Indictments against Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli

The Special Prosecutors Office for Kosovo based in The Hague wrote the 10-point charges against President Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli, former Parliament speaker, and sent it to the Specialised Chambers of Kosovo for confirmation.

Thaci, Veseli and other individuals are indicted of several crimes against humanity, war crimes, including killings, forcible displacement, persecution and torture.

They are suspected of criminal responsibility for some 100 murders.

“The victims of the indicted include some 100 people whose identity is known and among whom are Kosovo Albanians, Serbs, Roma and of other nationalities, as well as political foes. The indictment resulted from long-lasting investigations and reflected the prosecutors’ confidence in the ability to prove all accusations”, the Prosecutors’ Office said in a statement.

The pre-trial judge of the Specialized Court of Kosovo is currently looking into the indictment to rule whether to confirm it.

The prosecutor thought it necessary to publish that the indictment was written due to Thaci’s and Veseli’s continued attempts to obstruct and undermine the work of the Kosovo Specialized Court.

He added that Thaci and Veseli, conducted a secret campaign to annul the law on which the Specialized Court was founded and obstructed the court’s work in other ways.

“With such acts, Thaci and Veseli showed they saw their interests as more important than the victims of their crimes, the rule of law and Kosovo’s entire population”, the statement said.

Thaci is due in Washington for the meeting at the White House with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic on June 27 to discuss the resumption of the Belgarde – Pristina dialogue on the normalization of relations as invited by the US President Donald Trump’s special envoy for the negotiations Richard Grenell. In last news, it seems Tachi wouldn’t go to Washington and Alexander Vucic is hesitating to lead the Serbian delegation.

SPP is the Winner in Serbia’s General Elections

The ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SPP) is likely to have 189 deputies in the 250-seat country’s parliament, after winning over 63 percent of votes, and will be joined by two other parties and those of the minorities.

Besides SNS, its current key coalition partner, the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), and the first-time runner in the general election, the Serbian Patriotic Alliance SPAS passed the three percent threshold, reduced from five percent amid the opposition boycott campaign.

Several minorities’ parties will also have deputies based on the natural threshold. 

The official results will be published by Wednesday. Still, the SNS leader and country’s President Aleksandar Vucic declared a landslide victory in the Sunday’s parliamentary, provincial and local elections tarnished by a boycott from the leading opposition group Alliance for Serbia, who accused the leader of burgeoning authoritarianism.

Vucic did not run for office himself but solely led the SNS campaign under ‘Aleksandar Vucic – for Our Children’ slogan.

The campaign had two parts – before the state emergency due to the coronavirus epidemic and after it was lifted.

“I am grateful to the people for this historical support”, said Vucic at the SPP headquarters during the celebration with blasted brass music.

“We won everywhere”, Vucic said. “We won in the places where we had never won before.”

Coupled with the opposition stay-at-home campaign and lingering concerns about the coronavirus, turnout was lower than usual, but not dramatically, at slightly under 50 percent according to the independent election monitor CRTA.

The boycotting opposition slammed the “fake elections” and claimed their movement was victorious.

However, SPP won a majority in the local assembly in the central Paracin municipality so far being one of a few districts held by the opposition.

The results for Sabac in western Serbia, the only town where SPP lost elections four years ago, are still being counted, but Vucic’s party declared victory.

It failed to take over the Serbia’s western municipality of Cajetina, where the opposition coalition won 61 percent of those who voted at local elections.

According to the preliminary results, 18 parties, including the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party, led by convicted war criminal Vojislav Seselj, considered Vucic’s political father, did not cross the three percent threshold for the national parliament.

Parliamentary seats according to CeSID: ruling coalition 221, opposition 12, minorities 17 MPs.

Serbia’s watchdogs say Vucic’s power lies in his manipulation of the media, with the majority of outlets, including TV channels with national frequency and tabloids, effectively serving as SPP mouthpiece.

White House will host Belgrade – Pristina meeting

Robert O’Brien, the United States National Security Advisor, said he was ready to host Serbia’s and Kosovo’s leaders and President Donald Trump’s special envoy for the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalization of relations Richard Grenell, who should meet in Washington on June 27.

Grenell has announced the two delegations would meet at the White House and described it as great news, adding the talks would focus on the economic development. “The meeting at the White House is an opportunity and opens the door to economic development and investments”, the portal quoted the ambassador as saying.  Washington hopes that the political leaders in Serbia and Kosovo will use the opportunity to resume the dialogue and initiate a new era of stability and prosperity. “The people of the region deserve no less than that”, he told. However, Grenell said that if either side were not happy with the talks, they would return to the status quo regarding their relations.    

Pristina welcomed the US initiative, hoping the talks would result in Belgrade’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence. At the same time, Belgrade officials said they wouldn’t allow any decision for the final status of Kosovo to be on the table.

There is opinion that US has become involved in Kosovo issue aiming to score an international victory ahead of Trump’s attempt to win his second term in November. Some analysts believe that the US would not invite the two sides for the meeting if it did not receive assurances that a deal would be made.

Brussels was not delighted with a sudden move by Washington which came on the day when the European Union’s special envoy for the dialogue Miroslav Lajčák was due to Pristina for talks with the leaders there. After the meetings, Lajcak said the EU wants Belgrade and Pristina to resume the dialogue as soon as possible and reach a final agreement to normalize their relations.

Lajčák will visit Belgrade on June 22 and 23, the day after the general elections in Serbia, and will discuss the resume of the dialogue with the officials of Serbia.

Lajčák visits Pristina

The European Union’s special envoy for the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalization of relations Miroslav Lajčák started his three-day visit on Tuesday in Kosovo’s capital Pristina.

On Tuesday,  Lajčák had meetings with President Hashim Thaci, Parliament Speaker Vjosa Osmani, Prime Minister Avdulah Hoti and the members of the international institutions in Kosovo.

Officials in Pristina said after meetings with European Union envoy Miroslav Lajcak on Tuesday that an agreement with Belgrade is important to the stability of the region but insisted that there should be no discussion of a possible swap of territory.

Prime Minister Avdulah Hoti told reporters that a final agreement between Kosovo and Serbia is important both to the stability of the region and the EU. “We are prepared and we have a platform”, he said and added that he informed Lajcak that Pristina’s approach is to close all open issues with Serbia.  

President Hashim Thaci insisted on a visa liberalization for Kosovo residents as part of the EU-mediated dialogue which should end in mutual recognition. “Kosovo has a future and an alternative to become part of the European family… Any effort leading to a full normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia is welcome”, he said and added that the important thing for Pristina is for the EU and US to coordinate as strategic partners.  

Parliament Speaker Vjosa Osmani said that there should be no negotiating about Kosovo’s territory. She told the media that only the government can represent Kosovo in the dialogue with parliament overseeing the process. “I expect this to be the dialogue between two equal sides and it will make sense only if it ends in mutual recognition”, she said.  

On Wednesday Lajčák met Isa Mustafa, the leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (DLK) on Wednesday, and is due to talk to Kadri Veseli, the leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo and former Parliament Speaker.

He also met in Pristina with Serb List leader Goran Rakic and the mayors of the four Serb-majority northern municipalities, the Serb List. The Kosovo Serb officials told Lajcak that all agreements have to be implemented, especially on the Community of Serb Municipalities, adding that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue needs to be continued to find a compromise solution.

The Mayors of Mitrovica North, Leposavic, Zvecan and Zubin Potok called Lajcak to visit their towns. The meeting was also attended by Kosovo government Minister Dalibor Jevtic and Serb List parliament group chief Igor Simic.  

Lajčák is due in Belgrade on June 22, a day after the general elections in Serbia.    

Global Peace Index 2020

Global Peace Index 2020 according to the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace.

The report contains a comprehensive analysis of peace and its economic value.

Iceland is once again, according to the Index, the most peaceful state in the world – as was the case for the past 13 years. It’s followed by New Zealand, Austria, Portugal and Denmark.

Afghanistan is at the bottom of the list, followed by Syria, Iraq and South Sudan.

Western Balkans:

Albania (NATO) is on 55 position with 1862 GPI score. Militarization 1,6 (from 5); Safety & Security 2,4 (from 5); Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,4 (from 5).

Bosnia and Herzegovina is on 79 position with 2040 GPI score. Militarization 1,5; Safety & Security 2,5; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,8.

Kosovo is on 85 position with 2070 GPI score. Militarization 1,6; Safety & Security 2,6; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,8.

Montenegro (NATO) is on 69 position with 1944 GPI score. Militarization 1,5; Safety & Security 2,6; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,4.

Republic of North Macedonia is on 62 position with 1900 GPI score. Militarization 1,7; Safety & Security 2,3; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,6.

Serbia is on 51 position with 1846 GPI score. Militarization 1,6; Safety & Security 2,2; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,6.

South East Europe:

Bulgaria (EU, NATO) is on 28 position with 1628 GPI score. Militarization 1,8; Safety & Security 2,0; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,0.

Croatia (EU, NATO) is on 26 position with 1615 GPI score. Militarization 1,6; Safety & Security 1,8; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,4.

Greece (EU, NATO) is on 57 position with 1877 GPI score. Militarization 2,2; Safety & Security 1,8; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,8.

Romania (EU, NATO) is on 22 position with 1541 GPI score. Militarization 1,7; Safety & Security 1,9; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,0.

Slovenia (EU, NATO) is on 11 position with 1369 GPI score. Militarization 1,2; Safety & Security 1,5; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,4.

Central Europe and Baltic sea countries:

Czech Republic (EU, NATO) is on 8 position with 1337 GPI score. Militarization 1,4; Safety & Security 1,6; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,0.

Hungary (EU, NATO) is on 24 position with 1559 GPI score. Militarization 1,2; Safety & Security 1,9; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,4.

Poland (EU, NATO) is on 29 position with 1657 GPI score. Militarization 1,5; Safety & Security 1,9; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,4.

Slovakia (EU, NATO) is on 25 position with 1568 GPI score. Militarization 1,4; Safety & Security 1,8; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,4.

Estonia (EU, NATO) is on 30 position with 1680 GPI score. Militarization 1,6; Safety & Security 1,9; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,4.

Latvia (EU, NATO) is on 34 position with 1700 GPI score. Militarization 1,4; Safety & Security 2,1; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,4.

Lithuania (EU, NATO) is on 36 position with 1705 GPI score. Militarization 1,6; Safety & Security 2,0; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,4.

Western Europe (some countries):

France (EU, NATO, G7) is on 66 position with 1930 GPI score. Militarization 2,8;  Safety & Security 2,0; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,2.

Germany (EU, NATO, G7) is on 16 position with 1494 GPI score. Militarization 1,9; Safety & Security 1,6; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,0.

Italy (EU, NATO, G7) is on 31 position with 1690 GPI score. Militarization 2,0; Safety & Security 2,1; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,0.

Spain (EU, NATO) is on 38 position with 1712 GPI score. Militarization 1,9; Safety & Security 1,9; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,4.

UK (NATO, G7) is on 42 position with 1770 GPI score. Militarization 2,5; Safety & Security 1,8; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,2.

Global (some countres):

Canada (NATO, G7) is on 6 position with 1298 GPI score. Militarization 1,5; Safety & Security 1,4; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,0.

Japan (G7) is on 9 position with 1360 GPI score. Militarization 1,5; Safety & Security 1,3; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,4.

South Korea (G20) is on 48 position with 1829 GPI score. Militarization 2,4; Safety & Security 1,5; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,8.

USA (NATO, G7) is on 121 position with 2307 GPI score. Militarization 3,1; Safety & Security 2,3; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,8.

BRICST countries:

Brazil (G20) is on 126 position with 2413 GPI score. Militarization 2,0; Safety & Security 3,3; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,6.

Russia (G20) is on 154 position with 1615 GPI score. Militarization 3,2; Safety & Security 3,0; Domestic and Int. Conflict 3,0.

India (G20) is on 139 position with 2628 GPI score. Militarization 2,5; Safety & Security 2,4; Domestic and Int. Conflict 3,1.

China (G20) is on 104 position with 2166 GPI score. Militarization 2,0; Safety & Security 2,6; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,8.

South Africa (G20) is on 123 position with 1615 GPI score. Militarization 1,6; Safety & Security 1,8; Domestic and Int. Conflict 1,4.

Turkey (NATO, G20) is on 150 position with 2959 GPI score. Militarization 2,0; Safety & Security 3,3; Domestic and Int. Conflict 3,2.

Global peacefulness has deteriorated over the past year, with this being the fourth time in the last five years that the world has seen a fall in peacefulness.

The results this year show that the level of global peacefulness deteriorated, with the average country score falling by 0.34 per cent. This is the ninth deterioration in peacefulness in the last twelve years, with 81 countries improving, and 80 recording deteriorations over the past year.

The 2020 GPI reveals a world in which the conflicts and crises that emerged in the past decade have begun to abate, only to be replaced with a new wave of tension and uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kosovo With a New Government

Kosovo’s parliament elected (03.06) a new government with 61 votes in favor and 24 against, 1 abstention, of those present, 86 out of a total of 120 deputies. The parliamentary group of the former ruling “Self-Determination” party did not take part in the vote.

The new prime minister, Avdulah Hoti, is a professor of economics, considered more of a technocrat than a politician, but enjoys strong support from the chairman of the center-right Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), Isa Mustafa. He holds a degree in Economics from the University of Pristina and a PhD in Economics from Staffordshire University in the United Kingdom. He began his political career in 2006 as an adviser to Kosovo’s education minister, and in 2008 became part of Isa Mustafa’s team as mayor of Pristina. When Mustafa became prime minister in 2014, Hoti took over as finance minister.

In his speech, the newly elected prime minister said one of the priorities of Kosovo’s new government is to take on constitutional responsibilities for dialogue with Serbia, in cooperation with the EU and the United States. “The final deal between Kosovo and Serbia will be based on reciprocity between the two countries. We will not allow any change of borders or exchange of territories”. He promised to remove 100% tariffs on Serbian goods immediately, after which he would resume dialogue with Serbia that was suspended in 2018.

Hoti has assured that the role of the EU and the United States is inseparable in this process and that they must be involved in reaching an agreement and its implementation. “We have no dilemma with America or anyone else. For us, there is no alternative to partnering with the United States”.

The new government was elected with the votes of Isa Mustafa’s LDK, Ramush Haradinaj’s Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), Fatmir Limaj’s Social Democratic Initiative (NISMA), Behgjet Pacolli’s New Kosovo Alliance (AKR) and some ethnic parties.

So far, the following names of the government are known:

Deputy Prime Ministers: Driton Selmanaj (LDK); Besnik Tahiti (AAK); Albulena Balja (SDI) and Goran Rakic (Serb List).

Ministers: Agim Veliu – Minister of the Interior; Anton Cuni – Minister of Defense; Hykmete Bajrami – Minister of Finance; Arban Abrashi – Minister of Infrastructure; Armend Zemaj – Minister of Health; Besian Mustafa -Minister of Agriculture; Vlora Dumoshi – Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports.

Hoti’s cabinet is also backed by Serb List lawmakers, who are under the influence of official Belgrade. The Serb List will receive two ministerial posts in the new government: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Local Government would be Goran Rakic, the current mayor of northern Kosovska Mitrovica, and Dalibor Jevtic will retain his post as Minister of Communities and Returns.

Representatives of the European Union, US envoy to the Belgrade-Pristina talks Richard Grenell and the US embassy in Kosovo congratulated Pristina on forming a new government.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has said that she hopes Kosovo’s new government to be responsible and not to pursue a populist policy.

Shortly before the session, several hundred people gathered in front of the parliament building for a peaceful protest against the government’s vote. Protesters carried placards saying the election of the Hoti government was a “vote manipulation” and called for new elections. The “Self-Determination” movement has stated that they are not the organizers of the protest.

The lawmakers who voted against are believed to be from Kadri Veseli’s Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), whose chairman was Hashim Thaci until he was elected president.

Kosovo Parliament Speaker Vjosa Osmani of the LDK has refused to chair the parliamentary session at which Kosovo’s new government was elected, and this has been perceived by the public as taking the side of the “Self-Determination” movement.

Western Canton of BiH is Asking for Help from the EC

The Prime Minister of the Una-Sana Canton in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mustafa Ruznic, has called on the European Commission to help displace 200 minors from the “Bira” migrant center in Bihac and to coordinate cooperation between BiH authorities involved in the migrant crisis, which has affected the most this western canton on the border with Croatia.

In a letter to the EC, Ruznic thanked the EU for helping to deal with the approximately 70,000 illegal migrants who have crossed the canton so far, but said the results of EU aid were not visible enough on the ground.

According to Ruznic, the canton’s most pressing issue is about 200 minors accommodated with adults in the temporary migrant center “Bira”, which is privately owned and completely inadequate to accommodate minors who are physically and psychologically abused by other migrants. The canton government requested assistance from international organizations such as IOM, UNHCR, UNICEF and DCR to help relocate minors to other centers better equipped to accommodate them, but so far nothing has been done.

Ruznic also criticizes the head of the EU Delegation to BiH, Johann Sattler, for not doing anything to implement the Conclusions of the EC adopted during the visit of Bosnian representatives to the European Commission in Brussels in June 2019. According to these recommendations, the burden of migrant crisis must be spread throughout BiH, with migrants housed in centers across the country. “However, the greatest burden of this crisis in BiH is being carried by the citizens and institutions of Una-Sana Canton, without adequate financial support from international organizations and state institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, the letter said.

The cantonal prime minister also noted that the canton had not even received help from the designated EU migration expert, as “Mr. Nino Hartl never once officially visiting Una-Sana Canton, nor visiting temporary centers to assess the situation”.

The letter also says that ambassador Sattler has not taken measures to implement the other part of the EC Conclusions of June 2019 – the closure of privately owned migrant centers, especially the “Bira” facility in Bihac, “Miral” in Velika Kladusa and the opening of state-owned centers.

“According to the available information, the owners of the facilities have paid large sums for rent and have reason to suspect that there is some misuse of funds, as the rents are unrealistically high”, said Ruznic. “We are asking you to use your authority and help our efforts to displace the minors from the “Bira” center in Bihac and to assist in coordinating the activities of the relevant institutions in connection with the migrant crisis in our country”, the letter pleaded.

Thousands of People in a Protest Walk in Sarajevo

Several thousand people took to the streets on May 30th to protest against the silent dictatorship, sending a message of dissatisfaction with the situation, corruption and injustice in the country.

The protest was organized by Mirsad Hadzikadic and his Platform for progress and was joined by other opposition parties in Sarajevo.

Speaking at the rally, Hadzikadic said that the people of Bosnia live in a “dictatorship of three dictators”, of the three ethnic leaders – Bosniak leader Bakir Izetbegovic, Croat leader Dragan Covic and Serb leader Milorad Dodik.

The leader of the People and Justice Party, Almedin Konakovic, told protesters and media representatives that they would hold protests across the country if local elections were postponed again, as announced days ago.

“The Central Election Commission (CIK) may postpone the elections due to the coronavirus pandemic by one month. The CIK is highly politicized and if they postpone it again, we will organize protests across the country. Not only in the Federation of BiH, but also in Republika Srpska”, Konakovic said.

Earlier this week, the CIK announced it would postpone local elections in the country, as the country’s political leaders could not agree on the distribution of the election budget.

“There is a detained Prime Minister of the Federation of BiH, the Asim affair, a respiratory machines affair and no doubt people will show the government what they think about the postponement of the elections. It will be a hot summer and ugly scenes in Bosnia if these people do not return to the democratic framework”, Konakovic stressed.

He concluded that he hoped the authorities would understand the message from Sarajevo.

Constitutional Court Rules in Favor of Kosovo’s President

Kosovo’s Constitutional Court has ruled in favor of President Hashim Thaci, granting the right to the second-largest party, the Democratic League of Kosovo, to form a new government, ignoring the winner of the elections – “Self-Determination”.

The court ruling, which was made public at 22:30 on May 28th, states that the president does not have to call new elections when the government loses parliamentary support and forming a new government without the winner of the elections, is constitutional.

The elections winner “Self-Determination” of the incumbent Prime Minister Albin Kurti called the decision of the Constitutional Court “scandalous”and announced new protests, demanding early elections.

President Thaci and LDK Prime Minister nominee Avdullah Hoti welcomed the decision and called for a quick vote on the new government.

The government, led by Albin Kurti, was overthrown in a no-confidence vote initiated by coalition partner LDK on March 25th, just 52 days after taking power. The president did not call new elections, as in two other previous cases, but called on “Self-Determination” to form a new government. The constitution does not specify a deadline for nominating a prime minister and electing a government, but President Thaci mandated the LDK to form a new government after “Self-Determination” failed to nominate a candidate within 20 days of the president’s first invitation.

The Constitutional Court argued in its ruling that the lack of a specific deadline in the Constitution did not mean that the winner of the election could prolong the nomination of a candidate for prime minister indefinitely. According to the judges of the Constitutional Court, the spirit of the Constitution requires the party or coalition to act quickly in forming the government, in cooperation with the president.

“The Court emphasizes that the appointment of a candidate for Prime Minister includes not only the President’s obligation to decree it, nor only the right of the winning political party to nominate that nominee, but also the latter’s obligation to propose or refuse to propose a candidate for Prime Minister. In particular, the nomination of the candidate for Prime Minister includes the obligation of mutual cooperation between the President and the winning political party in this process”, the Constitutional Court said in its final decision.