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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, March 24, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, March 24, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• Kurti calls on people to respect govt decisions (media)
• Thaci addresses Constitutional Court on government’s restriction measures (media)
• Thaci writes to Kurti: Suspend the decision, you have caused panic, fear and uncertainty (media)
• Quint Ambassadors: Prioritise fight against COVID-19 (media)
• Thaci welcomes Quint statement (media)
• EU calls on Kosovo leaders to work together (media)
• Kosnett: Follow guidance to protect our families and communities (media)
• Stjernvall: No more fights against each other (Kallxo)

Serbian Language Media:

• In Serbia, 27 newly infected coronavirus patients, a total of 249 (B92)
• Pristina quarantine measure creates problems for emergency transportation of patients from Kosovo Serb communities (KoSSev)
• Pristina Mayor: The City of Pristina offers assistance to all communities in Kosovo (RTK2, Kontakt plus, RTV Puls)
• “There is no flour in Gracanica for ten days” (RTK2, Kontakt plus radio, KoSSev)
• Djuric: We are not interested in their ‘games of thrones’ (Tanjug, B92, Politika)
• 21 years since NATO bombing of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Tanjug, B92)
• 21 anniversary of NATO bombing marked in Mitrovica North (RTV Puls, TV Most)

International:

• President calls on citizens to disobey government measures (Prishtina Insight)
• Europe’s Other Coronavirus Victim: Information and Data Rights (Balkan Insight)
• Kosovo Opposition to Back No-Confidence Motion in Govt (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Inspired by NATO Bombing, Serbian Artist Turns Trauma into Art (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Kurti calls on people to respect govt decisions (media)
  • Thaci addresses Constitutional Court on government’s restriction measures (media)
  • Thaci writes to Kurti: Suspend the decision, you have caused panic, fear and uncertainty (media)
  • Quint Ambassadors: Prioritise fight against COVID-19 (media)
  • Thaci welcomes Quint statement (media)
  • EU calls on Kosovo leaders to work together (media)
  • Kosnett: Follow guidance to protect our families and communities (media)
  • Stjernvall: No more fights against each other (Kallxo)

Serbian Language Media:

  • In Serbia, 27 newly infected coronavirus patients, a total of 249 (B92)
  • Pristina quarantine measure creates problems for emergency transportation of patients from Kosovo Serb communities (KoSSev)
  • Pristina Mayor: The City of Pristina offers assistance to all communities in Kosovo (RTK2, Kontakt plus, RTV Puls)
  • “There is no flour in Gracanica for ten days” (RTK2, Kontakt plus radio, KoSSev)
  • Djuric: We are not interested in their ‘games of thrones’ (Tanjug, B92, Politika)
  • 21 years since NATO bombing of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Tanjug, B92)
  • 21 anniversary of NATO bombing marked in Mitrovica North (RTV Puls, TV Most)

International:

  • President calls on citizens to disobey government measures (Prishtina Insight)
  • Europe’s Other Coronavirus Victim: Information and Data Rights (Balkan Insight)
  • Kosovo Opposition to Back No-Confidence Motion in Govt (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Inspired by NATO Bombing, Serbian Artist Turns Trauma into Art (Balkan Insight)   

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Kurti calls on people to respect govt decisions (media)

All media report that Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti has called on the people of Kosovo to respect the government’s latest measures in the fight against the coronavirus.

“We voted on the request of the Ministry of Health for new measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, a request that resulted directly from recommendations made by the Kosovo National Institute for Public Health. The decision includes restricting the movement of vehicles and citizens starting from today from 10:00 to 16:00 and from 20:00 to 6:00 … The number of infected persons has gone up by 26 last night. It can go higher therefore we all need to follow the decisions of the government and the instructions of professionals … Dear citizens follow the government measures so we can beat the virus. Stay clean, keep the distance and stay at home,” Kurti wrote.

Thaci addresses Constitutional Court on government’s restriction measures (media)

The President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci said at a press conference today he has decided to address the Constitutional Court on Monday’s decision of the government to restrict citizens’ movement in the entire Kosovo due to the spread of COVID-19.

“Given the new circumstances following the government’s decision, this unconstitutional decision, as president of the country, I decided to address the constitutional court with a request to interpret the question of the compatibility of the Kosovo government’s decision regarding the restriction of rights and the freedoms protected by the constitution,” Thaci said adding that he will also make public the referral that has been sent to the Constitutional Court.

“What I want to say is that as the president of the country, in full respect of my mandate, we demanded that in the near future, we have requested an interim measure from the Constitutional Court, while regarding other developments, I again emphasize that no one stands above the Constitution of Kosovo. I once again call for civic unity, and maximal caution,” he added.

Thaci writes to Kurti: Suspend the decision, you have caused panic, fear and uncertainty (media)

After addressing the Constitutional Court the President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci has written to the Prime Minister Albin Kurti requesting from him to suspend Tuesday’s measures for restriction of citizens’ movement. He said he has requested from him to reconsider the decision with which PM Kurti has only created panic.

“He should reconsider the decision with which he created panic, fear and uncertainty,” Thaci said, adding that Kurti should suspend the decision until the decision of the Constitutional Court.

Quint Ambassadors: Prioritise fight against COVID-19 (media)

Quint member states, the U.S., Germany, U;K, France and Italy,  issued a joint statement calling on the institutions and leaders of Kosovo to focus on the battle against coronavirus by respecting provisions of the Constitution and the powers that are guaranteed to them through it.

“At this difficult time, we call on all institutional and political leaders to focus on COVID-19 respecting the provisions of the Constitution and the powers that are granted to them through the Constitution. We urge them to preserve and ensure the integrity and functionality of Kosovo’s government and institutions at this critical moment and to prioritise the fight against COVID-19 in Kosovo over politics, noting that our countries have all taken extraordinary measures in this regard,” they wrote.

Thaci welcomes Quint statement (media)

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci welcomed today’s statement issued by the Quint embassies in Pristina.

“Welcome the statement by Quint countries sharing my demands to all in #Kosovo to respect Constitution & laws, democratic function of institutions & focus on fighting #COVID19 instead of using it for political battles. Citizens’ well-being is a paramount priority for all of us,” Thaci wrote on Twitter.

EU calls on Kosovo leaders to work together (media)

Most news websites carry a statement issued today the by EU Special Representative and Heads of EU missions in Kosovo.

The statement notes: “The EU stands together with Kosovo in the fight against COVID-19. At these difficult and challenging times Kosovo people need clear directions and reassurances that all possible measures are being taken to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. We call on all institutional leaders to work together, in full adherence to Kosovo’s constitution and to put all their energy and efforts towards fighting the pandemic and keeping Kosovo people safe. This is not the time for political or institutional antagonisms, this is the time for political unity.”

Kosnett: Follow guidance to protect our families and communities (media)

The United States Ambassador to Kosovo Philip Kosnett took to Twitter on Monday to call on Kosovo citizens to follow the guidance from the Ministry of Health.

“Met Minister of Health to thank Dr Vitia for the inspiring work of Kosovo’s health workers, and to discuss international efforts against COVID-19. We must all continue to follow the guidance to protect our families and communities,” Kosnett tweeted.

Stjernvall: No more fights against each other (Kallxo)

The Finnish Ambassador to Kosovo, Pia Stjernvall, retweeted today a tweet by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres who called for “an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world” Guterres said “it is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives – the #COVID19 pandemic”.

Stjernvall wrote in her tweet: “no more fight against each other but against this #COVIDー19 virus! We need united world, united #Finland and United #Kosovo. Thanks #UN for a great call!”

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

In Serbia, 27 newly infected coronavirus patients, a total of 249 (B92)

27 new cases of coronavirus were registered in Serbia, published at 3 pm yesterday, making the total of 249 cases confirmed so far, B92 reports. Meanwhile following today’s figures, RTS reported that 54 persons more were infected, bringing the total number of infected persons to 301. Serbian Minister of Health Zlatibor Loncar also said that 15 persons recovered from coronavirus.

From the last report to 3 pm on March 23, 2020, samples were tested of 61 individuals, 27 of which were positive and 34 negative for the new coronavirus.

Of the 27 confirmed cases since the last report, 19 have been hospitalized, of a stable general condition, while 8 have a lighter clinical picture and are at home.

By 3 pm on March 23, 2020, a total of 822 people were tested in the national reference laboratory of the Torlak Institute, which met the criteria of the case definition.

See at: https://bit.ly/2Ufo19S

Pristina quarantine measure creates problems for emergency transportation of patients from Kosovo Serb communities (KoSSev)

The decision of Kosovo Internal Affairs Ministry to place every person entering Kosovo via any of the six crossing points, excluding truck drivers and diplomats, in a preventive quarantine, created a new problem for the emergency transportation of patients from Kosovo Serb communities, KoSSev portal reports.

Upon entering Kosovo, drivers of ambulance vehicles operating within the Serbian healthcare system are required to spend 15 days in quarantine in Pristina.

While ambulances with patients from health centers and hospitals in Kosovo operating within the Serbian healthcare system can travel from Kosovo to central Serbia, they face problems when returning to Kosovo.

An ambulance heading towards Strpce was forced to spend several hours at Jarinje crossing point yesterday waiting to be escorted into quarantine in Pristina.

The news was confirmed to KoSSev portal by Stojan Stanojkovic from the legal department of the Strpce Health Center, who added that the problem was eventually solved by the municipality and the Serbian-sponsored municipal emergency team who gave the order for the ambulance to drive back to Strpce.

According to Stanojkovic, for the time being, there are no confirmed coronavirus cases in this municipality, as the citizens are almost completely adhering to the advice of doctors and epidemiological services.

The deputy director of the North Mitrovica Hospital Center, Doctor Zlatan Elek confirmed for KoSSev that there are issues with ambulances entering Kosovo.

“The ambulance vehicles of the North Mitrovica Hospital Center experience no issues while going to central Serbia via Jarinje crossing and this is a regular procedure, but upon their return, the authorities in Pristina require staff to be quarantined in Pristina for 15 days,“ he said.

It makes work even more difficult given the already difficult conditions in which hospitals are now operating, so the patients with serious illnesses are referred for treatment in central Serbia, he also said.

See at: https://bit.ly/2J7GRJD

Pristina Mayor: The City of Pristina offers assistance to all communities in Kosovo (RTK2, Kontakt plus, RTV Puls)

“Pristina was ready for the situation regarding the coronavirus pandemic, but we must be careful and continue to monitor all that is happening. Therefore, our appeal to citizens is that the best way of protection is to stay home and not to go out unnecessarily, because they will protect themselves and others,” said Pristina Mayor Shpend Ahmeti to RTK 2.

Commenting on the new restricted measures introduced by the Kosovo government last night, Ahmeti thinks they are good to reduce the number of people on the street, but also that this is not the time for political altercations and outsmarting. 

“The measures introduced are clear and precise, but I do not understand the statements of some politicians in Kosovo that we see now, because they only disturb the citizens. It is neither the time nor the place for such a thing, because we all have the same goal now, as all world states, and that is to win this fight and protect the health of our citizens,” Ahmeti said.

The mayor of Pristina stresses that he was in frequent contact with the management of Gracanica municipality, but also with crisis staffs in Donja and Gornja Brnjica, Lebane and Devet Jugovica, where Serbs live, and that they were offered every kind of assistance.

“The situation in Gracanica, but also in other Serb communities is good for now, and we are in frequent contact, and so will be in the coming days. We offered them every kind of help, offered to send them masks and what they needed, because here no one is making a difference by nationality or anything else,” Ahmeti told RTK 2.

“There is no flour in Gracanica for ten days” (RTK2, Kontakt plus radio, KoSSev)

The crisis caused by the corona virus slowly is affecting the supply of basic foodstuffs in Serbian communities in Kosovo, since flour has not been available for ten days, and the prices of some foods such as sugar, oil and eggs have risen significantly, reported RTK2. 

“I talked to the traders these days not only in Gracanica but also in other Serbian communities, and they tell me that there is no flour in the free market for ten days, the question is when there will be some because large warehouses do not have it. Some prices increased by 30% or more, and traders justify it by the fact that their purchase price increased, which I was convinced by the invoices I saw,” Sasa Sekulic, executive director of the Association of Serbian Businessmen in Kosovo, told RTK 2. 

Sekulic believes that the latest news that flour will be available in northern Kosovo is quite confusing, noting that Serbs do not live only in that part of Kosovo.

“That is not quite clear to me, but I hope that crisis staff can find a way to get that flour to the other areas through the Red Cross or other organizations. We are here as an association, trying to convey a clear and real picture from the field, in order to overcome the crisis together as easy as we possibly can, and it has only just begun,” Sekulic points out.

According to the announcements of merchants in Gracanica and the surrounding, purchases of necessities of life will be restricted from today, in order to have enough for everyone, reported RTK2.

Djuric: We are not interested in their ‘games of thrones’ (Tanjug, B92, Politika)

Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director, Marko Djuric said Pristina should deal more with the coronavirus rather than with politics, Tanjug news agency reports.

“It is inappropriate at the current times of challenges, which do not spear our compatriots in Kosovo and Metohija either, to waste the energy on Pristina’s games of thrones. We are not interested in their intrigues and plays,” Djuric told today’s edition of Belgrade-based Politika daily.

He pointed out that even if the tariffs were lifted fully it would have no actual effect due to interrupted flow of goods and people between Kosovo and central Serbia. Djuric also noted that Serbia will continue to care responsibly about the health, security and supply of its citizens in Kosovo.

“Not a single of our citizens in Kosovo and Metohija will be hungry, thirsty or deprived of medical care. Serbia would know how to ensure that. No matter how,” Djuric said.  

21 years since NATO bombing of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Tanjug, B92)

Today is the 21 anniversary since the start of NATO air strikes on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), B92 reports.

The sirens were heard for 78 days and the total number of casualties was never officially determined. An estimated 1,200 to 2,500 people were killed in the 11 weeks of bombing, with total material damage estimated at tens of billions of dollars.

The attack on Serbia, or the FRY, was carried out without UN Security Council approval, which was a precedent. The order was then issued by NATO Secretary General Javier Solana to the then commander of the Allied Forces, US General Wesley Clark.

Clark later wrote in the book “Modern Warfare” that the planning of NATO’s air operation against the FRY “was well underway in mid-June 1998” and was completed by the end of August that year.

After the Serbian Parliament confirmed that it did not accept the decision on foreign troops in its territory and suggested that United Nations forces monitor the peace settlement of the conflict in Kosovo, NATO launched air strikes with cruise missiles and aviation at several places on March 24, 1999 at 19.45 in Serbia and Montenegro.

19 Alliance countries have launched bombing operations from ships in the Adriatic, and from four air bases in Italy.

According to the Serbian Government, at least 2,500 people were killed in the bombing, out of which 89 were children (according to some sources, the total number of deaths was almost 4,000), and more than 12,500 people were wounded and injured.

Recently released official data from the Serbian Ministry of Defense registered about 1,008 killed soldiers and police officers.

Total material damage was then estimated at $ 100 billion. NATO’s wartime losses in manpower and technology have never been made public.

Authorities in Belgrade at the time claimed that dozens of aircraft had been knocked down, which was never confirmed. Russia’s APN reported that NATO lost over 400 troops and over 60 aircraft, while US President Bill Clinton said in a June 10, 1999 speech that NATO had suffered “no casualties”.

The Belgrade Aviation Museum holds the remains of crashed F-117, F-16 planes, drones, cruise missiles, B92 recalled.

There is almost no city in Serbia that was not targeted during the 11 weeks of the attack. The bombing destroyed and damaged 25.000 housing units, disabling 470 kilometers of roads and 595 kilometers of railway tracks. 14 airports, 19 hospitals, 20 health centers, 18 kindergartens, 69 schools, 176 cultural monuments and 44 bridges were also damaged, while 38 bridges were destroyed.

See at: https://bit.ly/2UweWZ3

21 anniversary of NATO bombing marked in Mitrovica North (RTV Puls, TV Most)

By laying the wreath on the “Monument of Truth” near the main bridge in Mitrovica North and at “Brothers Milic” square, where the new monument will be erected, chief of Kosovo-Mitrovica District Slavko Simic and president of Mitrovica Municipal Interim Council, Aleksandar Spiric marked the 21 anniversary of NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and paid tribute to the victims, RTV Puls reports.

Aleksandar Spric said that Serbian people and citizens of Mitrovica North under specific circumstances pay tribute to the victims of NATO aggression.

Slavko Simic said that by marking one of the most tragic events for the Serbian people and its history, we pay tribute and honor heroes who have fallen for the fatherland as well as innocent victims of NATO aggression.

Other municipalities in the north of Kosovo also marked the anniversary of NATO bombing.

In a press communiqué issued today, on the occasion of 21 anniversary of the “NATO aggression against our Serbia”, Serbian List pointed out that “the ruthless destruction of our country in spite of the decision of the United Nations Security Council, which claimed the lives of thousands of our citizens, including 79 children, remains a deeply inflicted wound in the soul of each of us”, TV Most reports.

Serbian List added “it is devastating that, to date, none of those involved in the killing of a people on the ground of Europe has not been able to summon the courage to apologize and ask for forgiveness”.

In a separate press release, Mitrovica North Mayor and Serbian List President Goran Rakic ​​reminded that today is the 21st anniversary since “NATO forces bombed FR Yugoslavia and when the nefarious project of expelling Serbs from Kosovo began”.

Rakic ​​recalled those were the days when innocent civilians, maternity wards and children were killed.

 

 

International

 

President calls on citizens to disobey government measures (Prishtina Insight)

As the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus rises to 61, President Thaci urges citizens and police to disregard newly-approved government measures designed to prevent the spread of the disease that limit freedom of movement.

At an extraordinary press conference on Thursday night, President Hashim Thaci called on Kosovo Police and citizens to disregard new measures approved by the government, which would restrict citizens’ movement in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus.

The measures will reportedly place more stringent restrictions on both public and private gatherings and prohibit the movement of private vehicles and citizens between 10:00 and 16:00, and again between 20:00 and 06:00.

Exceptions will be made for those with medical needs, those producing, supplying or selling essential goods, as well as essential government and municipal personnel, among others.

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

Europe’s Other Coronavirus Victim: Information and Data Rights (Balkan Insight)

Arbitrary arrests, surveillance, phone tapping and privacy breaches increase as countries of Central and Southeast Europe impose emergency laws to combat Covid-19.

From claims that salt water can stop the coronavirus spreading to your lungs to false instructions, miracle medicines and supposed vaccines, people in Central Europe and the Balkans are being bombarded by thousands of fake news stories and propaganda messages via traditional media, tabloid outlets, online portals, social media and messaging apps like WhatsApp and Viber.

With a highly unregulated media scene and low levels of media literacy, creators of disinformation have been spreading panic by sharing unverified information. Media outlets, officials and even prime ministers also share the blame.

See at: https://bit.ly/2QHt3tA

Kosovo Opposition to Back No-Confidence Motion in Govt (Balkan Insight)

The future of Albin Kurti’s government looks precarious after a majority of opposition parties declared their backing for the no-confidence motion initiated by the junior governing Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK. 

The presidency of the Kosovo parliament will meet on Tuesday to consider the no-confidence motion against the government of Albin Kurti initiated by the junior partner in his coalition government, the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK – which looks increasingly likely to pass.

Under parliamentary procedures, the no-confidence motion should be considered at a hearing in the Assembly no later than Wednesday. Arbërie Nagavci, deputy speaker from the main ruling Vetevendosje party, told BIRN that the Assembly had addressed the National Institute of Public Health of Kosovo, NIPHK, on holding a hearing about the motion under current social-distancing guidelines.

See at: https://bit.ly/33F9uqY

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Inspired by NATO Bombing, Serbian Artist Turns Trauma into Art (Balkan Insight)

Serbian ‘outsider artist’ Goran Stojcetovic spent the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia huddled in a basement, drawing bizarre pictures – and now he uses his talent to help others deal with their own traumas.

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

 

 

 

 

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