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International Information Centre for Balkan Studies



Haradinaj: If we do that, I assure you that we will get recognition of independence

Kosovo's Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj stated that the positions of Kosovo within dialogue with Serbia weakened by the Kosovo leadership and its party leaders

July 19, 2019  

In an interview for KTV, he said that "statements of the leaders of political parties, their positions, even different from those in public and in closed meetings," make Kosovo "seem inferior to Serbia."

According to him, Serbia is doing everything to enfeeble Kosovo, while local Kosovo leaders do the same on their part.

Haradinaj said that they need a joint statement by the Kosovo leaders, sending clear message that the tariffs will not be canceled before recognition of Kosovo's independence. "If we do that, I assure you that we will get recognition. There will be no long term frozen conflicts or any potential war," he said.

Kosovo Prime Minister says that the decision to impose taxes had prevented Kosovo's division, but that he is not willing to resume dialogue without reaching political consensus. Responding to allegations that he breaches constitutional obligation to lead a dialogue, Haradinaj says that dialogue shouldn't be guided solely by him, but that this process should involve the representatives of parliamentary parties.

"I refused to participate in a dialogue on the division, Mogherini's dialogue, and I was determined about that," he said, adding that it is the duty of parliamentary political parties to reach a consensus. Kosovo Prime Minister confirmed that a meeting would be held in Paris in September, as Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron agreed in Berlin.

"It is expected to be held in September, President Macron's adviser informed me", Haradinaj concluded.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=07&dd=19&nav_id=107029

"Kosovo to prepare for the final stage – no final solution without USA"

Chairman of US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez stated that it is significant for Kosovo to be ready to enter into the final phase of dialogue.

July 19, 2019

Menendez considers that it is important for Kosovo to be prepared for that phase, in order to be able to reach final agreement.

"I am very proud of the fact that USA was among the first states to recognize the independance of the Republic of Kosovo back in 2008. US support to Kosovo will continue in future“, Menendez claimed during a meeting with the Chair of Kosovo Assembly Kadri Veseli.

As Pristina press reports, in the course of the meeting with Menendez, Veseli had introduced US Senator with the political circumstances on Kosovo and within the region, thanking him on the role and contribution of the Senate when it comes to Kosovo issue.

Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia was a topic for discussion, as well as the significance that USA directly participates in this process.

"There is no final agreement between Kosovo and Serbia without the US participation. Direct US involvement in this process is of crucial importance for the realization of such agreement, that will provide the recognition of independence of the independent and sovereign state of Kosovo, as well as securing its chair in the United Nations", Veseli concluded.

During his US visit on the invitation of US Congress, Veseli had conducted meetings with numerous Congressmen and Senators.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=07&dd=19&nav_id=107027

Haradinaj seeks NATO support

Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj asked from the NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe support for development and improvement of Kosovo Security Force

July 18, 2019

As stated from PM's Office, Haradinaj discussed the overall development and security situation in Kosovo, the region and beyond, on the meeting held with the NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Tod Wolters.

Haradinaj informed Wolters about the achievements of Kosovo's institutions in all areas, especially in the security sector, highlighting Kosovo's pro-Western and Euro-Atlantic orientation.

He thanked General Wolters and NATO for supporting Kosovo in all processes and for their mission in establishing and strengthening peace and security.

"Kosovo is completely in line with the armies advocating freedom and peace. A multiethnic and professional KSF advances towards NATO standards as a factor providing safety both in the country and the region," Haradinaj said.

He pointed out that Kosovo is seeking membership in NATO and is ready to contribute to peacekeeping missions whenever the US or NATO deem necessary.

NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Tod Wolters also met on Thursday with Kosovo Defense Minister Rustem Berisha and the Commander of the KSF, General Rrahman Rama.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=07&dd=18&nav_id=107026       

Newly adopted resolution in the US Congress, the goal - exerting pressure on Serbia

US Congress’ House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted a resolution on Wednesday urging Belgrade to prosecute the killers of the three Bytyqi brothers

July 18, 2019  

Ylli, Agron, and Mehmet Bytyqi are US citizens of Albanian origin, murdered in Serbia in 1999.

As reported by Pristina daily Bota sot, the resolution was readopted with the aim of exerting pressure on Serbia to bring the killers of Bytyqi brothers to justice.

The resolution says that Serbia must “make it a priority to investigate and prosecute as soon as possible those current or former officials believed to be responsible for [the brothers’] deaths, directly or indirectly”.

It is also said that further progress in resolving this case "should remain a significant factor determining the further development of relations between the United States and the Republic of Serbia”.

The same resolution was adopted last year under the same Committee, but it had to be confirmed due to procedural reasons.

Brothers Ylli, Mehmet and Agron Bytyqi were American citizens that came to Serbia in 1999 and joined KLA, fighting Serbian security forces.

After the war ended, on June 26, 1999, they in plain clothes tried to help two Roma families from Prizren to reach Central Serbia. They were apprehended on that occasion and accused of "illegal state entry" (Yugoslavia) and they were sentenced on the next day to 15 days in prison by the court based in Prokuplje.

They were granted to get out of jail three days earlier, but instead of being released, they were taken to a remote special antiterrorist police training facility in Petrovo Selo. There, the Bytyqis were tortured, executed and dumped into a mass grave with other Kosovo Albanians.

Their bodies were exhumed on July 2001, in the mass grave in Petrovo selo. Their corpses were found with tied arms and with the wounds from the bullets shot in the back of their heads.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/world.php?yyyy=2019&mm=07&dd=18&nav_id=107025          

Macron, in fact, has a plan?

French President plans to appoint a Special Envoy for the Western Balkans, who will play an active role in resolving the Kosovo issue, Blic writes

July 18, 2019  

According to unofficial information of the newspaper Blic, during the two-day visit to Belgrade, Emmanuel Macron informed Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic about this.

The French President intends to engage more actively in this region, says Blic's source and explains:

"France wants to take over a key role in resolving the problems between Belgrade and Pristina. Since due to numerous obligations and tight schedule, Macron is not in a position to deal with the Kosovo issue on a daily basis, he intends in the forthcoming period to find a trusted man who will be in charge of that part of Europe. It will be the French Envoy for the Western Balkans. Thanks to this newly appointed person, Macron will practically strengthen French influence in the region".

On the other hand, on a number of occasions, the United States said that official Washington would have to engage more directly in the crackdown on the Kosovo issue. The last was the opinion stated by Lieutenant-General Frederick Ben Hodges, Former Commander US Army Europe. However, US officials say that EU leads the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and that they respect it.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=07&dd=18&nav_id=107023

European Parliament confirmed Von der Leyen as the new European Commission President

383 members of European Parliament supported her, while 327 opposed her election

July 17, 2019

German Ursula Von der Leyen was elected President of European Commission in Brussels.

On 1 November, Von der Leyen will be the first woman to take on the Commission presidency.

383 MEPs supported her, while 327 opposed her election. In order to be elected to the post, she needed 374 votes out of the present 747 Members of European Parliament.

German Defense Minister will replace Jean Claude Juncker on this post from November 1, 2019.

European Commission's responsibilities include proposing new EU laws, enforcing the bloc's rules and the power to impose penalties to member states.

"It is a big responsibility and my work starts now. My message to all of you is let us work together constructively, because the endeavor is a united and strong Europe,", she said in an inauguration speech.

Who is Ursula Von der Leyen?

Born in Brussels, Von der Leyen and her family moved to Germany when she was 13. She studied economics at London's LSE and medicine in Hanover before going into politics.

She has been a member of Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) since 2005.

Now 60, Von der Leyen is the mother of seven children.

Her appointment as German Defense Minister in 2013 was unexpected and followed three months of coalition talks between the CDU and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).

As defense minister in the EU's most industrialized and populous country, she has argued for Germany to boost its military involvement in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

However, her tenure in the defense post has not been without incident.

In recent years, a litany of stories have exposed inadequacies in Germany's armed forces, from inoperable submarines and aircraft to shortages of personnel.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/world.php?yyyy=2019&mm=07&dd=17&nav_id=107015

"I've requested to get in touch with KFOR at any moment, NATO General consented"

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic conducted conversation with General Tod Wolters, the U.S. European Command and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe

July 17, 2019

On this occasion, Vucic had expressed satisfaction with successful cooperation with NATO, that is being developed, fully respecting Serbia's military neutral status.

Vucic pointed out that the international peacekeeping forces in Kosovo and Metohija led by NATO guarantee security of the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija, and therefore demanded that the Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces can at any moment get in touch with the KFOR Commander.

At the same time, he accepted that the top officials of our army would be available for communication with KFOR.

"Good communication between the Serbian Armed Forces and KFOR is important to prevent any crisis situation in Kosovo and Metohija, without any hesitation. It guarantees security of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija", President Vucic said.

General Wolters consented that at any moment, without any delay, there is direct channel of mutual communication as it is important for maintaining stability in the region as the foundation of global stability.

He confirmed that KFOR would continue to fulfill its responsibilities in Kosovo and Metohija and praised President Vucic for responsible, wise and nerveless reactions in crisis situations in Kosovo. General Wolters supported the efforts that Serbia invests in preserving stability and expanding co-operation in the region.

President Vucic said that the cooperation of the Serbian Armed Forces with NATO, within the framework of the Partnership for Peace program, is in the common interest and expressed hope that it would be improved with the goal of building capacities for contributing to world peace.

In this regard, Vucic emphasized that the new cycle of the Individual Partnership Action Plan has been harmonized, it is concluded in the press release of the Serbian Presidency.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=07&dd=17&nav_id=107017

"I've heard that Haradinaj advocates disruption of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue"

Chairman of the Kosovo Assembly, Kadri Veseli supports the idea of temporary suspension of tariffs imposed on the Serbian goods, aiming at dialogue resumption

July 17, 2019

Still, he added, this suspension cannot last long.

In the interview for the Voice of America, Veseli said that the resolution of Kosovo issue lies in Serbian recognition of Kosovo's independence as, as he said "sovereign state of Kosovo within existing borders". In return, "Kosovo will recognize the Republic of Serbia".

He considers this as "a new era, an era of cooperation and communication".

"It would make it easier for us and Serbia, two decades after the liberation of Kosovo. Serbia is perfectly aware of the fact that it had lost Kosovo", said Veseli, who believes that the international community must, as he says," help Serbia accept this reality ".

He adds that he heard Ramush Haradinaj now advocates an interruption of the dialogue with Belgrade, but that he had different standpoint on this.

"We will sit at a table with Serbia whenever the United States and the European Union tell us to do so. But we will not accept any agreement that violates our sovereignty and territorial integrity", said Veseli, confirming that there are conceptual differences within the ruling coalition pertaining to the issue of tariffs on Serbian products and resumption of the dialogue with Belgrade.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=07&dd=17&nav_id=107016

Haradinaj: Serbia is buying weapons, we fear war, should we also become armed?

Kosovo's Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj says that he is intimidated by Serbia's acquiring new weapons, as he regards it as a potential war threat, RTS reports

 July 17, 2019

Haradinaj said that "approach of a part of the international community in relation to dialogue with Belgrade raises the need for Kosovo to become armed".

"Serbia is buying weapons in Russia, and France has also signed contract agreement with Serbia for the acquisition of missile system. Meanwhile, they tell us that we cannot call the agreement we are trying to reach 'an agreement on mutual recognition within the existing borders.' What, then, should we do?", Haradinaj said.

"Kosovo is an independent state. We do not ask for anything other from a dialogue except mutual recognition. If you are not ready for this, is it, then, a message for us that we should also buy weapons?", Haradinaj added, as reported by Pristina press.

Kosovo's Deputy Prime Minister Enver Hoxhaj claims that "the militarization of Serbia represents threat to the region".

"Although proclaimed militarily neutral, it shows the opposite. Who threatens Serbia to such extent that it needs to buy new weapons from France and other countries, and improve its air defense system? Militarization of Serbia is a new threat to the region", Hoxhaj wrote on his Twitter account.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=07&dd=17&nav_id=107014

Next Paris meeting in September

President Aleksandar Vucic stated today that French President Emmanuel Macron understands the seriousness of the problem pertaining to Kosovo and Metohija

July 16, 2019 , Serbian Presidency

According to him, the things cannot be solved if no one wants to give up anything.
“I asked for understanding that it cannot be resolved as we all would like to be resolved, but that it has to be something in between,” Vucic said.

He added that every Serb and Albanian understands this as well, but that we often "play dumb", undermining the requests of the other side. "Reaching compromise is not a weakness, it is strength", Vucic underlined, adding that he will always pledge for the real compromise, rather than surrendering and giving up.

He said that we will procede in this direction if possible, if not, some future generations will do that, but we do not want to live in constant fear of future wars and conflicts.

“People ask why Serbia is buying arms, well, the answer is we buy it to deter anyone from attacking us. If they see Serbia is a rotten apple, everyone will easily take it, but if they see it like a nut, it’s not easily broken,” Vucic concluded.

Vucic said that the next Belgrade-Pristina meeting will be held in Paris, probably in September, organized by the French President Emmanuel Macron.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced his engagement in arranging a special meeting of Belgrade-Pristina delegation in the presence of German Chancellor Merkel.

Serbian President also stated that we have to change and evolve, in order to overcome the general standpoint that we are God-given, while all the others are against us.

After a meeting with the youth representatives behind closed doors, Vucic reiterated Macron's messages from yesterday that we should devote to regional issues, establish the best possible relations, and make maximum benefit out of it.

"Then, we will be much stronger, and it will be less significant what will come out of EU", Vucic concluded, confirming French President's pledge to help Serbia on its EU path.

The presidents Macron and Vucic had talked to the students from Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) from the whole Balkan region: two young Albanians, a girl from Orahovac, a boy from Tirana, as well as with the young people from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

"We have talked to all of them about establishing cooperation in the region. It was my idea in the eve of establishing Berlin Process, to connect people from the region despite their differences, national and religious, so that as many people as possible get involved in the process of exchanging information and cooperation", Vucic concluded.

He said that today a program for social entrepreneurship of young people was launched, thanks to the French Government, and that he promised greater support to Serbia's Youth Coopreation Office program. As he said, that is why every action on approaching young people, which must be offered a better perspective, is important. "We will have bigger salaries. People are leaving the region and we have to change that," the Serbian President said, adding that Serbia will increase salaries and pensions faster and create conditions for a better life for the citizens of Serbia.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=07&dd=16&nav_id=107012

"Euronews" reports on Macron's Belgrade visit

In its Belgrade report on the visit of President Macron, "Euronews" underlines his promise to relaunch Belgrade-Pristina dialogue

July 16, 2019

After meeting his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic, Macron said he would invite delegations from both countries to Paris, along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, "Euronews" reports.

"We are seeing rising tension and sometimes these tensions are fueled here and there by external powers that have an interest in making sure no deal is found," Macron said, as "Euronews" carries.

"Euronews" also quotes Macron's words that "developments over the last few weeks have been a concern, and decisions that were against past commitments must be abrogated." "Euronews" underlines that Belgrade's relations with Pristina "have deteriorated since Pristina imposed 100% tariffs on Serbian products after Belgrade blocked its membership bid to join Interpol".

"Euronews" reminds that EU has led talks between Belgrade and Pristina since 2011, which resulted in several technical agreements including the Brussels agreement which aimed to normalize relations and "integrate the Serb minority in northern Kosovo". But in practice, the agreements were "vague", and the process was undone after several setbacks.

"Euronews" also states that Vucic asked Macron if he could help Serbia in its bid to join the European Union, but also added that the French President made no promises, reiterating that EU decision-making needs to get more efficient before other countries join EU.

In a sign of cooperation, "Euronews" reports, Serbia agreed to buy the French light surface-to-air missile Mistral and both sides signed a letter of intent for the construction of a metro in Belgrade.

Moreover, immediately prior to Macron's arrival to Belgrade, President Vucic's media advisor confirmed to Prva TV that "Euronews" will soon come to Belgrade, and open its regional branch in Serbia.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=07&dd=16&nav_id=107011

French media: Macron in Serbia with the aim of reviving "severed relations"

President of France Emmanuel Macron will come to Belgrade today aiming at restoring "severed relations" with Serbia, today's French press assesses

July 15, 2019

French television "France 24" states that Belgrade-Pristina relations will be among main issues for discussion.

This broadcaster reminds of the fact that this is the first visit of the French President to Serbia after Jacques Chirac's stay in the Balkan region back in 2001.

The possibility of resolving Kosovo crisis with territory swap remained uncertain, while Paris, unlike Berlin, is open for such a solution, this broadcaster states.

Macron will stay in Belgrade today and tomorrow, with the aim to restore severed relations with Serbia.

The other significant topic is Serbia's aspirations to join EU.

"President supports European perspective of the Balkans, but in the same time claims that the accession will be possible only after EU reforms, which was well received in Belgrade", it was a clear message sent from Elysée Palace, the residence of the French President.

Paris and Belgrade, as "France 24" recalls, should also overcome the inconvenience caused by the French protocol's oversight during the celebration of the end of the First World War on November 11th.

President Vucic, as stated, had been placed at the second stand, while Hashim Thaci was at the main stand, with Macron, the president of the US and the Russian President.

Daily "La Croix" also underlines that Macron comes to Serbia to resolve misunderstandings.

The paper reminds that Macron's visit was planned for December, but was postponed due to protests in France.

Until then, La Croix considers, Paris did not undertake much effort to maintain ties with Serbia, but also with the region in general, in which Paris remained slightly present.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=07&dd=15&nav_id=107004        

Haradinaj lied to Brnabic; Vulin, General and Colonels banned from entering Kosovo

Minister of Defence Alkesandar Vulin and military health delegation forbidden to enter Kosovo, Cabinet of Minister Vulin informed, as TV Prva reports

July 10, 2019

It has been proved again that Ramush Haradinaj lied, the statement says, adding that the delegation was not allowed to visit Clinical Medical Center in Kosovska Mitrovica.

Just as a reminder, few days ago, media in Serbia had reported that Pristina reached decision to ban all Serb's officials from entering Kosovo. However, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic had stated afterwards that Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj informed her that this was fake news.

In the response from Pristina, it is just stated that "they are not in a position to grant this request". "It is again proved that Ramush Haradinaj does not speak the truth", the statement concludes.

Pristina had again breached Brussels agreement, adding to the list of officials medical personnel, along with Minister Vulin.

Ministry specifies that this visit was strictly humanitarian and that representatives of the Ministry of Defence and the Military Medical Academy (VMA) wanted to discuss with the management of Kosovska Mitrovica Health Center the ways of improving cooperation this medical institution had established with VMA for the last six years, along with discussing further support to this medical center where both Serbs and Albanians from Kosovo and Metohija are being treated.

Delegation was headed by Minister Vulin, accompanied by Chief of the Military Medical Administration, Brigadier General Dr Sci. Med. Ugljesa Jovicic and representatives of VMA - Chief of VMA, Colonel Prof. Dr Miroslav Vukosavljevic and Head of the Treatment Department, Assistant Professor Dr Sci. Med. Nenad Ratkovic.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=07&dd=10&nav_id=106981

Vucic: Opposition will not jeopardize me for a decade, I withdraw from SNS next year

Vucic claims that he will "step down" prior to opposition comes to a chance to get closer, underlying that something like this is hard to happen in a decade

July 8, 2019

When asked whether he will step down prior to opposition getting closer to him and when something like this will happen, Serbian President responded: "This would mean that I could pursue political career for another ten years, without them getting closer, but I do not intend to do that, it will happen much sooner".

The results are what count in the end and Serbia experiences economic growth, it is an independent, military neutral and sovereign country, which cherishes its national interests…

"Serbia is heading forward and it would be important for the investment plan to succeed, so that we could keep young people within the country, thus fighting for them and their future within the country", Vucic stated, adding that he is quite lucky to have "such experts" for political opponents.

He also reiterated that someone else would take over SNS next year, as he is not going to run for leadership role on the party assembly. "There is no doubt that someone else would take over SNS leadership next year".

"A man should know when it's the right time to make certain changes and when it is time not to identify yourself with the state", Vucic concluded while hosted on RTS.

When asked what would that change bring to SNS, Vucic said that SNS is undoubtedly the best and the strongest political party and that he will assist SNS in winning Parliamentary elections.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=07&dd=08&nav_id=106970

European Council Brussels, 20 June 2019

(OR. en)EUCO 9/19

Read more: European Council Brussels, 20 June 2019

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