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Cars to be barred from entering Prishtina starting Wednesday

Public transportation in Prishtina. | Photo courtesy of Radio TV 21.

Prishtina will adopt an emergency ban on cars and coal to address ‘hazardous’ levels of air pollution.

Deputy Mayor of Prishtina Selim Pacolli announced that cars will be barred from accessing the center of Prishtina starting at 6:00 am on Wednesday. The ban, part of an agreed plan between the Municipality of Prishtina and the Ministry of Environment, will be in force every day between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm until further notice.

All cars will be banned from circulating in downtown Prishtina, with the exception of buses managed by the public enterprise ‘Trafiku Urban,’ which will be offering free rides during this emergency period.

“We will only block the access of vehicles. Only the center will be blocked for vehicles because it is the most affected part. Public transport within this timeframe will be free of charge. This decision comes into effect on January 31 until another decision is made,” Pacolli said.

The emergency plan to “alleviate” the city from high levels of pollution that have been reported in the past few days will affect the main boulevards Bill Clinton, Deshmoret e Kombit, the roundabout in Ulpiana, and Ilir Konushevci Street.

The plan also includes a ban on the sale of coal within Prishtina city limits.

Muhedin Nushi, the city’s administration director, said that at least 40 inspectors will be monitoring and preventing any sale of coal in Prishtina.

Cars coming from outside of the city will have to use alternative roads and will not be able to access the city center. Nushi said that the plan would also affect private bus companies, which will also have to use alternative roads.

“Buses with transport routes from other places will use alternative roads if there are any. These are emergency measures, it is for the good of the citizens. We are going through an emergency phase to improve the situation,” he said.

Nushi asked citizens to not use vehicles at this time, but said that the decision does not include parking spots.

“We have not designated parking spots for vehicles, we ask for understanding so that vehicles are not used at this time. We will discuss the measures against people who do not respect the rules, but as of now there are no punitive measures,” Nushi concluded.

The extraordinary conference was called after citizens and officials sounded an alarm over hazardous levels of air pollution

source

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Suspected Kosovo organ-trafficker arrested in Cyprus

Moshe Harel, who heads an international israeli ring selling body parts

A man suspected of trafficking in human organs has been arrested in Cyprus. Israeli national Moshe Harel faces extradition to Kosovo, where he is accused of luring kidney donors from Turkey and the ex-Soviet Union a decade ago.

Harel is accused of promising up to $14,500 in payment to donors, with the extracted organs reportedly being sold on to mainly Israeli recipients for as much as $120,000. Some donors were reportedly never paid.

Interpol and Russia had issued international arrest warrants for Harel. His extradition is now being requested by the authorities in Kosovo – a province of Serbia that declared independence in 2008, but remains unrecognized by the UN and a number of countries, including Cyprus.

“Based on an international arrest warrant the suspect M.H. was arrested a few days ago in Cyprus. He has been a wanted person since 2010,” Baki Kelani, a spokesman for Kosovo police, told Reuters.

Harel is accused of being one of nine people involved in the organ-trafficking ring, run from a clinic in a residential area in Pristina. Their alleged activities were discovered in 2008, when a Turkish man complained of pain at Pristina airport after his kidney was removed.

In 2013, the director of the clinic, Lutfi Dervishi, and his son Arban were sentenced to eight and seven years respectively for their part in the group’s activities. Both men later went into hiding.

Dervishi was captured last year and retried, along with several others involved in the case. The trial is still ongoing. His son and a Turkish doctor, Yusuf Sonmez, are still on the run.

Kosovo is no stranger to cases of alleged organ harvesting, and local authorities have been particularly sensitive to accusations of the kind, ever since a former UN prosecutor accused the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) of harvesting human organs from Serbs captured and killed during and after the 1998-99 conflict. KLA leaders, now influential politicians, denied the charges and called them a ploy to challenge the province’s independence.

An EU-commissioned inquiry led by an American prosecutor concluded in 2014 that “this practice did occur on a very limited scale and that a small number of individuals were killed for the purpose of extracting and trafficking their organs.”

source

THE CAPITAL’S RESIDENTS ACCUSE THE SERBIAN MINISTER OF TORTURING THEM DURING THE WAR

The capital's residents accuse the Serbian minister of torturing them during the war

Minister of Agriculture in the Government of Kosovo, Nenad Rikallo, is accused of torturing Pristina citizens during wartime, KTV reports.

Residents of the building in Dardania’s Kurri have confessed to KTV the tortures that Rikallo has said and the fact that he has always appeared in uniform and armed.

Although nearly two decades have passed, Fexhrije Beqiri can remember the face of Nenad Rikallos, appointed Minister of Agriculture in the government of Ramush Haradinaj.

The Beqiri family lives on the seventh floor of this building at Dardania’s back for several decades. On the same floor, number 45, Nenad Rikallo also lived.

Everything that remembers Mrs Beqiri from Rikallo, then young, is torture and maltreatment against Albanian residents.

“Everything has a boa, it’s been boo guys have put the boys off the fun stairs. I’m so sorry they can not do it. They told me that we could get blacker than these, “says Mrs Beqiri.

Her son, Celebration, has fresh experiences of two torture scenes from Rikallo, one of which includes running a gun to his already-felt father.

On each floor of this building there are residents who recall the horror experienced by the entire Rikallo family.

“Nenad served as a representative of the Red Berets, a paramilitary with his brother Goran. His dad Radishavi was very lenient officer in Serbian police, “said Celebration.

Those who agree to speak and recall have seen the new minister, always in uniform.

Residents here have been shocked when they saw Rikallon being ranked among the new government ministers and demanding his immediate departure.

Rikallo is part of the Serbian List and until recently served as a member of the Central Election Commission.

He did not respond to KTV’s calls for comment on the charges.

source

Advice to the diplomats of Prishtina

Albin Kurti, candidate for prime minister from the opposition party Vetevendosje, June 9, 2017. | Photo: AP Visar Kryeziu.

 

Unsolicited advice to Prishtina’s real elite huddling at the Arberia White House.  

Anguished and despairing, last night the diplomats bilateral and multilateral of Prishtina asked for my advice. I saw them this morning in the US embassy. This is what I told them.

In the 2014 elections your predecessors made a mistake, and the effects are now burning your hands. So listen carefully.

Their mistake was to stop Vetevendosje from committing the mistake of joining a coalition government led by a segment of Kosovo’s elite.

Their reasoning, if you wish to call it that way, was that Vetevendosje’s elevation to the executive power would have prevented further progress in the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue and obstructed the implementation of the agreements already reached.

You know the effects better than I do. The dialogue stuttered, and was even temporarily boycotted by the elite. The agreements remain unimplemented, and are now even more unpopular than they were before. And Vetevendosje doubled its share of the vote.

Besides the incompetence and corruption of the last government, they also won all those votes because you excluded them from government. Of course Vetevendosje added a dose of populism and extravagance to its appeal as the only real opposition. But you cannot complain, because it was obvious that they would do that, as well as because when the police illegally arrested them, you didn’t raise a finger.

What would have happened had you allowed Vetevendosje into the government? Well, it’s simple. The dialogue would equally have stuttered, but any progress made would have relied on genuine popular political support in Kosovo: it would have been real, not fictional, progress. The same goes for the implementation of the agreements. But what matters more is that Kosovo would have debated those issues, and this would have been a much-needed school of democracy, which is the management of political conflict: a school of open, reasoned debate on difficult policy questions. So you and Kosovo would not have been worse off than you currently are.

But in parallel Vetevendosje would have been tainted by its association with the elite. This would have been bad for Kosovo, but good for you. Vetevendosje would never have doubled its votes yesterday. It would have either split, between radicals and moderates, or began an insensible transformation into another elite party, for the temptations of theft and impunity are hard to resist and not all of Vetevendosje can be assumed to be saints. You would now have a Vetevendosje well on the way toward normalization.

‘Now you see the mistake?’ I said at this point. ‘Yes!’ they answered. ‘Good—I encouraged them—but now listen even more carefully because it becomes a bit more difficult.’

Having doubled its vote, Vetevendosje is now better protected from the risk of being infected by the elite. Whatever the numbers, it is likely to be the politically dominant partner of any coalition with the elite. So, such coalition could quietly manage the gradual exit of the extant elite and prepare Kosovo for a better form of politics. Mark those words: ‘quietly’ and ‘gradual’: I am talking of a transition, as an alternative to social unrest, which you fear, and to implacable justice, which they would deserve.

You would not obtain much regarding the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, of course. But: (1) who cares? The dialogue is a fiction anyway (the only thing that matters is EU accession, which will solve all problems but is too far away); (2) you would have no progress anyway, with a twice-as-big Vetevendosje opposition.

What you and Kosovo would obtain is a better, cleaner, and more responsive government, and possibly a change in the popular mood: discontent could turn into hope.

Of course, maybe none of this will work. But you have no other option, frankly. If you keep Vetevendosje out and bless yet another elite-led government, you risk an uprising anytime soon, and probably another wave of migration, probably bigger than in 2014.

You are not, let’s face it, the brightest minds of your foreign services. But you would really look stupid if that happened.

So, throw the reports you are writing to your capitals into the bin, and for once give them truthful analysis and brave advice. You can afford it: your hopes for a brilliant career are now forgotten if you find yourselves in Prishtina, and you can allow yourselves to take risks. Indeed you must, if you want to rescue your career.

This is what you must do. First you split both coalitions of the elite: you break them up. Then you pick some parts of the elite (you choose which ones) and put them together with Vetevendosje into a coalition government, with a healthy majority. The parts you don’t use you throw into opposition, and you send their names to the Hague court, saying that they can be indicted and convicted. Before you do any of this you call in a few more NATO troops and send them with tanks to patrol the villages of the to-be-discarded elites, lest they fall into the temptation of shooting some clueless EULEX official. When you have finished you retire to your embassies and let Kosovo politics run its course.

For that will be enough. The elite parts that will have been saved will play by the rules, because they will have seen that the discarded ones went to jail, and the obligations of high office will concentrate Vetevendosje’s mind on social and republican issues. And all will be well, if all won’t go wrong. But it’s a risk you must take.

Prishtina Insight

In Kosovo, too, there’s a future for a leftist party of economic and social justice

here’s a future for a leftist party of economic and social justice

Vetëvendosje represents hope for Kosovar citizens who are weary of the coalition of convenience between former warlords and international administrators

Supporters of Vetëvendosje wave Albanian national flags during the party’s closing election campaign rally in Pristina.

Supporters of Vetëvendosje wave Albanian national flags during the party’s closing election campaign rally in Pristina. Photograph: Armend Nimani/AFP/Getty Images

The UK is not the only country to have experienced a snap election in June. In Kosovo, a coalition between the Democratic party of Kosovo, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo and the Initiative for Kosovo has finished in first place with 34% of the vote. A victory, but not enough to form a government. Sound familiar?

This could be great news for Vetëvendosje, a leftist political movement that introduced the vocabulary of anti-colonialism in response to the post-war neoliberal administration of Kosovo. Vetëvendosje, which translates as “self-determination”, has won more seats in the parliamentary elections than any other political party, taking 26% of the vote.

Although Vetëvendosje will have to choose a coalition partner to form a government, this win is a landmark event, a victory over the “war wing” coalition led by questionable members of the Kosovo Liberation Army. By contrast, Vetëvendosje’s former leader Albin Kurti is an emblem of Kosovar peaceful resistance. Kurti was imprisoned by the Serbian regime during the war, and after his release went back into politics in response to the longstanding political and economic problems of post-war Kosovo.

Albin Kurti, candidate for prime minister and former leader of Vetëvendosje, celebrates on Sunday.
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Albin Kurti, candidate for prime minister and former leader of Vetëvendosje, celebrates on Sunday. Photograph: Hazir Reka/Reuters

Confronting economic despair caused by the privatisation of public enterprises, economic stagnation and Serbian state efforts to undermine Kosovo’s independence efforts, Vetëvendosje emerged in 2004 as an autonomous social and economic justice movement for self-determination. Its critique of the post-war convergence of international and local corruption resonated with Kosovar citizens who had grown weary of a coalition of convenience between former warlords and international administrators. Taking politics to the grassroots, Vetëvendosje activists worked with marginalised citizens, generating a new political vocabulary that provided a systematic critique of what had gone wrong with the postwar administration of Kosovo. Vetëvendosje challenged both the nationalist rhetoric of war heroes and the Serbian state claims on Kosovo.

Electoral victories of inspiring leftist political movements in the Balkans are not unprecedented. In Greece, Syriza’s victory in 2015 sent rays of hope around the region with its anti-austerity politics, an economic and political restructuring that sought to address the EU’s austerity demands. As prime minister, Alexis Tsipras consolidated his power. However, Syriza became indistinguishable from previous mainstream liberal governments in Greece – from giving in to EU pressure to fire finance minister Yanis Varoufakis to shipping refugees back to Turkey following the EU-Turkey deal.

The fate of Syriza should serve as a warning to the jubilant crowds in Kosovo today. Vetëvendosje must address the economic destitution of Kosovo created by years of market reforms and privatisation of public wealth, deteriorating educational infrastructure and social and medical services that have performed worse than the parallel underground institutions that existed under Serbian rule. Its critique of privatisation as “a corruption model, contributing to increasing unemployment, ruining the economy, and halting economic development of the country” must be transformed into policies – from abrogating the Kosovo Trust Agency that has facilitated the privatisation process, to the investigation of the problematic procurement processes that have created a business-political oligarchy.

On sovereignty, Vetëvendosje must also follow through on the principle that started the movement – no external involvement of the EU or other unelected international consultants in deciding the future of the people of Kosovo. Even more important, Vetëvendosje must change its approach to negotiations with Serbia and the EU, in which Kosovo has been treated not as the victim of Serbian-state violence but as the perpetrator. Sticking to its slogan of “No negotiations” without acknowledgments of the Serbian state’s war crimes in Kosovo is important, not only for Kosovo but for all past and ongoing state-sponsored crimes that are silenced through the politics of “reconciliation”.

This should include war reparations and the question of ratification of Kosovo’s borders with Serbia. The new government must make it clear to international brokers that Kosovo cannot be expected to negotiate with a country that refuses to acknowledge its crimes of occupation and continues to deny Kosovo’s right to exist in its official discourse.

Just as important, Kosovo needs a new commitment to its Roma and Serbian minorities that is not guided by the UN/EU institutionalisation of post-war ethnic, racial and religious differentiation, but by comprehensive economic and political integration. The violence against women and LGBTQ communities – a widespread post-war phenomenon – must be tackled seriously and meaningfully beyond the template solutions developed and delivered by EU apparatchiks that have done more harm than healing.

The surveillance and securitisation of Muslim communities through counter-radicalisation projects by previous governments must also come to an end as, with extreme secularist politics and poverty, they have contributed to Islamic State’s recruitment of a handful of fighters from the Kosovar youth.

Demands by the EU should be treated with indifference as long as they do not acknowledge Kosovars as a sovereign people free to choose and charter their own futures. Vetëvendosje represents the hope for which Kosovars have waited for more than three decades. Its slogan “#withheart” has won the over the country’s people. Let’s hope this is the political force that leads the new government in Kosovo and delivers on its promises.

source

Albin Kurti – A Message to International Friends

KEK – Nepotism Continues in the Hashim Thaci Family

President Hashim Thaci continues to get jobs family members

 

The cousin of Hashim Thaci, Njazi Thaci is the Operating Director of the Kosovo Energy Corporation and when four positions became available at the energy company and there were over three thousand applicants for the jobs.

However it doesn’t matter how qualified you are for a position, as it is not what you know but who you know, or who your relatives are.

In the latest job hiring in Kosovo Energy Corporation, where more than 3,000 applications were submitted for four announced vacancies, the successful candidates are two family members of the director of Operations Nijazi Thaci, the nephew of the director of finances and the brother of the director of procurement!

This is the reason there was a mass exodus after the fraudulent elections, because they know there is no chance of having a job in Kosovo while Hashim Thaci and Isa Mustafa are in power.

When Isa Mustafa became Prime Minister after losing his position of Mayor to Shpend Ahmeti, it didn’t take him long to find government jobs to his family. When Mayor Ahmeti took up his position the first thing he did was to sell all the municipality cars. He then found that all the employees and all contracts had gone to family and friends of Isa Mustafa. On the other hand as soon as Isa Mustafa became Prime Minister he gave the contract to service the government cars to his son, which paid 1,000 euros per service per car. After an outcry this changed.

Kosovo is the only country in Europe that does not have freedom of movement. The reason given is the corruption, yet the US are protecting Thaci to get a deal with Serbia, so they can fast track Serbia into the EU and away from Russia, all at the expense of the Kosovars.

There is no way forward for the Kosovars while the US continues to turn a blind eye to the corruption and nepotism of Hashim Thaci and Isa Mustafa, giving the excuse that there is no evidence. There is plenty of evidence, but they don’t want to do anything about it.

JLC/FOK

 

 

 

Vetëvendosje Agron Kabashi physically attacked activist

Self-Determination: Agron Kabashi physically attacked activist

Last night, around 23:35, unknown persons attacked activist Agron Kabashi, who had accompanied the vehicle Organizing Secretary, Dardan Molliqaj, says the announcement of Vetëvendosje, transmits Koha.net.

According to the report, the incident occurred in “Muharrem Fejza Road”, the Dardan molliqaj apartment, where Kabashi activist had left Molliqaj and was returning to the car. He says the announcement is hit with metal rods, thus causing him bodily injuries and now lies in the Emergency Center QKUK’së. Also, these people have Kabashi activist threatened and told not to accompany me never Molliqaj. This, according to the notice, indicating that the attack was politically motivated and is an attack on the organizational secretary of the Lëvizjes Vetëvendosjes party.

Police are investigating the case.

Agron’s health condition is good.

source

Kosovo Independence Monument Sends ‘No Walls’ Message

Pristina’s NEWBORN independence monument is being redesigned with a ‘No Walls’ message that appears to be addressed to US President Donald Trump as well as Serbs in Kosovo’s north.

Die Morina
BIRN

 

A mock-up of the monument’s new design by Fisnik Ismajli.

The well-known NEWBORN monument in Pristina will change its design on February 17, Kosovo’s Independence Day, as it does every year – this time to incorporate the slogan “No Walls”.

The message comes after a controversy sparked by the building of a wall by Serbs in the north of the divided Kosovo town of Mitrovica, as well as President Donald Trump’s insistence that he will build a wall along the US-Mexican border.

The Serbs demolished the Mitrovica wall this month after coming to an agreement with the Pristina authorities.

“In a world where walls are being built every day, and freedom of movement is becoming ever more limited by narrow minds, while a wall here continuously harms Kosovo’s sovereignty, NEWBORN wants to bring those walls down, for the sake of humanity,” said the creator of NEWBORN, Fisnik Ismajli, who is also an MP with the opposition Vetevendosje party.

“The Institute for Protection of Monuments and Cultural Heritage approved our idea. But we still did not get an answer from the Ministry of Culture if they will cover the expenses,” Ismajli added.

Friday will be the ninth anniversary of the installation of the monument that was created to mark Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia.

It was painted yellow until the fifth independence anniversary, when Ismajli decided to change it every year to send different messages.

In 2013, the monument was painted with the flags of each country that had recognised Kosovo as an independent state.

In 2014, it was painted with the colours of NATO and Kosovo Liberation Army uniforms.

In 2015, after a massive amount of people from Kosovo emigrated to Europe, seeking a better life, Ismajli let people themselves paint on the letters, except for the letter ‘E’, which he painted black, symbolising the word ‘emigration’.

As Kosovo citizens still cannot travel to EU states without a visa, in 2016 the NEWBORN monument was repainted as a sky with barbed wire.

Since the day it was installed next to the Palace of Youth and Sports in Pristina, NEWBORN became one of the first monuments of Kosovo’s modern history to become a tourist attraction.

– See more at: http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/newborn-no-walls-02-15-2017#sthash.LWWISHwa.h2skUfpz.dpuf

Pollution in Prishtina breaks new record

KEK power plants. | Photo courtesy of Ylli Vuciterna

With air marked as ‘hazardous’ throughout the whole weekend, US Embassy data show that the air quality was at its worst since measurement began in March.

The pollution levels in Prishtina set a new record this weekend. The  hourly concentration of micro particles in the air reached the worst levels ever measured at the US Embassy in Prishtina since the US Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, began measuring air quality in March 2016. The last record established on January 1– 505 micrograms per cubic meter of air – was surpassed in the last weekend: with 600 μg/m3 and 606 μg/m3 on Saturday and Sunday evenings respectively.

Throughout the weekend, Prishtina’s air was marked as “Hazardous” and no significant improvement was observed during the morning hours on Monday, either. This is the highest level of pollution determined by the EPA and, according to their Air Quality Index, all Prishtina inhabitants are “more likely to be affected” by the air pollution.

Since Friday, the 24-hour average concentrations of micro-particles in the air have been 10 to 16 times higher than what is considered normal by thee World Health Organisation, WHO, guidelines.

In such extreme conditions, the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning of Kosovo indicated in its “Guide for Protection from Pollution” that everyone should “avoid all physical activity outdoors” and ask members of sensitive groups – such as elders, children and people with cardiovascular or lung diseases – to “remain indoors and keep activity levels low.”

Weather conditions have an influence on the concentration of pollutants in the air. The dense fog that had settled in the capital these days has trapped the micro particles, while the lack of wind also prevented their dispersal.

Even if the meteorological conditions indeed worsen the air pollution in Prishtina, they are not directly responsible of the emission of pollutants from road traffic, household heating system using coal and wood, KEK power plants and other polluting industries.

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