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.
Skopje and Pristina concluded a memorandum of police cooperation in the field of terrorism. The memorandum has been signed Saturday by Macedonian and Albanian Interior Ministers, respectively, Oliver Spasovski and Fatmir Xhafaj, in Ohrid. The document foresees exchange of information of individuals and groups considered potential perpetrators of terrorist actions both in the two countries and in the whole region. Macedonia’s Interior Ministry expressed to consider the terrorism as a global threat as well as a risk for the countries in the Balkans. Thus, the memorandum envisages the terrorism from a preventive and repressive way. Spasovski stated Interior Ministries ‘are actively cooperating in protection and control of the border but also providing easy flow of people and goods’. From his part, Xhafaj noted that the agreement is on cooperation as for present than for future. Moreover, the two countries ‘should follow the excellent relations between as appropriate to two neighbors and our cooperation as ministries to follow those principles and thus contribute to greater security that can be a positive example for the region. The meeting concerned also the cooperation between Macedonia and Albania in the fields of drug trafficking, arms smuggling, exchange of information, experiences and positives practices, promotion of cooperation bilaterally and in the regional framework. In addition, Spasovski stated to support the initiative of the Albanian Police to establish a regional center for police cooperation of the Western Balkan countries.
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.
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.
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.
The fact that Pristina did not receive support for Interpol membership and withdrew their candidacy is the result of Serbia’s diplomatic activity. Deputy PM and Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said this on Friday, adding that this diplomatic activity had lasted several months. Kosovo’s possible membership in Interpol would lead to the issuing of Interpol notices against a large number of Serbian police officers and soldiers who took part in the operations in 1998 and 1999, whom Serbia would then be asked to extradite, he said. He stressed that another important success was achieved at the recent Interpol General Assembly in Beijing -namely, a resolution adopted by the Interpol Executive Committee that clearly defines criteria for membership in the organization. As for the next step of Pristina – which is to try to join UNESCO – Stefanovic said it was still unknown whether they would apply. “But I know how much effort the (Serbian) president and the foreign minister have invested in explaining to Serbian partners how wrong a move that would be”, he said.
Residents of the Dardania neighbourhood in Pristina are accusing newly elected Kosovo minister of Agriculture, Nenad Rikalo, that their former neighbour has tortured them during the period of war in 1998-99. Residents remember Rikalo always wearing uniform of Serbian police an carrying a gun. Rikalo did not respond to KTV’s calls for comment on the residents’ charges. Kosovo formed its government last week and the vote of ten Serbian MPs from Srpska List, was crucial for PDK-AAK-Nisma (PAN) coalition to form new institutions.