Kosovo president expects to reach ‘historic’ deal with Serbia this year

Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci said: ‘The deal between Kosovo and Serbia, which I believe will happen in 2018, will be a historic and comprehensive agreement which will result in Kosovo’s membership of the United Nations.’ (Reuters)
Updated 13 February 2018
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Kosovo president expects to reach ‘historic’ deal with Serbia this year

PRISTINA: Kosovo expects to resolve outstanding issues with Serbia this year by reaching an “historic” agreement that would pave the way for the Balkan country to get a seat at the United Nations, President Hashim Thaci said on Tuesday.
Kosovo seceded a decade ago from Serbia, but its independence has not been recognized by Belgrade, which together with its traditional allies Moscow and Beijing has blocked Pristina’s bid for a UN seat.
As Belgrade moves closer to membership in the European Union, Serbian authorities are under pressure to resolve relations with neighbors including Kosovo.
“The deal between Kosovo and Serbia, which I believe will happen in 2018, will be a historic, a comprehensive agreement which will result in Kosovo’s membership in United Nations,” Thaci told Reuters in an interview.
Serbia lost control over Kosovo in 1999 when NATO waged a bombing campaign to halt killings of ethnic Albanians in a two-year counter-insurgency war. Nearly a decade later, in 2008, Kosovo declared independence, backed by the United States and most of the Western European states.
Kosovo’s independence has been recognized by 115 states so far.
Thaci said the agreement with Serbia would bring full normalization of relations between the former foes, although they may not be required to recognize each other as independent states.
Kosovo’s relations with Western countries was soured by an initiative to scrap a law that established a war crimes court. The initiative was shelved under pressure by Western embassies in Pristina, and the court was set up in 2015, although it has yet to hear a case.
The Specialist Chamber, which has the authority to try ex-Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerrillas for alleged atrocities in the war that led to independence from Serbia, is part of Kosovo’s legal system but based in The Hague to minimize the risks of witness intimidation and judicial corruption.
Kosovo’s media have reported that some of the leading Kosovo politicians, including Thaci, who was commander of the KLA, could be indicted by the court or called to testify.
“This was a historic injustice but for the sake of keeping the strategic partnership with the US, EU and NATO we created that (the court),” Thaci said. “Kosovo has nothing to hide.”
Asked what he would do if called to testify as a witness or defendant by the court, he said: “The president or any other citizen of this country has no reason to be afraid.”
“We never violated Kosovo law or international laws. We have fought against a dictator, against a man who committed genocide,” he said, referring to former Yugoslav and Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, who died in 2006 while on trial for war crimes.
The 1.8 million-strong country is preparing for a big celebration on Saturday to commemorate the 10th anniversary of its declaration of independence. Kosovo-born British singer Rita Ora is due to hold a big concert in Pristina.


Spanish emergency services working to rescue toddler trapped in well

Updated 16 January 2019
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Spanish emergency services working to rescue toddler trapped in well

  • Among debris pulled out of the well, rescuers found hair, which DNA tests confirmed belonged to the child
  • Emergency services are using cameras to try to locate the child but said access was difficult, with soil partially blocking the well

TOTALAN, Spain: Spanish emergency services were working to rescue a toddler trapped in a well since Sunday.
The two-year-old boy was seen falling into the well as his family walked through a private estate in Totalan, Malaga, in southern Spain, his father Jose told Spanish media.
Among debris pulled out of the well, rescuers found hair, which DNA tests confirmed belonged to the child. No signs of life have been detected.
The town’s residents turned out on Wednesday for a vigil to support the family, many holding homemade placards reading “All of Spain is with you” and “We are sending you our strength.” One man held a sign simply reading “Julen,” the name of the toddler.
Emergency services are using cameras to try to locate the child but said access was difficult, with soil partially blocking the well, which is just 25 cm (10 inches) wide and 100 meters (328 feet) deep.
“We are not only giving voice for all the residents of Totalan but also for the rest of the country because we have all had Julen in our minds since last Sunday,” resident Patricia Calderon told reporters.
Spanish police said members of a Swedish firm which helped locate 33 Chilean miners rescued after 69 days underground more than seven years ago had arrived on Tuesday to help in the rescue operation.
Alternative routes were being studied and officials said they were working to dig a tunnel next to the well.