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Trump brokers deal between Kosovo and Serbia — in which Kosovo recognizes Israel

The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo reached an economic deal brokered by President Donald Trump on Friday, in a major step toward improving the relationship between the two nations who both also extended an olive branch to Israel.

What are the details?

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti were able to come to deal signed in the Oval Office of the White House that includes Serbia following the United States’ lead in moving its embassy to Jerusalem, and Kosovo — a majority Muslim country — and Israel agreeing to mutual recognition in what the Associated Press called “a diplomatic win” for President Trump.

Fox News noted that “Kosovo had declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nine years after NATO conducted an airstrike campaign against Serbia in a bid to end the persecution of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.”

The outlet reported that “While most Western nations have recognized Kosovo’s independence, Serbia, Russia and China have not — keeping tensions high in the Balkan region.”

The European Union has overseen talks between Serbia and Kosovo for more than a decade without success, making Friday’s agreement a significant achievement.

Vucic admitted at the signing, “We haven’t resolved all our issues, but this is a huge step forward,” while Hoti added, “This is a great moment for the region.”

President Trump declared during the ceremony, “I’m pleased to announce a truly historic commitment. Serbia and Kosovo have each committed to economic normalization.” He added, “Truly, it is historic.”

Following the signing, President Trump promised further deals working toward peace in the Middle East, tweeting, “Another great day for peace with Middle East – Muslim-majority Kosovo and Israel have agreed to normalize ties and establish diplomatic relations. Well-done! More Islamic and Arab nations will follow soon!”

Anything else?

The deal between Kosovo and Serbia comes just weeks after another major diplomatic victory for the Trump administration.

Last month, the president and his advisors mediated a peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates that made the UAE the third Arab nation to establish ties with Israel.

A joint statement released by the U.S., Israel, and the UAE on the agreement read, in part:

This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region. All three countries face many common challenges and will mutually benefit from today’s historic achievement.

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Virus Unrest Turns Violent As Serbs Protest Being “Lied To For Political Ends”

This article was originally published by Tyler Durden at ZeroHedge.

Social unrest has rocked Belgrade and other cities in Serbia this week in response to President Aleksandar Vucic’s reintroduction of government-curfews over surging coronavirus cases.

Serbian police fired tear gas and were dressed head to toe in riot gear, as demonstrators, mostly young people, assaulted police on Tuesday and Wednesday. The New York Times said the unrest was some of the first in Europe since the pandemic began – also indicating the severity of the unrest was worst since the rule of Slobodan Milosevic in the 1990s. 

July 8 Belgrade riot chaos. H/T Reuters

Young Serbs quickly took the streets on Tuesday after Vucic announced Belgrade would be placed under a new order restricting movement in the region for three days to mitigate the spread of the second coronavirus wave. Many were infuriated by the re-implementation of the lockdown after coming out of some of the strictest ones in Europe to allow the general election last week.
“Serbia protests over coronavirus pandemic management turn violent.” Serbia protests over coronavirus pandemic management turn violent.

“We don’t mind staying home for another three days — that wasn’t the problem,” said Dragana Grncarski, 45, who has been protesting this week.

“However, they’re playing with our minds and with the truth,” Grncarski added. “When it suits them to do elections, there is no corona. They organized football matches and tennis matches, and because of that we have a situation where the hospitals are full.”

“Citizens have been constantly deceived and lied to for political ends,” said Tena Prelec, a political expert on Southeast Europe at the University of Oxford.

Jelena Vasiljevic, an expert on Balkan unrest at the University of Belgrade, said the expiration of the lockdowns for election purposes – then re-implementation of the lockdowns took the population “from one extreme to another.” 

Vasiljevic said the “excessive use of force” by the government to combat rioters hasn’t been seen since the days of “Milosevic in 1996 or 1997.” Milosevic led Serbia through the Balkan Wars and was later charged for war crimes.

Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin was convinced the demonstration against the re-implementation of the lockdowns in Belgrade and other cities were “carefully planned” – and aimed at igniting a civil war. 

“We have terrible violence on the streets, we have an attempt at a coup, we have an attempt to seize power by force and an attempt to provoke a civil war in Serbia. It cannot be described and explained differently. There is no reason, there is no reason to set fire to the Assembly, to set fire to the City Hall in Novi Sad, to attack the police, to beat people on the streets, to endanger life and to endanger the property of Serbian citizens ,” said Vulin, a guest on the show Novo jutro on TV Pink, was asked to comment on the events in the previous two evenings.

Russian Times caught some of the unrest on video earlier this week. Young Serbs can be seen clashing with riot police in front of government buildings.

“There were indications of foreign involvement, and some criminal faces were there, too,” Vucic said on Wednesday afternoon. He added that virus cases will likely flare-up because of the mass unrest.

“I wonder who will be responsible for the fact that hundreds and thousands of people became infected yesterday and the day before yesterday,” he said

Vucic has also backtracked on the curfew after several days of unrest –  instead, the government is expected to impose restrictions on public spaces and possibly limit business hours. There’s also talk of fining people for not wearing masks.

When it comes to outside forces meddling in Serb domestic affairs, Russia came out on Thursday, denying it had any involvement.