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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, September 27, 2021

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Albanian Language Media:

• Kurti: No information that KFOR is preparing to intervene in north (Telegrafi)
• KFOR confirms increased patrolling in the north (Koha)
• Sources: Kosovo, Serbia chief negotiators could meet in Brussels this week (RFE)
• Rama: Serbia must stop theatrical military maneuvers (RFE)
• Over 10,000 provisional license plates administered since reciprocity (media)
• COVID-19: Three deaths, 23 new cases (media)
• Kosovo, Albanian governments to meet in late November (Klan Kosova)
• EC President to visit Kosovo on Wednesday as part of Balkans tour (Express)

Serbian Language Media:

• The EU expects Kurti and Vucic by the end of this week in Brussels (Kosovo Online, Tanjug)
• Protests in north enter second week, positions unchanged (RTS)
• KFOR members arrived at Jarinje (Kosovo-online)
• Armored vehicles of the Serbian Army near Jarinje (N1)
• Vucic: NATO to react within 24 hours if violence breaks out (N1)
• Stefanovic and Mojsilovic accompanied by Russian Ambassador visit army units in Raska (RTS)
• Brnabic on EU, current situation in northern Kosovo (TV Pink, media)
• Brnabic met UN SG Guterres in New York, reacted to Rama’s statement on Kosovo recognition (Tanjug, RTS)
• Gabriel Escobar in Brussels on the situation at the administrative crossings (Blic, Tanjug, RFE)
• Zubin Potok municipality: Old installation possible cause of fire (KoSSev)
• Vucic to meet Quint ambassadors today (RTS)
• Europol: Balkan drug cartel broken up (N1)

International:
• Albania defends Kosovo sovereignty, criticizes Serbia’s military maneuvers (Exit)
• NATO, EU call for deescalation in the north of Kosovo as tensions continue (EWB)
• Can Selling Weapons to Serbia Create Peace in the Balkans? (The National Interest)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Kurti: No information that KFOR is preparing to intervene in north (Telegrafi)
  • KFOR confirms increased patrolling in the north (Koha)
  • Sources: Kosovo, Serbia chief negotiators could meet in Brussels this week (RFE)
  • Rama: Serbia must stop theatrical military maneuvers (RFE)
  • Over 10,000 provisional license plates administered since reciprocity (media)
  • COVID-19: Three deaths, 23 new cases (media)
  • Kosovo, Albanian governments to meet in late November (Klan Kosova)
  • EC President to visit Kosovo on Wednesday as part of Balkans tour (Express)

Serbian Language Media:

  • The EU expects Kurti and Vucic by the end of this week in Brussels (Kosovo Online, Tanjug)
  • Protests in north enter second week, positions unchanged (RTS)
  • KFOR members arrived at Jarinje (Kosovo-online)
  • Armored vehicles of the Serbian Army near Jarinje (N1)
  • Vucic: NATO to react within 24 hours if violence breaks out (N1)
  • Stefanovic and Mojsilovic accompanied by Russian Ambassador visit army units in Raska (RTS)
  • Brnabic on EU, current situation in northern Kosovo (TV Pink, media)
  • Brnabic met UN SG Guterres in New York, reacted to Rama’s statement on Kosovo recognition (Tanjug, RTS)
  • Gabriel Escobar in Brussels on the situation at the administrative crossings (Blic, Tanjug, RFE)
  • Zubin Potok municipality: Old installation possible cause of fire (KoSSev)
  • Vucic to meet Quint ambassadors today (RTS)
  • Europol: Balkan drug cartel broken up (N1)

International:

  • Albania defends Kosovo sovereignty, criticizes Serbia’s military maneuvers (Exit)
  • NATO, EU call for deescalation in the north of Kosovo as tensions continue (EWB)
  • Can Selling Weapons to Serbia Create Peace in the Balkans? (The National Interest)

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

Kurti: No information that KFOR is preparing to intervene in north (Telegrafi)

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said today that he discussed with COMKFOR Franco Federici the security situation and said that there is no information that KFOR is preparing to intervene in the north.

“I hosted a meeting with the commander of KFOR today and together with Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla we are in constant communication with the international institutions in Kosovo. I don’t have any information that KFOR is preparing to intervene in the north. The Special Unit is not in Bernjak and Jarinje for us not to rejoice in this situation and to demonstrate force, rather they are there on duty to protect the border crossing points and the border police,” Kurti said.

Kurti also said there were indications that if the police special units had not been there, the border police and the premises would come under serious threats. “The national roads leading to Jarinje and Bernjak were not blocked only with trucks and people but with bulldozers too. And those bulldozers are surely not there to block the roads as much as they are there to attack the border police if they had been left alone,” he said.

KFOR confirms increased patrolling in the north (Koha)

KFOR issued a press release today informing that it has increased the number and duration of routine patrols in Kosovo, including the north, to guarantee a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement. “KFOR is monitoring the situation upclose all over Kosovo and remains committed to implementing its daily mandate – which derives from the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 from 1999, to provide a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all communities living in Kosovo. KFOR has increased the number and duration of routine patrolling all over Kosovo, including the north of Kosovo,” the statement notes.

Kosovo, Serbia chief negotiators could meet in Brussels this week, sources say (RFE)

Citing diplomatic sources in Brussels, the news website reports that chief negotiators from Kosovo and Serbia could meet this week in Brussels. Sources said that the parties must prove they are interested in reducing the tensions by accepting the invitation to go to Brussels and by expressing readiness to meet.

The same sources said that in the last couple of days some circles have worked to reduce tensions but that there are no results yet “because both parties are stubborn in their positions”.

Rama: Serbia must stop theatrical military maneuvers (RFE)

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, who is visiting Kosovo today, condemned Serbia’s reactions to the Kosovo government’s decision on reciprocity for license plates. He said Albania’s position is clear about the problem at the two border crossing points between Kosovo and Serbia. “We are witnessing theatrical military maneuvers by Serbia at the border with the sovereign state of Kosovo. Despite claims by the leadership in Belgrade, those maneuvers do not protect Serb citizens in the north of Kosovo,” Rama told a press conference after meeting his Kosovo counterpart Albin Kurti.

Rama also condemned the burning of vehicle registration centers in the north. He said that Serb citizens in Kosovo do not need protection because they live in safety. “The Serb citizens in Kosovo are not threatened by anyone. In fact, the government of this country pays their electricity bills, and this does not happen in the Balkans or anywhere else in the world,” he said.

Rama said the current situation can be solved only through dialogue. “Kosovo is right in this situation and that is it. Serbia has no right whatsoever to turn the license plates into a daily conflict situation as if the Kosovo Government has indicated a war,” he said.

Rama also called on Kosovo not to create problems with its international partners by keeping the special police units at the border. “They should be careful so that the deployment of special units in that area does not turn from a need to ensure that security and public order is not threatened to a problem between Kosovo and its international friends and partners,” he argued.

Over 10,000 provisional license plates administered since reciprocity (media)

Kosovo’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said in a statement today that 10,110 provisional license plates have been administered in all border crossing points since the government’s decision to introduce reciprocity on license plates with Serbia.

COVID-19: Three deaths, 23 new cases (media)

Three deaths from COVID-19 and 23 new cases with the virus have been confirmed in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. 591 persons recovered from the virus during this time. There are 3,605 active cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo.

Kosovo, Albanian governments to meet in late November (Klan Kosova)

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said during his visit to Prishtina today that the joint meeting of the governments of Kosovo and Albania will be held in late November in Durres. “Meanwhile we will work intensively to scan all the agreements which we agreed upon today,” Rama said.

EC President to visit Kosovo on Wednesday as part of Balkans tour (Express)

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will visit Kosovo on Wednesday as part of her Balkans tour. 

 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

The EU expects Kurti and Vucic by the end of this week in Brussels (Kosovo Online, Tanjug)

The EU is working intensively on organizing a meeting of representatives of Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels to discuss the situation in northern Kosovo and the return of freedom of movement, and the meeting could take place by the end of this week, Tanjug has learned in Brussels, reported Kosovo Online.

At the same time, the arrival in Brussels of the American special envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, was confirmed for this week, with one topic on the agenda: the situation in Kosovo.

After the EU has repeatedly said that dialogue in Brussels is the only way to resolve the current crisis in Kosovo and all other open issues, European Foreign Minister Borrell announced that the situation in the north of Kosovo and freedom of movement would be “discussed in the coming days in Brussels by the main negotiators” of Belgrade and Pristina.

“Both main negotiators coming to Brussels in the coming days are the first positive step. It is of key importance that they come with a mandate to discuss the further path and find sustainable solutions that are in the interest of the citizens,” reads the written statement of Borrell.

Diplomatic circles in Brussels say that negotiations are still underway with Belgrade and Pristina regarding the arrival of delegations in Brussels, but they do not rule out that a meeting could take place as early as the end of this week. It is speculated that the meeting in Brussels could take place after the visit of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who will talk to the leaders in Belgrade and Pristina on September 29.

At the same time, Brussels emphasizes that they expect unconditional de-escalation of the situation on the ground, i.e. urgent withdrawal of special police units and removal of roadblocks, without specifying whether “return to the previous state” is a precondition for holding the announced talks in Brussels.

Borrell warns “both Kosovo and Serbian leaders” that they are “fully responsible for all risks to the security and well-being of local communities in both Kosovo and Serbia”.

When asked by Tanjug why the EU always uses the wording “both sides” when it calls for abstention from unilateral actions, when it is obvious who is carrying out such actions, EU spokesman Peter Stano said that any tension in Kosovo arises as “action or reaction to something”.

“Throughout the history of dialogue and relations between Belgrade and Pristina, we have seen mutual accusations. That is why we emphasize that all open issues are resolved through a dialogue mediated by the EU, and that applies to both sides. That is the only way forward. On the contrary, there will be a constant confrontation, and we do not want that in our immediate neighborhood,” concludes Stano.

Stano also reiterates for Tanjug that all agreements reached during the ten years of dialogue in Brussels are “valid” and that “no one has revoked or withdrawn them”.

The US special envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, also announced that the United States will support this “diplomatic approach” of the EU in resolving another crisis in Kosovo. He says the United States will use every opportunity to “help and support the EU’s efforts to reach an agreement on the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina”, including cooperation between him and Lajcak in talks with leaders and parties in the dialogue.

When asked by Tanjug to concretize American steps in resolving the Kosovo issue, Escobar said that the United States, through its embassies in Belgrade and Pristina, is working to return the parties to the table in Brussels, and implement the agreements reached.

“We encourage leaders to dedicate their energy to dialogue, not to bypass it, to implement everything they or their predecessors have agreed within the Brussels process,” Escobar said, reported Kosovo Online.

Protests in north enter second week, positions unchanged (RTS)

Protests of Serbs in northern Kosovo and Metohija dissatisfied with Pristina’s decision relating to vehicle registration plates and deployment of special police ROSU units at Jarinje and Brnjak crossing points have entered the second week, Serbian public broadcaster RTS reports today.

RTS added this morning members of the Army of Serbia (VS) with four armored vehicles were seen on a road leading towards Jarinje, recalling the VS garrisons in Raska and Novi Pazar had their combat readiness level raised last week. Over the last three days, as media report, VS helicopters and military planes occasionally fly over the area at crossing points. KFOR helicopters also occasionally fly over the area.

According to the RTS reporter there is no solution in sight, with members of ROSU units remaining on their positions, while Serbs continue gathering and demanding withdrawal of both special police units from the crossing points and decision on vehicle registration plates.

KFOR members arrived at Jarinje (Kosovo-online)

KFOR soldiers have arrived near Jarinje crossing point around midday today, where members of ROSU special units have been deployed for the last eight days, Kosovo-online portal reports.

The units in question belong to American, Polish and Canadian KFOR contingents. The portal said it was unclear yet if KFOR units would “replace” ROSU and if ROSU units plan to withdraw from the point.

Mayors of four northern municipalities in Kosovo have requested today in a meeting with KFOR Commander Major General Frank Federichi that KFOR acts in line with UN SC Resolution 1244 and remains neutral, the portal added.

The statement distributed to the media reads “it was necessary to increase KFOR presence in order to preserve peace and prevent incidents caused by ROSU members over the previous days”.

The mayors once again urged the citizens to exercise restraint and not fall prey to provocations. They also said in a statement that “COM KFOR said KFOR will not interfere in political matters nor would forcibly remove roadblocks”. 

In a statement to Kosovo-online KFOR later said that “they carefully monitor the situation in the entire Kosovo and that they have increased the number and duration of routine patrolling, including in the north”. 

Armored vehicles of the Serbian Army near Jarinje (N1)

Members of the Serbian Army with four armored vehicles – two “lazars” and two “milos” are deployed two kilometers from the administrative crossing of Jarinje in the direction of Raska.

N1 reports that armored vehicles have been stationed next to the main road Raska – Kosovska Mitrovica, not far from Jarinje, near Rudnica, since this morning.

The reporter said that he noticed that a certain number of members of the army were there in full war gear, but that they were only stationed there and that nothing else was happening.

Unlike Sunday, when planes and helicopters of the Serbian Army flew over the area, they were not there today.

The Serbian Army is in high combat readiness due to the situation in the north of Kosovo, and in the past three days, fighter planes and helicopters of the Serbian Army have flown over this territory.

The eighth day of the blockade of the Jarinje and Brnjak administrative crossings in northern Kosovo has begun. The previous night passed peacefully, and the gathered Serbs did not give up on their demands, reported N1.

Vucic: NATO to react within 24 hours if violence breaks out (N1)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic gave NATO 24 hours to react if violence breaks out against Serbs in Kosovo but added that Serbia wants to resolve the situation peacefully.

Vucic said that he told NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that Serbia has not entered Kosovo because it does not have that right under the Kumanovo Agreement (which ended the NATO air campaign in 1999) and subsequent agreements. Serbia will not send troops into Kosovo because it wants to resolve things peacefully, he added. The situation along the Serbia-Kosovo crossings has been tense for a week after the authorities in Pristina decided to refuse entry to vehicles with Serbian license plates following the expiration of an agreement under which RKS plates were not allowed into Serbia. Temporary plates are being issued at the border.

Serbian parliament Speaker Ivica Dacic said that the European Union has to say if it supports the Belgrade-Pristina Brussels Agreement which it mediated and whose implementation it guaranteed, adding that he does not want to end the EU-mediated Kosovo dialogue.

The Serbian President believes that NATO understood and would do everything to protect the Serb population of Kosovo. “We will wait 24 hours for you to react as NATO and if the pogrom against our population continues Serbia will react and will not allow a repeat of what happened in 1995 and 2004,” he said speaking during a live talk show on the pro-regime TV Pink, reported N1.

Vucic said that he was angry during his meeting with NATO and European Union officials on Sunday. “We have 14 MiG-29s. They thought I was joking. Doesn’t Serbia have the right to fly its helicopters or airplanes in central Serbia? The EU officials did not get excited about the Kosovo police armored vehicles for a week, but they did the moment that Serbia showed that it would not allow itself to be humiliated,” he said. According to Vucic, the ambassadors of the US, Italy, Germany, UK and France would visit military units in southern Serbia following a visit by Russian Ambassador Botsan-Kharchenko.

He confirmed a newspaper report of plans to close crossings between Kosovo and parts of Serbia with ethnic Albanian populations. “We could have, the idea exists but I am against that idea,” Vucic said.

Stefanovic and Mojsilovic accompanied by Russian Ambassador visit army units in Raska (RTS)

Serbian Minister of Defense, Nebojsa Stefanovic and Army Chief-of-Staff, General Milan Mojsilovic, accompanied by Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko and envoy of the Russian Defense visited Sunday the Army of Serbia units in “Rudnica” military base in Raska and those located in the direction to Jarinje crossing point, RTS reports. 

RTS recalled combat readiness level of these units was raised last week, following deployment of Kosovo special police ROSU units at Jarinje and Brnjak, as well as Pristina’s decision on vehicle registration plates.

Stefanovic said tensions caused by special police units from Pristna for the seventh day in a row must end, adding their aim was to instill fear and intimidate Serbian people in northern Kosovo. He also said it was necessary for those units to withdraw in order to talk.

“Until that (happens) it is not possible to talk to those who do not respect a single agreement and cause destabilization and discomfort, aiming at pushing the Serbs out of the north of Kosovo and Metohija”, Stefanovic said.

He also said Serbian prosecution will consider if there are elements to launch proceedings against ROSU members and if they  “carried out acts of terrorism against the Serbs over the previous days”.

“in the upcoming days our prosecution would consider if there are grounds to initiate proceedings against those ROSU members who committed various forms of criminal acts – acts of terrorism and other types of criminal acts that were seen over the previous days against the Serbs in southern Serbian province”, Stefanovic said.

According to him, the visit to Jarinje was organized to familiarize the friends with a situation and give them opportunity to see that Serbia respects international agreements, it acts within its own rights, and is concerned over events taking place in northern Kosovo, given that Pristina units act contrary to the reached agreements, guaranteed by KFOR and UN.

Russian Ambassador to Serbia, Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko and envoy of the Russian Defense Major General Alexander Zinchenko were part of the visit to personally get familiar with the current situation, RTS said.

Botsan-Kharchenko expressed Russian support to Belgrade’s stance aiming at de-escalating the situation in Kosovo and Metohija. “This situation causes very strong concern to us in Moscow”, he said.

He added Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, outlined at the National Security Council session number of steps to resolve the current situation and develop normalization of Belgrade-Pristina relations, that Russia also supports.

The Russian Ambassador also pointed the responsibility for the current situation lies on Pristina, adding that accumulating forces at the crossing points represent violation and non-fulfillment of the agreements signed earlier. 

Brnabic on EU, current situation in northern Kosovo (TV Pink, media)

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told TV Pink morning program the European Union wasn’t  doing anything at this moment or was doing very little on the issue of Kosovo.

“I have nothing good to say about the behavior of Europe, about the behavior of the EU, and above all I think that the Brussels Agreement is an EU issue. Their signature is on the Brussels Agreement”, Brnabic said.

She also pointed out that the Brussels Agreement was clearly violated in Kosovo, because there should be no ROSU special units in the north of Kosovo, while the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities has not been formed even nine years after the agreement.

She opined that the EU “not only tolerates the non-implementation of Brussels agreement for nine years, but it’s silent on its clear violations”.

“And then (the EU) said at one of the meetings in New York where I was ‘what could we do for the de-escalation to take place’. Well, you could keep your word, that’s what you could do. For starters, after almost nine years, you could say, since you are the guarantor of the Brussels Agreement, that you guarantee its implementation, and what we currently have would disappear in five minutes’ time”, Brnabic said. 

Brnabic met UN SG Guterres in New York, reacted to Rama’s statement on Kosovo recognition (Tanjug, RTS)

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Branbic told Tanjug news agency that some use the stage at the UN General Assembly to score political points, adding such statements are not good for regional security. She made these remarks reacting to the statement of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama who called UN member states to recognize Kosovo while addressing the UN General Assembly. 

Brnabic added, the best response to it, was given by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who, as she said, in a meeting with her said that for UN Kosovo was not a state.

“His first sentence in a meeting with me was that Kosovo for the UN is not a state. This is the best and the most diplomatic response. I do not see reasons for a prime minister of one state to interfere in the internal affairs of another state, Serbia, in particular because we have good relations and try to build a different future”, Brnabic told Tanjug news agency after being asked to comment on Rama’s statement.

She also said she had an excellent meeting with Guterres, and he thanked Serbia for all the country does for the UN, multilateralism and international order.

Brnabic addressed the UN General Assembly world leaders debate on Friday stressing that “Pristina with its irrational demonstration of force inflamed a major crisis, however Belgrade remains committed to finding a solution based on compromise. She also spoke about Covid-19 pandemic and climate changes.

Read the full address of Prime Minister Brnabic at UN GA at: https://bit.ly/3o7WLcA

Gabriel Escobar in Brussels on the situation at the administrative crossings (Blic, Tanjug, RFE)

Gabriel Escobar, the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau for European and Eurasian Affairs of the American State Department, will be in Brussels this week to discuss the current situation in Kosovo with European partners, the State Department confirmed for Radio Free Europe (RFE), Belgrade daily Blic cited. 

The United States supports the EU’s offer for Brussels to host the continuation of the dialogue in the coming week and calls on Belgrade and Pristina “to engage again openly, seriously and as soon as possible”, said the statement, RFE reported. 

The State Department also told RFE that Washington is making joint efforts with the governments of Kosovo and Serbia, as well as with partners in the EU and NATO, in order to overcome the new situation.

It was pointed out that immediate steps are being considered to de-escalate the crisis and avoid actions that could increase tension, jeopardize the progress of the EU-mediated dialogue over the last 10 years and negatively affect the lives of citizens.

Zubin Potok municipality: Old installation possible cause of fire (KoSSev)

There is a possibility that the fire in Zubin Potok municipality was caused by old installations, the municipality said late Saturday, urging Pristina officials not to voice accusations against anyone without any evidence, KoSSev portal reports.

The fire erupted Friday evening and the firefighters from the municipality confirmed to the portal that the fire spread to two offices, and the reason was yet to be determined.

Kosovo Minister of Interior Xhelal Sfecla said Saturday that unknown persons set a vehicle registration center located in the municipal building in Zubin Potok on fire. He also said that an attack with “explosive devices” was carried out against the center for civil registration in Zvecan. Kosovo top officials, Albin Kurti and Vjosa Osmani blamed Serbia for being behind the incidents.

Zubin Potok municipality reacting to the case said that “regarding unfortunate events in which two smaller offices in the municipal building in Zubin Potok were burned down, we wish to inform the public that luckily no one was injured, which is the most important, but that also preliminary internal analysis of our services, found that possible cause of fire could be malfunction caused by old installations”. The municipality added they would come with a final assessment only after responsible bodies conclude the investigation.

At the same time, they urged political representatives in Pristina not to use this unfortunate event for, as they said, justifying the presence of heavily armed members of the special police units in this municipalitie and voicing accusations against anyone without any evidence.

“By doing this they demonstrate that their interest is to destabilize the situation on the ground”, the municipality said.  

Vucic to meet Quint ambassadors today (RTS)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic would meet today ambassadors of US, Great Britain, France, Italy and Germany, as well as head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, RTS reports.

The meeting will start at 13.00 hrs, at the Presidency building in Belgrade. The topic of the meeting will be the crisis in northern Kosovo. 

Following the meeting Vucic said Serbia remains committed to preservation of peace and honoring Brussels agreement, however it will neither allow humiliation of the state nor its citizens, Serbian media report. This was his explanation to the request of Quint to de-escalate the situation. 

Europol: Balkan drug cartel broken up (N1)

Europol said on Monday that members of a Balkan drug cartel had been arrested in a multinational operation in eight countries.

A press release said that Europol’s European Serious Organised Crime Centre headed the coordinated operation against the cartel bringing cocaine into Europe with law enforcement agencies in Spain, Croatia, Serbia, Germany, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the US and Colombia. “This highly mobile criminal organisation had branches active in several European countries and was composed mainly of criminals from Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia,” it added. Europol said that it set up an Operational Task Force in July 2020 to coordinate a joint strategy to bring down the whole network, adding that the task force was part of its strategy to counter organized crime from the Western Balkans.

The press release said that 23 of the 61 indicted cartel members had been arrested, 2.6 tons of cocaine, 324 kilograms of marijuana and 612,000 Euro were seized along with 9 luxury vehicles and 5 motorbikes.

See at:https://bit.ly/3CM8mSE

 

 

 

International 

 

Albania defends Kosovo sovereignty, criticizes Serbia’s military maneuvers (Exit)

Albanian prime minister Edi Rama has supported Kosovo’s right to impose reciprocal measures towards Serbia, and criticized the latter for the alleged “theatrical military maneuvers” at the border with Kosovo.

Rama is visiting Kosovo this Monday, while tensions between Serbia and Kosovo have escalated over a tax imposed last week on Serbian-licensed cars entering the neighboring country. Serbia has been implementing the same tax on Kosovo cars for more than 10 years, in breach of an agreement that expired two weeks ago.

A number of Kosovo Serbs blocked the roads at two border checkpoints, backed by the Serbia government, who also heightened alert of its troops, deployed armored vehicles to the border, flew fighter jets near NATO helicopters, and gave NATO an ultimatum in case Kosovo Serbs are threatened.

On Monday, during a joint press statement, the Albanian prime minister gave his full support to Kosovo’s prime minister Albin Kurti, and stressed the latter’s call to sit in talks with Serbia as the only way solution going forward. 

Kurti has expressed Kosovo’s readiness to scrap the tax immediately, if Serbia reciprocates.

However, the real issue rests with Serbia refusing to recognize Kosovo. Accepting reciprocal measures with Kosovo would amount to treating Kosovo as a sovereign country, which Serbia refuses to do.

Rama urged Serbia to recognize Kosovo for its own and the region’s benefit.

“There is no doubt that in the first place, and above all, Serbia must recognize this irreversible reality, and it is really unfortunate that instead of concrete progress in dialogue towards mutual recognition and final reconciliation with the past, today we are witnessing Serbia’s theatrical military maneuvers on the border with sovereign state of Kosovo,” said Rama.

He added that Serbia’s military maneuvers are of no help to anyone, contrary to claims by Belgrade officials and “the ghosts of an army defeated 20 years ago,” that they are defending Kosovo Serbs.

“Serbs in Kosovo live without being threatened by anyone, their electricity bills are paid by the Kosovo government like in no other country in the Balkans and worldwide. And unfortunately these [military] maneuvers bring back to the forefront the shadows of the past, and incite the vandal nationalism of those who burn down public institutions that serve the Kosovo Serbs who are not victims of any state repression or ethnic persecution, but are hostage to the stagnation of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.”

Rama stressed that Kosovo government’s decision to apply the same tax as Serbia relies on the Brussels agreements and on its right as a sovereign country. 

He also said that he has not spoken with Vucic since the conflict between Kosovo and Serbia over license plates began last week.

The Albanian prime minister will also meet all opposition party leaders separately during his one-day visit to Prishtina.

NATO, EU call for deescalation in the north of Kosovo as tensions continue (EWB)

BRUSSELS – Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg tweeted on Sunday that he had spoken with both President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić and Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti about the need to de-escalate in the north of Kosovo.

“It’s vital both Belgrade and Pristina show restraint and return to dialogue. KFOR’s mandate remains to ensure a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all”, Stoltenberg tweeted.

As of Sunday, 26 September, Kosovo Serbs continued to block the crossings of Jarinje and Brnjak due to the decision of Kosovo to introduce reciprocal measures for Serbia’s licence plates, requesting vehicles from Serbia to use temporary plates, as vehicles from Kosovo do in Serbia. Representatives of Kosovo Serbs demand that the decision be revoked and are protesting the presence of special police forces of Kosovo.

Aircrafts of the Serbian Armed Forces flew over Jarinje on Sunday, as did the KFOR choppers, while Minister of Defence Nebojša Stefanović visited a part of military forces stationed near Kosovo, together with Russian Ambassador to Serbia, Radio-Television of Serbia reported.

A day earlier, two offices in the municipality of Zubin Potok, where the vehicle registration center was located – that is, the place for issuing test RKS license plates, burned down, and two bombs that did not explode were thrown into the same center in Zvečan on the same night, KoSSev reports.

See more at:https://bit.ly/3iup41p

Can Selling Weapons to Serbia Create Peace in the Balkans? (The National Interest)

The ensuing unsettled conditions that stem from Russian arms sales and leverage upon Serbia work directly against American and European interests and if not mastered, could lead to more Balkan conflicts and crises in the future. 

The Balkans, and the Western Balkans (i.e. the former Yugoslavia) in particular, are a major theater in Russia’s war with the West.  Serbia lies at the center of that theater and is an arena in which Moscow has made a major investment of economic, informational, military, and political resources.  As long as Serbia can be pulled away from adhesion to Western security institutions—despite its stated desire to join the EU—Russia can preserve the state of indeterminacy that it seeks in Europe. It can likewise prevent the realization of the abiding U.S.—if not European—objective since 1990: namely a Europe whole and free.  Western leaders understand this and have also sought to bring Serbia into a closer relationship with the West because they know that Serbia is a key to peace in the Balkans.

See more at:https://bit.ly/3obLg3R

 

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