- Five new cases of coronavirus infections in Kosovo (media)
- Kurti: We need to fight together, we will all be triumphant (media)
- UNMIK chief calls to uphold human rights in fight against COVID-19 (media)
- EU Head of Mission calls for cooperation and solidarity (media)
- U.S. Embassy Statement on continued cooperation in fighting COVID-19 (media)
- Heldt praises ministers for cooperation, slams ‘tendentious’ journalism (media)
- Interior Minister Svecla visits Bosniak Mahalla in the north (media)
- KFOR: We are closely monitoring the situation (Koha)
- Qalaj: No one can act against laws in any part of Kosovo (T7, RTK)
- Vitia: We’re in official coordination with northern municipalities (media)
- Thaci: Situation in the north unacceptable (media)
- Govt justifies quarantine in the north: There are 16 cases of coronavirus (media)
- Abazi says Thaci has split the north of Kosovo (Telegrafi)
- LDK issues press release about situation in the north (media)
- Hoti: Problems are resolved with political means (RTK)
- PDK: Kurti yielded to Belgrade in the north (media)
- Haxhiu calls for calmness, criticises other parties for panic and division (media)
- Vetevendosje MP warns of improvised tensions in Kosovo north (media)
- HRW’s Roth: Trump administration backed Kurti’s ouster (media)
- EFJ criticises political interference in the media in Kosovo (media)
Kosovo Media Highlights
Five new cases of coronavirus infections in Kosovo (media)
Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health announced that five new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Kosovo.
The Institute said that on Sunday, 5 April 2020, it carried out tests of 93 samples of which five resulted positive for coronavirus. Of these, three are from the region of Malisheva, one from Gjakova and one from the Vushtrri municipality.
At the same time, media are also reporting that in the north of Kosovo there have been four new cases of coronavirus.
At present, the number of coronavirus cases in Kosovo totals 167.
Kurti: We need to fight together, we will all be triumphant (media)
Kosovo’s acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti, in a video-message to the people on Sunday, commended the work of all state institutions in the fight against COVID-19. Kurti said Kosovo was receiving aid from the European Union and the United States and that Kosovo so far has 140 infected cases, 23 healed cases and one fatality.
Kurti said the Ministry of Health decided to place the municipalities of Mitrovica North and Zvecan under quarantine. Kurti said they did not want to make a big deal out of the decision “in order not to aggravate the health crisis with another crisis”.
“There was a wedding two weeks ago in Zvecan which resulted in the spread of the COVID-19 virus there. We are maximally engaged to stop the further spread of the virus by coming to the aid of every citizen regardless of their ethnic background or municipality.
We know that Serbia has pretentions against our independent country which it does not recognize. We know that it even undertakes actions against our institutions especially in the north. We are reporting all this to KFOR and our international partners.
We act with caution especially in these times, when no one can have another priority other than public health. Yes, there are politicians and high-ranking officials in Belgrade that want a conflict in Kosovo, especially north of Ibar. However, there are also politicians and high-ranking in Prishtina too that want a conflict in Kosovo, especially north of Ibar. They want to provoke tensions because they want incidents. If their land swap project were to be implemented it would result in conflict and bloodshed. That project is failed. Now they want conflict and bloodshed on the ground in order to resort to the territorial exchange, namely the division of Kosovo. Along the same lines was the intention to declare a state of emergency at any cost and price. After they failed to declare it in order to make it, they want to make it in order to declare it.
I call on all Albanians, Serbs and other minorities in Kosovo, especially in Mitrovica, to be careful, keep their calm and not to fall in the trap of those that need our blood to be spilled in order to pour their champagne. Do not fall for provocations, insinuations and intrigues. They will fall in their own trap. I especially call on the mayor of Mitrovica South, Agim Bahtiri, and the mayor of Mitrovica North, Goran Rakic, to not aggravate the situation. We need to use our power and knowledge and commit to preventing the further spread of the coronavirus, which does not tell if we are Albanian or Serb, young or elderly, rich or poor. We need to fight together, and we will all be triumphant. Now is not the time to show muscles over … Do not believe those that contributed to the division of Mitrovica and left it undeveloped and in poverty for over two decades, when they now make calls for sovereignty and integrity from a government they toppled even before two months in power. Their patriotic chants are not for state but for power. Their alleged concerns for the north are tools for their own interests and not for your sake. The statements of the President too, who is acting as an opposition leader, view them with reserve and with calmness … Our state belongs to all and we are all part of it. Let us watch ourselves and take care of one another. Stay at home, maintain your hygiene, keep the distance. Respect the decisions of your caretaker government and follow the instructions of our doctors who are always at your service.”
UNMIK chief calls to uphold human rights in fight against COVID-19 (media)
Most news websites covered on Sunday a press release issued by UNMIK carrying the message of SRSG Zahir Tanin for all Kosovo institutions and stakeholders to uphold human rights in the fight against COVID-19.
The press release notes that “in light of the measures taken to combat COVID-19 and the ongoing public health emergency, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIK, Zahir Tanin, urgently calls upon all Kosovo institutions and stakeholders to uphold human rights in the fight against COVID-19.”
“SRSG Tanin underscores the importance of addressing human rights challenges that arise from the ongoing health crisis and measures to contain it. He encourages all institutions and stakeholders to remain vigilant to possible instances of stigmatization and discrimination related to combatting COVID-19 and calls for an inclusive response to ensure no one is left behind. SRSG Tanin also reiterates the recent call of the Kosovo Agency for Personal Data Protection to respect patients’ right to privacy and refrain from disclosing their personal information, including by the media.”
“Confident that Kosovo will overcome the challenges that lie ahead, UNMIK stands by all institutions and relevant actors in the fight against COVID-19, while continuing to promote and protect human rights for all in Kosovo,” SRSG Tanin said.
EU Head of Mission calls for cooperation and solidarity (media)
Ambassador Nataliya Apostolova, Head of the EU Office in Kosovo, EU Special Representative, said in a statement on Sunday:
“Kosovo’s society, like many of those in Europe and around the world, is facing an unprecedented health crisis urgently needing a timely response by all Kosovo authorities coupled with responsiveness and cooperation from all its citizens. It is only by assuming a spirit of cooperation and solidarity that we can overcome together the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I stress in particular the importance of reaching out to the most vulnerable and isolated communities who are particularly disadvantaged in accessing essential services and provisions.
Under such urgent circumstances it is time to put aside political differences and unhelpful debates. Kosovo needs to strengthen its inter-institutional collaboration and regional co-operation in order to enable every possible assistance to those affected by COVID-19.
In this context I highly commend the joint statement issued by Minister Vitia and Minister Jevtić on 2 April 2020 and all other efforts of the Kosovo institutions aimed at increasing cooperation and providing support to all communities living in Kosovo.
It is of utmost importance that citizens, Kosovo wide, in every municipality receive clear information on what services are available to them and how they can be assisted in prevention and in case of infection.”
U.S. Embassy Statement on continued cooperation in fighting COVID-19 (media)
The United States Embassy in Prishtina issued a media communique on Sunday commending “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”, several news websites report. “They need everyone’s support. Working together, following the guidelines of health professionals, and putting aside community divisions are essential to beating COVID-19. #TogetherWeCan,” the communique notes.
Heldt praises ministers for cooperation, slams ‘tendentious’ journalism (media)
The German Ambassador to Kosovo Christian Heldt has commented ministers Arben Vitia and Dalibor Jevtic for cooperating in containing the spread of coronavirus in Kosovo and urged them to continue the practice.
“Impact of COVID felt everywhere, doesn’t halt at community lines. So respect to gov ministers #ArbenVitia and @jevticdalibor reaching out for common ground in the interest of all. It is about human lives and safety for everybody living here, so please carry on. #inthistogether,” Heldt wrote on Twitter.
In a subsequent post Heldt said that some however seem to not like cooperation such as “tendentious journalism” which he said does not help people on the ground. “And it is about human lives, across community boundaries, safety for one is safety for the other. So please #actresponsibly.”
Interior Minister Svecla visits Bosniak Mahalla in the north (media)
Kosovo’s acting Minister of Interior Affairs, Xhelal Svecla visited Mitrovica South and met Mayor Agim Bahtiri on Sunday to discuss the spread of the coronavirus in Mitrovica North.
Svecla, accompanied by Bahtiri, then visited the northern part of the city, namely the Bosniak Mahalla and met the residents there.
“In cooperation with the Red Cross of Kosovo we delivered 400 food and hygienic packages to families in need in the villages and neighborhoods in the north … At the end of the visit, I asked all citizens to follow the measures undertaken by the Ministry of Health and the National Institute for Public Health, to stay home, because the institutions are doing their best to provide the necessary aid to the citizens,” Svecla said.
KFOR: We are closely monitoring the situation (Koha)
KFOR officials told the news website on Sunday that they are closely monitoring the situation in close cooperation with Kosovo’s institutions and all international partners.
KFOR officials confirmed that last week they have carried out 500 activities throughout Kosovo to contribute to a safe environment and freedom of movement for all communities.
Qalaj: No one can act against laws in any part of Kosovo (T7, RTK)
Kosovo Police Director Rashit Qalaj said the police are commencing their duties in managing the situation in the north same ad in all other parts of Kosovo.
“As you are aware, Health Minister together with mayors of northern municipalities brought the decision to quarantine two municipalities in order to prevent movement and spread of the pandemic. A major number of officials is engaged and citizens are respecting the decision, we do not have any incident. Police officers do not have any specific duties they are the same as in other quarantined municipalities,” he said.
“No one can act in contradiction with the Kosovo law in any part of the country. Police is commencing its duties deriving from police mandate. In no moment we would allow anyone to commit illegal activities in any part of the country. We are in close cooperation with Kosovo Intelligence Agency,” Qalaj said.
He informed that two police officers are infected with COVID-19 while a great number are isolated.
Vitia: We’re in official coordination with northern municipalities (media)
Kosovo’s Acting Minister of Health, Arben Vitia, told a press conference on Saturday evening that he is in official coordination with the municipalities in northern Kosovo and that the municipalities of Mitrovica North and Zvecan were placed under quarantine as part of measures foreseen by epidemiologic protocols and international health organisations, such as the World Health Organisation.
“The pandemic is a threat to all humankind. Fighting it requires commitment and going beyond any possible differences. Please be careful from unverified information,” Vitia said.
Thaci: Situation in the north unacceptable (media)
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said on Saturday that the situation in the Serb municipalities in the northern part of Kosovo “is unacceptable and a result of the negligence and irresponsibility of the Government of the Republic of Kosovo to come to the aid of the citizens and to safeguard the territorial integrity of the Republic of Kosovo”.
Thaci argued in a Facebook post that the government must not allow the northern municipalities to function outside the control of institutions and bodies for preventing the coronavirus pandemic “and to create illegal room for the operations of Serbian authorities within the territory of our state”.
Thaci further said that the government is obliged to ensure that all measures undertaken by health and law enforcement institutions are implemented throughout the territory of Kosovo. “As President of the Republic I am following with great concern the situation in the north. I call on the Government of the Republic of Kosovo to meet its responsibilities toward our citizens, of all communities, throughout the territory of the Republic of Kosovo,” he said.
Govt justifies quarantine in the north: There are 16 cases of coronavirus (media)
Most news websites reported over the weekend that Kosovo’s Acting Minister of Interior Affairs, Xhelal Svecla, took to Facebook to say that the northern municipalities of Mitrovica North and Zvecan have been placed under quarantine because of the 16 confirmed cases of coronavirus there.
“Following the assessments and requests of health experts, Minister of Health, Arben Vitia, in coordination with all line institutions has always taken the necessary decisions and measures. He is regular contact with the mayors of these municipalities and the competent authorities. I, as Acting Minister of Interior Affairs and Public Administration, and Kosovo Police Director, Rashit Qalaj, are in full coordination with Minister Vitia. Cooperation with KFOR is permanent and very good. All line institutions are continuously following the situation in order to properly react to the situation.
We are doing everything and all the time to prevent the spread of the coronavirus which knows no nationality, religion, region or age. We are committed to serve all citizens without any differences.
Our country is faced with a challenge that many countries all over the world are faced with. Protecting the health and lives of our citizens is above everything. In order to be as successful as possible in this respect, we call on all citizens to contribute to overcoming this situation, by repeating the appeals of the National Institute for Public Health and not by disseminating misinformation or unverified information.”
Abazi says Thaci has split the north of Kosovo (Telegrafi)
Kosovo’s acting Deputy Prime Minister Haki Abazi said that the President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci is responsible for splitting the north of Kosovo.
“Coordination between Thaci-Mustafa and Vucic is continuing: the conspiracy against the state aimed at creating a servile government, a captured and spineless prime minister supported also the Serbian List vote. The north has been left for 20 years to be used as a card to cover-up their bad actions. The north is split because Thaci has kept it as such for 20 years,” Abazi is quoted as saying.
“Kosovo and citizens in the South and North speak with and through their legitimate government and prime minister Kurti.”
LDK issues press release about situation in the north (media)
The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) issued a press release on Saturday expressing its concern about “developments in the northern part of the country … where the situation is getting worse with the pandemic and Belgrade’s repeated interventions”.
The press release notes: “Serbia, as always, is not concerned about the fate of Kosovo citizens in the north. Its sole purpose is to expand its influence in these municipalities.
The Democratic League of Kosovo expresses its concern that decisions of Serbian authorities are implemented to place the municipalities in the north under quarantine. Even more concerning is the silence of the Kosovo Government in the face of this direct attack on the sovereignty of the state.
Acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Health and other competent authorities must guarantee the health of our citizens in the north, provide the required aid as in every part of Kosovo, but must not in no way give up on sovereignty throughout our territory.
The Acting Prime Minister and his officials must not ruin everything that has been achieved for years in terms of expanding sovereignty in the north, the return of customs points and the implementation of agreements for the integration of the judiciary and the police there.
Kosovo institutions must guarantee sovereignty in every field and also come to the aid of all citizens regardless of their ethnic background, in order to overcome the emergent health situation.”
Hoti: Problems are resolved with political means (RTK)
Avdullah Hoti, member of the leadership of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) has responded to the acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti who said that some want bloodshed in the north in order to uncork champagne after division of Kosovo.
“These days, the word “bloodshed” was mentioned very often by some politicians, it was mentioned so much that it has become a term used in the discussions of financial and economic problems. Fortunately, Kosovo population has overcome the time of bloodshed. There will be no other bloodshed.
All unresolved issues of the internal and external politics, no matter how difficult they are, will be resolved through political, democratic and constitutional means. We ensure this, and feel trustful in this kind of approach of resolving open political issues, because our Euro-Atlantic friends assure us on this,” Hoti wrote.
PDK: Kurti yielded to Belgrade in the north (media)
Several news websites covered on Sunday a press release issued by the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) criticising the statements of Acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti and his deputy Haki Abazi about the situation in the north.
The PDK press release notes that “the Prime Minister is trying to scare the citizens to remain silent in the face of his irresponsibility and his failure to stop hundreds of Serbian officials from entering the north in the last couple of days”. The PDK also argued that Kurti “yielded to Serbia’s decision to impose a curfew in the four northern municipalities and to place the two municipalities under quarantine”.
Haxhiu calls for calmness, criticises other parties for panic and division (media)
Kosovo’s acting Minister of Justice, Albulena Haxhiu, took to Facebook on Sunday to commend the work of institutions in managing the coronavirus situation, media report. She said the proper management is the right approach of the government which coupled with the discipline of the people will hopefully help prevent a major spread of the virus.
Haxhiu, a senior member of the Vetevendosje Movement, said the PDK, LDK, AAK and NISMA will be forever remembered in the people for their tendency to spread panic and division in the time of the pandemic instead of siding with the institutions and coming to their aid in difficult times.
“Those that failed to create states of emergency on paper, yesterday tried to trigger incidents on the ground. Dear citizens, keep your calm, avoid their statements aimed at causing divisions and continue to have faith in those that are doing everything in their power to save people’s lives, in the medical staff and the police, the way you have done so far,” Haxhiu said.
Vetevendosje MP warns of improvised tensions in Kosovo north (media)
Vetevendosje MP Mefail Bajqinovci took to Facebook on Sunday to say that “there are indications that friends from Pristina and Belgrade are coordinating to improvise tensions in the northern municipalities with the aim of provoking and compromising the most legitimate and committed government Kosovo has ever had”.
Bajqinovci called on the people not to worry about “the games and machinations of the old political guard in Kosovo which have recently joined in a single political formation. This formation, led by Hashim Thaci, are petrified by the plebiscitary support the people is giving to the Government led by Vetevendosje and Albin Kurti, and are doing everything in their power to stain and deviate its fight against thievery and for strengthening the Republic with law and order”.
HRW’s Roth: Trump administration backed Kurti’s ouster (media)
Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of the Human Rights Watch commented on Twitter on the Economist’s article entitled ‘Did America help oust Kosovo’s reformist government?’
“In its eagerness to back someone who would cut a peace deal with Serbia, the Trump administration backs the ouster of Kosovo PM Albin Kurti whom many thought was ‘their only chance to rid the country of the corrupt leaders and warlords of the past’,” Roth wrote.
EFJ criticises political interference in the media in Kosovo (media)
Several news websites reported on Sunday that the European Federation of Journalists issued a press release calling on media Kosovo to refrain from intensifying tensions during the coronavirus pandemic.
The EFJ statement notes:
“The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) calls on media in Kosovo to refrain from intensifying tensions in a health crisis.
The quarantine of the city of North Mitrovica has resulted in inappropriate and unethical media coverage. The EFJ strongly denounces these discrepancies which show strong political interference in some media in Kosovo.
Unsupported statements and provocative questions asked by a journalist from the Radio Television of Kosovo (RTK) while reporting live from North Mitrovica on Saturday evening’s news raised a wave of reactions in Kosovo. The remarks risk contributing in raising tensions between Serb and Albanian communities.
On Friday, the Sinjali news portal, owned by lawyer Besnik Berisha (political advisor to a former Prime Minister), created the controversy by publishing the names, addresses and dates of birth of 210 citizens, mostly Serbs and Roma, who had been placed in quarantine in North Mitrovica and other cities. Following protests from the public and the Association of Serbian Journalists in Kosovo (UNS-Kosovo), Sinjali blurred the personal information of these citizens.
The OSCE Mission to Kosovo urged the media to respect the privacy of patients and in no way disclose the identities of those affected. “The situation with COVID-19 requires solidarity and cooperation throughout society, as well as between the authorities in the region,” said the OSCE Mission.
“It seems clear that some politicians, starting with Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić and the president of Kosovo Hashim Thaçi, are using the coronavirus crisis to inflame political and social tensions in their own interest. We call on journalists not to play their game and to act in the public interest,” said EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez.
The EFJ asked today the Independent Media Commission in Kosovo to investigate these unethical reportings and to continue to closely monitor the media.