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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, 20 December 2019

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Albanian Language Media:

• Abazi: Rama handing over Albania to Vucic’s Mini-Schengen (media)
• Kurti: We do not have concrete results, agreement possible (media)
• Tahiri: Kosovo right not to take part in Mini-Schengen initiative meeting (Zeri)

Serbian Language Media:

• NGO ”ÇOHU!” reports that 8 media outlets violate the code of ethics, including KoSSev ”due to readers’ comments” (KIM radio, KoSSev)
• “Solution for Kosovo based on UN SC Resolution 1244” (Radio KIM)
• Poster of Vucic ‘persona non-grata’ in Tirana (BETA, N1)
• Analysts on Thaci’s refusal to attend “mini-Schengen” summit (Sputnik, B92)
• “Pristina became political loser” (Tanjug, B92)
• Joksimovic: Serbia committed to EU accession (BETA, N1)
• Lawyer Vasic: The indictment is ‘a far-fetched construction’, especially in the sections related to organized criminal group (Kosovo Online, RTV Puls)
• Vucic: Tahiri threatens with war and nobody reacts (RTV, Tanjug)

International:

• What Macron plans for Europe (Politico)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Strpce residents in the fight against MHPPs: We only have one Shara Mountain (KoSSev)
• British ambassador visits KSF members attending Serbian language course (Koha)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Abazi: Rama handing over Albania to Vucic’s Mini-Schengen (media)
  • Kurti: We do not have concrete results, agreement possible (media)
  • Tahiri: Kosovo right not to take part in Mini-Schengen initiative meeting (Zeri)

 

Serbian Language Media:

  • NGO ”ÇOHU!” reports that 8 media outlets violate the code of ethics, including KoSSev ”due to readers’ comments” (KIM radio, KoSSev)
  • “Solution for Kosovo based on UN SC Resolution 1244” (Radio KIM)
  • Poster of Vucic ‘persona non-grata’ in Tirana (BETA, N1)
  • Analysts on Thaci’s refusal to attend “mini-Schengen” summit (Sputnik, B92)
  • “Pristina became political loser” (Tanjug, B92)
  • Joksimovic: Serbia committed to EU accession (BETA, N1)
  • Lawyer Vasic: The indictment is ‘a far-fetched construction’, especially in the sections related to organized criminal group (Kosovo Online, RTV Puls)
  • Vucic: Tahiri threatens with war and nobody reacts (RTV, Tanjug)

 

International:

  • What Macron plans for Europe (Politico)

 

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Strpce residents in the fight against MHPPs: We only have one Shara Mountain (KoSSev)
  • British ambassador visits KSF members attending Serbian language course (Koha)

 

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Abazi: Rama handing over Albania to Vucic’s Mini-Schengen (media)

Several news outlets report that Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) MP Haki Abazi took to Facebook today to criticise Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, calling him an oligarch and claiming that he is “handing over Albania to Vucic’s Mini-Schenge”. According to Abazi, “Rama is the misfortune of Albanians, he is the human earthquake that is shaking the foundations of Albania and Albania at a time when our development and path should have only one destination. The road to Berlin, Brussels, London and Washington DC does not go through Belgrade. Rama initially handed over Albania to the oligarchs and now he is handing it over to Vucic’s Mini-Schengen to implement the division and isolation of Kosovo, something that Thaci wanted to do but was not allowed. Who do they owe Kosovo’s division to? Why is Rama in such a rush! There is only one Schengen and no other”.

Kurti: We do not have concrete results, agreement possible (media)

Leader of the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) Albin Kurti said today that there are no concrete results with regards to the reach of agreement on formation of the government.

“I am aware that that you are very much interested. The agreement is possible, and the agreement is required because citizens need it,” Kurti said.

“When we have concrete results, and when we reach the agreement which adds to the harmonisation of program, we will have what to say,” he added.

Kurti made these comments prior to entering the “Social dialogue: women for development” roundtable organized by LVV.

Tahiri: Kosovo right not to take part in Mini-Schengen initiative meeting (Zeri)

Ramush Tahiri, political commentator, spoke about the Western Balkans Mini-Schengen initiative and justified the decision of Kosovo not to take part in today’s meeting in Albania.

“Kosovo has rightfully opposed participation and has its arguments for doing so because without Serbia apologizing for crimes in Kosovo and without acknowledging those crimes, our country cannot take part. What is important is that Kosovo is an independent country, alike Serbia and Albania, and bilateral relations of the two countries do not affect third countries because there can be no agreement about the third state,” Tahiri said.

 

Serbian Language Media

 

NGO ”ÇOHU!” reports that 8 media outlets violate the code of ethics, including KoSSev ”due to readers’ comments” (KIM radio, KoSSev)

A Kosovan NGO ”ÇOHU!” published a monitoring report on eight Kosovo portals, alleging that they ”are violating the reporting code of ethics” – Pristina based online media and RTV Kim reported. The KoSSev portal is the only media outlet reporting in the Serbian language that this NGO monitored and placed on the list of media outlets violating the code of ethics due to ”readers’ comments” which are published directly from their social network accounts.

The ”ÇOHU!” did not previously inform KoSSev’s editorial staff and newsroom that it will be presenting the results of this research. Furthermore, the press release this NGO sent to the RTV Kim newsroom was not delivered to KoSSev.

The ”Organization for Democracy, Anti-Corruption and Dignity – ÇOHU” published a report on monitoring web portals in Kosovo about violations of the code of ethics of journalistic standards, RTV KIM reported.

According to RTV Kim, eight media portals were monitored every day between May 2018 and April 2019 – Express, Zeri, Indeksonline, Insajderi, Telegrafi, Gazeta Blic, Veriu and KoSSev.

The majority of complaints were filed against Indeksonline portal (18), and the highest number of complaints that were adopted were filed against Gazeta Blic (9) – the report said.

”We sent complaints to the Kosovo Press Council at least once a week which were created based on what we monitored, read, and observed in terms of potential code violations on a daily basis – based on which they made decisions, i.e. to adopt or reject them, ” Qerim Ondozi, the head of the investigative journalism program of the ”ÇOHU!” organization, told RTV Kim.

Speaking about the KoSSev portal, Ondozi said that the complaints related to this portal ”mostly concerned the readers’ comments”, RTV Kim reported.

”The news was fine, but we sent complaints to the Kosovo Press Council because of user comments. Comments included blackmail, threats, or hate speech. During this year, we have sent 13 complaints to the Press Council regarding this portal, i.e. concerning 13 different news or comments. The council accepted 4 complaints and rejected 9, ” Ondozi said.

The KoSSev portal editor-in-chief, Tatjana Lazarevic told RTV Kim that they did not have any contact with the ”ÇOHU!” organization, and were unaware that KoSSev was being monitored, or more importantly that they were uninformed about the presentation event of the research findings. Lazarevic also said that she first learned about the report from Pristina-based media and then, furthermore from an RTV Kim journalist.

”Speaking of comments, I want to emphasize the following: Comments posted either on our site or on our social media pages, namely Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, are posted by users directly from their social media accounts. We are one of those media outlets that do not have their own site comment administrative software. We do not have this platform and we do not receive the comments for approval, but they are published directly through the accounts of individuals or group users – through these networks,” Lazarevic said.

She pointed out that the KoSSev editorial team – when they see comments that in any way spread religious, national or gender-based hatred and discrimination, contain offensive words, etc. – can respond with a comment that emphasizes that while editorial politics includes an absolute freedom of speech, it is nevertheless subject to public criticism, so that attention of users must be paid to the words they use.

”We primarily urge that no words of hate, violence, or discrimination on any grounds are used. Another thing we do through our Facebook page is to use the option provided by Facebook – applying a filter that contains a list of offensive words. Of course, this filter, as much as it helps, cannot prevent a comment from an individual reader, primarily because it is a comment in non-English, so if the comments are in Serbian, the words change by case, gender, number. Therefore, even if we have previously inserted that word, the filter does not recognize it if it is in any way modified,” Lazarevic explained.

The KoSSev editor-in-chief stressed that small media outlets in Kosovo often lack both technical and human resources to install and run their own site comment administrative software.

Monitoring of the above-mentioned portals is still ongoing and will be completed in April 2020, when ”ÇOHU!” will prepare its final report, RTV Kim reported.

The report of the ”ÇOHU” sponsored by KFOS (Kosovo Foundation for Open Society) and ”Luxembourg Aid & Development” – which we managed to find only in the Albanian language until this news was published.

https://bit.ly/34BBhat

“Solution for Kosovo based on UN SC Resolution 1244” (Radio KIM)

Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov said the EU has displayed incapacity to resolve the Kosovo issue, adding the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue in Brussels has died, and there is no progress in it for a longer period, Radio KIM reports.

“From our perspective, currently, there are no preconditions to add a new dynamic in regulating the Kosovo issue. Post-election chaos and struggle for power continue in Kosovo. Mediation potential of the EU has devalued significantly,” Lavrov said.

According to him, “the EU is not able yet to influence Kosovo Albanians in order to pressure them to use reasonable and constructive approach in negotiations with Serbia.”

He recalled as an example that since 2013 Pristina is sabotaging implementation of the obligations it undertook in relation to form Community of Serb-majority Municipalities, adding that for more than a year Pristina maintains “discriminatory anti-Serbian tariffs on goods from Serbia.”

Speaking about the resolution of the Kosovo issue, Lavrov said Russia advocates for “reaching a sustainable and mutually acceptable solution on the basis of UN SC Resolution 1244 that must correspond to the international law, receive approval by the Security Council, since it is about ensuring international peace and security.”

Lavrov also said Russia would only agree with the decision that would please the Serbs.

Poster of Vucic ‘persona non-grata’ in Tirana (BETA, N1)

The Self-determination (LVV), an NGO in Albania put up a poster of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic with the words ‘persona non-grata’ on it in the center of Tirana, BETA news agency reported. 

The NGO (which carries the same name as Albin Kurti’s Self-determination Movement in Kosovo) put up a poster in front of the Rogner hotel where the heads of state and government of three Western Balkan countries are due to meet to discuss the so-called Mini-Schengen initiative.

See at: https://bit.ly/2Z6Fa68

Analysts on Thaci’s refusal to attend “mini-Schengen” summit (Sputnik, B92)

Hashim Thaci’s refusal to attend a “mini-Schengen” summit organized by Tirana, Kosovo analyst termed as “equal to suicide”, Sputnik reports. The portal added that Kosovo President was personally invited by Edi Rama, but he flatly refused to come, saying, inter alia, that Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina did not recognize Kosovo and therefore did not wish “his country” well.

Is this a sign that the politics of Albania and Kosovo are diverging or is it just a farce, Sputnik wonders? Political scientist Nedxmedin Spahiu has no dilemma that Kosovo and Albania’s policies are going in opposite directions.

“The point is that Kosovo leadership is acting childish. Kosovo should not allow neighboring countries to establish cooperation with Kosovo staying outside. This means that Kosovo itself isolates. This is contrary to the interests of Kosovo. We are a small country, and Kosovo only wealth is good relations with its neighbors”, Spahiu explained.

Deterioration of those relationships, he adds, is equal to a suicide. “We should take every opportunity to improve them and improve relations with Serbia, not sit in a corner and watch others cooperate, while Kosovo remains aloof”, Spahiu added.

His Serbian counterpart, political scientist Stefan Filipovic, has a completely different opinion: “Albania and Kosovo politics cannot and will not diverge because it is a long-term strategic direction. So, they may look at things differently, but they are going in the same direction”, Filipovic said.

He agrees with speculation that Edi Rama’s communication with the authorities in Pristina is poor, especially since the formation of a new political elite in Pristina is underway, and that this also has implications for Thaci’s rejection of Rama’s invitation.

“So, there is also personal miscommunication between politicians in Tirana and Pristina. It should be borne in mind that Hashim Thaci’s tenure is nearing an end, and thus his legitimacy is slowly being cut short, so he tries to use the time he has left to show his patriotism”, Filipovic believes.

See at: https://bit.ly/35GOU9Z

“Pristina became political loser” (Tanjug, B92)

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said that Pristina by refusing to take part in a regional initiative has become a political loser, Tanjug news agency reports.

“We have agreed to organize this summit in Durres, and not only presidents of Serbia and North Macedonia will be there, but also others. The US will send State Department representative to support this process,” Rama told Albanian TV, adding that representatives of the European Commission, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and World Bank will also be present.

“Everybody will come. Why? Because this is the process that everybody supports,” Rama was quoted as saying.

He also said that Pristina and Belgrade should resolve their problems not by conflicts and introduction of tariffs, but through the dialogue.

At the end he concluded that ‘mini-Schengen’ regional initiative is part of the process, where in addition to the dream, there is a well-planned, concrete working plan, Tanjug news agency reports.

Joksimovic: Serbia committed to EU accession (BETA, N1)

Serbian European Integration Minister Jadranka Joksimovic told Austrian Ambassador Nikolaus Lutterotti that Serbia is committed to its European Union accession process and would continue implementing reforms, BETA news agency reports.

She also welcomed the view of some EU member states that the consolidation of Europe can’t be completed without the Western Balkans, the ministry said in a press statement.

Joksimovic added that Austria is an important ally in the European integration process.

The ambassador is quoted as saying that Austria supports the EU expansion policy and advocates for European perspective for the Western Balkans. He added Vienna will continue motivating and assisting Serbia’s pro-Europe commitment and its strategic interest of EU membership because it sees the country as a key Western Balkans state.

Lawyer Vasic: The indictment is ‘a far-fetched construction’, especially in the sections related to organized criminal group (Kosovo Online, RTV Puls)

Dejan Vasic defence lawyer of the accused Kosovo police officer Dragisa Markovic told portal Kosovo Online that he received the indictment for the murder of CI SDP leader Oliver Ivanovic on Thursday, that it has 30 or more pages and that this was all currently delivered to the defence when it comes to the documentation.

Vasic added that he learned from the media that there was a speculation regarding a large number of additional materials and said that an indictment cannot contain such an extensive material, even if it was bilingual.

“I read the indictment, not yet in the most careful way that is needed, but I can say that it is a “far-fetched construction”, especially in the parts concerning an organized crime group … and I think that the prosecutor arbitrarily staged it due to his reasons, into which I wouldn’t get into,” Vasic said.

According to lawyer Vasic, there was no evidence to support the accusation for the acts for which Dragisa Markovic was charged for, or the acts that he was charged for, according to Vasic, were not of criminal offense.

Kosovo Special Prosecutor’s Office filed an indictment on December 2 against six individuals – Nedeljko Spasojevic, Marko Rosic, Dragisa Markovic, Zarko Jovanovic, Rade Basara and Silvana Arsovic, who are charged with involvement in Ivanovic’s murder.

Vucic: Tahiri threatens with war and nobody reacts (RTV, Tanjug)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said today Ivan Todosijevic was prosecuted because of his statement about Racak, while Edita Tahiri threatens with the war and nobody reacts, Radio Television of Vojvodina (RTV) reports.

He also said it is hypocritical that Albanians, unlike Serbs, are allowed to do anything, adding that despite it, Serbia will do its utmost to preserve the peace.

“What is allowed to the Western diplomats and Albanians, is not allowed to us, not even the right to different opinion. When Edita Tahiri calls for war, no embassy came up with the statement. She said there will be war. It is not only a call; it is a threat with the war. Many circles in Belgrade will also remain silent to it, same as Western embassies were silent,” Vucic said.

 

International 

 

What Macron plans for Europe (Politico)

A little less conversation, a little more action — that’s Emmanuel Macron’s plan for Europe in 2020.

The French president has spent the past two years setting up his chess pieces. Now, with the new European Commission in office, he wants to get down to the work itself — breaking the political deadlock he says is holding back Europe on the global stage.

“The president has laid out the conceptual framework — we’re not going to do the Sorbonne speech every year,” says Clément Beaune, the president’s point man on Europe, referring to Macron’s landmark speech on Europe in 2017, in which he outlined his vision for the Continent. “We are now in the implementation phase.”

Beaune, who has advised Macron since he was economy minister in 2014, rarely speaks on the record about his boss’s plans for Europe. But in an exclusive interview for POLITICO, the soft-spoken redhead opened up about France’s ambitions for the Continent.

See at: https://politi.co/2Mc983s

 

Development/Humanitarian

 

Strpce residents in the fight against MHPPs: We only have one Shara Mountain (KoSSev)

For more than a year now residents of Strpce municipality have been actively protesting against the construction of mini hydroelectric power plants in this municipality and the territory of the Shara Mountain National Park, KoSSev portal reports.

Both ethnic Serbs and ethnic Albanians have been fighting against the construction of MHPPs, describing this issue as a burning problem for Sirinicka Parish.

The residents fear that they will run out of water, which recently happened in one of the villages, when an excavator hit an underground water vein in the multiethnic Donja Bitinja village. They also emphasized that approximately 2,500 Strpce residents are currently using technical water from the Kaludjerka River, which is not suitable “for drinking, despite such a beautiful and healthy environment.“

The beds of the small tributaries of the Lepenac river are being expanded, which causes them to dry up, and MHPPs are not being shut down even when the water levels decrease during the drier months.

Strpce residents fear that their survival is jeopardized, as the construction of the MHPPs continues despite violations of Kosovo laws – all with the support of the Ministry of Environment and Kosovo police. Furthermore, according to the testimony of the locals, the Kosovo police have repeatedly used excessive force to disperse protesting locals.

For more see at: https://bit.ly/34CQA2D

British ambassador visits KSF members attending Serbian language course (Koha)

The British Ambassador Nicholas Abbott visited members of the Kosovo Security Force who are attending a two-month course of Serbian language.

25 KSF members are part of a project that aims to promote multilingualism in Kosovo’s institutions, emphasising the importance of learning each other’s languages in a multi-ethnic society.

Ambassador Abbott said on the occasion: “Relationships and communication are part of human nature. The act of communicating with each other allows knowledge, expertise and advice to be shared between communities. Learning a language is only a part of this process and through this commitment KSF has demonstrated professionalism and openness towards all communities.”

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