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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, April 21, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• 55 patients are being treated at the Infectious Disease Clinic, one in serious condition (Koha)
• Mustafa: We are waiting for President’s invitation to a meeting (Express)
• Abdixhiku says he’ll respect every decision of LDK Council (media)
• Albanian-American Civic League asks Trump to relieve Grenell (media)
• UNSC to hold a video conference on Kosovo on 24 April (Koha)
• Kosovo ranked five places higher at world press freedom index (media)
• LDK condemns Kurti’s ‘denigrating and insulting discourse’ (Koha)

Serbian Language Media:

• ”Reviewing of indictments against former KLA members underway” (Blic, Tanjug)
• Two new Covid-19 infection cases registered in north (Kosovo-online)
• Emergency teams from north refute Pristina’s allegations of 25 new coronavirus cases on Monday (KoSSev)
• UNS: Kosovo media to issue retraction over news that SOC is fighting COVID-19 by using “Russian methods” (KoSSev)
• Borell: EU has to explain its stabilizing role in Western Balkans (N1)

International:

• Kosovo Leaders Tussle Over Plan to Form New Govt (Balkan Insight)
• After the Pandemic: Perils and Promises for Western Balkans (Balkan Insight)
• Some Balkan States Waging ‘Crusade’ Against Media, Report Warns (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• COVID-19 and Domestic Abuse: When Home is not the Safest Place (Balkan Insight)
• Kon: State of emergency annulment before epidemic ends in Serbia (RTS, N1)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • 55 patients are being treated at the Infectious Disease Clinic, one in serious condition (Koha)
  • Mustafa: We are waiting for President’s invitation to a meeting (Express)
  • Abdixhiku says he’ll respect every decision of LDK Council (media)
  • Albanian-American Civic League asks Trump to relieve Grenell (media)
  • UNSC to hold a video conference on Kosovo on 24 April (Koha)
  • Kosovo ranked five places higher at world press freedom index (media)
  • LDK condemns Kurti’s ‘denigrating and insulting discourse’ (Koha)

Serbian Language Media:

  • ”Reviewing of indictments against former KLA members underway” (Blic, Tanjug)
  • Two new Covid-19 infection cases registered in north (Kosovo-online)
  • Emergency teams from north refute Pristina’s allegations of 25 new coronavirus cases on Monday (KoSSev)
  • UNS: Kosovo media to issue retraction over news that SOC is fighting COVID-19 by using “Russian methods” (KoSSev)
  • Borell: EU has to explain its stabilizing role in Western Balkans (N1)

International:

  • Kosovo Leaders Tussle Over Plan to Form New Govt (Balkan Insight)
  • After the Pandemic: Perils and Promises for Western Balkans (Balkan Insight) 
  • Some Balkan States Waging ‘Crusade’ Against Media, Report Warns (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • COVID-19 and Domestic Abuse: When Home is not the Safest Place (Balkan Insight)
  • Kon: State of emergency annulment before epidemic ends in Serbia (RTS, N1)

 

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

55 patients are being treated at the Infectious Disease Clinic, one in serious condition (Koha)

55 people affected by COVID-19 are being treated at the Infectious Diseases Clinic in Pristina. “12 of them are with oxygen therapy, while one patient is in a serious condition,” said today at the regular press conference the infectious disease specialist Valbon Krasniqi.

“We are sorry that we are starting today’s conference with the bad news about the loss of life of a pregnant woman from Gjakova, who failed to survive the COVID infection,” Krasniqi said. He informed that the deceased arrived at hospital on 15 April in e very serious condition and added that her child did not survive either.

The number of COVID-19 cases in all municipalities of Kosovo presently is 622, while 18 of them did not survive.

Mustafa: We are waiting for President’s invitation to a meeting (Express)

Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Isa Mustafa told reporters today that his party is waiting for an invitation from President Hashim Thaci for a meeting on a new candidate for Prime Minister, the news website reports.

“We are waiting for an invitation from the President and we will answer his call,” Mustafa said.

The news website notes that President Thaci tweeted on Sunday that this week he will undertake final steps for the formation of a new government. The LDK has already initiated procedures for an eventual coalition with the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), NISMA and the New Kosovo Alliance (AKR).

Abdixhiku says he’ll respect every decision of LDK Council (media)

Lumir Abdixhiku, acting Minister of Infrastructure and Environment and member of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), commented on political developments in a press conference today. He said despite his different opinion, he would respect the decision of the LDK Council on an eventual coalition with the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo and NISMA. Asked if he would accept a ministerial post in a new government, Abdixhiku said: “a government has to be formed first and then we will see”. He also said that LDK ministers have been asked by their party to remain in duty and communicate with the partner [Vetevendosje] in the fight against the COVID – 19 pandemic. 

Albanian-American Civic League asks Trump to relieve Grenell (media)

The Albanian-American Civic League (AACL) Board through an open letter has asked U.S. President Donald Trump to relieve Ambassador Richard Grenell from his responsibilities as Presidential Envoy for the Kosovo – Serbia dialogue, news websites report.

“We believe that the approach of the Trump administration to the Kosovo – Serbia conflict is wrong and therefore destined to fail. As Ambassador Grenell has lost credibility as an unbiased mediator, the Civic League calls on President Trump to relieve Ambassador Grenell from his duties as Special Envoy for the Kosovo – Serbia dialogue,” the letter notes.

The AACL expressed concern “over the dangerous situation in the Republic of Kosovo after the downfall of Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s democratically-elected government. The downfall as a result of an unprecedented move by some members of Kosovo’s political elite who want to advance their personal interests in coordination with President Trump’s Special Envoy for the Kosovo – Serbia Peace Talks, Richard Grenell”. The AACL also called “on politicians that have seriously damaged Kosovo so far to understand and accept the reality from the October 6 elections”. “Their claims that they are pro-American are ridiculous, because everything they have done in Kosovo for almost 20 years has been anti-American and anti-Albanian. We also hope that Kosovo’s young leaders, Albin Kurti, Vjosa Osmani and others like them, understand their historic role to emerge Kosovo from this terrible situation”.

UNSC to hold a video conference on Kosovo on 24 April (Koha)

The United Nations Security Council will discuss on 24 April through a video-conference, UNMIK’s regular report on Kosovo.

April, respectively October are the agreed months by the UNSC members to discuss the regular report on Kosovo.

The Dominican Republic which is currently presiding with the UN Security Council, has decided to include UNMIK’s report in the agenda of 24 April.

Due to the created circumstances from the coronavirus pandemic, the session cannot be physically attended by the members, therefore the it will be held through a video-conference, where except for the UNSC member states, UNMIK chief Zahir Tanin, and representatives of Serbia and Kosovo will be participating. 

Kosovo ranked five places higher at world press freedom index (media)

Reporters Without Borders issued its 2020 World Press Freedom Index ranking Kosovo on the 70th place, five slots up from the previous year.The report said that the media in Kosovo remains divided along ethnic lines. “The access to information is often limited to one ethnic or political group, with the majority of media reporting predominantly on issues concerning their own nationality.”

At the same time, shared concerns among the media in Kosovo include physical and verbal attacks on journalists, cyber-attacks on online media as well as the lack of transparency of media ownership. 

“Many media in Kosovo are not financially stable, which makes them susceptible to political influence and often results in self-censorship. Many minority media are on the verge of extinction, surviving mostly on foreign donations. The fates of numerous journalists in Kosovo remain unknown to date, including those journalists who went missing or were abducted during the 1999 conflict,” the report states. 

The annual World Press Freedom Index measures the level of media on the basis of the scores registered for each country. The scores measure constraints and violations, so the higher the score, the worse the situation. 

LDK condemns Kurti’s ‘denigrating and insulting discourse’ (Koha)

The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) condemned through a press release the discourse of the Acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti.

“LDK condemns denigrating, insulting and divisive discourse of the dismissed Prime Minister Albin Kurti, against the leader of the LDK, Isa Mustafa, and the political party in general. Frequent change of the approach towards LDK and its leader Isa Mustafa, show not only Albin Kurti and Vetevendosje’s egoist and spiteful nature, but they manifest problems of personality,” is written in the reaction.

“Different from LVV, diverse opinions are valued and respected within LDK, but the final decisions are made based on the majority of votes. When they need them for health reasons, LDK people even lean on cane sticks. But we have not used and will never use the stick to hit someone, state institutions or anyone’s private property, as Albin Kurti’s LVV did and is warning to do.

“LDK appeals to all citizens not to become prey of lynching campaigns orchestrated by LVV against every private and public personality  who thinks differently from them. LDK believes and works to strengthen the institutions and mechanisms created by the Kosovo state to guarantee citizens’ freedoms, freedom of speech and different opinions,” concludes the reaction.

Koha news portal reports that Acting PM Kurti mocked on Monday Isa Mustafa for the walking cane he depends on due to his disease. 

Serbian Language Media

 

”Reviewing of indictments against former KLA members underway” (Blic, Tanjug)

The Specialized Chambers of Kosovo neither confirmed nor denied the allegations of the media in Pristina today that at least one to two indictments have been filed, Belgrade based daily Blic reports quoting Tanjug news agency.  

Tanjug asked whether and how many indictments they received, the Specialized Chambers replied that such information was confidential until the indictment was confirmed.

At the same time, they recall that judges were appointed in February to decide on the confirmation of the indictments.

”In accordance with the Law and Rules on the Assignment of Judges of the Specialized Chambers from the List of International Judges, the President in February appointed a pre-trial judge to examine the indictments filed by the specialized prosecutor. The contents of the indictments remain confidential until they have been confirmed by the pre-trial judge,” the Specialized Chambers told Tanjug.

They add that during the confirmation phase of the indictment, a particular pre-trial judge reviews the evidence attached to the indictment to determine whether “there is a well-founded suspicion about the suspect”.

The Chambers emphasize that the unconfirmed indictment is strictly confidential at this time, and that the Preliminary Judge has six months to decide whether to confirm or dismiss the indictment.

If the pre-trial judge confirms the indictment in whole or in part, the status of the suspect changes and he becomes the accused person and the indictment is made public, reports Blic.

Two new Covid-19 infection cases registered in north (Kosovo-online)

Two new Covid-19 infection cases have been registered in northern Kosovo today, while two persons have passed away, Kosovo-online portal reports.

The two new cases were registered in Mitrovica North, while deceased persons were from Leposavic and Zvecan.

Epidemiologist Aleksandar Antonijevic from Mitrovica North Institute for Public Health appealed to the citizens to show patience and adhere to the measures introduced to limit the movement, as well as use protective equipment while going outside of the houses.

Asked about cooperation with the Pristina Institute for Public Health, Antonijevic said there is no official cooperation, adding they are ready to help.

“We do not have official cooperation, but we are ready for any sort of help to each other, because this is the problem of the entire world. (…) they did not request officially our data, and if they did, they would certainly receive official data from us,” Antonijevic said.

The total number of Covid-19 infection cases in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo is 82. Out of this number, 33 cases are in Mitrovica North. Since pandemic started one death case has been registered in Mitrovica North, while nine persons were healed.

In total 21 persons in the Serb-populated areas have been healed, while five persons have passed away.

Until today there are 19 Covid-19 infected cases in Zvecan (11 are healed, one passed away), in Zubin Potok 19 cases, in Leposavic 11 ( three persons passed away, one was healed), Kosovo-online portal reported.

Emergency teams from north refute Pristina’s allegations of 25 new coronavirus cases on Monday (KoSSev)

No new coronavirus cases have been registered in the north of Kosovo in the last 24 hours, Mitrovica North emergency team confirmed on Monday morning. The Kosovo Public Health Institute, however, said late last night that there are as many as 25 new coronavirus cases in the north of Kosovo. This information was refuted by the Zubin Potok emergency team and epidemiologist Aleksandar Antonijevic from Mitrovica North Public Health Institute, KoSSev portal reports.

According to last night’s data of the Kosovo Public Health Institute, out of 25 allegedly newly infected persons from the four municipalities in the north of Kosovo – 13 are residents of Zubin Potok, six of North Mitrovica, four from Zvecan, two from Leposavic (or Lesak).

Zubin Potok emergency team: Inaccurate data from the Pristina Institute of Public Health

The claims of the Kosovo Public Health Institute were refuted on Monday by the Zubin Potok emergency team, who said that there are no new coronavirus cases in the municipality – which has 19 confirmed cases so far.

“We hereby strongly refute the allegations and the data that says that 13 more persons tested positive for coronavirus in this municipality yesterday! The official data can be found in the daily report of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija and are shared by expert medical personnel every day,“ Zubin Potok emergency team said in a statement.

Antonijevic: Samples are only sent to Kraljevo, Pristina did not request information on the infected persons

Epidemiologist from Mitrovica North Public Health Institute, Aleksandar Antonijevic confirmed for KoSSev that, with one exception, the Kosovo Institute of Public Health did not conduct testing in the north. Antonijevic also said that this institute had not requested official data on the number of infected, adding that he does not understand where this establishment obtained the information on 25 new coronavirus cases.

He confirmed once again that all samples from the north of Kosovo are exclusively sent to Kraljevo, except when prisoners and workers were previously tested at the Detention Center in Mitrovica North, because this institution operates under the Kosovo system.

“Did they come to test someone (cf. in the north)? – They did not,“ he stressed.

He reiterated the news released by the emergency team on Monday morning that there were no new coronavirus cases, as all 18 samples from the north sent to Kraljevo came back negative.

Antonijevic said that the information released by the Kosovo Institute of Public Health yesterday “caused a commotion,” adding that he received information from local officials that no additional sampling had been conducted.

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

UNS: Kosovo media to issue retraction over news that SOC is fighting COVID-19 by using “Russian methods” (KoSSev)

The Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) and its branch in Kosovo (DNKiM) strongly condemned the recent reports of RTK, Telegrafi, Botasot and Kosovarja and other media outlets reporting in the Albanian language which alleged that the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) in Pristina is “fighting against COVID-19 by using an unconfirmed Russian model”, KoSSev portal reports.

Several Pristina media outlets recently published the same text which said that high-intensity bells have been ringing at the St. Nicholas Church in Pristina for several days – after which the alleged security expert Agim Musliu claimed that it was a „primitive and provocative Russian method aimed at combating the coronavirus.“

Musliu also said “that people from Serbian intelligence are present in all churches,“ and that Russian intelligence is also present, the same media outlets reported.

“The UNS and the UNS in Kosovo strongly condemn the abuse of the difficult health situation caused by the pandemic and demand that Albanian-language media urgently apologize to the Serbian Orthodox Church for this misinformation that could cause grave consequences and endanger the security of people and property,“ the UNS wrote in a statement.

Publishing falsehoods and misinformation in the field of conspiracy theory is particularly unacceptable for RTK, UNS argued, adding that this media outlet directly contributed to the pogrom on March 17th, 2004, by publishing unconfirmed news.

“Therefore, it is unfathomable that after so much time, professional training and invested resources from the international community, this public service is broadcasting falsehoods that can again provoke attacks on the Serb community and its heritage,“ they concluded.

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

Borell: EU has to explain its stabilizing role in Western Balkans (N1)

The European Union’s top diplomat told MEPs on Monday that the Union has to increase its capacity to explain its stabilizing role in the Western Balkans, N1 reports.

“We have to strengthen our capacity to explain our stabilizing role in the Western Balkans and also our will to cooperate to overcome one of the most difficult issues, the lack of a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina,” the EU High Representative Josep Borell told a remote participation meeting of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs. 

He said that the coming EU-Western Balkans summit comes at a good moment because “everybody understands that we need each other and that the Balkans will not be a stable zone without having a clear European perspective”. He added that this can happen if Kosovo and Serbia invest efforts to resolve their differences. 

“We have to be there to encourage, accompany, help, suggest but we cannot do the work that only they can do. Having an experienced diplomat like Lajcak engaged full time can be of much help”, Borell said. 

He expressed the hope that the coronavirus crisis will show that the EU is very much engaged in cooperation with Western Balkan countries and that a clear European perspective will be created for them.

See at: https://bit.ly/2Kj8zDP

 

International

 

Kosovo Leaders Tussle Over Plan to Form New Govt (Balkan Insight)

President Hashim Thaci on Sunday announced that further steps would be taken this week to form a new government – even though outgoing Prime Minister Albin Kurti, who lost a no-confidence vote in parliament on March 25, is still demanding new elections once the pandemic is over.

“Next week I’ll take the final constitutional steps to enable the formation of a new government with full legitimacy from parliament, capable of fighting COVID-19 and serving the people,” the President tweeted. 

https://bit.ly/3eAhxul

After the Pandemic: Perils and Promises for Western Balkans (Balkan Insight) 

As the coronavirus brings out the best and worst in countries in Southeast Europe, the democratic health of the region is at stake.

The coronavirus crisis has overwhelmed the health systems and finances of Western Balkan states. It has ignited domestic tensions and revealed political currents that could jeopardise the future of democracy in the region.

Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia — all are feeling the strain. With lower wealth and growth rates than their Western European counterparts, they lack the funds, medical assets and crisis-management systems to effectively counter the crisis.

See more at:https://bit.ly/34R1hR0

Some Balkan States Waging ‘Crusade’ Against Media, Report Warns (Balkan Insight)

Media freedom in the Balkans continues to decline, with some governments stepping up pressure on independent media while exerting control over public broadcasters, says Reporters Without Borders’ 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

Media freedom in Turkey, Bulgaria and Montenegro is the worst in the region, according to the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, published on Tuesday by Reporters Without Borders – but other Balkan countries have largely failed to improve.

“In southern Europe, a crusade by the authorities against the media is very active,” the report warns.

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

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

COVID-19 and Domestic Abuse: When Home is not the Safest Place (Balkan Insight)

The evidence suggests rates of domestic abuse are up since states in the Balkans began imposing strict limitations on movement in the fight against COVID-19.

“Before the quarantine he would insult me, use slurs, tell me I’m a whore, that I’m kissing other men. But he had never hit me, not until now… Last weekend he hit me hard in the head, with his fist, for the first time.”

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

Kon: State of emergency annulment before epidemic ends in Serbia (RTS, N1)

Serbian chief epidemiologist and a member of the Crisis Team, Predrag Kon said on Tuesday the end of coronavirus epidemic could be expected in the 10th and 12th week from the beginning and that the state of emergency would be annulled, public broadcaster RTS reported.

The World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus pandemic on March 11. Four days later, Serbia introduced the state of emergency.

“Since we still have some holidays ahead of us (May 1, and May 6, St. George Day) when people usually gather, it is realistic to expect the abolishment of the state of emergency,” Kon said, adding the virus had weakened.

“We diagnose mild cases now, even non-symptomatic ones, like in social institutions. There have been positive cases, and we tested the employees and discovered those without any symptoms,” he added.

That, according to him, means that though the virus circulates, it causes a mild or no disease at all. Kon also said that the situation would be estimated in summer, “but that it looks the virus is seriously weakening.”

See at: https://bit.ly/3aoE5uK

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