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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, December 02, 2019

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Albanian Language Media:

• Borell’s spokesman: Kosovo among his top priorities (RTK/Tanjug)
• President Thaci travels to Brussels, to attend Friends of Europe summit (media)
• Veseli’s interview by specialist chambers postponed to December 10 (media)
• Prosecution indicts six persons for Oliver Ivanovic’s murder (Telegrafi)
• Arrest warrant issued for Zvonko Veselinovic (RTK)
• Haradinaj expects good news for visa liberalisation before Christmas (media)
• Special Prosecution responds to Kurti’s criticism of its performance (Kallxo)
• Kurti does not consider agreement with Mustafa a done deal (Express)

Serbian Language Media:

• An indictment has been filed for the murder of Oliver Ivanovic against six persons (KoSSev)
• Kosovo prosecution filing the same indictments against Serbs that UNMIK closed (Vecernje novosti, Kontakt plus radio)
• Pristina issues international warrant for arrest of Kosovo Serb (N1, Kosovo online)
• Rama thanks Vucic and other leaders for assistance they sent to Albania (N1, Srna)
• Embassy: US policy towards Serbia has never changed (N1, Beta, Politika)

International:

• Germany’s AKK warns of Russian, Chinese influence in Balkans (DW)

Humanitarian/Development:

• United Nations Climate Change Conference (B92, Beta, AP)
• Air quality unhealthy but improving as December arrives (Prishtina Insight)
• Belgrade association calls for help to people of Albania (N1)
• Book of Sorrows: Kosovo War Rape Survivors Tell Their Stories (Balkan Insight)
• Cadez calls on Serbian companies to help Albania after earthquake (Beta, Kontakt plus radio)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Borell’s spokesman: Kosovo among his top priorities (RTK/Tanjug)
  • President Thaci travels to Brussels, to attend Friends of Europe summit (media)
  • Veseli’s interview by specialist chambers postponed to December 10 (media)
  • Prosecution indicts six persons for Oliver Ivanovic’s murder (Telegrafi)
  • Arrest warrant issued for Zvonko Veselinovic (RTK)
  • Haradinaj expects good news for visa liberalisation before Christmas (media)
  • Special Prosecution responds to Kurti’s criticism of its performance (Kallxo)
  • Kurti does not consider agreement with Mustafa a done deal (Express)

Serbian Language Media:

  • An indictment has been filed for the murder of Oliver Ivanovic against six persons (KoSSev)
  • Kosovo prosecution filing the same indictments against Serbs that UNMIK closed (Vecernje novosti, Kontakt plus radio)
  • Pristina issues international warrant for arrest of Kosovo Serb (N1, Kosovo online) 
  • Rama thanks Vucic and other leaders for assistance they sent to Albania (N1, Srna)
  • Embassy: US policy towards Serbia has never changed (N1, Beta, Politika)

International:

  • Germany’s AKK warns of Russian, Chinese influence in Balkans (DW)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • United Nations Climate Change Conference (B92, Beta, AP)
  • Air quality unhealthy but improving as December arrives (Prishtina Insight) 
  • Belgrade association calls for help to people of Albania (N1)
  • Book of Sorrows: Kosovo War Rape Survivors Tell Their Stories (Balkan Insight)
  • Cadez calls on Serbian companies to help Albania after earthquake (Beta, Kontakt plus radio)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Borell’s spokesman: Kosovo among his top priorities (RTK/Tanjug)

Peter Stano, spokesman for new EU High Representative Josep Borell, told reporters in Brussels today that Kosovo will be among Borell’s top priorities during his five-year mandate, several news outlets report. Stano also said that Borell would soon visit Pristina and Belgrade.

President Thaci travels to Brussels, to attend Friends of Europe summit (media)

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci has travelled to Brussels today where he will attend a summit organised by Friends of Europe entitled “It takes two to tango: the Western Balkans between hope and reality”, most news websites report. President Thaci will talk about Kosovo and the Western Balkans relations with the European Union and the diminishing European influence in the region. He is also expected to talk about the EU-facilitated dialogue with Serbia in Brussels and efforts for the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

Veseli’s interview by specialist chambers postponed to December 10 (media)

Most news websites report that Kadri Veseli, leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), was supposed to be interviewed by the specialist chambers on December 4, but the interview has now been postponed to December 10. A political advisor to Veseli confirmed the information. “For technical reasons, the interview of President Kadri Veseli at The Hague has been postponed to December 10,” the advisor said.

Prosecution indicts six persons for Oliver Ivanovic’s murder (Telegrafi)

Special Prosecution of Kosovo has filed an indictment today against six persons in connection to the murder of the Kosovo Serb political leader Oliver Ivanovic in January of 2018. 

The six persons, three of which are already in detention and three others at large, are charged with acting in an organised criminal enterprise with formally assigned roles. 

The accused are said to have knowingly and actively participated in the group’s criminal activities and also in Ivanovic’s murder. 

“We would like to inform you that many procedural and investigative actions preceded this indictment. Around 100 witnesses were interviewed, thirty of which by the prosecutors and the rest by investigators of the case. 

The accused have been interviewed more than one time, with investigations broadening to include two more accused M.M. and Z.B. who are at large and who have been issued with an arrest warrant,” the prosecution said. 

It added that the case file shows that heads of the organised crime operating in the northern part of Kosovo have influence over the Kosovo Police, municipalities and public enterprises in the north. 

Arrest warrant issued for Zvonko Veselinovic (RTK)

Basic Court in Pristina is reported to have issued an international arrest warrant for Zvonko Veselinovic, suspected of taking part in a criminal enterprise. 

Spokesperson for the Basic Court in Pristina, Mirlinda Gashi, who confirmed the issuance of the warrant said there is grounded suspicion that Veselinovic was part of an organised crime group while RTK reports that he is also a suspect in the killing of the Kosovo Police officer Enver Zymberi in 2011 in the northern part of Mitrovica. 

Haradinaj expects good news for visa liberalisation before Christmas (media)

Kosovo’s outgoing Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj, said today that he hopes Kosovo will get good news for visa liberalisation before Christmas, several news outlets report. “Last week we had a visit from a German delegation that assessed the situation and I hope that we will get good news for the visas before Christmas,” Haradinaj told reporters after laying flowers at the grave of former Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova.

Special Prosecution responds to Kurti’s criticism of its performance (Kallxo)

The Special Prosecution of Kosovo has issued a statement in response to criticism from Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti that it was failing to prosecute war criminals despite the adoption of the law enabling trial in absentia.

The prosecution said that it has received 900 cases of war crimes from EULEX in 2018 as well as 2,000 concerning missing persons. “Since the transfer of competencies from the international mission, the Special Prosecution has launched numerous investigations and international arrest warrants have been issued for persons under investigations,” it said. 

With regards to the amendment of the Criminal Procedure Code which enables war crimes trials to take place in absentia, the prosecution said this cannot be implemented “automatically” and that certain legal criteria need to be met. 

“To fulfil the first criteria, a summon should be delivered five times to the person being investigated through the International Judicial Cooperation. In order to send the summons, the residence address of the person needs to be first secured which is difficult to be obtained in cases when the wanted person is in Serbia because, as known, there is no international judicial cooperation between Kosovo and Serbia.” 

The Special Prosecution of Kosovo assured the public opinion that it is doing all to bring perpetrators of war crimes before justice.

Kurti does not consider agreement with Mustafa a done deal (Express)

Albin Kurti, leader of the Vetvetendosje Movement said before the meeting with the leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo Isa Mustafa that they will continue with discussions to form the new government. He said that reach agreement on 12 ministries, while now they must discuss about the executive.

“We will continue today with discussions for development of the new government. I as the new Prime Minister of Kosovo, will have 12 ministries at the governing cabinet. I will hold these discussions directly with the leader of the LDK. Up to date, we have harmonised the program 100 percent. I believe that just as we agreed so far, we will also agree on division of responsibilities at the executive, of those 12 ministries on which we already reached agreement,” Kurti said. 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

An indictment has been filed for the murder of Oliver Ivanovic against six persons (KoSSev)

Pristina’s Special Prosecutors’ Office filed criminal charges against six people suspected of the involvement in the assassination of Oliver Ivanovic, a local Serb opposition politician gunned down outside his office in on January 16, 2018, the KoSSev website reported on Monday.

The Prosecutors identified the six only by initials.

They are charged with participating in organised a criminal group, abuse of office, support in crime, aggravated murder, illegal possession and use of firearms, disclosing official secrets, abuse of duty in complicity and tampering with evidence, KoSSev portal reported. 

Three of the suspects are at large, and the international warrants were issued for their arrest.

They all are believed to be members of the criminal group led by M.R. and Z.V., which has been active since 2011.

So far, the public heard about seven suspects in Ivanovic’s murder: Marko Rosic, Kosovo police officer Nedeljko Spasojevic who have been in custody for a year, Dragisa Markovic, also a policeman released from custody in February, Silvana Arsovic, Ivanovic’s close associate, Rade Basara a policeman, Milan Radojicic, the deputy leader of the Serbian List, and Z.B. who the Serb officials identified as Zeljko Bojic, the head of Kosovo operational department for the region North. His identity has not been confirmed by the Kosovo investigators.        

Kosovo prosecution filing the same indictments against Serbs that UNMIK closed (Vecernje novosti, Kontakt plus radio)

Belgrade based daily Vecernje Novosti writes that Serbian lawyers from Kosovo warn that in the last few years, Kosovo judiciary started prosecuting the cases that the UNMIK mission, responsible for the rule of law in Kosovo until 2008, dismissed as unfounded or “closed”, and point out that the numerous arrests and indictments against Serbs refer precisely to the cases handled by UNMIK mission.

Vecernje Novosti writes that that upon the arrival of EU mission in 2008, all case files left behind by UNMIK were taken over by EULEX, which subsequently transferred the cases to the Kosovo judiciary when it withdrew from the judiciary two years ago. 

The daily gives an example of Ljubisa Manitasevic, 47, from Velika Hoca, ”who wounded two Albanians in self-defence that wanted to kidnap him”. After 67 days in detention, he was released, and his case dismissed. An indictment against Manitasevic was filed in 2015, and he was arrested, according to an UNMIK warrant dated September 28 this year. And in 2015, the UNMIK judiciary did not even function, as this mission had handed over its responsibilities to EULEX seven years earlier, writes the daily.

“It is quite certain that the Kosovo judiciary will reopen all UNMIK cases, the ones for which court proceedings weren’t completed or there was no acquittal,” Ljubomir Pantovic warnes, who is involved as defence lawyer in numerous cases against Serbs.

Lawyer Dejan Vasic highlights another issue he deems as illogic in the work of Kosovo’s judicial authorities:

“In case of several of my clients, it happened that, although UNMIK has suspended the investigations, the court case was reactivated, as in the case of Dragoljub Delibasic and the late Oliver Ivanovic.”

Defence lawyers of Serb who are detained in Kosovo prisons cite as the most illogical thing the fact that Serbs are first being arrested and then the prosecution is looking for the evidence. As a result, they are unjustifiably detained. ”There were also numerous cases of arrests of Serbs solely based on Albanians finger pointing,” concludes Vecernje Novosti.

Pristina issues international warrant for arrest of Kosovo Serb (N1, Kosovo online) 

The Basic Pristina Court confirmed it issued a local and an international warrant for the arrest of Zvonko Veselinovic, a local Serb, as demanded by the Kosovo Special Prosecutors’ Office, the Kosovo online website reported late on Sunday.

Veselinovic is the former leader of the so-called Bridge Guardians, the local Serbs who have watched the bridge over the Ibar river that divides Mitrovica town in northern part held by the Serbs and the southern held by the Albanians.

Kosovo’s police have been looking for Veselinovic since 2011, following the intervention of Pristina special unit in the north, the Koha Ditore daily reported.

The Prosecutors suspect Veselinovic of several crimes, including “the participation or organisation of a criminal group.”        

https://bit.ly/34S17rC

Rama thanks Vucic and other leaders for assistance they sent to Albania (N1, Srna)

Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama thanked Aleksandar Vucic, the President of Serbia, and other leaders in the region for the help they provided to his country in recovering from the consequences of the deadly earthquake that hit the country last week.

Rama said in a meeting with foreign ambassadors in Tirana that he is grateful to their countries and the aid they sent.

“I cannot find a word to express how much that support meant… It was brilliant how Vucic and (Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran) Zaev reacted… Let alone our brothers in Kosovo,” Rama said.

He also extended gratitude to the United States and European countries as well as Pope Francis and Saudi Arabia.

The Prime Minister officially declared over the search for the missing persons under the rubble of demolished buildings.

He earlier confirmed that 50 people died in the series of earthquakes that hit the country over the past days with the 6.4 magnitude quake as the strongest one. Some 2,000 were sustained injuries.

According to preliminary information, about 900 buildings were seriously damaged in Durres and over 1,400 in the capital Tirana.

https://bit.ly/35Q2U0H

Embassy: US policy towards Serbia has never changed (N1, Beta, Politika)

US policy on Serbia has not changed and has remained the same for years, the US Embassy told the Politika daily answering the question on alleged Russia’s influence and possible change of Washington’s stance towards Belgrade.

The response comes after the Pentagon’s report from May this year, which described Serbia as the most indulgent environment for the Russian influence in the Western Balkans.

Washington understands the “interest of Serbia to develop positive relations with many partners and we would expect other Serbia’s partners to show similar respect and support for Serbia’s strategic goals,” the Embassy was quoted as saying to the daily.

America entirely supports Serbia’s goal towards European integration and the EU membership as well as Serbia’s military neutrality policy, the Embassy said.

“Our engagement with Serbia – and American technical support, which is greatly implemented through the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) – is aimed at helping Serbia to achieve the set goal, the European integration,” the daily quoted the Embassy’s answer.

https://bit.ly/37WanNA

 

International

 

Germany’s AKK warns of Russian, Chinese influence in Balkans (DW)

Federal Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on Sunday warned of the growing influence of Russia and China in the Western Balkans during a visit to Kosovo.

Kramp-Karrenbauer met her counterpart Damir Krsticevic in Croatia on Sunday and then travelled on to Kosovo to visit the German Kosovo Force (KFOR) contingent.

https://bit.ly/2LbHwuO

 

 

Development/Humanitarian

 

United Nations Climate Change Conference (B92, Beta, AP)

As politicians negotiate – the Earth overheats

Ever since the politicians of the world began climate negotiations, there has been a “fee” for it: the world is one degree warmer and thousands of billions of tons of ice have melted and disappeared.

As political leaders talk about tackling climate change, humanity has emitted more heat-boosting gases, our planet has warmed up and suffered hundreds of extreme weather disasters.

The fires were burning, the ice was melting and the seas were rising.

The first United Nations diplomatic conference on climate change was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the latest is scheduled to begin on Monday in Madrid (lasting from December 2 to 13), after previous host Chile canceled at short notice.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Sunday that the world’s efforts to stop climate change have been “utterly inadequate” so far and there is a danger global warming could pass the “point of no return”, as the AP reports.

He noted that the world has the scientific knowledge and the technical means to limit global warming, but “what is lacking is political will.”

“The point of no return is no longer over the horizon,” Guterres told reporters in Madrid. “It is in sight and hurtling toward us”.

However, he insisted that his message was “one of hope, not despair. Our war against nature must stop and we know that that is possible.” Guterres concluded.

“We are here to find answers for article 6, not to find excuses,” Guterres said.

https://bit.ly/34Hz1iO

Air quality unhealthy but improving as December arrives (Prishtina Insight) 

While Prishtina is sitting at 20th in the rankings for most polluted major city in the world on Monday morning, air quality levels are expected to significantly improve over the next few days.

The air quality monitors erected by the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning in October read Kosovo’s air quality as ‘unhealthy’ at 09:00 on Monday morning. However, wind, snow and dropping temperatures are expected to contribute to clearer air over the next few days. 

Prishtina’s PM2.5 level, which refers to the concentration of particulate matter at the size of 2.5 micrograms (µg) – the most dangerous for people to breathe – was 29 µg/m³ on Monday, according to the monitors. 

In December 2018, however, Prishtina residents experienced some of the worst recorded levels of air pollution that the city has ever seen. On December 3, 2018, Prishtina’s exposure to harmful pollutants in the air reached ‘hazardous’ levels, with residents expected to stay inside with windows closed, and recommended to wear masks if they needed to leave their homes. 

https://bit.ly/2qde0xF

Belgrade association calls for help to people of Albania (N1)

A Belgrade-based organisation called on fellow citizens to help the people of Albania, which was recently hit by a devastating, 6.4 magnitude earthquake.

Journalist Idro Seferi who joined the campaign said that station in parts of Albania is “tragic” and that there is a humanitarian need for help. The earthquake showed a “stronger side of this region,” said Seferi.

“The many in Albania are grateful to Serbia and rescuers who came there, the whole world wrote about that, the media outlets in English recalled that those uniforms never joined together in the way like they did in this tragic moment,” he added.

Milica Antic of the NGO Initiative of Citizens said that all those willing to help are invited to the Home of Human Rights in the Knez Milosa Street 4, Belgrade, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.

https://bit.ly/37WDjFi

Book of Sorrows: Kosovo War Rape Survivors Tell Their Stories (Balkan Insight)

A new book tells the traumatic stories of 24 women and one man who were subjected to sexual violence during the 1998-99 Kosovo war, in an attempt to tackle the stigma surrounding wartime rape.

“I was so young then, and from the day I was raped and lost family members, I saw only blood on my horizon.”

This is a quotation from ‘Une Jam Anemone’ (‘I am Anemone’), a powerful chronicle of rape, terror and long-term trauma that includes the stories of 24 women and one man who suffered sexual violence during the 1998-99 war in Kosovo.

The recently-published book, co-authored by the Medica Gjakova NGO and journalist Salije Gajtani Osmankaq, follows the victims’ stories from the past to the present, over two decades after the armed conflict ended.

https://bit.ly/2Ph0txF

Cadez calls on Serbian companies to help Albania after earthquake (Beta, Kontakt plus radio)

The chairman of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Marko Cadez, appealed to Serbian companies on Dec. 1 to assist Albanians and Albanian businesses after last week’s devastating earthquake.

“After initial, urgent assistance, it is our next step to help rebuild devastated and damaged buildings. I am travelling to Albania on Dec. 4 to discuss specific activities with our peers in the Union of Trade and Industrial Chambers of Albania and government representatives,” Cadez was quoted as saying by the Serbian chamber.

Cadez said that his organization had already allocated funds for assisting Albania, urging members to help.

The Serbian Chamber of Commerce also said in a press release that Eurochambers had also received an initiative to urge European chambers, which brings together over 20 million firms, to join the humanitarian drive. On behalf of the Chamber Investment Forum of the Western Balkans Six, chaired by Cadez, an appeal was sent to companies across the region.

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