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    BRUSSELS (AP) — The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo have agreed to meet in Brussels this month to discuss ways to end the stalemate in European Union-brokered talks aimed at improving relations between them as ethnic tensions simmer, a European Commission spokesman said Friday. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell hopes to hold talks with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in the same room, rather than shuttling between them as has been the case in the past, on Aug. 18, Borrell’s spokesman Peter Stano told reporters. The EU-backed Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, which is aimed at normalizing relations between the neighbors and former foes, has been at a virtual standstill for years and the leaders appear to agree on very little. But Stano said: “Hey. We have an agreement. They agreed on the date and they agreed on the time.” He described the meeting as “a very important step,” which provides “another opportunity to try to move all the other issues forward.” Both countries are striving to join the 27-nation bloc, and success in the EU-backed talks...
    Zupce, KosovoKosovo's government on Monday began issuing extra documents to Serbian citizens crossing into its territory, as Serbs living in the north of the country who oppose the decision blockaded roads leading to two border crossings.Fourteen years after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, some 50,000 Serbs in the north still use license plates and documents issued by Serbian authorities, refusing to recognize the Pristina government and its institutions.Following tensions on Sunday and consultations with US and EU ambassadors, the government said it would postpone until September 1 a decision giving local Serbs 60 days to switch to Kosovo license plates and requiring extra documents to be issued at the border to Serbian citizens, including those living in Kosovo without local documents. Trucks are seen blocking the road near the Jarinje Border Crossing in Mitrovica, Kosovo on August 1.But as gravel-filled trucks and heavy machinery continued to block roads leading to the Brnjak and Jarinje border crossings in northern Kosovo on Monday morning, the government began issuing the documents at the biggest border crossing Merdare."This decision will continue to be implemented...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo’s authorities early Monday moved to ease mounting ethnic tensions in the country by delaying a controversial order on vehicle license plates and identity cards that triggered riots by minority Serbs who put up roadblocks, sounded air raid sirens and fired their guns into the air. The Kosovo government accused neighboring Serbia of instigating the riots in order to destabilize the country that declared independence in 2008 after a NATO intervention that stopped Serbia’s bloody crackdown against ethnic Albanian separatists in 1999. Officials in Kosovo had earlier decided that as of Aug. 1 they would resume the practice of requiring vehicles that enter from Serbia to replace Serbia license plates with Kosovo ones. For the past 11 years, the reverse was required by Serbia for vehicles driving from Kosovo that transit through Serbia. Kosovo also is planning to block its ethnic Serb minority from using only the Serbian identity cards when crossing the border. After discussions with European and U.S. partners, the “reciprocity” license plate and identity card plan was being postponed for a month,...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo’s government early Monday accused neighboring Serbia of trying to destabilize the country as ethnic Serbs blocked roads and conducted other incidents in the north apparently in a dispute over vehicle license plates and identity cards. Officials in Kosovo had decided to resume the practice of requiring vehicles that enter from Serbia to replace Serbia license plates with Kosovo plates. The reverse is required by Serbia for vehicles from Kosovo that go to Serbia. Kosovo also is planning to block its ethnic Serb minority from using only the Serbian identity cards when crossing the border. A Kosovo government statement said that many “aggressive acts” like road blocking and shooting in the northern areas dominated by ethnic Serbs were committed Sunday and charged that they were incited by Serbia. After discussions with European and U.S. partners, the “reciprocity” license plate and identity card plan was being postponed for a month, until Sept. 1, the government said. Kosovo was part of Serbia until an armed uprising in 1998-1999 by the territory’s ethnic Albanian majority triggered a bloody crackdown...
    BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Spain’s prime minister on Friday kicked off a tour of the Western Balkans with a visit to Serbia, offering his country’s support for the integration of the volatile region into the European Union. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez held talks with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade ahead of his visits to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Albania in the coming days. The Balkan nations are all in different stages of the EU accession process. EU officials have recently sought to encourage governments in the region to move on with reforms amid concerns over Russia’s efforts to boost its influence in the Balkans. Serbia remains a rare European country that has kept friendly ties with Russia despite its invasion of Ukraine and refused to join Western sanctions against Russia. Sanchez said the war in Ukraine has prompted the EU to rethink its enlargement policies and open its doors to countries in Eastern Europe — Ukraine and Moldova recently formally became membership candidates — and the Western Balkans. Sanchez said his tour seeks to send...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo has signed a $236.7 million (242 million-euro) agreement with a United States government agency to support its energy sector, promote women’s participation and boost development. Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani’s office on Thursday said the deal with the Millennium Challenge Corporation, or MCC, was signed a day earlier at the American Congress in Washington. “Today, the USA through the MCC, reaffirmed its steadfast support for our new republic and its willingness to help us advance further in terms of sustainable economic development,” Osmani said. She added that it was the “biggest energy investment in our country for decades” and will help Kosovo create flexibility and stability in the electricity grid by enabling greater integration of renewable resources. It will also develop skills and strengthen the engagement of women in the energy sector and the labor market. Kosovo, whose energy production mainly is based on coal, is confronted with a deep crisis due to the global energy price hike, although it has so far only slightly increased the power price for consumers. “This signing represents … our...
    TIRANA, Albania (AP) — The Albanian Parliament has asked Europe’s top human rights body to rescind a 2011 resolution that cited since-unsubstantiated allegations of human organ harvesting during the 1990s war in Kosovo. The parliament voted 125-0 late Thursday in favor of a motion asking the Council of Europe to clear both Albania and Kosovo of the organ trafficking claims. Supporters said such an action would help normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia. “That issue (organ harvesting claims) should end sometime so the people find the power to reconcile and live together, healing the wounds of the past,” the resolution states. In 2011, the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly passed a resolution calling for a European Union mission in Kosovo to investigate “war crimes and organ trafficking” in Kosovo and Albania. It cited allegations that fighters from the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army trafficked human organs taken from prisoners, slain Serbs and fellow ethnic Albanians in both Kosovo and Albania. “Numerous indications seem to confirm that, during the period immediately after the end of the armed conflict, before international forces...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — The European Union’s delay in allowing visa-free travel for the people of Kosovo has spread dismay and resentment in the continent’s newest state, and one Pristina businessman has retaliated by hitting EU officials where it hurts — the stomach. Mama’s restaurant owner Shpetim Pevqeli, 50, who has catered for more than a decade to employees at the EU’s rule of law mission headquarters across the road, put up a sign Tuesday reading: “Protest, no entry, for EU citizens without visa.” While that may seem no more than a stunt, frustration among Kosovars over the delay in getting into the 27-nation bloc’s so-called Schengen visa-free travel area is real. As things are, they have to wait for hours to apply for a visa to the EU, where many have family members living. “I have an official invitation from Austria. But I have been waiting and waiting and waiting. What can I do next?” said an angry Faik Ibriqi, 60, queueing at the Swiss diplomatic representation office where many Kosovars apply for the Schengen visa. Last week...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo prosecutors on Monday charged a man with war crimes for allegedly being part of a group of Serbian forces that executed at least nine ethnic Albanian civilians during the country’s 1998-1999 war. Prosecutors said in a statement that the suspect, identified only as M.D., a local resident of Montenegrin origin, was arrested Monday in the village of Vitomirice, Peja commune, 85 kilometers (50 miles) west of the capital Pristina. They said he is suspected of having been among the Serb army, police and paramilitary forces who on May 5, 1999 held an offensive in the region during which nine people were executed and another five are still officially listed as missing. More than 13,000 people, mostly ethnic Albanians, died during fighting in 1998-1999 between Kosovo ethnic Albanian separatists to break away from Serbia, and Serbian forces. About 1 million people were driven from their homes before a NATO bombing campaign forced Serbia to pull its troops out of its former province of Kosovo and to cede control to the United Nations and NATO. ...
    EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (l) speaks at a joint press conference with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine.Michael Fischer | Picture Alliance | Getty Images BRUSSELS — Leaders of the European Union on Thursday formally approved Ukraine's candidate status to join the bloc — the first official step toward full membership. Charles Michel, president of the European Council, late Thursday confirmed that leaders had approved EU candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, calling it a "historic moment." "Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU," he added via Twitter. The move has reopened a tough and delicate debate within the EU over expansion, as Brussels has not welcomed any new countries since 2013, when Croatia joined. That's partly a result of the bloc's difficult political and economic environment: the shocks of the global financial crisis of 2008, its own sovereign debt crisis in 2011, and then a refugee wave from the Syrian civil war during 2015. Those events bolstered support for populist parties across the region, leading many member states to prioritize domestic issues over...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — A senior Kosovo official on Friday criticized the length of the international trial process for detained former independence fighters charged with war crimes during and after the 1998-1999 war in the Balkan country. Kosovo’s parliament speaker Glauk Konjufca left for The Hague, Netherlands, to meet with five ex-leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army, including Kosovo’s ex-president Hashim Thaci and ex-parliament speaker Kadri Veseli. All five have denied wrongdoing. The first arrest was made in September 2020, three months after the charges were made public. Konjufca criticized the lengthy process, citing suspects’ rights to be tried “within the most reasonable time frame possible.” “We are not seeing that at the special court,” Konjufca told journalists. He is the first senior Kosovar leader to visit the war crime suspects. Last month Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama went to The Hague to meet Thaci. A European Union-backed war crimes court, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and a linked prosecutor’s office, were established following a 2011 report by the Council of Europe. The human rights organization’s report included allegations that KLA...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Police in Kosovo reported a series of bomb threats to schools in Serb-dominated areas Thursday, some of which have been confirmed as hoaxes. A police statement said about 30 locations received early morning electronic warnings or phone calls. It did not identify the precise areas. Most of the country’s ethnic Serb minority lives in northern Kosovo. Police said they evacuated people from the threatened areas and sent in demining units to look for bombs. Law enforcement agencies urged the public not to panic. Bomb threats in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, last month brought rush-hour traffic to a standstill. No explosive devices were found. Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. The United States and most of the West recognized its sovereignty, but not Serbia or its allies Russia and China. Ethnic Serbs are Kosovo’s biggest minority group and entitled to having 10 representatives serving as lawmakers in the country’s 120-seat parliament, as well as in governmental posts. Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz asked Kosovo and Serbia on Friday for a clear commitment to reaching a lasting political solution to their long-standing dispute over Kosovo’s independence. Normalization talks facilitated by the European Union started 11 years ago but yielded little impact, and tensions between the former opponents in war remain. Scholz, who was in Kosovo to start a multi-nation trip in the Western Balkans, said Russia’s war in Ukraine made the region’s stability even more important. “In times like this, the value of peace and security is made clear anew to us, and a further very weighty reason for Kosovo and Serbia to find a political solution with a comprehensive, sustainable solution that also contributes to regional stability,” Scholz at a news conference in Pristina. The chancellor asked Serbia and Kosovo’s governments for a clear commitment to the EU-facilitated dialogue. “It is clear that an agreement must ultimately also clear up the question of the recognition of Kosovo, because it is not conceivable that two countries that don’t recognize each other become members of...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Hundreds of Kosovo war veterans clashed with police in a protest Monday to ask for a pension rise, leaving at least one officer injured, according to local media. Police used tear gas to keep members of the War Veterans’ Organization of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) away from the parliament which was discussing a draft law on raising the minimum salary from 170 euros ($182) to 250 euros ($268) per month. More than 30,000 war veterans get 170 euros per month but are not included in the draft law. They forced their way into the yard of the parliament building despite the tear gas. They also tried to enter the hall but were kept at bay by a police cordon. The Kosovapress news portal said that at least one police officer was injured in the clashes. Kosovo’s 1998-1999 fight to break away from Serbia was led by the Kosovo Liberation Army, whose main leaders are now being tried at a European Union-backed war crimes court in The Hague, Netherlands. More than 13,000 people, mostly ethnic...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — A European Union-backed war crimes court sentenced two leaders of a Kosovo war veterans’ association to 4 1/2 years in prison Wednesday for witness intimidation and obstructing justice. The Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Chambers said Hysni Gucati and Nasim Haradinaj prevented prosecutors “from effective investigations and prosecutions” of former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army. The court found the two men guilty of intimidating witnesses by publicizing leaked confidential documents “pertaining to the investigations and internal work” of the prosecutors. Gucati and Haradinaj publicly called witnesses “traitors,” “spies,” “collaborators” and “Albanian speakers” with the intention “to make witnesses and potential witnesses fearful and therefore hesitant to provide information,” the tribunal said. The special court is investigating alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity linked to the actions of the KLA during the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo. Prosecutors have indicted several people, including former Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, on charges of murder, torture and persecution. All have denied the charges. Gucati, who was chairman of the Kosovo Liberation Army War Veterans Association, and Haradinaj,...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — The government of Kosovo decided Thursday to apply for membership in the Council of Europe, the continent’s top human rights organization. The council, which has 46 member nations, already has an office in Kosovo to assist with democratic reforms. The government said in a statement that the small Balkans country already has ratified the relevant conventions for joining the organization. “Human rights and elementary freedom are guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo,” the statement said. A bloody 1998-1999 conflict between Serbia and ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo, then a Serbian province, left more than 13,000 dead and 1,617 people still missing. NATO’s intervention in the form of a bombing campaign on Serbia ended the war. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move recognized by 117 countries, including the United States and most EU nations. Serbia has refused to recognize Kosovo as separate nation after 11 years of European Union-brokered negotiations. Media reports say Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has indicated his government would object to the Council of Europe...
    TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania’s prime minister on Tuesday visited Kosovo’s ex-president Hashim Thaci in a prison in The Netherlands, where he is being held pending trial for alleged war crimes. Edi Rama told journalists after the meeting that Thaci believed his trial would provide a way of demonstrating “in front of justice the purity of the liberating war” that Albanian separatists fought in 1998-1999 against Serbian forces. In 2020 Thaci resigned as Kosovo’s president and was flown to The Hague to face charges including war crimes, murder, torture and persecution — all which he has denied. The special court in the Netherlands and a linked prosecutor’s office was established following a 2011 report by the Council of Europe, a human rights body, that included allegations that Kosovo Liberation Army fighters trafficked human organs taken from prisoners and killed Serbs and fellow ethnic Albanians. The organ harvesting allegations weren’t included in the indictment against Thaci. Thaci, 54, was a guerrilla leader in Kosovo’s war for independence from Serbia, before rising to political prominence following the conflict that killed more than...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo authorities on Friday condemned a recent string of armed attacks against police in which automatic rifles and hand grenades were used as acts of terrorism. Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla said the latest attack occurred early Friday when a police patrol came under fire from an AK-47 assault rifle and a hand grenade near Zubin Potok, 55 kilometers (35 miles) north of the capital Pristina. Three other attacks against police occurred in the previous two days. Svecla said that none of these attacks intended to frighten or eliminate police officers succeeded in their aim. Police Chief Samedin Mehmeti said two police vehicles were damaged but their bulletproof windshields protected the occupants. Mehmeti added that the previous evening, 30 rounds were fired from inside Serbian territory at a police patrol near a path used by smugglers. Svecla accused Serbia of trying to destabilize Kosovo. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move recognized by the United States and most EU nations. Serbia has refused to recognize Kosovo as separate nation after 11 years of EU-brokered...
    BEIJING (AP) — China said Monday its military planes delivered “regular military supplies” to Serbia, in its first comments on an unusual operation in which six Chinese Air Force Y-20 transport planes landed in Belgrade early Saturday. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters the operation was part of the two countries’ annual cooperation plan, does not target any third parties and “has nothing to do with the current situation.” Zhao gave no further details. The planes’ arrival prompted heavy speculation they were carrying HQ-22 surface-to-air missiles under the terms of a previous deal signed between the sides. Serbia’s defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic all but confirmed the delivery of the medium-range systems that was agreed to in 2019, saying on Saturday that he will present “the newest pride” of the Serbian military on Tuesday or Wednesday. The veiled operation this weekend came amid Western concerns that an arms buildup in the Balkans at the same time as war is raging in Ukraine could...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo leaders on Tuesday urged Serbia to accept the 1999 genocide that its former regime committed in Serbia’s former province of Kosovo. Kosovo commemorated the 23rd anniversary of the massacre at Rezalle, a village 50 kilometers (35 miles) west of the capital, Pristina, where Serb army, police and paramilitary forces killed 98 ethnic Albanians. Some of the dead corpses are still missing. Serb forces surrounded the village, gathered all the men and executed them, then tried to hide their corpses. Only three of them managed to escape. Seven of those killed in Rezalle were returned last September from a mass grave in Kizevac, Serbia. Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said Serbia’s genocide is known worldwide and called on justice authorities to hold accountable and to punish the “responsible persons and decision-makers and executors.” “That massacre is a testimony of Serbia’s genocide in Kosovo,” said Kurti. A bloody 1998-1999 conflict between Serbia and ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo, then a Serbian province, left more than 12,000 dead and about 1,600 people still missing. NATO’s intervention in...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Prosecutors on Tuesday indicted an Albanian man for war crimes over his alleged participation in the killings of 130 people in Kosovo 23 years ago. The special prosecutor’s office accused the resident of Belgrade, Serbia – identified only by the initials M.A. – of “war crimes against the civilian population,” according to a statement. A 12-month investigation indicated that in March 28, 1999, the suspect was a member of Serb police and military units that executed 130 civilians in Izbice, 80 kilometers (55 miles) west of the capital, Pristina. Twelve of the civilians survived. Investigators questioned more than 100 witnesses and collected evidence showing that M.A. and other Serb forces had committed war crimes against civilians. The statement said the suspect was in custody, without specifying the place and time of his arrest. The prosecutor’s office said the Izbice massacre investigation continues because it is “major and complex case” involving other suspects. A bloody 1998-1999 bloody conflict between Serbia and Albanian separatists in Kosovo, then a Serbian province, left more than 12,000 people dead and...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Hundreds of ethnic Serbs in Kosovo protested Friday to pressure the government into allowing them to vote in neighboring Serbia’s April 3 general election. Demonstrators gathered in Mitrovica, 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of Pristina, with antigovernment banners and marched to a bridge that divides the city. Most of Kosovo’s ethnic Serb population lives north of Mitrovica, close to Serbia’s border. Hundreds of people also protested in Gracanica, a commune located 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Kosovo’s capital where ethnic Serbs residents are concentrated. Prime Minister Albin Kurti has said Kosovo and Serbia need to have a preliminary agreement on holding the election to permit the voting. In previous Serbian elections, ethnic Serbs in Kosovo voted there under monitoring by international observers. That did not happen when Serbia held a referendum earlier this year. The United States, France, Germany, Italy and the U.K. expressed “concern at the risk of escalation or violence” Friday and urged demonstrators to protest peacefully. They also called on Kosovo and Serbia “to act with restraint and refrain from any rhetoric or...
    BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — A monument in Kosovo, a snake named after her in Serbia. Madeleine Albright was either loved or hated in the Balkans for her pivotal role during the southern European region’s wars of the 1990s. Following the former U.S. secretary of state’s death on Wednesday at age 84, how her legacy is viewed from the Balkans mostly depends on whether one was on the receiving or triggering end of the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia. Albright quickly emerged as the Clinton administration’s chief hawk on the Balkans after she became secretary of state in 1997. She identified herself so strongly with the push for a Western intervention in Kosovo that her critics dubbed the 1998-1999 conflict there “Madeleine’s War.” She championed the 78-day bombardment of Serb-led Yugoslavia by NATO that halted a bloody Serb crackdown against Kosovo Albanians. Earlier, while serving as U.S ambassador to the United Nations during President Bill Clinton’s first term, she urged tough international response against the nearly 4-year Bosnian Serb shelling of Bosnia’s capital, Sarajevo. Albright also worked...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — The United States and four European countries on Wednesday criticized Kosovo’s rejection of their “constructive proposal” for allowing the Balkan nation’s ethnic Serb minority to vote in neighboring Serbia’s April 3 election. In a joint statement, the U.S., France Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom said they had spent months “intensely engaged” with Kosovo and Serbia “to find a pragmatic solution” for the participation of ethnic Serb citizens of Kosovo in the election. “We acknowledge that it is the Kosovo government’s prerogative to decide whether or not to permit facilitation of voting in another country’s elections, read the statement from the five Western nations. “With this decision, Kosovo’s government failed to demonstrate its commitment to the principle of protecting the civil and political rights of all its citizens, including of members of minority groups.” The statement did not describe what the rejected proposal entailed. Kosovo’s prime minister, Albin Kurti, said his Cabinet has not decided against facilitating voting in Serbia’s election, but he insisted the two countries first need to have a preliminary agreement...
    BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) – Germany’s foreign minister has urged Serbia, which has not imposed sanctions on traditional ally Russia over the war in Ukraine, to align policies with the European Union if it wants to join the bloc. Annalena Baerbock said Friday in Serbia’s capital Belgrade that “we all must have a clear position” over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian president Vladimir Putin, Baerbock said, launched a “shameless campaign of destruction” that is targeting “maternity wards, schools, (people’s) homes.” While Serbia has criticized the attack on Ukraine and voted in the United Nations for the condemnation of the attack, Belgrade has refrained from joining Western sanctions against Moscow. As Serbia Mulls EU Membership, Russia Flies In #Coronavirus Aid https://t.co/mm75uae4wN — Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 5, 2020 Historically considered a friendly nation, Russia remains popular among the Serbs, particularly because of Moscow’s support for Serbia’s opposition to the Western-backed independence of the breakaway former Kosovo province. Baerbock praised Serbia’s UN vote and the offer to host Ukrainian refugees. But she added that “joining the European Union means readiness to align...
    BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Well before Russian tanks and troops rolled into Ukraine, Vladimir Putin was using the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s to ostensibly offer justification for the invasion of a sovereign European country. The Russian president has been particularly focused on NATO’s bombardment of Serbia in 1999 and the West’s acceptance of Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008. He claims both created an illegal precedent that shattered international law and order, apparently giving him an excuse to invade Ukraine. Putin’s arguments, repeated several times since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, appear to follow this line: If different ex-Yugoslav republics and the former Serbian province of Kosovo could become independent with Western backing and wars, why can’t Ukraine’s strategic Black Sea peninsula and the rebel-controlled, majority Russian areas in the east of the country split from their mother nations — with Russian help? With strong U.S. support, ethnic Albanian-dominated Kosovo seceded over Serbia’s strong objections. Russia, a historic ally of the Serbs, argued then that this set a precedent that could trigger a series of statehood claims...
    BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — With all eyes on a possible Russia invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin is sending his top security envoy to the Balkans where Moscow has been trying to maintain influence mainly through its ally Serbia. Serbia’s pro-government media said Monday Nikolai Patrushev, the powerful secretary of the Kremlin’s Security Council, is due to arrive in Belgrade in the coming days for talks with Serbia President Aleksandar Vucic. Moscow hasn’t made an announcement about Patrushev’s trip. The talks are reportedly to focus on Moscow’s claims that “mercenaries” from Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia are being sent from those Balkan states to fight on the Ukrainian side against the pro-Russia rebels amid fears of a Russian attack. Officials from Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia have rejected those claims, which were made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week. “There’s information that mercenaries are being recruited in Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina to knock Russia out of balance and send them to places including Donbass,” Lavrov said according to the Russian TASS news agency, referring to the rebel-held...
    BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — The European Union envoy in talks on normalizing relations between Serbia and Kosovo said Thursday he is “rather optimistic” that the next top-level meeting in the stalled EU-facilitated negotiations would result in some progress. Miroslav Lajcak did not specify when the meeting between the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo — following two others that produced no breakthrough — could take place. But he said diplomatic efforts are underway to make sure that the future encounter in Brussels between Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti provides results. Both Serbia and Kosovo have been told they must find common ground in order to move forward in their bids to join the 27-nation EU. The focus of their dispute is Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia, after a bloody conflict in 1998-99 that killed around 13,000 people and triggered a NATO intervention. Belgrade refuses to recognize its former province’s independence. “The question is when, certainly not if, the meeting will happen,” Lajcak said at a joint press conference with Gabriel Escobar, the...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Envoys from the European Union and the United States on Wednesday urged Kosovo and Serbia to make concrete progress in EU-brokered negotiations aimed at resolving a long-running dispute that remains a source of tensions in the volatile Balkans. Miroslav Lajcak, the EU’s special envoy for the talks, and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary Gabriel Escobar ended a three-day visit to Pristina, Kosovo, where they met with local leaders and the international community. “We both want to see Kosovo and Serbia turn the page, to leave the past behind and to normalize relations,” Lajcak told a news conference before heading to Belgrade, Serbia. Lajcak said that normalizing ties between Kosovo and Serbia would contribute to the stability in the region. “The international community expected faster progress in the dialogue in 2021, and we hope that this will be the case in 2022,” he added. Western Balkan countries are at different stages of the integration process with the European Union. Kosovo declared independence in 2008 after a bloody conflict with Serbia that left more than 10,000 people...
    BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia held a referendum Sunday on constitutional amendments that the populist government says are needed for the Balkan country to advance in a bid to join the European Union. The ballot focuses on the changes in the election of judges and prosecutors that authorities say are aimed at boosting their independence in the country where the judiciary is widely seen as corrupt and politically controlled. The referendum has been hailed by the United States, the European Union and some Western countries as a step in the right direction. But critics at home say the changes are insufficient. Some opposition parties and independent experts also have argued that the referendum was organized in a generally non-democratic atmosphere, too hastily and too soon before an election that is due in early April. President Aleksandar Vucic’s government has faced accusations of curbing democratic freedoms, which they have denied. Vucic and other officials on Sunday urged voters to support the amendments and help the country move forward. About 6.5 million Serbian citizens were eligible to vote in...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo police on Saturday said they had stopped from entering documentation that Serbia had sent to allow the ethnic Serb minority to take part in a referendum. A statement said that one car and two trucks were stopped at the Merdare border crossing point with Serbia a day earlier. The trucks have been confiscated while six people in the vehicles were turned back. Serbia is holding a referendum on Sunday on amendments to boost the independence of its judiciary as part of reforms needed for the country to move closer to European Union membership. Belgrade wants its ethnic Serb minority in Kosovo to participate. But Kosovo authorities say ethnic Serbs in its territory may cast the ballot only via mail or at a liaison office, ignoring past practice of setting up voting stations in Serb-dominated areas. A statement on Friday from Kosovo’s top authorities said Kosovo laws “do not recognize the right of one state to hold a referendum in the sovereign territory of another state,” adding that “the practices applied so far since 2012...
    BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Kosovo on Friday rejected a call from Western governments to let its ethnic Serb minority vote in a referendum of neighboring Serbia, as it had done in Serbian elections until now, in what could fuel tensions in the volatile part of the Balkans. A joint statement by Kosovo’s top authorities said the Serbs can cast ballots only via mail or at a liaison office, without following the past practice of setting up voting stations in Serb-dominated areas. Kosovo laws “do not recognize the right of one state to hold a referendum in the sovereign territory of another state,” said a statement from Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani’s office. “The practices applied so far since 2012 have been unconstitutional.” The decision is likely further strain relations between Kosovo and Serbia. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move that Belgrade has refused to recognize. A delegation of Kosovo Serbs on Friday discussed the issue in Belgrade with Serbia’s populist President Aleksandar Vucic. The referendum on Sunday focuses on amendments that Serbia’s government says would...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) – The NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo said Saturday that a participating soldier from North Macedonia has died. The Kosovo Force mission said the male service member died in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital, on Friday in circumstances unrelated to combat. A KFOR statement did not give the cause of death or any personal details. “NATO mourns the loss of a soldier and we are here to support his friends. His fellow soldiers, sailors and airmen continue their U.N.-mandated brave mission,” the statement said. Seven Hurt as Kosovo Police Clash with Ethnic Serbs https://t.co/ROhpLn4LbE — Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 13, 2021 North Macedonia joined NATO in 2020. The KFOR mission includes some 4,000 troops from 28 countries. NATO troops have been present in Kosovo since 1999 after a bloody war between Serbia forces and ethnic Albanian separatists that ended with a 78-day NATO air campaign. Kosovo was a Serbian province until it declared independence in 2008. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo´s independence, and their relations remain tense. Follow Breitbart London on Facebook: Breitbart London
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — The NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo said Saturday that a participating solider from North Macedonia has died. The Kosovo Force mission said the male service member died in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital, on Friday in circumstances unrelated to combat. A KFOR statement did not give the cause of death or any personal details. “NATO mourns the loss of a soldier and we are here to support his friends. His fellow soldiers, sailors and airmen continue their U.N.-mandated brave mission,” the statement said. North Macedonia joined NATO in 2020. The KFOR mission includes some 4,000 troops from 28 countries. NATO troops have been present in Kosovo since 1999 after a bloody war between Serbia forces and ethnic Albanian separatists that ended with a 78-day NATO air campaign. Kosovo was a Serbian province until it declared independence in 2008. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence, and their relations remain tense. Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.
    BRUSSELS (AP) — Serbia on Tuesday took a significant step forward in its quest to join the European Union by opening talks on a series of policies linked to the environment, but Belgrade was warned that progress on its European path still depends on normalizing relations with its former territory, Kosovo. Countries wanting to join the 27-country EU must bring their laws and regulations into line with the bloc’s standards. That’s achieved by negotiations in 35 policy areas, or chapters, ranging from things like the free movement of worker, to taxation, or agricultural and economic policy. On Tuesday, Serbia was permitted to open talks on climate change and environment, energy, transport policy and trans-European infrastructure networks. Belgrade has now opened 22 negotiating chapters since its membership talks began in 2014. It’s the first time Serbia has opened four chapters at once. Serbian Prime Minster Ana Brnabic told reporters in Brussels that the move marks “a very important milestone for our European integration process.” EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi agreed that “Serbia is taking another very important step forward in joining...
    SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Moscow would continue providing natural gas to Serbia on terms favorable to its ally. Putin voiced confidence that a new contract for gas supplies to Serbia would be signed quickly to replace the current one that expires at year-end. “We will find a solution that would definitely be acceptable to our Serbian friends,” Putin said at the start of talks at his Black Sea residence in Sochi with visiting Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Putin also noted that Russia would continue to staunchly support Serbia amid recent tensions with Kosovo. “We support your position on the Kosovo settlement, and I hope that the situation will eventually evolve in a way that would conform to the interests of all people living in the region,” he said. Kosovo was a Serb province until a 1998-1999 insurrection by ethnic Albanian rebels sparked a bloody Serbian crackdown. That pushed NATO to carry out a 78-day bombing campaign to force Serbian troops out of Kosovo. The war left more than 10,000 people dead. Kosovo declared...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo is holding runoff municipal elections on Sunday in almost two-thirds of the country after the center-right opposition parties dominated in the first round. About 1.26 million voters in the small Balkan nation on Sunday will be eligible to cast ballots in the second round to elect mayors in 21 out of 38 municipalities. Turnout in the first round was 43.5%, slightly less than four years ago. Voting was peaceful. The governing left-wing Self-Determination Party, or Vetevendosje!, of Prime Minister Albin Kurti has won no mayoral post so far, though it is ahead in the capital Pristina where it has nominated its former health minister, Arben Vitia. The center-right opposition Democratic Party of Kosovo of former independence fighters, the Democratic League of Kosovo and the Alliance for Kosovo’s Future have won eight mayor seats and are strong contenders for more. The Srpska List party of Kosovo’s ethnic Serb minority, which is close to the Serbian government in Belgrade, has won nine out of 10 seats in the northern Kosovar communes populated by that minority....
    The White House mocked former President Trump for claiming to deploy his 'envoy ambassador' to tout his Serbia-Kosovo agreement, bypassing about the current administration.  Trump named Grenell his special envoy for Serbia-Kosovo peace relations in 2019, at the same time he served as ambassador to Germany. Grenell was named acting director of national intelligence in 2020.  Trump said he'd sent the former ambassador on the foreign policy mission, but Grenell made clear he was there as a 'private citizen.'  'The great people of Serbia and Kosovo have overcome tremendous obstacles in their pursuit of economic normalization. The agreements my administration brokered are historic and should not be abandoned, many lives are at stake,' Trump said in a statement.  'The region is too important and the people have waited too long for this work to be cast aside. Today, my Envoy Ambassador Ric Grenell visited the Kosovo-Serbia border to highlight this important agreement.'  'Outside of his very active imagination, Donald Trump is no longer President and doesn't have any 'envoy ambassadors' representing the United States,' a White House official told reporters...
    Donald Trump says he sent his 'Envoy Ambassador' Ric Grenell to the border between Serbia and Kosovo. Former President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested he's running a shadow government out of his Mar-a-Lago golf club in Florida, saying he sent an "Envoy Ambassador" to the Kosovo-Serbia border to help the two nations work toward "peace." "The great people of Serbia and Kosovo have overcome tremendous obstacles in their pursuit of economic normalization," says a statement released by Trump's Save America PAC in which he describes himself as the "45th President of the United States." Trump says, "The agreements my administration brokered are historic and should not be abandoned, many lives are at stake. The region is too important and the people have waited too long for this work to be cast aside. Today, my Envoy Ambassador Ric Grenell visited the Kosovo-Serbia border to highlight this important agreement." Trump's statement raises eyebrows, not least because in 2019 he accused former Secretary of State John Kerry of violating the Logan Act for talking to Iran...
    ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images The White House mocked former President Donald Trump on Thursday for announcing that he was sending an ambassador — his “Envoy Ambassador Ric Grenell” — to “the Kosovo-Serbia border to highlight” last year’s economic normalization between those two countries. Grenell served as the Special Presidential Envoy for Serbia and Kosovo Peace Negotiations between 2019 and 2021. He was also U.S. ambassador to Germany between 2018 and 2020. According to his Instagram page, he landed in Kosovo this week. “The great people of Serbia and Kosovo have overcome tremendous obstacles in their pursuit of economic normalization,” said Trump in a statement. “The agreements my administration brokered are historic and should not be abandoned, many lives are at stake. The region is too important and the people have waited too long for this work to be cast aside.” “Today, my Envoy Ambassador Ric Grenell visited the Kosovo-Serbia border to highlight this important agreement,” he continued. “Just like we proved in the Middle East with the Abraham Accords, peace and economic normalization is possible, but it takes a...
    Sean Gallup/Getty Images Former President Donald Trump revealed via a statement sent Thursday morning that Ric Grenell is currently visiting the Kosovo-Serbia border to highlight a peace agreement brokered under his administration. “Today, my Envoy Ambassador Ric Grenell visited the Kosovo-Serbia border to highlight this important agreement,” Trump wrote via his Save America PAC, revealing that he has an Envoy Ambassador, in what some may see as a naked play to stay relevant in the current political climate. Trump wrote: The great people of Serbia and Kosovo have overcome tremendous obstacles in their pursuit of economic normalization. The agreements my administration brokered are historic and should not be abandoned, many lives are at stake. The region is too important and the people have waited too long for this work to be cast aside. Today, my Envoy Ambassador Ric Grenell visited the Kosovo-Serbia border to highlight this important agreement. Just like we proved in the Middle East with the Abraham Accords, peace and economic normalization is possible, but it takes a sincere effort and unwavering leadership. Peace is possible, don’t give...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo’s boxing federation on Sunday said Serbia had stopped its team entering the country to take part in the amateur world championships. Kosovo had planned to send three competitors to the Oct. 24-Nov. 6 AIBA championships. The boxers tried to cross the border with Serbia on Saturday but were asked not to wear their sports uniforms featuring their country’s logo. A repeat attempt on Sunday also failed despite efforts from the International Boxing Association, according to the Kosovo federation’s secretary general Latif Demolli. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence. Kosovo was a Serbian province before it declared independence in 2008. That followed fighting in 1998-1999 between Serbian troops and ethnic Albanian separatists, which ended after a NATO air campaign against Serbian forces. AIBA said in a statement that it had contacted Serbian boxing authorities and was trying to resolve the issue, adding it aimed “to provide a welcoming home for every boxer, and the world of boxing has no borders.” “We believe that all athletes must receive a fair chance to compete and demonstrate their...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Preliminary results on Monday show that the center-right opposition parties have dominated in Kosovo’s municipal elections but more than half of communes will go to runoffs in a month’s time. About 1.9 million voters in the small Balkan nation were electing mayors for 38 municipalities and about 1,000 town hall lawmakers. Election officials said preliminary turnout was 42.5%, slightly less than four years ago. Voting was peaceful. Police arrested 13 people for possible voting violations. With almost all the vote counted, preliminary results published online by the Central Election Commission showed that 21 communes will need a runoff in a month to elect their mayors. The governing left-wing Self-Determination Party, or Vetevendosje!, of Prime Minister Albin Kurti has won no mayoral post so far, though it is ahead in the capital Pristina where it had nominated its former health minister, Arben Vitia. Pristina, too, goes to a runoff. The center-right Democratic Party of Kosovo of former independence fighters, and whose ex-leaders are being tried for war crimes, has won nine posts, followed by the center-right Democratic...
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo is holding municipal elections Sunday in which the left-wing party that has been in government for eight months is aiming to capture the city hall of the capital, Pristina. About 1.9 million voters are casting ballots to elect mayors for 38 municipalities and some 1,000 town hall lawmakers. Preliminary results are expected by midnight. In previous polls many of the communes have gone to runoffs, which take place in a month’s time. The main contest will be for Pristina City Hall for which the governing left-wing Self-Determination Party, or Vetevendosje!, has nominated its former health minister, Arben Vitia. Voting in the north populated predominantly by the ethnic Serb minority will attract much attention following two incidents in the past two months that have led to soaring tensions between Kosovo and Serbia. Earlier this week, Kosovo police clashed with ethnic Serbs during an anti-smuggling operation, and last month an issue over vehicle license plates was resolved only after mediation from the European Union and the United States. The NATO-led Kosovo Force, or KFOR, deployed troops...
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Two leaders of a Kosovo veterans association pleaded innocent Thursday to charges including obstructing justice and intimidation of witnesses, as their trial opened at a court in The Hague. Hysni Gucati, who was chairman of the Kosovo Liberation Army War Veterans Association when he was arrested last year, and his deputy, Nasim Haradinaj, both face charges of obstructing justice and intimidation in September last year for allegedly revealing information including the identity of potential witnesses at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers court. Both men told Presiding Judge Charles Smith III they were innocent of all charges. “I am always against injustice,” Haradinaj said. Witness intimidation has been a major problem in international prosecutions of crimes committed during Kosovo’s 1998-1999 fight to break away from Serbia and the Hague-based court is working hard to protect the people who offer to assist its investigations. The veterans association represents former ethnic Albanian separatists who fought Serbian troops in the war for independence. The special court is investigating war crimes and crimes against humanity linked to the conflict....
    BRUSSELS (AP) — As European Union leaders gather for a summit on how to keep engaging with their Western Balkans neighbors, the bloc’s once-successful enlargement policy faces an impasse. The European Commission made repeated promises that the future of six countries in the region lies within the 27-nation bloc. But progress has stalled on admitting Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia amid divisions among member countries and some bilateral issues. Nationalist populism has risen in Hungary and Poland, undermining unity. The entry of well over 1 million migrants in 2015 has exposed stark differences about how to manage them, sparking a major political crisis that has yet to be resolved. EU expansion has also been routinely sidelined by crises like the Greek financial meltdown and Britain’s drawn-out exit, leaving the bloc very focused on its own survival rather than taking in new members. The planned departure of longtime German chancellor Angela Merkel and next year’s presidential election in France have deprived the EU of clear leadership, adding to the decision-making burden. Although EU member countries are expected...
    JARINJE, Kosovo (AP) — Soldiers with a NATO-led peacekeeping mission are keeping watch at the Kosovo-Serbia border after the two countries reached a deal to deescalate tensions triggered by a dispute over vehicle license plates. Kosovo Force troops from the United States, Italy and Poland were seen patrolling Saturday as ethnic Serbs removed the trucks they had used to block the road to two border crossings while protesting the Kosovo government’s decision not to allow vehicles with Serbian license plates into the country. Kosovar special police forces also pulled back from the border, where they were deployed two weeks ago to remove the license plates from entering cars and to replace them with temporary registration in Kosovo. The government in Pristina said they were replicating what Serbia had done to Kosovar motorists for a decade. Kosovo was a Serbian province before it declared independence in 2008, and Serbian troops and ethnic Albanian separatists fought a bloody war in Kosovo during the 1990s. European Union mediator Miroslav Lajcak persuaded representatives from the neighboring Balkan nations this week to...
    BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia and Kosovo have reached an agreement to deescalate tensions on their mutual border that have been triggered by a dispute over vehicle license plates, a European Union mediator announced Thursday. “We have a deal! After two days of intense negotiations, an agreement on de-escalation and the way forward has just been reached,” EU mediator Miroslav Lajcak tweeted. Last week, Kosovo’s government deployed special police forces to the border crossings to impose a new rule of removing Serb license plates from cars coming into the country, saying that a 10-year-old deal had expired. Pristina said they were replicating what Serbia had done for the past decade. Protesting the new Kosovo rule, Kosovo Serbs blocked the border with trucks, and people could only cross on foot. Serbian military jets and helicopters have been flying close to the border with Kosovo in an apparent show of force. Lajcak tweeted the agreed three-point plan that calls for the withdrawal of special Kosovo police unit from the border crossings as well as the lifting of the Kosovo Serb blockades....
    PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — The head of the European Union’s executive branch on Wednesday called on Kosovo and Serbia to resolve their disputes through the dialogue and deescalate the recent tension over license plates. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, to meet with senior leaders as part of her regional tour before an EU-Western Balkans summit on Oct. 6. “It is vital that Kosovo and Serbia normalize their relations,” she said at a news conference with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti. “The EU-facilitated dialogue … is the only platform to resolve the current crisis.” Representatives of the two countries were meeting Wednesday in Brussels, facilitated by the EU envoy Miroslav Lajcak. Last week, Kosovo’s government deployed special police forces to the border crossings to impose a new rule of removing Serb license plates from cars coming into the country, saying that a 10-year-old deal had expired. Pristina said they were replicating what Serbia had done for the last 10 years. Kosovo Serbs blocked the border with trucks and people could only pass it...
    Pristina, KosovoNATO troops stepped up patrols in Kosovo on Monday near border crossings which have been blocked by local Serbs angered by a ban on cars with Serbian license plates entering the country in a mounting confrontation.Video footage showed NATO armored vehicles moving close to the barricades made of trucks and other vehicles on the Kosovo-Serbia frontier, as Serbian government jets flew overheard.Serbs from Kosovo's north have blocked two main roads since the number-plate ban went into force on Monday last week, exacerbating tensions between the two countries and prompting calls for calm from NATO and the European Union.Under the ban, all drivers from Serbia must now use temporary printed registration details that are valid for 60 days. Local Serbs stand beside a roadblock on the route to the northern Kosovo border crossing of Jarinje on September 21.The Kosovo government says it is in retaliation for measures in force in Serbia against drivers from Kosovo since 2008, when Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo's independence and therefore its right to take official actions such as registering...