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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, April 6, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• Two patients affected by COVID-19 die at Pristina hospital (RTK)
• Kurti: We are entering the critical stage in the fight against coronavirus (media)
• Thaci: Battle against coronavirus pandemic is not over (media)
• EU engaged in dialogue, urges resumption of Pristina-Belgrade talks (media)
• Abbott: There are no politics in the virus (media)
• Vucic talks on the phone with the UNMIK chief, says he is ready to cooperate with “Pristina” against Covid 19 (RTK, Beta)
• Norway pledges aid to Kosovo to fight coronavirus pandemic (media)
• Slovakia offers assistance to Kosovo to fight COVID-19 outbreak (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Six new cases in Serbian communities in Kosovo, total of 33 cases (Kosovo Online)
• Vucic: 248 trucks entered Kosovo, eight Albanians from Novi Pazar taken care of in Belgrade (Kosovo Online, Tanjug)
• Djuric: Coronavirus positive persons will be placed in isolation centers (Kontakt plus radio, KIM radio)
• President Vucic had phone call with SRSG Tanin, discussed coronavirus and Kosovo (Tanjug, Kosovo-online)
• Journalists’ associations, international and local officials react to violation of right to privacy, personal data (Kosovo-online)
• EFJ: COVID-19 – political interference in the media in Kosovo (KoSSev)
• Serbia enters second month of pandemic with 1.908 infected and 51 dead (RTS)
• Four new coronavirus cases in Serb-populated areas in Kosovo, 27 in total (KoSSev)
• Movement ban between Mitrovica and Zvecan until further notice (Radio kontakt plus)

Opinion:

• Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic Is Navigating a Highway to Uncertainty (The National Interest)

International:

• Kosovo Leaders Feud Over COVID-19 Outbreak in North (Balkan Insight)
• Kosovar Media Urged Not To ‘Intensify’ Tensions During Coronavirus Crisis (RFE)
• Washington fiddles in the Balkans while COVID flames engulf the world (The Hill)
• Did America help oust Kosovo’s reformist government? (The Economist)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Djuric: Decision to employ all doctors and 200 nurses from Kosovo Serb communities entered into force (KoSSev)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Two patients affected by COVID-19 die at Pristina hospital (RTK)
  • Kurti: We are entering the critical stage in the fight against coronavirus (media)
  • Thaci: Battle against coronavirus pandemic is not over (media)
  • EU engaged in dialogue, urges resumption of Pristina-Belgrade talks (media)
  • Abbott: There are no politics in the virus (media)
  • Vucic talks on the phone with the UNMIK chief, says he is ready to cooperate with “Pristina” against Covid 19 (RTK, Beta)
  • Norway pledges aid to Kosovo to fight coronavirus pandemic (media)
  • Slovakia offers assistance to Kosovo to fight COVID-19 outbreak (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Six new cases in Serbian communities in Kosovo, total of 33 cases (Kosovo Online)
  • Vucic: 248 trucks entered Kosovo, eight Albanians from Novi Pazar taken care of in Belgrade (Kosovo Online, Tanjug)
  • Djuric: Coronavirus positive persons will be placed in isolation centers (Kontakt plus radio, KIM radio)
  • President Vucic had phone call with SRSG Tanin, discussed coronavirus and Kosovo (Tanjug, Kosovo-online)
  • Journalists’ associations, international and local officials react to violation of right to privacy, personal data (Kosovo-online)
  • EFJ: COVID-19 – political interference in the media in Kosovo (KoSSev)
  • Serbia enters second month of pandemic with 1.908 infected and 51 dead (RTS)
  • Movement ban between Mitrovica and Zvecan until further notice (Radio kontakt plus)

Opinion:

  • Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic Is Navigating a Highway to Uncertainty (The National Interest)

International:

  • Kosovo Leaders Feud Over COVID-19 Outbreak in North (Balkan Insight)
  • Kosovar Media Urged Not To ‘Intensify’ Tensions During Coronavirus Crisis (RFE)
  • Washington fiddles in the Balkans while COVID flames engulf the world (The Hill)
  • Did America help oust Kosovo’s reformist government? (The Economist)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Djuric: Decision to employ all doctors and 200 nurses from Kosovo Serb communities entered into force (KoSSev)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Two patients affected by COVID-19 die at Pristina hospital (RTK)

The Ministry of Health informed that two individuals affected by coronavirus passed away today at the Clinic for Infectious Diseases.

Male patient S.N., 1961, from Pristina hospitalised unconscious on 04.04.2020, passed away at 03:00 hours.

Female patient N.R., 1950 from Korisha, Prizren, hospitalised on 02.04.2020, passed away this morning at 07:10.

Both patients suffered from additional health problems.

The number of deaths from coronavirus in Kosovo has reached 4. 

Kurti: We are entering the critical stage in the fight against coronavirus (media)

Following the most recent two deaths from coronavirus in Kosovo, acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti warned that Kosovo is entering the most critical stage in the fight against the pandemic. 

In a Facebook post, Kurti urged the citizens to stay at home and keep the social distance. 

“This is all we need to win. It has never been easier or simpler. With a little discipline, we will overcome this. We have 23 recoveries and 145 confirmed cases. We hear from the professionals that it was expected that the number of virus cases will be much higher. However, this should not relax us. On the contrary. We are entering a critical stage of the virus and let’s do this for ourselves, our loved ones and, above all, for the heroes on the front lines. We need to delay and reduce as much as possible the increase of the COVID-19 curve.” 

Thaci: Battle against coronavirus pandemic is not over (media)

President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci has expressed condolences to the families of the two persons who died today as a result of coronavirus infection.

“The battle against the pandemic is not over. Continue to respect the recommendations of the National Institute for Public Health and continue to stay home. Protect yourselves and your families,” Thaci wrote on Facebook.

EU engaged in dialogue, urges resumption of Pristina-Belgrade talks (media)

EU leaders and mission leaders from EU member states in Belgrade and Pristina said in a joint statement that they welcome the appointment of Mirosav Lajcak as EU Special Representative and called on the parties to resume dialogue.

The appointment is said to signal strong EU commitment to dialogue.

“We welcome the appointment of Miroslav Lajcak as Special Representative of the High Representative / Vice-President of the European Commission Borell for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and other regional issues in the Western Balkans. His appointment signals the EU’s strong commitment to dialogue. We urge both sides to engage with the newly appointed EU Special Representative and to resume the process without delay,” was stressed in their joint statement

Abbott: There are no politics in the virus (media)

The Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Kosovo, Nicholas Abbott, requested from Kosovo politicians through a short posting on his Facebook account not to deal with politics in the time of the virus.

“At this difficult time, cooperation across communities, which we saw last week between Ministers Arben Vitia and Dalibor Jevtic, and between Mayors Agim Bahtiri and Goran Rakic in Mitrovica, is to be welcomed and celebrated. As Her Majesty The Queen said yesterday, if we remain united and resolute, we will overcome this disease. There are no politics in the virus. The people of Kosovo deserve no less,” Abbott wrote.

Vucic talks on the phone with the UNMIK chief, says he is ready to cooperate with “Pristina” against Covid 19

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has said that Belgrade is determined to help Serbs in Kosovo fight the coronavirus.

He also expressed readiness for full cooperation with the representatives of Kosovo institutions in the fight against pandemics.

According to the Serbian presidency, Vucic expressed concern for the spread of infection in Kosovo in a telephone conversation with the head of UNMIK, Zahir Tanin, reports the Serbian news agency Beta.

Vucic and Tanin also discussed the political and security situation in Kosovo on the occasion of the next session of the UN Security Council dedicated to the report of the UN Secretary General on the work of UNMIK, which will be held via video conference during this month. 

Read UNMIK’s post about SRSG Tanin’s phone call with leaders here:

https://unmik.unmissions.org/srsg-zahir-tanin-stresses-collective-action-during-calls-leaders

Norway pledges aid to Kosovo to fight coronavirus pandemic (media)

Norwegian Embassy in Kosovo announced that the country’s government will contribute NOK 5 million to help procure urgently needed ventilators for Kosovo, in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The aid agreement was signed today in Pristina between the Norwegian Embassy and the UNDP.

Slovakia offers assistance to Kosovo to fight COVID-19 outbreak (media)

The Liaison Office of the Slovak Republic in Pristina has offered the Kosovo administration the useful project aimed to fight the peak of COVID-19 outbreak.

“The project is a gift from Slovak people to all Kosovars and its aim is to create base of volunteers – as a tool to help manage backup for medical staff. It connects medical students or people with medical experiences willing to volunteer in hospitals,” Slovakia’s liaison office said in a statement. 

It concluded saying that in Slovakia, since last week’s launch, more than 800 medical volunteers and more than 50 hospitals have joined the platform: “WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER!”

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

North Mitrovica Crisis Staff: Six new cases in Serbian communities in Kosovo, total of 33 cases (Kosovo Online)

Portal Kosovo Online reports that six new cases of coronavirus infection have been reported in Serb communities in Kosovo, and the total number of those infected is now 33, quoting the Crisis Staff North Mitrovica announcement today at a press conference. 

Two new cases have been reported in Zubin Potok, where there have been no cases so far, two in Zvecan, one each in North Mitrovica and Leposavic, said epidemiologist Dr Aleksandar Antonijevic.

In North Mitrovica, the total number of patients is 18, in Zvecan nine of them are infected with coronavirus, in Leposavic three, two in Zubin Potok, while one case was recorded in Dobrotin.

Out of 33 cases of infection reported in Serb communities in Kosovo, 32 are active, while one patient from Leposavic died at a clinic in Nis.

Vucic: 248 trucks entered Kosovo, eight Albanians from Novi Pazar taken care of in Belgrade (Kosovo Online, Tanjug) 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said today in Novi Pazar that in the past few days, a total of 248 trucks with Serbian goods have been sent to Kosovo, stressing that there are no shortages of any products.

“I am pleased that the Albanians are taking our flour as well. We let go of everything what was needed, as they did also, and there are no major problems there,” Vucic told reporters in Novi Pazar.

The president of Serbia also said that difficult patients from Kosovo were being placed in Nis, Kragujevac or Belgrade, and that the system was trying to help everyone.

He also said that eight Albanians who had been infected with a coronavirus were transferred from Novi Pazar to a medical center in Belgrade and without having any documents from the Republic of Serbia.

“People are people, we did not ask for the documents and the Serbian health system takes care of them. We try to help everyone,” Vucic said.

“We are doing everything we can, in just a few days 248 trucks departed and we will continue to do everything else we can. We are working hard in relatively difficult conditions,” said Vucic.

Djuric: Coronavirus positive persons will be placed in isolation centers (Kontakt plus radio, KIM radio)

The Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija wrote on his Instagram profile yesterday that they have acted in accordance with the Serbian government’s order that any person who is positive for the coronary virus, regardless of the clinical picture, should not be in home isolation but must be housed in one of the isolation centers depending on the place of residence, reported Kontakt plus radio. 

The Student Center in North Mitrovica will accommodate residents of Kosovska Mitrovica, Leposavic, Zvecan, Zubin Potok, Vucitrn, Orahovac, Klina, Pec, Istok and Srbica areas.

The Clinical Hospital Center Pristina in Gracanica will accommodate persons from the areas of Pristina, Lipljan, Obilic, Kosovo Polje, Gora and Strpce. 

People from Vitina, Kosovska Kamenica, Gnjilane and Novi Brdo will be referred to the Gnjilane Health Center in Pasjane, Djuric said in a post on Instagram.

“Four newly ill people in Serb communities. In Kosovska Mitrovica, three newly ill persons. 13 sick persons were accommodated in the Student Center. In Zvecan, a new infected person,” Djuric wrote. 

He also said that a special unit for respiratory infections has been established at the Leposavic Health Center, which will be available 24 hours.

He added that mobile medical teams in Pristina, Kosovo Polje and Lipljan had four examinations in the past 24 hours, and that no symptoms of the COVID-19 virus had been detected.

“In Vitina municipality we procured and distributed medicines for 24 people. In Gnjilane municipality, flour is being distributed to families at risk, and we have purchased medicines for 421 families. In Istok, we distributed 12 assistance packages, protective masks and gloves and procured the necessary medicines for 6 people. We visited 5 families in Klina and delivered help packages to them. In Kosovska Kamenica we have distributed 20 packages of food and hygiene assistance and necessary medicines. In Orahovac, we distributed 33 bags of flour to citizens and monks in the monastery of Sveti Vraci in Zociste. In Obilic, we distributed 60 food assistance packages. In the area of Pristina, Kosovo Polje and Lipljan, we visited 8 vulnerable families and supplied them with food, hygiene products and protective masks,” said Djuric.

The residents of the villages of Suvo Grlo and Banje in the municipality of Srbica expressed the need for a visit to the veterinarian due to livestock disease. They will be urgently referred to a vet from Zubin Potok, he announced.

“Municipal emergency staff regularly disinfect public areas and institutions and inform citizens about measures taken by the Government of Serbia,” concludes the announcement of the Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija.

President Vucic had phone call with SRSG Tanin, discussed coronavirus and Kosovo (Tanjug, Kosovo-online)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had a phone conversation with the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) and Head of UNMIK Head Zahir Tanin, discussing foremostly consequences of coronavirus pandemic, Tanjug news agency reports.

SRSG Tanin expressed regret for the victims of coronavirus in Serbia and supported President Vucic in the fight against the spread of this disease, Vucic’s press office announced.

Vucic said he is concerned over the spread of coronavirus in Kosovo. He expressed the decisiveness of Serbia to help Serbian community in Kosovo, but also readiness for the full cooperation with Albanians and joint work with the representatives of Pristina institutions in stopping the virus.

The two interlocutors also discussed the political and security situation in Kosovo, regarding the forthcoming UN Security Council session on Kosovo dedicated to the report of the Secretary General on the work of the UNMIK. The session would be organized through a video conference.

Vucic underlined that UN SC sessions, dedicated to the work of UNMIK are important for Serbia, in order to maintain continuity of discussing the Kosovo issue, and because of regular updates about political and security situation, that are far from being stable.

Journalists’ associations, international and local officials react to violation of right to privacy, personal data (Kosovo-online)

The Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) and its branch in Kosovo (DNKiM) condemned the act of “Gazeta Sinjeli” portal which has published a list with names of 210 Serbs, Roma and Gorani in five Kosovo municipalities instructed to go into self-isolation, including the names of persons infected with coronavirus. The journalists’ associations requested that this information is urgently removed from internet.

They also requested an urgent reaction of OSCE, UNMIK, EU, Press Council, journalists’ associations, diplomatic offices and institutions in Pristina to end violation of the human rights of the Serbs, Roma and Gorani, living in Serb-majority areas, to remedy the consequences of unprofessional acts of the media, and punish those responsible.

UNS and DNKiM said it was impermissible to publish the records from personal health files, as well as data that stigmatize people based on their ethnic and national background.

Kosovo-online portal reported on the number of reactions that followed.

Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) and Head of UNMIK, Zahir Tanin urged for upholding the human rights in the fight against Covid-19.

“In light of the measures taken to combat COVID-19 and the ongoing public health emergency, I call upon all Kosovo institutions and stakeholders to uphold human rights in the fight against COVID-19,” SRSG Tanin said.

He underscored “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.”

OSCE Mission in Kosovo wrote on Twitter that “the current Covid-19 situation calls for responsible media reporting. The Mission expresses concern over the publication of names or persons who have allegedly been ordered into quarantine due to the Covid-19 situation. Some online portals have published lists with names, dates of birth and municipalities of dozens of residents… We reiterate and underline the recent recommendation of the Press Council of Kosovo (PCK) to all media for their reporting on the Covid-19 situation. The PCK asked the media to strictly observe the privacy of patients and under no circumstances to reveal the identity of those affected …”

Kosovo Ombudsman, Hilmi Jashari requested the certain portals to remove the news containing personal data of people placed into quarantine and infected with coronavirus. It was said that publishing the names and surnames and lots of other information about these persons run contrary to many legal norms, but also to the set of regulations dedicated to media self-regulation.

The Ombudsman Institution also said the Kosovo Constitution regulates this issue very well, in particular the article 36 on the right to privacy, law on personal data protection, and law on the rights and responsibilities of Kosovo residents in the health system.

Meanwhile, Kosovo-online reports that the portal “Gazeta Sinjali” following reactions has blurred the personal data of 210 Serbs, Roma, and Gorani instructed to stay in self-isolation or being infected with coronavirus that the portal posted on April 3.  

EFJ: COVID-19 – political interference in the media in Kosovo (KoSSev)

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) calls on the media in Kosovo to refrain from intensifying tensions in a health crisis, KoSSev portal reports.

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.

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

Serbia enters second month of pandemic with 1.908 infected and 51 dead (RTS)

The first case of coronavirus was registered in Serbia a month ago. Today the number of infected persons is 1.908 while 51 persons have died, RTS reports.

Of 959 persons tested since the last report, 284 were positive for the coronavirus.1,082 patients have been admitted to hospital and 88 were sent to the Belgrade fair facilities, which was turned into a temporary hospital.

Total of 98 patients are connected to respirators. Serbian healthcare authorities have tested 7,360 persons so far.

Movement ban between Mitrovica and Zvecan until further notice (Radio kontakt plus)

Additional measure to ban the movement between Mitrovica North and Zvecan municipalities, aiming to limit the contact and better control the spread of coronavirus was introduced this morning and would last until further notice, Kosovo police North region deputy commander Besim Hoti told Radio kontakt plus.

Hoti said the initial plan was that Mitrovica North and Zvecan be one quarantine zone, however, the mayors requested the ban on movement between these two municipalities in order to limit contacts and better control the spread of coronavirus.

Health workers, firefighters, police and people with working obligations are excluded from this measure.  

Hoti also said that Pristina-Leposavic highway is open to traffic.  

 

Opinion

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic Is Navigating a Highway to Uncertainty (The National Interest)

Vucic has the authority, popular support, and determination to reach a comprehensive and multidimensional agreement between Serbia and Kosovo. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the political opposition in Serbia.

As some pundits work hard to undermine the prospect of a comprehensive, multidimensional agreement between Serbia and Kosovo, one that can have democratic validation in both capitals,  an extraordinary development has been unfolding in the Balkans—the Serbia of 2020, under the leadership of President Aleksandar Vucic, incentivized by the smart policies of the White House, State Department and Pentagon, wants to reestablish a strategic partnership with the United States.

See more at: https://bit.ly/2V4Lrhl

 

International

 

Kosovo Leaders Feud Over COVID-19 Outbreak in North (Balkan Insight)

Reports of an outbreak of new COVID-19 cases in Serb-run northern Kosovo have sparked in-fighting among politicians in Kosovo and accusations of negligence.

On Sunday, the main hospital in the Serb-run north, in the divided town of Mitrovica, confirmed 26 cases in the three northern municipalities of Mitrovica North, Zvecan and Leposavic.

https://bit.ly/3aOQ85g

Kosovar Media Urged Not To ‘Intensify’ Tensions During Coronavirus Crisis (RFE)

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is calling on media in Kosovo to refrain from “intensifying tensions” during the health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on April 4, the Brussels-based organization said the quarantine of the Serb-majority town of North Mitrovica has resulted in “inappropriate and unethical” media coverage by Kosovar state broadcaster RTK and the Sinjali news portal.

“The EFJ strongly denounces these discrepancies, which show strong political interference in some media in Kosovo,” the statement said.

It said that “unsupported statements and provocative questions” asked by an RTK journalist while reporting live from North Mitrovica on April 4 “raised a wave of reactions in Kosovo” and “risk contributing in raising tensions between Serb and Albanian communities.”

See more at: https://bit.ly/2JJbJ3u

Washington fiddles in the Balkans while COVID flames engulf the world (The Hill)

What possible American interest is served by the Trump administration’s ongoing diplomacy that is destabilizing Kosovo, a small and vulnerable pro-American Balkan country, during a global health pandemic? And why would the Trump team do so when the U.S. stopped Serbia — by force — from committing genocide in Kosovo in 1999?

This is especially puzzling since the U.S. was the major player in gaining independence for Kosovo and since Kosovo has been the most pro-American country in Europe after independence. And yet, ongoing American diplomacy today favors Serbia, Russia’s closest ally in the region.

https://thehill.com/opinion/international/491215-washington-fiddles-in-the-balkans-while-covid-flames-engulf-the-world

Did America help oust Kosovo’s reformist government? (The Economist)

It was only 51 days old, but covid-19 was used to kill it. On March 25th a big majority of deputies in Kosovo’s parliament voted to snuff out the government of Albin Kurti, a radical reformer. They may have been doing America’s bidding. Donald Trump’s administration wanted the truculent prime minister out of the way in order to claim peace in Kosovo as a (rare) foreign-policy success in the run-up to America’s presidential election. Its friends have provided.

https://bit.ly/3dZJYkY

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Djuric: Decision to employ all doctors and 200 nurses from Kosovo Serb communities entered into force (KoSSev)

The implementation of the Serbian government’s decision to hire all unemployed doctors and 200 nurses from Kosovo Serb communities has begun, the head of the Kosovo Office, Marko Djuric confirmed at a press conference in Belgrade reported portal KoSSev on Friday afternoon. 

The portal reported that recruitment will start in the upcoming days, quoting Djuric. There will be no unemployed registered physicians in Kosovo Serb communities. This represents enormous support for our three big health centers in Kosovo, Djuric explained.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3aPF5J6

 

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