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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, September 28, 2021

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, September 28, 2021

Albanian Language Media:

• Situation in the north, Kosovo and Serbia meet tomorrow in Brussels (RTK)
• Von der Leyen: Increase of tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, worrying (media)
• US confirms Escobar will take part in Bislimi-Petkovic meeting in Brussels (Kallxo)
• MEPs concerned over recent tensions at the Kosovo-Serbia border crossings (media)
• Stano to Escobar: Dialogue is between Kosovo, Serbia and EU (Express)
• Germany requests removal of special forces and barricades from north (Express)
• Nehammer: Kosovo is acting carefully and positively (media)
• Vetting proceeded to government (Express)
• European Union election observers visit CEC (RTK)
• COVID-19: Eight deaths, 68 new cases (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Covid – 19 in Serbian communities: 40 new case, three deaths (KiM radio)
• Protests in northern Kosovo continue (RTS)
• “Meetings just to have meetings, unnecessary” (KiM radio)
• Dialogue depends on the situation in the north (KiM radio, RTS)
• Group of Serbs attacked in South Mitrovica, ten suspects arrested (Radio KIM, Kontakt plus radio)
• Drecun: If KFOR is stability factor, it should act like one (Tanjug)
• Defence Minister Stefanovic: “KFOR arrived at the crossings according to the agreement between Vucic and Stoltenberg” (Blic, TV Pink)
• North Mitrovica citizens on license plates reciprocity: We want the same thing Pristina wants – autonomy (KoSSev)
• Selakovic: Serbia highly appreciates consistent stance of Mexico not to recognize Kosovo (Kosovo-online)
• Borrell: EU, Western Balkans share responsibility for united Europe (N1)

International:

• Ordinary Serbs, Albanians Pay Price of Serbia-Kosovo Vehicle Row (Balkan Insight)
• Are Serbia and Kosovo Ready to Open Their War Archives? (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Situation in the north, Kosovo and Serbia meet tomorrow in Brussels (RTK)
  • Von der Leyen: Increase of tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, worrying (media)
  • US confirms Escobar will take part in Bislimi-Petkovic meeting in Brussels (Kallxo)
  • MEPs concerned over recent tensions at the Kosovo-Serbia border crossings (media)
  • Stano to Escobar: Dialogue is between Kosovo, Serbia and EU (Express)
  • Germany requests removal of special forces and barricades from north (Express)
  • Nehammer: Kosovo is acting carefully and positively (media)
  • Vetting proceeded to government (Express)
  • European Union election observers visit CEC (RTK)
  • COVID-19: Eight deaths, 68 new cases (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Covid – 19 in Serbian communities: 40 new case, three deaths (KiM radio)
  • Protests in northern Kosovo continue (RTS)
  • “Meetings just to have meetings, unnecessary” (KiM radio)
  • Dialogue depends on the situation in the north (KiM radio, RTS)
  • Group of Serbs attacked in South Mitrovica, ten suspects arrested (Radio KIM, Kontakt plus radio)
  • Drecun: If KFOR is stability factor, it should act like one (Tanjug)
  • Defence Minister Stefanovic: “KFOR arrived at the crossings according to the agreement between Vucic and Stoltenberg” (Blic, TV Pink)
  • North Mitrovica citizens on license plates reciprocity: We want the same thing Pristina wants – autonomy (KoSSev)
  • Selakovic: Serbia highly appreciates consistent stance of Mexico not to recognize Kosovo (Kosovo-online)
  • Borrell: EU, Western Balkans share responsibility for united Europe (N1)

International:

  • Ordinary Serbs, Albanians Pay Price of Serbia-Kosovo Vehicle Row (Balkan Insight)
  • Are Serbia and Kosovo Ready to Open Their War Archives? (Balkan Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

Situation in the north, Kosovo and Serbia meet tomorrow in Brussels (RTK)

European Union officials said a meeting of Kosovo and Serbia negotiating team leaders Besnik Bislimi and Petar Petkovic is expected to be held in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss a way out of the situation following Kosovo’s decision to implement the reciprocity measure on license plates with Serbia.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy said the meeting was expected to be attended by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southern and Central Europe Gabriel Escobar.

“We are pleased that Serbia and Kosovo will send representatives to Brussels this week for discussions and encourage both sides to re-engage openly, seriously and promptly in the process,” the embassy spokesman said.

Escobar warned in an interview with VOA on Friday that “on the issue of license plates we would like to see some moves in Brussels, probably as early as next week.”

For nine days in a row, groups of Serb citizens in northern Kosovo have been blocking roads leading to the border crossings with Serbia, Jarinje and Brnjak in protest of the license plate decision.

As of last Monday, cars entering Kosovo from Serbia must receive temporary license plates, just as cars from Kosovo have been operating in Serbia for more than ten years.

Belgrade reacted angrily and announced the increase of military readiness near the border with Kosovo. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic demanded the withdrawal of special police units from northern Kosovo and the cancellation of reciprocity for car license plates.

Pristina said it was ready to give up temporary license plates if Belgrade did the same, while accusing Serbia of inciting tensions.

The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, reiterated on Monday that the deployment of special police units in the north was not directed against Serbs, but for the protection of border crossings and police.

Western diplomats are calling for easing tensions and expect Wednesday’s meeting between the parties to help.

NATO peacekeepers said Monday they have stepped up patrols across Kosovo, including the north.

“KFOR has taken further steps on the ground, increasing patrols along the main roads affected by the blockades and deploying its units at the border crossings in Jarinje and Brnjak, in accordance with its mandate, which derives from Resolution 1244 of 1999 UN Security Council. KFOR has also held talks, with all parties involved, to end protests in northern Kosovo. The measures, previously discussed by the KFOR Commander with all Kosovo institutions and with the mayors of the northern municipalities, are aimed at helping to quickly reduce the tensions created last week and restore a safe environment and freedom of movement for all communities in Kosovo,” it is said in a communiqué of the peacekeeping forces.

US confirms Escobar will take part in Bislimi-Petkovic meeting in Brussels (Kallxo)

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Gabriel Escobar, will take part in the meeting between chief negotiators of Kosovo and Serbia – Besnik Bislimi and Petar Petkovic – expected to take place this Wednesday in Brussels, a spokesperson for the United States Embassy in Kosovo told Kallxo.com.

“We are pleased that Serbia and Kosovo will send representatives to Brussels this week for discussions and will encourage both parties to re-engage openly, seriously and immediately. The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Gabriel Escobar will travel to Brussels this week to participate in these discussions,” the reply reads. 

The spokesperson added that recent developments in the north prove that Kosovo and Serbia should leave no issues unresolved. “As recent events show, the differences between Kosovo and Serbia, if left unresolved, will prevent foreign investment and accelerate brain drain, preventing economies of Kosovo and Serbia from reaching their full potential and blocking future integration into European institutions.”

Von der Leyen: increase of tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, worrying (media)

The President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, stated that the increase of tensions between Kosovo and Serbia is worrying, while she advised parties to return to the dialogue table.

In a joint conference with the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, she said that a lot of work has been done on the issue of cooperation.

Asked about the Open Balkans initiative, Von der Leyen said “Allow me one more time, to say that by now, the Berlin Process has already started. You also have our commitment in order to push the Berlin Process forward. Can there be other initiatives? They have to be comprehensive and be able to respect all common objectives of integration into this common regional market. These initiatives need to be comprehensive, visionary and they absolutely need to respect all common objectives. It is only this way, that you will have my utmost support.”

MEPs concerned over recent tensions at the Kosovo-Serbia border crossings (media)

Leading MPs of the European Parliament issued a statement in light of recent developments in the north of Kosovo: 

“We are deeply concerned about the recent tensions at the Jarinje and Brnjak border crossings. Serbia and Kosovo must urgently find a peaceful and sustainable solution in order to ensure the security and safety of all citizens.

“We wish to see the withdrawal of special police and any army units and the dismantling of roadblocks. Unilateral actions and provocations and inflammatory rhetoric, which increase tensions and affect the wellbeing of local communities, should stop. We call on the EU and its partners to continue to work on de-escalating the crisis and we urge the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo to use the platform of the EU-facilitated Dialogue to resolve all open issues, including those related to freedom of movement.

“We reiterate that the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo is a precondition for the EU accession of both countries, and is also essential for securing stability and prosperity in the wider region. We urge both sides to actively and constructively re-engage in the EU-facilitated dialogue led by the EU Special Representative, seeking a comprehensive, sustainable and legally binding agreement.”

The statement was issued jointly by Vladimír Bilcik, Standing Rapporteur for Serbia, Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, Standing Rapporteur for Kosovo, Tanja Fajon, Chair of the Delegation to the EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee, and Romeo Franz, Chair of the Delegation for relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo.

Stano to Escobar: Dialogue is between Kosovo, Serbia and EU (Express)

The situation created in the north of Kosovo after the implementation of the reciprocity of license plates, has led to the convening of an urgent meeting between Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels, in order to de-escalate the situation.

However, uncertainty has been created about this meeting, as the United States Embassy in Pristina has confirmed that the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Gabriel Escobar, will also take part in the discussions. While such a thing has been denied by EU spokesman Peter Stano.

The Express newspaper contacted the EU spokesman, Peter Stano, again today regarding this issue, who clarified that the American representative Gabriel Escobar will not be part of the meeting, and that the meeting is only between Kosovo, Serbia and EU.

But Peter Stano added that everyone else only gives outside support.

“No, Mr. Escobar will not be present in the dialogue. The dialogue has three participants (Kosovo, Serbia and the EU). Everyone else just supports it (dialogue) from outside,” Stano told the Express newspaper.

Until yesterday, in a response to the Express newspaper, the US Embassy in Pristina confirmed that DASH official Gabriel Escobar will also take part in the Brussels discussions.

“We are pleased that Serbia and Kosovo will send representatives to Brussels this week for discussions and encourage both sides to re-engage openly, seriously and promptly. The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Gabriel Escobar, will travel to Brussels this week to participate in these discussions,” said a spokesman of the U.S. Embassy in Pristina.

Germany requests removal of special forces and barricades from the north (Express)

The decision of Kosovo to implement the reciprocity of license plates with Serbia has caused Serbs in the north to barricade and block the roads leading to the two border crossings, Jarinje and Brnjak.

The unstable situation and the movements of Serbian planes and helicopters near the border have led to reactions from foreign powers and the urgent need for a meeting between Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels.

The situation in the north is being closely monitored by the German state, who are also calling for a meeting between Kosovo and Serbia as soon as possible.

A spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry told the Express newspaper that the parties should refrain from any provocation and escalate the situation.

The spokesman also added that official Berlin fully supports the recent statements of the EU High Representative Josep Borell who has demanded the removal of special units from the north and the removal of barricades.

Nehammer: Kosovo is acting carefully and positively (media)

The Minister of Internal Affairs of Kosovo Xhelal Svecla said today during a press conference held with the Austrian Minister of Internal affairs Karl Nehammer, that the Kosovo Police is staying at the border crossings with Serbia for the safety of citizens and this according to him is neither a provocation nor a threat to any citizen but on the contrary, according to him, legality in the north is precondition for development, welfare and prosperity of Kosovo and its citizens.

Svecla added that Austria, like other allies in the democratic world, was committed to the rule of law, peace, security and the common good.

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Xhelal Svecla said that the situation in the north is calm, controlled and that with the help of allied states and allied missions the situation will be overcome peacefully.

“Special units are there to support the work of other institutions that take care of law and order there, customs and border police. The moment when the need for this support will end, we have no reason for the Kosovo special police to stay there,” Svecla said.

Minister of Internal Affairs of Austria Karl Nehammer said that in such difficult situations partners are needed, while he praised the Kosovo Police for the professionalism shown during their stay there.

He said that it is important to maintain composure there and not to have provocations that would escalate the situation.

“In this difficult situation, partners are needed, but as the Minister assured me, the operation is developing positively. I am glad that where the protesters are, the Kosovo police are acting appropriately and carefully, even though they do not have an easy task. What is being done now is the correct and right way even though it is not a fast and spectacular way. The most important thing in such situations is not to be provoked and especially to maintain this calm and clarity,” he said adding that the EU is ensuring that we do not accept violence as a political tool. 

Vetting proceeded to government (Express)

Minister of Justice Albulena Haxhiu during a press conference announced that the concept-document on vetting in judiciary has been proceeded to the government for approval.

Haxhiu said that Kosovo has no time to lose and must improve its rule of law. “Today, after an extraordinary amount of work, we have addressed to the government the concept-document on vetting which will be voted on in the next meeting of government,” Haxhiu said, adding that the concept-document on vetting has been commented also by international experts. The document foresees five options for vetting in judiciary. It is focused on best practices. Our pledge for a rule of law state is taking shape,” Haxhiu said.

European Union election observers visit CEC (RTK)

The Head of the Election Observation Mission Lukas Mandl, and his associates visited the Central Election Commission (CEC).

EU observers were received by CEC members Alim Rama, Sami Kurteshi, Florian Dushi, Cemajl Kurtishi and Fazli Stollaj.

The main topic of this meeting was the preparations for the local elections which will be held on October 17.

COVID-19: Eight deaths, 68 new cases (media)

Eight deaths from COVID-19 and 68 new cases with the virus have been confirmed in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. 323 persons recovered from the virus during this time.

There are 3,342 active cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Covid – 19 in Serbian communities: 40 new case, three deaths (KiM radio)

The Crisis Staff of the Municipality of Kosovska Mitrovica announced that, according to the latest data, out of 102 tested samples 40 new cases of infection were registered. Three people died as a result of Covid-19. 

New cases by municipalities: Zubin Potok (11), North Mitrovica (9), Leposavic (6), Zvecan (6), Gracanica (3), Gnjilane (2) and Strpce (2) and Orahovac (1).

There are currently 218 active cases.

Protests in northern Kosovo continue (RTS)

People dissatisfied with Pristina’s decision relating to vehicle licence plates and deployment of ROSU special units at Jarinje and Brnjak crossing points continue protesting for the ninth consecutive day, RTS reports.

RTS also said the situation was calm, but tense.

Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commenting on the situation, said “Russia is concerned over heightened tensions in Kosovo and Metohija caused by Pristina’s irresponsible acts”.

She pointed out that the establishment of the Community of Serbian Municipalities, that should be a body to guarantee respect of the rights and interests of the Serbs in Kosovo, “remains a dead letter on paper” due to Pristina’s sabotage.

She also assessed Pristina wants to assert complete control over the entire territory in Kosovo using “repressive apparatus”.

RTS also reported that military attaches of US and Canada in Belgrade, visited Jarinje and spoke with police members at administrative crossing points. They said they rest assured the situation was under control and  peaceful.

Jarinje and Brnjak crossing points can be passed on foot only. 

“Meetings just to have meetings, unnecessary” (KiM radio)

EU spokesman Peter Stano confirmed that Petar Petkovic and Besnik Bislimi will meet in Brussels on Wednesday, September 29. As the spokesman announced, the main topic of their conversation will be the de-escalation of the situation in the north of Kosovo. 

KiM radio writes that while official Belgrade shyly announces that the meeting may not take place because it “depends on the situation”, there is not much optimism on the ground before the new meeting of Pristina and Belgrade officials at the headquarters of the European administration.

“Although I don’t expect much from the conversation, I hope that reason will dominate, because the current situation does not suit anyone, it is the last moment for the parties to come to their senses. There is no interest in continuing that. I do not expect much from the conversation between Petkovic and Bislimi. But I still hope that the cry for reason will dominate unless the parties are interested in making the already difficult situation even more complicated,” said political analyst Belul Beqaj.

Igor Markovic, the main researcher in the NGO Aktiv, does not expect a solution from the announced meeting in Brussels

“Given that Bislimi and Petkovic were invited by the EU, whose mediation has proved bad in recent years, it is unlikely that Brussels will be able to bring the positions of Belgrade and Pristina officials closer. I do not expect anything concrete from that meeting that would solve the problem in the long run. Maybe there will be a small agreement, in the sense of establishing some kind of moratorium on Pristina’s decision to introduce the obligation to use temporary plates,” he said.

Beqaj and Markovic have a similar opinion regarding the possible meeting between the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic and the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti.

“I think it is almost unbelievable that the meetings will have the effect that ordinary citizens want. There will be meetings, because there have been many meetings since 2011, but without results. I would like to have fewer meetings, but meetings that bring results. Meetings just to have meetings are unnecessary and lead to a loss of hope among the citizens,” Beqaj said.

Markovic does not believe that there will be any meeting between Vucic and Kurti before the local elections in Kosovo, which are scheduled for October 17.

“I assume that Kurti would not want to meet Vucic in order not to lose a political point, and thus he would prove weaker than Vucic. A meeting with him would be a symbol of giving in to Serbia after the Kosovo government established reciprocity,” believes Markovic.

Although those familiar with the situation on the ground do not have high expectations from tomorrow’s or the next meetings in Brussels, EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell recently expressed hope that Petkovic and Bislimi can find sustainable solutions that are in the interest of the citizens.

Dialogue depends on the situation in the north (KiM radio, RTS)

State Secretary at the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nemanja Starovic told RTS that the continuation of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels depends on the development of the situation in the north of Kosovo, cited KiM radio.

“Until there is a return to the situation we had before and the withdrawal of special units (ROSU), there will be no talk of continuing the dialogue in its political dimension,” Starovic told RTS

He confirmed that an invitation had arrived from Brussels to continue the technical dialogue, in which the director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Petar Petkovic, should participate, but that the development of the situation today and tomorrow would determine whether the dialogue would take place and what it would look like.

“There can and will be no talk of continuing the dialogue process in its political dimension until the preconditions that President (Aleksandar) Vucic has already talked about are met – until we return to the status quo, to the situation we had before the withdrawal of these unilateral moves,” Starovic said, reported KiM radio.

He recalled the earlier negotiations in Brussels, when Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti accepted, out  of three points – the issue of the missing, both sides to refrain from moves that would lead to destabilization, and to meet again, only one to meet again. 

“Then he (Kurti) announced his intentions; he announced his moves that he took eight days ago, and it is terrible that many pretended not to see what intentions were behind such a move by Albin Kurti,” Starovic said.

He pointed out that the political dialogue has no perspective, and that the EU must provide a clear answer as to whether the Brussels Agreement is valid or not.

Group of Serbs attacked in South Mitrovica, ten suspects arrested (Radio KIM, Kontakt plus radio)

A group of Serbs was attacked in Mitrovica South, yesterday around 16.00 hrs, Kosovo police confirmed to Kontakt plus radio.

The case occurred near the office of the Kosovo Ministry of Agriculture, Forest and Rural Development located in Mitrovica South.

The police also said ten persons, suspected of involvement in the case, were arrested, including two underage persons.

A group of 11 persons of Serb ethnicity reported the case to the police. They were offered medical assistance, but they have refused it.

The eight suspects were kept in detention, while two underage persons have been released.

Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija condemned the incident saying that the “yesterday’s attack on a group of Serbs, who went to the southern part of Kosovska Mitrovica to complete administrative tasks, is a true illustration of today’s society in self-proclaimed ‘Kosovo’, which for years was built on poisonous and mindless hatred towards the Serbian people and everything Serbian”.

Terming the incident as “impermissible”, the Office also said it was “continuation of the reckless actions of Pristina, whose special forces have been provoking the Serbian people for days at the crossings in the north of Kosovo and Metohija”.

Drecun: If KFOR is stability factor, it should act like one (Tanjug)

The head of the Serbian parliamentary committee on Kosovo-Metohija Milovan Drecun confirmed that representatives of KFOR and the Pristina authorities had met on Monday and that an offer had been made for Pristina’s special police forces deployed at administrative crossings in northern Kosovo to be replaced by KFOR, but added that it was unknown whether the offer had been accepted, reported agency Tanjug.

“KFOR was present on September 20, too, but we got a destabilisation of the situation. If they are a stability factor, they must not let that happen,” Drecun told the RTS.

He added that KFOR and EULEX had known that Albin Kurti would dispatch special police forces to northern Kosovo, but had not opposed the move.

“If KFOR wants to be a stability factor, it should act like one,” Drecun added.

Defence Minister Stefanovic: “KFOR arrived at the crossings according to the agreement between Vucic and Stoltenberg” (Blic, TV Pink)

Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said today that KFOR‘s arrival at the administrative crossings between central Serbia and Kosovo was a consequence of talks between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, reported Belgrade based daily Blic. 

Stefanovic pointed out that KFOR is in charge of taking care of the security of Serbs, which is endangered, and reiterated that in case of escalation, they will have some time to react, and if they do not – then the Serbian Army will react.

He told TV Pink that the moves of the President of Serbia led to the fact that no one on the other side was thinking about the worst-case scenario and added that he could not say that such scenarios were not considered by the Pristina side seven days ago.

– Raising combat readiness in the entire land security zone had an effect and encouraged our people that no one would be allowed to kill them – said Stefanovic, reported the daily.

Stefanovic described the call for both sides on de-escalation as a phrase, emphasizing that Pristina sent special units with long pipes to carry out the “wrong” at the administrative crossings.

Commenting on the statement of the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, that this is a theater, Stefanovic pointed out that Rama should not interfere in the internal affairs of Serbia and noted that it is neither a theater, nor is it funny when people with long pipes and transporters come to threaten Serbs.

He mentioned that the Army of Serbia did not enter the territories where, according to the Kumanovo Agreement, it has no right to be.

– On the territory of central Serbia, we have the right to deploy units as we think we should. We did not threaten anyone – said Stefanovic.

North Mitrovica citizens on license plates reciprocity: We want the same thing Pristina wants – autonomy (KoSSev)

“It is a kind of pressure to expel the rest of the Serbs in the north. As if we have a say. This is a test balloon, Trepca, Valac, Gazivode, health and education systems are next. I want the same thing they want to have – autonomy. That is what the Serbian people want from Pristina. I’m not ready for my children to attend a school within the Kosovo system”, were some of the statements of Mitrovica North residents to KoSSev portal regarding the decision of Pristina to introduce temporary license plates.

The portal also enquired if this measure affected local people and in what way as well as how will this situation end? The portal also said male citizens were more inclined to respond, while women and young people didn’t wish to talk.

“I assess it as a kind of pressure to expel the rest of the Serbs in the north of Kosovo. So, all the things they already did in Pristina, Djakovica, Prizren, they now want to clean up Mitrovica, Zvecan and Zubin Potok, to achieve their ultimate goal – an ethnically pure Kosovo“, one resident said.

“I don’t think it should have been introduced. It should not have happened. If there was a problem, it could have been overcome through dialogue, but in any case, such rigorous unannounced measures – it’s not right“, another response reads.

“If there was any justice, their plates should be banned, not ours“.

“As if we have a say. Those a little bit stronger than us are making these decisions“.

“In fact, I think he (cf. Kurti) is working for the Serbian cause because it will speed up some processes to draw the lines so that we finally know where we are at“.

“The decision has not particularly affected me, but many people were affected. I do not drive a car, but it affected many people. Quite a large number of people have been affected by this measure“.

“The measure sure did affect me. An abnormal person would find this absurd let alone a normal one“.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/39KyzEM

Selakovic: Serbia highly appreciates consistent stance of Mexico not to recognize Kosovo (Kosovo-online)

Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Nikola Selakovic met today with the President of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and stressed that Serbia highly appreciates the consistent stance of Mexico not to recognize Kosovo and support it provides to the inviolability of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia, Kosovo-online portal reports.

Selakovic informed President Obrador about the current situation in Kosovo, latest Pristina’s provocative acts but also about the endangerment of the Serbian holy shrines and cultural heritage in Kosovo. 

Selakovic assessed relations between the two states as traditionally friendly and honest, adding Serbia was ready to further foster them in areas of culture, science, sports, education, tourism but also cooperation between cities and municipalities.   

Borrell: EU, Western Balkans share responsibility for united Europe (N1)

The European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell told a conference in Skopje that the EU and Western Balkans share responsibility in building a peaceful, prosperous and united Europe.

Borrell told the second EU-Western Balkans conference on media literacy that the gathering is a clear example of productive cooperation between the Union and the region in dealing with common challenges. The High Representative said that the EU is financing studies to strengthen understanding and is investing in education for students and teachers across the Western Balkans.

“Investments in strengthening the people of the Western Balkans means investing in a stronger Europe”, Borrell is reported as saying. He warned that misinformation jeopardizes democracies and their values as well as endangering lives and public safety. Borrell also said that independent, professional media are investing constant effort to suppress misinformation which, he said, is of crucial importance. According to him, the people of the region are more resilient in the face of misinformation but he added that the EU can’t fight misinformation on its own.

 

 

International 

 

Ordinary Serbs, Albanians Pay Price of Serbia-Kosovo Vehicle Row (Balkan Insight)

Kosovo’s decision to no longer recognise vehicle licence plates issued in Serbia throws a spotlight on the everyday hardships inflicted on ordinary Serbs and Albanians from the failure of Belgrade and Pristina to resolve their relations.

For Milica Rakic Andric, a civil society activist in the northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica, the clock has been turned back five or six years, “when it was common to see cars without licence plates here.”

Border protests, arson and the sabre-rattling of political leaders represent an even more ominous throwback to the days following Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008.

The trigger this time? An announcement by Kosovo that it no longer recognises Serbian vehicle licence plates, so-called ‘reciprocity’ for Serbia’s long-standing refusal to recognise licence plates issued by Kosovo.

Licence plates have been a bone of contention ever since the 1998-99 Kosovo war, which ended in 11 weeks of NATO bombing to force out Serbian forces, leaving majority-Albanian Kosovo a ward of the United Nations until 2008.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3AO6gAZ

Are Serbia and Kosovo Ready to Open Their War Archives? (Balkan Insight)

It’s been reported that Belgrade and Pristina have agreed to open military and police files from the 1998-99 Kosovo war to help locate the remaining missing persons from the conflict – but experts are highly sceptical.

After the most recent round of EU-mediated talks between officials from Serbia and Kosovo in Brussels earlier this month, it was reported that the negotiators had come to an agreement to up their wartime archives in order to establish the whereabouts of over 1,600 people who are still missing from the 1998-99 Kosovo war.

Kosovo’s negotiator, deputy prime minister Besnik Bislimi, said he asked Serbia to open its Yugoslav-era military and police files to help find the locations of wartime mass graves of ethnic Albanians.

Serbia has already asked for the archives of the Kosovo Liberation Army to be opened so that the bodies of Serbs who disappeared can finally be found.

The head of Belgrade’s delegation, the director of the Serbian government’s office for Kosovo, Petar Petkovic, said after the meeting that “we seem to have made progress”.

But it was unclear whether this ‘progress’ had anything to do with the wartime archives, or whether any agreement on the subject had been reached at all.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3kOR812

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