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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, 30 March 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, March 30, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• Thaci insists on broad-based government (media)
• Nagavci: 82 MP votes for no-confidence motion, opened way to Thaci’s plans (Koha)
• LDK’s Hoti: Parties have two options (media)
• Bahtiri denies reports, “I am man of peace” (Klan Kosova)
• 97 cases of coronavirus in Kosovo (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• National Convention on the EU: Establish cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo in combating the coronavirus pandemic (Kontakt plus radio, KIM radio, RTK2)
• EU secures 38 million Euro in aid to Western Balkans (N1)
• Thaci with Quint ambassadors instead of consulting the political parties (KoSSev)
• Vucic: Within 3 to 4 days decision on a 24-hour curfew (Prva TV, B92)
• In Serbia, 82 new cases of coronavirus, total of 741 (B92)
• Two persons in northern Kosovo tested positive for Covid-19 (media)
• Ivanovic: Number of persons infected with coronavirus will increase (media)
• EUROPOL: How criminals profit from the Covid-19 pandemic (KoSSev, Beta)
• Two Serb families from Banje and Osojane villages robbed (Radio KIM)

Opinion:

• Jeffrey Sachs: The pandemic crisis will last two years, and things will no longer be the same (NMagazin)

International:

• Fall of the reform government in Kosovo: State crisis in the midst of Corona crisis (Der Spiegel)

Humanitarian/Development:

• COVID-19 pandemic adversely affects digital rights in the Balkans (globalvoices.org)
• China: End of epidemic (B92, Sputnik)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Thaci insists on broad-based government (media)
  • Nagavci: 82 MP votes for no-confidence motion, opened way to Thaci’s plans (Koha)
  • LDK’s Hoti: Parties have two options (media)
  • Bahtiri denies reports, “I am man of peace” (Klan Kosova)
  • 97 cases of coronavirus in Kosovo (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • National Convention on the EU: Establish cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo in combating the coronavirus pandemic (Kontakt plus radio, KIM radio, RTK2)
  • EU secures 38 million Euro in aid to Western Balkans (N1)
  • Thaci with Quint ambassadors instead of consulting the political parties (KoSSev)
  • Vucic: Within 3 to 4 days decision on a 24-hour curfew (Prva TV, B92)
  • In Serbia, 82 new cases of coronavirus, total of 741 (B92)
  • Two persons in northern Kosovo tested positive for Covid-19 (media)
  • Ivanovic: Number of persons infected with coronavirus will increase (media)
  • EUROPOL: How criminals profit from the Covid-19 pandemic (KoSSev, Beta)
  • Two Serb families from Banje and Osojane villages robbed (Radio KIM)

Opinion:

  • Jeffrey Sachs: The pandemic crisis will last two years, and things will no longer be the same (NMagazin)

International:

  • Fall of the reform government in Kosovo: State crisis in the midst of Corona crisis (Der Spiegel)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • COVID-19 pandemic adversely affects digital rights in the Balkans (globalvoices.org)
  • China: End of epidemic (B92, Sputnik)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Thaci insists on broad-based government (media)

All media report that Kosovo President Hashim Thaci met the Quint and EU ambassadors in Pristina today to inform them about the steps following the no-confidence motion against the Kurti-led government.

Thaci said he would undertake steps in necessary steps in line with the Constitution of Kosovo and that he would consult all parliamentary steps on the future course of action.

“The President said Kosovo needs a government that will bring stability, political and civic unity, a broad-based government with a clear Euro-Atlantic orientation,” the President’s Office said in a statement.

Nagavci: 82 MP votes for no-confidence motion, opened way to Thaci’s plans (Koha)

Deputy Speaker of the Assembly of Kosovo and deputy leader of the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) Arberie Nagavci said 82 MPs who voted for the no-confidence motion, gathered to impede war against crime and corruption in order to open way to Thaci’s scenarios.

“So, do not give the number the legitimacy they do not have, because at least 24 LDK MPs promised they would govern with LVV to combat crime and corruption and that they would send PAN political parties to opposition. While now, they are openly expressing the LDK’s will to govern with former PAN political parties, depending completely on the Serbian List, while PDK’s statements that they will remain in opposition, are in fact only an attempt to clean this political party, by having available votes of each-other any time when required. The power of numbers does not justify actions without principals, deceit of the electorate and neither does the vain propaganda about anti-Americanism,” she said.

Nagavci further accused LDK for leaving the citizens alone at the most difficult days for the human kind. 

LDK’s Hoti: Parties have two options (media)

Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) senior member and former Prime Minister, Avdullah Hoti, said today that political parties have two options after the no-confidence motion against the government.

Hoti said the parties must answer President Thaci’s call for consultations.

“The political parties in these consultations need to choose from the two following options. First, if there is readiness to form a new parliamentary majority, then the parties that form this majority propose a new government to the Assembly. Second, if there is no readiness to form this parliamentary majority, the parties should then agree on a date for elections, at a convenient time after this situation is overcome,” Hoti wrote in a Facebook post.

Bahtiri denies reports, “I am man of peace” (Klan Kosova)

Mitrovica South Mayor Agim Bahtiri in an interview for Klan Kosova denied reports according to which he called for a civil conflict. He said he was always a man of peace and that he worked hard for peace and stability in Mitrovica.

Some media had earlier quoted Bahtiri as saying that if a government is formed without going to elections first, there could be a conflict between Albanians.

97 cases of coronavirus in Kosovo (media)

Several news websites report that there are 94 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Kosovo so far. One person has been confirmed to have recovered from the virus and there has been only one fatality. Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health issued a statement today calling on the elderly not to leave their homes and to their relatives to take care of their supplies so that they do not have to go out.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

National Convention on the EU: Establish cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo in combating the coronavirus pandemic (Kontakt plus radio, KIM radio, RTK2)

The Working Group of the National Convention on the European Union for Chapter 35 (NCEU), calls on the competent authorities of Serbia and Kosovo to establish direct and effective cooperation in combating the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, reported Kontakt plus radio. 

To this end, the Chapter 35 Task Force calls for the establishment of communication channels between crisis headquarters’ staff to combat the coronavirus in Serbia and Kosovo, which would allow the exchange of information about the scale of the pandemic on a daily basis.

The Working Group also calls on the competent authorities to establish procedures for cooperation between medical facilities and medical teams, as well as procedures for mutual assistance in the hospital treatment of patients infected with coronavirus.

The NCEU Working Group emphasizes the need to regulate the regime of movement through integrated administrative crossings during the pandemic to allow the unhindered movement of ambulances and medical teams.

It is also necessary to allow the passage of consumer goods, especially food, medicines, medical supplies, disinfectants and other necessities for a normal life, the statement said.

The Chapter 35 Working Group estimates that a joint approach and active cooperation in combating the pandemic in Serbia and Kosovo can greatly contribute to the reconciliation of the two societies, and this opportunity should certainly not be missed.

EU secures 38 million Euro in aid to Western Balkans (N1)

The European Commission has secured 38 million Euro in immediate support for the Western Balkans as part of efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, spokeswoman Ana Pisonero said on Monday.

“As part of the global response to the coronavirus outbreak we are preparing to help our partners, the EU is mobilising €38 million in immediate support to the Western Balkans and redirecting 374 million to help their socio-economic recovery,” Pisonero wrote on her Twitter account.

A Commission press release quoted Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi as saying that: “Europe is facing an unprecedented public health crisis, but even in these difficult times we will always be there for our Western Balkan partners, who belong in the EU. We will help our partners to cover their immediate needs for their health systems, as well as promote longer term measures to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus crisis and support small and medium sized enterprises in the region.”

The press release added that the Commission is responding to immediate needs at the request of those partners, by supporting the supply of medical devices and personal equipment, such as ventilators, laboratory kits, masks, goggles, gowns, and safety suits.

“The EU will assist Albania and North Macedonia to cover the immediate needs of their public health systems with up to €4 million each, Bosnia and Herzegovina with €7 million, meanwhile Montenegro will receive up to €3 million, Kosovo up to €5 million and up to €15 million will go to Serbia, the most affected country until now,” it added.

The Commission is including the Western Balkans in EU initiatives to tackle the coronavirus crisis such as joint procurement schemes, has accelerated the implementation of a project with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and will redirect funds from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) to help the recovery in the Western Balkans which includes support to the private sector, increasing social protection, with specific attention to vulnerable groups, and strengthening the public health sector.

The press release specified that the Commission will mobilise up to €46.7 million to support the social and economic recovery of Albania, €73.5 million for Bosnia and Herzegovina, €50 million for Montenegro, whilst North Macedonia will benefit from €62 million, Serbia from €78.4 million and Kosovo will receive up to €63 million.

The Commission has included EU-Western Balkans border-crossings along the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) in its Communication on “Green Lanes” and supports the expanding of the green lanes in the region.

See at: https://bit.ly/2UMhfY3

Thaci with Quint ambassadors instead of consulting the political parties (KoSSev)

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci met with ambassadors of the Quint countries and the EU ambassador in Pristina today to inform them of the steps he will take after the Kosovo Assembly last week declared no confidence in Kurti’s government. Thaci previously announced that he was about to start consultations with parties today to form a new government, to which Vetevendosje reminded him that this was a violation of the Constitution, reports portal KoSSev today.

Thaci said that after a vote of no confidence in the government on March 25, he would “continuously take steps in accordance with the Constitution of Kosovo, the laws of Kosovo and the duties of the President.” 

He said what he had already announced for today, though it had not yet happened – he would hold consultations with all parliamentary parties this week to get “suggestions and advice on which path to follow, based on the constitution and law ”and stressed that a decision would be made on “the best option to get out of the situation” after the fall of the government.

The Kosovo President’s Office said in a statement that ” the announcement from the assembly arrived at the end of business hours on Friday, making it impossible to invite parliamentary parties to consult on Monday. The president will invite them for consultations in the next few days”.  

However, Kurti made it clear to him that the Kosovo constitution was clear, and that was – elections.

“There is a fundamental difference between a situation where the prime minister resigns and the one in which the assembly votes no confidence in the government. In the first case, we have a lack of will or ability expressed alone by the outgoing Prime Minister. In the second case, the government and the prime minister are in power, there is no void until new elections, so this has no impact on the stability and functioning of the state. So, in the second case like ours is now, we need a new Assembly for a new government,” Kurti explained yesterday.

Vucic: Within 3 to 4 days decision on a 24-hour curfew (Prva TV, B92)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic was a guest speaker with Prva TV broadcast “Theme” where he spoke about the current situation of coronavirus pandemic and measures Serbia is implementing to fight it back, B92 reports. 

“If I said I feel good, I wouldn’t be completely honest, if I said I feel bad, I wouldn’t motivate people”, he answered at the beginning of the show when asked how he felt. “I am happy if I sometimes bring discomfort, in a situation like this, it is my job,” Vucic added, explaining that he had been given the role of “a bad cop.”

He states that these days the police are begging people to go home after the curfew, explaining that there was already a crowd at Gazela Bridge (Belgrade) yesterday, and that is why the police wrote penalties today.

Vucic also said that because of 8 to 10 percent of people who do not respect the measures, everyone else must comply with more restrictive measures. “Do you want justice or do you want to stay alive?”, he asked.

When asked how a month ago the tone was optimistic, while today it is so pessimistic, Vucic responded he understands the political need to show that someone is guilty, explaining Dr Nestorovic’s optimistic tone.

“In a situation like this, I have to say that I’m not interested in what someone says, but just what the doctors say,” he explains.

“I will propose to the Government a 24-hour curfew,” he said, adding, “No one will be able to get on the street. At all.”

Asked how people would go to the stores for the supplies, he replied, “The same as the pensioners don’t go now,” but also added that he doesn’t know how it would really work.

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

In Serbia, 82 new cases of coronavirus, total of 741 (B92)

A total of 741 confirmed COVID-19 cases were registered in Serbia by 3 pm on March 29, 2020, B92 reports.

Thus, the number of infected persons from 659 increased to 741.

From the last report to 3 pm, samples of 376 persons were tested, 82 of which were positive and 294 negative for the new coronavirus.

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

Two persons in northern Kosovo tested positive for Covid-19 (media)

Mitrovica North health officials said that two out of four samples tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday, adding that patients are from Mitrovica North and a village in Leposavic municipality.

Mitrovica epidemiologist Aleksandar Antonijevic said the patients were placed at the infectious diseases ward of the Mitrovica North Clinical Centre and that patients were in stable condition. Serbian media based in Kosovo reported afterwards that the infected patients were transported to Nis health centre for further treatment.

Three people in the Serb-majority parts of Kosovo were infected with the coronavirus, media recalled.  

Ivanovic: Number of persons infected with coronavirus will increase (media)

Director of the Clinical Hospital Centre in Mitrovica North, Milan Ivanovic told RTS it is certain that the number of persons infected with coronavirus would increase. There were two confirmed cases in northern Kosovo on Sunday. Ivanovic pointed out that about a hundred people have been in contact with people whose infection has been confirmed, adding that they are in self-isolation now.

“It is certain that, once the first cases of infection have been detected, the number of infected will increase and the epidemiologists are searching for those that were in contact and will then order the measures which will be taken,” Ivanovic noted.

Regarding the Crisis Management Committee’s decision to ban mass gatherings, Ivanovic stated that it was violated at several wedding celebrations that saw up to 300 people, and thus the number of the infected would increase.

Talking about the capacity for admission of patients in Mitrovica North, Ivanovic said there are 16 beds in the Infectious Diseases Unit, and that up to 30 beds could be used for this purpose at the Pulmonary Disease Ward.

“We are also preparing a dormitory with a hundred or so beds that will accommodate a number of people who are ill,” he said. According to him, people who are positive and have a difficult clinical situation will be sent to regional clinical centers in Nis and Kragujevac.

Asked if there was any panic, Ivanovic responded ”this is a small environment” and that a large number of people were in contact and there was uncertainty and fear, but not panic.

EUROPOL: How criminals profit from the Covid-19 pandemic (KoSSev, Beta)

During this unprecedented crisis, governments across Europe are intensifying their efforts to combat the global spread of the coronavirus by enacting various measures to support public health systems, safeguard the economy and to ensure public order and safety.

A number of these measures have a significant impact on the serious and organised crime landscape. Criminals have been quick to seize opportunities to exploit the crisis by adapting their modi operandi or engaging in new criminal activities. 

See the full statement at: https://bit.ly/2QRXnBC

Two Serb families from Banje and Osojane villages robbed (Radio KIM)

The robberies that occurred on Friday night in the villages of Banje and Osojane, despite a ban on movement, have caused distress among the residents, Radio Gorazdevac reports.

The household of Ivan Zdravkovic in the village of Banje, Srbica municipality, was targeted on Friday. Household appliances, agricultural equipment and tools were stolen from a workshop, located next to the house, Radio Gorazdevac reports. The damage is estimated at EUR three thousand.

Ivan Zdravkovic lives in the village with his wife and two children. The case is reported to the police.

Meanwhile, a vehicle belonging to Novica Ostojic from Osojane village was stolen the same evening. Novica Ostojic lives with a wife and child in the village. The case is reported to the police, Radio Gorazdevac reports. 

 

 

Opinion:

 

Jeffrey Sachs: The pandemic crisis will last two years, and things will no longer be the same (NMagazin)

Economist and University of Columbia professor Jeffrey Sachs said that the coronavirus had caused consequences in the New York City like a devastating earthquake or tsunami, and that the post-pandemic crisis in the world would last for at least two years and “things will never be the same again, because a new normal will be created”.

“New York is the epicenter of the epidemic today. Hospitals are full, people are dying, not enough equipment, the city is closed, but it’s happening in other parts of the world,” said Sachs said during a video conference with the president of the Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development (CIRSD) and the People’s Party, Vuk Jeremic.

CIRSD has launched a series entitled “Corona Dialogues” in which Jeremic will speak with the world’s most prominent experts of various professions and attitudes in order to better understand the coronavirus pandemic and the consequences globally.

Sachs said the fall in gross domestic product due to the pandemic crisis will be “the steepest recorded in recent history”, as it will be between 10 and 30 percent in the second quarter of 2020.

“The drop due to trade disruption and supply problems is likely to continue in the next year, or two years. States may exit quarantine in the next 60 to 90 days, but normality will not return for at least another year or two. We will not, however, simply return in the pre-pandemic period, a ‘new normal’ will be established,” Sachs said.

Sachs pointed out that the disturbances currently occurring are serious and lasting, and that it will be difficult for poor states to make up for damage in the short term and that life will not be the same as before the pandemic.

“The economy will be restructured, more business and commerce will be done online, and the number of business trips will certainly be reduced,” Sachs said. 

Sachs said that the assumptions of the world’s epidemiologists say that in a few weeks or months, half of the world’s population could be infected if the virus spread freely, and in some countries, it would be up to 80 percent infected.

“The US population is of 327 million people, and in an uncontrolled epidemic it could infect 250 million people, of which 25 million would be taken care of in hospitals and two to three million would die. These are unimaginable numbers. It might be attempted with the experience of China, which, according to available data, completely quarantined the spread of the virus, but the question remains whether that data is correct,” Sachs said. 

Jeremic said the public mentions that the crisis caused by the pandemic would be similar to the one in the third decade of the 20th century and asked Sachs whether democracy would be the victim of a crisis, that is what is the danger of establishing a “big brother community”.

Sachs replied that he believed that basic democratic institutions were not “fatally impaired”, and that, on the other hand, it would be bad news for institutions if it turned out that authoritarian regimes had dealt with the pandemic crisis, and that democratic orders had proved ineffective.

 

 

International

 

Fall of the reform government in Kosovo: State crisis in the midst of Corona crisis (Der Spiegel)

Officially, the government of the reform politician Kurti was overthrown due to its corona crisis management in Kosovo. However, in the background, an intrigue apparently took place in which the USA is also said to be involved.

Kosovo, one of the poorest European countries, is worried these days. It has not yet been severely affected by the Corona epidemic. But the number of people infected is rising. And even with a few dozen intensive care patients, the country’s ailing health system would be overtaxed – almost all hospitals lack staff and medical equipment, and patients often have to bring their own medication and food.

It is precisely in this situation, which so urgently needs effective and unified crisis management, that the Kosovar political establishment in the country has triggered a serious national crisis: On the night of Thursday a large majority of members of parliament voted in favour of a motion of no-confidence against the government of the left-wing reform politician Albin Kurti. The government has thus been overthrown and is now only exercising its mandate provisionally. It was the first real reform government in Kosovo since the end of the war twenty years ago – and only 51 days in office.

Kurti’s coalition partner, the “Democratic League of Kosovo” (LDK), had tabled a motion of no confidence. The nominal reason was an allegedly bad and illegal corona crisis management by the government. In the background, however, an intrigue was clearly taking place, instigated jointly by Kurti’s domestic opponents and US diplomacy.

Both sides want to get rid of the prime minister for their own reasons:

Domestically, Kurti’s party Vetevendosje (self-determination) stands for a strict anti-corruption policy, transparent governance and reforms in the social, health and education sectors. For the majority of the leadership at the conservative coalition partner LDK, this is obviously going too far.

On the other hand, Kurti speaks out against secret diplomatic solutions in the conflict resolution with Serbia – such as the Serbian-Kosovar territorial exchange sought by the USA. US President Donald Trump, however, wants to achieve a quick solution to the decades-long conflict between Kosovo and Serbia, probably in order to sell it as a diplomatic tour de force in view of his intended re-election in November.

Mirrors online

In recent weeks, an open conflict has arisen between Kurti and Richard Grenell, the US President’s special envoy to Kosovo. Grenell called on Kurti to withdraw punitive duties on Serbian imports without preconditions. Kurti accepted this only in part – in return for the complete lifting of customs duties, he demanded concessions from Serbia, for example in diplomatic matters.

The prelude to the overthrow of the Kurti government last week was the deposition of LDK Interior Minister Agim Veliu. Kurti dismissed him because he wanted to declare a state of emergency in the country on his own because of the Corona crisis. This would have transferred numerous executive powers to President Hashim Thaci, who is a bitter opponent of Kurti and one of the heads of the corrupt Kosovar political establishment. However, Kurtis government has imposed restrictions such as bans on assembly and exit without declaring a state of emergency.

The fall of Kurtis is described by the Green MEP and Kosovo rapporteur of the European Parliament, Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, in an interview with the magazine SPIEGEL as a “completely irresponsible political manoeuvre”. “The EU should now show a stance and take diplomatic leadership in Kosovo,” she demands.

Kurti writes in an answer to questions by SPIEGEL that his government was overthrown by a “corrupt political elite” that has put its personal interests first for many years. “Now that things have changed during my mandate, they find it difficult to come to terms with it.” However, Kurti is holding back his criticism of US diplomacy. He believes that US President Trump’s special envoy to Kosovo has been “misled by some Kosovo political leaders”, Kurti said.

New forms of vociferous protest

It is completely unclear how the country will continue. Both new elections and the formation of a new coalition would be possible. It is likely to take months before a solution emerges – during this time the provisional government will be able to manage the Corona crisis, but will not be able to pass any reforms.

What the people of Kosovo think of this state crisis and its political establishment is being shown creatively on balconies and windows of their homes because of the current ban on assembly: In the past few days hundreds of people in the Kosovar capital repeatedly arranged to meet for “pot concerts” – together they banged with cooking spoons on pots and frying pans. The noise was sometimes deafening. The motto of the protesters: “We will not be silent!”

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

COVID-19 pandemic adversely affects digital rights in the Balkans (globalvoices.org)

Cases of arbitrary arrests, surveillance, phone tapping, privacy breaches and other digital rights violations have drastically increased in Central and Southeast Europe as governments started imposing emergency legislation to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. Belgrade-based Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the digital rights organization SHARE Foundation have started a blog titled ”Digital Rights in the Time of COVID-19” documenting these developments.

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

China: End of epidemic (B92, Sputnik)

A coronavirus epidemic has stopped in China, according to Health Affairs Committee official Mi Feng, B92 reports.  “The number of confirmed cases of infection is less than 3.000. The spread of the epidemic in China has been completely stopped,” Mi Feng is quoted as saying.

Earlier, the media reported that in China’s Hubei province (except Wuhan), known as the coronavirus hotspot, after two months, domestic passenger air traffic was restored. China has a total of over 82.000 infected and 3.300 dead. 75.448 people were cured.

The virus started spreading towards the end of 2019, and the Chinese epidemic of the virus was officially reported on January 24, 2020.

Earlier on Sunday, it was announced that there was a danger of a second wave of coronavirus outbreak in China.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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