Albanian Language Media:
- PM Kurti dismisses Interior Minister (media)
- Mustafa to Kurti: Cancel Veliu’s dismissal, remove tariff (media)
- Mustafa: Veliu’s dismissal is unacceptable (media)
- Thaci: State of Emergency could last 30 days (media)
- Veseli supports state of emergency proposal (media)
- President’s decree has not reached the Assembly (RTK)
- Reactions on Thaci’s request to adopt decree for a state of emergency (social media)
Serbian Language Media:
- Serbian List: We reject Pristina’s hidden intention to deploy troops in northern Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio)
- Djuric to Serbs in Kosovo: Respect measures of Serbian Government on coronavirus (Kosovo-online, Radio kontakt plus)
- New 11 cases of coronavirus in Serbia, a total of 83 patients (B92)
- Serbia introduced new measures last night to fight coronavirus (RTS, B92)
- Chinese Ambassador tells Vucic: Aid to battle coronavirus coming (N1)
- It’s confirmed, new phase: Coronavirus hit the last country in Europe (B92, CDM)
- “Europe is epicenter of crisis” (BETA, B92, Bild)
- Mushkolaj: Politics with people’s lives (Express)
- Serbia Restricts Movement for Migrants, Asylum-Seekers (Balkan Insight)
Albanian Language Media
PM Kurti dismisses Interior Minister (media)
Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti has dismissed today Minister of Interior Agim Veliu, most news websites report.
A statement issued by the government notes:
Late last night, Interior and Public Administration Minister Agim Veliu, in an interview to Klan Kosova, came out against the position of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo on declaring a state of emergency. In his statement, he spread panic by saying that ‘the number of infected was increasing by the hour’. Neither the Ministry of Health nor the National Institute for Public Health have said that the number of people infected with COVID-19 was increasing by the hour.
At a time when the entire public administration is making maximal efforts to minimise the damages inflicted by the coronavirus, heads of institutions, including members of the government, must show maturity in their decisions and statements. Through his public statements … Interior and Public Administration Agim Veliu displayed a lack of leadership and undermined the work of the government.
Mustafa to Kurti: Cancel Veliu’s dismissal, remove tariff (media)
Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Isa Mustafa took to Facebook today to say that Prime Minister Kurti violated the coalition agreement by dismissing Interior Minister Agim Veliu.
“Our agreement provides that ministers can be dismissed by the Prime Minister in consultation with the leader of the political party in the coalition … As leader of the LDK, I was not consulted by the Prime Minister and I do not accept the reasons he made public. I call on the Prime Minister to cancel the decision for suspending Mr. Veliu and to decide to remove the tariff by week’s end. The Prime Minister’s unilateral actions are damaging and unacceptable and they lead to the breakup of the coalition,” Mustafa wrote.
Mustafa: Veliu’s dismissal is unacceptable (media)
Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Isa Mustafa said Prime Minister Kurti’s decision to dismiss Interior Minister Agim Veliu is unacceptable.
Mustafa told Gazeta Express that Kurti did not consult him and that his decision goes against the coalition agreement between the two parties.
“Mr. Kurti did not consult me and I have not agreed with Mr. Veliu’s dismissal. This is a unilateral act, it goes against the coalition agreement and it is unacceptable for the LDK,” Mustafa said.
Thaci: State of Emergency could last 30 days (media)
The President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci met today the Director of the National Health Institute Naser Ramadani. After the meeting he said that they discussed the created situation in Kosovo after COVID-19.
He said they are in the process of drafting the decree for declaration of a state of emergency.
“It was a joint conclusion that the best management of the created situation can be done by the citizen and society, by supporting each other at these difficult times and with optimism that united, we will all overcome it. We are aware that we live in this space, where Kosovo is also included, where the epicenter of coronavirus is in Europe. Given what we discussed last night, but also today after the consultations with Ramadani, the legal office of the President and that of the Assembly are coordinating to finalise the decree of the President. Therefore, I want to say that you will be informed in detail in the following minutes about the content of the decree,” Thaci said.
“A state of emergency for 30 days with the possibility of extension or reduction of duration. This is declared with the intention of preventing the spread of COVID-19,” Thaci said.
Director of National Health Institute Naser Ramadani did not respond to the questions of the journalists on whether he supports Thaci’s proposal for a state of emergency.
Veseli supports state of emergency proposal (media)
Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) leader Kadri Veseli said in a press conference today that he supports Kosovo President Hashim Thaci’s proposal for the Assembly to declare a state of emergency.
Veseli criticised the Kurti-led government for being late in introducing measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Veseli also criticised the government’s approach toward the U.S. in relation with the import tariff on Serbia.
President’s decree has not reached the Assembly (RTK)
The Assembly of Kosovo has not yet received the decree of the President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci, to consider the request for declaration of the state of emergency, due to COVID-19.
This was confirmed by Faton Peci, adviser of the Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani.
After receiving the decree, the Assembly of Kosovo should hold the session to decide on the matter within 48 hours.
Thaci said on Wednesday evening at the press conference held after the meeting of Kosovo’s National Security Council that he would propose to the Assembly endorsement of the decree, while his request was objected by the government of Kosovo.
So far, the number of those affected with COVID-19 in Kosovo has reached 19.
Reactions on Thaci’s request to adopt decree for a state of emergency (social media)
Gjyljeta Mushkolaj, Professor at the University of Pristina, member of the Constitutional Commission, of the Academy of Sciences and former judge of the Constitutional Court, took to Facebook to write that Thaci’s game to declare a state of emergency is dangerous.
The “Request” for the adoption of the Decree did not clarify why the government and other competent institutions under the legislation in force, which regulates the fight against pandemics, combating and preventing natural disasters, as well as the Strategy and Action Plan (2016 -2020) to reduce the risk of natural disasters, are not enough ?!
“We can imagine how everyone was stunned by this dangerous attempt by the President, which would imply the key role of the Army, an institution that, based on Thaci’s “letter-exchange” with the NATO Secretary General, would not be able to extend its activity to the north of our country and consequently, it would not be able to assist the citizens of Kosovo living in that part of Kosovo.
“To put it bluntly, if a state of emergency were declared and the army put at the forefront of the battle against the COVID-19 virus, Kosovo’s territorial integrity would be severely compromised and Kosovo’s state institutions could only operate uniformly to the Iber Bridge. De facto, Kosovo would be torn apart,” she writes.
Publicist Veton Surroi also criticized the President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci for proposing to the Assembly to declare a state of emergency.
“Kosovo today has sufficient powers available to implement additional measures to prevent COVID.
In practice, the only essential difference is that the Security Council of the Republic of Kosovo is chaired by the Prime Minister with the support of the Government, except during the State of Emergency, when chaired by the President. So those measures that the Government is capable of commencing itself should be subject to the leadership of the President.
Two-thirds of the votes in the Assembly are required for this political maneuver.
The proposal must be rejected in its entirety. This is not the time of games and protagonisms,” Surroi wrote.
South Mitrovica mayor Agim Bahtiri wrote “President Thaçi’s proposal to declare a state of emergency in Kosovo is nothing more than a sick personal ego to be the protagonist of events, even when they are painful for the state.
The Assembly of Kosovo should not approve his request, because it is not necessary at the moment, since the Government of Kosovo has taken all possible preventive measures in time.
Contagious viruses are not fought by the army, but by medicine. The President, by declaring a state of emergency, wants to seize power in Kosovo and at the same time take over the powers of the Government, with his final intention to massacre the state budget, as he along with his comrades in the previous government mandate spent all state reserves.
The Government of Kosovo is doing a very good job within the capacities of Kosovo and we are an example of preventive measures, so all coalition partners must be united and prevent Thaci’s return in power, lost on October 6th.
Likewise, no minister should underestimate his work by avoiding responsibilities.
Fear NO, CAUTION YES!” he wrote.
Kosovo’s Principal Deputy Prime Minister Haki Abazi wrote “no initiative or decision by Thaci has resulted in success and value nor in the benefit of the health of the country.
Trying to declare a state of emergency in spite of the government’s excellent measures and actions is a deliberate and continuing obstruction of the Kurti government.”
Serbian Language Media
Serbian List: We reject Pristina’s hidden intention to deploy troops in northern Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio)
Serbian List issued a press release regarding the announcement of Kosovo President Hashim Thaci that he would ask the Assembly to declare a state of emergency due to the coronavirus epidemic, which includes mobilization of Kosovo security forces throughout Kosovo.
The Serbian List said that it was an attempt to deploy military forces in northern Kosovo for the purpose of silent occupation of the Serb municipalities, reported Kontakt plus radio.
In the statement, Serbian List said that despite understanding the emerging situation on the pandemic coronavirus, it strongly and decisively rejects “Pristina’s hidden intention to deploy some military forces in northern Kosovo under the pretext of protecting citizens from the corona virus epidemic, but with the purpose of silent occupation of the Serbian municipalities.”
“As legal and legitimate representatives of the Serbian people, we call on the KFOR command to most urgently prevent and publicly reject the possibility of deploying so-called Pristina military formations in northern Kosovo and Metohija, and to comply with an agreement that guarantees that these formations cannot be deployed in the four northern municipalities,” the statement said.
Serbian List called on the international community to reject these announcements most urgently, and the Serbian state and its President Aleksandar Vucic, to respond to Thaci’s announcement, for which they say has raised tremendous concern among citizens, who are already tense about the pandemic.
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci called on the Kosovo Assembly to declare a state of emergency due to the coronavirus situation. Thaci said at a press conference after the meeting of the Kosovo Security Council that the state of emergency involves the mobilization of Kosovo security forces throughout Kosovo.
However, Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister Haki Abazi said Prime Minister Albin Kurti would reject Thaci’s proposal. Abazi added that they believed it was interference with government work, that such a measure was not currently needed, and that Prime Minister Albin Kurti did not agree with the president’s extreme proposal.
The endorsement of the state of emergency proposal requires the support of two thirds of the deputies, reported Kontakt plus radio.
Djuric to Serbs in Kosovo: Respect measures of Serbian Government on coronavirus (Kosovo-online, Radio kontakt plus)
Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Marko Djuric urged today all citizens in Kosovo to strictly adhere to the measures introduced by the Serbian Government regarding coronavirus, adding that Belgrade makes utmost efforts to maintain supply in the Serb areas normal, Kosovo-online portal reports.
In a press statement Djuric said that the Government of Serbia together with health officials noted all what was needed, adding that in this regard they will cooperate with all those who can contribute in the fight to preserve the health of the population.
“We will cooperate with international missions and provisional institutions in Pristina, with everyone we can or must rely on in every way, in order to preserve the health of our people, the safety of our entire population, in particular vulnerable categories of the population.”
He urged all to show courage by respecting the measures introduced by the Government of Serbia, to be self-disciplined and responsible, as well as to respect the advice of health officials and responsible bodies.
Meanwhile, Radio kontakt plus reported that Crisis Committee of Zvecan municipality extended a plea to the citizens in the municipality to observe the movement ban in the period between 8 p.m and 5 a.m, as proposed by the Serbian Government and that residents older than 65 years should not leave their houses after 10.00 a.m.
KoSSev portal reports that Interim Council of Mitrovica North, respectively its Crisis Headquarters made a decision to adhere to the measures of the Serbian Government related to the coronavirus outbreak, including banning the movement from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. and instruction to citizens older than 65 years not to leave the houses after 10.00 a.m. It also made decision to limit the working hours of taxi providers and shops. Volunteers would be available to assist elderly people with their necessities from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m, KoSSev portal added.
New 11 cases of coronavirus in Serbia, a total of 83 patients (B92)
In Serbia, by the end of 8.00 hours, 11 new cases of coronavirus were registered, increasing the total number to 83 infected persons
From the last report to 8 a.m., March 18, 2020, samples were tested of 47 individuals, 11 of which were positive and 36 negative for the new coronavirus.
At home, there are four people with a lighter clinical picture, while seven people are kept in hospital, without complications, with a stable general condition.
By 8 a.m. March 18, 2020, a total of 421 individuals were tested in the national reference laboratory of the Torlak Institute, which met the criteria of the case definition.
See at: https://bit.ly/3b4UHIr
Serbia introduced new measures last night to fight coronavirus (RTS, B92)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said last night that Serbia faces incredible challenges like other countries in Europe regarding the coronavirus crisis, B92 reports. He added that the new measures introduced were in line with the fact that we have failed to provide full discipline to reduce the vulnerability of our population.
“As of tomorrow morning from 10 am, it is absolutely forbidden to go out in the urban areas to anyone over 65 and in rural areas over 70,” he said. He added that all movements will be banned between 8 p.m and 5 a.m, excluding persons working in the third shifts, and persons with working obligations. As he explained, the biggest hotspots of coronavirus are Belgrade, Kikinda and Nis, and to a lesser extent Cacak.
“We will organize local governments wherever possible, we will try to reach all homes with elderly persons through young people,” he said. Vucic said shops and supermarkets will be open Sunday morning from 4 to 7 under special rules for elderly persons, where everyone will get masks and space between them.
“By doing so, we guarantee that no one can stay hungry and without the necessities of life,” he said. The president asked citizens to understand the introduction of these rigorous measures.
“The Serbian Army will take over all border crossings and migrant centers and hospitals, and they must be armed because they have to protect doctors,” Vucic explained. He explained that parents who have no way of working and babysitting at the same time will have a special privilege. “Mothers of children up to the age of 12 will have full pay and can stay with their children,” he said.
As for the restraining order, he said that the cafes would work, but that the measure was prescribed so that the distance between the guests should be sufficient.
He said that the National Bank of Serbia put a moratorium on interest rates for paying bills in February, March and even April. Talking about food supplies, Vucic said that “Serbia has million tons of wheat at the moment, the total reserves in commodity reserves are huge. We have more than enough when it comes to food supplies”, Vucic said.
He reminded that salaries for health care workers will be increased by 10 percent from April 1.
See at: https://bit.ly/3a0GHzu
Chinese Ambassador tells Vucic: Aid to battle coronavirus coming (N1)
China’s Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo told President Aleksandar Vucic that official Beijing had approved a package of aid to help Serbia combat the coronavirus pandemic, N1 reports.
She said that the aid would include a donation and experts who, she said, would arrive in Serbia by the end of the week, a press release said.
President Vucic is quoted as saying that Serbia is not asking for money. “We are asking for much more than money, we are asking for Chinese love, we are asking for your people to help us and we are asking for this to enable us to buy things,” he said.
According to the President, Serbia is not in the same position as other countries, adding that “the eyes of Serbia are looking to China now”. “We need your help and support to avoid the worst case scenario and I am asking you to send everything that you can. Money is not the problem. We need everything from masks, gloves, respirators, literally everything and most of all we need your knowledge and people who want to come here and help us get out of this grave crisis without thousands and tens of thousands of dead,” he said.
See at: https://bit.ly/2x5w0Nz
It’s confirmed, new phase: Coronavirus hit the last country in Europe (B92, CDM)
In Montenegro, the first cases of coronavirus have been confirmed, Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic said, adding that there was no reason to panic.
“These are women, one was born in 1948 and the other in 1973, and both have been in epidemic-affected areas during the previous period,” Markovic said at an extraordinary press conference.
“Montenegro is the country that has the most testing in the region. This is such a disease. One patient came from the United States, 12 days ago, and another from Spain, and was under surveillance”, Mugosa said.
According to Prime Minister Markovic, the Clinical Center of Montenegro has adequate facilities to provide appropriate care to diseased patients.
See more at:https://bit.ly/3d1YEiW
“Europe is epicenter of crisis” (BETA, B92, Bild)
Chairman of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said politicians had “underestimated” the degree of danger posed by the epidemic of the new coronavirus, B92 reports.
“I think all of us who are not experts at first underestimated the coronavirus,” Ursula von der Leyen said in an interview published today by the German daily “Bild”. She said officials realized that now all those measures that seemed drastic two or three weeks ago should be taken.
“Europe is at the moment the epicenter of the crisis,” the European Commission President added. She also said that when she talked about the virus she would not use the term war, but that the coronavirus is definitely a “worrying adversary”.
European Union leaders agreed last night to immediately ban almost all foreigners from entering for at least 30 days in an effort to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.
At a three-hour video summit convened to consolidate a united front in the fight against the pandemic, EU leaders also agreed to set fast routes to preserve the smooth movement of medical equipment, food and goods within the Union.
See at: https://bit.ly/391sDEx
Mushkolaj: Politics with people’s lives (Express)
Publicist Imer Mushkolaj argues in an opinion piece that at a time when the citizens expect instructions from institutions on how to act, “the President and the Prime Minister cannot agree on the best solution”.
“Perhaps the President could be thinking about a scenario that goes beyond the fantasy of any politician in a time of crisis. Perhaps the Prime Minister too could be thinking about a different scenario that goes beyond the fantasy of responding to the President’s scenario … If the President and the Prime Minister want to engage in protagonism, now is not the time, because people’s lives are at stake. The country is faced with a critical situation and it is getting worse. Now is not the time because the situation is serious. And they should show seriousness and not be hard-headed,” Mushkolaj writes.
Serbia Restricts Movement for Migrants, Asylum-Seekers (Balkan Insight)
Migrants and asylum-seekers living in state-run centres can only go out with special permission, according to temporary measures adopted by the Serbian government as part of the coronavirus-related state of emergency.
The Serbian government ordered on Monday that migrants and asylum-seekers living in state-run reception centres are not allowed to go out without special permission.
See at: https://bit.ly/2xO8zIU