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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, May 20, 2022

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, May 20, 2022

Albanian Language Media:

• Quint: Fully implement lawful registration of Decani Monastery land (media)
• EU Head of Office: Swiftly and fully implement court’s decision (media)
• “Implementation of court decision, precondition to CoE and NATO integration” (media)
• Decan Mayor on pressure from Quint: Albin Kurti should respond (Periskopi)
• Senator Murphy: Unbreakable bond between America and Kosovo (Reporteri)
• Prime Minister Kurti meets Congresswoman Maloney (media)
• President Osmani: Our objective is NATO membership (media)
• Independent Unions call on PM to act and prevent general strike (Telegrafi)
• Hoxhaj: The Balkans can be the second front of a hybrid war (media)
• COVID-19: 14 new cases (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Quint and EU appeal to Kosovo institutions to return the property to the Visoki Decani monastery (Kontakt plus radio, RTK2)
• SOC: International institutions to enable rule of law and respect for religious freedoms in Kosovo (Kosovo-online)
• Petkovic: International community to exert pressure on Pristina to return land to Visoki Decani (Kosovo-online)
• Selakovic in Turin: Pristina’s request attempt to misuse Council of Europe (N1)
• Vucic: All crucial issues discussed with Michel (Tanjug)
• Michel: We want to deepen cooperation with Serbia, accelerate EU accession (Tanjug)
• Petkovic on Kurti’s latest statements about Community of Serb-majroity Municipalities (Radio KIM)
• Platform for trust-building in Kosovo presented (Radio KIM)
• Fresh bomb threats sent to 134 schools in Serbia (Radio KIM, N1)
• DefMin says Serbia committed to respect for territorial integrity (N1)
• Petkovic and Rakic: Displaced families from Pec received support to return (TV Most)
• US to provide grants worth 19.5 mln dollars to Serbia (Tanjug)
• Serbia has complied with EU sanctions on Belarus over the war in Ukraine (EWB)

International:

• Competition or Complement? Calls to restart Berlin Process revive Balkan dilemma (BIRN)
• ‘Return us Home’: Exhibition seeks return of artefacts held in Serbia (BIRN)
• Wave of False Bomb Threats in Region Again Hits Kosovo (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Quint: Fully implement lawful registration of Decani Monastery land (media)
  • EU Head of Office: Swiftly and fully implement court’s decision (media)
  • “Implementation of court decision, precondition to CoE and NATO integration” (media)
  • Decan Mayor on pressure from Quint: Albin Kurti should respond (Periskopi)
  • Senator Murphy: Unbreakable bond between America and Kosovo (Reporteri)
  • Prime Minister Kurti meets Congresswoman Maloney (media)
  • President Osmani: Our objective is NATO membership (media)
  • Independent Unions call on PM to act and prevent general strike (Telegrafi)
  • Hoxhaj: The Balkans can be the second front of a hybrid war (media)
  • COVID-19: 14 new cases (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Quint and EU appeal to Kosovo institutions to return the property to the Visoki Decani monastery (Kontakt plus radio, RTK2)
  • SOC: International institutions to enable rule of law and respect for religious freedoms in Kosovo (Kosovo-online)
  • Petkovic: International community to exert pressure on Pristina to return land to Visoki Decani (Kosovo-online)
  • Selakovic in Turin: Pristina’s request attempt to misuse Council of Europe (N1)
  • Vucic: All crucial issues discussed with Michel (Tanjug)
  • Michel: We want to deepen cooperation with Serbia, accelerate EU accession (Tanjug)
  • Petkovic on Kurti’s latest statements about Community of Serb-majroity Municipalities (Radio KIM)
  • Platform for trust-building in Kosovo presented (Radio KIM)
  • Fresh bomb threats sent to 134 schools in Serbia (Radio KIM, N1)
  • DefMin says Serbia committed to respect for territorial integrity (N1)
  • Petkovic and Rakic: Displaced families from Pec received support to return (TV Most)
  • US to provide grants worth 19.5 mln dollars to Serbia (Tanjug)
  • Serbia has complied with EU sanctions on Belarus over the war in Ukraine (EWB)

International:

  • Competition or Complement? Calls to restart Berlin Process revive Balkan dilemma (BIRN)
  • ‘Return us Home’: Exhibition seeks return of artefacts held in Serbia (BIRN)
  • Wave of False Bomb Threats in Region Again Hits Kosovo (Balkan Insight)                                                                                                                                                 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

Quint: Fully implement lawful registration of Decani Monastery land (media)

The Heads of Mission of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, issued the following statement today calling on the Kosovo government to fully implement the registration of Decani Monastery’s land in line with the decision of the Constitutional Court. Below is the full statement:

In May 2016, the Kosovo Constitutional Court confirmed the Decani Monastery’s ownership of several hectares of land. Despite this lawful decision and subsequent petitions, the Court’s decision has not yet been implemented.

Enforcing the rule of law and respecting judicial independence are obligations for all democratically elected governments. They are also necessary preconditions for Kosovo’s democratic consolidation and its integration into European and Euro-Atlantic institutions.

The Heads of Mission of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States are united in support of Kosovo’s democratic and European future. Therefore, we reiterate our call to the Government of Kosovo to proceed without further delay in fully implementing the lawful registration of the Decani Monastery’s land in line with the Constitutional Court decision.

EU Head of Office: Swiftly and fully implement court’s decision (media)

The EU Head of Office in Kosovo, Tomas Szunyog, took to Twitter today to call on Kosovo’s institutions to implement the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the ownership of disputed land by the Decani Monastery. “6 years have passed since the Judgment of the Kosovo Constitutional Court, confirming the ownership of disputed land by Deçan/Dečane Monastery. I call on Kosovo institutions to swiftly and fully implement the judgement & reconfirm their dedication to the rule of law as a guiding EU principle,” he tweeted.

“Implementation of court decision, precondition to CoE and NATO integration” (media)

Kosovo’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Petrit Selimi, took to Twitter to comment on today’s statement by the Quint which calls on the Kosovo Government to fully implement the registration of the Decani Monastery land in line with the Constitutional Court’s decision. Selimi wrote on a Twitter post: “The way I read it – and trust me, this is the only way to read it – our key and indispensable allies are saying the implementation of 2016 final court decision on Decani church, is a ‘precondition’ to integration to the Council of Europe, NATO, etc. A tough message but it’s a known demand for years.”

Decan Mayor on pressure from Quint: Albin Kurti should respond (Periskopi)

The news website contacted the Mayor of Decan municipality, Bashkim Ramosaj, to comment on today’s statement by the Quint countries on the registration of the Decani Monastery land. “The government should respond to this. For the citizens of Decan and for me, this is an unfair decision. This is a matter for the government … [Prime Minister] Albin Kurti should respond to this,” Ramosaj is quoted as saying.

Senator Murphy: Unbreakable bond between America and Kosovo (Reporteri)

Prime Minister Albin Kurti met on Thursday in Washington D.C. with Senator Chris Murphy, with whom he discussed the further advancement of special relations between the two countries.

Related to the meeting, Senator Chris Murphy also wrote.

“Great to sit down with my friend Albin Kurti, Prime Minister of Kosovo. He is making a large tour of the United States (including Connecticut later this week!) to remind us of the unbreakable bond between America and Kosovo,” Murphy wrote.

According to a press release issued by the Office of the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Kurti informed Senator Murphy about the government’s recent decision to impose additional sanctions against the Russian Federation, in accordance with the sanctions package of the United States of America and the European Union. Speaking about his visit there, Kurti also spoke about meetings with potential investors, with an emphasis on those in the field of Information Technology.

Prime Minister Kurti meets Congresswoman Maloney (media)

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said that in his meeting with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, they discussed Kosovo’s progress in the first year of his government and also maintaining peace and security in Kosovo and the region. Kurti expressed his government’s commitment and progress in the fight against crime and corruption, highlighting Kosovo’s rise by 17 places in the Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International and its ranking as first in the region according to the “World Justice Project”.

On the dialogue with Serbia, Kurti said there is a need for a principled dialogue that respects the equality of parties in the talks and that is centred around mutual recognition. “The Kosovo Government is engaged and committed for constitutionality, territorial integrity, sovereignty, and lawfulness to remain intact,” he said.

“Discussions also included the Russian invasion and aggression in Ukraine and the threat it poses for destabilising the region, given Russia’s close ties with Serbia, which unlike the Republic of Kosovo has not sided with the democratic world in condemning and sanctioning the aggressor,” a press release issued by Kurti’s office notes.

President Osmani: Our objective is NATO membership (media)

Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani said today during the certification of 257 new recruits of the Kosovo Security Force that Kosovo’s objective is membership in NATO. “Russia’s aggression in Ukraine shows that there will always be forces that will try to ruin peace and threaten the rights of nations to live in freedom. We have experienced this and we will never stop in preparing and making our army better so that it is ready not only for the safety of our country but also as a reliable partner of our allies in NATO. Kosovo’s membership in the Alliance is our objective,” Osmani said.

Independent Unions call on PM to act and prevent general strike (Telegrafi)

The Independent Unions of Kosovo (BSPK) held a protest in downtown Prishtina today calling for the adoption of the Law on Wages. BSPK leader Atdhe Hykolli said today’s protest is an alarm for the government. “Do not ignore us and open your doors to social dialogue because our concerns are real and common,” he said, adding that the adoption of the Law on Wages would regulate the system. Hykolli said all employees in Kosovo should be paid €100 more until the Law on Wages is adopted. “We will not back down until all our reasonable demands are met,” he argued.

Rrahman Jasharaj, leader of the Education Union, said that today’s protest represents the demands of all employees in Kosovo. He said the government’s silence and their avoiding the dialogue shows that the unions are right in their demands. “We will either discuss our demands or we will enter a general strike,” Jasharaj said. “Prime Minister, meet our demands, prevent a general strike”.

Hoxhaj: The Balkans can be the second front of a hybrid war (media)

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has led to increased concerns in other regions that are not directly involved in the conflict. The Western Balkans is one of the regions most affected by the big clash between the West and Moscow. Enver Hoxhaj, former Foreign Minister of Kosovo, has written a lengthy book about the conflict and the possible consequences for the region.

Hoxhaj argued in an interview with A2CNN that the Balkans has always been a geostrategic priority for the Kremlin. “Putin himself mentioned that the Balkans is a Russian priority when he visited Zagreb in 2000. It is their most important priority after the Black Sea. Ukraine is the first front, the Balkans is the second, although there cannot be an open war here,” he said. “Political instruments are used, where there are parties that have close ties with Russia. Serbia has strategic relations; there is a kind of a Russian platform for influence in the Balkans. Russia has used economic investments too, and also what is called soft power, namely, the media and academic life, all of this as part of efforts to have greater influence.”

“Parties in Albania, Kosovo, but also in the Albanian part of North Macedonia, have relations with parties that are in the European Parliament, whereas in Serbia, in Republika Srpska in Bosnia but also in North Macedonia, there are parties that are part of the Russian platform. Putin and Vucic have many things in common, Serbia and Russia too. What is happening shows that Russia has not overcome the anxiety of the breakup of the Soviet Union, the same way that Serbia has not overcome the breakup of Yugoslavia,” he said.

Hoxhaj said that for these reasons Kosovo must remain vigilant but that the threat is elsewhere. “I do not think that Kosovo can be a direct target of threats. Albanians in Kosovo and in other places are the most pro-Western actors. Meanwhile, Bosnia is the country that could be more affected,” he argued.

COVID-19: 14 new cases (media)

14 new cases with COVID-19 were confirmed in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. There are 230 active cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Quint and EU appeal to Kosovo institutions to return the property to the Visoki Decani monastery (Kontakt plus radio, RTK2)

The ambassadors of the Quint countries appealed to the institutions in Pristina to implement the decision of the Kosovo Constitutional Court and return the property to the monastery of Visoki Decani, reported Kontakt plus radio. 

The ambassadors of Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States remind that the decision of the Constitutional Court “has not been implemented yet, despite this legal decision and the requests to implement it”.

“Implementing the rule of law and respecting the independence of the judiciary are the responsibilities of all democratically elected governments. These are also necessary preconditions for Kosovo’s integration into European and Euro-Atlantic institutions,” Quint said.

The Quint countries call on the Kosovo government to “without further delay, fully complete the legal registration of the land of the Decani monastery in the cadastre, in accordance with the decision of the Constitutional Court”.

In 2016, the Constitutional Court in Pristina ruled that Kosovo institutions should return 24 hectares of surrounding land and forests to Visoki Decani, Kontakt plus radio recalled.

Meanwhile, Head of the EU Office in Pristina, Ambassador Tomas Szunyog also called on Kosovo institutions to swiftly and fully implement the judgement of the Constitutional Court on Visoki Decani Monastery land ownership and lawfully register the Monastery as the owner.

“Six years have passed since the Judgment of Kosovo Constitutional Court, and almost ten years since the ruling of the Special Chambers of the Supreme Court of Kosovo Court, confirming the ownership of several disputed hectares of land in Deçan/Dečane municipality by the Monastery,” Szunyog said.

“In addition to demonstrating the dedication of Kosovo to the rule of law as one of the guiding principles of the European Union and the European Convention on Human Rights, the implementation of the judgement would contribute to a much needed inter-community dialogue in Kosovo”, he added. 

SOC: International institutions to enable rule of law and respect for religious freedoms in Kosovo (Kosovo-online)

Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) Raska-Prizren Eparchy expressed deep concern today because the land of Visoki Decani Monastery has not been returned to it, although six years have passed since a decision of the Constitutional Court confirming the ownership of the land, Kosovo-online portal reports.

“Raska-Prizren Eparchy expresses deep concern regarding disrespect of the court’s decision and persistent violation of the property rights of the Serbian Orthodox Church by Kosovo institutions. For years, we are witnessing to open obstruction of the rule of law and numerous irresponsible and provocative statements by Pristina officials which to not contribute at all to the stability and reconciliation in the area of Kosovo and Metohija and encourage ethnic and religious intolerance towards our Church, as the oldest religious institution in this area”, the Eparchy said in a statement.

As the statement further said such an attitude of the Kosovo authorities towards the Serbian Orthodox Church along with high number of robberies and attacks against SOC shrines, majority of whom remain without investigation or perpetrators being brought before the justice, demonstrates clearly that Kosovo institutions are neither willing nor capable to respect their own courts’ decisions and offer adequate legal protection for the Serbian Orthodox heritage in Kosovo and Metohija.

“Raska-Prizren Eparchy once again appeals on international institutions and diplomatic representatives in Pristina to do their utmost so that there is an effective rule of law, respect of human rights and religious freedoms, SOC identity and its shrines in Kosovo and Metohija ensured when it comes to the Serbian Orthodox Church and its faithful people in Kosovo”, the statement said. 

Petkovic: International community to exert pressure on Pristina to return land to Visoki Decani (Kosovo-online)

Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Petar Petkovic said today marks six years of Pristina’s refusal to implement a decision of the Constitutional Court regarding 24 hectares of land belonging to Visoki Decani Monastery, Kosovo-online portal reports.

Petkovic wrote on Twitter he expects international representatives to “exert strong pressure on Pristina authorities so they implement this decision in practice”.

“Today marks six years of Pristina’s refusal to implement a decision of its own court and return 24 hectares of land to Visoki Decani Monastery. I expect international representatives to exert strong pressure on Pristina’s authorities to implement this decision in practice”, Petkovic said. 

Selakovic in Turin: Pristina’s request attempt to misuse Council of Europe (N1)

Prstina’s membership bid represents a political goal and not devotion to the values, and it is an attempt to misuse the Council of Europe, Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Selakovic said, N1 reports.

“This goes in deep contradiction with the norms and rules of the Council of Europe, other international organisations and international law”, Selakovic said during his address at the Committee of Ministers in Turin today.

He added that consideration of Pristina’s request to join the Council of Europe would bring credibility of this organisation into question. “I would like to underline that such Pristina’s act for us is absolutely unacceptable, and we shall be forced to strongly respond by all diplomatic means available to the harsh violation of our territorial integrity”.

He assessed that Pristina’s request was a clear indicator “of the absence of any intention to reach a solution in dialogue, but it opted for a unilateral approach once again”. He said Serbia remains fully committed to respecting the principles of international law, territorial integrity and political independence of states.

“That is why we deem violations of those principles in the case of any state as utterly wrong, but also in the case of Serbia. Our stance on those principles is very clear, although it seems that some states are guided by the principle ‘Quod licet lovi non licet bovi’ (What is permitted to Jove is not permitted to an ox). Serbia remains committed to the basic principles of international law”, he said.

“Those principles today are more important than ever before, even now when the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in its decisions and declarations often explicitly insists upon them. The Republic of Serbia finds their selective application impermissible”, Selakovic added.

He also noted that Pristina authorities have not demonstrated interest to respect obligations undertaken in Brussels dialogue, in particular when it comes to protecting the rights of Serbs and other non-Albanians, as constantly warned in the report of UN SG on work of UNMIK. 

Vucic: All crucial issues discussed with Michel (Tanjug)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Thursday Belgrade was ready for dialogue with Pristina and that he hoped that, with assistance from the EU, a compromise solution would be getting closer in the future.

At a press conference with European Council President Charles Michel, Vucic said he considered a concept of a European geopolitical community – put forward by Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron – to be a significant thing.

Vucic said his meeting with Michel had addressed the global situation and Serbia’s problems regarding energy supplies and added that he had received certain guarantees from Michel that Serbia would be able to count on EU support.

“We discussed all crucial political issues. Michel pointed out that we must continue rule of law reforms and mend and improve the situation in the media sphere,” Vucic said.

He said they had also discussed the situation in the region and that Serbia would do everything in its power to maintain peace and stability and that the EU could fully count on Serbia in that regard.

“We spoke about the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. I understood all the words and concerns and everything Michel and the people in the EU are facing. I spoke about Belgrade’s position, we are always committed to dialogue and ready for it, and we hope that, with assistance from the EU, we will be getting closer to a compromise solution in the future,” Vucic said.

He said the concept of a European geopolitical community could greatly help to accelerate the path to full EU membership and improve the Western Balkan countries’ position in the EU accession process.

“The details are still to be discussed – I pointed to our needs, primarily to exercise four freedoms – movement of people, movement of goods, movement of services and movement of capital. Green lanes for trucks are important for us and I believe we can achieve major things as part of the initiative,” Vucic said.

“We also discussed Russia’s attack on Ukraine and Michel expressed in a very strong manner a desire and an expectation for Serbia to join the sanctions against Russia. I informed him of our political situation and our political stances,” Vucic said.

Asked by a reporter whether an acceleration of Serbia’s EU accession would come at a particularly high price for the country, Vucic responded:

“If you think you can get cheese for free, you cannot, because the only place where there is free cheese is a mousetrap.”

It has been clear for a long time that Serbia wants to be a part of the EU, and even before it was given membership candidate status, the EU’s demand was that an agreement on normalisation of relations must be reached with Pristina, Vucic said.

“But that is not something we do not know. No one should play dumb and pretend they did not know that because it has been reported a million times,” he added.

Contract signed in Science and Technology Park, EU, and World Bank support researchers with 84 million euros 

At the beginning of the visit, Michel visited the Science and Technology Park in Zvezdara with the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic and the Prime Minister, Ana Brnabic. The research and startup community project are funded by the European Union, which is donating 41.5 million euros, and the World Bank, which will borrow 43 million euros, and will be implemented in cooperation with the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, reported RTS.

A senior European official, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic visited the companies in the Science and Technology Park (NTP).

After that, the head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Emanuele Giaufret, and the representative of the World Bank in Serbia, Dusan Vasiljevic, signed an agreement on a joint project to support research, innovation, and entrepreneurship in Serbia.

The research and startup community project are funded by the European Union, which is donating 41.5 million euros, and the World Bank, which will borrow 43 million euros, and will be implemented in cooperation with the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development.

Four companies operating in NTP Belgrade will be financed with these funds.

Michel: We want to deepen cooperation with Serbia, accelerate EU accession (Tanjug)

The EU wants to deepen its cooperation with Serbia and other partners in the region and accelerate the European integration process, European Council President Charles Michel said in Belgrade after meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Thursday.

We want to confirm our full commitment to Serbia’s EU accession talks, Michel said at a press conference with Vucic, adding that EU and Western Balkan leaders would meet in June.

“We want to expand our dialogue and deepen our cooperation, and to promote peace, stability and security. The war against Ukraine has really shaken the entire continent,” Michel said, adding that the war had ended a 20-year period of peace everyone had fought for.

“After COVID-19, we must get our economies to recover, and we must protect each other. New challenges call for new ways of thinking and working. We must accelerate European integration and create encouragement for reforms. We want to provide concrete benefits to all citizens of Serbia and all partners in the region and start the integration as early as during accession talks, rather than wait for them to conclude. We will hold discussions about that in Brussels in June,” Michel said.

He said his visit to Belgrade sent a strong signal of close cooperation between Serbia and the EU.

Michel also said he fully supported EU accession of membership candidates and that a concept of a European geopolitical community, put forward by him and French President Emmanuel Macron, aimed to contribute to that and be a platform for good coordination.

Responding to a question from a reporter, he said the establishment of a European geopolitical community would provide an opportunity to hold regular meetings between EU and Western Balkan leaders at least twice a year to seek solutions for common progress.

Petkovic on Kurti’s latest statements about Community of Serb-majroity Municipalities (Radio KIM)

Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director, Petar Petkovic said that “Albin Kurti is known in international community as a person lacking credibility and as someone who out of a mere caprice endangers stability of an entire region and that is why by every message against dialogue and Washington agreement he turns against peace and stability directly”, Radio KIM reports.

“That is why one should not wonder why Kurti was not received in the White House during his excursion in the US”, Petkovic added in a statement.

“Pristina negotiators in the Brussels agreement by signing the agreement undertook obligation to establish Community of Serb-majority Municipalities, and not some sort of association or non-governmental organisation and Belgrade shall continue persistently and consistently to insist that what has been agreed upon under EU’s mediation is in fact implemented”, he said.

Petkovic also noted Belgrade consistently and honestly says that peace and stability of the region are the highest common interests, and “anyone making acts aiming at destabilising the region, and Kurti does it on a daily basis, doesn’t only endanger our region, but also wider surroundings”.

At the end Petkovic concluded “it was a high time for Kurti to turn to the policy of building the trust and cooperation on normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina”. 

Platform for trust-building in Kosovo presented (Radio KIM)

A Trust-building Platform in Kosovo created in cooperation with the New Social Initiative, Open Data Kosovo and Alternativna was presented on Wednesday, Radio KIM reports. 

Head of UNMIK Mission and Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) Caroline Zijadeh made opening remarks.

“Allow me to praise partners and champions over your engagement to build the platform and that agenda in Kosovo. I was not here at that time, but many of my colleagues were. Today, after four years we met here in Pristina and most of us have interesting stories to tell. I am delighted to be here to celebrate your engagement and our innovative cooperation, as well as to share our common problems”, Zijadeh said.

Jovana Radosavljevic from New Social Initiative said the Trust-building Platform was created based on the idea presented at the Trust-building Forum in Ljubljana in 2018.

“New Social Initiative was tasked by UNMIK to create this platform. At the beginning we worked alone, and in the meantime we got partners, Open Data Kosovo and Alternativna. We were behind the event here tonight, aiming to celebrate all trust building champions in Kosovo, who with personal examples and their work attempt to change the world around us”, Radosavljevic said.

She added many people use the platform, and there is an option to register and create a profile for civil society organisations to promote their work, look for inspiration and experiences of others as well as meet potential partners.

Open Data Kosovo is responsible for the technical component of the platform. The access to the platform is simple and the platform is available in three languages, English, Albanian and Serbian.

Ana Marija Ivkovic from Alternativena was responsible for story telling in different formats, from podcasts to blogs on various initiatives of the people working to build trust in Kosovo.

Deputy Minister for Communities and Returns, Gazmen Salijevic shared a personal story from his life noting that people should work hard to open the space for others, for those whose voices are not heard, for young women and girls of the Roma community.

Media awards were also presented during the program. First was handed over to KFOR Radio, second for digital innovation was presented to the founder of Voc-up application Veljko Samardzic and third one for a youth activist was presented to United Task Force. Mitrovica Rock School bend performed after the end of the official part.  

Fresh bomb threats sent to 134 schools in Serbia (Radio KIM, N1)

Fresh bomb threats were sent to 134 primary schools in the area of Novi Sad (Vojvodina) and schools in southern Serbia, including towns and cities there, Pirot, Nis, Babusnica, Vlasotince, Lebane and Kursumlija, Ministry of Education said in a statement, Radio KIM reports.

Police teams are on the ground  and lessons are switched to an online system, the Ministry added.

Meanwhile, Europol on Thursday denied claims in some Serbian media that the authorities in Belgrade did not ask for help in dealing with the false bomb threats earlier this week.

“Europol was misquoted in Serbian media yesterday as having confirmed that the Agency did not receive a request for support from Serbian authorities. This is a misunderstanding based on language comprehension. Europol’s press office did indeed speak to a Serbia media outlet yesterday, but said that Europol’s press office had no knowledge of this fact and invited the journalist to seek confirmation with the Serbian authorities,” a statement said.

It explained that “this is different to confirming that Europol did not receive a request for support from the Serbian authorities”.

DefMin says Serbia committed to respect for territorial integrity (N1)

Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said on Thursday that Serbia remains strongly committed to supporting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all internationally recognized states and expects the same from the international community, N1 reports.

A ministry press release said that Stefanovic discussed the political and security situation in the region with Lieutenant General Brice Houdet, operational commander of the European Union Operation ALTHEA, at their meeting in Belgrade.

Stefanovic is quoted as saying that Serbia wants to maintain a constructive and meaningful dialogue, which he considers the principal mechanism for overcoming problems. “According to him, Serbia has been building bridges of cooperation with all neighbouring countries in a dedicated and visible manner, contributing to the development of the region”, it added.

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

Petkovic and Rakic: Displaced families from Pec received support to return (TV Most)

Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Petar Petkovic and Minister for Communities and Returns, Goran Rakic met on Thursday displaced Serbs from Pec and Prizren municipalities in Belgrade, TV Most reports.

“Yesterday, forty displaced families from Pec and Prizren received support to return to Kosovo. Families will be returned to Kosovo through the fifth phase of the project called “Return and Reintegration in Kosovo”, funded by the European Union Office in Kosovo and the Ministry of Communities and Return, and implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), reads the statement.

During the meeting, Rakic told the families they have an absolute support of the ministry he leads to return after two decades to the places they used to live in, adding that this is, at the same time, an invitation to all displaced persons to return.

According to the press release, the displaced families whom Minister Rakic and Director Petkovic spoke with pointed out that they never gave up their intention to return to Kosovo and that a helping hand was a great thing for them.

Representatives of the Ministry of Communities and Return, together with representatives of the IOM are visiting Lazarevac, Cacak, Smederevo, Lapovo, Nis, Aleksandrovac and Pirot and talk to potential returnee families about the realisation of return.

US to provide grants worth 19.5 mln dollars to Serbia (Tanjug)

US Ambassador Christopher Hill and USAID Serbia Acting Head of Mission Danny Robertson, Serbian European Integration Minister Jadranka Joksimovic signed on Friday two amendments securing 19.5 mln dollars of US grants to Serbia, reported Tanjug.

The amendments aim to improve the functioning of the public administration and boost the competitiveness of the market economy.

Joksimovic said the grants were a part of a 105 mln dollar USAID assistance package for Serbia available until December.

She said she was pleased Serbia’s strategic agreement with USAID was being renewed on a regular basis.

“The agency has been present in Serbia for many years and it is providing strategic and financial assistance in all reforms that are important for our European path and, in that way, the US emerges as a major supporter of Serbia on the European path,” Joksimovic said.

Hill noted the goal of the cooperation with USAID is for Serbia to be successful and achieve its objectives of having a strong economy and strong institutions, as well as good relations with neighbours, especially in a time of numerous challenges.

Serbia has complied with EU sanctions on Belarus over the war in Ukraine (EWB)

Serbia has complied with the sanctions imposed by the European Union on Belarus in April due to, as stated in the EU decision, “the situation in Belarus and Belarus’ involvement in the Russian invasion of Ukraine”, reported EWB in Serbian.

This is the Decision of the EU Council 2022/579, which was passed on April 8. Two weeks later, on April 22, it was announced on the Council’s website that Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina had complied with this decision.

As far as is known, this is the second time that Serbia has complied with EU sanctions related to the war in Ukraine. In March, it complied with the EU Council Decision extending the validity of restrictive measures against former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and leading members of Ukraine’s leadership from 2010-2014.

The decision made by the EU Council on April 8 introduces sectoral sanctions on the Belarusian financial and transport system as a reaction to the involvement of Belarus in the Russian aggression against Ukraine, it is stated in the explanation.

It is about expanding the EU sanctions against Belarus, which were introduced in 2012 due to the violation of the principles of democracy, rule of law and human rights in that country. During all these years, Serbia has not consistently harmonized with the restrictive measures of the European Union to the regime in Minsk.

According to a study by the Center for International and Security Affairs (ISAC), Serbia consistently complied with EU restrictive measures against Belarus until April 2019, when it did not comply with the declaration, i.e., EU Council Decision no. 325, which only extended the sanctions. The same thing happened in 2020.

“At first glance, there are no objective reasons why Serbia stopped complying with the measures with which it complied for several years without any problems. During all that time, Serbia has managed to maintain a good relationship with the regime in Minsk, regardless of joining the EU’s restrictive measures,” the study states.

However, after the presidential elections in Belarus in 2020, which, according to an official statement, were won by Lukashenko and mass protests of citizens against election theft, the EU reacted with three foreign policy declarations in August and September, condemning the way the elections were conducted and repression against citizens and civil society representatives.

“To the surprise of the international and domestic public, Serbia joined these declarations. However, Serbia did not comply with the amendments to the EU Council Decision no. 642 on expanding the list of persons and entities under restrictive measures adopted by the Council in October and November 2020, ”the ISAC study states

After the information that Serbia complied with the declaration of condemnation of the situation in Belarus reached the public in August 2020, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that she hoped that President Alexander Lukashenko  “would not resent Serbia.”

Then, during 2021, Serbia agreed with one part of the restrictive measures against the Belarusian regime, while with others it did not, according to ISAC.

 

 

International 

 

Competition or Complement? Calls to Restart Berlin Process Revive Balkan Dilemma (BIRN)

Germany’s push to revive the ‘Berlin Process’ has reopened a debate about whether the parallel ‘Open Balkan’ initiative is a hindrance or help to EU integration.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced in early May that Germany aims to revive the so-called “Berlin process”, launched in 2014 to forward the region’s integration and alignment of the six Western Balkan countries, the “WB6”, with the EU.

“Germany has been engaged in the Berlin Process for several years and we want to revive it in the second half of the year,” Scholz said on May 4. He added that, based on talks with his predecessor Angela Merkel, “the Berlin Process is highly valued and [the WB6] participate willingly”.

The process is best known for freedom of movement agreements and establishment of a common regional market as a preparation for joining the EU. It won praise for attempting to bring the Western Balkan countries closer. However, differences on future goals in the region, and how best to reach them, remain high.

In 2019, three of the WB6 countries, Albania, North Macedonia, and Serbia, initiated a separate “Open Balkan” initiative, aimed also at creating a regional common market. While often considered a parallel process to the Berlin Process due to its similar aims – creating a common regional market and freedom of movement – some experts say parallel initiatives like Open Balkans do not, in fact, assist regional collaboration.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/38FyBRo

‘Return us Home’: Exhibition Seeks Return of Artefacts Held in Serbia (BIRN)

Marking International Museum Day on May 18 in Prishtina, the exhibition ‘Return us home’ was opened with photographs of treasures from the National Museum of Kosovo now held in Belgrade.

An exhibition called “Return us Home” opened at the National Museum of Kosovo on May 18, International Museum Day. The exhibition organized by the Ministry of Culture and the National Museum showed about 700 photographs of exhibits from Kosovo held in museums in Serbia.

As part of the exhibition, the “Goddess on the Throne” was exhibited. Returned in 2002, it is the only item returned from a collection of over 1,200 artefacts from Kosovo – brought home at the insistence of the then former chief administrator of Kosovo, Michael Steiner.

Hajrulla Çeku, Minister of Culture, stated at the opening of the exhibition that the most valuable items from the National Museum of Kosovo remain stuck in Serbia. He said that he is working with international organizations to have this cultural heritage returned. “Through public and non-public activities such as lobbying, we will continue to work until the goals for the return of NMK treasures are achieved,” Ceku said.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3sNgZK1

Wave of False Bomb Threats in Region Again Hits Kosovo (Balkan Insight)

As countries all over the Balkans wrestle with a series of anonymous false bomb alarms, police in Kosovo on Wednesday reported another false alarm, this time to a Pristina high school.

Kosovo police confirmed a false bomb alarm in the Xhevdet Doda high school in the capital, Pristina, on Wendesday. It was the seventh false bomb alarm in Kosovo since December 2021.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3G31Ppo

 

 

 

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