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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, June 3, 2021

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• COVID-19: 18 new cases, no deaths (media)
• Palmer assures Kosovo: U.S. is a stakeholder in dialogue process (RTK)
• Greece: We support visa liberalization, but we will not recognize Kosovo (TV Dukagjini)
• Presidency: date of the local elections is to be set in the following days (RTK)
• LDK to vote for Association if it passes Court’s filter (Koha)
• Palmer, Lajcak to meet Serbian President Vucic today (media)
• Another non-paper on the Balkans submitted to the EU (Koha)
• Editor of the Swiss newspaper responds to Gervalla (RTK)
• Poll: 44% of respondents believe Gervalla is defending KLA (Telegrafi)
• KLA War Veterans call for Gervalla’s resignation (T7)
• The Hague summons witness who was 8-years-old during Kosovo war (Exit News)
• Serbia and Kosovo leaders to meet for reconciliation talks, says Miroslav Lajcak (Euronews)
• Top U.S., EU envoys tell Kosovo that better ties with Serbia will open door to Europe (RFE)

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  • COVID-19: 18 new cases, no deaths (media)
  • Palmer assures Kosovo: U.S. is a stakeholder in dialogue process (RTK)
  • Greece: We support visa liberalization, but we will not recognize Kosovo (TV Dukagjini)
  • Presidency: date of the local elections is to be set in the following days (RTK)
  • LDK to vote for Association if it passes Court’s filter (Koha)
  • Palmer, Lajcak to meet Serbian President Vucic today (media)
  • Another non-paper on the Balkans submitted to the EU (Koha)
  • Editor of the Swiss newspaper responds to Gervalla (RTK)
  • Poll: 44% of respondents believe Gervalla is defending KLA (Telegrafi)
  • KLA War Veterans call for Gervalla’s resignation (T7)
  • The Hague summons witness who was 8-years-old during Kosovo war (Exit News)
  • Serbia and Kosovo leaders to meet for reconciliation talks, says Miroslav Lajcak (Euronews)
  • Top U.S., EU envoys tell Kosovo that better ties with Serbia will open door to Europe (RFE)

 

COVID-19: 18 new cases, no deaths (media)

Kosovo reported 18 new cases of COVID-19 and no deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours. 239 persons recovered from the virus during this time.

There are 1,822 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

Media report that Kosovo has begun the second round of vaccinations against COVID-19 with the efforts currently focusing on healthcare workers who received their first doses earlier. They also report that so far over 71,000 people have been vaccinated and that preparations for mass vaccinations, expected to begin on 15 June, are well underway.

Palmer assures Kosovo: U.S. is a stakeholder in dialogue process (RTK)

The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Matthew Palmer, in an interview with RTK, said that the U.S. and the EU have no differences or contradictions in the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.

“They are not contradictory. They go in the same direction. We would like an agreement for the full normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, Serbia and Kosovo, which ideally for us focuses on mutual recognition, which, as we see, really puts this issue behind us and opens pure European journey for both countries,” he added.

According to him, the U.S. is not a party in the negotiations, but a stakeholder in this process.

“We are committed partners for the European External Action Service (EEAS), for Miroslav Lajcak, we are committed partners for Kosovo, we are committed partners for Serbia. So, even if we are not sitting at the table or in the hall when debating various issues, we have talked about these issues with all parties in the process on numerous occasions. We have a very good and clear picture of what issues are being debated. We are part of the conversation. So, in this sense, we are participating in the negotiations even if we are not a party to them,” Palmer said.

Asked directly if the U.S. would appoint a Special Envoy for the process, Palmer said he did not want to look at it in the “crystal sphere” and say what the future holds.

“But I will tell you that for now, the United States is engaged in the process, it is paying special attention to the process. I am here today to demonstrate that Miroslav Lajcak and I are good friends, we talk on the phone about these issues at least once a week, we meet regularly. We are committed and engaged to the process of promoting the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo,” he added.

Palmer went on to say that the United States is not standing on the margins of this process.

“We are directly engaged and involved in supporting the negotiations. This is in fact part of the message of my joint visit with Miroslav Lajcak to emphasize how deeply committed, involved and engaged the United States is in this process. As for the extent to which Kosovo and its people, the leadership of Kosovo look to the U.S. to advocate in this process, an ally, supporter of the normalization process, then yes, they should be sure that the United States is committed to this process, is a strong supporter of the facilitation of the process by the EU but is very committed and involved in the efforts for a fair, sustainable and open European perspective for Kosovo and for Serbia.”

“I think the essential message is to emphasize and underline the strong and enduring nature of the partnership between the United States of America and the Republic of Kosovo. We support Kosovo’s European perspective. We want to see Kosovo integrated into the European and Euro-Atlantic community. We support the government’s goals of fighting corruption and organized crime and promoting the rule of law. We want to be there as strong partners. In addition, I visited Pristina with Miroslav Lajcak, the European Union Special Representative for the Western Balkans, especially for dialogue. Special Representative Lajcak and I wanted to emphasize and underline the importance of Kosovo’s constructive engagement in the dialogue process, to work on the full normalization of relations with Serbia and to open the door to a European future for the people of Kosovo,” Palmer said.

Asked about the cooperation between the U.S. and the EU in the dialogue process and the same goal, Palmer said that they aim at normalizing relations, opening the European perspective.

“We are working in a strong partnership. This dialogue process is led by the parties themselves, led by Kosovo, led by Serbia, facilitated by the EU and has the strong support of the United States. I think it is a good message for Kosovo and Serbia if they see Miro and me side by side supporting this process,” he said.

Greece: We support visa liberalization, but we will not recognize Kosovo (TV Dukagjini)

Kosovo and Greece have recently intensified cooperation in several areas. Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias is expected to arrive in Kosovo next week.

The Greek Foreign Ministry sent an e-mail stating the reasons for this visit but ruled out the possibility of recognizing Kosovo as a state.

“Foreign Minister Dendias will visit Kosovo in early June for the formation of a new government in Kosovo. We remind you that Greece is supporting Kosovo’s European path and in this context is also supporting visa liberalization. Greece also contributes to Kosovo with a certain number of soldiers within KFOR. But as you know, Greece does not recognize Kosovo and its position remains unchanged,” it is said in the response of the Greek Ministry for Foreign Affairs for RTV Dukagjini.

According to the U.S. expert David Phillips, out of the five non-recognizing EU, Greece is the closest to recognizing Kosovo.

“Greece will most likely recognize Kosovo, but we cannot ignore the close ties between Greece and Serbia,” Phillips said.

In Kosovo this issue is being seen differently. Emir Abrashi from Democracy Plus told RTV Dukagjini that Greece also sees its strategic interests.  “Greece’s interests are bigger with Serbia than with Kosovo. But this should not stop our lobbying work with the Greek government.”

Presidency: date of the local elections is to be set in the following days (RTK)

The President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani and her Cabinet have concluded meetings with the parliamentary political entities, to discuss the date of the local elections.

“In separate meetings, the date of the elections was discussed with the Chairman of the Vetevendosje Movement, Mr. Albin Kurti, the Acting Chairman of the PDK, Enver Hoxhaj, the Chairman of the LDK, Lumir Abdixhiku, the representative of the AAK, Mr. Besnik Tahiri, the Chairman of the Serbian List, Goran Rakic and with the parties of non-majority communities: Vakat, RI, PAI, KDTP, IRDK, SDU, NDS, JGP and LPRK.

President Osmani has informed the political entities that she plans to invite the EU to send an observation mission during the local elections.

After the consultations with the political parties, President Osmani in the coming days is expected to announce the date of the local elections, which based on the applicable law, are expected to be held in the fall of this year,” reads a press release issued by the Office of the President.

LDK to vote for Association if it passes Court’s filter (Koha)  

The daily reports on its front page that Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Lumir Abdixhiku said on Wednesday that the Kurti-led government is arrogant and that it only dwells in the past. He argued that the Prime Minister lacks a clear position on the dialogue with Serbia and that the document the LDK presented to Kurti offers a good basis for future negotiations. The LDK leader also said that this party will not take part in the dialogue, but said they are ready to vote in favor of the formation of the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities under the condition that it is verified by the Constitutional Court of Kosovo.

Palmer, Lajcak to meet Serbian President Vucic today (media)

Most news websites report that EU Special Representative for the Prishtina-Belgrade dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, and US Assistant Deputy Secretary and Special Representative for the Western Balkans, Matthew Palmer, will meet Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade today.

Another non-paper on the Balkans submitted to the EU (Koha)

Citing an article published in Bosnian newspaper Oslobodjenje, Koha reports that another non-paper has been submitted to the headquarters of the European Union. The non-paper, authored by Austria and members of The Visegrad Group, is positive compared to previous non-papers that proposed border changes in the region. Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic said the non-paper really exists and that it calls for countries and peoples of the Western Balkans to engage in official talks about their common future in the European Union. The non-paper also calls on the EU to provide greater support to the Western Balkans.

Editor of the Swiss newspaper responds to Gervalla (RTK)

Kosovo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Donika Gervalla, reacted on Wednesday to the Swiss newspaper “Neue Zurcher Zeitung”, saying that the newspaper in question has used incorrect statements in the text of her interview related to the Kosovo Liberation Army.

“NZZ published the false claim that the KLA committed murders after the end of the war. The KLA was disbanded after the liberation of Kosovo in June 1999. If the crimes are said to have been committed, they were committed by individuals, not by the KLA,” Gervalla wrote.

The editor of the “Neue Zurcher Zeitung”, Andreas Ernst, reacted to Gervalla’s words, saying that the journalist who wrote the text did not emphasize that the KLA has a collective responsibility for what happened, but that the perpetrators have individual responsibilities.

“Our author Andy Reich wrote that post-war crimes were mainly committed by members of the Kosovo Liberation Army. He does not claim the collective responsibility of the KLA, but says that the perpetrators have individual responsibilities,” Ernst wrote.

“In addition, the NATO communiqué states that the KLA was not disbanded in June, but on September 20, 1999. The NZZ presented the situation correctly,” concluded the foreign policy editor of the Swiss newspaper Andreas Ernst.

Poll: 44% of respondents believe Gervalla is defending KLA (Telegrafi)

A poll conducted by Pyper, a specialised platform for measuring public opinion and broadcasted on RTV Dukagjini, focused on statements by Kosovo Foreign Minister Donika Gervalla and the image of the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Around 44 percent of respondents believe that Gervalla is defending the KLA with her statements, around 21 percent believe Gervalla is damaging the KLA, and 35 percent said they have no opinion on the matter. 39.4 percent said they believe that the KLA’s image is mostly damaged by the anti-KLA propaganda, 36.4 percent said they believe the Special Court was damaging the KLA and 24 percent said they don’t have an opinion about this.

KLA War Veterans call for Gervalla’s resignation (T7)

A member of the KLA War Veterans Organisation, Metush Kryeziu, said on Wednesday that Kosovo Foreign Minister Donika Gervalla is staining the work of the Kosovo Liberation Army with her immature statements. “She does not defend the interests of the state of Kosovo. She doesn’t deserve to be Foreign Minister of Kosovo with her immature statements,” Kryeziu said. He further argued that by keeping silent over Gervalla’s statements, Prime Minister Albin Kurti is in fact agreeing with her. “We call on the government to distance itself from Gervalla’s statements. It would be good if she resigns her post before we start organising protests,” he added.

The Hague summons witness who was 8-years-old during Kosovo war (Exit News)

Fahri Fazliu, a Kosovo citizen who was eight years old during the Kosovo war, was summoned for questioning by the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) in The Hague.

“Something very strange and unexpected happened to me yesterday afternoon – I received an invitation from the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office to appear in The Hague, on June 23, 2021, as a witness,” Fazliu wrote on Facebook this Wednesday.

“I was only 8 years old when the war happened,” he added.

Exit News asked the SPO about the reason behind Fazliu’s summon but did not receive any details on the case.

“To protect the integrity of the investigation, the confidentiality of witness testimony and ongoing collection of evidence, the SPO does not disclose specific information on the status of the investigation,” Christopher Bennett, the spokesperson of the Specialist Prosecutors’ Office told Exit News.

Local media reported that Fazliu holds his uncle’s name, Fahri Fazliu, who lost his life in a shoot-out with Serbian police on November 2, 1989, in the “Kodra e Diellit” neighborhood in Pristina, alongside Afrim Zhitia. Both were posthumously granted the honor of Hero of Kosovo.

The Kosovo war crimes court, composed of the Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague, was established by the Kosovo parliament at the insistence of the international community in August 2015.

It followed a 2011 Council of Europe report in which Swiss Senator Dick Marty addresses the alleged crimes of “members of the Kosovo Liberation Army against ethnic minorities and political rivals” from January 1998 until December 2000.

SPO is investigating war crimes allegedly committed by KLA members during the wartime, between the years 1998 and 2000.

Several KLA senior officials have been indicted so far. Among others, former President Hashim Thaci, former parliament speakers Jakup Krasniqi and Kadri Veseli and former Vetevendosje MP Rexhep Selimi are facing charges of war crimes, while being held in detention facilities in The Hague.

Serbia and Kosovo leaders to meet for reconciliation talks, says Miroslav Lajcak (Euronews)

The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo are to meet imminently to restart the EU-brokered dialogue that would normalise relations and put both nations on a path to European Union membership, EU envoy Miroslav Lajcak has told Euronews.

Lajcak, a former Slovak foreign minister, said that a date had been set for a meeting between Kosovo’s new prime minister, Albin Kurti, and Serbian President Aleksander Vucic. He added it would be announced shortly by the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell.

Lajcak stressed following a visit to Pristina and ahead of a visit to Belgrade that the EU-brokered dialogue was the only path to membership of the European Union for both nations. Talks began a decade ago but have stalled in recent years.

“There is no way around the dialogue both for Serbia and for Kosovo,” said Lajcak, the EU’s special representative for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. “Their European path goes through the dialogue. This is what matters. Mr Kurti knows it, Mr Vucic knows it.”

He was optimistic that a change of government in Pristina has increased the chances of successful talks between the two neighbours.

The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo are to meet imminently to restart the EU-brokered dialogue that would normalise relations and put both nations on a path to European Union membership, EU envoy Miroslav Lajcak has told Euronews.

Lajcak, a former Slovak foreign minister, said that a date had been set for a meeting between Kosovo’s new prime minister, Albin Kurti, and Serbian President Aleksander Vucic. He added it would be announced shortly by the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell.

Lajcak stressed following a visit to Pristina and ahead of a visit to Belgrade that the EU-brokered dialogue was the only path to membership of the European Union for both nations. Talks began a decade ago but have stalled in recent years.

“There is no way around the dialogue both for Serbia and for Kosovo,” said Lajcak, the EU’s special representative for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. “Their European path goes through the dialogue. This is what matters. Mr Kurti knows it, Mr Vucic knows it.”

He was optimistic that a change of government in Pristina has increased the chances of successful talks between the two neighbours.

“We have a new government, a new prime minister with a very strong political mandate […] this is a good precondition for a serious process. It is good that we have a day, it is good that we have an agreement that they will meet.”

Kurti, who was elected in a landslide victory in February, has repeatedly said that he wanted a full apology from Serbia for its actions during the 1998-99 conflict, which led to the displacement of up to a million Kosovars and at least 20,000 deaths.

It was only ended by a NATO bombing campaign that forced Serbia to withdraw from Kosovo.

He told Euronews in an interview following his election win that as well as a full recognition of Kosovo — which declared independence in 2008 in a move still not recognised by Belgrade and its allies, Russia and China, as well as three EU nations — he wanted war reparations from Serbia.

Kurti also branded Serbia’s actions in Kosovo genocide and has since said that he will file a lawsuit against Belgrade over its actions during the war.

But asked about Kurti’s recent actions and comments, Lajcak implied that what the Kosovar leader says behind closed doors was more important.

“What really matters is what is being said in the meeting, what the two parties sit together and discuss. Obviously, they make many public statements […] but what really matters is what is said in the meetings.”

See more at: https://bit.ly/34FnX7p

Top U.S., EU envoys tell Kosovo that better ties with Serbia will open door to Europe (RFE)

Top officials from the United States and the European Union are visiting Kosovo to press its leadership to resume talks on the normalization of ties with former foe Serbia.

Kosovo’s new government, led by Prime Minister Albin Kurti, who took office in March, has said it is busy fighting the pandemic and that talks with Serbia are not high on its list of immediate goals.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer and the EU envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, said a positive outcome of bilateral talks depend on both Pristina and Belgrade.

“The meetings were very useful, and it will help us prepare for a meeting [between Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic]. We want to make sure that the meeting will be successful,” Lajcak said at a news conference on June 1 in Pristina after talks with government officials and opposition politicians.

“Among the EU leadership and the member states, there is increased interest in the region,” Lajcak added.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3z12NhY

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