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.


Taliban’s Ghazni assault sparks new Pak-Afghan tensions

Updated 18 August 2018
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Taliban’s Ghazni assault sparks new Pak-Afghan tensions

  • Pakistan’s Foreign Office says Afghanistan has not shared any evidence to support its recent allegations against Pakistan
  • Imran Khan’s idea of a soft border between Pakistan and Afghanistan may have suffered a big setback in the wake of the Ghazni attack

PESHAWAR: In the backdrop of the Taliban’s brazen assault on the southern city of Ghazni in Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani alleged that the bodies of the perpetrators had arrived in Pakistan, though Islamabad maintained that Kabul had not officially shared any information or evidence in this regard.
Soon after that, the Afghan president said in a fiery speech to a jirga in Ghazni: “I have a message for Pakistan. Dead bodies (of the Taliban) have arrived in (Pakistan). Peace cannot be forcefully imposed on Afghanistan. Where did they (Taliban) come from and why are they being treated in (Pakistani) hospitals?”
But Pakistan strongly rejected reports claiming that some Taliban fighters involved in the Ghazni attack had been offered medical treatment in its hospitals.
In the absence of any official communication through regular channels established bilaterally, such reports cannot be given any credence, said Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday.
Haq Nawaz, a senior Peshawar-based security analyst, told Arab News that the newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan faced a string of daunting challenges, such as economic revival, political stability, tackling corruption, and improving relations with his country’s immediate neighbors.
However, he added that recent developments in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have stepped up violent activities, will probably constitute a much bigger predicament for the new political administration.
He recalled that Khan had mentioned in his victory speech that he wanted a European Union-style soft border with Afghanistan, claiming that the idea had seemingly received a setback after the Ghazni attack.
“The latest bout of allegations will have a negative impact on the process of reviving good relations between the two neighboring countries,” Nawaz noted.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa also expressed “deep concern” over the recent surge in violence in Afghanistan and lamented in a statement released by the military’s media wing the loss of precious lives.
Bajwa reiterated that Pakistan was not supporting terrorist activities inside Afghanistan. He added that the allegation about the movement of injured or dead terrorists from Ghazni to Pakistan was incorrect.
However, the army chief noted that there were scores of Pakistanis working in Afghanistan, and that some of them periodically fell victim to acts of terrorism along with their Afghan brothers inside Afghanistan. “Terming such victims as terrorists is unfortunate,” he maintained.
Yet, the Afghan president sought an explanation from Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership on the Ghazni attack.
“Imran Khan, you are the son of Pashtun parents. Investigate this and give me an answer. General Bajwa, you have repeatedly given me assurances over phone calls that special attention would be given to the issue of peace in Afghanistan once elections took place in Pakistan. Now give me an answer,” Ghani said while addressing a group of tribal elders attending the jirga.
Bajwa said that different factions of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan hiding in their sanctuaries in Afghanistan after assuming Afghan identities, were transported to Pakistan for medical help after receiving injuries.
Nawaz said the Afghan government should share relevant evidence with Pakistan in this case, arguing that using the media or social media to deal with such serious and sensitive developments can worsen the situation.
He said it was not just a statement or allegation from an ordinary official since the claim was made by a head of state, adding that both countries should settle such teething issues through dialogue and diplomatic channels.
However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted in its statement: “Such reports can only be viewed as malicious propaganda to vitiate the existing cooperation between the two countries.”