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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, November 19, 2019

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, November 19, 2019

Albanian Language Media:

• Kurti briefs Dutch Ambassador on priorities of new government (media)
• Thaci: Kosovo Army was born from cooperation with KFOR (Lajmi)
• “Serbs comfortable with KSF, despite pressure from Belgrade” (Indeksonline)
• Calculations for forming government coalition change (RFE)
• Weber: Rama needs Mini-Schengen for himself, he is not eminent to defend Kosovo’s interests (Express)
• LVV and LDK do not admit publicly they agreed to shut down PAK (Express)
• Haradinaj: Mini-Schengen, expansion of Russian influence in the Balkans (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Slavko Simic: Theoretical and political chance for elections to be annulled (Radio Mitrovica, Prva TV)
• Raška-Prizren Eparchy strongly protests over latest abuse of Saint Nicholas Church in Novo Brdo archaeological remains (Raska-Prizren Eparchy, Serbian media)
• Paris changes rules: Seven EU accession packages (B92, Tanjug, Vecernje Novosti)
• England-Kosovo match: Euphoria, gratitude and anti-Serb chants in Pristina (KoSSev)

Humanitarian/Development:

• KOMF: Air pollution with long-term consequences in children (Koha)
• Kosovo Roma Woman ‘Died in Despair’ after War Rape Testimony (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Kurti briefs Dutch Ambassador on priorities of new government (media)
  • Thaci: Kosovo Army was born from cooperation with KFOR (Lajmi)
  • “Serbs comfortable with KSF, despite pressure from Belgrade” (Indeksonline)
  • Calculations for forming government coalition change (RFE)
  • Weber: Rama needs Mini-Schengen for himself, he is not eminent to defend Kosovo’s interests (Express)
  • LVV and LDK do not admit publicly they agreed to shut down PAK (Express)
  • Haradinaj: Mini-Schengen, expansion of Russian influence in the Balkans (media)

 Serbian Language Media:

  • Slavko Simic: Theoretical and political chance for elections to be annulled (Radio Mitrovica, Prva TV)
  • Raška-Prizren Eparchy strongly protests over latest abuse of Saint Nicholas Church in Novo Brdo archaeological remains (Raska-Prizren Eparchy, Serbian media)
  • Paris changes rules: Seven EU accession packages (B92, Tanjug, Vecernje Novosti)
  • England-Kosovo match: Euphoria, gratitude and anti-Serb chants in Pristina (KoSSev) 

Humanitarian/Development:

  • KOMF: Air pollution with long-term consequences in children (Koha)
  • Kosovo Roma Woman ‘Died in Despair’ after War Rape Testimony (Balkan Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Kurti briefs Dutch Ambassador on priorities of new government (media)

Several news outlets report that Vetevendosje (LVV) leader Albin Kurti met on Monday with the Dutch Ambassador to Kosovo, Gerie Willems. LVV issued a press release after the meeting saying that Willems congratulated Kurti about the election process and results and said she hopes that the new institutions will be formed as soon as possible. Willems said she was interested in the priorities of the new government and that the Netherlands is ready to continue to support Kosovo in its European integration path. Kurti said the priorities of the new government will be the fight against organised crime and high-level corruption, economic development that generates new employment opportunities and policies that alleviate unemployment. Kurti also highlighted the importance of including the Albanian diaspora in Kosovo’s economic development, their professional know-how and capital in investments in Kosovo and the need for the professional educational system to facilitate the activities of businesses in Kosovo. Ambassador Willems said these priorities are largely in line with those of the European Union, the Stabilisation/Association Agreement and the European Reforms Agenda. 

Thaci: Kosovo Army was born from cooperation with KFOR (Lajmi)

The news website reports that Kosovo President Hashim Thaci has attended the change-of-command ceremony at KFOR headquarters today, highlighting his remarks that the Kosovo Army was born from cooperation with KFOR. Thaci thanked the outgoing COMKFOR D’Addario saying that his engagement in Kosovo brought more peace, more security and led to a better life for the citizens of Kosovo. “He knew how important good communication is with the people, showing that we are all responsible for building peace and a better life in our country and the whole region. Our joint successes make the work of KFOR less needed in Kosovo. The continuous downsizing of KFOR troops in Kosovo is the best success that KFOR troops achieved with the Security Forces in Kosovo. the Kosovo Army, the Kosovo Security Force, as a professional and multiethnic force in the service of all citizens, was born from this cooperation. The development of the Kosovo Army means that in the near future we will achieve our aspiration of Kosovo contributing with its work and example in NATO,” Thaci was quoted as saying.

“Serbs comfortable with KSF, despite pressure from Belgrade” (Indeksonline)

The news website reports that over the last couple of years, Serb members of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) were under tremendous pressure from Belgrade to abandon this force. But this year there is a new trend of community members, namely Serbs, wanting to join Kosovo’s security institutions.

Kosovo’s outgoing Minister of Defense, Burim Ramadani, told Indeksonline today that despite pressure from Belgrade, Serb community members feel comfortable with Kosovo’s security institutions.

“The Kosovo Security Force is a representative and credible institution. The transformation of this institution is on the right track. There is institutional support for this and also great support from the people. The KSF is not accidentally the most trusted institution for a decade now … In 2019, our Force has recruited nearly 1,000 new members. They come from all communities in Kosovo. Despite hostile external pressure, the Serb community in Kosovo feels comfortable with the Kosovo Security Force,” Ramadani said.

Calculations for forming government coalition change (RFE)

Radio Free Europe reports that the election winning party, Vetevendosje Movement (LVV), could be faced with a changing situation regarding the formula for forming the new government in face of the prospect of the coalition between the Social Democratic Initiative (NISMA), New Kosovo Alliance (AKR) and Justice Party (PD) securing six seats in the Assembly.

This change would directly affect the two largest parties in coalition talks – LVV and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) – as it would translate in four less MPs. To this end, LVV is trying to win the support of non-majority communities, and most recently announced that a projected MP from the Egyptian Party IRDK is joining its parliamentary group.

Analysts predict that although the election results are not yet certified, the new government could be formed by LVV, LDK and ten MPs of non-Serb communities. This would secure LVV and LDK enough majority votes without having the need to invite the NISMA-AKR-PD coalition.

Arton Demhasaj from the anti-corruption NGO “Cohu” said even if the NISMA-led coalition enters the government, LVV and LDK – including non-Serb communities – would be able to secure 65 votes of the 61 required to form the government. 

Meanwhile, representatives of non-majority communities in Kosovo say they would join the new coalition government but demand ministerial posts. According to RFE, plans to reduce the number of ministries to 12 makes it difficult to accommodate possible coalition partners. 

Rasim Demiri from the Bosniak coalition Vakat said they are entitled to a ministerial post. “So far an unwritten rule applied that the non-Serb party that wins most votes gets the post of minister. I hope this time as well the future prime minister takes into consideration these votes and we naturally expect a minister post,” Demiri said. 

The Turkish community party, KDTP, also expects a government cabinet post. Fikrim Damka said however that they will not condition their support with a ministerial post noting that what they think is important is to have more representatives in institutions. 

Weber: Rama needs Mini-Schengen for himself, he is not eminent to defend Kosovo’s interests (Express)

The idea of mini-Schengen has put Edi Rama and Albania in an alliance with Aleksandar Vucic and Zoran Zaev, and in a verbal clash with Kosovo and its political leaders in Pristina.

Rama accused Kosovo for absence at the second meeting for Mini-Schengen in Ohrid, North Macedonia that it is self-isolating and self-excluding.

German expert on Balkans and member of “Democratization Policy Council”, Bodo Weber told Gazeta Express that he understands completely Rama’s moves saying that he needs political points after the blockade of the opening of negotiations for EU membership.

Weber said Rama is not in a position to play the role of the defender of the interests of Kosovo, as during the last two years he supported the idea of exchange of territories and correction of borders.

“Unfortunately, Rama has damaged his image as sincere mediator and defender of Kosovo’s interests,” Weber said.

He added further that it is in the hands of Kosovo authorities if they decide to participate in the initiative for establishment of the Balkans Mini-Schengen, and he has some questions to the originators of this initiative, starting with Belgrade.

“Is Kosovo invited to join with the intention of for example removing trade, tariff barriers or to implement unfulfilled parts of the agreement for freedom of movement within the Kosovo -Serbia dialogue?”

Asked if it is a good idea for Kosovo to oppose such initiative which is being supported by the U.S. Department of State, Weber recalled Pristina’s resistance to the pressure of President Trump on the idea of exchange of territories, and added that he does not believe that U.S. State Department position will have a substantial impact, if Kosovo decided not to be involved in such an initiative.

It was more than good, it was vital that Kosovo resisted pressure of the Trump administration on the idea of territorial exchange. In this concrete issue, I do not think that the State Department opinion would have a significant role or essential impact, if Kosovo decides not to join this initiative,” Weber said.

He added that it is not clear to him how will be Rama, Vucic and Zaev achieving better results compared to existing formats of cooperation among Western Balkans countries, including the free trade agreement, CEFTA. He expressed skepticism on Serbia’s readiness to lift trade barriers between countries, when it did not act so ever since its membership at CEFTA.

 “Having in mind the fact that it suits to Serbia for the main burden of the Balkans to be put on Bosnia, I do not know how Bosnia’s authorities would be convinced to remove border controls between Serbia and Bosnia,” he added.

Weber said it is difficult to believe that this initiative is related to the decision of the French President Macron to block Albania and North Macedonia’s membership, as the initiative has started prior to clarification of France’s position.

The Mini-Schengen initiative was rejected by Kosovo. LDK leader Isa Mustafa accused Rama for trying to create a “small Yugoslavia” while LVV leader Albin Kurti stated that Albania’s PM rushed in choosing Belgrade for a partner before Kosovo.

Haradinaj: Mini-Schengen, expansion of Russian influence in the Balkans (media)

Kosovo’s Acting Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said after the meeting with the Italian Minister of Defense that it does not make sense to talk about new elections in Kosovo, as the outcome of the October 6th elections must be implemented.

Haradinaj once again expressed optimism for visa liberalization.

Asked about the initiative for creation of the Balkan Schengen, Haradinaj said it is only an extension of Russian and Chinese influence in the Balkans.

LVV and LDK do not admit publicly they agreed to shut down PAK (Express)

There are great chances that the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and Self-determination Movement (LVV) will be co-governing Kosovo and it appears that they are going to keep their campaign promises for the independent agencies. Both these entities had announced that the boards of Agencies are politicised, and that some of them should shut down or function as part of ministries. Gazeta Express reports that these two entities already agreed to shut down the Privatisation Agency of Kosovo.

During the range of meetings that the two political parties had to harmonise the governing program, part of sensitive discussions were independent agencies.

LDK candidate for Prime Minister Vjosa Osmani had said that politicised boards of agencies would affect relations with international partners and will cause loss of trust of the citizens adding that immediate de-politisation is required.

Also, both these political parties had the same positions when it comes to incorporating these agencies into the existing ministries.

Gazeta Express has reportedly learned that these two entities have already agreed to shut down the PAK and that privatization process should resume as competency of the government.

Gazeta Express has sent questions on the matter to both entities, however, neither of them accepted to give an official statement for media.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Slavko Simic: Theoretical and political chance for elections to be annulled (Radio Mitrovica, Prva TV)

Serbian List (SL) Presidency member Slavko Simic said last night there was a theoretical and political chance for elections to be annulled and new one to be announced, Radio Mitrovica reports.

Simic told Belgrade-based Prva TV that this was indicated by the annulment of votes from Serbia, but also by the political decision to have a coalition gathered around Fatmir Limaj and Behgjet Pacolli to enter Kosovo Assembly.

“We also have different stances of the largest political parties in Pristina, Democratic League of Kosovo and Vetevendosje on some topics, such as dialogue, tariffs, demarcation. There is a tendency for SL not to enter the future government, which can cause us to go to the polls. So, we also have theoretical and political circumstances that would influence how the future government is formed,” Simic noted.

Asked how long one would wait for the dialogue to take place, Simic responded they were first waiting for the government in Pristina to be formed, which could happen by the end of December or even in January.

“What I want to emphasize it is imperative for the dialogue to continue, to have normalization of relations between the Albanian and Serbian people and to have long-lasting peace and security. Pristina, on the other hand, has imposed a barrier. We also have the tariffs imposed almost a year ago and for as long as we have tariffs, we will not have a dialogue. Therefore, abolish the tariffs, stop obstructing the dialogue and then we’ll talk”, Simic underlined.

He also spoke about the Albanian singer’s video filmed at the Orthodox Church remains in Novo Brdo, saying it was unbearable to have the desecration of Serbian holy shrines and Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) sites. Simic added they would inform in the coming period the entire Orthodox world about the pressures and brutal attacks of Albanian people against cultural and historical monuments and the Serbian heritage and religious sites of the SOC in Kosovo, Radio Mitrovica reported.

Raška-Prizren Eparchy strongly protests over latest abuse of Saint Nicholas Church in Novo Brdo archaeological remains (Raska-Prizren Eparchy, Serbian media)

Serbian Orthodox Church Raska-Prizren Eparchy on Monday expressed harsh protest and deep indignation over the video footage of Kosovo singer Albana Azizi recorded on the foundation of Saint Nicholas Temple in Novo Brdo, calling it an uncivilized manner of behaving, Serbian media report.   

“The area of ​Novo Brdo Fortress and its surroundings, which includes the archaeological site of the Saint Nicholas temple, the ancient temple of Serbian Orthodox Bishops of Novo Brdo, is a Special Protective Zone (SPZ) under Kosovo laws and all activities in this area are legally regulated by the existing Law on SPZ. Continued  abuse of the location of St. Nicholas (unauthorized works on the shrine, various cultural and other manifestations, Roman Catholic religious service, and finally this obscene and tasteless video, which was filmed on the foundations under which there are several graves of priests, monks, and believers, show that the existing Kosovo institutions did not adequately protect this location and are either unable or don’t want to look after the cultural heritage,” the Eparchy said in a statement.

The Eparchy further noted it will raise this issue at the first session of a newly appointed SPZ Council – as soon as the new Kosovo ministers for culture and spatial planning are appointed, who along with the heads of the EU Office and OSCE Mission are the members of this body tasked to look after protection of these zones and upholding of the law.

“It is obvious that neither the municipality of Novo Brdo nor the Serbian Orthodox Church has received a request for permission for the recording of this video, which was explicitly sanctioned by Article 6 and 6.3 of the aforementioned Law, which, among other things, restricts activities that are in the domain of public gatherings, recreation or entertainment,” the Eparchy said.

“Same as the filming an equally obscene video in the Church of St. Nicholas in Pristina several years ago, which unfortunately passed without any reaction from the Kosovo institutions, this case is an indication of the irresponsible attitude of the institutions towards the protective zones, and here specifically to the medieval  archaeological site and to a Christian religious site which is particularly important to the Serbian Orthodox Church, which is, after all, the reason why Novo Brdo was put on the list of SPZ. In this context, the Eparchy is considering with its lawyers the possibility of bringing criminal charges for violation of religious and national relations and misusing of cultural and historical facilities for profane activities that offend the common sense of every civilized person”.

Raska-Prizren Eparchy said it expects international representatives and representatives of Kosovo institutions, nothing less or more than to comply with existing laws.

 “At the first session of Council, Eparchy will request a ban of unauthorized access and fencing of the site, bearing in mind that this ancient temple has become a lifeline for the religious and cultural heritage of Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metohija. The Eparchy would, after all, react in the same way to any similar profanation of sites of other religious and ethnic communities in this area,” the statement concluded.

Paris changes rules: Seven EU accession packages (B92, Tanjug, Vecernje Novosti)

Accession of candidate countries to EU membership should change dramatically soon, on the basis of a proposal from official Paris, to be considered in Brussels.

According to “Vecernje Novosti”, which had insight into the proposal, the 35 chapters so far will be grouped in seven packages, so membership will be gradually acquired in seven phases.

“Paris proposes that Chapters 23 and 24, which relate to the rule of law, should be included in the first group and should be fulfilled throughout the process, while on the other hand, Chapter 35 on Kosovo and Metohija will only enter the last seventh group”, Novosti reported.

Group two would comprise chapters on education, sports, culture, transport, while the third group will comprise chapters on employment, health, consumer protection.

The fourth group is dealing with economic and financial affairs, the fifth – with the internal market, while phase six covers foreign affairs, under which, as the newspaper writes, we will have to reconcile relations with Russia, for example.

Finally, Chapters 33, 34 and 35 would remain in the seventh phase.

https://bit.ly/32YUDFK

England-Kosovo match: Euphoria, gratitude and anti-Serb chants in Pristina (KoSSev)

The final Group ‘A’ European Championship 2020 qualifying match between Kosovo and England will take place in Pristina tonight. According to reactions on social networks and foreign media reports, however, the news of the match seems to take second place to the apparent general enthusiasm in Pristina – and among the majority of Albanians – over the very arrival of England’s national team to Kosovo.

Albanians welcomed the English national team and their fans, several hundred of whom came to Kosovo, with the inscription „Welcome and Respect“ written on billboards across Pristina – all while referring to the Englishmen as their „brothers“.

More at: https://bit.ly/340BaGd

 

 

Development/Humanitarian

 

KOMF: Air pollution with long-term consequences in children (Koha)

The Pristina-based Coalition of NGOs for Child Protection in Kosovo (KOMF) called on the upcoming government of Kosovo on Monday to address with priority and emergency the issue of air pollution, Koha Ditore reports on page five.

On the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, KOMF said people that were exposed to air pollution in their childhood are prone to having physical and physiological setbacks in their lives.

KOMF Director Donjeta Kelmendi said the government has failed to undertake concrete actions to address the issue and improve the air quality. “We call on institutions to implement immediate measures to alleviate this situation and to make concrete steps in addressing this problematic issue,” she was quoted as saying.

KOMF representatives said the upcoming government must allocate enough funds to prevent air pollution in Kosovo, to gather accurate data on the main air polluters in Kosovo, to determine air pollution measurements and to carry out periodical measurements.

Representatives of the Action for Mothers and Children (AMC) said air pollution causes hundreds of premature deaths in Kosovo annually. 

Kosovo Roma Woman ‘Died in Despair’ after War Rape Testimony (Balkan Insight)

Shehrije Balaj, the first woman to testify in Belgrade against Serbian fighters who raped her during the Kosovo war, was effectively abandoned by the Kosovo and Serbian authorities afterwards and left to suffer, her son told BIRN.

https://bit.ly/2OoZo6q

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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