A special court with international prosecutors and judges set up to tackle alleged war crimes by ethnic Albanians against Serbs during Kosovo’s 1998-99 war is ready to proceed with its first indictments, its president said in an interview with Reuters. The court, which could indict or call as witnesses current officials in Pristina’s government, will function under Kosovo law but operate in the Netherlands to minimize the risk of witness intimidation and judicial corruption in Kosovo.The Kosovo Specialist Chamber was set up in The Hague following U.S. and European Union pressure on the Kosovo government to confront allegations of atrocities against ethnic Serbs by Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerrillas.The KLA rose up against then-Serbian strongman President Slobodan Milosevic, eventually winning crucial NATO air support that halted the killing and expulsion of Kosovo Albanian civilians in a brutal counter-insurgency campaign. The now-disbanded KLA, which counts among its former ranks much of Kosovo’s current political elite, has been dogged for years by allegations that it sold organs removed from murdered Serb prisoners on the black market.Local media and analysts speculated that some of Kosovo’s top officials who held commanding positions within the KLA could face indictments or be called as witnesses.A 2011 report for the Council of Europe linked leading Kosovo figures – notably President Hashim Thaci – to gruesome crimes against Serbs, including trade in organs harvested from prisoners of war. Thaci has denied any wrongdoing.
Guinea-Bissau has withdrawn its decision from 2011 to recognize Kosovo’s independence, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has claimed. “The prime minister of Guinea-Bissau informed me of this today”, Dacic told
Belgrade media on Tuesday.He added that the African country also sent a note to Pristina informing them of the revocation. Dacic explained that Guinea-Bissau in this way officially annulled a letter, and recognition contained in that letter, sent in 2011, which Pristina was manipulating with. Prime Minister Umaro Sissoco Embalo, who has been in office since November 2016, spoke in Belgrade last week to say that his country never recognized Kosovo – that is, that he “did not see any paper on the recognition of Kosovo”. The first state to withdraw its recognition of Kosovo was Suriname, which made the decision on October 27, 2017. Recently, the media in Kosovo also reported that Pristina updated the list of countries that have recognized it to remove Nigeria and Uganda from it, because these countries’ notes of recognition were “never received”.
Serbian Foreign Minister confirmed he wants to maintain the good relations with Ukraine, after Ukraine’s ambassador to Belgrade Aleksandrovych’s statement about Russia using Serbia to provoke a new war in the Balkans. FM Dacic explained why Aleksandrovych had to wait for 14 months for an audience with him, given that the same treatment, according to Dacic, was used against the ambassador of the Republic of Serbia to Ukrain, Bulatovic. He also clarified why Serbia voted “against Ukraine” (against the UN resolution for human rights in Crimea): Ukraine supports the Western countries’ proposals to change the mandate of the UNMIK in Kosovo, a solution which is opposed by Serbia. Moreover, Ukraine acted against Serbia’s interests staying “out of the room” during the voting on membership of Kosovo in UNESCO in 2015.
Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik said in an interview with DW that a referendum on the independence of the (Serb) entity is currently not an institutional topic.He claims, however, that BiH (Bosnia-Herzegovina) will not survive in any form, B92 informs. The RS president directly links Kosovo’s independence with the independence of the Republika Srpska (the Serb Republic): “I am not against Kosovo’s independence. I in favor of a conversation between Belgrade and that (Kosovo – DW), and if Belgrade so decides I have nothing against it, but them my next question is why the Republika Srpska cannot do it. If there are rights for one side, then there must be rights for others as well”. Dodik says that the Republika Srpska is burdened by the fact that Serbia has remained in the policy of preserving (its) territorial integrity. “If at that moment Serbia, when Kosovo separated, said it was ok, we would surely have already separated by now”, he says.At the end of the conversation, he drew a map of the Balkans the way he sees it – the RS and Serbia united, and Kosovo partitioned, with the north belonging to Serbia.
Media, both print and online, cover yesterday’s session of the UN Security Council on Kosovo, most of which highlight ambassador Vlora Citaku’s address where she said that Kosovo remains strongly committed to the EU-facilitated dialogue with Serbia and criticized Serbia for hindering Kosovo’s membership to Interpol and UNESCO saying the decision of Chinese authorities not to grant visas to Kosovo officials largely contributed to the withdrawal from Interpol bid. Citaku disputed figures presented by Belgrade authorities that the number of displaced Serbs is 200,000 saying they were inaccurate. She also requested redefinition of the UN’s role in Kosovo saying the mission is of a peacekeeping nature and peace has already been achieved in Kosovo. Serbia’s Foreign Minister, Ivica Dacic, on his part criticized authorities in Kosovo for not establishing the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities and urged them to do so as soon as possible.Meanwhile, most media highlight the statement of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and UNMIK chief, Zahir Tanin, saying that the time for action now moves ahead of the time for excuses. SRSG Tanin said that signs of political will and commitment to move forward are increasingly evident. Tanin commended the parties for integration of Serb judges and prosecutors to the Kosovo’s justice system while with regards to CEFTA, he underlined that Pristina representatives attend all meetings and that UNMIK’s presence is limited by legal statutes.
A high-ranking official of Russia’s ruling United Russia, Sergei Zheleznyak, said that Kosovo Serb politicians should block the ratification of the Agreement on border demarcation with Montenegro, local media report referring to Russian newspaper Pravda.Sergei Zheleznyak in an article published on the United Russia website wrote that Kosovo Serb MPs should thwart the adoption of an agreement on the border demarcation between Kosovo and Montenegro. Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said recently the solution of the border demarcation should be sent to the International Court of Arbitration “because there are no votes that support current version of the agreement in the Assembly”. Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic and Foreign Minister Srdjan Darmanovic insist that current version on border delineation signed between the two countries in 2015 is a done deal for Montenegro.
Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has refused on Friday attending a meeting and a pre-arranged joint press conference with NATO senior officials, at the KFOR Headquarters in Pristina. Kosovo PM protested conditions set by the Spain’s Ambassador in NATO, who asked Haradinaj not to be presented as Chief of Kosovo Government. The Spanish diplomat also asked the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) officers not to be presented with the official uniforms in the meeting. Spain is one of the five EU member countries which has not recognised Kosovo’s independence.The NATO Deputy Secretary Gottemoeller during all her meetings in Pristina referred to Kosovo officials only on their names, avoiding mentioning their positions implying Kosovo’s statehood, in order not to prejudge Kosovo’s status. NATO has a status-neutral stance towards Kosovo after four out of 29 of its members have not recognised Kosovo’s statehood.
Kosovo Minister of European Integration, Dhurata Hoxha has met with the EU Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn to discuss Kosovo’s integration agenda.On this occasion, minister Hoxha noted the progress made in many areas in Kosovo, including the rule of law, economic development, and good neighborliness.Hoxha has also asked for Commissioner Hahn’s support, especially in the field of economic development with special emphasis on helping young entrepreneurs, a step which according to her, would impact on job creation in the country.Hahn, on the other hand, has reiterated his stance on the European perspective of Kosovo. He emphasized the importance of implementing the European Agenda for Reform and the implementation of the SAA.Hahn also confirmed the support for Kosovo and its European perspective as well as for Minister Hoxha in the efforts to streamline the integration process.
The local paper Koha reports on the front page that the representatives of the international community have pointed the finger at Kosovo institutions as responsible for a number of failures which few days ago the President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, blamed on the international community. Thaci’s office maintains that Kosovo agreed to the establishment of the specialist chambers “by respecting the advice from the international community”. “In exchange, the international community, as always, has pledged support for membership in the Council of Europe, speedy visa liberalisation, massive support for UNESCO membership, swift establishment of the Kosovo Armed Forces, and new recognitions”, Thaci’s office replied in a statement to the paper. Meanwhile, European Commission spokesperson, Maja Kocijancic, told the paper that the EU has reconftimed the Western Balkans’ European perspective noting however that Kosovo needs to immediately implement reforms in the field of rule of law and economy, play an active role in the region and make progress in the dialogue with Belgrade. “Kosovo has no time to lose”, Kocijancic said.
Kosovo’s Deputy Prime Minister, Enver Hoxhaj, said at a press conference on Tuesday that Kosovo cannot be compared to Catalonia, because Serbia committed ethnic cleansing. He said that Kosovo was part of the Yugoslav Federation before the nineties, “but the regime which had also the support of the current President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, who was the second person of the Serbian Radical Party, led by Seselj, followed the policy of ethnic cleansing”.