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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, March 12, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• Public health institute dispatches medical staff all over Kosovo (media)
• Minister wants strict measures against businesses that increase prices (media)
• Interior minister Veliu calls for closure of schools in north of Kosovo (media)
• CEC to consult President and Government regarding elections in Podujeve (Kallxo)
• Kosovo prisons freeze visits over coronavirus fears (Koha)
• PM Kurti meets EULEX chief, Wigemark (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Djuric: Schools in Serbian communities in Kosovo will not work from Monday (TV Most)
• All schools in the municipality of Gracanica working today (KIM radio)
• Gracanica: Police will start implementing the decision of the Government of Kosovo (KIM radio)
• Head of WHO office in Belgrade: Serbia is doing what it takes (BETA, B92)
• Goran Rakic, Milena Popovic suggested as witnesses in Milan Radoicic defamation lawsuit against Rada Trajkovic (KoSSev)
• Rakocevic: UN SC Resolution 1244 would be most realistic offer for normalization of relations (Kosovo-online, RTV Puls)

International:

• Is the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue really reaching and historic moment? (K2.0)
• MPs discuss Kosovo-US relations (Prishtina Insight)
• EU or US: Who’s in charge of Kosovo-Serbia talks? (Euobserver)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Further measures taken by Kosovo Govt to tackle coronavirus pandemic (Prishtina Insight)
• Serbia closes some border crossings with regional countries (N1)
• Hungary declared a state of emergency (B92, Tanjug)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Public health institute dispatches medical staff all over Kosovo (media)
  • Minister wants strict measures against businesses that increase prices (media)
  • Interior minister Veliu calls for closure of schools in north of Kosovo (media)
  • CEC to consult President and Government regarding elections in Podujeve (Kallxo)
  • Kosovo prisons freeze visits over coronavirus fears (Koha)
  • PM Kurti meets EULEX chief, Wigemark (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Djuric: Schools in Serbian communities in Kosovo will not work from Monday (TV Most)
  • All schools in the municipality of Gracanica working today (KIM radio) 
  • Gracanica: Police will start implementing the decision of the Government of Kosovo (KIM radio) 
  • Head of WHO office in Belgrade: Serbia is doing what it takes (BETA, B92)
  • Goran Rakic, Milena Popovic suggested as witnesses in Milan Radoicic defamation lawsuit against Rada Trajkovic (KoSSev)
  • Rakocevic: UN SC Resolution 1244 would be most realistic offer for normalization of relations (Kosovo-online, RTV Puls)

International: 

  • Is the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue really reaching and historic moment? (K2.0)
  • MPs discuss Kosovo-US relations (Prishtina Insight)
  • EU or US: Who’s in charge of Kosovo-Serbia talks? (Euobserver)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Further measures taken by Kosovo Govt to tackle coronavirus pandemic (Prishtina Insight)
  • Serbia closes some border crossings with regional countries (N1)
  • Hungary declared a state of emergency (B92, Tanjug)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Public health institute dispatches medical staff all over Kosovo (media)

All news websites report that Kosovo’s National Institute of Public Health has dispatched medical staff all over Kosovo, as part of preventive measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. So far there have been no cases of coronavirus in Kosovo. State institutions are however implementing preventing measures, among them is a decision to shut down public and private educational institutions until March 27.

Minister wants strict measures against businesses that increase prices (media)

Kosovo’s Minister of Finance and Transfers, Besnik Bislimi, visited the Kosovo Tax Administration (TAK) today and called for strict measures against businesses that take advantage of the current situation to increase their prices, several news websites report.

Bislimi said that the latest situation with the threat from the coronavirus should not be misused to the detriment of the people and the state budget. He called on TAK to go out in the field and take measures against businesses that increase their prices.

“We had a meeting and discussed the measures we need to implement in order to protect the citizens. Prices should be returned to normal; TAK should go out in the field to inspect stores and pharmacies and identify the prices. In case there are increased prices, we will undertake strict measures and shut down those businesses,” Bislimi said.

TAK General Director Ilir Murtezaj said they will respect all the government’s requests to protect the citizens. “The Government and TAK have foreseen a series of measures to protect the citizens. We will go out to monitor the situation. The current situation should not be misused. We will cooperate closely with the state prosecution. Since last night, there have been cases when prices have been increased. We will show no compromise against those that have taken advantage of this situation,” he said.

Interior minister Veliu calls for closure of schools in north of Kosovo (media)

Kosovo’s Minister of Interior, Agim Veliu, held a meeting today with the Kosovo Police director Rashit Qalaj, to coordinate steps in implementing the decision of the Kosovo government for preventive measures against coronavirus.

“On this occasion, Minister Veliu requested the Kosovo Police take all actions in line with the decision and has requested particularly for the schools operating in the north of Kosovo that work with Serbia’s curriculum to close as per the decision of the Government of Kosovo,” a statement issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs quotes Veliu. 

CEC to consult President and Government regarding elections in Podujeve (Kallxo)

The Central Election Commission (CEC) is expected to consult President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci and the Government to determine whether mayoral elections in Podujeve, scheduled for 15 March, will take place as planned due to stepped up measures for prevention of coronavirus spread.

CEC spokesperson said they are in continuous contact with relevant institutions. “We will keep you informed,” he said. 

Kosovo prisons freeze visits over coronavirus fears (Koha)

Kosovo’s Correctional Service has suspended prison visits until 27 march as a precautionary measure over fears of coronavirus infections.

In a statement, the authorities said the decision was in line with measures taken by the government to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

Correctional service said the prisoners will be enabled to have more frequent telephone conversation with their families and virtual communication through Skype. 

PM Kurti meets EULEX chief, Wigemark (media)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti met head of EU rule of law mission, EULEX, Lars Gunnar Wigemark.

Kurti expressed the commitment of the government towards the rule of law. “The rule of law has no alternative,” a press release issued by the government of Kosovo quotes Kurti as saying. 

The meeting also focused on the possible ways EULEX could support the government. Kurti is reported to have underlined the importance of addressing the issue of almost 300 mortal remains in the Pristina morgue. 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Djuric: Schools in Serbian communities in Kosovo will not work from Monday (TV Most)

Zvecan based TV Most reports that the Government of the Republic of Serbia today decided, due to the specific situation in Kosovo, to suspend teaching starting on March 16 in Serbian communities in Kosovo, which operate under the institutions of the Republic of Serbia. 

“Bearing in mind that the health system outside the Serbian community is not developed and reliable, bearing in mind that we cannot rely on the reliability of information provided by temporary institutions in Pristina, as well as the difficult supply caused by 100 percent tariff on goods from Serbia, having in mind security reasons that is, elements of police pressure, in Serbian communities in Kosovo and Metohija schools will stop working starting March 16,” Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Marko Djuric said. 

He emphasized that the health institutions of the Republic of Serbia in Kosovo will be open to all patients, regardless of nationality, if such a need arises and said that this is a time to show solidarity, sympathy and support each other, encourage each other, and help each other. 

“I am convinced that we will come out of this vigorously and responsibly, in the best possible way, protecting each other,” Djuric said.

Tomorrow in the schools will be held a public class, that is, a lecture on the hygiene measures and protection measures we need to take to protect our youngest and protect ourselves from exposure to the disease.

All schools in the municipality of Gracanica working today (KIM radio) 

All elementary and secondary schools operating under the education system of the Republic of Serbia on the territory of Gracanica municipality are working today, reports KIM radio and adds that regular classes are underway and recommendations of the Government of Serbia on coronavirus measures are followed.

Although the Government of Kosovo last night ordered schools, kindergartens and universities in Kosovo to suspend classes from today until 27 March, all schools and kindergartens that respect the program of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Serbia are working today.

RTV Kim reports that attempts failed to obtain statements from the principals of several educational institutions in the territory of Gracanica municipality on the teaching and the measures they had taken to promote hygiene in school facilities.

RTV KiM reports also that some principals, who wished to remain anonymous, did not even allow the crew to record the school premises.

However, as KIM radio learns unofficially, there are soaps and other essential hygiene products in these schools.

Gracanica: Police will start implementing the decision of the Government of Kosovo (KIM radio) 

Based on the decision of the Government of Kosovo to ban teaching in all schools in Kosovo, the Police in Gracanica will start implementing this order, i.e. closing schools, it has been confirmed to KIM radio. 

Bratislav Trajkovic, commander of the Gracanica station, told KIM radio that that he also informed the Mayor of Gracanica, Srdjan Popovic and the director of the education department, Brankica Nicic, about the implementation of the law.

Article 250 of the Kosovo Public Health Law provides punishment of any person who fails to comply with the decision.

“Failure to comply with orders or health regulations on epidemics, or during an epidemic, or some suspected disease resulting from the regulations of a competent authority, measures are determined to prevent or stop them.” 

Anyone who fails to comply with these recommendations will be sentenced to two years in prison. The police will enforce this article of law, Bratislav Trajkovic told Radio KIM .

Head of WHO office in Belgrade: Serbia is doing what it takes (BETA, B92)

The head of the WHO Office in Belgrade, Marijan Ivanusa, says that Serbia is taking all the necessary measures of precaution because of the coronavirus, B92 reports.

“Patients are being monitored, people who may be infected are being tested, other public health measures are being introduced,” Ivanusa told Radio Television Serbia.

Asked if schools should be closed, he said it would be premature at this stage.

“But if the situation changes … Schools in Slovenia have been closed for two weeks and two days, because the teachers have been infected. However, I do not think it is necessary at this period of time to close all schools in the country,” Ivanusa said.

According to him, there is no reason to declare an epidemic in Serbia at this point of time.

He also said the WHO’s declaring pandemic was the last warning that the situation should be taken seriously and that measures could be taken to prevent or slow the virus.

See at: https://bit.ly/3aJRNIU

Goran Rakic, Milena Popovic suggested as witnesses in Milan Radoicic defamation lawsuit against Rada Trajkovic (KoSSev)

Srpska Lista chief, Goran Rakic ​​and the partner of late Oliver Ivanovic, Milena Popovic were suggested to appear as witnesses in the case of Srpska Lista Vice-President Milan Radoicic’s defamation lawsuit against the president of the European Movement of Serbs from Kosovo, Rada Trajkovic, KoSSev portal reports.

Milan Radoicic filed a defamation lawsuit with the Higher Court in Belgrade against the president of the European Movement of Serbs from Kosovo, Rada Trajkovic in September of last year. Trajkovic has repeatedly publicly referred to Radoicic as the person involved in the murder of Oliver Ivanovic, alleging that Radoicic is head of the mafia in the north.

At the same time, she criticized Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Serbian judicial authorities for allegedly protecting Radoicic. In a reaction to the news that Radoicic filed a lawsuit against her, she ironically announced that she would “defend herself by taking a polygraph test“, alluding to the fact that the Serbian state leadership defended Radoicic by saying that a polygraph test found him not guilty.

See at: https://bit.ly/39HYM5i

Rakocevic: UN SC Resolution 1244 would be most realistic offer for normalization of relations (Kosovo-online, RTV Puls)

The United States are serious in their demands that tariffs on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are revoked, while President Trump’s Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Richard Grenell is not interested in excuses of local politicians, journalists Violeta Oroshi and Zivojin Rakocevic agreed in the broadcast “Sporazum” aired on RTV Puls.  

Oroshi opined that neither Pristina nor Belgrade were ready to offer something to the other side as a token of a good will in the continuation of the dialogue, in order to reach a lasting solution and the normalization, while Rakocevic noted that Serbian side has nothing else to offer, which has not offered already.

“Both sides are under pressure. What Serbia allegedly wants is to continue the dialogue, and it does not suit it. What Pristina allegedly wants is to continue the dialogue, but it does not suit it either,” Oroshi said adding that the tariffs on goods from Serbia, that caused interruption of the dialogue, would certainly be revoked and the matter is when, and only then it would be known who and where will sit at the negotiation table.

On his side, Rakocevic said that the most realistic offer for the normalization of relations would be the UN SC Resolution 1244, and everything that came afterwards were Belgrade’s concessions. He said he does not see what else Belgrade could offer.

“In addition to this, I do not see what more Belgrade could offer. And Pristina could offer democracy, freedom, not only to us, but to a large number of Albanians as well,” Rakocevic said. He added, we have witnessed that many agreements were played out since 1999.

Talking about Belgrade’s de-recognition campaign, which saw 18 states revoking recognition of Kosovo, Oroshi opined it was not about a final, but conditional act.

“This is not about complete withdrawal of recognition, but rather some sort of a status quo. They are neutral until the final agreement between Belgrade and Pristina is reached,” Oroshi said.

On the other side, Pristina-based political analyst Ramush Tahiri assessed that Serbian campaign on retracting recognitions of Kosovo in the world is in fact official, state policy of the Republic of Serbia that treats Kosovo as part of its territory.

“For Belgrade, independence of Kosovo is neither resolved nor closed matter, and it deems relations should be resolved at some status-related conference in Brussel and political rather than technical dialogue. This is something Pristina does not accept, because it considers that since 2008 the independence of Kosovo is done and that it has support of more than 100 states, members of the United Nations,” he said.

Kosovo-online recalled that Belgrade and Pristina also disagree on the number of states that recognized Kosovo. While Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims 116 states recognize Kosovo, Belgrade says 92 states recognize Kosovo, adding that today more than half member states of this world organization recognize sovereignty of Serbia in Kosovo.

 

 

 

  International 

 

Is the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue really reaching and historic moment? (K2.0)

After years of false starts, new impetus has once again recently been injected into finding some sort of a “final agreement” between Kosovo and Serbia on their future relationship as the U.S. has taken an increasingly hands-on role. 

Recent developments have highlighted a divergence between U.S. and EU policy toward the region, as well as domestic political differences within Kosovo in particular, including within the new coalition government.

But as the war of words amongst key players intensifies, what does it all mean?

See at: https://bit.ly/39LqAWq

MPs discuss Kosovo-US relations (Prishtina Insight)

Polarised stances among MPs on the removal of the tariff on Serbian goods and its effects on Kosovo’s relations with the United States are being addressed in an ongoing extraordinary session of the Kosovo Assembly.

An extraordinary session of the Kosovo Assembly was called by the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, on Wednesday to discuss the country’s relations with the United States following several public statements about withdrawing American troops were made by senior US officials.

The US is currently seeking the removal of the 100 per cent tariff on goods entering Kosovo from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which were put in place by the previous Kosovo Government in November 2018.

On February 27, Prime Minister Albin Kurti outlined plans to gradually phase out the tariff, beginning from March 15, and replacing it with reciprocal economic measures towards Serbia. However, the move was rejected by US Special Envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue, Richard Grenell, who described the plans as “a serious mistake.”

See at: https://bit.ly/3aJWW3G

EU or US: Who’s in charge of Kosovo-Serbia talks? (Euobserver)

The US is pushing Kosovo and Serbia to make a peace deal, over a year after the last EU-led talks took place.

In a new gambit, senior American personalities threatened to pull out American troops from Kosovo unless it made concessions.

“Now, with historic progress in sight, Kosovo must do its part and abolish all duties imposed on Serbia. If Kosovo is not fully committed to peace, then the US should reconsider its presence there,” David Perdue, a Republican US senator, tweeted on Tuesday (10 March).

Rand Paul, another Republican senator, also tweeted: “I encourage Kosovo to turn a page and work with Serbia for a lasting peace. Time to bring our troops home”.

See at: https://bit.ly/2vg4DQh

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Further measures taken by Kosovo Govt to tackle coronavirus pandemic (Prishtina Insight)

Following a declaration by the World Health Organisation labelling COVID-19 as a global pandemic, the Kosovo Government has introduced 11 new measures to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.

The Kosovo Government has decided to shut down all public and private education institutions across Kosovo until March 27, as part of 11 measures taken to protect against the spread of coronavirus. The measures, proposed by Minister of Health Arben Vitia, were approved at a meeting of the government held on Wednesday evening.

The newly approved steps also include the suspension of air and land travel to all high- and medium-risk countries, as well as mandatory self-quarantine for citizens entering Kosovo from high- and medium-risk epidemic areas.

The Kosovo Government stated that public activities such as sporting fixtures and conferences may only happen behind closed doors, and cannot be open to the public. Social areas such as restaurants, bars and gyms have had a curfew imposed, obliging them to close their doors after 23:00.

See at: https://bit.ly/3cTZpuz

Serbia closes some border crossings with regional countries (N1)

Serbian Internal Affairs Ministry (MUP) confirmed it has closed several border crossings in the region as of 7 am on Thursday, to prevent the coronavirus transmission, N1 reported.

MUP said the smaller border crossings with Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia were closed for traffic.

The closed border crossings with Hungary include those at Rastina, Bajmok, Bačcki Vinogradi, Horgos 2, Кanjiza, Djala and Rabe; with Romania: Vrbica, Кikinda, Nakovo, Jaša Tomić, Кaluđerovo, Golubac, Donji Milanovac, Tekija, Кladovo and Djerdap 2.

With Bulgaria, the crossings are banned at Mokranje, Strezimirovci and Ribarci, while with North Macedonia at Prohor Pcinjski and Goles – Golema Crcorija.

Closed crossings with Montenegro are Godovo, Vrbnica and Jabuka; with Bosnia and Herzegovina: Priboj, Carevo polje, Mokra Gora, Sremska Raca, Perucac, Mali Zvornik and Jamena and with Croatia the crossings at Sot, Ljuba, Nestin, Bogojevo, Apatin, Bezdan, Novi Sad, Berkasovo and Vajska. In Belgrade, the river border crossing is also closed, as well as air crossings in Kraljevo and Vrsac.

Croatian and Bosnian police earlier reported the news on Serbia’s decision to close some smaller border crossings in the region.

See at: https://bit.ly/2w47pZh

Hungary declared a state of emergency (B92, Tanjug)

Hungarian government has declared a state of emergency throughout its territory due to the spread of coronavirus, the Prime Minister of Hungary said last night

It was stated that this decision was made in accordance with the proposal of the Ministry of Interior.

Passengers from Italy, China, South Korea and Iran have also been banned, except for Hungarian nationals coming from those countries, who will have to remain in isolation for two weeks, MTI reports.

For this purpose, border controls at the Hungarian Schengen border with Slovenia and Austria will be reintroduced, and all trains, buses and flights from the mentioned countries will be subject to renewed measures at the general border, and it is planned to introduce full border controls at Hungary and Croatia.

The government also plans to introduce a ban on holding indoor rallies with more than 100 people, or holding outdoor rallies with more than 500 people.

These measures will continue to be in effect.

Universities will be closed as of Thursday, while schools will remain open for now because, according to the Hungarian government, the virus does not affect children so much, and the closure of primary schools could cause year-round loss.

Guljas added that the epidemic will affect the economy, and that most countries are currently struggling to avoid a recession.

https://bit.ly/2Q8caI2

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