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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, June 4, 2021

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, June 4, 2021

Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: Seven new cases, one death (media)
• Resolution for pardoning COVID-19 fines fails to pass Assembly (Koha)
• Dendias: Greece supports visa liberalisation, Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (media)
• Kosovo President Osmani meets Greek FM Dendias (media)
• Gervalla: Independence of Kosovo is irreversible (media)
• Konjufca meets Dendias, discuss Kosovo’s EU integration path (media)
• The Netherlands on visa liberalisation: Fight corruption and organised crime (KP)
• Court clears former FM Haradinaj-Stublla of charges (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Vucic on Kosovo: We do not advocate for frozen conflict, dialogue will continue (RTS)
• Lajcak: I came to prepare dialogue (Tanjug, Radio KIM)
• “Kosovo is not ready to negotiate borders” (Blic, B92)
• Palmer says meetings in Belgrade successful (N1)
• Vucic: Serbia – Hungary relations never better (FoNet, N1)
• Kandic: The Tribunal did not find any indications of genocide in Kosovo (Al Jazeera)
• Petkovic: “Great Albania” graffiti written on wall of Vitosevic’s house (Radio KIM)
• Rakic with international and non-governmental organizations on the return of displaced persons (Kontakt plus radio)
• KFOR remains in Kosovo as long as needed, NATO official says (N1)
• Von der Leyen: The future of the Western Balkans is in the EU (Tanjug, B92)
• Vucic asks vaccination of North Macedonia citizens be enabled in Serbia (Kosovo-online)

International:

• Serbian president says EU-brokered Kosovo talks to resume (AP)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: Seven new cases, one death (media)
  • Resolution for pardoning COVID-19 fines fails to pass Assembly (Koha)
  • Dendias: Greece supports visa liberalisation, Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (media)
  • Kosovo President Osmani meets Greek FM Dendias (media)
  • Gervalla: Independence of Kosovo is irreversible (media)
  • Konjufca meets Dendias, discuss Kosovo’s EU integration path (media)
  • The Netherlands on visa liberalisation: Fight corruption and organised crime (KP)
  • Court clears former FM Haradinaj-Stublla of charges (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Vucic on Kosovo: We do not advocate for frozen conflict, dialogue will continue (RTS)
  • Lajcak: I came to prepare dialogue (Tanjug, Radio KIM)
  • “Kosovo is not ready to negotiate borders” (Blic,  B92)
  • Palmer says meetings in Belgrade successful (N1)
  • Vucic: Serbia – Hungary relations never better (FoNet, N1)
  • Kandic: The Tribunal did not find any indications of genocide in Kosovo (Al Jazeera)
  • Petkovic: “Great Albania” graffiti written on wall of Vitosevic’s house (Radio KIM)
  • Rakic with international and non-governmental organizations on the return of displaced persons (Kontakt plus radio)
  • KFOR remains in Kosovo as long as needed, NATO official says (N1)
  • Von der Leyen: The future of the Western Balkans is in the EU (Tanjug, B92)
  • Vucic asks vaccination of North Macedonia citizens be enabled in Serbia (Kosovo-online)

International:

  • Serbian president says EU-brokered Kosovo talks to resume (AP)

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

COVID-19: Seven new cases, one death (media)

Kosovo has recorded seven new COVID-19 infections and one death in the last 24 hours. Meanwhile, 147 persons have recovered from the virus during this time.

There are currently 1,659 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

At the same time, the Ministry of Health has announced that so far over 72,000 people have been vaccinated in Kosovo with 2,955 having received the COVID-19 vaccine in the last 24 hours. 

Resolution for pardoning COVID-19 fines fails to pass Assembly (Koha)

The resolution for pardoning fines for violation of COVID-19 rules issued to businesses and citizens, sponsored by the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), failed to secure enough votes at the Assembly today.

Besnik Tahiri from AAK said while presenting the draft resolution that according to the proposal, the fines would be suspended pending the approval of a law that would finally settle the matter.

Head of the Vetevendosje Movement parliamentary group Mimoza Kusari-Lila meanwhile said that if AAK would have truly wanted to discuss the pardoning of fines it would call for an Assembly debate and not invite Finance Minister Hekuran Murati to a motion. 

Murati on his part said the Ministry of Finance is not responsible for pardoning fines and said it was not clear to him why he was motioned in the first place. “The fines issued by the inspectorate have nothing to do with the Ministry of Finance,” he said but added nevertheless that a country cannot be sustained by pardoning debts and fines.

Dendias: Greece supports visa liberalisation, Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (media)

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, who is visiting Kosovo today, said his country supports visa liberalisation for Kosovo as well as the resumption of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Donika Gervalla, Dendias said that Greece wants to expand economic cooperation with Kosovo but also in other fields as well. “Greece is committed to the initiative of the Balkans being high up on the European agenda. We strongly support dialogue and we hope it will result in a solution that would stabilise the region,” he is quoted by Telegrafi. 

Dendias added that Greece believes Western Balkans is part of Europe and should be an integral part of the European Union.

Kosovo President Osmani meets Greek FM Dendias (media)

President of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani met Foreign Minister of Greece Nikos Dendias who is in Prishtina today to meet institutional leaders. 

A statement issued by the Kosovo’s Presidency states that Osmani underlined that relations between Kosovo and Greece are good but that they would be deepened further if Greece were to recognise independence of Kosovo. “President Osmani also emphasised the need for increasing trade and economic exchanges, as well as cooperation in the sphere of tourism and culture.”

Gervalla: Independence of Kosovo is irreversible (media)

Donika Gervalla said independence of Kosovo is an irreversible fact and that the sooner this is recognised, the sooner the region will move towards sustainable stability. 

“Kosovo and Greece have agreed to raise the status of the Kosovo’s office in Athens from a merely economic office into a so-called interest office with access not only in economic affairs but political as well,” Klan Kosova quotes Gervalla as saying at a joint press conference with Greek FM Nikos Dendias.

Konjufca meets Dendias, discuss Kosovo’s EU integration path (media)

Kosovo Assembly Speaker Glauk Konjufca met today the Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and  discussed Kosovo’s European integration path as well as the visa liberalisation process. 

“Minister Dendias underlined that Greece’s position on Kosovo has been constructive and mentioned to this end cooperation in the field of economic development, energy and the contribution of Greek troops within KFOR.” 

Konjufca on his part is reported to have expressed the readiness and the need for deepening of relations between Kosovo and Greece and the advantages that Greece’s recognition of independence would carry for Kosovo’s European integration path. 

“The meeting, characterised by a constructive spirit and full agreement on mutual interests of cooperation between the two countries, also addressed the European integration of the Western Balkans countries and dialogue with Serbia,” Assembly’s statement reads.  

The Netherlands on visa liberalisation: Fight corruption and organised crime (KP)

Spokesperson for the Dutch Foreign Ministry, Bo de Koning, told Kosovapress news website that the arguments provided by Kosovo institutions regarding the fight against organised crime and corruption have not been convincing so far.

“As you know, visa liberalisation is a technical process guided by standards that a country needs to meet in a sustainable manner before the Council decides to lift the visa regime. When the European Commission last reported on this issue, the Netherlands reached the conclusion that the results in fighting high-level corruption and organised crime were not very convincing.”

De Koning said that The Netherlands would continue supporting Kosovo to achieve sustainable results in fighting these phenomena. “The Government’s plans to fight organised crime and corruption are encouraging and we therefore expect to see results,” she added. 

Court clears former FM Haradinaj-Stublla of charges (media)

The Basic Court in Pristina has acquitted former Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla of charges for failing to correctly declare her assets with the Anti-Corruption Agency.

Haradinaj-Stublla was accused that while advisor to then Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, she had failed to declare ownership of a business registered in London. In 2019 the court found her guilty. Upon appeal, the case went to retrial. 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Vucic on Kosovo: We do not advocate for frozen conflict, dialogue will continue (RTS)

In his address to the public today President Aleksandar Vucic said Serbian doesn’t advocate for the frozen conflict, and doesn’t want to leave conflicts to its children, RTS reports. He also added the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue will continue very soon and Belgrade would respond positively to the invitation from Brussels.

“We are ready to discuss a compromise solution, but not about the humiliation of Serbia”, he said.

Vucic also said he is ready to submit a report on the dialogue with Pristina to the Serbian Assembly, and it will be decided whether he would do that prior or after the dialogue in Brussels.

“I am ready and everything depends on the format of it, since you have to submit an act to the Assembly, but I am convinced we can find the way how to submit the report to the Assembly about everything taking place in Brussels and they should decide whether that should be prior or after continuation of dialogue in Brussels. This is of great importance to us”, Vucic said.

He also said he is ready to respond to those parties that have insisted on foreign meddling if they demonstrate interest (for him to do so), but they have not demonstrated it thus far.

Vucic also said not easy days await Serbia, adding he hopes we would have enough wisdom and support to do good things for the country.

“I am going to Brussels to talk to Albanians; I hope we would have enough wisdom and support to do good things for our country”, he said.

According to him, when you preserve peace and stability these are good and important things for the country.   

Responding to a question if Serbia remains committed to the Washington agreement as the deadline for relocating the Serbian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem approaches, Vucic said Belgrade talks with Americans about that document all the time.

“We see Albanians fulfilled nothing, respectively they implemented what goes to their benefit, they are not interested in ‘mini-Schengen” or anything else. Also something that changes certain things has occurred and that is Israeli recognition of Kosovo”, Vucic said, adding there are no indications of relocating the embassy. 

Lajcak: I came to prepare dialogue (Tanjug, Radio KIM)

EU Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue ahead of the meeting with the Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Porfirije this morning told Tanjug he didn’t come to Belgrade with messages but to prepare the continuation of Belgrade-Pristina talks.

“I didn’t come with messages, I came with the intention to well prepare the meeting of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti. It is important to know what we can expect there”, Lajcak said.

Asked about the date of dialogue continuation, Lajcak said the date is known, but that EU High Representative Josep Borrell will announce it.

Following the meeting with Lajcak, Serbian Patriarch would also meet US Special Envoy for the Western Balkans Mathew Palmer, and topics of discussion with the two foreign officials as expected would be the position of the Serbian cultural heritage and problems Serbian Orthodox Church faces in Kosovo. 

“Kosovo is not ready to negotiate borders” (Blic,  B92)

US Special Envoy for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer in an interview with Belgrade-based daily Blic said when it comes to borders and territories, he does not see it as an issue on which Kosovo is ready to engage.

He added he believes there are much more productive areas for discussion at this moment that need to be addressed. Such as, for example, missing persons, an area around which both parties can reach an agreement.

At the same time, he pointed out that the United States encourages, “as it has done so far, the full implementation of the Brussels Agreement, and all its areas, including the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM)”.

Palmer also said he would like to see both sides seriously engage again in the process that will lead to an agreement and normalization of relations, and open the way to Europe.

Asked whether Kurti and Vucic could be the ones to sign the agreement in 2021, Palmer said that he thought it was absolutely possible.

“I think it is absolutely possible. But it is really up to them, and what we would like is to encourage them to get involved. Both President Vucic and Prime Minister Kurti have strong political support, they are in a position to get seriously involved in the whole process, identify the parts where an agreement can be reached and help move the whole process forward”, Palmer said.

He pointed out that the goal of the dialogue is complete normalization of relations. He also noted that is what is necessary in order to re-establish the European perspective that both Serbia and Kosovo aspire to. On the conclusion that Serbia does not recognize Kosovo, the US special envoy for the Western Balkans says that he understands it. “I understand that, and it’s not something (the dialogue) starts with, it starts with identifying key topics such as missing persons, freedom of movement”, he said.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3fPwICv

Palmer says meetings in Belgrade successful (N1)

The US Special Envoy for Western Balkans Matthew Palmer said on Thursday that he had successful meetings with top Serbian officials in Belgrade, N1 reports.

“Following successful meetings with the Serbian leadership I am enjoying a moment of silence in the St Sava Temple,” the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State wrote in a Twitter post, adding “it was wonderful to be in Belgrade again”.

Palmer is in Belgrade for meetings with top Serbian state officials following top-level meetings in Pristina with European Union envoy Miroslav Lajcak.

President Aleksandar Vucic echoed Palmer’s words, saying in an Instagram post that he had “good talks” with the EU and US envoys Miroslav Lajcak and Palmer.

Continuation of dialogue with Pristina (to happen) soon and I believe in the possibility of reaching a compromise solution”, Vucic also wrote. 

Vucic: Serbia – Hungary relations never better (FoNet, N1)

After meeting with the Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto in Belgrade on Friday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the relations between the two countries were at the historically highest level, N1 reports.

The two officials discussed the improvement of bilateral relations, Serbian European integration, curbing COVID-19 pandemic, usage of gas and Belgrade – Budapest strategic partnership in many areas, a statement from Vucic’s office reads.

It added Vucic particularly stressed his excellent personal relationship with the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

According to the statement, Szijjarto also described his country’s relations with Serbia as friendly and said Belgrade “can always count on Budapest’s help in the European integration process”.

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

Kandic: The Tribunal did not find any indications of genocide in Kosovo (Al Jazeera)

Instead of a lawsuit for genocide, Kosovo should pressure Serbia to start prosecuting war crimes, the founder of the Humanitarian Law Center from Serbia, Natasa Kandic told in an interview for Al Jazeera.

Instead to reach for a genocide lawsuit against Serbia, which will be difficult to prove, it would be more effective for Kosovo to put pressure in the right place to start indictments in Serbia for crimes against Albanian civilians in Kosovo after years of stagnation.

This is the opinion of the founder of the Humanitarian Law Center from Serbia and coordinator of the RECOM reconciliation network Natasa Kandic, who is one of a number of experts that welcomed with doubts the announcement of the launch of the Kosovo lawsuit against Serbia before the International Court of Justice in The Hague. 

As a human rights activist, Kandic fought with Humanitarian Law Center for Albanian civilian victims in Serbian courts and does not dispute that Kosovo was the scene of horrific crimes in 1998 and 1999, but she believes that Kosovo’s genocide lawsuit is not the way that leads in the right direction and final reconciliation in the region, the normalization of relations of the two sides, as well as justice for victims of crime.

She recalls that she said that in March this year, when it became clear that Kosovo would start the process of initiating a lawsuit.

An example of Kostunica’s commission

“The whole last year was marked by some new political initiatives, especially before the arrest of the President of Kosovo and other former commanders of the KLA. It was said that a court should be formed to try Serbia for crimes. There were a lot of political initiatives that indicated that there was some new data or knowledge, although it was not too clear. I remember March 8 this year, when the report was presented of two organizations on the need to establish a national commission for truth and reconciliation. On that occasion, I reacted and said that the national commission could only make sense if it would deal with the problems in Kosovo – non-integration of Serbs, intensive political participation of a small number of Serbs, or political influence on those Serbs from Belgrade,” says Kandic.

“This initiative to form a commission reminds me of Serbia, when the then president Vojislav Kostunica, who, instead of devoting himself to trials before the Hague tribunal and obliging to surrender the indictees, hastily established a truth and reconciliation commission that neither function nor accepted civil society. That commission ended its mandate after a year, without a single written word,” says Kandic.

She points out that Kosovo’s decision to launch the process is a political initiative that will not contribute to the rule of law or justice for victims

That is why, as she says, she immediately said that she did not support that initiative.

“There is not enough basis to think of it as an idea that has a solid evidence infrastructure behind it, as something that will be found in court and bring some results. Experiences with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia show that it is necessary to have evidence before the court, and the court will not collect it,” says Kandic

To open the ‘closed’ Kosovo issues

Kandic claims that Kosovo can hardly come out with evidence of genocide, recalling that there was “no evidence of genocidal intent in any of the cases conducted so far” about the crimes in Kosovo in The Hague. 

“The Hague tribunal has convicted several Serbian generals. However, if there had been genocidal intent in the actions of those who were punished, the Hague Tribunal would have established that. Some existing initial indictments would be changed and they would be charged with genocide, as happened in the examples from BiH, with Ratko Mladic and some others, where genocidal intentions were established in the area of Prijedor, Foca, Sanski Most…However, in the case of Kosovo, no decision and verdict stated that there was evidence of genocidal intent. These are court facts,” claims Kandic. 

She also says that Kosovo, before initiating a lawsuit against Serbia, should pay attention to the topics that are now “closed” in Kosovo, and which concern the actions of the KLA.

“The specialized Kosovo councils in the indictments so far mostly mention cases of crimes against Albanians – political dissidents and ordinary people who had connections with Serbs or were employed in companies or enterprises run by Serbs. There were significant numbers of Albanians in prisons in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999. This is a topic that the new government needs to open. What can be concluded from the indictment of the Kosovo Specialized Prosecutor’s Office, what will contribute more to the rule of law is targeting what happened inside Kosovo towards members of the same ethnic community, and only then should the others take their turn. This topic is completely blocked, because in Kosovo, at the top of some organizations with the highest power, there are still those who belonged to the KLA command staff. I am not talking about ordinary people, but about a small circle of very powerful former KLA commanders,” states Kandic.

‘Less and less stories about Serbia’s responsibility’

Accepting responsibility and prosecuting war crimes is one of the preconditions for the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, claims Kandic, for which ”there is a great need”. However, she adds, from the leaders who are at the head of Serbia, ”it is difficult to expect that because they cannot understand what The Hague actually wanted to say with its verdicts against Serbian generals”. 

“If they were convicted before the tribunal, it is not the same as when someone was convicted who took a rifle and shot in the war, and then returned to normal life. The Hague wanted to say that the institutions, the police and the Serbian army were involved in the crimes in Kosovo. The conclusion should be drawn from that, which is necessary for the future, that Serbia should talk about its responsibility. However, as time passes, we have more and more praise for the army and police generals who were in Kosovo, and less and less talk that Serbia is responsible for the crimes in Kosovo, that they must be prosecuted and that Serbia should be the one to lead in the constant effort to normalize relations with Kosovo,” Kandic claims.

However, that is not the case, she claims, although she admits that certain positive steps were made under the leadership of Aleksandar Vucic, but also that they did not go far.

“After (Slobodan) Milosevic, Serbia had to have a new strategy. In Serbia, there is now a complete agreement that there is no recognition of Kosovo. Honestly, Aleksandar Vucic, in relation to the others, made some steps forward, but when he seemed to have found a model with the representatives of Kosovo regarding the solution of the problem, the situation started to get worse, so now in every other sentence he says that he will not be the one who would be recognizing Kosovo, while the international community is constantly saying that the normalization of relations should end with mutual recognition,” Kandic pointed out.

He believes that for Kosovo, but also for the entire region, it would be better for Kosovo to take a different path, for which it is more realistic to expect a favorable outcome.

‘Well, there are no trials in Serbia at all’

“I think it is much better for them to find a way to intensify stories and pressure on Serbia. Serbia now has negotiations on Chapter 23, a job that can influence the European Commission and other EU bodies to put pressure on Serbia. Although the Hague Tribunal has left a great legacy, facts and evidence on the responsibility of the highest and middle commanders of the Serbian police and army, Serbia has stopped the processing of various crimes by closing the Tribunal. Therefore, we should put pressure on the European Union and say – wait, so Serbia is not indicting at all,” states Kandic, who adds that no indictment for crimes against Albanian civilians in Kosovo has been filed in Serbia for two or three years

“It is a free field that Kosovo should use. And then, the issue of pensions should be raised. Until 1999, Albanians received pensions, or exercised their right to them, and they were denied to them. For 21 years, they have not received what belongs to them. In this way, one can influence that justice be brought for the victims, but also for ordinary people who found themselves in a situation where they cannot survive, left to fend for themselves and wait for someone to send them money from abroad,” says Kandic.

Kandic claims that the pressure on Serbia, if it does not prosecute for crimes, it will not progress in European integration, or that it will not receive international financial assistance, makes sense, while gathering a team of international experts to file a lawsuit does not, and cites the case of BiH.

“Kosovo needs large funds for that, and it is poor anyway. Someone like Geoffrey Nice (former Hague prosecutor) may appear, who has persistently persuaded Bosniak politicians to file a revision of the lawsuit against Serbia based on new facts. They will think that they should try to gather evidence, file a lawsuit and in the end, they will not bear any responsibility for a possible failure. If the Tribunal has not found the evidence, it will hardly be possible for the International Court of Justice, which, in fact, is not looking for it. It is difficult to expect that a group of international lawyers will succeed,” Kandic concludes.

Petkovic: “Great Albania” graffiti written on wall of Vitosevic’s house (Radio KIM)

“Great Albania” and “Kosovo is Kosovo 17.02.2008” graffiti were written on the wall of a Serb displaced person from Orahovac house in which young married couple Vitosevic currently lives, Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Petar Petkovic said, Radio KIM reports.

He also said by this act Serbs south of the Ibar River “were sent an unequivocal message they are not welcome at their centuries-old home places”.

Petkovic underlined that 55 different incidents against the Serbs, their properties, church and children were recorded during the five months of this year in Kosovo.

“This is a reality that the international community and international public must be informed about, because it is impermissible that one ethnic community at their homes and places of living almost on a daily basis was exposed to persecution, attacks and intimidation”, Petkovic said in a statement.   

Rakic with international and non-governmental organizations on the return of displaced persons (Kontakt plus radio)

Minister for Communities and Return Goran Rakic met on Thursday in Belgrade with representatives of UNHCR, Danish Refugee Council (DRC), representatives of the Association of Citizens Initiative for Development and Cooperation (IDC) and the German organization ASB, where they discussed provision of support for the increased return of displaced persons to Kosovo.

“After the meetings, Rakic stated that the talks were held with the aim of joint coordination and communication, and to discuss concrete steps to be taken, so that there would be more returnees in Kosovo in the coming period than there are today,” said the Ministry’s statement.

“Several important meetings with representatives of international and non-governmental organizations here in Belgrade, who have been working on the return process for many years, all with the aim of returning a bigger number of the displaced persons to Kosovo. Our goal is not to merely bring people back to Kosovo, our goal is to provide conditions for them to start their own businesses after their return so that they can survive and stay in their communities. It is absolutely clear to us that the return process is not going in the desired direction at the moment and that the number of returnees is very small, we want to change this trend and I will cooperate with all relevant factors, which can help change the trend,” Rakic said

He again called on the displaced to return to Kosovo and pointed out that they would have the absolute support of the Ministry of Communities and Return.

Representatives of the Ministry of Communities and Return will visit IDPs in cities in the territory of the Republic of Serbia in the coming days, identify their needs and work on returning as many people as possible to Kosovo, it was said in the press release.

KFOR remains in Kosovo as long as needed, NATO official says (N1)

NATO Assistant Secretary-General for Public Diplomacy Baiba Braje said on Friday the KFOR mission would remain in Kosovo and act in line with the provisions of the UN Security Council 1244 to guarantee a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all communities in Kosovo.

In a video address to the conference ‘Serbia and NATO – Partnership for the Future,’ she added that would be the case for as long as needed,’ recalling NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s statement during his recent meeting with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic.

The conference was organised by the Strategic Policy Council in cooperation with the Bulgarian Embassy as a contact country for Serbia-NATO relations.

Braje said that NATO fully supported the dialogue and normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina under the EU auspices, adding Vucic reaffirmed his commitment to the dialogue.

She added that NATO had always been committed to peace and stability in the Western Balkans and said that no vision of peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic region could exist without peace and security in the Western Balkans.

Braje said that most countries in the region were NATO members, but some countries, like Serbia, had made a different decision, and the Alliance respected it, adding the country was a respected and vital partner of the Alliance.

”Serbia and NATO have a developed relationship full of respect, and we are cooperating very well. Serbia is a respected and important partner of the Alliance; it is important for NATO, and NATO is important for Serbia,” Braje added in a video message.

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

Von der Leyen: The future of the Western Balkans is in the EU (Tanjug, B92)

President of the EC, Ursula von der Leyen, met with the President of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, within the framework of the upcoming Slovenian Presidency of the EU.

“We agree that the future of the Western Balkans is in the European Union, and we want to make progress on that issue,” von der Leyen wrote on Twitter.

The president of the EC says that the Slovenian presidency will play an important role in the work on the recovery and resilience of the EU after the pandemic and the heavy blow inflicted on the EU economy.

“Now is the time for recovery, investment and reform,” Leyen added.

She thanked Slovenian President Borut Pahor for his commitment to greater unity within the EU and his commitment to talks on the future of the Union.

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

Vucic asks vaccination of North Macedonia citizens be enabled in Serbia (Kosovo-online)

President Aleksandar Vucic requested from the Serbian Government to enable vaccination of North Macedonia citizens in Serbia free of charge, Kosovo-online portal reports.

Vucic also asked that citizens of North Macedonia may get the vaccine of their preference same as citizens from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Reacting to the news, North Macedonia Minister of Health Venko Filipce assessed the initiative of President Vucic “as an act of good neighborliness that Skopje respects”.  

 

 

International

 

Serbian president says EU-brokered Kosovo talks to resume (AP)

Serbia’s president on Friday said that European Union-mediated negotiations on normalizing relations with Kosovo, which stalled last year, will resume within days.

Aleksandar Vucic did not specify the date but said “dialogue will continue within a very short period of time.

“We are talking about days, not weeks,” said Vucic. ”We are always ready to talk. Serbia does not want a frozen conflict.”

Vucic spoke after U.S. and EU envoys visited this week both Serbia and Kosovo as part of efforts to help resolve a long-standing problem that remains a source of tension in the Balkans years after the wars of the 1990s.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3g9RwDB

 

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