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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, March 27, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• The UK, as the U.S. calls to respect the Constitution (RTK)
• Haradinaj: The U.S. leaders’ statement, rightful guarantee for Kosovo (media)
• Dismissed government to continue to combat COVID-19 (RTK, RFE)
• Prishtina Mayor: Seriously, stay at home! (media)
• Svecla meets UN and UNDP representatives (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Grenell, Palmer, Kosnett: There is no secret land swap plan, lift the tariffs (KoSSev, RTS, Blic)
• Janjic: Thaci dictates developments now (Danas)
• Weekly: EU largest donor to Serbia, China holds 15th place, Russia below (Novi Magazin, N1)
• Fabrizi: First shipment of EU aid arriving (N1, RTS)
• In Serbia 73 new coronavirus cases confirmed, 457 in total (N1)
• Brussels Dialogue in 2019 – lost year and missed opportunities (KoSSev)

Opinion:

• Kosovo’s ‘Albanian Spring’ Has Succumbed to Early Frost (Balkan Insight)
• Kurti’s Downfall Leaves Kosovo Politics in Turmoil (Balkan Insight)

International:

• Kosovo Mulls its Choices After Fall of Kurti Govt (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Coronavirus in the Balkans: Can disasters defeat hatred? (DW)
• Foreign nationals allowed to remain in Serbia until the end of the state of emergency (Tanjug, B92)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • The UK, as the U.S. calls to respect the Constitution (RTK)
  • Haradinaj: The U.S. leaders’ statement, rightful guarantee for Kosovo (media)
  • Dismissed government to continue to combat COVID-19 (RTK, RFE)
  • Prishtina Mayor: Seriously, stay at home! (media)
  • Svecla meets UN and UNDP representatives (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Grenell, Palmer, Kosnett: There is no secret land swap plan, lift the tariffs (KoSSev, RTS, Blic)
  • Janjic: Thaci dictates developments now (Danas)
  • Weekly: EU largest donor to Serbia, China holds 15th place, Russia below (Novi Magazin, N1)
  • Fabrizi: First shipment of EU aid arriving (N1, RTS)
  • In Serbia 73 new coronavirus cases confirmed, 457 in total (N1)
  • Brussels Dialogue in 2019 – lost year and missed opportunities (KoSSev)

Opinion: 

  • Kosovo’s ‘Albanian Spring’ Has Succumbed to Early Frost (Balkan Insight)
  • Kurti’s Downfall Leaves Kosovo Politics in Turmoil (Balkan Insight)

International:

  • Kosovo Mulls its Choices After Fall of Kurti Govt (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Coronavirus in the Balkans: Can disasters defeat hatred? (DW)
  • Foreign nationals allowed to remain in Serbia until the end of the state of emergency (Tanjug, B92)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

The UK, as the U.S. calls to respect the Constitution (RTK)

The Embassy of the United Kingdom to Kosovo appealed through Twitter to respect the Constitution.

“The UK notes the vote of no-confidence in the Assembly on 25 March and calls for the Constitution to continue to be respected. The protection of the people of Kosovo during this health emergency should be the first priority of an acting or new government.

Haradinaj: The U.S. leaders’ statement, rightful guarantee for Kosovo (media)

Ramush Haradianj, leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) hailed today the U.S. State Department statement signed by the U.S. special presidential envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Richard Grenell, US Ambassador to Kosovo Philip Kosnett, and Special Representative for the Western Balkans, Matthew Palmer, who stress that there is no secret plan for the exchange of territories between Kosovo and Serbia.

“I have devoted most of my time and energy while being a prime minister, fighting the conspiratorial and inaccurate voices that once said America is for the exchange of territories, mistakenly aiming at our alienation from our historic ally, the U.S. That plan was likely to be at other tables, but never at the U.S.-led table. Tonight, I feel fulfilled and confident that this conviction is also being affirmatively confirmed. Our relations with America are unbreakable, inviolable, and permanent. The White House and Washington are the sacred temple of our freedom and independence. God bless America and its people. God bless Kosovo and our people,” he wrote.

Dismissed government to continue to combat COVID-19 (RTK, RFE)

Acting Kosovo government spokesman Perparim Kryeziu told RFE / RL that the government’s previous decisions to combat the further spread of the coronavirus pandemic have had no political motives. As such, according to him, those decisions should not and will not be influenced by political developments and they continue to be in force. 

“All relevant institutions, with responsibility for the implementation of these decisions, are in charge. The Government of the Republic of Kosovo, while in office, has the competence to continue to exercise decision-making regarding new measures and decisions, depending on developments on the ground and those decisions will always be in line with the needs of the country, protecting public health,” Kryeziu said.

Prishtina Mayor: Seriously, stay at home! (media)

Most news websites report that Prishtina Mayor Shpend Ahmeti has again called on the citizens today to stay at home.

“Seriously, stay at home,” Ahmeti tweeted.

Media also note that Ahmeti has called on Prime Minister Albin Kurti to reconsider the decision on restricting the movements of people, “as this is then resulting in long lines in the markets”.

Svecla meets UN and UNDP representatives (media)

Kosovo’s Acting Minister of Interior Affairs Xhelal Svecla met today with UN Development Coordinator Ulrike Richardson and UNDP Resident Representative Maria Suokko.

The meeting focused on the situation created with the coronavirus pandemic, the government measures and the aid the UN and UNDP can give through their programs to help better manage the situation.

The UN and UNDP representatives expressed their readiness to help the local institutions and praised them for the professional management of the situation so far.

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Grenell, Palmer, Kosnett: There is no secret land swap plan, lift the tariffs (KoSSev, RTS, Blic)

“There is no secret plan for land swaps between Kosovo and Serbia, as some have speculated. Special Presidential Envoy Richard Grenell has never seen nor discussed such a plan,” US Special Presidential Envoy Richard Grenell, Ambassador Philip Kosnett, and Special Representative for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer wrote in a joint statement last night.

The US officials reacted following the collapse of Albin Kurti-led Kosovo government on Wednesday night. In a joint statement, they urged Kosovo’s leaders to follow the Constitution, while expressing commitment to cooperate with any government formed through the constitutional process.

“The United States stands with the people of Kosovo.  We commend the continued efforts of the health professionals and others who are working hard, at great risk, to reduce the progress of COVID-19 in Kosovo.  In this time of uncertainty, we urge Kosovo’s leaders to follow Kosovo’s Constitution and the rule of law. We are committed to working with any government formed through the constitutional process.”

They also called on the Kosovo leaders to lift the tariffs on goods from Serbia and BiH completely, especially bearing in mind the current fight against the coronavirus pandemic:

 “We believe the tariffs are harming the people of Kosovo by hindering regional cooperation against COVID-19 – including by delaying the entry into Kosovo of needed supplies – and hindering economic growth.”

During Wednesday’s 12-hour long assembly on the vote of no-confidence in the Pristina government, the LVV party and Kurti himself alleged that “a secret land swap agreement” is standing behind Thaci’s call for a state of emergency – which Kurti refused to do, leading to the no-confidence motion against the government. Kurti also claimed that „champagne“ is expected at the White House over this agreement, adding that it would, however, also require „incidents and bloodshed“ in the field beforehand.

Kosnett, Grenell and Palmer strongly denied that such a plan exists:

“We want to make clear there is no secret plan for land swaps between Kosovo and Serbia, as some have speculated. Special Presidential Envoy Richard Grenell has never seen nor discussed such a plan,” the joint statement reads.

Instead, the U.S. Government is focused on supporting the recent agreements to re-establish air, rail, and highway connections between Kosovo and Serbia, and aims to improve the economy while creating economic momentum – the statement also underlined.

“We believe this momentum will give new energy to a dialogue process that would lead to mutual recognition,” they concluded.

The US Ambassador, Philip Kosnett welcomed the initiative to vote on a no-confidence motion against the government a day before the voting took place, garnering criticism from the European Parliament Rapporteur for Kosovo, Viola von Cramon.

“Pleased to see the Assembly will hold a session on the no-confidence vote tomorrow. As I told the PM today, it is important for the Assembly and all Kosovo institutions to respect the Constitution,” US ambassador to Pristina, Philip Kosnett announced at the time.

“An own goal of the US in Kosovo with an historical dimension. How can you an ambassador be pleased to see a functional government tumbling in the corona pandemic? Unbelievable. Irresponsible. I feel terrible sorry for the citizens of Kosovo. They don’t deserve this,” Viola von Cramon tweeted.

https://bit.ly/2UHHkr0

Janjic: Thaci dictates developments now (Danas)

Kurti’s understanding of politics that the history begins with him, that he would rethink the Brussels dialogue and the way how he thought to dictate conditions related to lifting the tariffs proved he cannot be expected to be a cooperative partner in the dialogue, Forum for Ethnic Relations Director Dusan Janjic said, Danas daily reports.

Janjic continued that this has united Richard Grenell and the European Union. However, Janjic believes the reasons for ousting Kurti’s government go beyond the influence of the US Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Richard Grenell, recalling it was pointed out from the beginning that the coalition between LDK and Self-determination Movement was impossible.

He added this coalition had only one common topic – promise they would fight corruption and oust the ‘war-generation’ of politicians from the power.  

However, a major rift occurred there. LDK had more members of the war-generation than Self-determination. And it became clear that the crucial request, they have won with, couldn’t be honored, because it was stronger than them, Janjic explained. According to him, Kosovo still lives in the era of unachieved aims of the war generation. Kurti had nothing new to offer regarding development of Kosovo, except what previous governments have offered already.

One more reason why the Kosovo government was ousted, Janjic opined, is the way Kurti as a populist understood politics. Even before elections it was known that Kurti had no coalition capacities. On the other hand, the Self-determination leader did not manage to respect the rhythm of work of the institutions, and did not have sufficient time to “destroy” them.

“The story about the US and the tariffs comes somewhere at the end. (…). It was just a trigger which following announcements of sanctions from the US, have brought Kosovo politicians to reason, more than coronavirus. They have chosen to remain America’s favourite, and to get rid of the public’s opinion about Kurti,” Janjic said, adding it was easier to “bring down” Kurti in the name of preserving ‘love relations’ with the US.

Asked when establishment of the new government in Pristina could be expected, Janjic said that based on the constitution, Kosovo President Hashim Thaic dictates the deadlines now.

He thinks it was normal that Serbian List voted against Kurit’s government, in which Serbian List took part, but it “produces nothing”, adding that Serbian List did so because official Belgrade has decided that way.

Weekly: EU largest donor to Serbia, China holds 15th place, Russia below (Novi Magazin, N1)

The European Union is by far the greatest donor to Serbia, mainly to its health care system with over three billion Euro grants from 2000 to 2015, while China is at the 15thplace of all donors and Russia is not among the first 15, Belgrade-based Novi Magazin weekly reported in its latest edition on Friday.

Besides grants, the European Investments Bank approved 4.6 billion Euro worth loans, while the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development invested 3.5 billion Euro, mostly to infrastructure and development of the financial institutions, the weekly added.

See at: https://bit.ly/2UjUD26

Fabrizi: First shipment of EU aid arriving (N1, RTS)

Head of European Union Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi told public broadcaster RTS that the first EU aid will be flown to Belgrade on Thursday evening.

Fabrizi said that the rest of EUR 15 million worth aid intended to combat the coronavirus pandemic will arrive in the next few days. “We are working with the Serbian authorities who asked the EU for help… I am optimistic that the necessary things will be delivered in a short time,” Fabrizi said. 

He recalled that the EU had approved EUR 93 million aid to Serbia – 15 million for urgent needs and 78 for economic recovery – and added that the EU had approved the aid very quickly. “The Serbian Government declared a state of emergency on March 15 and sent its first request for aid on March 16. The first grant was signed last Friday and the first shipment arrives this week,” Fabrizi noted. 

In Serbia 73 new coronavirus cases confirmed, 457 in total (N1)

Three coronavirus patients were reported to have died in hospitals in Belgrade and Nis and another 73 new cases registered, the Serbian Health Care authorities said on Thursday.

Two people died at the Dragisa Misovic hospital and Infectious Diseases Clinic in Belgrade and a third died at the Clinical Center in Nis. 

The Serbian Health Care Ministry said in its daily bulletin that 457 coronavirus cases had been confirmed by 3:00 pm on Thursday.

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

Brussels Dialogue in 2019 – lost year and missed opportunities (KoSSev)

The Belgrade-Pristina dialogue on the normalization of relations led within the framework of the Brussels negotiations has been treading water for more than a year, KoSSev portal writes today.

Ever since Pristina imposed 100% tariffs on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in November 2018, negotiations have been completely suspended and the two presidents, Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci, have met only once. Despite numerous messages coming from the EU and the US to abolish the tariffs to continue the dialogue – this has not happened, however the new Kosovo government is expected to move the negotiations from the deadlock.

Although the dialogue has not been formally restarted, the regional agreement to reduce roaming charges signed by six countries of the Western Balkans is an important step in normalizing relations.

Great strides have also been made with the signing of a letter of intent to open the Belgrade-Pristina air route in January 2020, as well as the recent signing of an agreement on the reconstruction of the railway on the same route. The experts, however, point out that none of the agreements are a product of the Brussels dialogue, whose officials have not had a visible role in the negotiations. The experts also underline that the dialogue still remains questionable.

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

 

 

Opinion 

 

Kosovo’s ‘Albanian Spring’ Has Succumbed to Early Frost (Balkan Insight)

The fall of Albin Kurti’s government has left many Kosovars feeling robbed of hope and betrayed – but it was his own inexperience and overconfidence that brought him down.

When Albin Kurti and Vetevendosje won the parliamentary elections in Kosovo in October 2019, although negotiations between the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, and the VV on a joint programme lasted months, most Kosovars were full of hope for real change.

But the “Albanian Spring”, which according to Kurti promised a completely different style of government and a clean-up of corruption, has given way to frost since the no-confidence vote in his government in parliament on March 24.

Kosovars feel robbed of hope. At a time when the COVID-19 crisis needs a state capable of action, and in which personal and ideological rivalries are put on the side, the country is paralyzed by political crisis.

See more at: https://bit.ly/33RptCw

Kurti’s Downfall Leaves Kosovo Politics in Turmoil (Balkan Insight)

Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Kosovo is entering another political crisis, raising important questions about the formation of the next government and the future of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Blerim Vela writes for Balkan Insight.

There was widespread criticism of the decision to table a motion of no confidence in the government of Albin Kurti, while the country is still tackling the coronavirus outbreak, with more than 70 confirmed cases so far.

Now the Assembly has passed the motion of no confidence against the government, what happens next will be determined by several factors, many of which are complicated by the pandemic.

See at: https://bit.ly/3dxGKF5

 

 

International

 

Kosovo Mulls its Choices After Fall of Kurti Govt (Balkan Insight)

The overthrow of the Kurti government leaves Kosovo facing multiple political scenarios, ranging from a new government led by the same party to a new government led by other parties – or fresh general elections.

The overthrow of the Kosovo government under Albin Kurti on Wednesday night has created a fluid political situation, similar to that after the last election, creating the need for the formation of a new government, without excluding the possibility of new elections.

Under the constitution, the government is now deemed “dismissed” and President Hashim Thaci can dissolve the Assembly if he wishes and call the new election in 45 days.

But, Lulzim Peci, director of the Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development, KIPRED, a think tank, insists that “there is no vacuum in terms of executive power”, as the old government remains in place, but without the right to “process laws in the Assembly”.

According to Peci, the current government still “has all the powers to manage the situation with Covid–19”, including the right to pass administrative instructions, to manage the outbreak.

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

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Coronavirus in the Balkans: Can disasters defeat hatred? (DW)

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the cities of Belgrade and Sarajevo are expressing strong and visible support for Croatia. For the first time in 30 years solidarity and care are overshadowing hatred in the Western Balkans.

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

Foreign nationals allowed to remain in Serbia until the end of the state of emergency (Tanjug, B92)

Serbian Government made a decision on the status of foreign nationals. At the proposal of the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy, the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Decision on the Status of Foreign Nationals in the Republic of Serbia during the State of Emergency.

The Decision on the Status of Foreign Nationals in the Republic of Serbia during a State of Emergency stipulates that foreign nationals who lawfully resided in the Republic of Serbia on the basis of any of the grounds prescribed by the Law on Foreigners, may lawfully stay in the Republic Serbia while the decision is in force or during the state of emergency, without the obligation to initiate proceedings to further determine their status.

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

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