutions, and that can happen before the summer,” Lajčák said.

He added it was important to him that ”none of the players I have met in Kosovo and Serbia hasn’t asked whether the dialogue is necessary. And that is the crucial message”.

”The normalisation is a political and very sensitive issue. For Pristina, it means a formal recognition, establishment of diplomatic relations; for Belgrade, that doesn’t mean the same. That’s why we need a process because without the normalisation, a solution to all open topics, neither Kosovo nor Serbia could not advance on the European road which both sides want to follow and we are here to help,” Lajčák said.

Asked if that message was more part of technical or political dialogue, the EU envoy said there were no two dialogues but one, a political by definition.

Speaking about his talks in Pristina, he said Kurti understood the necessity of the dialogue and was ready to deal with it as the head of Kosovo’s delegation.

”He is ready to come to Brussels to meet President (Aleksandar) Vucic,” Lajčák said, reiterating that he would have to wait for the formation of Pristina’s institutions.

The EU diplomat denied rumours he brought a non-paper with an ultimatum to Belgrade, adding he heard about it from some media.

”I want to say that the EU doesn’t bring ultimatums; the EU works with partners who want to join the bloc, and it helps them to speed up the process and meet all requirements. That’s the EU. There are a lot of non-papers in our process, but none is an ultimatum,” the EU envoy said.

He reiterated the Euro-integration process was based on the rule of law, fight against corruption, independent media…

”That doesn’t change, but the dialogue, normalisation of relations, are an additional condition for Kosovo and Serbia. I don’t want that to be seen as discrimination, but as a logical sign that you cannot bring unsolved issues into the EU. That would enable the (bloc’s) functioning,” Lajčák said.

Asked whether the EU expected Serbia to recognise Kosovo’s independence, he said he could only say what was within his mandate, and that was an agreement on normalisation. 

”I cannot go out of my mandate and say more than it is within it.”

Lajčák said the negotiators from both sides should be open to their publics and present what they negotiated transparently. 

”I don’t want it to be a process inside the negotiating rooms and that the public does not know anything about it.”

Commenting on the US new administration, the EU envoy said Washington’s position was clear – their diplomacy aimed to help the EU and the Western Balkans’ European road.

Asked if the EU could accelerate the process or set the deadlines, Lajčák said there were no deadlines and that the bloc was ready to follow the speed at which the two sides were prepared to go.

”Knowing the details of the process, I say that can be over in several months if there is will.”

See at: https://bit.ly/2O7uVNQ

Analysts:Citizens committed to change and reforms, but present differing views on cooperation with SL (KoSSev)

With the election results, the citizens of Kosovo have shown that they are committed to change, while the old parties have compromised, together with the CEC – which are in their favor and against Self-Determination, a publicist from Pristina, Fadil Lepaja told KoSSev.

According to Lepaja, the fact that according to the final results which reveal that LVV won almost 50% of the votes, thus coming close to the „absolute majority of votes“ – i.e. the party does not have enough votes to form a government on its own – is another reason to deepen previous doubts about the CEC’s operation – namely, its most recent decision to reject a larger number of votes from the diaspora.

”The CEC was already under suspicion as a commission that worked against Self-Determination and in favor of the old parties that were politically broken, this is especially true for the LDK,”  Lepaja said.

It is Lepaja’s belief that the very victory of Self-Determination is confirmation that the citizens are once again committed to change.

”Even more so because the LDK and PDK have compromised themselves, either through corrupt rule or secret negotiations over borders,” he stressed.

Speaking of the largest Kosovo Serb party – Srpska Lista, Lepaja alleged that, although it got votes, it lost a lot of credibility due to the alleged rigging of elections.

”I believe that they played a dangerous card by trying to cause strife and vote for some ‘pro-Serbian’ parties of minority communities, and thus they lost a lot of credibility – by rigging elections.”

Lepaja recalled that Kurti had previously announced a government with non-Serb minority communities and that SL will now get ”only what he has to give them according to the constitution”.

”Kurti has already announced talks with the Serb community outside the framework that SL is trying to impose, and outside the Kosovo forces standing behind them. Therefore, they will get from Kurti’s government only what they have to get according to the constitution,” he said.

Lepaja could not say whether Self-Determination, in the future government, will be able to complete the full four-year mandate. He, however, noted that instability and changes are yet to come for other parties, primarily LDK and PDK.

”The coming to power of the Self-Determination movement will cause changes, especially in the LDK, which must be reformed, or it will completely break apart, even though it has already keeled over. The conflict between the factions is expected to continue in the Democratic Party as well because all kinds of things happened within the party lists, the struggle of individuals and groups for supremacy and consolidation after the departure of the two leaders of that party to The Hague,” concluded Lepaja.

Citizens were reform-minded, with expectations that the government will be reform-oriented – dialogue and cooperation with SL

The executive director of the ACDC from North Mitrovica, Dusan Radakovic shares Lepaja’s assessment that the citizens were reform-minded while voting, but also that the new government is now expected to be reform-oriented.

”This will primarily be assessed by their behavior in dialogue with Belgrade and cooperation with SL.” 

Radakovic stated that there is already some visible support between 5 and 6 votes of minority parties – Turkish, one Bosniak, and the Ashkali party.

”With 6 or 7 minority votes, Kurti can have a serious majority and I do not believe that he will be forming a government with some other Albanian parties,” Radakovic said.

Radakovic underlined that when it comes to selecting the next President of Kosovo, i.e. the candidate who is supported by Self-Determination – Vjosa Osmani, Kurti will need the support of all the so-called minority parties – including SL, but also another Albanian party, given that a total of 81 votes are required to elect the president in the first and second rounds.

”It is the vote for the president of Kosovo that should be the one common point of the Self-Determination and SL, that is, a mutual coalition agreement,” said Radakovic.

”It will be one of the first issues Kurti will face, but at the same time the issue of negotiations with Belgrade, because we see that the entire European community is pushing the story to continue negotiations immediately, maybe even at the end of April,” he added.

While revealing that he would not be surprised if Kurti takes one of the Serb representatives from the Srpska Lista opposition to lead one of the (ministry) institutions, Radakovic further stated that Kurti will have to respect the success of SL, but also the obligations from the constitution.

Radakovic, however, expects the Pristina government to be stable, precisely because of the majority that Kurti will now provide more easily.

”Until now, almost no one had such a majority, Rugova himself did not have it. So, I think that this reform-minded vote shows that this government – if the negotiations with Belgrade go in the right direction and are in correlation with the EU and the US embassy and institutions -should complete the full mandate,” he told KoSSev.

According to the final election results, LVV won almost 50% of the votes, i.e. 58 seats, while SL won 10 seats. PDK will have 19 seats, LDK – 15 and AAK – 8.

See at: https://bit.ly/3uWVR3K

Petkovic: We continue the joint struggle for the survival of our people (RTV Puls)

A meeting between the director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Petar Petkovic and political representatives of Serbs from Kosovo was held yesterday in Raska, reported RTV Puls. 

Petkovic said that the meeting was held in order to operationalize all agreements and projects that were agreed with the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic at the last meeting held in Kursumlija.

“We will have such meetings more often in the future because it is necessary to start as soon as possible with the projects that need to be realized, but also with the payment of financial aid packages for Kosovo and Metohija, where each unemployed person will receive 200 euros and each child and adult person to receive another 100 euros of assistance. The payment of this aid, which was initiated by President Aleksandar Vucic, is expected in May,” announced the director of the Office for KiM. 

He stated that it is important to reach an agreement with the political representatives of Serbs from Kosovo on concrete steps and everything that should be done together.

During his visit to Raska, Petkovic visited the textile plant of the “Lus tekstil” factory.

“We managed to provide 50 jobs for women from the municipality of Leposavic who will work in this plant. That is very important. Then you can understand what it means when President Aleksandar Vucic constantly says that we must preserve peace, that we must rise as a state, because more investments, factories means more jobs for our people in Kosovo and Metohija,” Petkovic said.

US diplomat: Biden to condemn statement on Kosovo’s unification with Albania (N1)

US Former special envoy for Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations Richard Grenell asked President Joe Biden and the new administration to condemn the statement by the leader of the Self-determination movement in Kosovo and the candidate for the prime minister Albin Kurti in which he said he would vote for the unification with Albania.

In his tweet, Grenell asked why Kurti was talking about imploding his own country?

Kurti has told Euronews that he would vote for the Kosovo – Albania unification in case of a referendum.

See at: https://bit.ly/3c1TUtX

German FM: Serbia will get 300,000 vaccines from COVAX programme (DW, N1)

During the visit to Berlin by Serbia’s Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic, his German counterpart Heiko Maas said Belgrade would get 300,000 vaccines from the European Union’s COVAX programme by the end of May.

Selakovic described the news as important for the further immunisation of Serbia’s people.

Maas added he did not criticise Serbia for procuring vaccines from Russia and China.

”I think we in the EU should talk more about how we will send vaccines to more than 140 countries, over a million to the Western Balkans alone and 300,000 to Serbia. Our problem is that we are not loud enough about it,” Maas said.

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

Selakovic: Von Cramon’s views do not reflect official German policy (Kosovo Online, Tanjug)

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Nikola Selakovic assessed that the views of the envoy of the European Parliament for Kosovo, Viola von Cramon, do not reflect the official German policy, reported agency Tanjug.

“For some reason, and seems it lies in its close ties with the Albanian political leadership in Pristina, Ms. von Cramon sees every success of Serbia as her personal defeat. The passion with which she insists on her anti-Serbian narrative is so great that it has been directed to some of the most prominent German politicians who see Serbia as a successful state,” stated Selakovic.

In a press release, the minister pointed out that “fortunately, there are many serious politicians in Berlin who recognize the achievements and potentials of Serbia, both in the field of economy and in the field of democracy and human rights, and the voices of anti-Serb lobbyists are inaudible and in a large minority”.

“I am grateful to the German hosts for the open talks, which included disagreements on some issues, but in the past two days, I am convinced, we have opened space for strengthening Serbian-German cooperation and friendly relations,” Selakovic said.

He emphasized that Serbia was and remains a pillar of stability and the engine of economic development of the entire region.

“We will eliminate all possible problems in the reform process in cooperation with partners from the EU, among which the Federal Republic of Germany certainly occupies a special place,” the head of Serbian diplomacy concluded.

Vecernje Novosti: “Lajcak didn’t bring anything new to Belgrade, left with a clear message from Vucic” (B92)

After Belgrade talks, EU Special Representative for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue was clearly told that Serbia wouldn’t accept recognition of the so-called Kosovo.

“Brussels and Washington should make it clear to Kosovo Albanians that Serbia’s position on recognizing Kosovo’s illegally declared independence is unshakable: such a solution, as far as our side is concerned, cannot be part of a comprehensive agreement on normalizing relations between Belgrade and Pristina,” Novosti wrote.

The paper adds that such a message was conveyed to Miroslav Lajčák by the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, on Wednesday evening.

During several hours of talks, first at an official meeting, and then at a working dinner, the Serbian head of state pointed out that there is no more play, that Serbia is ready to continue the dialogue, but not on imposed solutions according to which one side would get everything and the other lost everything, as well as to insist that all previously reached agreements be implemented.

This platform on Serbia’s positions was certainly not pleasant  for Lajcak’s ears, as Novosti’s interlocutors believe, but they believe that in Brussels and Washington, however, there will be wisdom to respect the messages that the EU special envoy will take from Belgrade.

Srdjan Graovac, an analyst from the Center for Social Stability, says for Novosti that there is no doubt that Serbia will face strong pressures in the coming period. He expects that the candidate for prime minister in Pristina, Albin Kurti, who he considers to be an essential man tailored to both the EU and the USA, will continue to say that the only thing Pristina needs from Belgrade is a seat in the UN.

“However, the relations of power in the world are no longer such that the United States can ultimately demand and expect Serbia to fulfill all their demands, including the one to recognize Kosovo. I think that Lajcak is well aware that if he starts talking about resolving the final status, the dialogue will be at an impasse again. Even if Washington grits its teeth that the status of Kosovo is not being resolved, I don’t think it will essentially sabotage it. What individuals in the US administration may not be aware of at the moment is how it happened that Serbia’s position does not depend exclusively on the will of the EU and the United States. Every agreement made by Belgrade and Pristina must be approved by the UN Security Council, where Russia and China are,” he said.

According to diplomat Zoran Milivojevic, Lajcak did not bring anything new to Belgrade, but he left the Serbian capital with clearly defined views on Serbia’s positions – recognition of Kosovo cannot be a compromise.

“If the Western centers of power really want peace and stability in this area and putting an end to open issues, including Kosovo, then they must recognize that circumstances have changed, that without Serbia and the protection of its interests, this cannot be resolved. They must respect that Kosovo, as an independent state, is a failed project that has not been confirmed and that without a compromise solution, while respecting the interests of all, this work cannot be completed. It can only lead to new conflicts and problems in this area, which will spill over to the whole of Europe,” he concluded.

See at: https://bit.ly/30eQHSr

The Court of Appeals revoked the decision on the detention of seven young men, but will not be released until a new decision (Kosovo Online)

The decision of the Court of Appeals to lift the custody of seven young men who were remanded in custody for 30 days by the Basic Court in Gracanica, due to a fight in front of a school in Laplje Selo, was confirmed for portal Kosovo Online by lawyer and defense attorney of one of the detained young men, Negovan Saranovic.

“According to the information I have, the Court of Appeals of Kosovo revoked the decision of the judge for the previous procedure of the Basic Court in Pristina, a branch in Gracanica due to certain irregularities in the procedure on the request for custody filed by the Basic Prosecutor’s Office in Pristina. Concerning that the custody has been terminated, the suspects remain in custody until a final decision is made in a retrial scheduled for next week, I assume,” Saranovic said.

Ambassador says France committed to supporting Western Balkans (N1, FoNet)

France’s Ambassador Jean Louis Falconi said on Friday that his country is committed to supporting the Western Balkans on the way to membership in the European Union.

“We intend to fulfill that promise and these are not just words but a promise which has not been made to other regions,” he told the online conference on France and the European integration of the Western Balkans organized by the Belgrade Center for Security Policy.

The ambassador said that the talks on EU membership do not leave much room for negotiation, adding that a country that wants to join the Union is told what it has to do and should know that the EU does not want to weaken itself. He said that the candidate countries like Serbia and Montenegro are expecting to be told how to adapt to new methodology for expansion but that there is no word from Brussels yet.

Falconi said progress will be achieved if there is a will to progress but that depends on the region.

See at: https://bit.ly/3uTZUh4

Biden deleted Trump’s plan to invest in Serbia? (Danas)

The American International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) opened the first European office in Belgrade on September 22, thus sending a signal that at least some of the projects signed in the Washington Agreement will be realized and considered, opening wide the door for American investments in the Western Balkans, writes Belgrade based daily Danas. 

The daily recalls the change in the White House, and that instead of the Republican Donald Trump, the Democrat John Biden came to the position of the President of the USA.

The change of administration also meant a change in politically set positions, so on January 21, DFC Director General Adam Bohler was replaced, who signed a joint statement with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic in September during the (online) opening of the office. 

Shortly afterwards, John Jovanovic was removed from the position of director of the DFC office in Belgrade.

This could also be the change brought by the change of government, that the information did not appear in the international media that a discussion is currently underway in Washington on whether the office in Belgrade will continue to work at all.

That there is something here, was confirmed by a letter from Endy Zemenides, director of the Greek-American Council (HALC), sent at the end of February to one of the directors of DFC, David Marchick, in which he invites this agency to reconsider its commitment to the region of Southeast Europe, as well as the idea of closing the regional office in Belgrade.

In a letter transmitted by the Greek media, Zemenides stated that American interests in the region, before the opening of the DFC office, were regressing, while at the same time China and Russia invested in infrastructure in the region.

“This is not the time to create confusion about the US commitment to the region. Russia and China will benefit from the reduction of the DFC presence in the region,” Zemenides stated, adding that he sent the letter based on reliable information from Washington that the abolition of the office in Belgrade was considered, writes Danas daily. 

For Serbia, what will happen with the DFC office is important because its opening is closely connected with the Washington Agreement, which envisages investments in infrastructure, primarily in the Nis-Pristina highway and railway, but also investments in the private sector, as well as the effect of attracting American investments in the region.

DFC was created in 2018 by merging several state development agencies and has a fund of 60 billion dollars, and it was created with the goal of opposing Chinese investments in the world.

Danas reports that a text of Radio Free Europe pointed out that in the DFC there was an idea to invest only in underdeveloped countries of Asia and Africa, and not in middle or developed countries of Europe

Neven Cveticanin, president of the Forum for Strategic Studies, points out that after the change in the DFC headquarters in Washington, the director of the DFC branch in the world, even in Serbia, withdrew, and that a new one has not been appointed yet.

“A new director will not be appointed until a strategic decision is made on whether DFC will stay in Serbia at all. On the one hand, there is a current that believes that the network should be rationalized, and some DFC offices should be closed, and that relations with Serbia should be restarted on other grounds. Other circles, from the State Department and the White House, are advocating that the office be retained for geopolitical reasons. It would certainly be good for Serbia for the office to remain a regional center, which would increase the diplomatic and strategic capacities of Belgrade and attract world institutions and investors,” interlocutor of Danas points out.

 

 

 

Opinion

 

The Times They Are a-Changin’: But For Better or Worse? (Balkan Insight)

It feels like the winds of changing are sweeping across the Balkans. But it will take more than just new faces to halt the region’s regression.

In a 1998 article in the Washington Post quoted the song “If only there were no war” Serbian singer and lyricist, of the Serbian singer and lyricist Djordje Balasevic, who died in February, believing that a time of change was coming to the region.

Looking back to 1998, I am sure that the progress we wished for has not happened.

In fact, after several years of enthusiasm, the economic and political conditions in the region have deteriorated sharply. Membership of the European Union is today almost as distant a prospect as it was 20 years ago. The difference being that we are less confident that it will ever happen.

Today, again, our region is passing through a period that some describe as one of change. The change began with North Macedonia, but it was Montenegro and the fall of the Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, last year that made global headlines.

With the departure of Hashim Thaci, Kosovo’s former president, to The Hague in November 2020 to face war crimes charges, and Vetevendosje’s victory in early parliamentary elections in February, one might think that things will never be the same. It seems that we are putting the years of stagnation behind us and moving forward.

While we need change to prosper, not every change ends how people might want.

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

 

 

International

 

Serb Ex-Policeman Claims Alibi for Kosovo Family’s Killings (Balkan Insight)

Former police officer Zlatan Krstic told his war crimes trial at Pristina Basic Court on Thursday that he was in Serbia when four Kosovo Albanians, all members of the same family, were killed in an attack on the village of Nerodime e Eperme/Donje Nerodimlje by Serbian forces in March 1999.

“On March 20 or 21, 1999, I was in Kragujevac [in Serbia], near my wife and children, waiting for the [NATO] bombing [of Yugoslavia],” Krstic testified.

NATO’s air strikes against Yugoslavia began on March 24, 1999 as the Western military alliance tried to force Slobodan Milosevic to end his campaign of repression in Kosovo.

The indictment claims that Krstic was directly involved in the attack on Nerodime e Eperme/Donje Nerodimlje in the Ferizaj/Urosevac municipality on March 26, 1999.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3kOW18I

 

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