- Thaci: Partition of Kosovo over my dead body (media)
- Haradinaj: Thaci has caused great damage to Kosovo (Koha/RTK)
- Palmer: Serbia to recognise independence of Kosovo (media)
- S. confirms support for KFOR and Bondsteel (media)
- Another U.S. official to visit Kosovo (Zeri)
- Matoshi: More pressure on tax from inside than outside Kosovo (Koha)
- Mustafa: I will not join Thaci and Veseli, even if Haradinaj wants to (media)
Thaci: Partition of Kosovo over my dead body (media)
President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci said at the Albanian Diaspora summit in Tirana that there will be no exchange of territories between Kosovo and Serbia as part of the final agreement. “Partition of Kosovo can only happen over my dead body – no one can take a millimetre of Republic of Kosovo territory, no one can take Trepca, Mitrovica, Ujman or any part of the territory of the Republic of Kosovo,” Thaci is quoted.
He did however say that he does support the idea of “border correction” whereby Presevo Valley municipalities would join Kosovo. “Yes to border correction because there is no one in the world that can deny my engagement for realization of the legitimate rights of Presevo, Medvedja e Bujanovc to join Kosovo without undermining the territory of Kosovo,” Thaci said.
Thaci also rejected the idea of an international conference on Kosovo-Serbia agreement saying this would enable Russia to get involved in the process. “Under no circumstances and at no price will we allow such ideas going around and this need to end at its outset. The idea of a Balkans union is a setback for our nation,” he said.
Thaci said that Kosovo enjoys full support from the U.S. and the EU to reach a comprehensive agreement with Serbia. “The goal is to reach an agreement that guarantees mutual recognition between Kosovo and Serbia and Kosovo’s membership in international organisations.”
Haradinaj: Thaci has caused great damage to Kosovo (Koha/RTK)
Prime Minister of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj, said President Hashim Thaci has caused “great damage” to Kosovo with his insistence on negotiating Kosovo borders in the dialogue with Serbia. “His discussions have brought us to the situation we are in today,” Haradinaj said after a commemoration ceremony in Pristina.
At the same time, in an interview with RTK, Haradinaj said that he would step down from his post if the U.S. asked him to but would not revoke the decision in import tariff on Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Haradinaj also responded to reports that the U.S. could close its military camp in Kosovo because of his refusal to remove the tax: “If the U.S. plans on closing down Bondsteel, it would do so with or without the tax. Rest assured that this will not happen. The U.S. would close Bondsteel if it is in its plans but before doing so would make us fit to protect ourselves because we have the border with Russia here.” Haradinaj said it was regrettable that government allies are split over the tax issue. “If we all come together and say we will not remove the tax you will see that the U.S. position will change.”
Haradinaj is further reported to have accused President Hashim Thaci and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama of being behind the idea of giving away Kosovo territory to Serbia in exchange for its recognition. He said he has made it clear over and over again that recognition cannot be bought with land. “Whosoever opens the issue of partition is my enemy. I have said this in meetings and not behind anyone’s back,” Haradinaj said noting that the idea of border changes in the Balkans is sponsored by Russia.
Palmer: Serbia to recognise independence of Kosovo (media)
Kosovo online media outlets carry the statement of the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer at the Delphi Economic Forum underway in Greece that the U.S. has made it clear to Serbia that the dialogue with Kosovo needs to end in mutual recognition. “Serbia needs to recognise Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state and the same needs to be done by Kosovo,” Palmer said as quoted by the Belgrade paper Danas.
Palmer is also reported to have said that there is a misconception about the U.S. position: “The U.S. wants to help in what the parties wish to achieve. The Prespa Agreement was successful because the heads of the two parties wanted it. We want this to happen with negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo. There are no red lines but no blank checks either.”
U.S. confirms support for KFOR and Bondsteel (media)
Following reports from certain media that during their visit to Kosovo, officials from the U.S. National Security Council warned with possible withdrawal of the country’s peacekeeping troops from Kosovo if the import tariff on Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina is not suspended, the U.S. Embassy in Pristina issued a statement confirming support for KFOR and the presence of U.S. troops at Camp Bondsteel.
“United States policy is still to support KFOR and the presence of U.S. troops at Camp Bondsteel, which maintains a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement in Kosovo. As elsewhere around the world, this and other U.S. deployments are subject to regular review,” the statement reads.
Another U.S. official to visit Kosovo (Zeri)
David Hale, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, is expected to visit Kosovo on 8 and 9 March and meet with political leaders. Hale’s visit follows that of two officials from the U.S. National Security Council, John Erath and Brad Berkley, and comes at a time when the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia has stalled and the U.S. is making efforts to bring the process back on track.
Matoshi: More pressure on tax from inside than outside Kosovo (Koha)
In an interview with KTV, advisor to Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, Halil Matoshi, said that they anticipated sanctions from the U.S. because of the tax on imports from Serbia and Bosnia. “We knew we would get a small beating. The U.S. is responsible for global security and cannot tolerate only us and look between our fingers. Haradinaj has leverage in this situation because he never deceived the U.S.,” Matoshi said.
He also noted that Haradinaj is facing more pressure to suspend the tax from inside than from outside of Kosovo. Matoshi admitted that there is international pressure on Haradinaj but that it has now ‘softened’. “Haradinaj is determined that there will be no lifting of the tax without the dialogue having a concrete timeframe and result.”
Mustafa: I will not join Thaci and Veseli, even if Haradinaj wants to (media)
Leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), Isa Mustafa, slammed Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj for, as he said, putting him in the same group with President Hashim Thaci and Assembly Speaker Kadri Veseli. In a Facebook post, Mustafa wrote: “Even if Prime Minister Haradinaj wanted it, I would not join Thaci and Veseli. I will also not join Haradinaj with the way he is governing.”
Mustafa said the position of the LDK is clear in that it will not accept a dialogue on Kosovo’s borders or on its territory and statehood. “The tax has been introduced under Mr. Veseli’s instructions: you came up with it, you decide what to do. You are the ruling coalition; LDK is your opposition. You are in power and stop playing the victim’s role,” Mustafa said concluding that his party is committed to fostering a permanent friendship with the U.S.