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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, June 9, 2021

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, June 9, 2021

Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 21 new cases, one death (media)
• Kurti and Vucic to meet on 15 June (RFE, media)
• Kosovo-Serbia dialogue on the ‘specific’ agenda of the G7 (Klan)
• PM Kurti received the Minister of the Republic of Guyana, George Hallaq (media)
• U.S. Embassy: Corruption damages our foreign policy (RTK)
• Hoxhaj: If Serbia does not apologize, Kurti should not go to dialogue (media)
• LDK on LVV employments in institutions: You are violating human rights (media)
• Mustafa case: Presiding judge announces “ex parte” sessions (media)
• PDK to elect new party leadership during June (RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

• Stano: Vucic and Kurti in Brussels on June 15 (Tanjug, Kosovo-online)
• Stano: No comment on US decisions, EU does not sanction partners in Western Balkans (Tanjug, Kosovo Online)
• Djuric on “updated sanctions” for the Western Balkans: We will carefully analyze the content of Biden’s decree (Blic, Tanjug)
• ‘Mladic’s guilt is only his,’ UN Chief Prosecutor says after the verdict (N1)
• Vucic’s address at the session of the UN Security Council (B92)
• Brnabic: The Hague with its verdicts moved region away from reconciliation (Tanjug)
• Political parties, lawyers on Mladic’s vedict (N1, RTS)
• N1 guests: It was known Mladic would get life sentence, justice selective (N1)
• Odalovic: Hague tribunal is not a court that brought law and justice (RTS)
• Judge Agius: Mladic verdict a strong message for victims and survivors (N1)
• Russian Embassy in Washington: US to suspend arming Pristina (Kosovo-online)
• Balkan Chiefs of Staff end 14th Conference (N1)

Opinion:

• After Mladic’s Verdict: Six Lessons to Learn from Hague Trials (Balkan Insight)

International:

• U.S. ‘Modernizes’ Sanctions Policy For Western Balkans To Go After Corruption (RFE)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 21 new cases, one death (media)
  • Kurti and Vucic to meet on 15 June (RFE, media)
  • Kosovo-Serbia dialogue on the ‘specific’ agenda of the G7 (Klan)
  • PM Kurti received the Minister of the Republic of Guyana, George Hallaq (media)
  • S. Embassy: Corruption damages our foreign policy (RTK)
  • Hoxhaj: If Serbia does not apologize, Kurti should not go to dialogue (media)
  • LDK on LVV employments in institutions: You are violating human rights (media)
  • Mustafa case: Presiding judge announces “ex parte” sessions (media)
  • PDK to elect new party leadership during June (RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Stano: Vucic and Kurti in Brussels on June 15 (Tanjug, Kosovo-online)
  • Stano: No comment on US decisions, EU does not sanction partners in Western Balkans (Tanjug, Kosovo Online)
  • Djuric on “updated sanctions” for the Western Balkans: We will carefully analyze the content of Biden’s decree (Blic, Tanjug)
  • ‘Mladic’s guilt is only his,’ UN Chief Prosecutor says after the verdict (N1)
  • Vucic’s address at the session of the UN Security Council (B92)
  • Brnabic: The Hague with its verdicts moved region away from reconciliation (Tanjug)
  • Political parties, lawyers on Mladic’s vedict (N1, RTS)
  • N1 guests: It was known Mladic would get life sentence, justice selective (N1)
  • Odalovic: Hague tribunal is not a court that brought law and justice (RTS)
  • Judge Agius: Mladic verdict a strong message for victims and survivors (N1)
  • Russian Embassy in Washington: US to suspend arming Pristina (Kosovo-online)
  • Balkan Chiefs of Staff end 14th Conference (N1)

Opinion:

  • After Mladic’s Verdict: Six Lessons to Learn from Hague Trials (Balkan Insight)

International:

  • U.S. ‘Modernizes’ Sanctions Policy For Western Balkans To Go After Corruption (RFE)

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

COVID-19: 21 new cases, one death (media)

Kosovo has recorded 21 new cases of COVID-19 and one death in the last 24-hour period. 111 recoveries were also confirmed during this time.

There are currently 832 active cases of coronavirus in Kosovo.

Kurti and Vucic to meet on 15 June (RFE, media)

The dialogue for the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia will resume on Tuesday, June 15, European Union spokesman Peter Stano announced on Wednesday.

This will be the first meeting between the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, and the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic.

The negotiation process stalled last autumn, when the Serbian side raised the issue of implementing the agreement on the Association of Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo.

Prior to the confirmation of the date for the resumption of the process, officials of both parties continued to make contradictory statements regarding this Association.

Kurti said that no single-ethnic association could be formed, while Vucic said that Kurti did not need to go to Brussels if he did not want to talk about the formation of the Association.

Kurti, in some cases, has said that his meeting with Vucic, in the context of dialogue, will not be a continuation of dialogue, but “the beginning of a new process.”

However, the EU insists that during the dialogue process all issues that have been raised earlier will be discussed.

“All the issues that have been discussed so far and that will be discussed in the future within this ongoing dialogue, are essential for the comprehensive normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia,” Stano said last week.

According to him, the European Union and its member states expect continued commitment from both parties to be involved in this dialogue and to implement all past agreements, writes REL.

“This means that everything that has been agreed must be implemented,” Stano said.

An agreement of 2013, signed between Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels, provides for the formation of the Association of Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo.

In 2015, the two countries, under the mediation of the EU, reached an additional agreement on its establishment.

However, the Constitutional Court of Kosovo has found that the principles for it are not in accordance with the Constitution of Kosovo, although it has said that they can be harmonized with a legal act of the Government of Kosovo.

Kosovo-Serbia dialogue on the ‘specific’ agenda of the G7 (Klan)

For three days, from 11 to 13 June, the small coastal town of Carbis Bay in Cornwall UK, will be the political center of the world.

The meeting of the leaders of the seven most industrialized countries, (USA, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Great Britain) will be held there.

Among the topics of discussion at this summit, which is the first appearance in the international arena of the U.S. President Joe Biden after being elected to this post, will be the Western Balkans and its path to Euro-Atlantic integration. The Kosovo-Serbia dialogue is expected to be more specifically touched upon.

These items on the agenda were neither affirmed nor denied by a senior official from the G7 Summit.

“Leaders are expected to discuss a range of current foreign policy issues. We cannot comment on specific items on the agenda at this stage,” reads the response to Klan Kosova.

It was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, Heiko Maas, who on Tuesday said that at the summit that will be held in a few days, he will definitely talk about the integration process of the six countries of the Western Balkans.

They are Kosovo, Albania, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, reports Klan Kosova.

PM Kurti received the Minister of the Republic of Guyana, George Hallaq (media)

The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, together with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Kreshnik Ahmeti, received the Minister for Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa of the Republic of Guyana, George Hallaq.

“Minister Hallaq handed over to Prime Minister Kurti the letter of the President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, dr. Mohammed Irfaan Ali, wishing him victory in the February 14 elections. In the letter, the Guyanese president stressed the importance of cooperation between the two countries and invited Prime Minister Kurti to visit the Guyanese capital, Georgetown.

Also, Minister Hallaq expressed in the meeting the will and readiness of the Republic of Guyana for cooperation with the Republic of Kosovo.

Prime Minister Kurti thanked Minister Hallaq for the visit and for the letter of President Dr. Mohammed Irfaan Ali. He said that the people of Guyana and the people of Kosovo have gone through similar histories of the liberation war and democratic state-building, and that both countries are positioned on the same side of global politics.

The state of Guyana is located in South America and recognized the independence of Kosovo in 2013,” reads the press release issued by the Office of the Prime Minister.

U.S. Embassy: Corruption damages our foreign policy (RTK)

The U.S. Embassy in Pristina has backed the executive order of the President of the United States, Joe Biden, through which he has foreseen blocking of property and suspension of entry into the United States of certain individuals who contribute to the destabilizing situation in the Western Balkans.

“Corruption damages the foreign policy, national security, and the economic health of the United States, our partners, and our allies.  Yesterday, President Joe Biden signed a new Executive Order modernizing the Western Balkans sanctions regime to reflect rule of law concerns.  It provides new tools to respond to the most serious threats to stability across the region — corruption, actions that undermine democratic governance, and serious human rights abuse,” is posted in the Facebook page of the Embassy, which has also attached the link to this executive order.

Hoxhaj: If Serbia does not apologize, Kurti should not go to dialogue (media)

The acting chairman of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) Enver Hoxhaj said that the government led by Albin Kurti is the weakest one Kosovo has had so far.

“This government is degrading Kosovo’s international position every day. This country after a year or two will see that as a result of degradation it is losing the main elements of statehood just as some countries that resemble a territorial entity.”

He stated during the discussion in Levizja Fol that Kurti and the government are not prepared for talks within the dialogue process.

“We have not yet seen Kurti’s platform for dialogue. What is said in the government program, either about foreign policy or the dialogue, is ridiculous. The government of Kosovo is not politically prepared for dialogue, neither are they prepared in the substantive nor in the diplomatic aspect. Before going to Brussels, Kurti should communicate and send non-paper views on how he sees the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, on how it can be closed in favor of Kosovo. He should communicate with Washington, Berlin, Paris and other cities.”

“Since Prime Minister Kurti thinks that he will not continue the old dialogue, but the new one, then bring a new resolution to the Assembly, with new goals and new objectives,” he said.

Hoxhaj emphasized that he is quite concerned about Kurti’s appearance on June 15 in Brussels.

“I am saying that you can see how these will take shape by the end of the year.”

Acting leader of PDK said that he is reminding Prime Minister Kurti of his two conditions that he had set prior to the start of the dialogue with Serbia, apology from Serbia and the return of the missing.

“If Serbia does not apologize until June 15 for the genocide committed in Kosovo, Albin Kurti should not sit in a meeting with Vucic,” Hoxhaj said.

LDK on LVV employments in institutions: You are violating human rights (media)

The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) has asked the government of Kosovo to suspend the employment of persons close to members of the government cabinet and officials of the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) in state institutions.

Sibel Halimi, the party’s spokeswoman said at a press conference that the employment trend should be stopped because it constitutes a violation of human rights.

“The LDK is also following the threatening language of some state representatives,” she said.

Speaking about the dialogue with Serbia, Halimi said that they have asked for a platform to be presented by Prime Minister Albin Kurti on this issue.

“The Prime Minister emphasized that he would have a dialogue with the Serbs in Kosovo. The Kurti government has begun to change attitudes. We still do not know what topics will be discussed in the dialogue. We hope that he will present the main points of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue during the session.”

She further said that it has now become a practice for Kurti’s government to make escapes to the past in order to avoid responsibility

While Shkemb Manaj from LDK’s security department said that, after coming to power, LVV has started to offer shelter for family members and supporters in state positions.

“The ruling party said that relatives and friends are only for weddings. From the moment it came to power, LVV has started offering shelter to its family members and supporters in state positions. The LDK demands that such a trend be stopped because it constitutes a flagrant violation of human rights. Many cases have already been announced. That is why we call on the Prime Minister to stop this campaign, because the citizens voted for him to advance the Euro-Atlantic integration processes. Every day we have news in the media that the Minister of Justice insults the prosecutor, and the deputy of the ruling party does not appear in court.”

“We ask for statements from the Minister of Internal Affairs to be stopped, because his job is to ensure public safety,” Manaj said.

Mustafa case: Presiding judge announces “ex parte” sessions (media)

The preparatory session for the trial of the former superior of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Salih Mustafa, has started in The Hague.

The presiding judge, Mappie Veldt-Foglia, said that tomorrow and the day after tomorrow there will be a pre-trial hearing against Mustafa, which will not be broadcast (ex parte).

“Tomorrow we will hold closed sessions, then another closed session with the SPO”, said the Chief Judge.

The Prosecution, meanwhile, said that they will make a request for the addition of another witness to the Prosecution list, media report.

RTK reports that Julius Von Bone, the lawyer of the former KLA superior, Salih Mustafa, has said that in the coming weeks he will make three trips to Kosovo, to gather exculpatory evidence for his client and in order to conduct investigations. for the case.

Von Bone said he plans to make his first visit to Kosovo on Wednesday, and two more in July and August. But the Prosecution has said that it would be better for the visit to take place after the submission of arguments by them and the trial panel.

In response, Von Bone said that this visit should be made before witnesses are heard.

“I think the visit should take place before the witnesses are heard and we stand by that view,” Von Bone is quoted as saying.

Former KLA commander Salih Mustafa was the first of the former KLA members to be arrested and transferred to the Special Court detention center on September 24 last year. He is charged with a series of offenses that are classified as war crimes and crimes against humanity.

PDK to elect new party leadership during June (RTK)

The Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) is expected to hold the election convention for the election of the new leader and leadership during this month.

This was announced by the acting chairman of the PDK, Enver Hoxhaj, however he did not indicate if he would aim to be the all-powerful leader of the PDK.

In the “Speak openly” forum of the Fol Movement, Hoxhaj said that the party membership is requesting to hold a convention.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Stano: Vucic and Kurti in Brussels on June 15 (Tanjug, Kosovo-online)

The new round of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue would be held in Brussels on Tuesday, June 15, the EU Spokesperson Peter Stano said, Tanjug news agency reports.

“Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, for the first time, will attend the meeting”, Stano said.

He added the EU High Representative Josep Borrell and EU Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina talks Miroslav Lajcak would mediate the meeting.

Stano also said this is about continuation of the dialogue that started in 2011, adding all existing obligations and the process remain the same.

“This is the first meeting of the dialogue at which new Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti would be present, and that is why it is expected that the President Vucic and Prime Minister Kurti would discuss the ways how to continue the dialogue. That would be the main topic and intention of the talks”, Stano said.

He also noted there is “no old and new dialogue” but it is about the process that lasts under the EU’s auspices and by which Serbia and Kosovo progress towards European future.

“The dialogue lasts since 2011 and continues with the next meeting due on Tuesday. During this process the partners in the talks have changed, the governments have changed, however, the obligations and process remain”, he underlined.   

Stano: No comment on US decisions, EU does not sanction partners in Western Balkans (Tanjug, Kosovo Online)

Regarding the decree of the President of the USA, Joseph Biden, on the expansion of emergency measures in the Western Balkans, Brussels says that the EU has its obligations towards partners in the region, and that sanctions are not part of the current European policy in the Western Balkans, reported agency Tanjug. 

“Our engagement in the region is very strong. Talks on potential sanctions are not on the agenda. Any decision on this must be made unanimously by all member states. At the moment, this is not being discussed when it comes to partners in the Western Balkans,” said EU spokesman Peter Stano.

Asked by the media in Brussels to comment on Biden’s signing of a decree extending US sanctions on individuals and organizations from the Western Balkans in order to “ensure stability and security in the region”, Stano said that the EU does not comment on US administration decisions and has its own policy when partners in the Western Balkans are in question.

He reminds that the EU’s commitment to the region is one of the basic points of the EU agenda, as well as that regular talks are held with the leaders from the Western Balkans on the problems of the region, quoted portal Kosovo Online.

Djuric on “updated sanctions” for the Western Balkans: We will carefully analyze the content of Biden’s decree (Blic, Tanjug)

Serbian Ambassador to Washington, Marko Djuric stated today that Serbia will carefully analyze the content of the Decree of US President Joseph Biden on expanding the scope of sanctions against individuals and organizations from the Western Balkans, monitor its implementation and possible consequences for the region and citizens, and that they will measure their reactions in relation to that, reported Belgrade based daily Blic. 

– Judging by the mention of respect for Resolution 1244 and the Dayton Agreement in the “updated” regulation on sanctions, I personally want to believe that the authors actually had in mind those who advocate the abolition of Republika Srpska and redrawing the borders in which Serbia is recognized as a UN member, including Kosovo and Metohija – that is, some separatists in Kosovo and Metohija and unitarians in BiH – Djuric told agency Tanjug.

By the decree passed yesterday, Biden ordered, among other things, the sanctioning of any person for whom the Secretariat of Finance, in consultation with the State Department, determines that he is “responsible or an accomplice, directly or indirectly engaged in actions or policies that threaten peace, security, stability or territorial integrity of any area or state in the Western Balkans and undermine democratic processes and institutions in the region”.

Penalties would also include those responsible for “serious human rights violations and involved in corruption in the region, including embezzlement of public funds, alienation of private property for personal gain or for political purposes and bribery”.

The regulation, as announced by the White House, also allows for the sanctioning of actors involved in “violations or actions that obstruct or jeopardize the implementation of any agreement on regional security, peace, cooperation or mutual recognition, framework or mechanism related to the Western Balkans”.

According to the new regulation, that includes the Prespa Agreement from 2018 and the International Mechanism for Criminal Courts, which is the successor of the Hague Tribunal.

The original decree on emergency measures related to the region of the Western Balkans, which has been in force since June 26, 2001, was passed by the then US President George W. Bush.

He then signed Executive Decree No. 13219 under the law on dealing with unusual and major threats to US national security and foreign policy, in this case the actions of people who engage in, aid, sponsor or support extremist violence in the former Republic of Macedonia (now Republic of Northern Macedonia) and other parts of the Western Balkans region, or acts relating to obstruction of the implementation of the Dayton Agreement in Bosnia or UN Security Council Resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999 in Kosovo.

President Bush amended that decree in No. 13304, dated May 28, 2003, with additional steps regarding acts related to obstructing the implementation of the 2001 Ohrid Agreement in relation to the then FYROM, now N. Macedonia, recalled Blic.

‘Mladic’s guilt is only his’, UN Chief Prosecutor says after the verdict (N1)

N1 Sarajevo reported that Chief Prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Courts Serge Brammertz said that Ratko Mladic, commander of the Bosnian Serb Army’s General Staff, following the appeal, was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday, for the crimes he committed.

The Appeals Chamber dismissed the Defence’s appeals and upheld the Trial Chamber’s key findings.

Mladic was found guilty of commanding violent ethnic cleansing campaigns throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995. He was further convicted of commanding a campaign of crimes against civilians during the siege of Sarajevo. He was also convicted of using forces under his command to commit genocide against the Bosnian Muslim population in Srebrenica. Finally, he was convicted of taking UN members hostage and using them as human shields.

“The time has come for us to accept the truth. Mladic ranks among the greatest war criminals in modern history. He deliberately used his position as military commander to attack innocent civilians, who were killed, tortured, raped and expelled for no reason other than his nationality and religion. He incited ethnic hatred and lied to those he allegedly defended in order to justify his crimes. At a time when he had the power of life or death over thousands of innocent men and boys in Srebrenica, he ordered their complete elimination and committed genocide,” Brammertz said in his address.

Mladic should be condemned by all responsible officials in the former Yugoslavia and around the world, he argued, adding that his name should be included in the list of the most perverted and brutal personalities in history.

“This is not a verdict for the Serb people, who have been manipulated by Mladic and his supporters for decades.

”Mladic’s guilt is only his,” the Chief Prosecutor stressed.

He added that upon completion of this case, victims and survivors should be at the forefront.

“The appellate verdict reaffirms what they suffered. It also confirms the courage of the witnesses who testified and told the truth.

On behalf of the Prosecution, I would like to pay tribute to the victims and survivors who have never given up their quest for justice. We express our deep gratitude to them because without them we would not be able to do our job. We hope that today’s verdict will give them some measure of comfort and a sense that, regardless of all the damage they have suffered and how long they have waited, justice is possible,” Brammertz pointed out and thanked the diplomatic community and the media for their support.

“Finally, today’s verdict should also remind us of the justice that has yet to be achieved. Thousands of war crimes suspects on all sides still need to be investigated and prosecuted throughout the former Yugoslavia. It is now the responsibility of domestic prosecutors and judges to continue this work, and the Prosecution has committed itself to provide them with full support. Together, we can ensure that all victims of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia are welcomed to see those who have done them injustice accountable for their crimes,” Brammertz concluded.

See at: https://bit.ly/3x9cFVu

Vucic’s address at the session of the UN Security Council (B92)

Portal B92 reported that President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic participated in a session of the UN Security Council. Vucic: “Neither Serbia nor Serbian people were convicted”.

President Aleksandar Vucic said at the beginning of his speech that he would first talk about Serbia’s relations with the Mechanism, and then about the work of that body.

“The Republic of Serbia has raised the issue of serving sentences in Serbia several times, but that has not happened yet. It is natural that Serbia wants its citizens to serve their sentences in Serbia,” Vucic said.

He points out that there is a special problem on the territory of Kosovo and Metohija, where they now want to try Serbs who have already been tried. He states that Serbia seriously understands its obligations to cooperate with the Mechanism.

“That territory is under the temporary mandate of the UN. The president of the mechanism submitted a report on the alleged non-fulfillment of the rules, because Petar Jojic and Vjerica Radeta were not extradited,” said Vucic. 

“The first decision from June 2018 that the criminal prosecution of Petar Jojic and Vjerica Radeta should be transferred to Serbia. The Republic of Serbia conducted an appropriate process and gave guarantees and accepted that it be a supervised process and take measures provided for in Article 6 of the Mechanism Statute. Serbia has extradited all persons accused by the prosecutor’s office,” he explained.

Serbia condemns the crime in Srebrenica, there is no doubt about that, he adds. However, he criticized the Hague Tribunal, stating that no one was held responsible for the crimes committed against Serbs.

“Members of other nations have not been tried, despite international legal norms. I will try to show you plastically how international justice is tailored. Serbs have been sentenced to a total of 1.138 years in prison, to eight life sentences. At the same time, the Hague tribunal has not convicted a single Croat. Prosecutors deliberately chose Gotovina, Oric and Haradinaj, and they were convicted according to the same pattern, except for Ramush Haradinaj. All were convicted but were acquitted by second-instance mysterious decisions. All witnesses against Haradinaj either killed themselves or were killed”, Vucic said, adding:

“Despite selective justice, we are facing the future, not the past. I have a message for our citizens: Heads up, neither Serbia nor the Serbian people have been convicted of anything”, Serbian President concluded.

After addresses of the representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, addressed the UN Security Council again.

“I did not say anything against the countries from the region, but the Bosnian and Croatian representatives did. The Croatian representative said that it was known “who the devil is”, and I want to tell him that there was Jasenovac and that everyone knows who the devil was. We have different opinions, but we respect their position even though we do not share it,” he said.

As he further stated, there are more missing Serbs than Croats on the territory of Croatia, and that is the conclusion of the Croatian Red Cross. “Find a place in Serbia and let us know that you have suspicions that people have been buried, and we will go there with you and carry out the excavation and bring the truth to their families,” he says.

He stated that Serbia will fulfill its obligations.

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

Brnabic: The Hague with its verdicts moved region away from reconciliation (Tanjug)

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic regarding the verdict of Ratko Mladic said last night that Serbia remains fully committed and advocates for investigating all the war crimes, bringing in all defendants, and punishing those responsible, Tanjug news agency reported.

Brnabic added the objection goes to The Hague Tribunal for moving the countries and people in the region away from the reconciliation, given that almost no one was held accountable for Serbian victims.

Brnabic told TV Pink Serbia has proved over the last three decades it is committed to punishing those who committed the war crimes, adding she would not comment on the verdict to Mladic in order not to harm her state by the replay.

Brnabic also said her impression was that today, 26 years since the conflict, The Hague Tribunal has further alienated religious communities and people in the region.  

“There is worse intolerance than it was 26 years ago, and The Hague (Tribunal) has contributed to that”, Brnabic said.

She also said people from this court told her the court was not established to contribute to regional reconciliation, adding she does not agree with that.

“I disagree with that, because if anyone affected by the wars had the justice served, if we saw that all those who committed the crimes were held responsible it would indirectly, if not directly, contribute to the reconciliation”, Brnabic said.

“Justice was not served, for the crimes against the Serbs more or less no one was held accountable and those who were were low-ranking soldiers while the verdicts issued were minimal”, Brnabic underlined.

Political parties, lawyers on Mladic’s vedict (N1, RTS)

N1 reports that reactions of political parties in Serbia, regarding the verdict of Ratko Mladic were divided – from welcoming the verdict by the Social-Democratic Party of Serbia (SDS), saying only individuals, not entire nations could commit genocide, to the National-Democratic Coalition (NADA) which said it was not surprised by the ruling “because that international court has long lost its legitimacy by acquitting the Muslim and Croatian terrorists and war criminals“.

Leader of Socialist Movement (PS) and Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said the verdict to Mladic was revenge, not a verdict, RTS reports.

Vulin said that “Mladic is guilty as he responded to the crimes of Naser Oric, however, Naser Oric is not guilty for the slaughtered Serb civilians in Podrinje”. He added that “Mladic was guilty for commanding the army of Serbs around Sarajevo”, but that “Izetbegovic was not guilty because there are no more Serbs in Sarajevo, but there are mass graves”.

Leader of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) Vojislav Seselj said he expected the verdict would be upheld, adding the verdict for genocide in Srebrenica stands on “shaky grounds”. He explained that for genocide, it was necessary to establish that the crime was committed against an entire religious, racial and ethnic group or significant part of that group. As he said the lawsuit for the genocide in Srebrenica, should have been dropped on the same basis.

Leader of Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) Milos Jovanovic said The Hague Tribunal was not a court, but rather a tool to seal and legitimize the Western version of the events towards Yugoslavia, respectively Serbia.

“This has nothing to do with the court or justice, but the only aim was to justify the Western policy towards Serbia and label Serbs as criminals per definition”, Jovanovic said.  

Branislav Tapuskovic, an attorney, told N1 the most interesting thing in the ruling was the rejection of the prosecutors’ appeal demanding Mladic’s responsibility for genocide in six more municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, besides the one, confirmed in Srebrenica.

“The BH interest was that genocide was proven on its entire territory,“ Tapuskovic said.

If that happened, he added, the existence of the BH Serb entity Republika Srpska would have been challenged.

Mladic’s lawyer Branko Lukic, who did not participate in the IRMCT Appeal Chamber session, told N1 he did not expect such a verdict and thought all the judges would read the defense reasons.

“Unfortunately, there was no will to look into the first instance ruling through evidence presented during the appeal procedure“, Lukic said, adding the defense team had new evidence, including that out of over 8,000 people killed, some 5,000 had died in combat which was, as he said, “indisputably established.“

N1 guests: It was known Mladic would get life sentence, justice selective (N1)

Journalist Milivoje Mihajlovic and Stefan Surlic from the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade, following the verdict of Ratko Mladic, agreed for TV N1 that justice was selective.

“When Mladic was arrested, we knew he would get the life sentence. Yugoslavia signed it, that court exists, it is political and biased”, Mihajlovic said.

Stefan Surlic noted the idea of The Hague Tribunal was to lead to the reconciliation, however, “we are further from it now than we were when the court started to operate”.

“Ramush Haradinaj is free, only because witnesses were killed, that made it easier for him and he is now a stakeholder in Kosovo”, Surllic said.

Mihajlovic said Serbia can be upset now, but it recognized as a country the Court in The Hague and “its hands are tied”.  

“It is regrettable that the first reaction to the verdict came from Haradinaj”, he said.

Commenting on President Aleksandar Vucic’s address at the UN Security Council session, Mihajlovic said “it was not historic” as Prime Minister Ana Brnabic termed it, but “pre-electoral”. “He spoke in a manner to be acceptable for all sides in Serbia, it is the most practical speech”, Mihajlovic assessed.

Commenting on the genocide lawsuit Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti is announcing against Serbia, Mihajlovic said that reconciliation in the Balkans is not a step closer.

“Kurti talks like that because he has elections; he wants to strengthen power in municipalities, the dialogue comes in mid June, although topics are not known yet. He is reluctant to go to Brussels for talks. I do not expect changes in the dialogue, but it is important that Kurti and Vucic meet”, Mihajlovic said.

Surlic said that no one from Kurti’s team has negotiating experience.

“He is not informed about the course of the Brussels dialogue, he wants to start from the best possible position, he is changing that position compared to Thaci. Kurti now says that the key is in the five (EU) countries that do not recognize Kosovo, and if they would recognize it, Kosovo would have an open path to the European Union and NATO (…)”, Surlic said.

Mihajlovic opined that the five EU countries that did not recognize Kosovo will not change position, adding that all these non-papers circulating in the media recently were “trial balloons” to see reactions.

Odalovic: Hague tribunal is not a court that brought law and justice (RTS)

Secretary General of the Assembly of Serbia, Veljko Odalovic said in the RTS morning program that it was natural to say what one has to say at the UNSC session and that the first and right reaction should be directed to the place where ‘unfortunately’ this ad hoc tribunal was formed. 

“I think that the messages conveyed by the president (Vucic) were those that irritate, anger everyone in Serbia, the inability in a wish to   impose penalties for crimes against Serbs in that tribunal, and the unwillingness of the people who decided there, is something that deserved to be said, and I think that the president said that very clearly last night,” Odalovic stated.

He stated that when a man from a distance develop this story a little, and how it seemed obvious that this “ad hoc tribunal was created under the pressure of those who were the creators of the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia and the moves they made and the recognitions when the conflicts took place; they wanted to close the story and condemn us all a little with the messages they sent’.’

“Then they did not take into account the fact that in those conflicts, in which there were an awful lot of victims on all sides, that there were serious crimes, that  no Croats, Bosniaks or Albanians who committed crimes against Serbs were there, and that in this respect, this ad hoc tribunal did nothing, it even released people who should have been responsible,” Odalovic said.

“The tribunal filed charges, then collected evidence”

Odalovic said that “this is not a court that brought justice and reconciliation, although they pompously announced when they advocated the establishment of this tribunal that the court would then create measures for justice and reconciliation by imposing measures on those who committed crimes.”

He noted that the minimum that needed to be done was to repeat the trial of Ratko Mladic.

“In no law, except the one they formed themselves, and the way they worked is not applied. They did not deal with the essence and with why every tribunal should exist,” Odalovic said. 

If we listen carefully to what the representatives of Croatia and BiH said last night, “it speaks of the fact that we are far away and that their messages say that neither Bosnian or Croatian society is ready to face their crimes”

“All stings were directed towards Serbia. If we had victims on all sides, ethnic cleansings, a third of the missing are Serbs. Someone kidnapped and killed them. Today, we cannot reach the territories where the bodies are. The bodies are not in Serbia; they are in BiH, Croatia and Kosovo and Metohija. That speaks of double standards of unwillingness to look at the facts and to prosecute those for whom they are well assumed to be responsible. They are free and receive medals,” Odalovic said.

Attempt to close the story in the Balkans

He stated that he read notes from the Federal Assembly, when the law on cooperation with The Hague was adopted.

“I would repeat it all, word for word. I did not find any mistake, everything was confirmed and shown as it is. The law, which was confirmed in both houses, excluded questions about extradition of anyone. That was the basis on which the High Court judge, when Radeta and Jojic were to be extradited, assessed that it was not in accordance with the law,” Odalovic noted.

He stated that this was an attempt to close the story in the Balkans.

“I believe that we will reach a solution. This is an ad hoc tribunal, and it will try to extend its mandate,” Odalovic added.

“SZO, a way to solve many issues”

On this day, in 1999, the representatives of the Yugoslav Army and NATO signed the Kumanovo Agreement, which ended NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia, and based on UN Security Council Resolution 1244, international forces were deployed in Kosovo.

Odalovic believes that this is, as he said, another “serious fraud”.

“One mission established by Resolution 1244 and elaborated by the Kumanovo Agreement turned into its opposite. Let’s recall, 50,000 soldiers, policemen, and personnel came to Kosovo and Metohija in 10 days. They took all the responsibility. They allowed the expulsion of 250,000 Serbs and non-Albanians under their mandate,” Odalovic said.

He also said the international community, that is, those who are the mediators of the whole process, either will not, or do not have the strength to force Pristina to fulfill its obligations.

“What is the purpose of the dialogue about something that has not yielded any results. If Pristina has signed that it will form the ZSO, if an implementation plan has been adopted which it has also signed, then what should happen that Pristina be forced,” he asked and added that it was the obligation of the international community.

 “I am sure that it will force them to do that. The ZSO is a way to resolve many issues through dialogue and to relax many difficult topics that are present in Kosovo and Metohija,” Odalovic concluded.

Judge Agius: Mladic verdict a strong message for victims and survivors (N1)

The ‘Ratko Mladic’ case is proof of what can be done in international justice processes if states show the will to cooperate and remove political obstacles, Judge Carmel Agius said addressing the UN Security Council Tuesday evening.

“A few hours ago, the Appeals Chamber handed down a verdict against Ratko Mladic. In short – Ratko Mladic’s appeal was rejected and the verdict for murder, expulsion and deportation, other inhumane treatment as a crime against humanity, illegal attacks on civilians and hostage-taking was confirmed… The sentence of life imprisonment was confirmed,” said Agius.

He called on everyone to read the verdict and see the majority decision. All this, he added, is already publicly available on the website of the Mechanism.

Agius also said Serbia refused to extradite former ultranationalist Serbian Radical party Petar Jojic and Vjerica Radeta, despite being obliged to.

“By not doing so, Serbia obstructs an efficient implementation of justice before the Mechanism and defies the international community, challenging the authority of the UN Security Council,” he said, adding there had been six years since Serbia was asked for the first time to extradite the two.

Belgrade argues it is obliged to extradite war crimes suspects, not Jojic and Radeta accused of contempt of court.

Agius also announced the final verdict for two former heads of Serbia’s state security Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic for the end of June.

“I want to thank the judges in the Council as well as the team who worked hard to ensure the work. The appeal procedure was complex from the very beginning and all this was linked to the exclusion of judges, which had to be decided at the very beginning. So that led to a postponement of the decision in the Mladic case, which was planned for March 2020, and then the Covid pandemic broke out, which further slowed down the work. After that, we had the death of a judge from Burkina Faso,” Agius explained.

He said the final verdict against Mladic was a strong message for the victims and survivors.

“Mr Mladic was indicted before the tribunal in 1995, thanks to prosecutors from the International Tribunal with the support of the international community. Fifteen years later, they managed to deprive him of his liberty. The final verdict is a really strong message for the victims and survivors that the perpetrators of such serious crimes will still be brought to justice, regardless of their position,” Agius pointed out.

He concluded by saying that a verdict of this kind cannot bring back the loved ones or heal wounds, but it gives hope that victims and families will find some comfort in this justice.

Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb army general, was sentenced to life in prison by the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT), Tuesday, confirming the first instance verdict.

See at: https://bit.ly/3vaIFH3

Russian Embassy in Washington: US to suspend arming Pristina (Kosovo-online)

Russian Federation Embassy to Washington called on the US to respect UN SC 1244 and refrain from the policy to additionally armament of Pristina, Kosovo-online portal reports.

“We call on the United States to strictly adhere to the UN SC Resolution 1244 and to suspend the policy of supplying Pristina with military equipment and armament. Such steps undermine the efforts to reach a Kosovo solution. It increases inter-ethnic and inter-religious tensions”, the Russian Embassy wrote on Twitter.

Balkan Chiefs of Staff end 14th Conference (N1)

The 14th Conference of the Chiefs of Staff of the Balkan countries on military cooperation (Forum B-9) ended Wednesday with informal mutual contacts, Bosnia’s Defence Ministry said.

A three-day gathering aimed at improving the Balkan military cooperation and responding to security challenges in the region resulted in a joint statement, signed on Tuesday (June 8th) by the Chiefs of Staff of nine B-9 Forum member states. The statement concluded that the current cooperation was very successful and meaningful, and pointed out that in the coming period the forum will strive to further improve cooperation.

“This Forum presented an extremely important initiative for strengthening multinational military cooperation in the region, which confirms the desire to strengthen cooperation between the armed forces of the Balkan countries, whose purpose is to promote regional stability and security, as well as strengthening the already established and seeking new cooperation mechanisms. Ultimately, this will result in a better security environment for all our countries,” said the main host of the conference, Chief of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces of BiH, Colonel General Senad Masovic.

The main topic of the conference was – “Integration: Cooperation and Partnership – Factors of regional and global stability and security – perspectives, challenges and the response to COVID-19”.

The members of the B-9 Forum are Albania, BiH, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Greece, Romania, Northern Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey.

In addition to representatives of member states, high-level representatives of the NATO Military Committee, the EU Military Committee, the Joint Forces Command in Naples, the US Armed Forces Command in Europe, as well as representatives of observer countries, ie the highest representatives of the Croatian and Slovenian Armed Forces also took part in the Conference.

See at: https://bit.ly/3gr2W6e

 

 

Opinion

 

After Mladic’s Verdict: Six Lessons to Learn from Hague Trials (Balkan Insight)

By Eric Gordy

In the wake of the confirmation of Ratko Mladic’s final judgment, the rulings of the Hague war crimes courts still leave us with much to discover about truth, guilt, the meaning of genocide and the elusive concept of reconciliation.

The delivery of the Ratko Mladic appeal verdict went as expected, with no surprises other than a flurry of dissents from the presiding judge. With the legal outcome essentially unchanged from the trial verdict, there is not a lot that is new to say about it.

Having nothing new to say about legal findings may not be such a bad place to be. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY and its successor, the Residual Mechanism, have left a mixed record. Their melange of good and bad decisions shows a great deal about the current capacity of law, both its ability to open new ground and its reluctance to step beyond some constraining boundaries.

But above all it has shown that the wounds and tensions of a part of the world recovering from large-scale violence cannot be addressed through processes that rely only on law.

So if this is the moment when we can turn away from criminals and the damage they have left behind them, and toward the societies picking up the pieces, what are the lessons that can be learned from 28 years of keeping law on the front burner? Let me suggest a few, in the hope that other people can suggest some more.

Lesson 1: The search for truth is more than confirmation of facts

A lot of people turned to courts in the hope that they would tell the story of the violence that people suffered. And in many respects the courts did tell that story. Thanks to the Tribunal’s researchers, we know more about the scope, scale, and details of atrocities that were committed in this conflict than in nearly any other conflict in history. And because the research was carried out in the context of criminal prosecution, we know a great deal about who was directly and indirectly responsible. The potential contributions of the archives of the prosecutors’ office have really only begun to be explored.

There are also some things that we do not know, and that the Tribunal archive will not tell us. We do not understand well enough the broad set of conditions that made violence possible. We do not fully understand what violence meant for the communities that suffered it. And we have only questions about what the experience means.

It will take more than facts collected to answer specific questions about the guilt or innocence of indictees to fill these demands for understanding. The most obvious need is for dialogue, for the sharing, hearing, and recognition of experience, and for the exchange of experiences across the ethnic and national boundaries that the violence created.

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

 

 

International

 

U.S. ‘Modernizes’ Sanctions Policy For Western Balkans To Go After Corruption (RFE)

The United States is “modernizing” its sanctions policy in the Western Balkans by further targeting corruption, human rights abuses, and acts that threaten democracy in the region, the State Department said.

“The United States recognizes that corruption threatens economic equity, global anti-poverty and development efforts, and democracy itself,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on June 8.

The updated policy came in the form of an executive order from President Joe Biden, expanding on two longtime decrees related to the Western Balkans.

The White House said the executive order provides for additional sanctions, including the targeting of individuals or entities threatening peace and stability in the region, undermining democratic processes, or engaging in serious human rights abuses and corruption.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3irbX1F

 

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