Albanian Language Media:
- Two new cases with coronavirus confirmed (media)
- Import tariff to be lifted on April 1, full reciprocity to enter into force (RFE)
- Svecla informs OSCE chief on measures to combat COVID-19 (RTK)
- Serbs don’t report coronavirus cases to Kosovo institutions (Radio Free Europe)
- Kosovo budget risks losing €200 million (Radio Free Europe)
- EU allocates €63 million for Kosovo’s economic recovery (RTK)
- Ahmeti: Interior Ministry decided to ban public transport Kosovo-wide (Koha)
Serbian Language Media:
- Djuric: We expect more confirmed cases (Kosovo Online)
- Epidemiologists to arrive to Mitrovica North (KIM radio, Kontakt plus radio)
- Spiric: One more person in Mitrovica North infected with Covid-19 (Radio kontakt plus, KoSSev)
- Serwer: New elections are not possible in Kosovo, Richard Grenell’s attention doesn’t mean much (Kosovo Online)
- New 44 confirmed coronavirus cases in Serbia, with 3 more deaths yesterday (B92)
- “Serious deterioration – a prerequisite for introducing 24-hour curfew” (B92, N1)
- Lesson No 1 From Pandemic – We’re all Interdependent (Balkan Insight)
- Thaci Push for Unity Government in Kosovo Deemed Futile (Balkan Insight)
- Kosovo Specialist Chambers: Providing compensations for victims (EWB)
- Kosovo-Serbia Agreement: Why is the Trump Administration Fast-Tracking a Hasty Deal? (Medium.com)
- Dismantling democracy? Virus used as excuse to quell dissent (AP)
- Belgrade Takes Charge of Kosovo Serbs With COVID-19 (Balkan Insight)
- Domestic violence shelters keeping their heads above water during pandemic (Prishtina Insight)
- Two men arrested for domestic violence in Istog (Express)
Albanian Language Media
Two new cases with coronavirus confirmed (media)
All news websites report that another two cases with coronavirus have been confirmed today by Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health. One case is from Gjakova and the other is from Prizren. A health director in Prizren took to Facebook to say that the infected person came from abroad and that he stayed in self-isolation for two weeks.
The total number of people infected with the virus in Kosovo is now 112.
The Health Ministry informed that 40 patients are being treated at the Infectious Disease Clinic. 34 of them are in a stable condition while 6 of them need oxygen therapy and are under intensive care. The Ministry also informs that three nurses are infected so far.
Director of Kosovo’s National Health Care Institute Naser Ramadani said 2242 contacts with coronavirus cases are under observation.
Infectious disease specialist Sali Ahmeti spoke about the confirmation of 12 new cases of coronavirus in Kosovo. “The new cases are mostly contact cases. The new hotspots are Fushë Kosovë and Kamenica, while other locations are already known ”.
“It’s an expected development. It is an active research that the Institute does. It’s an increase, but not unexpected. We are still waiting for an increase in the number of cases. Citizens have to be patient for a few more days and this situation will pass. “
Acting government decides to allocate 130 Euros for those who lose their jobs. The government of Kosovo has approved the Emergency Fiscal Package, which is expected to support businesses, pensioners, members of social schemes, municipalities and additional payments to state administration employees.
During the last 24 hours, Kosovo Police arrested 47 individuals who did not respect curfew hours.
The Independent Trade Union of the Private Sector of Kosovo, through a press conference, has announced that many companies are firing workers. It also estimates that government-approved emergency packages are not enough.
RTK reports that 24 people have volunteered to help quarantined people at the students center. They help with logistics and food distribution on daily bases.
EXPERT company for professional cleaning and maintenance has taken preventive measures by disinfecting residential complexes in order to prevent the spread of the virus. To date it has disinfected more than 130 residential buildings voluntarily.
Import tariff to be lifted on April 1, full reciprocity to enter into force (RFE)
The news website reports that Kosovo’s acting government is expected to fully lift the import tariff on Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and replace it with measures of full trade and political reciprocity on April 1.
Kosovo’s acting Deputy Prime Minister, Haki Abazi, told Radio Free Europe that the measures will be introduced based on actions by Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina vis-à-vis Kosovo.
“All these measures are on the level of real reciprocity in response to Serbia’s policies toward goods and trade from Kosovo,” he said. “These measures mainly relate to the movement of people, cars, transport vehicles and the fact that Serbia does not recognize Kosovo license plates and forces Kosovo citizens to replace theirs with provisional documents … There are also cases when during the transport of goods through Serbian territory destined for EU member states, businesses face barriers that impede the free movement of goods in Serbian territory”.
Abazi also said that Serbia has repeatedly applied measures that have damaged Kosovo producers and that it failed to respect the CEFTA agreement. “The decisions of Kosovo institutions are aimed at protecting our country’s interests. Serbia has applied non-tariff barriers despite the fact that we have the CEFTA agreement,” he said.
Abazi highlighted “a positive development” in the conversation between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic with the latter expressing readiness to discuss the removal of non-tariff barriers in the dialogue process.
Kosovo Customs Services officials said they are ready to implement any decision taken by the central government. A customs spokesman told the news website: “the Customs implements measures taken by the Government of Kosovo. The Customs will fully respect the decision on reciprocity and any other decision taken by the government”.
Svecla informs OSCE chief on measures to combat COVID-19 (RTK)
Acting Minister of Interior and Public Administration who is also Coordinator of the Inter-Institutional Group for Management of Incidents, Xhelal Svecla, hosted a meeting with the chief of the OSCE mission in Kosovo, Ambassador Jan Braathu.
They discussed the recent situation created by the Covid-19 pandemic with a focus on the decisions made by the government of Kosovo to prevent the spread of the virus.
Svecla informed Ambassador Braathu with all the undertaken steps, by activating the National Emergency Plan.
On this occasion Sveçla briefed Ambassador Braathu on all steps undertaken by the Ministry, including activating the National Response Plan, where all cases are coordinated by the Inter-Institutional Incident Management Group.
Braathu on the other hand valued the work commenced by Kosovo institutions and management of this situation and expressed OSCE’s commitment to continue with support of the institutions of Kosovo, especially the Ministry for Internal Affairs and Public Administration.
Serbs don’t report coronavirus cases to Kosovo institutions (Radio Free Europe)
Kosovo’s health institutions are not managing to monitor cases of people infected with the coronavirus in mainly Serb-inhabited municipalities and settlements, as local authorities in these regions are not informing the authorities in Pristina, the news website reports.
The health institutions in Serb municipalities in Kosovo operate under Serbia’s healthcare system. The three persons infected so far in the Serb settlements have been sent for medical treatment to Nis, Serbia, following recommendations by the Serbian Ministry of Health.
Officials of the Ministry of Health in Kosovo say the Infectious Clinic in Prishtina treats patients regardless of their ethnicity but that so far, no member from the Serb community has been to the clinic.
“So far health institutions from Serb settlements have not reported any coronavirus cases to us, even though according to the law on the prevention and combating of infectious diseases they are obliged to report cases to the National Institute for Public Health,” the Ministry of Health said in a written reply.
Kosovo budget risks losing €200 million (Radio Free Europe)
The news website reports that measures by Kosovo’s authorities to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, such as restricting economic activities, erasing and postponing tax obligations and also other measures, will have an impact on the state budget.
Kosovo’s acting Minister of Finance and Transfers, Besnik Bislimi, said according to their estimates the state budget could have around €200 less revenues.
“Depending on the duration of the pandemic, in annual terms, our estimates show a potential cumulative drop in tax revenues from 7,5 to 12,5 percent in the annual budget. In monetary terms, this means that the state budget could have €200 million less in revenues compared to calculations made in February,” Bislimi said.
Kosovo Tax Administration General Director Ilir Murtezaj told Radio Free Europe that they have yet to make their estimates but that they have noticed a decrease in revenues in March. He said as a result of the pandemic there will be €14 million less of revenues in March.
The pandemic is expected to have less of an impact on the customs revenues. Kosovo Customs spokesman Adriatik Stavileci told the news website that so far, they have not noticed a decrease in customs revenues but that there is a decrease in the import of goods.
EU allocates €63 million for Kosovo’s economic recovery (RTK)
The European Union has allocated €63 million for Kosovo as a package for economic recovery following the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic. Five million Euros are allocated for immediate support of the health sector, while €63 for the support of the social and economic recovery.
The news was made public by the President of the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce, Berat Rukiqi, saying that more investments should be made in the private sector.
“Another positive news from the EU. €63 million for economic recovery. But not enough. There is also a need to reprogram Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance funds. Less technical assistance from these funds, and more investment in private sector projects,” Rukiqi wrote on Facebook.
Ahmeti: Interior Ministry decided to ban public transport Kosovo-wide (Koha)
Prishtina Mayor Shpend Ahmeti took to Facebook today to say that he has received a decision from the Ministry of Interior Affairs saying that public transport has been banned all over Kosovo, the news website reports. Ahmeti said he was not consulted on the matter and he called for better coordination between relevant institutions.
“We have been the biggest supporters of the restrictive measures and we have also supported every decision made by the central level, but this decision was made without any consultation, neither with the municipality of Prishtina nor with other municipalities,” Ahmeti writes. “Coordination is needed between all institutions. We are all soldiers in one battle. I hope the government will add several more millions of funds in subsidies for the companies of public transport all over Kosovo”.
Serbian Language Media
Djuric: We expect more confirmed cases (Kosovo Online)
Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric told portal Kosovo Online that more confirmed cases of coronavirus in northern Kosovo can be expected throughout the day and tomorrow.
Djuric says there is a great danger if people do not adhere to the recommendations of Serbian state authorities, adding that “if we do not stay at home, we risk this contagion spreading uncontrollably in the north and other parts of Kosovo”.
He appeals that this is not a game or a harmless thing, noting that some have shown a tendency towards irresponsible behavior in previous days, which makes things even worse.
”I do not need to tell you that in Kosovo and Metohija we are facing twice as much problems than in other parts of Serbia because of the situation in which we have all been living together for the past 20 years, because of the conditions in which our health care institutions have been functioning for over 20 years,” says Djuric for the Kosovo Online portal.
“A team of Belgrade epidemiologists will come to Kosovska Mitrovica today to help in the necessary preparations for the creation of a hospital for the patients, who are most likely to be established in one of the sports halls in northern Kosovo similar to some in central Kosovo and Pomoravlje district in Serbian communities,” he emphasized.
”If each of us does not minimize going out, people over the age of 65 should not go outside, but anyone else should also avoid, unless it is most necessary. Not only during the curfew hours.”
“I hope that in the coming days, we will show wisdom, sympathy and a willingness to be self-disciplined. Nothing can help us unless we stay at home. Thank you and may God help us all,” Djuric said.
Epidemiologists to arrive to Mitrovica North (KIM radio, Kontakt plus radio)
Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric announced that the Ministry of Health of Serbia will send a team of epidemiologists to North Mitrovica to assist in organizing the admission of patients with a lighter clinical picture at the Mitrovica Clinical Hospital Center, reported Serbian media in Kosovo.
Patients with a more severe clinical picture will be referred to clinical centers in Kragujevac and Nis for now, Djuric announced on Instagram.
“Medical gases for our hospitals have been shipped to KiM,” Djuric said, adding that a donation from the Human Women Association has arrived to Kosovska Kamenica, consisting of protective masks.
Spiric: One more person in Mitrovica North infected with Covid-19 (Radio kontakt plus, KoSSev)
One of the prison staffers in Mitrovica North is infected with Covid-19, President of Interim Municipal Council Aleksandar Spiric said, Radio kontakt plus reports.
According to Spiric seven more prison staffers have similar symptoms, and a crew from Pristina would test all the workers by the end of the day, given that Pristina services are responsible for their testing.
The prison staff infected with Covid-19 will be transferred to the Clinical Center in Nis, Spiric said in a press conference.
“It is important that all those who were in contact with the people confirmed to be infected with Covid-19 contact the epidemiologists as soon as possible. We need to be responsible and do not leave the houses without need,” Spiric said.
Given that prison staffers attended the wedding celebration on March 14, in Zvecan, where according to doubts the first person from the north got infected, Spiric appealed to all citizens who have any symptoms to contact the epidemiologists.
Meanwhile, the Serbian media reported that one more case of Covid-19 infection was confirmed in Mitrovica North and the confirmation came from the “Torlak” Institute in Belgrade.
Aleksandar Antonijevic, an epidemiologist told KoSSev portal this is the fifth confirmed case in the Serb-majority settlements, one in the south and four in the north. He added the sample was sent for testing on Friday, and the patient is from Mitrovica North.
Serwer: New elections are not possible in Kosovo, Richard Grenell’s attention doesn’t mean much (Kosovo Online)
While the whole world stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pristina is undergoing a major political crisis following a vote of no confidence in the government of Albin Kurti, and John Hopkins University professor Daniel Server spoke to the portal Kosovo Online about whether he expects early elections or the formation of a new government in Pristina.
“Holding an election during the pandemic of Covid-19 does not seem certain. I wouldn’t be surprised if isolation measures take longer than people expect. It is not clear to me personally how the new coalition could form a government, but of course it depends on decisions that will be clear when they are announced publicly.”
Will the international community, which is faced with a pandemic, place Kosovo low on its priority list?
-Kosovo is already very low on the priority list now. The current situation is pushing Kosovo even lower. Don’t make the mistake of interpreting Grenell’s attention as a real priority. He is just trying to achieve something that will improve job prospects.
How would you rate the moves by governments to impose curfew over a pandemic, if you compare Kosovo, Serbia and the US?
-Every government must make decisions according to what is appropriate in a particular context. Kosovo is like New York because people live very close together, not, like in Wyoming, far from each other. There is no curfew here in Washington, but only companies that are essential are open, and we try to keep three meters from each other. In the US, we see an exponential increase in the number of cases infected with Covid-19. It will take at least a month before people start returning to work.
Do you expect this crisis to push the Western Balkans away from the EU?
– No, really. In fact, the EU decided to open negotiations with Albania and Northern Macedonia during the outbreak. What I think is that it will be very significant how the candidate countries will show their ability to effectively deal with Covid-19.
New 44 confirmed coronavirus cases in Serbia, with 3 more deaths yesterday (B92)
According to data from 3 pm yesterday, another 44, a total of 785 people, were infected in Serbia.
Three more have died, according to the latest report.
There are 62 patients on the respirator.
The number of positive cases is declining, but according to Dr Predrag Kon, we must not relax.
“Of course it’s good news, but I dare not say it’s a reliable sign since it’s only two days away, it would be ideal to continue”, Dr Kon said.
The situation in Serbia is better than in this period – on the 25th day in Italy.
“It’s already been the fourth week, and I can say with moderate optimism that it’s not bad,” says Dr Kon concluded.
Most patients are in the age group 25-55, especially in Belgrade. Dr Kon also states that so far, 9 men and 7 women have died, with a 2.04 percent mortality rate.
When asked how he commented on pay cuts for medical professionals in isolation, Dr Kon stated that he should not comment on it.
“If exposure occurred in the workplace, it is certain that there can be no reduction in pay,” adds Dr Darija Kisic Tepavcevic, but explains that it all depends on individual cases.
“Everyone has to be careful, it’s a new virus, we don’t have collective immunity,” Dr Ivana Milosevic said, adding that obesity is one of the risk factors.
“Serious deterioration – a prerequisite for introducing 24-hour curfew” (B92, N1)
Epidemiologist Predrag Kon said that imposing a 24-hour ban on movement is not necessary if citizens are disciplined, B92 reports.
Kon told N1 TV that the prerequisite for the introduction of a 24-hour restraining order was “a serious deterioration of the situation” and said it meant “a sudden jump in the number of infected and dead”.
“It is theoretically and practically completely impossible if there is no contact within 24 hours in 14 days for the virus to survive. That would make sense if there were a sudden jump and a consequent increase in dying, which is not possible to happen. That is the last option”, he said.
Kon said that in five or seven days, in 90 percent of cases, incubation would take place to see if there was a serious fall in newly infected, or whether the numbers were reduced due to the blockage at the Torlak Institute.
See at: https://bit.ly/2wSgQLD
Lesson No 1 From Pandemic – We’re all Interdependent (Balkan Insight)
The coronavirus outbreak is a wake-up reminder to all of us that states can’t deal with global challenges alone – and that global cooperation is crucial, Vesko Garcevic writes for Balkan Insight.
With the surge of people infected by the COVID-19 virus, and the US leading the world in confirmed cases, I can’t but remember Steven Soderbergh’s chilling 2011 movie Contagion.
Praised by scientists for its accuracy, it worries me with its grim story about the vulnerability of systems we trust, and lack of cooperation at the global level to address a pandemic thoroughly.
While we are nowhere near the end of this pandemic, with health officials and experts warning that, “We are in for a bumpy ride for the next 12 to 18 months”, there is no doubt that this year will become a lasting reference for decades to come. For years, we will refer to the world before and after corona. At schools and universities, it will be remembered as the “corona semester”.
See at: https://bit.ly/3axtEpx
Thaci Push for Unity Government in Kosovo Deemed Futile (Balkan Insight)
Experts say the President’s push for the formation of a government of national unity – following last week’s no-confidence in Albin Kurti’s administration – is unlikely to succeed.
As the President Hashim Thaci on Kosovo launched talks on Monday with party leaders on the formation of a government of national unity – “to avoid an institutional vacuum”, as he said – legal experts told BIRN that his hands in the formation of a new cabinet are largely tied, and success in this venture looked unlikely.
A legal expert in Pristina, Arber Ahmeti, told BIRN that the constitution neither envisaged nor “explicitly excluded” a national unity government, as suggested by Thaci.
But while the plan “has a constitutional basis”, Ahmeti said, “the President does not have any competences regarding the composition of the [new] government”.
See at: https://bit.ly/39w6zlI
Kosovo Specialist Chambers: Providing compensations for victims (EWB)
In Kosovo’s post-war society there is a general understanding that the victims of serious human rights violations have not been provided sufficient support. One of the mechanisms of transitional justice that is the most victims oriented is reparations. They represent measures taken by states to redress the harms suffered by victims as a result of gross violations of international human rights law and/or serious violations of international humanitarian law.
However, in the case of Kosovo, criminal prosecution was perceived as the most forceful instrument in the transitional justice process. This instrument was primarily applied by multiple international missions – the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), panels of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Rule of Law Mission led by European Union in Kosovo (EULEX), as well as local courts.
See at: https://bit.ly/3dSaRr4
Kosovo-Serbia Agreement: Why is the Trump Administration Fast-Tracking a Hasty Deal? (Medium.com)
Contrary to recent headlines, an internal crisis over the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was not the cause behind the toppling of Kosovo’s government Wednesday evening. The crisis was only the trigger for the inevitable result of the recent pressure campaign against the small state by the Trump administration, which aims at securing a deal between Kosovo and Serbia this year.
See at: https://bit.ly/2WYInps
Dismantling democracy? Virus used as excuse to quell dissent (AP)
Soldiers patrol the streets with their fingers on machine gun triggers. The army guards an exhibition center-turned-makeshift-hospital crowded with rows of metal beds for those infected with the coronavirus. And Serbia’s president warns residents that Belgrade’s graveyards won’t be big enough to bury the dead if people ignore his government’s lockdown orders.
See more at: https://bit.ly/2JpcOx0
Belgrade Takes Charge of Kosovo Serbs With COVID-19 (Balkan Insight)
In another sign of the deep divisions in Kosovo, tests for COVID-19 in Serb-run municipalities there are being sent to Belgrade – and some severely infected people are also being transferred for treatment in Serbia.
See at: https://bit.ly/39sqylb
Domestic violence shelters keeping their heads above water during pandemic (Prishtina Insight)
As Kosovo’s lockdown following the outbreak of coronavirus enters its third week, shelters for domestic violence survivors are doing everything they can to continue providing support to women and children whose homes are unsafe.
Even under normal circumstances, Kosovo’s domestic violence shelters find it difficult to support women and children fleeing violence, but government measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, now in force for over two weeks, have complicated matters further.
Despite the difficulties, all seven shelters currently operating in the country are still open and welcoming new residents according to Erza Kurti, a gender-based violence expert from the Kosovo Women’s Network NGO.
See at: https://bit.ly/2Rf6c91
Two men arrested for domestic violence in Istog (Express)
In the last 24 hours, police in Istog have arrested two men who have physically abused women.
The first case occurred on Monday morning in Istog, where the suspect used violence against his wife.
Police have announced that by the prosecutor’s decision, the suspect was taken into custody.
Meanwhile, another case occurred Monday evening, also in Istog, where police arrested a person suspected of abusing a woman.
Police said the victim received medical treatment and sustained minor injuries.
By order of the prosecutor, the suspect was taken into custody.