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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, August 16, 2022

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Albanian Language Media:

• PM Kurti: September 1 will be a normal day (Klan)
• There is no normality; power cuts continue today (Koha)
• Haradinaj, Begaj discuss joint defence treaty (Koha)
• LDK leader Abdixhiku slams Kurti again (media)
• War crimes association in Gjakova presses charges against Bozidar Delic (media)
• President of Albania does not meet with Abdixiku – do not agree on the venue (Telegrafi)

Serbian Language Media:

• EC: Vucic and Kurti must discuss all open issues in Brussels (Beta, N1)
• Serbs’ representatives from Kosovo: “Quint support the decisions made by Pristina”; Petkovic: “They make effort to support independence, but no effort for CSM” (media)
• Media in the EU: ”Nothing from the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue, just to prevent war” (NMagazin, Beta)
• Janjic: Insufficient efficiency of the energy sector in Kosovo (KiM radio)
• US Ambassador: Community of Serb Municipalities is not unique (N1)
• Brnabic: Vucic to fight for peace in Brussels (Tanjug)
• Selakovic: It is known how the CSM should look like (Kosovo Online)

Opinion:

• Introducing the Far-Right Power Index (BIRN)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Refugee Commissioner says almost 10,000 migrants in Serbia (Beta, N1)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • PM Kurti: September 1 will be a normal day (Klan)
  • There is no normality; power cuts continue today (Koha)
  • Haradinaj, Begaj discuss joint defence treaty (Koha)
  • LDK leader Abdixhiku slams Kurti again (media)
  • War crimes association in Gjakova presses charges against Bozidar Delic (media)
  • President of Albania does not meet with Abdixiku – do not agree on the venue (Telegrafi)

Serbian Language Media:

  • EC: Vucic and Kurti must discuss all open issues in Brussels (Beta, N1)
  • Serbs’ representatives from Kosovo: “Quint support the decisions made by Pristina”; Petkovic: “They make effort to support independence, but no effort for CSM”  (media)
  • Media in the EU: ”Nothing from the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue, just to prevent war” (NMagazin, Beta)
  • Janjic: Insufficient efficiency of the energy sector in Kosovo (KiM radio)
  • US Ambassador: Community of Serb Municipalities is not unique (N1)
  • Brnabic: Vucic to fight for peace in Brussels (Tanjug)
  • Selakovic: It is known how the CSM should look like (Kosovo Online)

Opinion:

  • Introducing the Far-Right Power Index (BIRN)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Refugee Commissioner says almost 10,000 migrants in Serbia (Beta, N1)

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

PM Kurti: September 1 will be a normal day (Klan)

The Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti has said that September 1 will be a normal day at the border points between Kosovo and Serbia.

In a statement to the BBC in Serbian, Kurti did not exclude the possibility of another agreement in the next meeting with the president of Serbia Aleksadar Vucic in Brussels.

“September 1 will be a normal day at the border points – we will either issue entry-exit documents, or both sides will cancel them,” he said.

“Prishtina will continue the campaign to change license plates, Belgrade is worried because they consider people will accept them,” Kurti said among other things. 

There is no normality; power cuts continue today (Koha)

Spokesman for the Kosovo Energy Distribution Services (KEDS), Viktor Buzhala, said in an interview with KTV this morning that there will be power cuts today too in Kosovo although the Ministry of Economy said on Monday that regular energy supply has been restored and that there will be no more power cuts. Buzhala said the power cuts started this morning at 09:00. “The power cuts started on Monday, and they were minimal. Power cuts have started today too at 09:00,” he said. 

Buzhala said the reason behind the cuts is that the supply is based on local production and that there are no funds to buy energy in international markets. “We have been shouldering the crisis for over a year now. For the time being, the power cuts are expected to be two hours without energy and six hours with energy. The alternative of saving energy must be applied. The price must also reflect the cost and there must be a financial infusion for the energy system. It is known that there were plans to allocate €90 million, but those funds were never allocated and this has plunged the energy system into a collapse,” he added.

Haradinaj, Begaj discuss joint defence treaty (Koha)

President of Albania Bajram Begaj met today in Prishtina with the leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) Ramush Haradinaj. Haradinaj told reporters after the meeting that they discussed several issues, including a joint pact for defence and other security issues. “We also called for Albania to help in reaching an agreement with Serbia on mutual recognition,” he said.

Haradinaj also said that NATO, led by the United States of America, will not allow the destabilisation of the Balkans.

During this press conference, Haradinaj has called the statements of Prime Minister Albin Kurti and the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, about a possible war in the Balkans, artificial rhetoric. According to him, this rhetoric is used to cover the shame of planning to sign a non-agression pact.

LDK leader Abdixhiku slams Kurti again (media)

Leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) Lumir Abdixhiku said in an interview with RTV Dukagjini that the biggest harm to Kosovo is that Prime Minister Albin Kurti is afraid to assume responsibility in the dialogue with Serbia. Abdixhiku argued that Kosovo is losing the opportunity to reach a final settlement with Serbia. He said that the government of Kosovo must openly tell the people that reaching a final settlement is a top priority. 

War crimes association in Gjakova presses charges against Bozidar Delic (media)

The association “War crimes in Gjakova” pressed criminal charges on Tuesday at the Special Prosecution of Kosovo against Bozidar Delic, former commander of the 549th Motorised Brigade and current Vice President of the Parliament of Serbia. The head of the association told reporters she expects positive results from the process.

President of Albania does not meet with Abdixiku – do not agree on the venue (Telegrafi)

The President of Albania Bajram Begaj has met today with the Kosovo opposition leaders, but not with the chairman of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (LDK), Lumir Abdixhiku, as they did not agree on the place where the meeting should be held.

In a response to news website, LDK stated that it regrets the non-realization of the official meeting with the new President of Albania.

“Unlike the previous institutional heads of Albania, the past presidents, the current prime minister, and other previous prime ministers, President Begaj has refused to meet the LDK at its headquarters.

Although we do not understand such rejection and at the same time express our surprise for an unusual approach, we consider the meeting with President Begaj as a missed opportunity; to whom we wish success in the most dignified representation of the Republic of Albania.

The LDK has its headquarters and it remains open to any official of the Albanian state – as it has always been”, reads the LDK response.

 

 

Serbian Language Media 

 

EC: Vucic and Kurti must discuss all open issues in Brussels (Beta, N1)

The European Commission (EC) announced that “all open issues must and will be discussed” in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue in Brussels on Thursday but emphasized that “one cannot speculate on the results of the Dialogue”. EC spokesperson Nabila Massrali said that the Commission will soon announce which topics will be on the negotiating table between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, reported N1.

The spokesperson also pointed out that “for the EU, it is most important that the two sides stop hostilities, with inflammatory messages and tensions, and that they act responsibly”.

“That is the subject of the Dialogue, representatives of the parties are coming, and we will see what the outcome will be, and I cannot speculate on that,” said Massrali.

When asked by a journalist how the EU views Serbia’s compliance with the Union’s foreign and security policy, especially when it comes to sanctions against Russia, spokesperson Ana Pisonero stated that “Serbia agreed with several resolutions in the UN General Assembly condemning the unprovoked and illegal Russian aggression against Ukraine, which, she understands, is very welcome”.

Ana Pisonero, the media representative of European Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi, added that this is important for “gradual alignment of Serbia within the framework of membership negotiations with the Union’s foreign policy and decisions, including sanctions against Russia”.

Serbs’ representatives from Kosovo: “Quint support the decisions made by Pristina”; Petkovic: “They make effort to support independence, but no effort for CSM”  (media)

The Quint countries support the unitarily declared independence of Kosovo, and their ambassadors also support the decisions that Pristina makes, including the one regarding the license plates, announced today at a press conference the representatives of the Serbs from Kosovo. They say to the media, they are speaking because of ‘’the seriousness of the message they received at yesterday’s meeting with the Quint ambassadors’’, which was not open to the public, reported Serbian media.

The President of the Serbian List, Goran Rakic said at the press conference that at the meeting the key messages they heard were that the Quint countries support the independence of Kosovo and the decisions made by Pristina, where they particularly underlined the decision on vehicle plates and documents.

As Rakic said, what they were referring to was that Pristina did it in accordance with the Brussels Agreement.

“They called us to accept the reality on the ground, which is that Kosovo is independent. We will never, and no Serb will ever accept that. We are looking at the Brussels table and for us it is not a done deal,” said Rakic.

He said that he expected that the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and his team would find a way to overcome the crisis through the dialogue in Brussels, reported KiM radio, citing N1.

The mayor of North Mitrovica, Milan Radojevic said about the meeting with Quint that such decisions could not be implemented on the ground.

“You know that we do not have any communication with the central institutions in Pristina. We asked the ambassadors whether that decision will be valid if they start confiscating vehicles, ambulances… No one thinks of renouncing documents or license plates. The decision on the documents is only the tip of the iceberg,” said Radojevic, Kontakt plus radio reported.

He added that hummers are constantly patrolling the streets and the question arose as to what they were for.

“Our eyes are fixed on Belgrade. We want to believe that the other side will also recognize the sensitivity of the moment,” said Radojevic.

The mayor of Leposavic, Zoran Todic, said that they did not expect anything else from the Quint countries, because they supported Kosovo’s independence.

“We asked them to influence Kurti to give up the decision on identity cards and plates. We believe that unilateral moves do not benefit anyone, neither Serbs or Albanians. We have purely Albanian patrols, the presence of intelligence services in the north of Kosovo. The people in the north do not accept the independence of Kosovo, they use documents issued by Serbia, with KM plates you can travel all over the world, but not south of the Ibar. This threatening flame should be extinguished in Pristina. The international community should play a decisive role,” says Todic.

He emphasized that the Serbian people did not want any conflict and added that he believed that the Albanians did not want a conflict either.

The mayor of Zvecan, Dragisa Milovic said that it has never been more difficult.

“We overcame the conflicts in 1999, the pogrom in 2004, and the declaration of independence in 2008, but the people have never been more worried. Kurti says publicly that he will not implement the agreements. The only thing he says is that he will discuss mutual recognition. We asked Quint why the Community of Serbian Municipalities was not implemented,” Milovic said.

As he said, ”we all need peace, but it requires two sides”.

“A compromise solution is needed where there will be no losers,” he added.

Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Petar Petkovic said that the message from the Quint countries was another indicator of pressure.

“I don’t know how Quint representatives make an effort to support independence, but they don’t make at least a little effort to put pressure on Kurti to form the ZSO,” said Petkovic, reported Kontakt plus radio.

Petkovic said that the Quint representatives showed with the way how they transmitted messages to the Serbs in KiM how difficult the circumstances under which the delegation from Belgrade was travelling to Brussels, reported Radio Television of Serbia (RTS).

“If before the Ukrainian crisis, the situation in Kosovo and Metohija was extremely difficult, it seems to me that today it is 10 times more difficult. And Albin Kurti uses this, in almost every interview, in every message, to attack President Vucic, to attack Belgrade, to invent and say that through Belgrade Russia exerts its influence here in the Western Balkans, but for the past year and a half, how much was Albin Kurti talking every day, we have seen that the only one going in the direction of militant moves and violence is Albin Kurti,” said Petkovic at the press conference, reported RTS.

Media in the EU: ”Nothing from the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue, just to prevent war” (NMagazin, Beta)

The dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo will continue in Brussels on Thursday, but the authorities in Belgrade believe that the conversation does not make much sense and the most that can be done is to remove threats of conflict, reports the German portal Deutsche Welle, citing the opinions of analysts in Belgrade.

According to NMagazin portal, the Brussels portal Politico wrote that the round of dialogue comes at a time of tension between Pristina and Belgrade and “a renewed conflict that has caused fears that the two sides could go to a war”.

European diplomatic officials in Brussels told the Beta agency that both the European Union and the highly engaged USA believe that the dialogue between the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo must yield some results.

On Beta’s remark that Kosovo PM Albin Kurti stated that the meaning of dialogue can only be mutual recognition and that he would not discuss the dispute over car plates and ID cards, while Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic emphasized that there could be no progress without the implementation of the Brussels Agreement and the formation of the Community of Serbian municipality, European diplomats retorted that “neither the EU nor the USA think that the Dialogue can be a shot in the blank”, cited NMagazin.

PM Kurti gave interviews to several European newspapers and thus told the Italian daily la Repubblika that “the danger of war is threatening them, and Putin is behind Serbia”.

The Spanish daily Periodico believes that “Kosovo is a stone in NATO’s shoe…and a badly resolved issue, like Bosnia and Herzegovina, chained by the Dayton Agreement, which stopped the conflict, but created an unmanageable Frankenstein”.

According to the DW report, Kurti was preparing to go to Brussels to discuss mutual recognition, and Vucic was preparing to discuss the Community of Serbian Municipalities (CSM), so it was difficult to expect anything more tangible from this round of dialogue.

The Albanian side, Deutsche Welle added, was trying to take advantage of a more favorable geopolitical situation with its latest provocative moves, reported the portal.

Due to the non-introduction of sanctions against Russia, Serbia aroused suspicion in the West and was seen as a kind of silent ally of Russia, which Pristina was trying to use as its advantage and change the situation on the ground, the German portal indicates.

DW cited the opinion of analysts in Belgrade that the Russian card was always used in Pristina in order to get some additional support in the West, and it seemed that the current American administration has some kind of “Kosovo vow” regarding the independence of Kosovo, and it was likely that Serbia was under pressure because of that, reported NMagazin.

In Washington, there seemed to be a good will to form the Community of Serbian Municipalities, said the interlocutors of Deutsche Welle in Belgrade, but they noted that the Albanian side refused to implement it, and no one was putting pressure on it to do so, which was the position of both the opposition and the authorities in Belgrade.

The media in the EU pointed out that the European External Affairs and Security Service (EEAS) dramatically demanded that the inflammatory messages in Pristina and Belgrade be stopped, but also indicated that the Brussels and other agreements must be implemented.

The USA made the same known, including the Brussels Agreement and the Community of Serbian Municipalities, but that community must not contradict the Constitution of Kosovo, and some parastate entity.

US envoy Gabriel Escobar said it “needs to be discussed”, but also explained that it means “there are a lot of European models where minorities can protect their cultural heritage and language within the framework of the constitution”.

When asked by Beta whether the EU also believed that the Community of Serbian Municipalities could be reduced to a “model for the protection of cultural heritage and language”, i.e. some non-governmental organization without executive powers, as it follows from the American position, the diplomats in Brussels repeated the position that through a series of implementation of small agreements could lead to the implementation of the Brussels agreements and comprehensive normalization of relations acceptable to both parties, reported NMagazin.  

Janjic: Insufficient efficiency of the energy sector in Kosovo (KiM radio)

The main problem in Kosovo’s electricity supply was in the local energy sector and reliance on coal, according to Dusan Janjic from the Forum for Inter-Ethnic Relations, reported KiM radio.

Dusan Janjic recalled that Kosovo faced restrictions last year as well, but that this time they will be more frequent and will last longer.

“The first and basic one, which will not be removed so easily, are the problems in the development of the energy sector in Kosovo and Metohija and the insufficient efficiency of that sector, above all in the production of electricity. In Kosovo, we are talking about exclusive reliance on electricity from coal, and at the same time, there are not enough capacities to convert even extracted coal into electricity or to send it to other interested countries in exchange for electricity, which are all neighbouring countries,” said Janjic.

According to Janjic, reliance on coal was a problem in itself at this moment, but it also represented an opportunity for Kosovo. 

“Because there is a lot of interest in coal, and I can specifically mention the example when Serbia announced the need to buy coal in Kosovo a few months ago and to pay for it with electricity. Kosovo does not have a developed energy diversification policy and strategy, so it is in a situation where it has to develop that strategy”.

Janjic said that the energy crisis in Kosovo was due to the current crisis in the world, but he repeated that it was also due to the wrong management of energy in the Energy System of Kosovo. He pointed out that the international community, primarily the UN and the EU, were largely to blame for this, which, he said, had a direct impact on the situation in that sector, primarily on privatization and investments.

Sheholli: Something is not right with us

Fatmir Sheholli from the Institute for the Affirmation of Inter-Ethnic Relations also saw the  problem in the energy sector in Kosovo. He said that Kosovo urgently needed to put the electricity situation in order.

“As far as I am informed, no country in the region, including Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Serbia, has electricity restrictions. I believe that something is not right with us, and the government of Kosovo knows it best. We already have an increase in the price of electricity at the suggestion of KEDS, and that in bulk, as they announced”.

Sheholli expressed his fear how the citizens would accept the problems with electricity, reported KiM radio.

US Ambassador: Community of Serb Municipalities is not unique (N1)

US Ambassador Christopher Hill said on Tuesday that communities like the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM) in Kosovo exist in multi-ethnic environments across Europe, reported N1.

Answering questions on Twitter, the ambassador said that the CSM was not a unique model.

“The idea behind these negotiations was to prepare Kosovo and Serbia for a European future and I think that what we see in multi-ethnic societies across Europe is similar to the CSM in Kosovo and it would not be a unique example because similar models exist in the rest of Europe,” Hill said when asked why the US hasn’t secured the forming of the CSM.

Belgrade insisted on the forming of the CSM as set out in the 2013 Brussels Agreement while Pristina opposed the idea claiming that the CSM was not in line with the Kosovo Constitution, recalled N1.

Brnabic: Vucic to fight for peace in Brussels (Tanjug)

Serbian PM Ana Brnabic said on Tuesday President Aleksandar Vucic would fight for peace at Brussels meetings with representatives of NATO, US and Pristina on Wednesday and Thursday.

“We have come thus far due to unilateral moves by Albin Kurti and due to a huge lack of responsibility by the EU. In April next year, it will be ten years since implementation of the backbone of the Brussels Agreement, the Community of Serb Municipalities, has been thwarted because the entire EU, which is the guarantor of that Brussels Agreement, cannot make the people in Pristina implement that. And then they put the ball in our court and say, ‘you will be the ones to blame’. For what?” Brnabic said.

She said Kurti had denied Kosovo Serbs the right to vote – a fundamental human right – twice this year.

“Following physical abuse, destruction of their property, desecration of Serbian churches, monasteries and cemeteries, he first denied them the right to vote in (a Serbian referendum in) January. And then what happened? The reaction from the EU and the Quint states, including the US, was so serious that he repeated that in the April 3 elections,” Brnabic said.

The EU was letting Pristina violate the Brussels Agreement by allowing it to mount police raids in the north of Kosovo and to harass local Serbs, and then it said Belgrade and Pristina were equally responsible for tensions in Kosovo,” Brnabic said.

Fiscally and macroeconomically, Serbia has become one of Europe’s top performers, but all of that was at risk unless peace and stability are preserved, she said.

Kurti can only cause a war to gain an alibi for all his failures, Brnabic said.

“That is why we must maintain internal stability and solidarity and maintain peace to ensure Serbia can continue to grow stronger,” she said.

Selakovic: It is known how the CSM should look like (Kosovo Online)

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Nikola Selakovic said that President Aleksandar Vucic will insist at the upcoming meeting with Kosovo PM Albin Kurti in Brussels that Pristina fulfill its obligations up to the last point of the Brussels Agreement. He said that, when it comes to the Community of Serbian Municipalities, it must be formed in the manner provided by the Brussels Agreement, reported Kosovo Online portal.

Selakovic told TV Pink that Serbia has the best possible representative and negotiator.

“I am convinced that it will be the same this time as well. The situation is very tense and burdened by the frivolity and behavior of Pristina. That is a cause for concern. A bigger cause for concern is that Western officials who have admitted their separatism give Pristina that right. Serbia has the best possible representative and negotiator who is not at all easy. No one will better represent our interests and our position of defense of international legal principles and territorial integrity and sovereignty than President Vucic,” Selakovic said.

When asked about Kurti’s allegations about mutual recognition and attempts to accuse Belgrade of attacks and tensions, Selakovic said that anything can be expected from Kurti because he was an unpredictable figure and therefore one should not hope for anything good.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs said that Pristina cannot turn a blind eye to stories about the formation of the CSM within the framework of the Kosovo constitution.

“Their problem is that Aleksandar Vucic knows everything very well, every dot and comma in the Brussels Agreement, he knows what was agreed and foreseen and you cannot play with him. He resonates well and stands on positions that cannot be changed or avoided – protection of state interests and Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija. He has shown in previous years that he does not give up, no matter what anyone throws at him, no one has succeeded,” Selakovic said.

 

Opinion 

 

Introducing the Far-Right Power Index (BIRN)

Opinion by Andrija Mladenovic and Strahinja Subotic, PhD candidates at the Faculty of Political Science, University of Belgrade.

A new, unique index aims to quantify the power of a political phenomenon that is growing around the world – Serbia included.

Far-right extremism is on the rise in democracies around the globe, Serbia included.

Flags, symbols, songs, folklore, rhetoric – all are seen as relevant tools by far-right organisations, often pointed against mainstream parties and established liberal and global norms and values.

A key issue is that these organisations are often looked at from a single perspective, that is, they are perceived as unable to enter the mainstream political arena and have only limited ability to strategically employ a set of means to achieve their end-goals.

This simplification should be avoided. In an ever more complex world, simplifications of this kind are dangerous. They have the potential to mislead the public, stakeholders, and policymakers, and encourage them to overlook the varieties and specificities that characterise different far-right organisations.

To usher in a path towards a better understanding of far-right organisations, this paper introduces the Far-Right Power Index.

The basic idea behind the Index is to quantify qualitative data on far-right organisations. This effort arose in a context where these organisations are growing in number, evolving, developing ties with foreign counterparts, and sometimes getting institutionally entangled with mainstream parties via state-patronage links.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3QMcFo5

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Refugee Commissioner says almost 10,000 migrants in Serbia (Beta, N1)

Serbia’s Refugee Commissioner Vladimir Cucic said on Tuesday that more than 6,000 migrants are housed in refugee centers with more than 2000 outside those facilities.

He told the Beta news agency that 6,305 people are housed in government operated refugee centers. “There are a lot of migrants entering the country and we are sure that there are 9,861 in the country at present,” Cucic said and added that more migrants come into the country during the summer. “We registered a rise of 67 percent of people in refugee centers compared to last year,” the commissioner said.

According to him, the numbers are not alarming but are serious.

Cucic said there are 2,889 Ukrainian nationals in Serbia with just 84 of them in refugee centers. “Those people have requested help with health care, enrolling children in school and residence permits,” he said.

 

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