The recent document about the EU’s enlargement strategy apparently does not contain much mention of Kosovo, according to Pristina press. Kosovo is mentioned only in passages concerning the dialogue with Serbia. The article states that this is a “worse position for Kosovo than before”, and the reason is the presence of different positions in the EU (indeed, 5 members do not recognize Kosovo, such as Spain), but also the lack of progress in Kosovo. The documents focus particularly on Serbia and Montenegro which are “planned to join EU in 2025”, but also on Albania, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
In view of the participation of members of the Army of Montenegro in the KFOR mission in Kosovo, Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin urged Montenegro not to send officers to because it did not ask Serbia for permission, and it would not help dialogue or stabilization in the region, nor improve relations with the state of Serbia. Vulin also reminded Montenegrin authorities that Kosovo and Metohija are part of the state of Serbia under UN Resolution 1244. Military analyst Aleksandar Radic stated that the participation in the KFOR mission in Kosovo would not be a problem in relations between Montenegro and Serbia and that Montenegro commits to participate in international missions due to the alliance with NATO.
Avni Arifi, Chief of Kosovo delegation in technical talks with Serbia, announced to online media Telegrafi that the EU-facilitated talks between Pristina and Belgrade will resume in Brussels by the end of February. Arifi said the date was yet to be set but the resumption of the dialogue is expected in late February, after the cancellation of talks following the killing of the Kosovo Serb politician, Oliver Ivanovic, on 16 January in Mitrovica North. Such dialogue is oriented both on the integration of Serbian community within Kosovo legal frame, and the normalization of relations between the two countries.
The EU would accept for six Western Balkans countries to enter the organization, according to Financial Times: Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.
KFOR commander General Salvatore Cuoci said that NATO does not intend to reduce the presence of its peacekeeping troops in Kosovo. On Sunday he also said that “the overall situation in Kosovo is stable and peaceful despite the recent events in the north”, a reference to the recent murder of Oliver Ivanovic. Concerning the transformation of the Kosovo Security Force into an army, Cuoci said that this should be implemented “through constitutional changes”.
For the first time it was given to a Kosovo resident the Immigrant Visa (IV) from the United States Embassy in Pristina. The woman who received it is called Edita Daka, she cames from Peja, she is 23 years old and she is married to an American citizen in the United States planning to move to New York to join him. The US Embassy in Pristina began recently to process IV this month facilitating the procedure for Kosovo residents who apply for immigrant visas to live in the United States. Before, Kosovars had to go in Macedonia to apply for an IV at the US Embassy there.
According to Gazeta Express, Serbian newspaper Vecernje Novosti said that there is a current version of the EU enlargement strategy, which urgently calls for a complete normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, in the form of a legally binding agreement. The article claims that an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina is considered to be of fundamental importance for the European perspective both of Kosovo and of Serbia as well as for the entire region. To this end, the High Representative of the EU is expected to intensify his efforts to facilitate the negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade in order to achieve the normalization of relations. It is reported also that the strategy includes an “indicative illustration” of the measures necessary to complete the process of Serbia’s accession to the EU by 2025. Therefore, by the end of 2019 at the latest, Belgrade should meet the transition criteria set out in Chapter 35, concerning Kosovo. This means that in less than two years, Belgrade and Pristina should close all the controversial issues, which seems rather ambitious, given the slow pace of the previous dialogue, the newspaper reported.
Serbian President Vucic talked with Kosovo President Thaci on Thursday in Davos about bilateral dialogue. Vucic said that he “does not understand why they accepted only information exchange” in the investigation of Oliver Ivanovic’s murder. He specified that he preferred to talk about the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, instead of Serbia-Kosovo dialogue as Thaci did. He added that “if someone thinks that they can get everything, while the other side gets nothing – I think that’s the wrong way and that will never lead to any solution”. So, if normalizing relations means only that Serbia haves to recognize Kosovo, “then thanks, goodbye” he said.
The Cabinet of Prime Minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj has announced that Prime Minister Marković, upon an invitation of Haradinaj, will visit on February 6th. During Marković’s stay, the ongoing issue of border demarcation with Montenegro will most likely be discussed. Although an agreement between the two parts would imply visa liberalization, Kosovo has not confirmed yet its intentions in ratifying it.
Prime Minister Haradinaj made objections following the statement of the Head of EU Office in Kosovo, Natalia Apostolova, according to which Pristina authorities should ratify the Agreement on border demarcation with Montenegro and shelve the initiative on abrogating the Law on Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecution Office. Haradinaj considers it is up to the Parliament vote the draft law concerning the ratification of border demarcation deal. “I am surprised why the Parliament has not voted [the demarcation] we have proceeded the Draft Law to Parliament. They should vote and not delay this issue indefinitely”, declared the PM. In relation to the plan of revoking the Law on Specialist Chambers Haradinaj stated: “The initiative [to abrogate the law on] Specialist Chambers came from the Parliament. We will hold accountable only to Parliament because MPs have elected us, we will not be held accountable to ambassadors”. Such initiative, it is worth remembering, has been strongly criticized by foreign ambassador warned Kosovo of serious consequences. The initiative of MPS abrogation of the Law has been received by the Government who has one month time to submit its opinions about it.