Speaking on a visit to Serbia, the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, said the creation of an independent military in Kosovo would mean arming members of the former Kosovo Liberation Army which had been responsible for acts of terrorism. The dissolution of the Kosovo Liberation Army had been one strand of a peace deal between the Serbs and the Kosovo Albanians, Mr. Zeman said on Wednesday. The government of Kosovo has decided to create the state’s own army, a move which is opposed by Belgrade. Mr. Zeman said Kosovo, which many countries had not recognised, was to put it mildly a very strange state with a strong drug mafia influence.
The Czech president-elect, Miloš Zelman, has held talks with the foreign minister and TOP 09 chairman, Karel Schwarzenberg, who he defeated in an election two weeks ago to succeed Václav Klaus as head of state. Mr. Schwarzenberg said after Friday’s meeting that the two had discussed issues surrounding Czech foreign policy, including the question of who will become the country’s ambassador to Moscow; there has been speculation that the post will be filled by Vladimír Remek, the only ever Czechoslovak cosmonaut and a Communist Party MEP. Minister Schwarzenberg said he and the new president were likely to disagree over Kosovo. Mr. Zeman, a former Social Democrat prime minister, will be inaugurated in a ceremony at Prague Castle on March 8. He has been holding talks with party leaders in the last week.
The Czech and Serbian foreign ministers met in Prague on Monday, discussing Serbia’s candidacy for EU accession and the two country’s relations. The tensions over Czech Republic’s recognition of Kosovo back in 2008 seemed to be a thing of the past. Serbia became an official candidate for EU accession in March of this year, and it is looking to strengthen ties with all of its European supporters.
Not many people would give up the salary, status and security of a job as a high-flying European lawyer for all the uncertainties of being a full time writer. But this is exactly what Blanka Čechová has done. After several years working for international institutions that seemed to feed on their own bureaucracy, she became disillusioned, and instead has taken her experiences as an inspiration for her writing. Her new novel, “Totál Balkán” draws richly from the time the author spent with an international mission in Kosovo, and the picture it paints
Several dozen protesters from the Workers’ Youth movement, an organization connected to the far-right Workers’ Party for Social Justice, marched the streets of the city of Jihlava, in the Vysočina region, on Saturday. According to organizers, the march was held to express support to Serbia and protest the “forceful removal” of Kosovo from the country. Some 200 people were trying to block the far-right extremists’ march; police kept the situation under tight control and prevented clashes between extremists and those protesting the march.
The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, EULEX has appointed Jaroslava Novotná as its new Chief Prosecutor. Novotná has worked as a prosecutor for more than thirty years both at home and abroad, most recently working in the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office in the Czech Republic. She has particular expertise in dealing with cases related to drugs trafficking and organised crime. EULEX was established in 2008 with the aim of helping to secure the rule of law in Kosovo. It includes a team of prosecutors from EU countries who cooperate with their local opposite numbers in the prosecution of organised crime, war crimes, terrorism, ethnic violence and corruption. There are currently two other Czech prosecutors working in Kosovo.
The Czech Army on Thursday officially ended its mission in Kosovo after 12 years in the country. The Czech troops were part of a NATO-led peacekeeping force, KFOR, established on the basis of a UN Security Council Resolution. Their main mission was to guard Kosovo’s borders, maintain law and order and protect towns and ethnic minorities against attacks by extremist groups. The last of the 8,000 Czech troops who served in the country since 1999 on Thursday symbolically handed over the keys of the city Sajkovac and for the last time lowered the Czech flag over the KFOR military base where they served. The Czech Army now only has troops in Afghanistan and a handful of officers serving as military observers in other states.
In related news, Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga at the Forum 2000
conference told reporters in Prague on Monday that the Serbian minority in
the north of Kosovo cannot reckon with special status for their area.
Neither the division of the country nor transfers of its inhabitants could
be taken into consideration, she stressed. The president did say Kosovo
would follow the plan of the former Finnish president and UN Special Envoy
for Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari, adding that dialogue was “the only
instrument to reach the goal of the region's integration with the
Euroatlantic structures”. Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from
Serbia in February 2008.
The Czech government recognised independent Kosovo in May of the same year. But Czech President Václav Klaus still opposes the diplomatic step and, according to ČTK, will not meet Mrs Jahjaga during her stay in Prague. The Serbian minority living in the north of Kosovo refuses to recognise Kosovo´s sovereignty.
The Czech Army is coming home from Kosovo, having ended its mission there this week after twelve years. In that time, more than 8,000 Czech soldiers have come and gone through the on-site KFOR peacekeeping force. Christian Falvey reports on the Czechs’ largest mission in the Balkans as it winds down.