UN Must Make Up For Failure To Investigate Kosovo Missing

source: amnesty.org

The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) singularly failed to investigate the abduction and murders of Kosovo Serbs in the aftermath of the 1998-1999 conflict, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

It comes on the eve of a UN Security Council debate on Kosovo on 29 August.

“UNMIK’s failure to investigate what constituted a widespread, as well as a systematic, attack on a civilian population and, potentially, crimes against humanity, has contributed to the climate of impunity prevailing in Kosovo,” said Sian Jones, Amnesty International’s expert on Kosovo.

“There is no statute of limitations on crimes against humanity. They must be investigated and the families of the abducted and murdered must receive redress. The UN should not be allowed to shirk its responsibility any longer.”

In Kosovo: UNMIK’s Legacy: The failure to deliver justice and reparation to the relatives of the abducted, Amnesty International reveals how UNMIK failed to investigate reports of abductions and killings, despite being charged by the UN Security Council with protecting human rights in Kosovo.

The report is based on the initial findings of the Human Rights Advisory Panel (HRAP) set up by UNMIK to receive complaints from those who consider their rights to have been violated by UNMIK. The HRAP has received some 150 complaints from relatives of missing persons – primarily Kosovo Serbs believed to have been abducted by members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Each complainant claimed that UNMIK had failed to investigate the abduction and subsequent murder of their relative or relatives.

The panel found that in several cases UNMIK was not able to present any evidence that an investigation took place, while in others UNMIK police appear to have given up on the investigation after the victim’s body had been handed over to the relatives. In one case UNMIK police were even unaware that the bodies of a missing husband and son had been found and returned to their family for burial.

In spite of the panel’s findings and recommendations, no further measures appear to have been taken by UNMIK to provide redress and reparation.

Although the report focuses on the abductions of Kosovo Serbs, allegedly by the KLA, Amnesty International’s own research has led to similar findings with regard to UNMIK’s failure to investigate enforced disappearances of ethnic Albanians by Serb forces.

Since 1999-2000, Amnesty International has monitored UNMIK’s progress in a number of emblematic cases of enforced disappearance and abduction. In five cases, involving the enforced disappearances of 27 ethnic Albanians, no-one has yet been brought to justice. In 10 other cases involving the abduction of 13 Serbs and Roma, only one perpetrator has been brought to justice, but by the Serbian authorities.

For nearly a decade after the conflict, UNMIK police and prosecutors failed to initiate prompt, effective, independent, impartial and thorough investigations into many reports of enforced disappearances and abductions. As a result, very few of those suspected of criminal responsibility for the war crimes and crimes against humanity have been brought to justice in international or domestic courts.

“Years have passed and the fate of the majority of the missing on both sides of the conflict is still unresolved, with their families still waiting for justice. The cases considered to date by the HRAP reveal how the victims of human rights violations have been left in limbo due to the lack of will within the UN system to ensure they receive appropriate compensation and other reparation,” said Sian Jones.

UNMIK’s responsibilities for police and justice ended on 9 December 2008, when the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) took over its policing, prosecutorial and judicial functions. This included responsibility for the investigation and prosecution of serious crimes, including crimes under international law. EULEX inherited 1,187 war crimes cases which UNMIK had failed to investigate

“While it is now up to EULEX to open investigations into cases of post-war abduction and murder, UNMIK must make sufficient funds available to provide the relatives of the missing with adequate and effective compensation for moral damages and their pain and suffering, in accordance with international law and standards,” said Sian Jones.

“The legacies of the Kosovo conflict must be resolved – this includes resolving the fate of missing persons from all communities in Kosovo, bringing to account those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and providing reparation. Only when that happens can the scars of the past conflict start to heal.”

Dacic Can Vote On Kosovo

source: balkaneu.com

Kosovo Central Election Commission has clarified the declaration made by Serbian Prime Minister, Ivica Dacic that he will vote in the local government elections. According to the CEC, Dacic must first register with this commission.

“If he wants to vote in the local government elections in Kosovo, the Serbian Prime Minister, Ivica Dacic must register at the Central Election Commission in Kosovo. Prime Minister Dacic has declared in numerous occasions in the media that he wants to vote in the local elections in Kosovo, given that he was born in Prizren. This wish can be fulfilled for him”, said Bajram Latifi, member of CEC.

According to Latifi, out of all the criteria needed to have the right to vote, Dacic only meets that of age.

VMRO: One Century Old Serbian War Crimes Should Be Condemned

Macedonian political party VMRO has asked from the government in FYROM to intensify its efforts in shedding light upon the cemeteries of the victims caused by the Serb military, but on the other hand, this party praises the construction of the gigantic memorial in Zajaz for the Albanians killed in 1913 by the Serb government.

According to this party which is led by Lubco Georgievsky, former Prime Minister in FYROM from 1998 until 2002, Macedonians in the country demand for light to be shed on the Serb crimes during the Balkan wars. People’s VMRO says that during this war, crimes and massacres against the population have been perpetrated.

“We praise the construction of the memorial in Zajaz for the Albanians killed in 1913. We are terrified by the testimonies of such crime, where fighters who protected civilians and innocent people, died”, say sources from this party.

People’s VMRO also stresses that this also confirms the existence of Macedonian and Albanian massive cemeteries which have been victims of the Serb terror after the Second World War.

This party says that it’s astonished as to why the government and other relevant institutions have done nothing to clarify the events of the Balkan wars and the First World War.

source: balkaneu.com

Jeremic – Independent MP In October

President of the UN General Assembly Vuk Jeremic said that he intends to return to Belgrade and be an independent MP after his mandate in the global organisation expires.

In an interview for the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, Jeremic said that he would return to Belgrade in October so as to be a representative in the parliament of Serbian citizens who appointed him, and added that he has no intention of joining any party for now.

He said that he is an independent MP and added that he is satisfied by the independence for now.

Belgrade And Pristina Exchange Liaison Officers

Belgrade and Pristina have exchanged liaison officers after Dejan Pavicevic began his duty in the EU office in Pristina, and Ljuljzim Peci his in EU Mission in Belgrade.

This officially marked the exchange of liaison officers, which was one of results of negotiations of Prime Ministers Ivica Dacic and Kosovo Prime Ministers Hashim Thaci.

“Wherever my people needs me to do something, I will answer every such call, and I will go everywhere where it’s necessary”, said Pavicevic.

Ljuljzim Peci talked to the press upon starting his duty, wishing them “good afternoon” in Serbian, Albanian, and English, and then continued his speech in Serbian.

“This is very significant day for normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia. I expect open and good cooperation with Serbian state institutions and I am here to give my contribution to normalization of relations between our two countries”, said Peci.

UN General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic Meets Pope Francis

Before the meeting in the Vatican, UN General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic presented Pope Francis with the icon of Saint Sava, made by Serbian craftsmen from Prizren, town in breakaway Serbian province Kosovo and Metohija.

The Middle East and human trafficking were the central theme during dicussions this morning between Pope Francis and the UN General Assembly president Vuk Jeremic. Jeremic also met with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, accompanied by the Secretary for Relations with States, Msgr. Dominique Mamberti in the Apostolic Palace.

A number of issues of mutual interest were discussed in particular the resolution of international conflicts through peaceful means, with specific reference to the Middle East, and the serious humanitarian emergencies caused by them. In this context the importance of reconciliation between the various communities that make up society and respect for the rights of ethnic and religious minorities was recognized. The problem of human trafficking was also dwelt upon as well as the plight of refugees and migrants.

With regard to the present global economic crisis, reference was made to the role that the UN General Assembly could assume in programs for the sustainable development agenda after 2015, which respects the environment and at the same time is capable of reducing the distance between rich and poor.

Meeting confirmed the Holy See’s appreciation for the central role of the Organization in the search for the common good of humanity. Mention was made of the contribution that the Catholic Church also makes, with the means proper to and in accordance with her identity, in favor of the promotion of integral human dignity, peace and a culture of encounter, hoping that those values ​​can always inspire the General Assembly’s debates and deliberations.

Putin-Nikolic Meeting

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of Serbia Tomislav Nikolic discussed in Sochi current bilateral relations and a number of regional and international issues.

Following the talks, the two presidents signed a Declaration on Strategic Partnership between Russia and Serbia.

Nikolic thanked Vladimir Putin, for Russia’s support of international norms when handling the situation around Kosovo.

“Serbia is grateful to Russia for upholding international law in its stand on the Kosovo issue,” Nikolic said.

The meeting of the two presidents, the third since Nikolic was elected president of Serbia, was attended by First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkic, on the Serbian side and by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov on the Russian side.

Kosovo Doesn’t Accept A Treaty Of Peace, Serbia Expecting The Date For The Start Of Negotiations With The EU

Whilst talks continue to be held for the implementation of the agreement, parties have different interpretations and expectations for it. Meanwhile analysts in Kosovo warn for the birth of the Republic of Serbia in Kosovo.

The deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo, Hajredin Kuçi has said that this week, parties will come up with an implementation plan for the agreement reached in Brussels on April 19. But he insists that he’s sure that there won’t be a Treaty of Peace with Serbia. “There will not be a Treaty of Peace with Serbia without the problem of the Albanians in the Valley of Presevo being solved first”, said Kuçi.

Meanwhile, the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vucic has said that Serbia is now expecting aid for economic development and more investments. He expressed his conviction that in June, Serbia will be given the date for the start of negotiations with the EU.

“We demand Pristina to respect the Agreement and not to compensate for something that it has not had. I’d like to stress that Serbia has its own important and crucial issues, besides those that are mentioned, focusing on the economic development and investments”, said Vucic commenting the declarations of the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guido Westerwelle who said that the agreement is a condition for Serbia if it wants to be given the date for the start of negotiations with the EU in relation to its accession.

Yesterday, Westerwelle has appealed for the implementation of the agreement, which aims the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

“The implementation of the Brussels Agreement is the main condition for further progress of Serbia in the European path”, said Westerwelle.

Germany is amongst those EU countries which have appealed the most to Serbia to remove its parallel structures from the North of Kosovo and normalize relations with it if it wants to make progress in the integrating process.

Meanwhile, analysts in Kosovo say that this situation may lead to the creation of a Serb Republic in Kosovo.

“Now, with the First Agreement for the Normalization of Relations (2013 Brussels Agreement), which has been accepted by the Delegation of Kosovo and that of Serbia, the autonomy of the Serbs of Kosovo is expanded in domains which were not sanctioned in the Agreement of Rambouillet or the Proposal of Ahtisaari, such as the justice system, police and political institutions. Therefore, we may face the creation of a new SrpskaRepublic and if the Serbs of Kosovo make the most of it, then at the end of this decade we may have a political entity such as SrpskaRepublic”, says analyst Shkelzen Gashi.

Kosovo is negotiating about the implementation of the Agreement and parties are also discussing the technical side of things.

source: balkaneu.com

Harsh Words At Protest In Belgrade

Several thousand people attended the protest in downtown Belgrade against the agreement between Belgrade and Pristina. The protest started symbolically at 12:44, entitled “We remain in Serbia”.

The speakers demanded the rejection of the Brussels agreement, resignation of President Tomislav Nikolic and the government and general elections in Serbia.

Real scandal was caused by statements of Metropolitan bishop Amfilohije who said that he is praying for government’s and parliament’s death, and the retired bishop Atanasije who said: “The Prime Minister talks about real politics and is not interested in heavenly Serbia. Zoran Djindjic (murdered 10 years ago) was saying the same things and we all know how he ended”.

The protest was ended by reading the demands for the Constitutional court to urgently issue a statement about the agreement, and if they refuse, then a referendum must be issued so that the people could decide about the agreement’s validity.

Degert: We Are Not Asking From Serbia To Recognize Kosovo, But We Do Not Want To Import Conflicts Into EU

Chief of delegation of EU in Serbia Vincent Degert said that it can’t be allowed for Serbia to bring an unresolved conflict into EU, and that it is the reason why the European Union wants the problem to be solved before that, adding that nobody is asking from Serbia to recognize Kosovo’s independence.

“We do not wish to see Serbia become a member of EU with unresolved disputes with neighbors, and that’s why we insist that both parties discuss the problems, and find a sustainable solution which will make life in Serbia and Kosovo easier”, said Degert.

“We are not asking from Serbia to recognize Kosovo, this is the issue that we do not address at all in the discussions, but we want for Belgrade and Pristina to find a way to normalize relations and offers solutions to their citizens, institutions that function, judiciary that works, trading possibilities”, ended Degert.