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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, October 20, 2021

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• European Commission presents report on Kosovo (media)
• Kurti: Our government has made progress during six months (media)
• Osmani: European Union membership is Kosovo’s priority (media)
• Szunyog: Past agreements with Serbia need to be implemented (media)
• Citaku criticises EC report, calls on Government to insist on U.S. inclusion in dialogue (Koha)
• Kurti: No meeting with Serbian president expected this month (Koha/Kallxo)
• Licence plates: Technical groups of Kosovo and Serbia to meet Thursday (T7/RTK)
• Albania, North Macedonia Ready for EU Accession Talks: European Commission (BIRN)
• European Commission Raps Serbia’s ‘Weak’ War Crimes Case Record (BIRN)
• Israel interested in twinning municipalities with Kosovo (media)
• COVID-19: 17 new cases, one death (media)

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  • European Commission presents report on Kosovo (media)
  • Kurti: Our government has made progress during six months (media)
  • Osmani: European Union membership is Kosovo’s priority (media)
  • Szunyog: Past agreements with Serbia need to be implemented (media)
  • Citaku criticises EC report, calls on Government to insist on U.S. inclusion in dialogue (Koha)
  • Kurti: No meeting with Serbian president expected this month (Koha/Kallxo)
  • Licence plates: Technical groups of Kosovo and Serbia to meet Thursday (T7/RTK)
  • Albania, North Macedonia Ready for EU Accession Talks: European Commission (BIRN)
  • European Commission Raps Serbia’s ‘Weak’ War Crimes Case Record (BIRN)
  • Israel interested in twinning municipalities with Kosovo (media)
  • COVID-19: 17 new cases, one death (media)

 

European Commission presents report on Kosovo (media)

The European Commission released its annual reports on prospective EU membership candidates, including Kosovo.

The report notes that on the political front, most of the reporting period was marked by political instability in Kosovo. Following early parliamentary elections in February 2021, a new government took office, with an unprecedentedly strong parliamentary majority. “Legislative activities were limited due to this political instability, including EU-related reform efforts.”

“For a large part of the reporting period, the polarised political atmosphere, the lack of an effective government majority and the lack of a quorum severely affected decision-making in the Assembly. There is a need for the Assembly to improve its regulatory framework, including the rules of procedure. The Assembly remained open during the pandemic, while maintaining health protection measures,” the report states.

It adds that the general elections of February 2021 were “well-administered, transparent and competitive, despite several shortcomings” but that Kosovo’s electoral process remains in need of comprehensive strengthening to address long-standing weaknesses throughout the electoral cycle.

European Commission further stressed that the situation in the north of Kosovo remains challenging, in particular in terms of corruption, organised crime, and the conditions for freedom of expression.

The report concludes that Kosovo is still at an early stage in developing a well-functioning judicial system. “The overall administration of justice continues to be slow, inefficient and vulnerable to undue political influence. Some progress was made during the reporting period.”

In the fight against corruption, Kosovo is considered to be at an early stage of preparation. “During the reporting period, limited progress was made, including on the investigation and prosecution of high-level cases in the track-record. Sustained efforts are needed to achieve more proactive investigations, final court decisions and final confiscation of assets.” The same is concluded in the area of fight against organised crime. “Measures are needed to strengthen the prosecution as well as to ensure that there is no political interference in the operational activities of all law enforcement bodies.”

The report recognizes progress in the fight against terrorism, especially with regard to the rehabilitation and reintegration of foreign terrorist fighters and their families.

As regards the economic criteria, Kosovo has made limited progress and is at an early stage of developing a functioning market economy.

Regarding the normalisation of relations with Serbia, the report states that the EU-facilitated dialogue continued with high-level meetings on 15 June and 19 July 2021, as well as three chief negotiators’ meetings. “During the reporting period both parties appointed new chief negotiators and negotiating teams. Kosovo needs to engage constructively and make further substantial efforts on the implementation of all past agreements and contribute to reaching a comprehensive legally binding normalisation agreement with Serbia. Such an agreement is urgent and crucial so that Kosovo and Serbia can advance on their respective European paths.”

See the report at: https://bit.ly/3AX5lOe

Kurti: Our government has made progress during six months (media)

European Commission Report on Kosovo was presented yesterday to Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti by the Head of the EU Office in Kosovo Tomas Szunyog. Kurti said on the occasion that the path to European Union integration requires reforms and progress but that “in these months of governing, we have proven we are on the right track”.

“In these six months of government we have institutional stability, democratic legitimacy and high credibility in institutions by citizens which represents great social progress that would be envied by many EU member states. In the field of rule of law in these six months or in about 200 days we have taken 320 decisions in government meetings, of which 60 draft laws, while approved 12 draft laws, two concept papers, a strategy and a regulation,” Kurti said.

He said that in the fight against organised crime and corruption, during the period between April and October 2021, 519 search operations and 283 police operations were carried out. As a result, 29 criminal groups have been destroyed, Kurti added. “We have also intensified the fight against smuggling, tax evasion and crime throughout the territory of the Republic. So there are concrete results in this period which, as I said at the beginning, is completely different from the preceding one.”

Osmani: European Union membership is Kosovo’s priority (media)

President of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani received yesterday the European Commission Report on Kosovo from the Head of the EU Office in Kosovo Tomas Szunyog. She said that Kosovo’s priority is to join the European Union.

“She stressed that nothing and no one will be able to stop the determination of the new institutions of the Republic of Kosovo for the rule of law and for the protection of the integrity of the institutions,” Osmani is quoted in a press release issued by Kosovo’s presidency.

She further asked for clarifications on why the Presidency was not included in the consultation stage of the drafting of the report and at the same time welcomed the reconfirmation of the European Commission’s support for visa liberalization for the citizens of Kosovo. “President Osmani assessed that the increasing commitment of Kosovo institutions for the implementation of European reforms should be followed by discussions with EU institutions and member states in starting the EU membership negotiations process. She stressed that the recognition of Kosovo’s independence by the five EU member states is not only a just action but will serve as an impetus for the implementation of internal reforms and will contribute to peace and stability in the region.”

Szunyog: Past agreements with Serbia need to be implemented (media)

Head of the EU Office in Kosovo Tomas Szunyog said at a press conference with Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti after he presented him the latest European Commission report that agreements reached in Brussels need to be implemented, including that on the establishment of the Association of Serb-majority municipalities.

“All past agreements must be implemented and this includes the 2013 agreement on the Association. I want to remind everyone that the agreement has been agreed upon, not only by the EU, but also by the Assembly of Kosovo and must be implemented. It is up to Pristina to suggest how,” he said.

Szunyog also noted that Kosovo needs to achieve tangible results in the field of rule of law, fight against corruption and undertake reforms in a number of areas.

Asked by reporters to comment on the statement of the EU High Representative Josep Borrell on the Kosovo Police operation that also took place in the north, Szunyog said that the EU does not put into question the issue of the fight against crime and corruption. “We call on the Government to continue with this active stance on the problem which is not only about Kosovo, but the entire region.”

Citaku criticises EC report, calls on Government to insist on U.S. inclusion in dialogue (Koha)

Vlora Citaku, deputy leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), in an interview with KTV criticised parts of the recent European Commission report on Kosovo and called on the Government of Kosovo to demand inclusion of the United States in the process of dialogue with Serbia. She said the PDK has supported PM Albin Kurti on the issue of dialogue and that the party supports protection of Kosovo’s territorial integrity.

Citaku said that not only Kosovo needs a progress report but “perhaps the EU needs one as well in relation to enlargement and non-fulfillment of promises made to Kosovo. It is absurd that in 2021 we are still talking about visa liberalization [when] Kosovo has met all the criteria.”

“As of tomorrow, especially after this Report, Prime Minister Kurti must realise that our permanent friend is the U.S. The EU is neutral due to its internal context. The EU is also Germany. We have a strong ally in Germany. But the EU, as a whole, as a mechanism, is reserved towards the status of Kosovo because of the way it works by consensus, because of the five countries that have not recognized Kosovo,” she said.

Citaku argued that Kosovo Government needs to follow the recommendations of the Constitutional Court regarding the Association of Serb-majority municipalities and act based on them. According to these, she said, the Association would have no executive powers. “The government must fulfill its international obligations, the government has the recommendations of the Constitutional Court, take them and accordingly, not a step further.”

Kurti: No meeting with Serbian president expected this month (Koha/Kallxo)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti said that no meeting between him and the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is expected to take place this month. He said that a meeting between chief negotiators precedes that of the high level.

“I don’t believe there will be an imminent meeting, namely in October, between me and the Serbian president in Brussels, under the facilitation of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mr. Borrell,” Kurti said.

Kurti added that meetings in Brussels as part of the dialogue with Serbia have not been neglected but that the issue of dialogue cannot replace the fight against the pandemic, or the great commitment of government departments towards economic growth, or even the fight against corruption. “We do not neglect the dialogue, but on the other hand we have our government agenda that is in line with our commitments for which the citizens have voted us.”

Licence plates: Technical groups of Kosovo and Serbia to meet Thursday (T7/RTK)

Technical groups of Kosovo and Serbia are expected to meet on Thursday to discuss ways of finding a permanent solution to the issue of licence plates.

The meeting has been confirmed by the Government of Kosovo which told T7 that no decision is expected at this time. “This meeting will review options for a permanent solution based on three main principles: i) the solution must be according to the European Union standards and practices, ii) be applicable and implemented to both parties, iii) and if one party blocks the achievement of a common solution or does not implement what has been agreed upon then that will be the blocking party of the dialogue.”

Albania, North Macedonia Ready for EU Accession Talks: European Commission (BIRN)

European Commission progress reports on six Western Balkans countries seeking EU membership say that Albania and North Macedonia remain ready to start accession talks, but criticise the lack of movement towards reform elsewhere in the region.

The European Commission’s annual progress reports for six Western Balkan countries who hope to become EU members – plus Turkey – were published on Tuesday, assessing their achievements and shortcomings noted during the period between June 2020 and June 2021.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3FW6NE2

European Commission Raps Serbia’s ‘Weak’ War Crimes Case Record (BIRN)

The Serbian authorities have “a very weak track record in the processing of war crimes cases” and continue to “provide support and public space to convicted war criminals”, according to European Commission’s latest report on Serbia’s progress towards membership, which was published on Tuesday.

The report notes that Serbia has not cooperated with the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague to arrest two nationalist Serbian Radical Party politicians who are wanted for trial after being indicted for contempt of the Hague war crimes court by pressuring witnesses during the trial of their leader, Vojislav Seselj

On the issue of cooperation with other ex-Yugoslav states on war crimes prosecutions, the European Commission noted that “Serbia has yet to enforce the final judgment of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the case of [Bosnian Serb general] Novak Djukic”, who fled to Serbia following his conviction for ordering the shelling of the town of Tuzla in 1995, when 71 people were killed.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3n7d7jD

Israel interested in twinning municipalities with Kosovo (media)

Kosovo’s Minister of Local Government Administration Elbert Krasniqi held a virtual meeting yesterday with Israeli’s Minister for Regional Cooperation Esawi Frej.

Krasniqi said in a social media post that the Israeli minister extended full support for “any initiative and cooperation between the two countries, with special emphasis on the twinning of the municipalities of the two countries.”

COVID-19: 17 new cases, one death (media)

17 new COVID-19 cases and one death were recorded in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. 86 persons recovered from the virus during this time.

There are 562 active cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo.

Kosovo’s Ministry of Health announced that more than half of the adult population of Kosovo has already been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The Ministry said that so far, more than 1.5 million doses of the vaccine have been administered.

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