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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, April 8

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• 19 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Kosovo on Tuesday (media)
• KFOR donates medical equipment to Mitrovica North and South (RTK)
• U.S. Embassy commends health workers for fighting COVID-19 (media)
• Kosovo Assembly President Vjosa Osmani’s interview to KTV
• Konjufca: LVV could not return the north under control for 52 days (media)
• Abrashi: LDK does not want new elections (media)
• Kurti announces dismissal of water company senior officials (media)
• Von Cramon: There could be new steps in visa liberalisation process (Kallxo)

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  • 19 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Kosovo on Tuesday (media)
  • KFOR donates medical equipment to Mitrovica North and South (RTK)
  • U.S. Embassy commends health workers for fighting COVID-19 (media)
  • Kosovo Assembly President Vjosa Osmani’s interview to KTV
  • Konjufca: LVV could not return the north under control for 52 days (media)
  • Abrashi: LDK does not want new elections (media)
  • Kurti announces dismissal of water company senior officials (media)
  • Von Cramon: There could be new steps in visa liberalisation process (Kallxo)

Kosovo Media Highlights

19 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Kosovo on Tuesday (media)

The National Public Health Institute informed that 19 new cases of infection with coronavirus were registered on Tuesday.

NPHI informs that the new cases that resulted positive are cases of contact, seven from Smrekonice, Vushtrri municipality, three from Pristina, two from Senik (Malisheve), one from Llashkadrenovc (Malisheve), one from Sazli (Ferizaj), one from Ujmir (Klina), one from Gjakova, one from Gjilan, one from Topanice (Kamenica) and one from Vushtrri.

The institute also informed on Tuesday that six patients have recovered, reaching the total number of recovered persons to 30.

NPHI informed on its announcement that from 08 February to 08 April, the Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology tested 2352 suspicious samples and out of them, a total of 184 resulted positive.  The five cases of death were patients who suffered also from preexisting conditions.

Total number of coronavirus cases in Kosovo is currently 217.

KFOR donates medical equipment to Mitrovica North and South (RTK)

KFOR donated on Tuesday equipment for personal protection from COVID-19.

“US-led Kosovo Force Regional-Command East commander Col. Eric Riley delivered personal protective equipment April 7, 2020, to the municipalities of North and South Mitrovica. 

Riley, accompanied by RC-E medical personnel, delivered 4000 non-sterile gloves, 200 sterile gloves, 20 boxes of N95 face masks, 350 patient face masks, 100 patient gowns, 54 bottles of hand sanitizer, and other sanitizing supplies to North Mitrovica Mayor Goran Rakic and South Mitrovica Mayor Agim Bahtiri amid their communities’ response to COVID-19.

“KFOR RC-E stands with our NATO partners and all of those affected by the crisis,” said Riley. “We are taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while continuing our mission to provide a safe and secure environment for the people of Kosovo in accordance with KFOR’s mandate per UNSCR 1244,” informs the press release issued by KFOR.

U.S. Embassy commends health workers for fighting COVID-19 (media)

On World Health Day, the U.S. Embassy issued a statement extending heartfelt thanks to all of Kosovo’s health workers, volunteers, other public and private contributors, as well as their leadership for holding the front against COVID-19.

“We also deeply appreciate Kosovo’s citizens for behaving responsibly, acting generosity, and showing care for our greater good and survival at this difficult time. We know it hasn’t been easy, but we’re all in this together.”

Kosovo Assembly President Vjosa Osmani’s interview to KTV

Kosovo Assembly President Vjosa Osmani said in an interview to KTV on Tuesday evening that she will not leave her party, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), even after the latest developments in the party following the no-confidence motion against the Kurti-led government. 

Osmani, who is also deputy leader of the LDK, said: “I don’t think that any political party can survive if it turns its back on the people. I think we will deviate from the people’s will declared in the October elections if we support a different project … I am interested in long-term processes, an LDK that defends the will of the people, one that does not hesitate to oppose people that put Kosovo’s sovereignty and international subjectivity on the table. This is Kosovo’s long-term interest and not who will be a government minister today.” 

Osmani said she would not be part of an LDK ballot in future elections if this party would seek a coalition with PAN parties [PDK, AAK and NISMA]. “I will support a coalition with parties that have abused Kosovo,” she said. 

Osmani said the import tariff on products from Serbia no longer exists, but that there is now equal trade treatment between Kosovo and Serbia.

 According to Osmani, the statement issued by the U.S. embassy in support of the Assembly session was fully misused. “It was interpreted as support for a vote in favor of the no-confidence motion. The U.S. never asked for a vote in favor of the motion, while EU member states made it clear that the motion should not be voted or that it should be postponed. Why this call was not heeded I still don’t understand. At a time when Kosovo was faced with the threat of border changes and the biggest loss the LDK would suffer not in term of votes but in terms of its project for an independent state and sovereign state with its current borders, who was the person that supported our borders? It was Chancellor Merkel! Why did her voice suddenly become unimportant?”

Osmani said because of confidentiality she cannot disclose many information, “but there will come to the surface misinformation that an organised network of political parties sent to the U.S”. 

Osmani said that there is increased talk that an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia could also include the amnesty of politically motivated murders. “Each and everyone of us should think about what is being talked about openly in diplomatic circles and that is that such an agreement could include the amnesty of post-war crimes, and these include politically motivated murders too,” she said, adding that she cannot go into further details because of diplomatic discretion. “But what I can say with full responsibility is that high-ranking diplomats have told us that this has been brought up and this has been mentioned for two years now, be it in secret negotiations, in different conferences, but not in public … I hope the agreement will not include such a provision for post-war crimes, but this is not unexpected from someone that has turned into a tradesman of borders.” 

Osmani said that its constituency keeps the LDK alive, not individual names or structures in the party. what keeps the LDK alive is its constituency. “So we repeatedly go back to the citizens. We went to the citizens with very clear promises. Before I was chosen as candidate for Prime Minister, I made it clear to members of my party that I would not agree to a coalition with PAN [PDK, AAK and NISMA]. My party knew this … Now I am not the one that wants to form a government that will depend on the votes of the Serbian List and PAN and with a scenario set up by the President”.

Osmani said that LDK senior member Agim Veliu, who was against a coalition agreement with Vetevendosje, should have never been part of the government. She said that Veliu not only became part of the government but also became the leading voice in the LDK despite the fact that he did not take part in the October parliamentary elections.

“There are different voices in the party. About the coalition with Vetevendosje, many us believed that the parties that were in power until then had brought Kosovo on the verge of collapse. This was the position of the LDK leader too … In the previous assembly, we discussed every point with Vetevendosje. This reinforced my belief that our parties want thorough reforms and that were serious in fighting the capturing of the state. Many others and I could not see any different option than a government between the LDK and LVV. We wanted to have a government that was not dependent on the votes of PDK, AAK and NISMA, or those of the Serbian List. We had such a government in place … a government that had highly professional people and the majority of the people were proud of them. The government program was drafted largely by LDK members. But then there were increased efforts to ruin the cooperation between LDK and LVV. The problem escalated when people that were against this coalition became the leading voices in the LDK. I am talking about Veliu and the others. Despite the fact that they did not take part in the elections, or helped during the elections, they became the leading voices.

When the agreement with Vetevendosje was reached, those that opposed the coalition now wanted to have a leading role in the government. I was against this because I knew that this would not result in honest cooperation. If you oppose a governing concept and the partner in government, why should you be there in the first place. There is no sense in being part of a government and calling for its downfall every night. I am talking about Mr. [Avdullah] Hoti’s interviews. I told him on several occasions that if he doesn’t believe in this government, there are people who do. These were moments of tension within the LDK,” she said. 

Osmani said the healthcare workers have done an excellent job so far in managing the situation with COVID – 19. “I think the institutions have done an outstanding job. The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Kosovo Security Force and others. I was informed by the government today, and following consultations we had with constitutional law experts, we will separate decisions for different municipalities, not by the government, but with recommendations from the Ministry of Health. This will meanwhile give room to the Assembly to take measures to amend certain laws,” she said.

Konjufca: LVV could not return the north under control for 52 days (media)

Kosovo’s Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Glauk Konjufca said opponents of the Vetevendosje Movement are trying to gain political points through the north of Kosovo in the middle of pandemic.

“Our government found a certain situation in the north of Kosovo. LVV could not return it under Kosovo’s full control for 52 days,” he said adding that political forces are trying to abuse with the current health situation in Kosovo. “Kosovo institutions have undertaken measures and decisions for the municipalities in the northern part of Kosovo. The decision was made public also by Svecla yesterday. It was an internal decision without publicity,” Konjfca said.

“We have found the north in this situation, they are responsible. They remembered now to visit Albanian citizens there, they governed with Kosovo since 1999, they decided to divide the court in the north of Kosovo, not LVV,” he added.

Konjufca also said that Vetevendosje will inform President Hashim Thaci about their candidate for prime minister of Kosovo once the coronavirus pandemic ends. He however noted that there are some problems with President Thaci’s request for the PM candidate, that he is acting beyond his competencies, and added that they will address the Constitutional Court on the matter.

Konjufca said the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) has used Richard Grenell’s objection of the reciprocity measures towards Serbia, to call LVV ‘anti-American.’ He said the U.S. Presidential envoy Richard Grenell is opposing reciprocity with Serbia because he intends to resolve the situation with Serbia as soon as possible.

Asked about future coalitions, Konjufca said LVV should take the political party which sends the most uncorrupt ministers at the government. “For instance you have three ministers, you send the names, and LVV checks them, if they have affairs, they will not be accepted.

Abrashi: LDK does not want new elections (media)

Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) member Arban Abrashi said on Tuesday that this party does not believe Kosovo should go to early elections now.

“The LDK has its options and ideas on how to lead the country. We think that the country should not go to new elections because we are fighting a pandemic. Even if we would go to elections, we would face a political stalemate. If we get the candidate for Prime Minister, we will have a good coalition,” he said.

Abrashi argued that Vetevendosje did not have an honest approach toward the LDK. “The basic idea of this governance was not right. It did not focus on the capital issues but rather on the LDK. Konjufca’s remarks that the LDK was hiding behind Grenell were also wrong,” he added.

Kurti announces dismissal of water company senior officials (media)

Acting Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, and acting Minister of Economy, Rozeta Hajdari, held a news conference yesterday announcing the dismissal of the chief executive officer of the regional water company “Prishtina” as well as its chief financial officer.

The decision for dismissing the officials was taken at the meeting of the provisional company’s board.

Kurti said the decisions have been taken in accordance to the law on public enterprises and that their goal is to protect the public funds. “The company from an annual profit of €864,000 in 2016 slipped into a €705,000 loss in 2018,” Kurti said.

“We were forced to intervene quickly to prevent this abuse of public money by this unprofessional and irresponsible management,” Kurti is quoted in Koha as saying.

Von Cramon: There could be new steps in visa liberalisation process (Kallxo)

The European Parliament rapporteur for visa liberalisation for Kosovo, Viola von Cramon, said she was hopeful that there will be new developments in the process and that visa-free travel should have been approved for the people of Kosovo much sooner.

“I am trying to convince colleagues from other institutions that they should not wait for too long,” von Cramon said adding: “I am hopeful that following the opening of negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, perhaps we may see future steps in this direction.”

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