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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, March 20, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, March 20, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• EU calls for unity among party leaders (Telegrafi)
• Mustafa: Kurti to lift tariff, annul dismissal decision, and apologize (RTK)
• Thaci: KPHI and the police are promptly doing their job, KSF ready (RTK)
• KDI argues against non-confidence motion (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• New 15 cases of coronavirus in Serbia – 118 in total (B92)
• Serbia closed its borders, intercity traffic stops at noon (B92)
• Vucic: Curfew will be extended (B92, RTS)
• Most of us will be affected for some months, UN’s Antonio Guterres says (N1)
• Website of Trustbuilding Platform in Kosovo introduced (KoSSev)
• Passengers at Jarinje crossing point told they would have to be quarantined in Pristina? (KoSSev)
• COVID-19: Governments must promote and protect access to and free flow of information during pandemic (KoSSev)
• Serbian Commissioner says right to information not suspended (N1)
• Norway donates to Serbia EUR 5 million to fight coronavirus (RTS)

International:

• Pandemic Forces Balkan Politicians to Get Serious, At Last (Balkan Insight)
• Kosovo seeks help from Turkey to fight coronavirus (aa.com.tr)
• Prishtina protests from its balconies (Prishtina Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Serbia’s virologist: Vaccine is urgent, or coronavirus will be seasonal disease (N1)
• Kon: Epidemic will last another six weeks in this regime (Tanjug, B92)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • EU calls for unity among party leaders (Telegrafi)
  • Mustafa: Kurti to lift tariff, annul dismissal decision, and apologize (RTK)
  • Thaci: KPHI and the police are promptly doing their job, KSF ready (RTK)
  • KDI argues against non-confidence motion (media) 

Serbian Language Media:

  • New 15 cases of coronavirus in Serbia – 118 in total (B92)
  • Serbia closed its borders, intercity traffic stops at noon (B92)
  • Vucic: Curfew will be extended (B92, RTS)
  • Most of us will be affected for some months, UN’s Antonio Guterres says (N1)
  • Website of Trustbuilding Platform in Kosovo introduced (KoSSev)
  • Passengers at Jarinje crossing point told they would have to be quarantined in Pristina? (KoSSev)
  • COVID-19: Governments must promote and protect access to and free flow of information during pandemic (KoSSev)
  • Serbian Commissioner says right to information not suspended (N1)
  • Norway donates to Serbia EUR 5 million to fight coronavirus (RTS)

International:

  • Pandemic Forces Balkan Politicians to Get Serious, At Last (Balkan Insight)
  • Kosovo seeks help from Turkey to fight coronavirus (aa.com.tr)
  • Prishtina protests from its balconies (Prishtina Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Serbia’s virologist: Vaccine is urgent, or coronavirus will be seasonal disease (N1)
  • Kon: Epidemic will last another six weeks in this regime (Tanjug, B92)   

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

EU calls for unity among party leaders (Telegrafi)

EU Head of Office in Kosovo, Nataliya Apostolova, in an interview to the news website, said political unity and consensus is needed to overcome the crisis created by the coronavirus.

Apostolova said the EU is closely following the latest political developments.

“We are closely following ongoing developments in Kosovo. The outbreak of the COVID-19 calls for consensus, political unity and a common approach to the crisis,” she said. “Political parties must first of all take care of the well-being of the people of Kosovo over any party interests”.

Mustafa: Kurti to lift tariff, annul dismissal decision, and apologize (RTK)

Isa Mustafa, leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) took to Facebook to explain once again what led him to initiate a motion of no confidence on Kurti’s government.

“Dear citizens,

Dear coalition governing partners

I am making public my address to the Prime Minister Kurti, on 16 March of this year. Four days after together with Assembly Speaker Ms. Vjosa Osmani and Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Avdullah Hoti, we informed him in his office that lack of lifting the tariff and aggravation of the relations with the U.S. will bring our coalition into a question. The addressing was as follows:

“Dear Prime Minister Kurti,

As partners of the coalition, me and the other leaders of the LDK share the conviction that we should not risk partnership with the U.S. That we should lift the tariff and the government should take over responsibility that it belongs to it in the dialogue. LDK has supported the Resolution of the Assembly on dialogue and in no case it will not support an agreement which affects the borders and internal organizing.

We cannot risk our partnership with the U.S. due to the tariff.

U.S. powerful presence in Kosovo is vital for our country.

We have major problems with the COVID-19 virus. We have to win this battle together.

We have not reached a coalition to breach it, but to make changes.

Therefore, I plead for your understanding that the tariff has to be lifted this week. Do not take this as a biased request, but as a joint interest.

If it continues in this matter, as soon as we overcome this emergent situation with the virus, we will be forced as LDK to leave the coalition, because we do not want to be equally responsible for the breach of the relations with our main ally.

I will also inform Ambassador Grennell about this.

With respect,

Isa Mustafa

The response that I received from the Prime Minister Kurti on 18 March was dismissal in contradiction with the Agreement for coalition, of the deputy leader of LDK, Mr. Agim Veliu from the position of the Minister of Internal Affairs and Public Administration and his proclamation nothing less than a traitor while addressing the citizens that very night.

I am asking you honorable citizens, and some of the representatives of the diplomatic chore, but also two or three LDK MPs: Is this a rightful action of our Prime Minister?

Does this action speak to the fact that PM Kurti is committed to keep the coalition and to jointly fight CoronaVirus?

I ask you, what other decision should the LDK make when it is so badly ignored and humiliated by the Prime Minister of the country?

I am not young to be influenced by others nor an adventurer. I am very much concerned about our people, citizens of this country. I want for me and my political party to give everything and win the battle against this virus. I want to cooperate with our strategic partners and not lose their support.

Even today, I bow to my population and seek understanding of my party. Today I also expect from Mr. Kurti to abolish the tariff, annul the decision for Mr. Veliu’s dismissal and apologise to LDK for his actions and of those he cooperated on this low act.

To give us the possibility to be together in this battle.” Mustafa wrote.

Thaci: KPHI and the police are promptly doing their job, KSF ready (RTK)

The President of Kosovo wrote today on his Facebook profile that Kosovo’s National Public Health Institute and the police are managing well the situation created by coronavirus.

“The National Public Health Institute is managing the situation and preventing the spread of COVID-19 virus.

The police are doing their job meticulously by maintaining public order and peace.

The Kosovo Security Force is in standby with all its medical and logistic capacity to help overcome the situation created by COVID-19.

Citizens now have a key role to play.

Let us take care of our hygiene. Maintain the physical distance between us. Get out of the house only when this is necessary. These days are critical to limiting the spread of COVID-19 and allowing existing capacities to cope with the emerging cases.

As a state, we are prepared and working together to increase medical capacity, maintain food supplies and sanitation, take action, and protect workers and businesses, which should be assisted by facilitating policies in place during the coming months.

Together, we will overcome this challenge,” Thaci wrote. 

KDI argues against non-confidence motion (media) 

The Kosovo Democratic Institute (KDI) issued a press release today arguing against the LDK’s non-confidence motion.

The KDI says “going into a new cycle of institutional crisis can produce further stagnation of economic development, delay reforms in the rule of law and the integration process. It would also without a doubt weaken Kosovo’s position in the international arena, further polarise the political landscape and create social disappointment and instability”.

The KDI further notes that gone is the time when Kosovo needed technical or unity governments as they are mainly characteristic of countries without institutional stability and extreme political polarisation. “This is why KDI believes that creating such a government would deform the will of the people expressed in the October 6 2019 elections and would create new institutions without civic legitimacy,” the statement notes.

“The people of this country, now more than ever, expect political leaders to show courage and maturity and through responsible actions to further and strengthen inter-institutional cooperation in order to overcome this grave situation”.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

New 15 cases of coronavirus in Serbia – 118 in total (B92)

Up to 8.00 am in the Republic of Serbia, 15 new cases of coronavirus were registered, increasing the total number of infected to 118 people.

From the last report until 8 p.m., March 20, 2020, samples of 39 individuals were tested, 15 of which were positive and 24 negative for the new coronavirus.

Of the fifteen confirmed cases since the last report, five have been hospitalized, but without complications, in good general condition, while ten have less severe clinical picture and are at home.

By 8 am on March 20, 2020, a total of 545 individuals who met the case definition criteria were tested at the national reference laboratory of the Torlak Institute.

See at: https://bit.ly/3dg0Mnr

Serbia closed its borders, intercity traffic stops at noon (B92)

As of today, all border crossings are closed starting at 8 am, meaning that the crossings will be closed for entry of passengers in road, rail and river traffic

Apart from transport trucks, no one will be able to enter the territory of Serbia.

Since the introduction of the state of emergency, 71.180 of our citizens have entered Serbia, with the largest number coming from Germany, Italy, France and Austria, about 95 percent, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said.

In addition to the border closure measures, the president also cites the complete abolition of intercity passenger traffic at noon today, but leaves the possibility of car road traffic.

Vucic said at a news conference that the last departures of buses and trains, to any place, must be by 12 o’clock today.

He also said that curfew will not only be from 8 pm to 5 am, but more will be discussed over the weekend.

See at: https://bit.ly/2U7XpHM

Vucic: Curfew will be extended (B92, RTS)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in his address last night on RTS public broadcaster announced that the curfew in Serbia could last longer, but that more will be discussed over the weekend.

“Curfew will not only be from 8 pm until 5 am,” Vucic is quoted as saying.

“We have exceeded the figure of 100 infected, out of which 55 are in hospital, 6 are in serious condition and are on respirators,” he added.

“We expect in the days and weeks to come a further accelerated increase in the number of those infected. Our capacities are almost full at the Clinic for Infectious Diseases. We are moving to Dragisa Misovic Hospital”, Vucic said.

He also praised doctors for being heroic, adding that the military and the police are doing a very good job as well.

See at: https://bit.ly/2Qv7V9A

Most of us will be affected for some months, UN’s Antonio Guterres says (N1)

The upheaval caused by coronavirus – COVID-19 – is all around us, and I know many are anxious, worried and confused and that’s absolutely natural, the UN Secretary-General Guterres said in a public address.

He added that “we are facing a health threat unlike any other in our lifetimes. Meanwhile, the virus is spreading. The danger is growing, and our systems, economies and day-to-day lives are being severely tested. The most vulnerable are the most affected, particularly our elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions—those without access to reliable health care or those in poverty or living on the edge. The social and economic fallout from the combination of the pandemic and slowing economies.”

“Most of us will be affected for some months, “Gutters warned.

“This is the time for prudence, not panic, science not stigma, facts not fear,” he said adding that the states and people, together with the UN and the World Health Organisation, should stick together in fighting the pandemic.

He pledged for general solidarity.

See at: https://bit.ly/3aaVw2s

Website of Trustbuilding Platform in Kosovo introduced (KoSSev)

Non-governmental organization “New Social Initiative” (NSI) has officially launched the Trustbuilding Platform in Kosovo, KoSSev portal reports. The website of the platform was launched on March 18, this week. 

The website is of major importance for trust building in Kosovo. It was launched at the times of the coronavirus pandemic, thus taking on new importance, the NSI said in a statement. 

“Precisely because of the challenges posed by the current COVID-19 pandemic, trust building and the Kosovo Trustbuilding Platform, have taken on new importance. Trust in one another has never been more critical to the collective well-being of all of us. This is why we are virtually launching the Kosovo Trustbuilding Platform,” NSI Executive Director Jovana Radosavljevic said. 

She also opined the platform would help work with communities. According to her, “it would contribute to connecting and expressing solidarity with others at the times when social relations are getting more difficult.”

The idea of creating the trust building platform first appeared at the Trust Building Forum in Ljubljana, organized by UNMIK in 2018, gathering more than 120 experts from different fields of work. 

After two years, the platform was launched by NSI, in cooperation with Fundacion Ciudadania Inteligente and Mint22, supported by UNMIK, and serves as an information point about initiatives for trust building in Kosovo, the statement said.

The statement added that inspiring individuals – who come from diverse communities and span multiple generations and fields of work – were featured in a “Voices of the Champions” social media campaign that achieved an impressive average weekly reach of more than 25,000 users. 

In addition to the champions, number of prominent personalities from Kosovo, journalists, editors, ambassadors, officials and people from different fields of work, with their op-eds, contributed to the creation of Trustbuilding Platform. One of them was Special Representative of UN Secretary General and Head of UNMIK, (SRSG) Zahir Tanin. 

In his op-ed, SRSG Tanin highlighted that the Platform makes the trustbuilding agenda accessible to all and called on partners to join the effort:

“The Kosovo Trustbuilding Platform brings to your fingertips the ideas and initiatives, individuals and institutions that can deliver this progress. I invite you to take up the recommendations, take inspiration from the work of your champions, take advantage of the resources featured on the platform, and take forward the trust-building agenda in your community. For the future we want, let us build together the trust we need,” SRSG Tanin underlined. 

The platform has several functions and is available in Serbian, Albanian and English languages, KoSSev portal concluded.  

Passengers at Jarinje crossing point told they would have to be quarantined in Pristina? (KoSSev)

KoSSev portal reports today that anyone who enters the territory of Kosovo will be quarantined in Pristina for 14 days. According to the portal, it received confirmation of this information by the citizens who were today at Jarinje crossing point and cited police officers’ warnings. KoSSev portal said it was unable to obtain official confirmation of this quarantine measure.

As one of the citizens of Mitrovica North confirmed to KoSSev, at about 11 o’clock at Jarinje crossing point, a police officer conveyed to the passengers a message that they could pass the crossing, but warned them that they need to present solely the Kosovo ID card when entering Kosovo, and will spend 14 days in quarantine in Pristina. According to this passenger, there was a minor panic among the passengers.

KoSSev reports that these include those who went to buy medicines in Raska, also parents with young children who were taken for vaccination. They are currently at the crossing point, not daring to cross because of what they have been told is the latest warning. Also, Jarinje crossing point was closed for about an hour because of the disinfection that was carried out.

KoSSev reports that Kosovo police in the North region was not aware of this measure and told them to contact the police in Pristina. However, Kosovo police spokesman Baki Kelani told KoSSev that police were only implementing government decisions and could not comment further, telling them to contact the government. KoSSev, further said, was unable to get any information from the Kosovo Government officials and ministries on this matter. 

Kosovo Minister for Infrastructure and Environment, Lumir Abdixhiku, yesterday informed the public that a student centre in Pristina has been turned into a quarantine, which was prepared for Kosovo citizens who have requested a return from abroad. There are 834 of them so far, according to Abdixhiku, and 130 are expected to arrive from Germany today, the portal reports.

COVID-19: Governments must promote and protect access to and free flow of information during pandemic (KoSSev)

In light of the growing disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the monitors for freedom of expression and freedom of the media for the United Nations, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, and the Representative on Freedom of the Media of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe issued the following joint statement:

“We share the grave concern of people everywhere in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. At a moment of such gravity, we fully understand and support the efforts of public health professionals and governments to develop and implement strategies to protect human health and human life. The fundamental and non-derogable right to life is at stake, and governments are obligated to ensure its protection.

“Human health depends not only on readily accessible health care. It also depends on access to accurate information about the nature of the threats and the means to protect oneself, one’s family, and one’s community. The right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, through any media, applies to everyone, everywhere, and may only be subject to narrow restrictions. In this connection, we urge the following:

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

Serbian Commissioner says right to information not suspended (N1)

Serbian Commissioner for Public Information and Personal Data Protection Milan Marinovic warned on Friday that the right to free access to information of public importance has not been suspended in the state of emergency, N1 reports.

“That right has not been suspended but should be adapted to the new circumstances,” the commissioner said in a statement issued following a large number of complaints from private individuals.

“The authorities are obliged to abide by the law on free access to information of public importance during the state of emergency and meet requests for access to that information,” the statement added.

The commissioner said that the priority should be information about issues of importance in this situation but added that “it is reasonable to expect state bodies which have altered the way they operate not to be able to meet every request for information about other things within the deadline set by law”.

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

Norway donates to Serbia EUR 5 million to fight coronavirus (RTS)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic thanked the Ambassador of Norway to Serbia Eugen Jelstad, who has informed him that Norway has decided to donate EUR 5 million to Serbia to fight coronavirus.

“Thank you for major support. Thank you for showing not only sympathies, but also a true friendship in these difficult times,” Vucic wrote on his Instagram profile. 

 

 

International

 

Pandemic Forces Balkan Politicians to Get Serious, At Last (Balkan Insight)

The coronavirus pandemic has compelled the Balkans’ infamously ineffective politicians to step up their game and prioritise public health over political squabbles and ethnic grudges – but also to ask who their real allies are.

Less than a month since Europe registered its first coronavirus fatality, the pandemic has achieved what American, European, Russian, Turkish and all other officials and diplomats have failed to do in the Balkans in the last three decades.

It has forced local politicians – or at least some of them – to start acting as statesmen, catering for the needs of their citizens, to try to curb the spread of the virus and stave off economic disaster and social disintegration.

The pandemic has closed borders across the region despite the ‘special relations’ that Albanian, Bosniak, Croat and Serb politicians said they cherished with their ethnic kin across the region. Now they have to rely more on cooperation with their nearest neighbours regardless of their ethnic, religious or political backgrounds.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3bdNPZv

Kosovo seeks help from Turkey to fight coronavirus (aa.com.tr)

President Hashim Thaci says he had phone call with Turkish President Erdogan to seek help for fighting COVID-19

Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci on Thursday sought help from Turkey to mitigate the spread of the new coronavirus known as COVID-19.

Thaci said on Twitter that he had a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “to discuss bilateral cooperation and to seek help to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Kosovo”.

Thaci also praised Turkey’s fight against the virus.

See at:  https://bit.ly/2xakW1x

Prishtina protests from its balconies (Prishtina Insight)

Residents in Prishtina protested from their homes on Thursday night, banging pots and pans from their windows and balconies to condemn Kosovo politicians for “causing drama and uncertainty” over the future of the country’s leadership during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kosovo citizens, currently on the sixth day of the country’s lockdown following the outbreak of coronavirus, protested from the comfort of their homes on Thursday evening, drumming pots and pans from their windows and balconies.

The protest was organised through a Facebook event created by Replike, an anonymous group of activists in Kosovo, who told Prishtina Insight that the protest was organised to express their dissatisfaction at political developments over recent days.

“The political elite does not have a shared understanding of how the country should deal with the virus and the measures that should be taken,” the organisers said. “All of them are using this pandemic to gain political points by showing the political and personal anger between them.”

See at: https://bit.ly/2J2CLlP

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Serbia’s virologist: Vaccine is urgent, or coronavirus will be seasonal disease (N1)

Dr Ana Gligic, Serbia’s famous virologist, warns in an interview with N1 that coronavirus could become a seasonal disease unless a vaccine is discovered as soon as possible.

Gligic, who led fight against smallpox epidemic in Serbia in 1972 and was the first to isolate the deadliest Marburg virus in the middle of the last century, said that coronavirus was found in nature, “when people search for food, recreation or exploitation, they enter a hotspot, violate the balance and upset what was intact and then cause a disorder…”

“The latest research shows that it is 96 percent identical to the virus from bats. The bats come close to urban areas, they are protected species, and the first ecosystem rule is that everything is linked and if you disturb only one thing in that chain, you get this. It spreads by air, and that’s the fastest way,” Gligic told N1.

She said that almost all infectious diseases started as a respiratory infection, but then a virus attacked other organs which led to “catastrophe.”

Following the situation in China and Italy, Gligic said it was not precisely clear for how long the incubation period would be.

“That incubation hides the disease because it starts with sneezing, and we are spreading the virus.”

She insisted that the main thing was to find a vaccine.

“We have the source of the infection in bats; we should collect as much material as possible, to test if there is immunity after the infection. We should take sick people’s serum to see if there are antibodies because that’s very important,” Gligic said.

She called on the virologists to research, adding that every institute should collect material and make a vaccine.

“If the virus remains in nature permanently, the vaccine is urgently needed. And for making an effective vaccine, it takes a year or 18 months,” Gligic said.

She urged people to be disciplined and that was why the self-isolation measures and punishments were introduced to prevent further transmissions.  

See at: https://bit.ly/3dh1NeY

Kon: Epidemic will last another six weeks in this regime (Tanjug, B92)

Serbian epidemiologist Predrag Kon said that the country has completed the second week of the coronavirus epidemic, and that the third week is one of the key ones, Tanjug news agency reports.

He said the goal is to stretch an epidemic that he believes will last another six weeks in a regime like this. Kon said the second week ended with 103 cases, with no fatalities.

“It is not so bad, in general, it would be ideal if it continued like this. If we knew that on the 12th day the number of patients started to increase, there were 15, then 17, to end up with 14 patients on the third day. Although it was expected that it will go up constantly, it has not happened. An accelerated increase in the number of infected is expected, but this acceleration has not happened”, Kon said.

He emphasized that the third week was one of the key ones, mainly because of the measures that were introduced to curb the spread of the virus. If they turn out to be good, the epidemic will be reduced.

As he said, the epidemic is dragging on and we need to know if the measures produce results. “If they give results, then we just have to keep them going. It’s undoubtedly going to take another six weeks in a mode like this”, Kon emphasized.

See at: https://bit.ly/2WuQE4k

 

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