June 14, 2011

Indictments on Organ Trading against Citizens from Turkey and Israel

MedicusPRISTINA, Kosovo — As to international and Kosovar media a special prose- cutor from the European Union (EU) Rule-of-Law mission in Kosovo (EULEX) filed indictments against two citizens from Turkey and Israel. Yusuf Sonmez and Moshe Harel are accused of "traf- ficking in persons, organized crime and unlawful exercise of medical activity" EULEX states. According to EULEX spokesman Blerim Krasniqi "Warrants for their arrest have been issued by the District Court in Pristina and both suspects are subject to international wanted notices, issued by Interpol".

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June 13, 2011

Zejnullah Gruda Director of new Kosovo War Crimes Institute

GrudaPRISTINA, Kosovo — The Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice Hajredin Kuci today inaugurated the Kosovo War Crimes Institute. The establishment of a war crimes institute was announced about 6 weeks ago on 1st. of May. The proclaimed aim of the institute is the research, documentation and publication of war crimes in Kosovo. As to Minister Kuci the concerning activities shell be conducted professionally without political influence. According to the former announcement the war crimes institute will have the status of a public agency under the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kosovo. 

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June 12, 2011

Kosovo Liberation Day

Nato2PRISTINA, Kosovo — Kosovo was liberated from Serbian suppression by NATO troops entering Kosovo on 12th. June 1999. Several Kosovo officials on this occasion expressed gratitude to the European Union and the USA. The NATO inter- vention 12 years ago  ended a (at least) decades long ruling of a racist apartheid regime of Serbia in Kosovo. Particularly under the Milosevic presidency of Serbia respec- tively Yugoslavia, Kosovo Albanians faced a strong suppression, starting from the annulment of Kosovo’s autonomy status within Serbia and Yugoslavia in 1989: 

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June 12, 2011

Kosovo PM Thaci to be investigated on Marty Report allegations

MartyPRISTINA, Kosovo — Kosovo media widely covered the intention of the European Union (EU) to investigate accusations of the Dick Marty Report. The Council of Europe Rapporteur, Senator Dick Marty, in his report from December 2010 claims that members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the time from 1998 to 2000 were involved in organ trading and organized crime. Whereas a special focus is given on the so called Drenica Group of the former KLA commander, current Kosovo Prime Minister and Head of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) Hashim Thaci. 

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June 10, 2011

Kosovo-Serbia Talks postponed

tahiriPRISTINA, Kosovo — Reportedly the next meeting of the EU backed technical negotiations of Kosovo and Serbia were postponed on request of the Serbian delegation. The talks were foreseen to be held on 14th to 15th June. As to Kosovo media, the Head of the Kosovar negotiation team Edita Tahiri stated, that “… the Serbian delegation, … withdrew from some of the elements of the draft agreements reached earlier during the talks”. As to Tahiri  both delegations in prior rounds of the talks in Brussels basically agreed on issues concerning the freedom of movement, trade, energy, telecommunication, return of the cadastral documents and civil registries. Tahiri expects the meeting to be repeated at the end of June, insofar the Serbian delegation is ready to sign according agreements. KON / NK

June 9, 2011

Corruption at Kosovo customs and PTK

PTK-CustomsPRISTINA, Kosovo — As to Kosovo media two major public institutions were confronted with corruption cases on Wednesday: Reportedly the office of the Kosovo Special Prosecutor filed an indictment against Shyqyri Haxha, the CEO of the publicly owned Post Telekom Kosovo. Accusations refer to a damage of 100,000 Euro caused by a license given to the "Mobile Virtual Network Operator" Dardafon.net in 2008 and 2009. Another indictment targets the Director General of the Kosovo Customs, Naim Huruglica, as well as the head of its legal office, Lulzim Rafun. Both men face accusations to have harmed the Kosovo Budget by misusing  their insider knowledge concerning a planned increase of tobacco tax. Prior to this decision the respective officials are said to have imported a sizable amount of tobacco, supported by four Kosovo companies. NK

June 9, 2011

Andorra recognized Kosovo

AndorraPRISTINA, Kosovo — As to information of the Kosovar Ministry of Foreign affairs the state of Andorra (Principality of Andorra) today confirmed to have recognized the Republic of Kosovo as an independent state. Andorra is located between Spain and Fran- ce. With about 85,000 inhabitants it is one of Europe’s smallest countries. For Kosovo the recent recognition is the first since five months. Including Andorra, for now 76 states world wide have recognized Kosovo’s independence from Serbia, which the parliament of Kosovo declared on 17th February 2008.  Out of the European Union 22 member states recognized the Republic of Kosovo, whereas 5 states oppose its independence (Slovakia, Spain, Romania, Greece, Cyprus). De-facto Kosovo seceded already in 1999, ending a years long apartheid regime of Serbia through military intervention by NATO and allied forces. NK

June 8, 2011

Explosion in "Ferronikel" Company

FN2PRISTINA, Kosovo — Reportedly at least two employees of the "Ferronikel" factory were injured by an explosion in the night from 7th. to 8th. June. The explosion happened an electric oven and lasted over 15 minutes. As to witnesses the explosion was heard also in the neraby facilities. Police seemingly enforced a temporary evacuation of all inhabitants. The Greek management of the factory is said to face complaints of its employees: According to "Ferronikel" staff the explosion was caused by insufficient working conditions and inappropriate equipment. "Ferronikel" is a mining and metallurgical enterprise nearby the Kosovar town of  Gllogovc in the region of Drenas. The former "publicly owned" company was privatized in April 2007. KON / NK

June 7, 2011

Kosovo – EULEX cars set on fire in Prishtina

FirePRISTINA, Kosovo — As to Kosovar media, at 5.oo hrs. in the morning of 7th. June, two official cars of the EU rule-of-law mission in Kosovo (EULEX) burned down in Kosovo’s capital city Prishtina. No one was injured. The cars were parked outside the apartment of an EULEX member, in the city’s district of "Sunny Hill". An EULEX spokesmen believes that there is no evidence for a personal attack targeting the respective EULEX official/s. Nevertheless Kosovo Police is investigating whether the fire happened accidentally or was set intentionally. Reportedly witnesses heard, how the car windows were broken prior to an explosive device thrown into the car. The private broadcaster KTV claims to have been unofficially informed that three people were seen when setting the car on fire. / NK

June 7, 2011

Soccer: Team Kosovo, New York

NewYorkNEW YORK / PRISTINA, Kosovo — The Republic of Kosovo declared its indepen- dence in February 2008, but is not yet recognized by the United Nations. Likewise its football (soccer) federation is still not a member neither of the European Football Association UEFA, nor of the International Football Association FIFA (mainly blocked by Serbia’s rejection). Due to this a Kosovo football team can’t even try to qualify for the according European or World Championship: "Kosovar soccer as an international entity remains in limbo …: But that doesn’t mean a Kosovo team can’t play in New York. Zef Kabashi, … has organized a Kosovo team to compete in this years Cosmos Copa NYC. It’s a sort of World Cup of New York". Read the full article posted by Christopher Belac at the NYT blog. 

June 7, 2011

Serbian Officials support Destabilization in Northern Kosovo

BogdanovicPRISTINA, Kosovo — Reportedly several officials from the Serbian Government crossed the border to Kosovo illegally. On Friday 3rd June, Serbia’s Minister for Kosovo, Goran Bogdanovic, entered the mainly Serb populated northern Kosovo territory without permission from the Kosovo Government. In the Serb controlled northern Mitrovica Bogdanovic then officially presented a Serbian government donation of 350,000 Euro cash for Kosovo-Serb owned enterprises. Already a day before, on 2nd. June – the head of the Serbian delegation for the Dialogue with Kosovo, Broko Stefanovic paid an illegal visit to the same region. Bypassing the official border controls, Stefanovic obviously used the smuggler routes from Serbia to Kosovo.

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June 6, 2011

Kosovo Visa Regime?

VisaPRISTINA, Kosovo — Kosovo citizens are currently only allowed to visit four countries world wide visa-free: (Turkey, Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania). As to media reports that the Kosovo Government now likewise intends to request visas from visitors of selected countries. Citizens of  Russia and China are said to be among the respective states. According to government sources this policy doesn’t refer to the recognition of Kosovo’s independence, but will be also applicable to several states from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. The new visa procedure will include entry and transit visas. A starting date for the procedure was not published yet. KON/NK

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June 5, 2011

Austrian KFOR Soldier Accused of Rape

Austrian-KFORPRISTINA, Kosovo — 8,000 NATO and allied troops are stationed in Kosovo to improve the fragile security situation. Instead some of them seemingly contribute to insecurity by misusing their privileged status – including granted immunity. Now a 37-year-old Austrian sergeant is suspected of raping several women working in a KFOR military camp. Austrian army on Friday filed charges against the soldier on suspicion of having committed violations during the time served as part of KFOR in Kosovo.

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June 4, 2011

Privatization of Post-Telekom Kosovo

045PRISTINA, Kosovo — As to Kosovar media two European companies have reached the final round of bids for 75% of the shares of the publicly owned "Post Telecom Kosovo" – PTK, the main Kosovar operator for telephone and mobile phone network services. The competitors are  “Hrvatski Telecom” from Croatia, which is owned by “Deutsche Telekom” from Germany, and “Telekom Austria". According to figures of the Kosovo Ministry for Economic Development these bidders together – considering their parent companies – have more than 170 million customers world-wide and a financial turnover of more than 67 billion Euro yearly.

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June 3, 2011

IMF Findings on Kosovo

IMFkosovoPRISTINA, Kosovo — As previously reported, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stopped its financial support program for Kosovo on 1st. June. According to IMF officials the "18-month Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) approved … in July 2010 was interrupted" due to the fact that "Elements of the 2011 budget – in particular the large increase in the wage bill – deviated from program commitments." A warning already given in March this year was ignored by Kosovo government officials. As to these developments an IMF consultation mission evaluated the situation and  "held discussions with Kosovar authorities".  Find a brief statement as well as a comprehensive (worth reading) set of the mission’s findings, recommendations and foreseen activities on the following page:

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June 2, 2011

Kosovo’s Euro-Atlantic Illusions

John.SewelBRUSSELS / PRISTINA, Kosovo — Poor governance and slow economic growth continue to be major obstacles in the process of the Euro-Atlantic integration of western Balkan countries. This is the outcome of a report, which the British politician John Sewel, in his function of the Rapporteur for the Committee on Economics and Security, recently presented to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly: "The road … is rocky, and only Croatia seems close to achieving the basic qualifications … The others face daunting challenges … These include the debt crisis, problems of governance and corruption … and enlargement fatigue among some EU governments and their publics." 

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June 2, 2011

Ashton’s U-Turn – MEP Lunacek won’t be EU Representative in Kosovo

Ashton-LunacekBRUSSELS / PRISTINA, Kosovo — The member of the European Parliament (MEP) and parliament rapporteur for Kosovo, Ulrike Lunacek, was expelled from the application procedure for the position of the EU representative in Kosovo. Prior to this decision, the Austrian  Lunacek was said to be the preferred candidate of EU foreign affairs commissioner Catherine Ashton and EU extension commissioner Stefan Fule. Reportedly Ashton even personally encouraged the Green Party’s member Lunacek to submit her application.  As to Austrian media, the EU foreign affairs administration claims formal reasons for the sudden rejection: 

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June 2, 2011

Kosovo: 100 days failure

banana-bluePRISTINA, Kosovo — The Kosovo daily Koha Ditore commented on the first hundred days of the 2nd. Thaci government: Compared to the 100 days of Thaci’s first mandate the current Government drafted less laws and took fewer decisions. The Prime Minister’s official visits abroad were less and fewer official guests visited Kosovo. During these hundred days the Government couldn’t ensure a new recognition for Kosovo’s independence. The main increase refers to the number of Government officials: An additional ministry, four  additional deputy prime ministers and 20 more deputy ministers. Finally a wage increase of government employees as well as further budget expenses resulted in a decrease of available funds due to the breach of agreements with the IMF. The miscalculation concerning the privatization of the publicly owned Post Telecom Kosovo (PTK) moreover contributes to Kosovo’s financial crisis: "100-poor days of Thaci Government", the daily titles. KON/NK

June 1, 2011

Due to Kosovo’s breach of agreements – IMF support stopped

Bedri.HamzaPRISTINA, Kosovo — As to Kosovar and international media the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today decided to terminate its Kosovo programme. For the Republic’s budget this means a loss of almost 140m Euro of donations and low-interest-rate loans from IMF, World Bank and European Commission (EC) in 2011: If Kosovo "does not manage to cut spending by the same amount by the end of the year, Kosovo should declare a complete economic crisis in 2012" the Serbian news provider B92 quotes a source.

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May 31, 2011

Kosovo parliament supports Haradinaj

HaradinajPRISTINA, Kosovo — The Kosovo Parliament today held a session on the ICTY trial against former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj. As to Kosovar media, the parliament unanimously adopted the recommendations initiated by the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo – AAK – on the partial retrial of its chairman, who currently is arrested at The Hague for alleged war crimes. The Deputy Head of the AAK, former Kosovo Labour Minister Ahmet Isufi, stated he believes "in the innocence of Mr. Haradinaj and his comrades, and in the fight of the Kosovo Liberation Army".  

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May 30, 2011

Kosovo heads for ruin

MoneyPRISTINA, Kosovo – In a contribution for the guardian, the former Head of the ICO Economics unit in Kosovo, Andrea Capussela, reports that the Government of Kosovo acts "fiscally irresponsible" and is on the way to "mess up its IMF programme".  According to Capussela "the IMF is expected to make an announcement later today in which it declares Kosovo’s programme to be off-track. This would be a rare event," Capussela states: "Both money and credibility look to be lost … The irresponsibility of its government is leading Kosovo towards a fiscal crisis", which is said to be due to its extensively increased budget spending. Kosovo’s "incompetent … elite is free from accoun- tability", Capussela writes. Read the full article. /KON/NK 

May 30, 2011

Kosovo President at CEE Summit – EU Rapporteur condemned Serbia’s absence

LunacekPRISTINA, Kosovo — The past weekend’s participation of Kosovo’s President Atifete Jahjaga at the summit of central- and south-eastern European countries was widely seen as a progress in achieving international acceptance for the youngest European state. The clear statement of the Polish host, not to see a problem in inviting the Kosovar President – due to the formal recognition of the Republic of Kosovo by Poland and the majority of the European countries – was fueling self-confidence of the Kosovo government. 

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May 28, 2011

EU High Representative Ashton officially invites Kosovo PM Thaci to Brussels

Thaci-AshtonAPRISTINA, Kosovo — The EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on Friday finished her Balkans tour in Kosovo. In Prishtina Ashton was welcomed first by Xavier de Marnhac, the Head of the EU rule-of-law mission (EULEX) in Kosovo. Later on she met Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister Edita Tahiri, the head of the Kosovar negotiation team at the EU mediated talks of Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels. Finally she gathered with Prime Minister Hashim Thaci for a working lunch in the southern Kosovar town of Prizren. As to Kosovar media, the meeting lasted one hour longer than scheduled. Diplomatically the visit was a success for the Thaci government.

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May 27, 2011

MacShane: Will Serbia use Mladic detention to end Kosovo impasse?

MacShaneLONDON / PRISTINA  — The British MP and former UK Europe Minister Denis MacShane recently posted an opinion piece at the NewStatesman blog, stating that "the capture of Ratko Mladic is not just an opportunity for justice, but a chance for diplomacy …". MP MacShane wonders if Belgrade can "use this achievement to face down its nationalist past and finally bring closure on the Kosovo question which blocks Serbia’s EU future?" Critically he remarks that "Like some wretched SS general hiding away after 1945, Mladic had a network of supporters … Too many Serbs have been in denial about his role, too ready to forgive".  

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May 26, 2011

Coincidence? Mladic arrested in Serbia on the day of Ashton’s visit to Belgrade

MladicBELGRADE / PRISTINA — As to international media today the President of Serbia, Boris Tadic announced the arrest of war crime suspect Ratko Mladic, who was the military leader of the Serb forces in Bosnia. Mladic will be brought to the ‘International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia" (ICTY), located in The Hague. He is accused to have committed war crimes with thousands of killings in Srebrenica and Sarajevo. In Serbia Mladic is said to have lived with false documents under the name Milorad Komadic. His sudden arrest appears to be surprising. Since long Serbia faced accusations, not to be willing to show appropriate efforts on this regard. 

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May 25, 2011

Due to Kosovo: Serbia remains excluded

RadoslawSikorskiPRISTINA, Kosovo — On 27th. and 28th May a summit of Central and South-eastern European countries will take place in Poland’s capital city Warsaw. Kosovo’s President Atifete Jahjaga is officially invited. The Polish government stated, it would have no reason not to invite Kosovo government representatives. Poland belongs to the 75 countries world-wide, which formally recognized the Republic of Kosovo as an independent state. Different from Serbia, which still considers Kosovo to be a Serbian province: Due to this, the Serbian President Boris Tadic decided to self-exclude Serbia from the summit.

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