Serbia ‘open to solutions’ on Kosovo

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, left, and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, right, review the honor guard during an official welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace in Bucharest. (AFP)
Updated 08 March 2018
0

Serbia ‘open to solutions’ on Kosovo

BUCHAREST, Romania: Serbia’s president said Thursday that his country won’t recognize Kosovo as an independent nation, but is open to discussing solutions to the contentious issue.
“If we recognize Kosovo ... Albanians will gain everything, and my question is — what will Serbs get?” said President Aleksandar Vucic, who was in Romania for talks with President Klaus Iohannis.
“You’re going to get your monasteries protected, your churches protected. My counter question ... would be — and otherwise you would burn it, or what?” he said in English, echoing the emotions of many Serbs who view Kosovo as Serbia’s historic heartland and refuse to give up claims to it.
He added, however, that Serbia is willing to discuss “all possible solutions,” though part of the issue is “how to sell it to our public and how the Albanians sell it to their public.”
Vucic said if both sides delivered a solution “it will mean that we do care about the future of our people and the future of our nation,” although he acknowledged that failure was a more likely outcome.
Last month, during a visit to Belgrade, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told Serbia it had to solve its dispute with Kosovo and implement a series of reforms before it can join the European Union.
Vucic thanked Iohannis, who offered to help on the Kosovo issue. Romania traditionally has good relations with Serbia and supports its bid to join the European Union.
“If the solution is not fair.... and is not supported, it won’t be a solution,” Iohannis cautioned.
Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and is recognized by 115 countries. Serbia and Romania do not recognize Kosovo.
About 10,000 people were killed during the 1998-99 war in Kosovo which ended when NATO bombed Serbia to end its crackdown against independence-minded ethnic Albanians.


‘Worst nightmare’: Dutch rail collision kills 4 children

The accident described as the “worst nightmare of any parent.” (AFP/ANP)
Updated 20 September 2018
0

‘Worst nightmare’: Dutch rail collision kills 4 children

  • Police said they were investigating reports that the brakes had failed on the wagon
  • The train was equipped with a front-mounted video camera that will be used in the investigation

THE HAGUE: Four young children from a Dutch daycare center were killed on Thursday when a train smashed into their electric cart at a crossing, in an accident described as the “worst nightmare of any parent.”
Another child and the woman driving the vehicle were critically injured in the accident in Oss, a town near the German border around 110 kilometers (65 miles) southeast of the capital Amsterdam.
Police said they were investigating reports that the brakes had failed on the wagon, which was taking children from daycare to school, as it approached the level crossing.
Two of the children who were killed were aged four, while the others were aged six and eight, ANP news agency said. Two of the dead youngsters and the injured child, who is 11, come from the same family.
“Today, every family is hit, and the accident leaves a big gap in families, the daycare center and school,” said Wobine Buijs, the mayor of Oss.
The electric cart, known as a Stint, features a Segway-type standing area for the driver at the back and a large plastic box at the front where children sit.
Reports in Dutch media said the 32-year-old woman driving the wagon had screamed for help after somehow ending up between the closed barriers of the level crossing, and that children’s rucksacks could be seen flying in the air when it was hit by the train.
The cart had just dropped some children off at a local school and was on its way to another when the crash happened.
Local police chief Dianne van Gammeren refused to confirm that the driver had tried to stop but the brakes did not work, saying: “I cannot comment on that at the moment, which is part of the inquiry.”
Edwin Renzen, the founder of the Renzen company that makes the Stint wagons, was quoted by NOS broadcaster as saying that “this is the worst nightmare of any parent.”
“This is incomprehensible. We are parents and spent years developing the Stints ourselves. I don’t know what I can do, but I just have to go to Oss,” he was also quoted as saying by the ANP news agency.
Around 3,000 Stints are in use throughout the Netherlands to transport around 60,000 children weekly, according to Renzen.
They are used by many daycare centers to ferry children around towns in the Netherlands, which has a huge network of bicycle paths that they can take.
Officials had earlier said that the children were on a cargo bike, which is similar but smaller and relies on pedal power.
The train, which was carrying 57 passengers from the eastern town of Nijmegen to nearby Den Bosch, was equipped with a front-mounted video camera that will be used in the investigation, officials said.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted from an EU summit that he was “deeply affected by the incredibly sad news from Oss where four young children have died in a horrible accident.
“I wish everyone involved much strength with this heavy loss,” Rutte said.
Queen Maxima of the Netherlands said she and King Willem-Alexander “have no words” and that their “thoughts go out to all families who have lost their children“
The head of the Dutch rail infrastructure firm Pro Rail said it was a “day of mourning and sadness.”
“This is a rare blow. There will be a thorough investigation, and we will do our utmost to never let this happen again.”
It was the sixth such accident at the crossing since 1975, ANP said.
In July the Dutch safety board OVV slammed as “unacceptable” the fact that 11 people die in accidents on level crossings every year on average.
It said that “the Netherlands is the only country in Europe with a high volume of train traffic and a large number of level crossings — two features that do not go well together.”