Serbia: Kosovo authorities push ahead with demolition of wall in Mitrovica.
Ruptly TV Feb 4, 2017
Kosovo authorities implemented plans to demolish a wall erected in North Mitrovica, Saturday, which separates the city's ethnic Albanian and Serbian populations.
The wall is built near the city's New Bridge, which connects the Kosovan-Albanian part of Mitrovica with its Serbian district.
The decision to demolish the structure comes after the Kosovo Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning Ferat Shala, North Mitrovica Mayor Goran Rakic and Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo Branimir Stojanovic signed papers to remove the wall.
The document's signing was reportedly witnessed by Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, Head of the EU Office in Kosovo Nataliya Apostolova, and US Ambassador to Kosovo Greg Delawie.
Kosovo Terrorists Planning Venice Attack Detained.
Novinite.com World » EU | March 30, 2017, Thursday // 17:01
Italian anti-terrorist services have broken up a terrorist cell in Venice, reported the Italian police.
Three people and an underage person have been detained. 12 addresses have been searched.
All suspects are Kosovo citizens with Italian residence permits.
“A jihadist terrorist cell has been discovered in the historical centre of Venice,” read the police statement on Twitter.
The operation against the terrorists took place on Thursday morning. Bomb-disposal units and police dogs took part in it.
Italian police thwart suspected jihadist plot to blow up landmark Venice bridge (VIDEO)
RT.com 30 Mar, 2017 18:37
Three suspected Islamic State supporters planning an attack on a top tourist attraction in Venice were arrested by Italian police on Thursday, following an extensive investigation that foiled a plot to blow up the city’s famous Rialto Bridge.
Wiretaps from the investigation revealed the suspected jihadist cell also celebrated the Westminster attack in London last week.
Police discovered “disturbing and worrying” information which showed the men had undergone “religious radicalization” and were studying how to build explosives, carry out knife attacks and were undergoing physical training exercises, Reuters reports.
“There was a lot of talk about unconditional support to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). It wasn't just theory and dogma," Venice’s chief prosecutor Adelchi d'Ippolito said, as reported by Il Gazzettino. The men also discussed going to Syria to join jihadist groups.
Fisnik Bekaj, Dake Haziraj and Arjan Babaj all from Kosovo, were detained in overnight raids in Venice's historic old city, local news outlet La Voce di Venezia reported. A minor was also detained to prevent him from interfering in the investigation, police said.
As part of the investigation, police tapped the suspects’ phones, monitored their online activity and bugged their homes.
"Considering how many infidels there are in Venice, we could get to heaven right away by putting a bomb on the Rialto bridge," the wiretaps recorded the arrested men as saying, according to Reuters.
Rialto bridge is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city, which attracts millions of tourists each year. In the summer months, as many as 70,000 tourists flock to the old city of Venice each day.
As many as three more Kosovars are under investigation over their ties to the group which has been under surveillance since last year. The police operation began when one of the men returned from a trip to Syria, La Stampa reported.
Italy has deported 21 terror suspects since the start of the year.
The operation was greeted with thanks among politicians, with Italian Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti tweeting her thanks for the police effort, while Venice’s mayor Luigi Brugnaro thanked the police for “breaking up a dangerous and active jihadist cell in the center of the city."
Last Edit: Apr 2, 2017 6:20:16 GMT -5 by TsarSamuil
Post by TsarSamuil on Apr 26, 2017 13:20:04 GMT -5
Serbia warns of new Balkan war if Albania unites with Kosovo.
RT.com 22 Apr, 2017 17:36
A senior Serbian government official warned that another war may break out in the Balkans if Albania tries to establish a union with the breakaway region of Kosovo, urging the West to denounce the plan.
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said that the mooted unification between Albania and Kosovo “will remain only wishful thinking,” and called on the EU to react. “If I said that all Serbs should live in one state, I would be hanged from a flagpole in Brussels,” Vucic added.
Earlier this week, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said an interview with Politico he cannot rule out a union between Albania and the breakaway province of Kosovo – formerly part of Yugoslavia – if the country’s EU membership bid is off the agenda.
Such an alliance with Kosovo was not his own wish “but a possible alternative to the closed door of the European Union,” Rama said.
“There is a lack of understanding, or a lack of vision in not realizing that this region needs Europe, but Europe needs this region too,” the prime minister said.
Responding to Rama’s remarks, Aleksandar Vulin, a Serbian government minister, said he expects the EU and NATO to dismiss such statements, otherwise another war in the Balkans may break out. Vulin said that a new war in the turbulent Balkans would also involve Macedonia and Montenegro – countries with sizeable ethnic-Albanian diasporas.
Serbia remains wary of a union between Kosovo and Albania, fearing it would trigger a new upheaval in the region which slid into bloody ethnic war in the 1990s as Yugoslavia was torn apart.
In 1999, NATO bombed Yugoslavia in response to what the alliance said was ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population of Kosovo. The province seceded from Serbia in 2008, but its political status and the formal declaration of independence remain questionable under international law.
Most EU member states welcome the secession of Kosovo, but Russia reacted with condemnation, saying the unilateral action creates upheaval in the Balkans. Serbia, for its part, does not recognize Kosovo as an independent entity as well.
Kosovo is now split into seven administrative districts and 38 municipalities, following the 2013 Brussels Agreement which sought to form new Serb-populated municipalities. The Albanian-controlled government sits in Pristina, with the Serbian minority occupying Mitrovica and adjacent municipalities.
Post by TsarSamuil on Jun 22, 2017 12:14:17 GMT -5
‘Up to 15 tons of depleted uranium used in 1999 Serbia bombing’ – lead lawyer in suit against NATO.
RT.com 13 Jun, 2017 22:36
An international legal team is preparing a lawsuit against NATO over the alliance’s alleged use of depleted uranium munitions during its bombing of Yugoslavia. These have allegedly caused a rise in cancer-related illnesses across the region over the years.
"The NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999 used between 10 and 15 tons of depleted uranium, which caused a major environmental disaster," said Srdjan Aleksic, a Serbian lawyer who leads the legal team, which includes lawyers from the EU, Russia, China and India. The legal team was formed by the Serbian Royal Academy of Scientists and Artists.
"In Serbia, 33,000 people fall sick because of this every year. That is one child every day," he claimed.
NATO's press office says it's now aware of Serbia's allegations, but gave no further comment.
When asked as of why Serbia has decided to sue NATO 19 years after the attacks, the lawyer said "considering the horrific consequences for our population... it is never too late to sue someone who has caused an environmental catastrophe, someone [who] bombed Serbia with a quasi-nuclear weapon, i.e. depleted uranium."
The Serbian lawyer says 19 countries that were part of NATO at the time need to pay compensation for "for the financial and non-financial damages... to all the citizens who died or fell sick as a proven result of the NATO bombing."
"We expect the members of NATO to provide treatment to our citizens who are suffering from cancer," Aleksic said, adding that the bloc "must also provide the necessary technology and equipment to remove all traces of the depleted uranium" from Serbia.
"The use of banned weapons" by the US-led military alliance in the Balkans "was a violation of all the international conventions and rules that protect people" from such kind of weapons, the lawyer claimed, adding that NATO also used depleted uranium in Iraq in 1991.
In its 2000 report on depleted uranium, NATO confirmed the use of the munitions both in Iraq and in the Balkans.
"In Iraq, about 300 metric tons of DU [depleted uranium] ammunition were fired by American and British troops. Recently, NATO confirmed the use of DU ammunition in Kosovo battlefields, where approximately 10 metric tons of DU were used," the report says.
The UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has also admitted "there is evidence of use of depleted uranium (DU) projectiles by NATO aircraft during the bombing campaign." However, the UN tribunal has pointed out that "there is no specific treaty ban on the use of DU projectiles."
Reporting on the consequences of the use of such munitions for civil population and the environment, a NATO report said that "in the vicinity of the impact point of DU ammunitions, it is not excluded that individuals unaware of the contamination... could have accumulated radiation doses and/or could have incorporated uranium quantities exceeding the internationally recognized limits."
In May, Balkan Insight reported that around 50 people from the Serbian city of Nis, who have been suffering from cancer and have "seemingly relevant medical documentation" have asked the legal team of 26 lawyers and professors to represent them in the case against NATO.
NATO launched airstrikes in what was then Yugoslavia in March 1999, without the backing of the UN Security Council, after it accused Belgrade of “excessive and disproportionate use of force in Kosovo” in a conflict with insurgent Muslim ethnic Albanians.
With no UN mandate, NATO bombing of Serbia lasted for three months, having resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths.
Suspected Kosovo organ-trafficker arrested in Cyprus.
RT.com 6 Jan, 2018 05:50
A man suspected of trafficking in human organs has been arrested in Cyprus. Israeli national Moshe Harel faces extradition to Kosovo, where he is accused of luring kidney donors from Turkey and the ex-Soviet Union a decade ago. Harel is accused of promising up to $14,500 in payment to donors, with the extracted organs reportedly being sold on to mainly Israeli recipients for as much as $120,000. Some donors were reportedly never paid.
Interpol and Russia had issued international arrest warrants for Harel. His extradition is now being requested by the authorities in Kosovo – a province of Serbia that declared independence in 2008, but remains unrecognized by the UN and a number of countries, including Cyprus.
“Based on an international arrest warrant the suspect M.H. was arrested a few days ago in Cyprus. He has been a wanted person since 2010,” Baki Kelani, a spokesman for Kosovo police, told Reuters.
Harel is accused of being one of nine people involved in the organ-trafficking ring, run from a clinic in a residential area in Pristina. Their alleged activities were discovered in 2008, when a Turkish man complained of pain at Pristina airport after his kidney was removed.
In 2013, the director of the clinic, Lutfi Dervishi, and his son Arban were sentenced to eight and seven years respectively for their part in the group’s activities. Both men later went into hiding.
Dervishi was captured last year and retried, along with several others involved in the case. The trial is still ongoing. His son and a Turkish doctor, Yusuf Sonmez, are still on the run.
Kosovo is no stranger to cases of alleged organ harvesting, and local authorities have been particularly sensitive to accusations of the kind, ever since a former UN prosecutor accused the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) of harvesting human organs from Serbs captured and killed during and after the 1998-99 conflict. KLA leaders, now influential politicians, denied the charges and called them a ploy to challenge the province’s independence.
An EU-commissioned inquiry led by an American prosecutor concluded in 2014 that “this practice did occur on a very limited scale and that a small number of individuals were killed for the purpose of extracting and trafficking their organs.”
Post by TsarSamuil on Jan 17, 2018 15:11:24 GMT -5
Killing of key Serb politician in Kosovo triggers break-up of Belgrade-Pristina talks.
RT.com 16 Jan, 2018 09:40
A leading Serb politician in Kosovo has been gunned down in front of his party’s office in Mitrovica. The killing of Oliver Ivanovic sparked outrage in Belgrade, which suspended talks with Pristina in protest.
Ivanovic, 64, was fatally injured by an unidentified assailant in front of the office of his Citizens’ Initiative Party, Serbian state television reported.
“Unfortunately, I wish it weren't true, but doctors declared Oliver dead at 9:30 this morning,” Nebojsa Vlajic, Ivanovic's lawyer told AP by phone.
In protest over the killing, Serbia announced it would cut EU-mediated consultation with Pristina. The head of Belgrade’s Office for Kosovo and Metohijam, Marko Duric, called the killing a “terrorist attack” targeting the entire Serbian people, TANJUG news agency said.
A leading Serb politician in Kosovo has been gunned down in front of his party’s office, police confirmed. The killing of Oliver Ivanovic sparked outrage in Belgrade, which suspended talks with Pristina in protest.
Ivanovic, 64, was fatally injured by an unidentified assailant in front of the office of his Citizens’ Initiative Party in the northern city of Mitrovica. An hour later, an Opel Astra car was found burned out in another street in the city, police said, adding that the vehicle may have been used by the perpetrators.
In the meantime, following Ivanovic’s assassination, the EU-mediated talks between Serbia and Kosovo have been suspended. The negotiations were scheduled to resume at a technical level on Tuesday after they stopped in March 2017, when then-opposition leader Ramush Haradinaj, was detained on a Serbian arrest warrant by French border police. Paris released Haradinaj, now prime minister, a month later despite Belgrade’s calls for his extradition to Serbia. The EU said it “strongly condemns the murder” of Ivanovic and it expects authorities “to spare no effort to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said in a statement.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has called a national security council meeting to discuss the killing of Ivanovic. He is scheduled to deliver a televised address later in the day.
The Kosovo authorities condemned the killing, saying it was a challenge to the rule of law in Kosovo. “Violence is unacceptable, without taking into consideration where it comes from and toward whom it is directed,” the government in Pristina said in a statement.
Kosovo, once the core of the medieval Serbian state, experienced increasing tension between the Serbian and Albanian populations, escalating into a civil war in 1998-99, in which NATO intervention ensured the defeat of the Serbs. The southern province declared independence in 2008, which was never recognized by Belgrade.
Ivanovic served for several years as State Secretary in the now-downgraded Serbian ministry for Kosovo affairs.
In 2014, he and four other ethnic Serbs were arrested by Kosovo authorities over alleged war crimes. The verdict in the case was passed in January 2016. Ivanovic was sentenced to nine years in prison. The verdict was overturned in February 2017. The politician remained under house arrest till April 2017, when he was allowed greater freedom of movement.
Post by TsarSamuil on Mar 28, 2018 13:55:24 GMT -5
‘Dragged like a dog’: Serbian official describes being detained in Kosovo (VIDEO)
RT.com 27 Mar, 2018 21:13
The arrest of a senior Serbian official in Kosovska Mitrovica threatens to scuttle the EU-led talks between Belgrade and Kosovo, which declared independence a decade ago with NATO backing.
Ethnic Serb representatives in the institutions of Kosovo have withdrawn their participation following Monday’s arrest of Marko Djuric, the head of the Serbian government’s Office for Kosovo and Metohija, the province’s official name. Accused of being in Kosovo illegally, Djuric was arrested by heavily armed police at a town hall in Mitrovica, and transported to the provincial capital of Pristina where he was paraded before the cameras.
“To me, those are not police officers,” Djuric said in Belgrade on Tuesday after his release, according to B92. “That's a raging terrorist gang. They were sent against unarmed people. That's disgraceful for them, and for those who kept silent and in that way agreed to it.”
On the way from Mitrovica to Pristina, the Kosovo police took selfies as they pushed a rifle into his stomach and threatened him with a knife, Djuric said, adding that they also chanted “Allahu Akbar” (‘God is great’ in Arabic). Ethnic Albanians who live in Kosovo are predominantly Muslim.
Djuric added he was “dragged like a dog” and that his treatment was an attempt by Kosovo authorities to not only humiliate him, but also Serbia and the Serbs in general.
The incident comes after last week’s failed talks to advance the EU-sponsored agenda to “normalize” relations between Serbia and its breakaway province. The EU insists Serbia can only join the bloc if it recognizes Kosovo as an independent state, though five current members still refuse to do so.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic recently made comments about “hard decisions” and “painful compromises” that were widely interpreted as a willingness to recognize the province’s independence. Djuric was in Mitrovica to hold an “internal dialogue” town hall with ethnic Serbs who have survived in the province’s north after nearly two decades of repression and pogroms.
One of the leaders of Serbs in the north of Kosovo, Oliver Ivanovic, was gunned down in Mitrovica in mid-January. The investigation into his murder, which was conducted by Kosovo authorities, has not turned up any results so far.
NATO launched a 78-day air war against Serbia in 1999, accusing Belgrade of persecuting ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. The province was subsequently occupied by NATO forces under the UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which maintained that Kosovo was a part of Serbia. However, the NATO-backed ethnic Albanian provisional government unilaterally declared independence in February 2008, which has been recognized by over 100 countries, mainly US allies.
Post by TsarSamuil on Sept 6, 2018 13:40:37 GMT -5
Kosovo-Serbia land swap could send whole region into turmoil.
RT.com 4 Sep, 2018 11:36
A land swap between Kosovo and Serbia could trigger a chain reaction in the Balkans, spelling the end for a number of former Yugoslav countries – and give a new reason for the US to keep troops in Europe, analysts have told RT.
The idea of land swap between Serbia and Kosovo along "ethnic lines" resurfaced this summer, reportedly floated first by Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic. While not discussed officially, such plan would likely include Kosovo giving up Serb-dominated northern parts of the region in exchange for territory in southern Serbia in the Albanian-dominated Presevo Valley.
Kosovo leader Hashim Thaci did not rule out possibility of such talks, describing the potential land swap as a "correction" of the border with Serbia. He firmly rejected the idea of partitioning Kosovo over any "ethnic lines," promising to present his Serbian counterpart with his plan early in September, when the two leaders are set to meet.
Such talks are needed for Kosovo to solve the outstanding issues with Serbia and move on towards its goals of NATO and EU memberships, according to Thaci. He, however, did not reveal what Serbia would get in return, apart from the vague prospect of a "European future."
"Definitely now is the moment to correct the border between Kosovo and Serbia, which is around 400 kilometers (250 miles) long," Thaci told Reuters in an interview in mid-August.
"Correcting borders will definitely avoid Kosovo's partition, swapping territories, more crises or problems or even possibly a new war."
Kosovo broke away from Serbia in 1999 with help of the NATO bombing campaign and unilaterally declared independence in 2008. The move was not recognized by Serbia and a number of other countries, including Russia, which regard it as a breakaway region. Kosovo and Serbia made steps to normalize relations, signing the Brussels Agreement in 2013, yet little has been actually achieved.
How likely is a land swap?
The very idea of land swap caused a storm of criticism both in Serbia and Kosovo. Should Vucic and Thaci actually manage to pull it off it would "be quite an achievement," given long-standing tensions persisting in the region, author and Russia analyst Martin McCauley believes, yet such scenario is not very likely.
Simply giving up contested lands to Kosovo is even less likely, as Serbia's Vucic has faced strong backlash in his country over making any sort of deal with Kosovo Albanians.
"Vucic is faced with great opposition in Serbia itself – the Serbian Orthodox Church has come out firmly against recognition or division of Kosovo in any shape or form. All public polls show that the majority of Serbs are against either recognition of Kosovo or partition of Kosovo," political analyst Aleksandar Pavic told RT.
In Kosovo, Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj became one of the most vocal critics of the land swap idea, calling the very discussion of it "an invitation for new tragedies in the Balkans."
"If we reopen what has already been agreed, it means re-opening the past, and in our region reopening the past means reopening wars. All these borders are the result of tragic wars," Haradinaj told the Irish Times. He then made a trendy jab at Russia, saying that only President Vladimir Putin would somehow benefit from a new conflict in the Balkans.
In reality, however, Russia, has already clearly stated that its position on the Kosovo issue remains unchanged and that it would accept any solution supported by the people of Serbia. Russia's Foreign Ministry urged all the parties to abide by international law and stick to already adopted UN resolutions.
US backs a 'satisfactory settlement'… to suit its own interests?
Washington has shown apparent support for the idea of a land swap. National Security Advisor John Bolton stated that the US would not oppose a "mutually satisfactory settlement" between Belgrade and Pristina, including possible territorial changes. "Our policy, the US policy, is that if the two parties can work it out between themselves and reach agreement, we don't exclude territorial adjustments," Bolton said back on August 24. "We would not stand in the way, and I don't think anybody in Europe would stand in the way if the two parties to the dispute reached a mutually satisfactory settlement," he added.
Any agreement of such sort might indeed be "satisfactory," but only for the US itself, as it would fuel tensions in the region and open prospects for new armed conflicts, political analyst John Bosnitch warned.
"There's no doubt that it serves American interests in Europe when there's instability on European continent, that Germany and other EU states are unable to control without the American muscle," Bosnitch told RT.
US support for the land swap idea might also come from the lack of understanding of the situation in the Balkans, which proved to be the most explosive region of Europe for over a century. And the past US actions in the region proved to be quite counterproductive, author and Russia analyst Martin McCauley told RT.
"The United States hasn't played a major role in the Balkans. The United States has traditionally found the Balkans to be very difficult to understand," McCauley said.
"The United States has a role to play here but its record is not particularly good, because they have had difficulty in thoughtfully understanding the area."
EU not so sure
In spite of Bolton's certainty, not all EU countries appear to be on board. Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn warned about "very negative consequences" such deal might produce, with his Finnish counterpart Timo Soini calling it "risky."
"We believe that this can tear open too many old wounds in the population and so we are very skeptical," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Friday.
If such land swap actually took place, it is likely to trigger a chain reaction in the region, with ethno-religious minorities in neighboring countries demanding autonomies and ultimately secession, McCauley warned. Such course of events is particularly dangerous for Bosnia and Macedonia, which have large ethnic and religious minorities.
"If a land swap does take place between the Serbs and the Albanians it will set an immediate precedent for a land swap in Bosnia, that will probably lead to the departure of the Serbian part to join Serbia and to separation of the country into two pieces," Bosnitch said. "And in the case of Macedonia, it will result in a situation in which the Albanians would demand to leave Macedonia. And the Albanians have assertive majority control over more than the half of Macedonia in the area bordering Kosovo."
Post by TsarSamuil on Sept 22, 2018 7:29:07 GMT -5
That's a shock, assumed they had recognized kosovo years ago
Kosovo offers Israel an embassy in Jerusalem in exchange for recognition.
RT.com 22 Sep, 2018 00:22
The leader of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, has offered to place the embassy of his self-proclaimed state in Jerusalem, if Israel would recognize the renegade Serbian province as an independent country.
“If Kosovo were recognized by Israel, I would place the Kosovo embassy in Jerusalem,” the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) reported Friday, citing KosovaPress. Thaci made the offer during an interview with Albania’s Vizion Plus TV.
Kosovo was an autonomous province of Serbia that NATO occupied in 1999, after a 78-day airstrike campaign on behalf of the ethnic Albanian ‘Kosovo Liberation Army’ (KLA), led by Thaci. In February 2008, the provisional government unilaterally declared the region’s independence. It has been recognized by the US and most of its allies, though five EU and four NATO members still refuse to follow suit.
Israel is among half of the UN member states that have declined to recognize Kosovo’s independence, something Thaci is likely hoping to change with this offer. The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been keen to have more countries relocate their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thus recognizing Israel’s exclusive claim to the city, which is also claimed by the Palestinians as their capital.
So far, only the US, Guatemala and Paraguay have done so – and Paraguay’s new government announced this month it would move back to Tel Aviv in the interest of peace. US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, and opened the new embassy in May this year.
Thaci himself offered a hint of what might be driving his proposal, by telling Vizion Plus that his government is “100 percent” supported by the US. “The Republic of Kosovo's ties with the US are excellent. I met with President Trump, and his approach to us is the same as the previous president,” Thaci said.
This echoes the comments made by Ramush Haradinaj, another KLA leader turned politician, and rival to Thaci, who currently serves as prime minister in Kosovo’s government.
“We are part of Europe and cooperate with Brussels and Berlin,” Ramush Haradinaj told Serbia’s Happy TV in a three-hour recorded interview in April “However, when it comes to foreign policy we’re part of a club of countries led by America. We don’t have a problem with admitting that. We don’t have time for the world’s problems.”
The Israeli government has not yet responded to Thaci’s offer.
Serbia puts military on high alert over incident involving ‘Kosovo special forces’
RT.com 29 Sep, 2018 12:15
Serbian armed forces were put on the highest combat readiness after Kosovo’s Special Forces made their way into a Serbian enclave in the self-proclaimed state on Saturday.
Some 60 ROSU troops arrived on the territory of a Serbian autonomous region in the northwestern part of the area claimed by Kosovo, in violation of the agreements between Belgrade and Pristina.
The Kosovar special forces positioned itself around the dam on Gazivoda Lake and took control of the local hydroelectric power station, detaining several Serbian citizens. They also entered the Center for Ecology and Sport Development in Zubin Potok, Marco Duric, director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija in the Serbian government, said.
The Kosovar troops were sent to the Serb-populated area in order to provide security during a boat trip to northern Kosovo by the self-proclaimed state’s leader, Hashim Thaci.
Thaci, who is facing protests in Pristina over the possible land swap with Belgrade, made a visit to Gazivoda on Saturday that was labeled a “PR-stunt” by Boris Malagurski, a film director and political commentator.
“The reason why he went there on Saturday was because the movement, called Self-Determination (Vetevendosje), had huge protest in Pristina and he tried to drag away attention from that and show that he is very powerful and can go wherever he wants,” he said.
Tens of thousands of people from across Kosovo flocked to Pristina on Saturday to say ‘no’ to the land swap proposed by Thaci. They gathered at the city’s Skanderbeg Square, chanting slogans and carrying Albanian national flags.
The leader of the Vetevendosje movement, Albin Kurti, told the crowd that the Kosovars won’t accept “new pain and new compromises” and blamed Thaci for “poverty and corruption,” plaguing the self-proclaimed state, the Balkan Insight reported.
The EU insists that Belgrade and Pristina must “normalize relations” if they want to join the bloc, with Thaci earlier saying that “border corrections” could be part of that process. No formalized plan for the swap has been worked out so far, but one of the proposals is to exchange the predominantly ethnic Albanian Presevo Valley in southern Serbia for Kosovo’s north, which is populated by the Serbs.
Serbia’s President, Aleksandar Vucic, has ordered the country’s armed forces to be on the highest combat alert in response to the incursion by Kosovo's special forces, with the measure still being in place. Serbian Interior Minister, Nebojsa Stefanovic, described the incident as an “Albanian attack” in the country’s Kosovo and Metohija.
Pristina dismissed the claims of occupying the area and said there were no arrests carried out, according to the local deputy police commander, Besim Hoti. The troops were at Gazivoda for a “single visit,” he told RTS.
ROSU servicemen withdrew from the dam at around 16:10 local time (14:10 GMT) as soon as Thaci’s visit concluded, Duric confirmed.
The official said the situation was “very dangerous” and compared to state of things to the start of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The ROSU troops “were armed to teeth and looked more like terrorists than security forces,” he added.
Malagurski believes that the repeat of such provocative incidents between Kosovo and Serbia is unlikely. “They’ve finished their PR stunt and, I think, this is where it ends,” especially, after Belgrade sent a strong message to Pristina by putting its military on high alert, he explained.
The control over the Gazivoda and its facilities has been a matter of dispute between Belgrade and Pristina for years. The lake is the major drinking water supplier for several municipalities of the region and a local power station also uses the water from it.
“Gazivoda is a very disputed and a very important lake,” which is essential for Kosovo, Malagurski said. “The local power plant gets its water from it. If Gazivode is taken away from Pristina, Kosovo would essentially lose electricity.”
Self-proclaimed Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and the recognition of the region is matter of a major international dispute. Kosovo has been recognized by the US and a number of its allies, yet, a number of countries, including Spain, China and Russia opposed the controversial move. In fact, over half of the UN states did not support Kosovo’s independence.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Friday that “Kosovo is not a state” for the international organization.
One step from bloodshed: Moscow slams Kosovo invasion of Serb-majority area.
RT.com 1 Oct, 2018 22:20
The “reckless” intrusion of Kosovar Special Forces into the Serb-majority area of Kosovo could have sent the entire Balkans into a new spiral of violence, the Russian Foreign Ministry has warned.
The ministry’s comment was provoked by a recent incident, involving Kosovar police entering a northern part of the breakaway region, which is populated by ethnic Serbs. Pristina considers this area to be part of its self-proclaimed state while the locals refuse to recognize its authority, adding fuel to an already tense situation in relations between Pristina and Belgrade.
An “ostentatious invasion of Kosovo’s police special forces to the Serb regions in the northern part of the [area] on September 29, which violated the agreements between Belgrade and Pristina, was a provocation aimed at intimidating the Serbs living in Kosovo and exerting pressure on Serbia,” the Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement Monday.
Such “reckless actions” could have led to the “renewed bloodshed in Kosovo and the destabilization of the whole Balkan region,” she warned, adding that Kosovo’s continued attempts to take control over the Serb-inhabited areas would only lead to the escalation of the ethnic tensions.
Russia does not recognize Kosovo as an independent state. The Russian ministry has criticized the NATO-led international peacekeeping force known as KFOR, responsible for maintaining security in Kosovo, for its inaction in the face of such developments.
The comment comes days after some 60 heavily armed special police commanded by Pristina arrived on the territory of the Serb-majority autonomous region and took control of the local hydroelectric power station, reportedly detaining several Serbian citizens.
The incident prompted the Serbian government to put its armed forces on the highest combat readiness, thus putting the region on the brink of a new conflict. Pristina dismissed the claims of occupying the area and said there were no arrests carried out, according to the local deputy police commander, Besim Hoti.
The troops were in the area for a “single visit” and were providing security to the self-proclaimed state’s leader, Hashim Thaci, during his trip to the region. The relations between Serbia and its breakaway province remain uneasy. Kosovo was separated from Serbia in 1999 with help of the massive NATO bombing campaign and its ethnic Albanian provisional government unilaterally declared independence in 2008.
Serbia has refused to recognize Kosovo’s independence. So far, 87 UN members, including Russia, China, India and Brazil as well as five NATO and EU members - Spain, Greece, Slovakia, Romania and Cyprus - still did not recognize it.
Even though Kosovo and Serbia have made steps to normalize relations, signing the Brussels Agreement in 2013, the situation in the ground remains incredibly tense. Even the vague prospect of a land swap along the “ethnic lines,” recently mulled by the leaderships of Kosovo and Serbia, has provoked a storm of outrage on both sides.
Revival of ethnic tensions or territorial disputes also risk reigniting old conflicts throughout the Balkan regions, notably known as Europe’s tinderbox. Any such conflict might spill over the borders or trigger a chain reaction in the neighboring countries such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, which fought an ethno-religious civil war in the 1990s and has been a step away from reignited hostilities ever since.
Serbian president: Some EU countries are hypocrites on Kosovo issue.
RT Oct 5, 2018
Serbia’s course of EU integration is impeded once again by simmering tensions with Kosovo. How is Belgrade going to get around this – and is the region in any danger? We talked about this with the president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic.
Post by TsarSamuil on Oct 12, 2018 15:28:27 GMT -5
‘We bombed you to save you’ – NATO head Stoltenberg speaks about 1999 bombings on visit to Serbia.
RT.com 7 Oct, 2018 21:58
Although many people in Serbia hold “painful” memories of NATO’s 1999 bombing of their country, it was, in fact, done precisely to protect them from their own government, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Belgrade.
He was answering questions about the bombing and about the NATO campaign against the government of the former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, during a meeting with the students of Belgrade University.
“I stressed that we did this to protect civilians and to stop the Milosevic regime,” Stoltenberg said, as quoted by the local media, claiming locals have painful memories of the events.
So NATO wants the alliance and Belgrade to “look into the future.” Stoltenberg also boasted of an “excellent relationship” between NATO and Serbia, adding that the military bloc “respects” Belgrade’s decision not to join the alliance. Still, he maintained that NATO wants to be Serbia’s “partner.”
He also said that NATO supports “dialogue” between Serbia and its breakaway region-turned-self-proclaimed state Kosovo, not only diplomatically but also “in the form of KFOR” – the NATO-led international peacekeeping force deployed to Kosovo.
His words came about a week after a brief escalation of tensions between Belgrade and Pristina sparked by the visit of Kosovo’s leader to a northern part of the breakaway region, which is populated by Serbs who refuse to recognize Pristina’s authority. The KFOR stayed conspicuously inactive during the incident, according to some reports while others suggested that the NATO-led force had even accompanied the Kosovo representative on that trip.
In March 1999, NATO launched airstrikes in what was then Yugoslavia, without the backing of the UN Security Council, after it accused Belgrade of “excessive and disproportionate use of force” in a conflict with insurgent Muslim ethnic Albanians in the region of Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence nine years later, in 2008.
During the bombings, NATO dropped “between 10 and 15 tons of depleted uranium, which caused a major environmental disaster” and prompted Serbians to sue NATO over its actions, linking them to a rise in cancer-related illnesses across the region.
"In Serbia, 33,000 people fall sick because of this every year. That is one child every day," a member of the international legal team that was preparing the lawsuit told RT in 2017. Back in 2015, Stoltenberg himself expressed "regret" for the civilian casualties of NATO's 1999 bombing.
Post by TsarSamuil on Dec 14, 2018 19:41:38 GMT -5
Kosovo’s US-backed army: ‘A nominal claim to statehood & revenge on EU’
RT.com 14 Dec, 2018 19:23
Kosovo has upset just about everyone (except the US) by creating its army, in a move that researchers see as revenge against both Serbia and the EU, and an attempt to better stake a claim for the breakaway region's sovereignty.
On Friday, the parliament of the breakaway Serbian region of Kosovo voted to create a 5,000-strong standing army. Belgrade has denounced the move, calling it the “most direct threat to peace and stability in the region.” But even the EU, despite its support for Kosovo's self-proclaimed independence, was not entirely happy, and NATO has objected to it, calling it “ill-timed.” Meanwhile, the UN Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General, Farhan Haq, told TASS that any effort to block the presence of the existing international peacekeeping force would violate UN Security Council resolution 1244. Out of the major international players, only the US cheered Pristina on.
Three researchers who studied the history, politics and conflicts of former Yugoslavia and the greater Balkans, have weighed in on why Kosovo chose to seemingly alienate its regional allies.
Claim to statehood
Between the 4,000-strong KFOR and about the same number of fighters in the paramilitary Kosovo Security Force, the creation of an official army might seem like an unnecessary excess to sink the already-limited budget money into – but it carries an important political implication.
Having an actual army of its own is, first and foremost, a token of statehood – one of the things every real, sovereign country (which Kosovo claims or aspires to be) has. So the move to create one could be a box ticked on the path to independence.
“An army is one of the obvious attributes of sovereignty and statehood. Kosovo has been moving to creating one since its inception,” says historian Vladimir Putyatin, deputy head of the department of history of southern and western Slavic people at the Moscow State University.
Actual capabilities questionable
The Kosovo leadership appears to have great ambitions for the reformed fighting force. Whereas the Kosovo Security Force was only lightly armed, turning it into an army will allow for bigger guns.
“Judging by what Kosovan officials say… there are plans to create its own artillery, air defense force, even biological and chemical warfare protection troops – I believe this is a possibility,” Putyatin said.
But all of these capabilities will be entirely at the mercy of the Kosovan army's main backer – the US, argues Pavel Kandel, an expert on ethnic conflict with the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
“Pristina doesn't have money to support an army anyway. If the US wants to pay for weapons and training, then there will be an army, in 10 or so years. If they don't… it will be just a symbolic name change… Such a force is neither needed, nor able to fight a war, but it's fully-suited to create provocations.”
One thing going for the Kosovan army is its experience, says Elena Guskova, the head of the Center for Research of the Modern Balkan Crisis at the Russian Academy of Sciences. The Kosovo Security Force, the likely basis for the new army, is itself rooted in the nationalistic Albanian paramilitary Kosovo Liberation Army. Having been active in the Kosovo War of the late 1990s, the force will be capable enough to interfere in any unsolved Albanian-related crises around the Balkans.
Call to rise for Albanians across the Balkans
Reorganizing former rebel militants into an official army could become just the validation Albanian minorities in other Balkan countries seek in order to rise up and follow the example of Kosovo in breaking away. And the Kosovan fighters' new status may embolden them to intervene.
“They could support the Albanians in Macedonia, in Montenegro, in the south of Serbia. It will be a serious military force, a force whose fighters were in the militias in the late 1990s, and have combat experience. Tension will grow, because Albanians in Montenegro have been waiting for Kosovo to be recognized, to rise up, and those in southern Serbia, as well,” says Guskova.
Belgrade’s talk of ‘military option’ is just that – talk
All three researchers agree that despite the Serbian prime minister's mention of a military response to the creation of the Kosovan army, it's extremely unlikely Belgrade will start a new war over this.
According to Putyatin, the statement was just a knee-jerk reaction to Kosovo's next step to sovereignty – which Belgrade simply has to oppose at every turn if it wants to keep claiming domain over the breakaway region.
Another reason it won't happen is that the current Serbian administration's entire police is geared towards dialogue with Kosovo, Kandel believes. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is ultimately aiming at EU membership, and has been preparing to trade away his claim over Kosovo for a chance at accession. A Kosovo with an army, however, might just be a threshold he won't be willing to cross.
“He walked to the red line, raised his foot to test the water, and realized it's too hot – and is now stuck in that pose.”
Danger to Kosovan Serbs
Belgrade says the Kosovan army is a threat to the 150,000-strong Serbian minority in the region, and the analysts believe the danger is real.
Guskova believes this is a move to fully Albanize the entire territory of Kosovo, that will ultimately lead to the dismantling of the Serbs' self-governing bodies, police and the Serbian University of Pristina.
“It will be a fully Albanian territory, and the Serbs will be forced to either flee, or assimilate into the Albanian populace.”
Putyatin believes that the army is as much a hit against the Serbs in Kosovo as any other step towards Kosovo’s statehood: those who are still hoping to remain citizens of Serbia have just lost one of the threads that hope has been hanging by.
The army also creates a constant looming threat of provocation in Kosovo's north, exclusively inhabited by Serbs, says Kandel. This is something the KFOR is wary of as well, he believes, which is why their armored vehicles blocked the bridge in Mitrovica, connecting the north and the south, on the eve of Friday's vote.
Pristina can use such provocation to extort concessions from its supposed allies in Europe, Kandel says.
Revenge against the EU
One of the reasons to create an army – a move most international players have condemned as unnecessary escalation – is to spite the EU for being slow with fulfilling the promises it had given to Pristina. Just like the recently-introduced 100 percent tax on Serbian goods, it's a “revenge against the EU,” which has been dragging its feet on granting Kosovo visa-free travel, which won't happen until at least 2020, Kandel says.
“With this ostentatious unruliness, Kosovan politicians want to show Brussels [the delay] will cost it.”
Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, has called Pristina's move “ill-timed” and detrimental to Kosovo's European and Atlantic integration – but those are just words, Guskova believes. In reality, NATO is interested in establishing a foothold in the region – which it will do as soon as its independence is validated.
Kandel believes what NATO says doesn't really matter – the decisions here are Washington's to make. Pristina waited for America's “go” to move ahead with creating an army, he argues, and for the US, this is another opportunity to get leverage in European affairs.
Safe across the Atlantic from the turbulence in Europe's south, the US is free to fuel conflict by supporting the Kosovan army – which, without its support, is likely to remain little more than a name. And whether Washington wants to do so depends on whether it's satisfied with how its relationship with the EU plays out, Kandel says.
TsarSamuil: Bbq is basic slavic right
Aug 3, 2018 10:18:31 GMT -5
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Oct 10, 2018 12:53:50 GMT -5
reznik: @proto-Orchid: very true. What's worse, is that the system is designed specifically to keep those people dormant in their echo chambers. Nothing new to learn for them there, just stupid cat videos and such. Sad.
Oct 14, 2018 5:48:26 GMT -5
Proto-Orchid: Its the substitute for going out, meeting and spending your time with friends in real life. Its just part of the story. When I was younger I remember people were meeting to play team sports, but today you see completely autistic people jogging with iPhone.
Oct 14, 2018 18:18:38 GMT -5
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Oct 14, 2018 18:21:43 GMT -5
Pan-Slavic Patriot: Sto Latz! Today marks 100 years of Polska! May there be 100 more! Wish I could have gone to the Independence March to celebrate this year, of all years. Theres always the next one to look forward to...
Nov 11, 2018 6:56:57 GMT -5
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Nov 25, 2018 17:19:11 GMT -5
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Nov 30, 2018 3:17:07 GMT -5
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Dec 29, 2018 9:15:04 GMT -5
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Feb 27, 2019 23:01:32 GMT -5
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Jun 3, 2019 0:37:57 GMT -5
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Jul 28, 2019 9:08:27 GMT -5
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Aug 12, 2019 15:49:41 GMT -5
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Sept 13, 2019 20:32:33 GMT -5
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Nov 28, 2019 11:30:45 GMT -5
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Jan 10, 2020 14:27:01 GMT -5
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May 18, 2020 9:10:02 GMT -5