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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, June 7, 2024

Albanian Language Media: 

  • Kurti: General elections could be held in autumn or winter (media)
  • Osmani supports Kurti government on expropriations in the north (Nacionale)
  • Osmani on Kurti's proposal for Lajcak to send the draft to Venice: It has not been formally presented to me yet (Reporteri)
  • CAA: “EU to focus on fair dialogue that respects Kosovo independence” (media)
  • Lawyer Berisha says espionage suspect is witness in The Hague (RTK)
  • Local communities and universities strengthen cooperation with KFOR (RTK)

Serbian Language Media: 

  • Zubin Potok: Citizens do not know the value of the property seized through the expropriation process; many do not want the money (KiM radio)
  • Vucic: All-Serb Assembly to show unity (N1)
  • Petkovic and Djuric to meet representatives of the Serbian people from Kosovo (Tanjug, Kim Radio, Radio Mitrovica sever)
  • Petkovic and Arlov: The All-Serbian Assembly a confirmation of unity and connection (Tanjug, Kosovo online, KiM radio)
  • Radar: Erasing memory of assassinated Kosovo Serb leader (N1)
  • Quint, EU, and OSCE urge Pristina to uphold Ahtisaari principles and rule of law on expropriation in Serb-majority areas; Kosovo Government regrets the response (KoSSev)
  • Pensions in Kosovo for burek and soup (KiM radio, RFE)
  • On Germany's new quotas for workers from the Balkans: All profiles are leaving; Gerxhaliu: It will further motivate young people to leave (Kosovo Online)
  • KFOR signs memorandum on local education projects (N1)
  • EC: Serbia not only country with lithium deposits (N1)


  • Framing suffering: Kosovo war photographer opens his archive (BIRN)
  • Dodik: We will hold a Referendum on the independence of RS from BiH (Sarajevo Times)


Albanian Language Media  


Kurti: General elections could be held in autumn or winter (media)

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, in an interview with TV Kamenica, said that new parliamentary elections could be held in autumn or winter this year. “Kosovo is always ready because the Central Election Commission is a professional and independent institution. The timeline for local elections is in autumn next year, but for parliamentary elections this will be earlier, it can be in autumn or in winter, depending if there will be an agreement with the opposition to decide on the month for new elections,” he said. “I am in the final year of this mandate and less than 10 months have remained. Therefore, I expressed my readiness to pass the international agreements that are important regardless of the political parties, and also to set a suitable date for the next elections. There was no agreement for this spring, so let’s see what autumn and winter will bring”.

Osmani supports Kurti government on expropriations in the north (Nacionale)

The President of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani has said during her speech in Drenas that she supports the decision on expropriations, as long as they are in accordance with the Constitution and international rules. She emphasized that it is in the interest of national security to protect the north of Kosovo from attacks by Serbia.

“You know that it is extremely important and necessary for the security of us all, regardless of where we live within Kosovo, that the north of Kosovo is protected from the attacks of Serbia. And in order for Kosovo to be protected, we need the presence of our institutions of security forces, which have heroically and successfully defended every corner of our country until today. Therefore, as long as the expropriations are in full compliance with the applicable laws, with the Constitution of Kosovo and the five steps that are standard for the European Court of Human Rights, as the president of the Republic, I support any action that is in the interest of national security and in interest of all citizens without distinction" - she said.

Furthermore, Osmani assessed that she did not see discrimination on ethnic grounds during the expropriations in the north.

"When these issues are explained in detail by our institutions to our partners and in order to ensure everyone, that all that Kosovo has done is that it  respected a standard of the European Court, which is respected by all member countries of the Council of Europe...I don't see at any moment any tendency for discrimination on ethnic grounds, but simply respect for the standards that our Constitution and the European Court for Human Rights have foreseen" - Osmani emphasized.

Osmani on Kurti's proposal for Lajcak to send the draft to Venice: It has not been formally presented to me yet (Reporteri)

Kosovo President, Vjosa Osmani, was asked at the media conference in Drenas, about Prime Minister Albin Kurti's proposal for the EU emissary, Miroslav Lajcak, to send the EU Draft for the Association to the Venice Commission. She has said that she has not yet been formally notified about this yet.

"I have not seen such an idea formally. When it is presented to the President, I review it and then notify you. I cannot see the ideas that are presented in the media as formally presented," she said.

“According to the Constitution, the determination of foreign policy is made by the president. Whenever such an idea is presented, I will examine it", said Osmani.

She further added that it is important that every idea be analyzed in the context of Kosovo's interest and if it is estimated that it helps Kosovo, there is no reason not to support it. “You should wait a little longer until we formally discuss this proposal", said the president.

CAA: “EU to focus on fair dialogue that respects Kosovo independence” (media)

The Council of Albanian Ambassadors (CAA) said in a statement that it “has been following with great interest and concern the prolonged negotiations between Serbia and Kosova and would like to see a final agreement as soon as possible”. “CAA stands against pressuring Kosova to agree to the formation of Serb-majority municipalities and believes such a pressure undermines Kosovo’s sovereignty and emboldens Serbia’s non-recognition stance. Imposed solutions could destabilize the region. CAA emphasizes that the EU’s irreplaceable contribution and role should focus on facilitating a fair dialogue that respects Kosovo’s independence. The Council of Albanian Ambassadors appeals to the EU that, for the Kosova-Serbia dialogue, to appoint negotiators from the rank of diplomats/politicians who are welcomed and accepted by both countries, in order to increase the level of credibility among all parties,” the statement notes.

Lawyer Berisha says espionage suspect is witness in The Hague (RTK)

After the hearing at the Basic Court in Prishtina, Besnik Berisha, lawyer of the suspected collaborator of the Serbian intelligence service, Bedri Shabani, has said that his client is a witness of the Specialized Prosecution in The Hague. 

"History does not escape or evade. He is a witness for the Prosecution in The Hague. It is not a confidential case, because I would not reveal it here. And he feels he is being persecuted by certain businesses as a result of his work. According to him, he is a witness in the Prosecutor's Office, he does not know for which case because there are several cases, and he does not know if he has any other capacity other than being a witness. According to him, his status is public as he has refused to have protective measures or measures to cover his identity", stated Berisha.

Local communities and universities strengthen cooperation with KFOR (RTK)

The Western Regional Command of the NATO-led KFOR mission hosted representatives from 15 municipalities and from the Universities of Peja, Gjakova and Prizren, at Camp Villaggio Italia. According to the media release, the participants signed a Memorandum of Understanding to identify and implement projects that will help promote sustainable and inclusive education for all communities.

"The event was chaired by Colonel Francesco Ferrara, Commander of KFOR's Western Regional Command who gave an overview of KFOR's activities in the area - and featured the participation of members of the International Community, including the Italian Ambassador to Kosovo, Antonello De Riu, and representatives from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the United Nations Mission in Kosovo", the announcement states.


Serbian Language Media 


Zubin Potok: Citizens do not know the value of the property seized through the expropriation process; many do not want the money (KiM radio)

Citizens in the municipality of Zubin Potok are still not informed about the amount of compensation for confiscated property as part of the expropriation process of the Government of Kosovo, and some property owners do not want money, but the return of property that was taken from them due to the construction of police bases, reports KiM radio.

In the village of Gornji Jasenovik, about 16 hectares of land were taken from Serbian households for the construction of the base. Among the injured is Ratko Djukic. 

"One hectare was taken from me. It was a forest, we cut wood, it used to be plowed and now it is not plowed, and so the hectare went for nothing".

When asked how he feels about it, Rajko answers - "threatened". "They didn't even ask us anything." He says he doesn't want money, "we don't need money, just get the land back."

However, a base has already been built on his land.

For the same (police) base, a 21-acre plot was taken from Dr. Marko Jaksic. "In the second rush, a plot of 21 ares was taken from me. That plot of land is called "Ceperkovo brdo". In the first rush, that building was built, that barracks, in my opinion, are more military than police barracks, and then they didn't have enough, and then in the second rush, it was expanded, and then the plot of land was taken from me, that is 21 ares".

Jaksic says that he did not receive any decision beforehand. "Nor did anyone ask me anything, that plot was simply occupied, fenced off, and today it is actually not mine".

As responsible for this process of expropriation, Marko Jaksic sees not only the top of the Government of Kosovo, but also the former representatives of Serbs and institutions, as well as the current ones. "When the government carried out that expropriation, the minister in that government was Goran Rakic. When this plot was taken, the new minister had already arrived, but he, like his predecessor, voted for that decision. So, Nenad Rasic voted to take this land from us in a de facto illegal way, in a usurping way, in a way of bullying''.

Jaksic says that he has not received any compensation for his property so far. "Neither did anyone call me, nor did anyone offer me anything."

Like all citizens in the municipality of Zubin Potok but also Leposavic, Marko Jaksic hired a lawyer because of the expropriation process. After the lawsuit was filed by them, the Basic Court declared the process illegal. However, recently the Government of Kosovo, claiming that it acted based on the court's decisions, made a final decision on expropriation, so instead of the former 138 hectares of land, the expropriation process now includes 96 hectares.

Vlajic: Insufficient information

Nebojsa Vlajic, the representative of the injured party, was informed about the Government's decision through the media, and he took the decision from the Government's official website.

"I cannot comment any other way than as another attempt to tire and create the fiction that everything is legal and according to the law, although it is not, and we all see that it is not. I did not receive the decision, nor did any of the people affected by it, but I found it on the website of the Government of Kosovo and printed it from there. It is now the final decision by which all those previous preliminary decisions, as they were called at the time, were confirmed and this final decision was made," Vlajic told Radio KiM. 

Vlajic recalls the decisions of the Kosovo courts on the annulment of the decision, however, he adds that it covers only a part of the citizens. "It was annulled only in relation to a number of citizens, but not to others. Now all those citizens that were previously affected and covered by those preliminary decisions are objects of expropriation again, practically nothing has changed".

According to the latest, that is, the final decision of the Government, the expropriation process will cover 96 hectares.

"There is a large part that is social property, forest companies, or the municipalities of Zubin Potok and Leposavic or the company "Hrast", and perhaps one third is owned by citizens. There are several tens of citizens, however, the fact is that not all citizens who are registered as owners in the land register and cadastre are alive. They all have heirs, several of them each, so the number of affected people will be higher than in this table".

"How can you sue when you don't know the amount for the property?"

An additional problem, says Vlajic, is that neither he nor the owners were informed about the compensation for the damage. 

"The problem with these decisions is that it is now possible to dispute this decision only because of the amount of compensation that was determined, if it was determined by the objects of expropriation. However, although the decision states that the valuation is an integral part of the decision, there is no such valuation at all. We now do not know how many decisions were made that they should be paid. Whether it is five euros, 500 or 5,000 euros, we have no idea, there is no way to find out, the Government has not published it on the website. Now we can file a lawsuit because we are dissatisfied with the amount, and we don't know what the amount is."

The Government of Kosovo also said that dissatisfied citizens will be able to appeal the valuation to the Kosovo courts. However, Vlajic reminds that the deadline is running, and citizens do not know what the assessment of their property will be.

"The deadline is 30 days from the decision, that is, from its publication in the Official Gazette, for filing a lawsuit. But the authority that made that decision, which is the Government of Kosovo, does not provide any information so that you can sue. How can you sue for the amount you have been assessed when you do not know what the amount is. I want to say once again, although I have emphasized it several times, these citizens are not concerned about the amount they will receive. They don't want anything, they don't want money, they want those plots to be returned to them and that no one disturbs them in their use because they have been using them for centuries and generations. These are plots that have been in their family ownership through their father, grandfather, great-grandfather and the rest for centuries."

Bisevac: Among those responsible and the former local government

Milija Bisevac, a former councilor in MA Zubin Potok and now a representative of the Serbian People's Movement, blames the Serbian List, which was in power in the municipality when the construction of police bases began. 

"Further construction was not prevented, as happened in the municipality of Leposavic, they continued to build and today we have a large police base in Donji Jasenovik. Of course, the citizens feel absolutely scared. Close to their homes where they live with their families, with their children, there are mostly special units armed with long pipes and police bases that certainly do not send a message of peace".

Bisevac points out that five police bases have been built so far in the Zubin Potok Municipality alone and expresses his fear that the construction of several more will begin with this expropriation process.

Vucic: All-Serb Assembly to show unity (N1)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Friday that the All-Serb Assembly will show “unity in the determination to not hide our belonging to the same nation”, reported N1. .

The Assembly is scheduled to be held in Belgrade on Saturday.

“The Assembly is a huge manifestation to show unity in not hiding membership in the same nation, in preserving our script, culture, traditions, in further economic and political links, respect for the Dayton Agreement in regard to the Republika Srpska (RS) and military neutrality in regard to Serbia and the RS,” Vucic said.

“We will do all we can for Serbia to avoid any conflict, any war in the 21st century and make strides, in peace, towards great economic success,“ Vucic told reporters at a presentation of the first of 5 Chinese-made high-speed trains.

He said Serbia would secure 10 million Euro to build a road between the city of Bijelina in the RS and the Sremska Raca border crossing between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia.

Vucic said the Serbian and RS government will decide on the construction of memorial centers in Belgrade and Donja Gradina in the RS.

The Serbian President said the elections are over and added that he can’t deal with guesswork about who gets to form local administrations across Serbia.

Petkovic and Djuric to meet representatives of the Serbian people from Kosovo (Tanjug, KiM radio, Radio Mitrovica sever)

The Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Petar Petkovic, will meet today with political and institutional representatives of the Serbian people from Kosovo, the Office for Kosovo and Metohija announced, reported Tanjug.

The meeting will also be attended by the head of Serbian diplomacy, Marko Djuric, it was stated in the announcement.

The meeting will be held today at 2:30 pm in the Palace of Serbia, and on the eve of the All-Serb Assembly, which will be held tomorrow in Belgrade.

Petkovic and Arlov: The All-Serbian Assembly a confirmation of unity and connection (Tanjug, Kosovo online, KiM radio)

The director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Petar Petkovic, and the president of the Committee for Aid to Kosovo and Metohija from the Republic of Srpska, Milorad Arlov, emphasized today the importance of holding the All-Serb Assembly, scheduled for Saturday, June 8, and emphasized that it represents a confirmation of the unity, connection and cooperation of the Serbian people in the Republic of Serbia and the Republika Srpska, but also everywhere where Serbs live.

"Our people, especially in Kosovo and Metohija, remember how important Serbian unity and harmony were throughout history and how much they helped us to emerge stronger from the most difficult situations and challenges," said Petkovic, according to the statement of the Office.

He expressed his gratitude and supported the work of the Committee for Aid to Kosovo and Metohija, stressing that it is not only about deeply humane activities, but about creating unbreakable ties between Serbs from Kosovo and from Republika Srpska, especially among children and youth.

Radar: Erasing memory of assassinated Kosovo Serb leader (N1)

The house in Mitrovica North that Kosovo Serb opposition leader Oliver Ivanovic spent 20 odd years in has been sold more than 5 years after he was gunned down.

Radar weekly said that it took more than a decade for the authorities in Belgrade and their followers to “using an amateurish, dishonest and cowardly policy, completely destroy the negotiating position of the Serbs in northern Kosovo”. “Reports that the house in which Oliver Ivanovic lived in and worked from for more than two decades is final confirmation of the thoroughness of that targeted destruction because the destruction of someone’s achievements means the destruction of their very memory,” the weekly said.

Radar asked if residents of Mitrovica North will recall the strength and unity they felt under Ivanovic’s leadership or stay broken once the symbols of the struggle against ethnic cleansing are wiped off the face of the earth.

The house that Ivanovic used as an office was sold by auction in July 2023 and the new owner recently threw out everything belonging to Ivanovic and his Civic Initiative SDP. “Radar sources said the new owner is Burim Fazliu, a successful entrepreneur from the majority-ethnic Albanian Mitrovica South who owns a construction company and a hotel and spa.

Ivanovic’s nephew Aleksandar said that the family was not allowed to keep the house to prevent it becoming a symbol. “The house was rented on a long-term lease which expired. My brother Nikola wanted to buy the house and make it a memorial center, return it to the city and keep Oliver’s memory alive… If the state of Serbia or the (Belgrade-backed) Serb List wanted to, they could have stopped this. It would not have happened if they really backed their claims that Oliver was a fellow fighter for the Serb cause in Kosovo,” he said.

Oliver Ivanovic’s friend, journalist Milivoje Mihajlovic recalled that no one spoke up when the house was sold. “To me, that house was the place where resistance was organized to the ethnic cleansing of northern Kosovo. It was a symbolic stronghold giving people the strength and faith to remain in Kosovo,” he said.

Quint, EU, and OSCE urge Pristina to uphold Ahtisaari principles and rule of law on expropriation in Serb-majority areas; Kosovo Government regrets the response (KoSSev)

“It is essential that the government make efforts to ensure that expropriation activities comply with the law, that due process is followed, and that the property rights of concerned owners and interest holders are fully respected,” reads the joint reaction of Quint, the EU and OSCE a week after the final decision of the Kosovo government on the expropriation of land in the north. In the meantime, the Kosovo government reacted, alleging that they “inaccurately presented the factual situation and a legal assessment that was not substantiated”, reported portal KoSSev in English.

On May 31, the Kosovo government adopted the final decision on the expropriation of property owned by interested parties affected by the implementation of “Infrastructural projects of public interest” in the municipalities of Leposavić and Zubin Potok.

They stated then that this decision was adopted “in accordance with the final judgments of the courts of the Republic of Kosovo”.

According to the text of the final decision, they approved the expropriation of real estate in the cadastral areas Bistrica, Šaljska Bistrica, Dren, Lešak, Košutovo – Leposavić municipality; as well as the areas: Brnjak, Zubin Potok, Velji Breg, Banje, Gornji Jasenovik – Zubin Potok municipality.

The text, however, did not include details about the parcels covered by this decision on expropriation, although the text of the decision mentions alleged tables and reports with details.

On the other hand, RFE reported that eight hectares of land has now been excluded when compared to the decision from January 2023.

At the same time, on Friday, the government did not explain the outcome of the court proceedings that were conducted after the Basic Court in January, based on the claims of property owners, determined that it was illegal, after which the government announced that it would present a new proposal.

On the same day, one of the legal representatives of the injured owners of the property that was the subject of expropriation, Dragutin Nenezić, pointed this out, as did Milija Biševac from the Serbian People’s Movement in Zubin Potok.

A week later, Quint also underscored the same issue in a joint statement with the European Union and the OSCE.

In addition, they revealed that the decision includes the expropriation of over 100 plots of land in municipalities with a Serbian majority.

“The Embassies of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, together with the EU Office in Kosovo, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Mission in Kosovo regret the decision taken by the Government of Kosovo on May 30 to finalize expropriation of over 100 parcels of land in Serb-majority municipalities in the north of Kosovo,” they wrote in a joint statement.

They also previously reacted when the Kosovo government, according to international legal experts’ assessments, violated its own laws in the process, which was then identified by the Kosovo judicial system as well.

Read more at:

Pensions in Kosovo for burek and soup (KiM radio, RFE)

The costs of living in Kosovo have increased, especially since 2022 when inflation has increased. According to the data of the Kosovo Agency for Statistics (ASK), the prices of products and services have continuously increased in this period, reported KiM radio, citing Radio Free Europe.

Bislim Ademi from the village of Donja Brnjica near Pristina is trying to make ends meet with his pension of 198 euros. Most of the pension, he said, goes for medicine and utilities. He lives alone, since his wife passed away years ago, and he only occasionally receives help from his son, who lives abroad.

Although ASK does not have data on how much the consumer basket costs, there are laws in the country that mandate the adjustment of pensions to the cost of living and inflation.

The authorities are under criticism for not enforcing these laws.

And among those who are most affected by this are pensioners, whose incomes range from 100 euros old-age pension to 265 euros pension for which contributions were paid.

"In need for alms"

"The day I get my pension, I'm king and whatever you want, because I have money... After three days, I don't have a cent," Ademi told RFE. Once a mechanical technician, he retired ten years ago. When he gets his pension, he said, first he buys medication for high blood pressure and diabetes, then pays the electricity, water, and garbage bills. He has little money left for food. His son helps him, but, as he said, he doesn't always succeed.

"I eat burek in the morning for 1.20 euros. With that I push through until dinner. In the evening, I go somewhere and eat some soup, beans, or something cheaper... I can't have lunch, because if I've already eaten, I won't be able to provide dinner afterwards," he added.

Almost every day he leaves his settlement near Pristina, less than ten kilometers away, to meet up with old friends at the Pensioners' Club.

"We are left at - as the saying goes - sadaka ihtiyac (in Turkish: in need for alms). It's not just me, it's like that for all pensioners," said Ademi.

Kosovo Law Institute: Institutions do not enforce laws

The pension system in Kosovo is regulated based on the Law on pension schemes financed by the state and the Law on the methodology of determining the level of the basic pension and determining the date for the provision of basic pensions.

These laws, at the proposal of the Ministry of Finance, provide for the adjustment of pensions to the cost of living and inflation once a year.

However, according to a report by the Kosovo Institute of Law (IKD) published on May 24, "the state has not implemented these laws" and if it continues to do so, it "will face lawsuits in court."

Naim Jakaj from IKD stated that the institute has already expressed this concern to the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Finance, Labor and Transfers, the Assembly of Kosovo and the President of the Parliamentary Commission for Budget, Labor and Transfers and asked them to review the implementation of the law on pensions.

"We have addressed all leaders who may have direct or indirect responsibility for law enforcement. If they do not consider (these concerns) in the optimal period - until June - we will file a lawsuit for non-implementation of the law," he pointed out.

What the institutions say?

RFE sent inquiries to all the institutions mentioned by IKD whether they considered the institute's request, but none of them, except for the Parliamentary Committee for Budget, Labor, and Transfers, responded.

A member of that committee, Ferat Shala from the opposition Democratic Party of Kosovo, told RFE that if the issue is not on the committee's agenda at the next meeting, he will be able to raise it himself as a member of the committee.

He added that if IKD has a legal basis to file a lawsuit against the state for violating pensioners' rights, he will support such an initiative.

"I totally agree. Why is the law not respected and why are the fundamental rights of pensioners violated," said Shala. 

The chairman of the parliamentary budget, labor and transfers committee, Armend Muja of the ruling Self-Determination movement, did not respond to RFE's questions about whether and when he would invite Finance Minister Hekuran Murati to present a report on the concerns raised by the IKD.

"Pensions were not increased on legal grounds"

Representatives of IKD say that the amount of pensions established is not enough to cover the minimum costs of beneficiaries.

In this context, according to this institute, beneficiaries of the basic or old-age pension are most at risk.

In 2002, this pension amounted to 28 euros. By 2019, based on various government decisions, it reached the amount of 90 euros.

The last increase, to 100 euros, was made at the beginning of 2022, as part of the Economic Revival Package, which was approved by the Government of Kosovo during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"(Pensions) have never been increased on legal grounds, according to the Law on Pension Schemes and the Law on the Methodology for Determining the Amount of the Pension," said Jakaj, speaking about the adjustment of the pension level to the cost of living and inflation.

According to the data of the Kosovo Statistics Agency, the inflation rate in Kosovo was 2.7 percent in 2019, 0.2 percent in 2020, and 3.4 percent in 2021.

It reached its peak in 2022, both due to the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, when it was around 12 percent.

Last year and this year, inflation has been falling, but not the prices of basic products.

ASK data for April this year show that consumer prices are higher by 2.4 percent compared to the same period last year.

On Germany's new quotas for workers from the Balkans: All profiles are leaving; Gerxhaliu: It will further motivate young people to leave (Kosovo Online)

The German labor market is attractive for all profiles of workers, from people with lower and medium qualifications, to those with completed faculties, to PhDs, Mihailo Gajic, economist Mihajlo Gajic told Kosovo online. He points out that the largest number of workers from the Western Balkans go to Germany from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As of June 1st, the third phase of the German law came into force, the aim of which is to attract foreign skilled labor from the WB. The new quotas that Germany introduced for workers from the Balkans, notes Gajic, apply to all profiles.

"Certainly, it is necessary to comply with certain procedures in order to obtain a work permit. The requirements for a work permit have been significantly reduced compared to a few years ago, and the reason is that Germany has a decreasing number of workers every year due to demographic changes in the population. The number of people entering the labor market is significantly lower than the number of people retiring. The situation is such that there is a demand for all workers, from people who are engaged in jobs of a more manual nature, such as drivers and forklift operators, to people who have graduated from universities and have high qualifications, such as programmers. It is not limited to only one type of work, but there is a whole range of occupations that are in deficit in Germany," Gajic told Kosovo Online.

The most numerous countries in the region, he says, also offer the largest number of workers to go to Western Europe and Germany. There are certainly Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which lead the way due to the largest number of inhabitants.

He points out that the movement of the labor force cannot be accurately recorded, given that it is a "living process" subject to frequent changes.

"Even Germany doesn't monitor the movements of workers the best, because it's not just that workers leave, they also come back several times or go to a third country, so it's quite difficult to clearly see what's happening with the workforce for the Western Balkans," notes Gajić.

He points out that Serbia has been a country of emigration for decades, but that it is fortunate that this was precisely the valve for preventing social problems, bearing in mind the high unemployment in the local labor market.

He notes that Serbia, if the economic trends of the last ten years are considered, has reached a situation where it does not have a serious problem with the unemployment rate. According to Gajic, the rate is now around nine percent, which is significantly less compared to earlier years when it amounted to more than 25 percent.

He believes that the departure of the workforce to other countries would prevent the introduction of new policies regarding working conditions and salary levels.

"For that, we need to have a number of years of high economic growth rates that will allow wages to rise significantly and to get closer to the countries where our workers traditionally go. If wages in Serbia were satisfactory, then the attractiveness of the German labor market would lose its strength," concludes Gajic.

Gerxhaliu: The doubled quotas for the workforce in Germany will further motivate young people to leave

The very fact that Germany has doubled the quota for the workforce from the Balkans will further motivate young people to decide to leave, the former director of the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce, Safet Gerxhaliu told Kosovo Online. He believes that it is necessary to open public debates so that citizens are aware of what they will get if they go to work abroad, and what if they stay.

"Europe is no longer what it used to be. Second, we must have various campaigns to motivate people, and the third thing, what our young people and citizens of Kosovo should know is that to earn 500 euros today in Kosovo and the Balkans has the value of a salary of almost 2,000 euros in Germany, when compare the costs of living, housing, taxes and other things," says Gerxhaliu. 

He says that it is very important to have a dialogue about this problem.

"I think that dialogue should be restored, we must restore trust that it is possible to live here," he says.

KFOR signs memorandum on local education projects (N1)

KFOR Regional Command West officers signed a memorandum of understanding on education projects with officials from 15 municipalities and 3 universities, a press release said.

It said that NATO officers “hosted representatives from 15 municipalities and from the Universities of Pec, Djakovica and Prizren, at Camp Villaggio Italia … and the participants signed a Memorandum of Understanding to identify and implement projects that will help promote sustainable and inclusive education for all communities”.

It said that the event was presided over by KFOR Regional Command West commander Colonel Francesco Ferrara with the participation of Italy’s Ambassador Antonello De Riu as well as OSCE and UNMIK officials.

EC to N1: Serbia not only country with lithium deposits (N1)

The European Commission told N1 on Friday that Serbia is not the only European country with lithium deposits, adding that all products made with that mineral have to comply with European Union environmental and other standards.

EU Commissioner Maros Sefcovic told Euronews recently that last legal hurdles are being discussed before an EU-Serbia trade partnership to source lithium from the Jadar region is made.

A written reply from the European Commission recalled that a letter of intent on a strategic partnership was signed by the EU and Serbia in September 2023 on critical raw materials and batteries as an important step towards creating a sustainable and competitive e-mobility ecosystem in Serbia. “Building on the letter of intent, the Commission is proposing to establish a Memorandum of Understanding between the EU and Serbia establishing a Strategic Partnership on sustainable raw materials, battery value chains and electric vehicles. The Commission continues discussions with Serbia on the topic,” the reply said.

It added that this is part of a broader effort, that includes the EU mining and processing critical raw materials within its own borders in over 900 projects, as well as the creation of partnerships across the globe.

“Under the Partnership, if signed, Serbia and the EU would be committing to apply high environmental (including waste management), social and governance standards and sustainable practices along entire value chains and during the entire life cycle of mines – from exploration, through exploitation to closure, and rehabilitation,” the European Commission said and added that “any product, e.g. batteries for electric vehicles or materials – regardless of their origin – placed on the EU market must comply with the EU law, including the sustainability and environmental rules”.

The European Commission is aware that Rio Tinto’s Jadar project to mine lithium in western Serbia was suspended in January 2022, it said and added that the EU expects national governments to take decisions on specific industrial projects based on the applicable regulatory framework and practices aligned with EU environmental rules, including on waste and water management and public participation in the decision-making process.

It said that projects to mine lithium are underway at various stages in Austria, Czechia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden.




Framing suffering: Kosovo war photographer opens his archive (BIRN)

For the first time in 25 years, Besnik Mehmeti, an ethnic Albanian photographer from North Macedonia, is showing his images documenting Kosovo Albanian refugees and the grim reality of war during NATO’s military intervention in 1999.

“I entered Kosovo immediately in June 1999 along with the NATO troops and saw the destruction of cities, the burnt bodies inside houses in the Pristina region,” Besnik Mehmeti, ethnic Albanian photographer from North Macedonia, told BIRN in an interview.

Mehmeti, a London-based video editor at Al Jazeera – whose photos will be exhibited for the first time at BIRN’s Reporting House in Pristina on June 10 – explained that after the war “everyone had something to say. I wasn’t even ready to talk about these things myself, and I have kept that material wherever I went, having exchanged many homes”.

“I couldn’t lose them, as they belonged to the people, I knew I had to do something with them,” Mehmeti said.

Twenty-five years after the war, he is finally ready to share his work, which he plans to include in a book he is trying to gather funds for, with photographs documenting the Kosovo war.

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Dodik: We will hold a Referendum on the independence of RS from BiH (Sarajevo Times)

The President of the Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik said that a referendum on the independence of the Republika Srpska from Bosnia and Herzegovina will be held, and its date has yet to be determined.

”There is a decision on separation, but no specific date has been set yet. A lot of analysis needs to be done. We would like it now, but, apart from us, there are two other parties in the process. This, of course, takes time,” said Dodik in an interview with TASS on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

He said that the process of negotiations on disassociation is ahead.

“We are convinced that there is already enough historical and civilizational maturity that it is necessary and will happen,” pointed out Dodik.

According to him, if the Republika Srpska were to remain part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it would be a waste of time and opportunity, and that is why it is necessary to achieve what the RS wants as soon as possible in order to stop wasting resources in vain hoping that Bosnia and Herzegovina will do something.

“We do not want to create instability on the territory of our country, that is why, first of all, we proposed to BiH to separate and move in that direction,” said Dodik.

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