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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, December 4, 2019

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, December 04, 2019

Albanian Language Media:

• LDK: We are committed to reach coalition agreement with LVV (media)
• Weber: Parties to form new government, visa liberalisation decision soon (media)
• Meta: Kosovo gave all of us strength (Lajmi/Kallxo)
• LVV: Discussions continue, no date for the new meeting (Zeri)
• Kosnett meets with minority community leaders in Kosovo (RTK)
• Apostolova: Form new government as soon as possible (Kosova Online)

Serbian Language Media:

• Vucic and Putin in Sochi: “I’m not optimistic when it comes to compromise on Kosovo” (Tanjug, B92)
• Ambassador Kosnett’s Interview with Kossev (KoSSev, US Embassy)
• Russian media: Two scandals in Serbia cast a shadow over Vucic’s visit to Russia (BETA, Tanjug, B92)
• Kosovo Specialist Chambers mandate will continue until proceedings are concluded (KoSSev)
• Conference on missing and murdered journalists in Kosovo organized in Gracanica (Radio KIM)
• Jevtic: Serbian List will not be an obstacle for formation of institutions (Kosovo-online)
• Nikola Manitasevic on hunger strike for ten days (Danas, Radio KIM)
• Secretary of Oliver Ivanovic admitted to hospital last night (Radio kontakt plus, KoSSev)
• Trial of Zoran Djokic begins in Pristina today (Radio KIM, Kosovo-online)
• Entry gate of Saint Nikola Church in Gnjilane broken (Radio KIM, Kosovo-online)
• Lawyer Vlajic: I expect acquittal in case of Ivan Todosijevic (Kosovo-online)

International:

• Post of President Holding up Kosovo Government Formation (Balkan Insight)
• Kosovo Bemused by Long Wait for Hague War Court Trials (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Brain Drain: Will the Last Doctor in Kosovo Turn Out the Lights? (Balkan Insight)
• Visoki Decani Monastery delivered first shipment of humanitarian and financial aid to Albania (KoSSev, Raska-Prizren Eparchy)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • LDK: We are committed to reach coalition agreement with LVV (media)
  • Weber: Parties to form new government, visa liberalisation decision soon (media)
  • Meta: Kosovo gave all of us strength (Lajmi/Kallxo)
  • LVV: Discussions continue, no date for the new meeting (Zeri)
  • Kosnett meets with minority community leaders in Kosovo (RTK)
  • Apostolova: Form new government as soon as possible (Kosova Online)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Vucic and Putin in Sochi: “I’m not optimistic when it comes to compromise on Kosovo” (Tanjug, B92)
  • Ambassador Kosnett’s Interview with Kossev (KoSSev, US Embassy)
  • Russian media: Two scandals in Serbia cast a shadow over Vucic’s visit to Russia (BETA, Tanjug, B92)
  • Kosovo Specialist Chambers mandate will continue until proceedings are concluded (KoSSev)
  • Conference on missing and murdered journalists in Kosovo organized in Gracanica (Radio KIM)
  • Jevtic: Serbian List will not be an obstacle for formation of institutions (Kosovo-online) 
  • Nikola Manitasevic on hunger strike for ten days (Danas, Radio KIM)
  • Secretary of Oliver Ivanovic admitted to hospital last night (Radio kontakt plus, KoSSev)
  • Trial of Zoran Djokic begins in Pristina today (Radio KIM, Kosovo-online)
  • Entry gate of Saint Nikola Church in Gnjilane broken (Radio KIM, Kosovo-online)
  • Lawyer Vlajic: I expect acquittal in case of Ivan Todosijevic (Kosovo-online)

International:

  • Post of President Holding up Kosovo Government Formation (Balkan Insight)
  • Kosovo Bemused by Long Wait for Hague War Court Trials (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Brain Drain: Will the Last Doctor in Kosovo Turn Out the Lights? (Balkan Insight)
  • Visoki Decani Monastery delivered first shipment of humanitarian and financial aid to Albania (KoSSev, Raska-Prizren Eparchy)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

LDK: We are committed to reach coalition agreement with LVV (media)

The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) has issued a statement saying it is committed to respecting the will of the citizens of Kosovo expressed in parliamentary elections of 6 October. 

“In this direction, we have continuously expressed the readiness and our unwavering commitment in achieving a coalition agreement with LVV, based on the political power given to the two parties by the voters, in the spirit of cooperation towards protection and promotion of Kosovo’s state interests.”

“The Democratic League of Kosovo has worked and is ready to reach a balanced, sustainable and long-term agreement,” the party added.

LDK also said that discussions with Vetevendosje Movement will continue in “good faith” and will not be undermined by “public pressure from anyone.”

Weber: Parties to form new government, visa liberalisation decision soon (media)

Leader of the European People’s Party, Manfred Weber, said that political parties in Kosovo need to find modalities to form a new government and that the will of the people of Kosovo who voted for change should be respected.

Weber also said that the decision on the visa liberalisation issue is expected soon but underlined France’s reservations. 

Weber made the comments in Pristina today after a meeting with the leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) Isa Mustafa.

Meta: Kosovo gave all of us strength (Lajmi/Kallxo)

President of Albania, Ilir Meta, has honoured Kosovo Security Force and Kosovo Police units with an award for their contribution in earthquake recovery efforts in Albania.

Speaking from Pristina, Meta said that Kosovo teams were among the first to join recovery efforts and that Kosovo should be proud of its security forces which he said demonstrated a high level of professionalism and dedication.

“I am sure that any NATO country would be pleased with what you did. Whoever saves a life, saves an entire world. You saved a lot, helped many injured people. All our citizens express their deepest appreciation for this solidarity. You gave all of us strength.” Meta said. 

LVV: Discussions continue, no date for the new meeting (Zeri)

Quiet with regards to the disagreements and deepening divisions among them, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and Vetevendosje Movement, two political entities which aim creation of the governing coalition, do not talk about their next steps.

After the failure of their latest attempt, LDK and LVV do not mention a date of the resumption of discussions, Zeri reports.

LVV deputy leader Fatmire Kollqaku told this newspaper that discussions with LDK will continue, but the date remains unknown. “You have heard the announcements of both leaders. There will be additional consultations, discussions go on. You saw that Mr. Kurti emphasized that there is progress, but he said that there was disagreement in some issues, now it remains to be seen, but there is no date or hour when the talks will continue for the time being. It remains to be seen when the talks will resume,” Kollqaku said.

LVV Spokesperson Alrind Manxhuka also confirmed that there is no set date for the next meeting.

Kosnett meets with minority community leaders in Kosovo (RTK)

The U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo met on Tuesday with leaders of minority communities in Kosovo.

“Met yesterday with minority community leaders to discuss the importance of inclusivity in strengthening democracy and maintaining Kosovo’s identity as a vibrant, multi-ethnic state,” Kosnett wrote on his Twitter account.

Apostolova: Form new government as soon as possible (Kosova Online)

Head of the EU Office to Kosovo Nataliya Apostolova said she expects forming of the new government of Kosovo as soon as possible, in order to resume with the dialogue with Serbia.

She also said that Serbs who gained more votes should be part of the future government. Apostolova reiterated that EU expects lifting of the 100 percent tariff on the goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. “We have not changed our position, in the contrary, we think that the new government should immediately remove the tariffs. Not only because it is in contradiction with CEFTA agreement but also because it is against cooperation and good neighborly relations,” she said.

“The role of the EU and its and the other partners is to ensure that all the agreements that Kosovo has taken over, are implemented. The final agreement should be comprehensive, efficient, in accordance with international conventions and laws and in accordance with the EU values,” she added.

  

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Vucic and Putin in Sochi: “I’m not optimistic when it comes to compromise on Kosovo” (Tanjug, B92)

Strategic partnership between Serbia and Russia is developing and strengthening on a daily basis, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the start of the meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, B92 reports.

“Thank you for accepting our invitation, our relationships are evolving, our strategic partnership is being reaffirmed and strengthened on a daily basis, both in political and economic relations, as well as in the security field,” President Putin said at the beginning of the meeting, which was open to the public.

According to the Russian President, last year foreign trade between the two countries increased by two percent, and in the period January – September this year, by additional nine percent. Putin added that joint committees are actively working on developing relations between the two countries, and that he will discuss it further with the Serbian President during the visit.

Russian President has told Vucic that he is expecting him in Russia again in May next year. Serbian President Vucic responded that he would be honored.

Vucic also said that he was not optimistic when it comes to reaching a final compromise solution between Belgrade and Pristina. He once again thanked Putin for his continued support to Serbia in preserving its territorial integrity and national interests.

“But I have to tell you that I am not optimistic regarding reaching a final compromise solution between Belgrade and Pristina. However, we will discuss this issue together,” Vucic said.

He pointed out that the economic cooperation between Serbia and Russia is improving and that the trade in goods is constantly growing. He reminded that projects with Russian Railways (RZD) are being implemented in Serbia, and praised the responsibility and professionalism of Russian partners. He especially thanked Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu for his co-operation.

Vucic recalled Putin’s visit to Belgrade early in 2019, which he says the Serbian citizens fondly remember, and invited Russian President to come to Serbia again. “We are expecting you to visit our country in the shortest possible time,” Vucic said.

Vucic handed a letter of Patriarch Irinej, personally addressed to Putin by the Serbian Orthodox Church spiritual leader.

On the eve of the meeting, President Vucic announced that the topics of talks with the head of the Russian state would be all key issues – from Kosovo and Metohija, the situation in the Western Balkans region, to how Putin views the political situation in Europe, Eurasia and worldwide. The issues such as energy and the economy in general will be discussed, as it is crucial for Serbia to have bilateral co-operation with Russia and improve trade.

See at: https://bit.ly/2Rq8jr4

Ambassador Kosnett’s Interview with Kossev (KoSSev, US Embassy)

KoSSev: In spite of many months of negotiations to form Kosovo government and also numerous announcements of the quick coalition between Vetevendosje and LDK, we have seen actually the failure yesterday to form such a government. Do you expect it will be different today? Do you expect that the coalition will be finalizing in the course of this day or in the course of one of these days?

Ambassador Kosnett: I think it’s clear that on October 6 the people of Kosovo voted for change and LDK and Vetevendosje are committed to building a coalition that will bring about change and progress for all the people of Kosovo.  I share the eagerness of Kosovo citizens to actually see this process completed so the new government can form and get to work. I don’t know how many more days it will take but I think everybody involved knows that this is a great opportunity and they’re not going to miss that opportunity.

KoSSev: Let me put the question another way. Could you rule out any possibility of a last-minute surprise that the minority community MP’s votes would be missing now when actually, on the other hand, we have seen many announcements, it will take—but still it doesn’t take?

Ambassador Kosnett: I am confident that this is going to work out and that government will be formed that pays proper attention to the voices of all the people of Kosovo.

KoSSev: At the same time while we are waiting for the government to be formed would you agree or disagree with the perception that in first place PDK structures are not really ready to give up a vast portion of the influence they are exerting over the institution?

Ambassador Kosnett: Let me answer that more broadly—my government expects that all the political parties whether they end up in the government, or in opposition, will behave in a constructive manner putting the interests of the nation first.

KoSSev: OK, that means you still are not answering… can I rephrase the question?

Ambassador Kosnett: I’ll answer in another way.  Of course, all the political parties look forward to their next opportunity to be in government: that’s what political parties do. What I hope and expect is that PDK and AAK and all the other parties that find themselves in opposition will act in a constructive manner as opposition parties can and should—looking for opportunities to cooperate with the government.  I understand your question. I think what’s important is that all the—everybody in the political class keep in mind the interests of the country, the interests of the citizens. And the citizens made their desire clear on October 6.

KoSSev: Thank you, just a little follow up. Are you aware of the perception of the general public that they are seeing intention, of until now, the majority party is still exerting influence. For instance, one of the explanations why the government has not been formed so far—many are ready to claim that it is because there is an inside obstruction, in the first place PDK structures not to let the government?

Ambassador Kosnett: I am more interested in talking about what the next government is going to do than I am at these questions of the political maneuvers and how the election took place and so on. So, let’s talk about what we expect the next government to do.

KoSSev: Ok speaking then of the next government, the question would be, do you think that the new government would be stable enough, if the government will be between LDK and Self-Determination Movement, would it be stable enough to make the difficult political moves including the suspension or abolition of the taxes, that we have now for more than one year.

Ambassador Kosnett: I have confidence that the new government is going to be able to act in a responsible and forward-looking manner across the board, Tanja, on issues of justice, on issues of prosperity and economic development, and also on Kosovo’s relations with its neighbours. Our position is that we believe that Kosovo and Serbia should get back to the negotiating table as soon as possible and not throw up obstacles to that, specifically, we continue to call for the suspension of the tariffs and we call on Serbia to end its campaign of de-recognition. What we really want to see is not—is for parties to be competing to see who can be more creative in creating conditions for improved relations, not who can throw up the most obstacles.

KoSSev: Are you an optimist that it may take place soon upon the formation of the government at least, and what practically would it mean? Would in your opinion be the simultaneous move from Belgrade and Pristina’s side, or it should take one after another?

Ambassador Kosnett: I think that what’s important is that both governments need to move decisively to resume discussions and get back to the table and create economic opportunities and opportunities for cooperation on other issues, including things like missing persons, law enforcement cooperation, creating again opportunities for trade and investment.  Because we think that the economic future of Kosovo depends in large part on improving relations with its neighbours, not only Serbia. Let’s talk about mini-Schengen for a moment, for example. There are a lot of questions about the mini-Schengen proposal in Kosovo, people have pointed out various weak points in the initial formulation of it. Our view is that Kosovo is being invited to participate in the mini-Schengen process as an equal with the other countries in the region, that Kosovo should send a delegation to the next mini-Schengen session and put forth their ideas—if they don’t like the current shape of it they should argue for change, they should try to shape it.  I think that other countries in the region recognize that in order for there to be a strong regional economy, every country in the region needs to participate, including Kosovo. I do believe that the next government of Kosovo will have the self-confidence to go to the table to negotiate confidently and as an equal with Serbia and with other countries.

KoSSev: Mr. Ambassador what do you think is more correct, that Kosovo is not invited to join mini-Schengen table, or that Kosovo does not want to join the mini-Schengen table?

Ambassador Kosnett: I think the door is open for Kosovo at this point and they should take their place around the table. You know as Kosovo becomes more active on the global scene and eventually, I am completely confident, it will join the United Nations, it will join all these international organizations.  Kosovo is going to be an equal participant with every other sovereign nation and no time is better than now.

KoSSev: So, did I understand correct that the invitation has arrived to Kosovo?

Ambassador Kosnett: Yes.

KoSSev: Still Srpska Lista is very much important in this, how to say, new tango that will be waiting now for the new government and the current government in Belgrade. Recently we have seen very strong opposition from the Kurti side to have Srpska Lista join the government. On the other side the Kosovo Constitution is very clear that he needs to provide the consent of the majority of MPs. Do you think at the end of the day that Kurti will install the Srpska Lista minister with his government and if that takes so, what does it mean when he says it will take so but he will be in the opposition?

Ambassador Kosnett: So, I want to be careful not to speculate about the future. I think that Mr. Kurti is familiar with the responsibilities of the Prime Minister and he understands what the Constitution says about the role of the minority parties and he knows that Srpska List is a political reality that cannot be ignored. What specifically, how that will manifest itself, I think we’ll see.  But I believe that Mr. Kurti understands that being the Prime Minister of a country is very different from being an opposition political leader and he is committed to working with all the minority communities in Kosovo. We’ll see once the government is formed—he has offered all the correct assurances so far.

KoSSev: The last question, actually we have two more questions on the dialogue. On one hand we will have the new government in Pristina, hopefully eventually, on the other side we have the current government in Belgrade, actually that is really facing huge problems recently, something that Kosovo was blamed for a while before the elections of failing to get the consent now we are seeing in Belgrade. Do you predict any difficulties once this negotiation tango is about to start?

Ambassador Kosnett: Well, I am not Ambassador to Serbia, but I will say that I firmly believe that President Vucic and his government are committed to improved relations with Kosovo and they are committed to making the dialogue process work. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy negotiation for obvious reasons.  There are a lot of historical disagreements, the level of trust between the two countries is very low – everybody knows this. But, I do believe that the new government in Kosovo, and whatever government emerges from the elections in Serbia will continue this process.

KoSSev: When we had our interview, the first interview last year at the end of December, it was the New Year’s interview, you told me, as a very fresh ambassador, that you expect the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina to start rather in the first half of 2019 than later. Now, it did not happen. So, what is your lesson learned, and what do you predict for 2020?

Ambassador Kosnett: I think a lot of positive things did happen for Kosovo in 2019.  The fact that there was a fair and free election in October—there were issues that concerned us, there were reports of a number of parties acting inappropriately, intimidating voters and so on, but what we’ve seen is a pattern of elections in Kosovo improving over time.  I can look back to all the people who were predicting violence in the streets on election day. That didn’t happen. If you remember, earlier this year people were threatening to pull Serbs out of the Kosovo Police, out of the judicial institutions in the north, which would have been a terrible setback – that was avoided. I think that we’ve continued to see progress on justice issues, rule of law issues. I think that there is a very strong desire to fight corruption across the board. We’ve seen a growing recognition that people in Kosovo won’t truly have a future of equality and justice unless every citizen of the country is equal under the law, unless every citizen in the country has economic opportunities. So, I think that conditions are better now than they were a year ago for real progress.

KoSSev: Is partition prevented, as you also mentioned the threat of stepping out from these institutions, speaking of the Serbs? So, is partition prevented, or delimitation, or…

Ambassador Kosnett: I’ve spoken about this before – let me outline the U.S. position again. The U.S. position has not been, has never been, to actively favor some grand exchange of territory, some major border adjustment or any border adjustment. The position of the U.S. administration has been that if the people of Kosovo and Serbia, not only the politicians, but the people, agree on a comprehensive settlement of the problem that involves some land adjustment, we would not rule it out, out of hand, we would look at it.

The full interview is available at: https://xk.usembassy.gov/int_kossev/

Russian media: Two scandals in Serbia cast a shadow over Vucic’s visit to Russia (BETA, Tanjug, B92)

Meeting between Serbian and Russian presidents Aleksandar Vucic and Vladimir Putin comes after two scandals casting a shadow over the visit, Moscow media report. “Kommersant” daily states that after two major scandals affecting relations – espionage and the Serbian landmine scandal in Ukraine – the summit should answer the main question: is Serbia ready to be Moscow’s key ally in the region or will it continue to balance between Russia and the West.

“Kommersant” added, citing unnamed sources close to the authorities in Belgrade, Serbia will continue to try to maintain a balance in relations with Russia and the West, avoiding obvious leaning on one side.

RIA Novosti reported that a series of scandals in Serbia, where Moscow was “involved again, was the only thing that cast a shadow on the meeting between Vucic and Putin”. RIA Novosti writes that relations between the two countries are on probation.

Russia Today: Serbia “shielding” Russia from NATO

According to Russian experts, the meeting of Vladimir Putin and Aleksandar Vucic in Sochi could play a major role in the development of Moscow-Belgrade relations, writes Russia Today, adding that the two presidents will discuss urgent bilateral cooperation issues as well as international issues, as announced by the Ambassador of Serbia to the Russian Federation, particularly economy, especially cooperation in the energy sector.

“This visit will play a significant role,” said Elena Guskova, head of the Center for the Study of the Modern Balkan Crisis at the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in an interview with Russia Today.

“During the recent meetings of Vucic with Putin and Dmitry Medvedev, several documents were signed. But now, most likely, it might be about including some content in those documents”, she added.

On the eve of his trip to Russia, President of Serbia announced that it is quite possible that he and Putin will propose “their own topics” for this meeting.

According to experts, Russia and Serbia must improve bilateral trade. According to Moscow State University of International Relations (MGIMO) Political Science Professor Elena Ponomareva, it is “very important for both countries to exceed the level of four billion euros”. Behind the official press release discussing “regional and international issues,” according to Ponomareva, there is a desire on the part of Russian and Serbian leaders to exchange views on the most important topics for both countries.

“Views will be exchanged on the Ukrainian crisis, the situation in Syria, the behavior of Albanians in the Balkans, and especially on the Serbia – Kosovo territorial issue”, she said.

According to Ponomareva, Belgrade is now under serious pressure from the West, especially NATO, but at the same time the country is trying to maintain military-political neutrality.

“We have two allies in the Balkans. These are Serbia and Republika Srpska, which is part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. And the issue of further NATO expansion rests precisely on the Serb factor”, she concluded.

Guskova shares the same view, pointing out that statements about Russia’s “destabilizing” role in the Balkans, which have often been voiced in recent years by Western politicians and centers of expertise, were prompted by the desire to break Serbia’s important ties with the Russian Federation.

Kosovo Specialist Chambers mandate will continue until proceedings are concluded (KoSSev)

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers’ mandate will continue until the EU Council notifies the Kosovo government that all proceedings and investigations have been concluded, so there is no formal extension needed for this court to continue with its work – the Specialist Chambers spokesperson, Angela Griep told KoSSev portal.

This way she denied allegations that the Kosovo Assembly needs to approve the extension of the mandate of this court. In an interview for KoSSev in the Hague, Griep also spoke about the indictment process, the procedure after this process, and witness protection.

Ever since it was founded in 2015, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers has been harshly criticized, while former KLA members – certain Kosovo officials and institutions – made several attempts to obstruct the work of this court. Almost five years later, according to unconfirmed information, hundreds of people were questioned as witnesses or suspects, and among them, a good number of Pristina officials – former KLA members.

While numerous unofficial announcements claim that the first indictments could be soon filed, Pristina officials speculate that future Kosovo institutions should not “extend the mandate of the Specialist Chambers“. In addition, some politicians also claimed that this would be discussed in the future convocation of the Kosovo Assembly.

On the other hand, Griep argues that the Specialist Chambers’ mandate will continue until the EU Council decides otherwise.

“It is provided in law and adopted by the Kosovo Assembly – that the mandate of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers continues until the EU Council notifies the Kosovo government that all proceedings and investigations have been concluded. So, there is no formal extension needed for the Kosovo Specialist Chambers to continue with their work,“ Griep said.

See at: https://bit.ly/2RhGGAx

Conference on missing and murdered journalists in Kosovo organized in Gracanica (Radio KIM)

The conference on missing and murdered journalists jointly organized by the Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) in Kosovo and the OSCE Mission took place in Gracanica today, Radio KIM reports. The conference consists of two parts, and the second event will be organized in Pristina, in cooperation with the Association of Journalists of Kosovo. 

The Head of the OSCE Mission, Ambassador Jan Braathu recalled that during the conflict in 1998-1999 in Kosovo, but also afterwards 15 journalists and media workers were killed or went missing. During this time, 11 journalists were killed and four went missing.

“It is important to face those challenges and we need to resolve the past by facing it,” Ambassador Braathu said. He added “it is important to remember one thing, that this is not a matter of ethnicity, it is not important if it was a Serb or an Albanian, but it is about the journalists who were carrying out their duties”.

He also noted that pressure on journalists exists and continues. Ambassador Braathu said conditions must be enabled so the journalists can do their work.

“There is a high number of journalists who do not perceive journalism as a profession only, but as a much wider mission, and that is very important, it is important that journalists work without fear and intimidation.”

He condemned all attacks against journalists, and desecration of the memorial plaque dedicated to the missing journalists Djurio Slavuj and Ranko Perenic.

The President of the Association of Journalists of Serbia in Kosovo, Budimir Nicic said that members of the families and colleagues of the missing and murdered journalists will speak about them today.

He recalled that the first protest to demand shedding the light on the fate of missing and murdered journalists took place a decade ago. We requested EULEX to resolve these cases, but there is no response yet, Nicic said.

Nicic also noted that the Association has requested the establishment of a commission for missing and murdered journalists, however it has not been established to date. “We constantly appeal to all the actors to cease the oath of silence and we see this conference as a reason for them to speak out,” Nicic said.

The President of the Association of Journalists of Kosovo, Gentijana Begoli said the Association “has never stopped asking for justice for all colleagues, regardless of their ethnic background, that perpetrators are brought before the justice, not only those who committed the crimes but also those who gave the orders.”

She noted that the two journalists’ associations in Kosovo, Serbian and Albanian must work together and this conference indicates that there is cooperation, but it needs to be stronger.

“We will not involve politics in this, will not equalize the crimes and we will not treat them on the basis of ethnic background. It is a long and not that easy path, but we do not intend to stop,” Begoli said, Radio KIM reports.

Jevtic: Serbian List will not be an obstacle for formation of institutions (Kosovo-online) 

Serbian List (SL) Vice President Dalibor Jevtic said today that this party will not be an obstacle to the formation of a new Kosovo government, pointing out that they would however demand from the institutions a minimum – respect of the electoral will of citizens and cessation of discrimination against Serbs, Kosovo-online portal reports.

In a statement to the portal, Jevtic underlined that the minimum request of Serbian List was the cessation of discrimination against the will of the Serbian people and cessation of discrimination against Serbian political representatives from Kosovo.

“Those who refuse to accept what was the electoral will of the citizens, refuse to acknowledge in a democratic way the views and opinions of us as political representatives of Serbs, as a political party, and thus refuse to meet the Serbian people in the territory of Kosovo halfway” Jevtic said.

He added that the international community also knows that the Serbian List will not be an obstacle in the establishment of a new Kosovo government.

“But we will demand a minimum of respect, not only for us as political representatives of Serbs, but for the Serbian people, who clearly and unambiguously stated who they want to represent them in the institutions” Jevtic concluded.

Nikola Manitasevic on hunger strike for ten days (Danas, Radio KIM)

Nikola Manitasevic from Velika Hoca village is on hunger strike in front of the Hungarian Embassy in Belgrade for ten days, protesting the decision of the Hungarian authorities to extradite his brother Ljubisa Manitasevic to Kosovo authorities, Danas daily reports.

Ljubisa Manitasevic was arrested at Horgos border (between Serbia and Hungary) crossing point on September 28 and is placed under extradition detention due to the warrant that Kosovo issued charging him with the murder attempt, although KFOR released him in 1999 since he acted in a self-defence and shot at two KLA members who attempted to kidnap him in Orahovac.

Danas daily also reports that Nikola Manitasevic said he again addressed the Serbian state institutions but received no information as to what has been undertaken in the case of his brother.

He also said he asked for a meeting with the Serbian Justice Minister Nela Kuburovic.

According to Nikola, Facebook also blocked his profile on December 7, where he wrote about the arrest of his brother and hunger strike, assessing the content of his profile “as inappropriate for children,” KIM Radio reports.  

Secretary of Oliver Ivanovic admitted to hospital last night (Radio kontakt plus, KoSSev)

Silvana Arsovic, a long-term associate and secretary of the assassinated leader of Civic Initiative Freedom, Democracy, Justice (SDP leader, Oliver Ivanovic, who was indicted for involvement in his murder two days ago with five other people, was admitted last night to the intensive care unit at Mitrovica North Clinical Centre, Radio kontakt plus reports.  

Her medical condition has deteriorated in the past two days due to high blood pressure as well as other heart problems.

As Radio Kontakt reports, Arsovic was a friend and closest associate of Oliver Ivanovic and on the day of murder was the only person in the premises of this civic initiative. She was interrogated several times, and last year she was also placed under 48-hour police detention.

Ksenija Bozovic representative of CI SDP claims that Silvana Arsovic has nothing to do with Ivanovic’s murder and expects this to be proven. Arsovic is a single mother of an eighteen-year-old son.

Trial of Zoran Djokic begins in Pristina today (Radio KIM, Kosovo-online)

The trial of Zoran Djokic from Pec, accused of committing “a criminal act of the war crime” will begin today in Pristina at the Basic Court special department for the war crimes, Radio KIM reports.

His lawyer, Ljubomir Pantovic recalled that Djokic was arrested in February this year under suspicion of committing war crimes, allegedly committing two murders in Pec during the conflict. Since his arrest, Djokic has been placed in a high-security prison in Podujevo.

Pantovic also said that two preparatory hearings took place, and Djokic pleaded not guilty.

“In my opinion there is no evidence for this criminal act. The trial begins today (…),” Pantovic said, adding this would be a difficult trial.

Entry gate of Saint Nikola Church in Gnjilane broken (Radio KIM, Kosovo-online)

The entry gate of the Serbian Orthodox Saint Nikola Church in Gnjilane has been damaged by three unidentified persons who forcibly entered the church’s yard, Radio KIM reports.

Kosovo police spokesperson for Gnjilane region, Ismet Hashani told Kosovo-online portal, the incident took place on Monday, adding the police works to identify perpetrators and bring them in.

“The unknown persons have damaged the gate leading to the church’s yard. They did not damage the church premise. The Kosovo police has started the investigation and works to identify the perpetrators,” Hashani said.

The Saint Nikola Church was built in 1861, on the foundations of the older church in the centre of Gnjilane. The church suffered heavy damages after 1999 due to an earthquake, but also in March violence in 2004.  It has been repaired thanks to the efforts of Raska-Prizren Eparchy.  

Lawyer Vlajic: I expect acquittal in case of Ivan Todosijevic (Kosovo-online) 

Kosovo Online reported yesterday that verdict in case of Ivan Todosijevic, former Kosovo minister, who is charged with the criminal offense of “inciting national, racial and religious hatred, discord or intolerance” will be announced on Thursday, his lawyer Nebojsa Vlajic confirmed, pointing out that that he expects the acquittal.

“We made the closing arguments, me as defence lawyer and the public prosecutor. The prosecutor claims that Todosijevic committed the crime while the defence maintains that this was the permitted freedom of speech and expression, which is guaranteed by both the Constitution of Kosovo and the Criminal Code, as well as the European Convention on Fundamental Human Rights in Article 10” Vlajic explained.

 The lawyer pointed out that he expected an acquittal, but certainly whatever the verdict might be, one party would be dissatisfied and would file an appeal.

“Of course, I expect an acquittal, because it is not and should not be a crime in any society. It is a return of a verbal crime/tort from the old Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ), an undemocratic state, where you could be punished for what you say. That must not happen now, whether what we say is appropriate or not for someone, whether someone accepts it or not. It is forbidden to verbally incite and provoke violence, and in no way, it should be forbidden to express one’s opinion, whatever it may be” Vlajic underlined.

 

 

International

 

Post of President Holding up Kosovo Government Formation (Balkan Insight)

The post of president is emerging as a key obstacle to the creation of a new government in Kosovo following an October election as Vetevendosje and the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, argue over how to divide the spoils of government, analysts say.

“The president’s post is the main obstacle because it causes an imbalance among the partners in sharing government,” analyst Nexhmedin Spahiu told BIRN.

“Vetevendosje, as the party with the most votes, has an advantage, and it looks that they are requesting compensation with other posts in order to let LDK have the presidency when [Hashim] Thaci’s mandate expires.”

https://bit.ly/34NRfPZ

Kosovo Bemused by Long Wait for Hague War Court Trials (Balkan Insight)

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers, set up to try former Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas, is to renew its five-year mandate next year – but with no indictments issued yet, suspicion of the Hague-based ‘special court’ remains widespread in Kosovo.

https://bit.ly/33IUmXP

 

 

Development/Humanitarian

 

Brain Drain: Will the Last Doctor in Kosovo Turn Out the Lights? (Balkan Insight)

In the end, it was the commute that clinched it.

Blerim Berisha was a resident cardiologist at the University Clinical Centre of Kosovo in the capital, Pristina, where he worked days administering electrocardiograms and ultrasounds.

After an eight-hour shift, he would jump in his jalopy and barrel down the M9 freeway to the town of Klina, 60 kilometres west of Pristina, where he lived with his wife, daughter and son.

Not that he would see much of them. The only way to make ends meet was to work night shifts at a prison 30 kilometres away. Then home for a quick nap, and back to Pristina to do it all again.

“Sometimes it felt like I’d never get any sleep at all,” he recalled. “And forget about having time for my family.”

These days, Berisha, 42, drives to work past half-timbered houses in the picturesque town of Pegnitz, near the German city of Nuremberg, where he works as a cardiologist at the town’s main hospital.

He makes 10 times his old salary and enjoys visiting historical sites on weekends with his wife and children.

Five years after packing up his stethoscope and moving to Germany, Berisha has no regrets.

“The decision to come here was the hardest, but it was a must,” he said, sipping an apple juice at his home in Nuremberg.

While it was the punishing hours and long drive that hurt the most, his diagnosis of Kosovo’s ailing health system also swayed his thinking.

“Corruption, narrow horizons and nepotism in state-funded institutions are killing the future of the country,” he said.

Berisha is one of hundreds of Kosovo doctors who have traded low pay and high stress for more rewarding lives abroad. Most go to Germany, which recognises Kosovo medical qualifications.

As the pathway to migration gets ever easier for Kosovo’s doctors, nurses and other health workers, BIRN can reveal the full extent of medical brain drain in Europe’s youngest state.

In a country with one of the lowest densities of physicians on the continent, a doctor emigrates every other day while two nurses leave daily, figures from the Chamber of Doctors and Chamber of Nurses show, respectively.

See at: https://bit.ly/2DM4GUE

Visoki Decani Monastery delivered first shipment of humanitarian and financial aid to Albania (KoSSev, Raska-Prizren Eparchy)

Serbian Orthodox Church Visoki Decani Monastery monks with the blessing of Raska-Prizren Eparchy Bishop Teodosije visited yesterday Durres and Tirana and delivered the humanitarian and financial aid to affected people there.  

The monks Andrej and Petar visited the Academy of Theology and an orphanage of Saint Vlasija as well as Monastery near Durres and delivered the financial and humanitarian aid. More than 200 people and children (both Christians and Muslims) stay in the monastery and the academy premises, as their residences were affected by the earthquake. The monks also conveyed the solidarity of the Orthodox Christians from Raska-Prizren Eparchy to the affected people in Albania.

The Eparchy also recalled that two days after the earthquake the Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej also sent a message of solidarity to the people of Albania, while Raska-Prizren Eparchy Bishop Teodosije has started a wider campaign of collecting the humanitarian aid that would soon be sent to the people in Albania.

 

 

 

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, December 6, 2019

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