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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, March 19, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• Haradinaj does not rule out joining a technical government (media)
• EP Rapporteur warns against non-confidence motion (Koha)
• NATO Chief requests lifting of tariff and resumption of dialogue (RTK)
• LVV continues to ignore no confidence motion (Express)
• Veliu: LDK does not allow breach of partnership with U.S., Kurti is a coward (RTK)
• Number of coronavirus cases in Kosovo reaches 20 (RFE)
• Daniel Serwer writes a letter to President Thaci (RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

• In Serbia, eight new cases of coronavirus – a total of 97 (B92, covid19.rs)
• Brnabic: If needed, state of emergency could last four months (B92, Tanjug)
• RFE: Agreement reached on Lajcak as EU Special Representative (Kontakt plus radio, RTK2)
• Stoltenberg: Tariffs on Serbian goods not helpful, NATO operational in coronavirus circumstances (Tanjug, Kosovo-online)
• Rakic responds to Bahtiri: In sea of Bahtiri’s lies, only true thing is that he did not get permit from us (Kosovo-online)
• Vucic and Merkel’s video meeting: Fast dialogue resumption (Tanjug, B92)
• Radovic: Kosovo police are proceeding according to an operational plan (KoSSev)
• Fabrizi: EU will continue helping Serbia (FoNet, N1, Blic)

Opinion:

• Listening To The Pandemic: Time To Get Real (Balkan Insight)

International:

• Kosovo’s Crisis-Hit Govt Threatened with No-Confidence Vote (Balkan Insight)
• Belgrade Streets Empty as Serbian Curfew Begins (Balkan Insight)
• The Latest: Serbia closes main airport for passenger flights (wboc.com)

Humanitarian/Development:

• As Cities Around the World Go on Lockdown, Victims of Domestic Violence Look For A Way Out (time.com)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Haradinaj does not rule out joining a technical government (media) 
  • EP Rapporteur warns against non-confidence motion (Koha)
  • NATO Chief requests lifting of tariff and resumption of dialogue (RTK)
  • LVV continues to ignore no confidence motion (Express)
  • Veliu: LDK does not allow breach of partnership with U.S., Kurti is a coward (RTK)
  • Number of coronavirus cases in Kosovo reaches 20 (RFE)
  • Daniel Serwer writes a letter to President Thaci (RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

  • In Serbia, eight new cases of coronavirus – a total of 97 (B92, covid19.rs)
  • Brnabic: If needed, state of emergency could last four months (B92, Tanjug)
  • RFE: Agreement reached on Lajcak as EU Special Representative (Kontakt plus radio, RTK2)
  • Stoltenberg: Tariffs on Serbian goods not helpful, NATO operational in coronavirus circumstances (Tanjug, Kosovo-online)
  • Rakic responds to Bahtiri: In sea of Bahtiri’s lies, only true thing is that he did not get permit from us (Kosovo-online)
  • Vucic and Merkel’s video meeting: Fast dialogue resumption (Tanjug, B92)
  • Radovic: Kosovo police are proceeding according to an operational plan (KoSSev)
  • Fabrizi: EU will continue helping Serbia (FoNet, N1, Blic)

Opinion:

  • Listening To The Pandemic: Time To Get Real (Balkan Insight)

International:

  • Kosovo’s Crisis-Hit Govt Threatened with No-Confidence Vote (Balkan Insight)
  • Belgrade Streets Empty as Serbian Curfew Begins (Balkan Insight)
  • The Latest: Serbia closes main airport for passenger flights (wboc.com)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • As Cities Around the World Go on Lockdown, Victims of Domestic Violence Look For A Way Out (time.com)

 

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Haradinaj does not rule out joining a technical government (media) 

Former Kosovo Prime Minister and AAK leader Ramush Haradinaj said his party supports the LDK’s non-confidence motion against the Kurti-led government. 

Haradinaj said there can be no limbo after LDK’s initiative. “As there is a motion, there should be no limbo,” he said. “We haven’t designed any further steps. There will be other meetings”.

Asked if he would agree to join a technical government, Haradinaj said “I don’t know yet”.

In a Facebook post after the meeting, Haradinaj wrote that he informed Mustafa that the AAK would vote in favor of the motion. “The AAK supports a speedy solution within the institutions after the government falls,” he said.

EP Rapporteur warns against non-confidence motion (Koha)

Viola von Cramon, the European Parliament’s Rapporteur for Kosovo, took to Twitter today to warn against the non-confidence motion. 

“If LDK tables a motion of non-confidence against its own #government that will mean a disaster not only for #Kosova but also for the entire region,” she tweeted.

NATO Chief requests lifting of tariff and resumption of dialogue (RTK)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the North-Atlantic Alliance strongly supports resumption of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.

In a video-conference on NATO’s 2019 Annual Activity Report, he said that NATO remains committed to KFOR’s mission in Kosovo.

“I have continuously said that 100 percent tariffs imposed by Kosovo on the goods from Serbia do not help,” he said.  

“We support all the efforts to resume the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, because this is the only way to reach a sustainable solution of the conflict in the region,” Stoltenberg said.

“Despite some improvements in the overall security situation, political tensions and the stalled EU- facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina remained a major impediment to more significant progress.

“We call for restraint and peace when tensions that we are seeing in Kosovo are concerned,” he added.

Stoltenberg also said the Alliance remains fully operational under the created circumstances with COVID -19 pandemic. 

LVV continues to ignore no confidence motion (Express)

Kosovo’s Deputy Prime Minister Haki Abazi said the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) will soon decide on how to act with regards to the motion of no confidence announced by the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). He said it remains for the LVV structures to undertake further steps. Abazi added that respective institutions are currently dealing intensively with COVID-19.

According to him, the government is proceeding with its work in a normal manner and the spread of CoronaVirus is being managed. 

Veliu: LDK does not allow breach of partnership with U.S., Kurti is a coward (RTK)

Agim Veliu, who was dismissed on Wednesday from the position of the Minister of Interior, told RTK today that the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) does not allow breach of partnership with the U.S.

“He did not deal with Kosovo’s problems but with peripheral issues. He did not even deal with the war against the virus these days, excluding the analysis for himself and some members of the government,” Veliu said.

According to him, there was unity at the meeting of the LDK’s leadership on the matter of the motion of no confidence.

He also spoke about Vjosa Osmani’s vote against this motion. “There was unity in the leadership, but it is not right if she continues to be against the decisions of the leadership,” he said.

During this interview, Veliu called the Prime Minister Albin Kurti, a coward and cunning adding that he deals more with conspiracy theories.

Veliu informed the signatures for the no confidence motion will start collecting today.

Number of coronavirus cases in Kosovo reaches 20 (RFE)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health informed on Wednesday that another person has been confirmed with the coronavirus. The person is from a village in the municipality of Podujevo. The total number of confirmed cases has now reached 20.

Daniel Serwer writes a letter to President Thaci (RTK)

Media carried today a letter that Daniel Serwer, U.S. political expert on Balkans and Professor at John Hopkins University has written a letter to the President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci, which is also published at peacefare.net.

Dear Hashim, I’m entirely sympathetic to the Euro-Atlantic ambitions of Kosovo and have repeatedly lent my efforts to that cause. But it is not wise to believe that Washington pays “full attention” to the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, which has been an entirely opaque process. Few in Washington even know it is happening, and fewer care. This inattention has given Belgrade-hired lobbyists the opportunity to influence an Administration that cares little about the Balkans and not at all about Kosovo, which it regards as a product of the despised Clinton Administration.

Worse than American inattention and pro-Serb bias is that the people of Kosovo and Serbia know nothing about what is being discussed in your repeated meetings with President Vucic. Your citizens have been demanding transparency. I have asked more than once for an update. Nothing is forthcoming. That leaves you open to rumors, which aren’t necessarily accurate. Only the transparency you promise can fix that problem. 

Richard Grenell is a man who has failed as Ambassador to Germany and is failing as a temporary Director of National Intelligence. He is however doing a great snow job in the Balkans, flaunting minor transportation agreements as big steps forward. He is also working hard to pressure Prime Minister Kurti with threats of withdrawing US troops and aid. Albin has bent but not yet broken to the US demand that he end the tariffs on Serbian goods. Grenell’s ultimate objective is the land/people swap the Trump Administration has been pushing and you have indicated you might accept. A majority of your population, including the Serbs south of the Ibar, are opposed to this ignoble idea, which would make Kosovo a source of instability throughout the Balkans and beyond. 

You can of course prove me wrong in thinking you are ready to trade slices of Serb-populated Kosovo for slices of Albanian-populated Serbia: give the Kosovo parliament a full and honest account of the talks with Vucic. This should include the agendas, any drafts or proposals from either side, and a full transcript of the dialogue at the highest level and in any working groups. Then turn over responsibility for the dialogue to the government, as the Constitutional Court decided is correct and the parliament has now confirmed. Making Albin the lead will take the heat off you and put the Serbs in a difficult position, since their prime minister–a protégé of the president–cannot pretend to have the kind of popular mandate Albin has. 

You are no doubt disappointed in the results election that brought Albin to power, as they left your party in third place. But working with the second place finishers to bring down the Prime Minister will do Kosovo no good at all. It risks igniting a storm that will end any prospect of suspending the tariffs or moving ahead even incrementally with the dialogue with Serbia. 

To a Kosovo patriot, and I hope I am right in assuming you would like to be considered one, speed should not be the priority. There is no advantage in pursuing an agreement before Serbia’s April 26 election. President Vucic will be freer to make concessions to Kosovo after the election than before. Kosovo would be wise to wait even longer: until after the Americans go to the polls November 3. 

If there is then a President Biden–a true friend of Kosovo–you can expect him to empower a serious envoy to collaborate with Europe, something Grenell can never do because had and President Trump loathe the European Union, in reaching serious agreements between Kosovo and Serbia. Joint US/EU action is a prerequisite for bringing irresistible pressure to bear on Belgrade. Grenell isn’t even trying. If Trump is re-elected, whoever is in power in Kosovo will have to hunker down again to shield your country from the onslaught of bad partition ideas the likes of Grenell will continue to generate. 

Most of your citizens want a deal with Serbia that recognizes the Kosovo state as sovereign and independent within its current borders and enables it to enter the United Nations. That isn’t on offer yet. Kosovo needs to be ready to walk away from a bad deal in order to get a good one, in the right time and with the help of both the US and EU. Until then, incremental improvements are all that can be hoped for. Successful statecraft requires that you encourage your citizens to be patient. Good things come to those who can wait.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

In Serbia, eight new cases of coronavirus – a total of 97 (B92, covid19.rs)

There are eight more cases of coronavirus infection in Serbia, and the total number of those infected has risen to 97, the report says at 8 p.m.

According to a report published on covid19.rs, 46 people were tested.

Three people with a lighter clinical picture were found in home isolation, while five people were kept on hospital treatment, without complications, with a stable general condition. By 8 a.m. March 19, 2020, a total of 486 individuals who met the case definition criteria were tested at the national reference laboratory of the Torlak Institute.

https://bit.ly/2QsyfkB

Brnabic: If needed, state of emergency could last four months (B92, Tanjug)

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said last night the state of emergency could last four months, if necessary, to save a single human life, B92 reports.

She added that she believes the borders of Serbia should be sealed.

“If necessary, epidemiologists and infectologists alike say it is not safe to lift the state of emergency, as we have seen countries where drastic measures and a fall in infection and mortality have occurred, and that they had a second peak when they abandoned all measures, so we will be extremely careful”, Brnabic noted.

She pointed out that the President of Serbia is also in favor of sealing the borders.

“However, at this point, we can’t find a way to do it constitutionally, because these people are our citizens and we have to let them in,” Brnabic said.

See at: https://bit.ly/3b6z7U2

RFE: Agreement reached on Lajcak as EU Special Representative (Kontakt plus radio, RTK2)

European Union (EU) member states have reached a political agreement that the outgoing Slovak Foreign Minister, Miroslav Lajcak, be named EU Special Representative who will be primarily responsible for the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue, Radio Free Europe (RFE) learned from diplomatic sources.

According to RFE, Lajcak’s formal appointment now depends on the circumstances surrounding the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. 

Namely, Miroslav Lajcak’s appointment was scheduled for the next meeting of EU foreign ministers, on March 23. However, the current situation on the pandemic may affect the procedures for the EU member states to vote on Lajcak’s appointment, as well as the possible delay of the vote.

Due to the isolation of the European continent, the format of meetings at EU level has also been changed and, in general, everything is organized through video conferences.

However, EU rules require that at least half of the foreign ministers be physically present at the meeting when decisions are made. Given that, in the current circumstances, a quorum is not possible, as RFE learned, the Secretariat of the EU Council and the legal service of this institution are considering ways in which to make decisions in this transitional period. 

RFE reported, according to EU sources, one option was to make some decisions, including the one on Lajcak’s appointment, in a so-called “written procedure”. Should this be agreed, then a formal appointment would be possible at any ministerial meeting, not necessarily at the level of EU foreign ministers.

Stoltenberg: Tariffs on Serbian goods not helpful, NATO operational in coronavirus circumstances (Tanjug, Kosovo-online)

We support all the efforts to restore the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, as it is the only way to reach a lasting solution to the conflict in the region, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, Tanjug news agency reports.

“I have said several times that 100 percent tariffs Kosovo introduced on goods from Serbia are not helpful,” Stoltenberg said, in a video conference dedicated to the annual report on the work of the Alliance in 2019, adding that NATO remains committed to the KFOR Mission in Kosovo.

NATO Secretary General in addition to the call to revoke the tariffs and continue the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue also called for reducing the tensions in Kosovo.

“We call for restraint and peace when it comes to tensions we see in Kosovo,” Stoltenberg said, Kosovo-online portal reports.

He recalled that NATO remains committed to the KFOR Mission in Kosovo, adding that KFOR has a clear UN mandate aiming to maintain a safe and secure environment for all the people living in Kosovo.

He also said that NATO remains fully operational in circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Rakic responds to Bahtiri: In sea of Bahtiri’s lies, only true thing is that he did not get permit from us (Kosovo-online)   

Serbian List President Goran Rakic said on Wednesday that “in the ‘sea of ​​lies’ made at my expense today by Mayor of South Mitrovica, Agim Bahtiri, the only truth is the fact which is the most important – North Mitrovica municipality never issued the permission for the construction of an embankment on the Ibar River, which was unlawfully done from the south last week”, Rakic said, Kosovo-online portal reports.

Rakic added that in order to calm the tensions and focus the people on coronavirus protection, he did not want to react publicly again regarding the construction of the illegal embankment on the Ibar River, but he had to respond to what, he said, were untruths placed by the Mayor of South Mitrovica, Agim Bahtiri.

“I want to inform the public that the construction of an illegal embankment, which impedes the normal flow of the Ibar River and threatens the banks and fortifications on this river, is illegal and that the municipal authorities, the very moment they learned about the intent, more exactly on 1.11. they also informed the competent Ministry of Spatial Planning. Due to all of the above, the municipal inspection of North Mitrovica on 13.3.2020. in accordance with the Law on construction, issued a decision on urgent suspension of illegal construction and restoration to the previous state of the Ibar River,”  Rakic told Kosovo online.

He pointed out that the municipality of South Mitrovica did not respond to this decision although it was obliged to do so.

“North Mitrovica municipal authorities, with the assistance of units from the North Mitrovica police station, began the removal of this illegal embankment two days ago and encountered resistance by some hooligans from the territory of South Mitrovica municipality who prevented police officers and municipal authorities from enforcing the law, thus endangering their security,” Rakić ​​said, adding that “such behaviour by Mayor Bahtiri is absolutely illegal, but also inadmissible, especially given the current situation regarding the coronavirus pandemic”.

“At a time when the whole world is fighting the pandemic of the coronavirus, such provocations from the south are disgraceful, unreasonable and must cease, because we need peace and responsible behaviour” Rakic ​​concluded.

Vucic and Merkel’s video meeting: Fast dialogue resumption (Tanjug, B92)

Vucic and Merkel are in favor of a rapid resumption of dialogue in order to reach a comprehensive agreement on full normalization of Belgrade-Pristina relations

This was stated in a joint statement following a video conference by Serbian President Vucic and German Chancellor Merkel.

Merkel welcomes the readiness of the President of Serbia to open a dialogue on trade and non-tariff barriers between, as she said, Serbia and Kosovo with EU mediation.

He also welcomes Serbia’s readiness to implement the Brussels Agreement on Integrated Management of the Administrative Line, the first step of which will be the commissioning of Merdare Station, with Vucic insisting on full respect and implementation of all provisions of the Brussels Agreement.

The President of Serbia and German Chancellor are in favor of a rapid resumption of dialogue in order to reach a comprehensive agreement on the full normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina.

“I am grateful for the German and your personal attention and concern for Serbia and the countries of the Western Balkans,” Vucic said.

He said that he would take all necessary steps to successfully continue the dialogue and avoid steps that would damage relations between Belgrade and Pristina in order to create a constructive and open atmosphere for negotiations.

Officials exchanged views on close bilateral and economic ties, Serbia’s EU accession process and related reforms, as well as the situation in the region.

During the talks, Vucic and Merkel discussed in detail the challenges of controlling the contagious COVID-19 infection.

Earlier, Serbian President was scheduled to visit Berlin on Sunday and Monday, but he and Merkel jointly decided to talk via video link.

https://bit.ly/2UiXvuL

Radovic: Kosovo police are proceeding according to an operational plan (KoSSev)

Kosovo police are proceeding according to a set operational plan to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Patrols have been increased, headquarters has been formed and the situation is being monitored.

Citizens should be self-disciplined, the Kosovo Police spokesman for the region north, Branislav Radovic told KoSSev.

In a statement issues to KoSSev, Radovic said that he has no answer to the question of whether Kosovo police will sanction non-compliance with the decision made earlier today by the municipal emergency headquarters or the Provisional Body of Kosovska Mitrovica Municipality to introduce a curfew from 8pm to 5am.

„I do not know that and I cannot answer that question and it is not part of the operational plan,“ Radovic said, pointing out that the Kosovo police will be more involved in implementing measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

„The Kosovo police are operating according to an operational plan that has already been agreed and we do not have such information, however, they will be more involved to cover everything.“

„The measures of the operational plan have been increased and that plan is followed, so there will be no problems and I have no other answer to that. Increasing the number of patrols is part of the same operational plan,“ he added.

According to Radovic, the situation with the COVID-19 is been monitored by the hour and no problems or complications were recorded in the northern region up to 5:30 pm.

He emphasized that the citizens themselves should be self-disciplined as well. However, he is aware of a risk of an increased number of diaspora arrivals in Kosovo, which can „come at a cost.”

See more at: https://bit.ly/2UkqSNu

Fabrizi: EU will continue helping Serbia (FoNet, N1, Blic)

Head of the European Union Delegation in Serbia Sem Fabrizi said on Thursday that the EU will continue providing assistance to Serbia, adding that the coronavirus pandemic is not the time for competition, N1 reports.
Fabrizi told Belgrade-based Blic daily that the EU sent to China 65 tons of medical equipment when coronavirus appeared and when the epidemic climaxed in January and February. “The EU organized and paid for the evacuation of Serbian citizens from Wuhan and critical areas of Asia through the civilian mechanism that Serbia is part of,” he said.

Fabrizi noted it’s a good thing that China is now offering assistance to other countries. “Faced with a common challenge, all countries should cooperate. This is not a competition. This is a global problem that started in China and spread to the rest of the world. Anyone who can help should do so. The EU will continue doing its part,” he underlined.

Fabrizi added that the EU has activated structures and mechanisms to see how best it can help Serbia. “In terms of health care, Serbia made a request for personal protection equipment through the EU mechanism last Saturday. We activated experts from the European Disease Control Center which is open to Serbia. We are re-directing existing EU funds to help SMEs in close cooperation with international financial institutions,” Fabrizi is quoted as saying.
He also noted that the European Commission and EU Delegation are in daily contact with the Serbian Government.

 

 

 

Opinion

 

Listening To The Pandemic: Time To Get Real (Balkan Insight)

By: Federica Mogherini

The coronavirus crisis shows that well-functioning democratic institutions are literally vital to our lives. It is time to undo the political mistakes of recent years.

As of a few weeks ago, no one would have disputed that the most relevant and evident trend in the global politics of our times is “go national”. Unilateralism and “zero-sum game” logic seemed to be the new normal: “For me to win, I need you to lose” and “Me first.”

These phrases seemed to be the unequivocal and almost uncontested trademark of this century. Moreover, it was a trademark that had almost no limits in terms of geography and ideology: you found it in many different shades, but on each and every continent, in each and every political orientation (including many varieties of unlabelled political movements), across a wide range of institutional systems, and even within some international organisations.

See at: https://bit.ly/2IV6gGl

 

 

International

 

Kosovo’s Crisis-Hit Govt Threatened with No-Confidence Vote (Balkan Insight)

As Kosovo’s government tries to deal with the coronavirus crisis, one of the ruling coalition partners has threatened a vote of no confidence amid a row over whether a state of emergency should be imposed.

The leader of the junior partner in Kosovo’s coalition government, the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, said on Wednesday evening that he will file a motion for a no-confidence vote after one of the party’s ministers was sacked from the cabinet.

The threat came after Prime Minister Albin Kurti, from the main ruling Vetevendosje party, sacked Interior Minister Agim Veliu, an LDK politician, on Wednesday amid a disagreement over how to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

Kurti said that Veliu was dismissed because he had undermined the government by publicly supporting the idea of declaring a state of emergency, and because he had spread panic about the coronavirus epidemic.

See at: https://bit.ly/33BCYWD

Belgrade Streets Empty as Serbian Curfew Begins (Balkan Insight)

Belgrade’s main streets were empty on the first evening of a curfew imposed as part of measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The centre of the Serbian capital Belgrade, usually bustling with people and cars, was empty and quiet as a nocturnal curfew began at 8pm on Wednesday evening.

The curfew will be observed across Serbia each night until 5am. No one is allowed to go out apart from police officers and soldiers on duty, nightshift workers and people who have a health-related emergency.

See at: https://bit.ly/3b6Cvye

The Latest: Serbia closes main airport for passenger flights (wboc.com)

Serbia has closed its main airport for all passenger flights and is considering a complete shutdown of its land borders in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The government says Nikola Tesla airport in Belgrade was closed for all but cargo flights. The other Serbian civilian airport in the central city of Nis was closed on Wednesday.

Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic says the complete closure of the borders is being considered because some 70,000 Serbs and their families working in West European countries have returned to Serbia in the last four days despite appeals by authorities not to do so. It created huge traffic jams on the borders with Croatia and Hungary.

He says all those arriving will self-isolate or be sent to quarantines set up on different locations.

See at: https://bit.ly/2IYs1F1

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

As Cities Around the World Go on Lockdown, Victims of Domestic Violence Look For A Way Out (time.com)

“My husband won’t let me leave the house,” a victim of domestic violence, tells a representative for the National Domestic Violence Hotline over the phone. “He’s had flu-like symptoms and blames keeping me here on not wanting to infect others or bringing something like COVID-19 home. But I feel like it’s just an attempt to isolate me.“

Her abuser has threatened to throw her out onto the street if she starts coughing, saying she “could die alone in a hospital room.” She fears that if she leaves the house, her husband will lock her out.

See more at: https://bit.ly/2UjFTPp

 

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