SAA ratification, irreversible path towards EU (dailies)
The government of Kosovo through a press release yesterday welcomed the ratification of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) between Kosovo and the European Union by the European Parliament. “The government of Kosovo considers that the ratification of the SAA is extremely important for Kosovo’s European future. This constitutes an official entry into contractual agreement with the EU and is an irreversible path towards the EU. The SAA is an excellent opportunity for strengthening political dialogue and cooperation between Kosovo and EU,” reads the press release.
Kosovo Serb leader sentenced to nine years in prison for war crimes (dailies)
Leader of the Civic Initiative Oliver Ivanovic was declared guilty of war crimes yesterday while four other Serb men who faced same charges were acquitted by a EULEX judge. Ivanovic was arrests in 2014 in connection to war crimes commited in 1999 and 2000 when 41 Albanians were killed in Mitrovica. While Ivanovic was convicted for being part of Serb paramilitary forces, according to the presiding judge, the evidence failed to prove he ordered the killings. However, “Oliver Ivanovic was aware of the operation of expelling and killing Albanians. On that day, he willingly complied with the plan, knowing it would result in the killings,” the verdict states. The families of the victims criticized the court ruling saying that the other four accused were also directly responsible for the death of their loved ones. Leading opposition party, Vetevendosje, said the verdict is a case of international injustice, adding that a nine-year prison sentence for war crimes is humiliating to all the victims.
CoE encourages UNMIK to increase capacities (Koha Ditore)
The paper reports that a draft resolution of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly has identified a number of issues it considers to be of crucial importance for Kosovo. These include the increase of the role of UNMIK, problems with crime and corruption, inability of political forces to develop constructive dialogue, dialogue with Serbia, and protection of minority communities as being of crucial importance. The draft resolution, authored by rapporteur Agustin Conde, is a result of the visits he undertook to Pristina and Belgrade and is expected to be put up for discussion this month. In the draft resolution, the Council of Europe encourages UNMIK to increase its capacities for cooperation with security and rule of law mechanisms in Europe. “The Assembly encourages the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to increase its capacities for co-operation with INTERPOL and EUROPOL and encourages the authorities in Pristina to use available mechanisms which are already in place,” the text of the draft resolution states. It further notes that the respect for the rule of law should be of priority to Kosovo authorities and also speaks about the political situation in Kosovo. “The Assembly calls on the political forces that are represented in the Assembly of Kosovo to ensure that a constructive political dialogue takes place between the majority and the opposition.”
Tahiri: There is no danger from integration of civilian structures (RTKlive)
Kosovo’s Minister for Dialogue, Edita Tahiri, said that integration of the former members of Serbia’s Civil Protection in the institutions of Kosovo does not represent any danger for the security of Kosovo or for reporting important information to Serbia “because those individuals will not be employed in the sensitive security institutions.” According to her, all members of the Civil Protection who acted in the north of Kosovo, will be working at central civilian institutions. “The institutions where they are employed are public ones. Members of former Civil Protection will not be working in the sensitive institutions such as Police, Security Forces or intelligence services. They will be working at public institutions that due to the transparency and accountability keep all their actions public through their websites and other means,” Tahiri said. She added that members of Civil Protection are Kosovo citizens who were unfortunately manipulated by Serbia for a long time.
AAK: SAA for Kosovo is not complete (Epoka e Re)
The Alliance for the Future of Kosovo hailed through a press release the endorsement of the Stabilization Association Agreement by the European Parliament. However, it assessed that it is not as complete as it was with other countries. “AAK assessed that endorsement of SAA is not necessarily a guarantee for a fast track toward EU membership, being that membership at the EU is directly related with the level of the internal governance and democratization in general”. According to AAK, the fact that Kosovo was the last place to reach an agreement with the EU, means that with the current manner of governance, people and institutions would have to wait for many years to assure a deserved membership of the EU.
Limaj: Next protest on 17 February (Zeri)
The leader of the Initiative for Kosovo (NISMA), Fatmir Limaj, told the paper he strongly believes that Kosovo will go to early elections. He announced that the next protest against the government will be on the eighth anniversary of Kosovo’s independence, 17 February. “On 17 February there will be even more citizens who will protest against the agreements on Association and border demarcation. Those who violated the Constitution cannot govern in Kosovo,” Limaj said. In regards to the election of Kosovo President, Limaj said opposition parties are against PDK leader Hashim Thaci’s candidacy for President. According to him, Thaci doesn’t have a unifying role as it is envisaged for a President. He also said that he would feel proud if the nephew of Adem Jashari, Murat Jashari would be elected as Kosovo President. Daily Bota Sot reports that political analysts say that security authorities in Kosovo shouldn’t allow a protest to be held on the eighth anniversary of Kosovo’s independence.
Selimi: Thaci is not a unifying figure to become President (Epoka e Re)
Deputy form Vetevendosje Movement, Rexhep Selimi, told the paper that Kosovo does not need a President such as Hashim Thaci. He said that according to the Constitution, the President should be a unifying person and not a factious one. Furthermore, added Selimi, the decision of the Constitutional Court, which aligned Thaci among the violators of the Constitution, does not allow it. Selimi further informed that opposition parties will continue with protests within and outside the Assembly, until the current government steps down and the agreements for the Association/Community for Serb-majority Municipalities and demarcation of the border with Montenegro are annulled. He said that opposition will use the same means to achieve its goals. He did not exclude use of teargas in the Assembly.
PDK interferes with justice in Lushtaku case (Kosova Sot)
The Presidency of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) held its regular meeting on Thursday where the health condition of Mayor of Skenderaj Sami Lushtaku, who is serving prison sentence for war crimes, was also discussed. “The PDK publicly demands from EULEX’s panel of judges to treat the case of Lushtaku’s health as soon as possible in order not to endanger his health and life,” notes in a press release issued by PDK.