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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, April 22, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, April 22, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• Thaci: LVV has not proposed candidate for PM (Koha)
• EC proposes €3 billion aid package for the region, Kosovo to get 100 million (media)
• LDK, AAK leaders meet to discuss new government formation (media)
• Ahmeti: A functioning govt, broad consensus in time of pandemics (Indeksonline)
• Kosnett: Corruption made many young people go to Syria (RTK)
• 58 patients at Infectious Disease Clinic (RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

• One new case of Covid-19 infection in northern Kosovo, six persons healed (Kosovo-online)
• CoE Human Rights commissioner warns of state of human rights in Europe (N1)
• Office for KiM: Pandemic must not be reason to spread propaganda and lies (Kosovo-online)
• “No end in sight to instability in Kosovo, even the relationship among Albanians deteriorated” (RTS, B92, RTV Puls, KIM radio)
• Covic: Serbia to maintain active approach and not rush with solution for Kosovo (Prva TV, Kosovo-online)
• Reporters Without Borders: Serbia drops to 93rd, Kosovo moves up to 70th place (KoSSev)

Opinion:

• Danas: Kosovo equation with many unknowns

Humanitarian/Development:

• NGO calls on mayors to assist communities in distance learning courses (Telegrafi)
• Balkan Countries Start to Lift Some Coronavirus Restrictions (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Thaci: LVV has not proposed candidate for PM (Koha)
  • EC proposes €3 billion aid package for the region, Kosovo to get 100 million (media)
  • LDK, AAK leaders meet to discuss new government formation (media)
  • Ahmeti: A functioning govt, broad consensus in time of pandemics (Indeksonline)
  • Kosnett: Corruption made many young people go to Syria (RTK)
  • 58 patients at Infectious Disease Clinic (RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

  • One new case of Covid-19 infection in northern Kosovo, six persons healed (Kosovo-online)
  • CoE Human Rights commissioner warns of state of human rights in Europe (N1)
  • Office for KiM: Pandemic must not be reason to spread propaganda and lies (Kosovo-online)
  • “No end in sight to instability in Kosovo, even the relationship among Albanians deteriorated” (RTS, B92, RTV Puls, KIM radio)
  • Covic: Serbia to maintain active approach and not rush with solution for Kosovo (Prva TV, Kosovo-online)
  • Reporters Without Borders: Serbia drops to 93rd, Kosovo moves up to 70th place (KoSSev)

Opinion:

  • Danas: Kosovo equation with many unknowns 

Humanitarian/Development:

  • NGO calls on mayors to assist communities in distance learning courses (Telegrafi)
  • Balkan Countries Start to Lift Some Coronavirus Restrictions (Balkan Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Thaci: LVV has not proposed candidate for PM (Koha)

President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci has written to acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti saying that he will begin consultations with other political parties for forming the new government.

In the letter, Thaci said that Vetevendosje Movement has failed to put forward a candidate for new prime minister and that he will act based on his competencies.

“I regrettably conclude that with your actions you have not used the right to propose a new candidate to form the government, in accordance to the decision of the CEC for certification of final results of early parliamentary elections,” Thaci said. 

“I have to remind you that in line with the constitutional mandate, it is my responsibility to maintain the stability of the country and to guarantee democratic functioning of institutions,” Thaci further said.

He announced launching consultations with leaders of all parliamentary parties to decide on the future course of action.

EC proposes €3 billion aid package for the region, Kosovo to get 100 million (media)

European Commission has adopted a proposal for a €3 billion macro-financial assistance package to ten enlargement and neighbourhood partners to help them to limit the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposal, following a preliminary assessment of financing needs, provides for the MFA funds to be distributed as follows: the Republic of Albania (€180 million), Bosnia and Herzegovina (€250 million), Georgia (€150 million), the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (€200 million), Kosovo (€100 million), the Republic of Moldova (€100 million), Montenegro (€60 million), the Republic of North Macedonia (€160 million), the Republic of Tunisia (€600 million) and Ukraine (€1.2 billion), a statement issued by the EC states.

“As part of the EU’s global response to the coronavirus pandemic, we need to help our neighbouring countries to cushion the worst of its economic impact, said Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President for An Economy that Works for People while Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economy, said: “European solidarity must not stop at the borders of our Union. Because in this global crisis, we stand or fall together. Today the European Commission is taking a decisive step to help ten of our neighbours in their fight against the Coronavirus. I call on the European Parliament and the Council to swiftly agree this important package.”

The Commission’s proposal is subject to adoption by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.

See the EC press release: https://bit.ly/3auOGEr

LDK, AAK leaders meet to discuss new government formation (media)

Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Isa Mustafa met today in Prishtina with Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) leader Ramush Haradinaj to reportedly discuss a new candidate for Prime Minister and a coalition between the LDK, AAK, NISMA, AKR and minority communities, Gazeta Express reports. The LDK and AAK are now waiting for President Thaci to give them the right to nominate a candidate for Prime Minister. T7 learns that after meeting Mustafa, Haradinaj has called his party to a meeting. 

The AAK leader confirmed his meeting with Mustafa to Indeksonline. “Yes we had a meeting with Isa Mustafa. We have agreed to move forward together,” Haradinaj said.

AAK Secretary General Besnik Tahiri said the two leaders agreed to form a new government. “It was a working meeting and they discussed the institutional crisis. We agreed to have a new government that will focus on priorities, top among which is the fight against COVID – 19,” Tahiri said.

Ahmeti: A functioning govt and broad consensus in time of pandemics (Indeksonline)

Prishtina Mayor Shpend Ahmeti said in an interview to the news website today that in the time of the COVID – 19 pandemics Kosovo needs a functioning government and broad consensus. He said the current situation calls for quick actions and said all parties should set aside political differences.

“We need a functioning and swift decision-making process; we cannot have blockades in the process. You have seen that in the United States, there is even greater polarisation between the two camps, but when they met to discuss the economic situation they negotiated for a week and there was not a single vote against the US$ 2 trillion package. In our country, the government that has been dismissed is not being allowed to submit a law, we cannot move funds, meanwhile the opposition presents a program. The different parties keep accusing one another. The citizens don’t deserve this. We need a compromise and collective decision-making to have an economic package in place and to react,” Ahmeti said.

Ahmeti also said that even in the current circumstances “the parties are fighting for power”. “There is no job more difficult right now than that of a Prime Minister. Whoever has thought about getting more votes and getting greater popularity, needs to understand that we will be faced with a very difficult period … we need a government that will be sacrificed. Gone is the time to think whether we will save our political careers, now is the time to save the state,” he added.

In a statement to Kosovapress news agency, Ahmeti implied that if the number of infected cases does not increase and the situation remains under control, Prishtina could emerge from the quarantine but that restrictive measures would still remain in force.

Kosnett: Corruption made many young people go to Syria (RTK)

The Institute for Security, Integration and Deradicalisation held a virtual forum on the challenges of the returnees from Syria, those in prison  accused for terrorism and violent and extremist radicalization. 

Acting Deputy Prime Minister Haki Abazi said Kosovo has faced extremism and added that the government will undertake concrete measures to make impact on reintegration of those who returned from war zones in the society. 

“Kosovo has faced this phenomenon of extremist events in Syria. Kosovo has undertaken several steps on its strategy: the law endorsed at the assembly, sanctioning,” he said. 

“Many of the warriors were prey of traumas. The government will engage in this phenomenon in order to prevent radicalization and reintegrate them in the society,” he said. 

The U.S Ambassador to Kosovo Philip Kosnett, stressed that majority of the individuals who have taken the road to the war zones, did it for a better life. He said that level of corruption had an impact in this direction. 

“INSID is trying to combat extremism thank to Arber Vokrri’s work. We have had experiences also with other countries when extremism is concerned.”

“Many have left due to the life conditions, economic development which had impact on them, but corruption is the other reason they decided to take that journey,” Kosnett said. 

Nexhat Behluli, who has returned from Syria, said that after his return, he is committed to prevent other citizens from going there. 

He said that except for the INSID organisation, no support came from the state so far. “We feel as if we are in the middle of fog, we do not know where to start from,” he said. 

Other European and Kosovo representatives participated at this online conference, reports RTK.

58 patients at Infectious Disease Clinic (RTK)

Director of the Infectious Disease Clinic Lindita Ajazi said that the number of the hospitalized patients who resulted positive with COVID-19 at this Clinic is 58. 46 of them are in a stable condition, while 11 are with oxygen therapy. A female patient is under intensive care and mechanical ventilation.

“We have a pregnant woman who tested positive with COVID-19, she is in the isolation department, we are in consultation with a gynecologist and it is assessed that the condition of the baby and the mother is stable and there is no need for oxygen therapy,” she said.

Ajazi said the condition of the gynecologist and the nurse who had contact with the pregnant woman who passed away yesterday, is stable. 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

One new case of Covid-19 infection in northern Kosovo, six persons healed (Kosovo-online)

One new case of Covid-19 infection was registered today in northern Kosovo. The case was registered in Zvecan, Kosovo-online portal reports. This makes the total number of registered cases in the Serb-populated areas at 83.

It was also said that six patients have recovered, two from Zvecan and Leposavic respectively, one from Mitrovica North and one from Zubin Potok.

Until today 27 patients recovered in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo, while five persons have passed away, the portal reported.

CoE Human Rights commissioner warns of state of human rights in Europe (N1)

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights said in her annual activity report for 2019 that Council of Europe member states are uncertain about the human rights obligations they accepted.

“The image I get from my work is of a Europe circling a roundabout, uncertain about its direction and the human rights obligations which member states voluntarily agreed upon,” she said and added that the coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating long-standing problems and emphasizing the weaknesses of Europe’s human rights protection system.

She warned of growing challenges to human rights standards and principles all over the continent. “In some cases, hostility to human rights as universal, indivisible and legally binding has increased, fueling a corrosive narrative that endangers the principles and standards on which Europe has been built over the past seven decades,” the report said and added that anti-semitism, Islamophobia and discrimination of Roma have reached alarming levels.

She expressed concern about the way European countries handled migrants and asylum-seekers and warned of gender inequality across Europe.

“Human rights defenders and journalists continued to work in hostile environments in a growing number of European countries. Legislation has been misused to detain and prosecute them, while public discourse by some political leaders has legitimised smear campaigns, threats and intimidation”, the report said and added that there were attempts by some national authorities to use their leverage to influence and instruct the judiciary.

The Commissioner also warned about the risks that unregulated uses of digital technologies and artificial intelligence pose to human rights, in particular privacy, equality, and freedom of expression and assembly.

“At the moment, states’ attention, resources and efforts are rightly devoted to heading off the COVID-19 pandemic and to protecting the health and lives of millions of people in Europe. Once the pandemic is under control, however, states will have to redouble their efforts to solve long-standing shortcomings in law, practice and discourse that are so damaging to human dignity and human rights,” Mijatovic said.  

See at: https://bit.ly/3bwzfg4

Office for KiM: Pandemic must not be reason to spread propaganda and lies (Kosovo-online)

Certain media and political cycles, aiming to discredit Serbia have published fake news that trucks heading towards central Serbia from Kosovo were blocked, the Office for Kosovo and Metohija wrote on Facebook, Kosovo-online portal reports.

The Office underscored that pandemic should not be a reason for propaganda against cooperation to curb it.

“This is not the first fake news of this type at the recent times, but we expect it to be the last one, because pandemic must not be a reason to spread propaganda and lies directed against the cooperation to curb pandemic,” the Office further said.

The Office reacted to the statement of Kosovo caretaker Minister for Infrastructure and Environment Lumir Abdixhiku who wrote on Twitter earlier that Serbian authorities at the times of pandemic are blocking all transport operators from Kosovo, the portal reported. 

“No end in sight to instability in Kosovo, even the relationship among Albanians deteriorated” (RTS, B92, RTV Puls, KIM radio)

Chairman of the Assembly Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun says that the position of the Serbian people got worse in comparison to the period in the previous report.

“The situation is extremely contradictory, one does not know who is doing what, who is leading what. Formally there is a president and a prime minister, there are hints of a new government, but Kurti is still working as a prime minister. No end in sight to the instability, this might result in new elections,” Drecun told Radio Television of Serbia (RTS). 

He points out that the position of the Serbian people is extremely important in every UNMIK report, but that the position has not gone for the better.

“Even relations between the Albanians have deteriorated, the dialogue has stopped. I do not see that any progress has been made in Kosovo, on the contrary, there has been a setback,” Drecun said.

Commenting on the Albanians’ desire to dismiss Richard Grenell, Drecun states that they are bothered by the possibility of a compromise in which Serbia would not be a complete loser.

“We see that, in addition to engaging the White House to initiate the solution process, Albanian lobbyists and the so-called deep state, which have been active for decades in separating Kosmet and creating a Greater Albania, have been very engaged. European states, which are on the same path as the “deep state”, have their goals opposed to compromise,” said the chairman of the parliamentary committee on KiM.

Their goal, he says, is to completely prevent the talks from continuing, to make everything unacceptable for Belgrade.

“We do not want to talk at all if the goal is to recognize Kosovo. Everyone except Thaci, who is trying to save himself from the KLA indictments, is working to prevent a compromise from being reached. We see strong ties between the Albanian parties and the international community,” Drecun said.

If this goes on, he says, this situation will not lead to a continuation of talks and a solution.

“There is an unpromising situation there, except for criminals. The Serbian people would not be able to survive there without Serbia,” said Drecun.

Covic: Serbia to maintain active approach and not rush with solution for Kosovo (Prva TV, Kosovo-online)

Former president of the Coordination Center for Kosovo and Metohija, Nebojsa Covic opined that US administration currently has a balanced approach to the Kosovo issue, adding that US President Trump’s Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Richard Grenell would force it “as a personal project,” Kosovo-online portal reports.

Speaking for Belgrade-based Prva TV Covic said that Kosovo is “a marginal problem” for the US now, because the US is facing a coronavirus pandemic and awaits presidential elections in November this year.

He added that Serbia should maintain an active approach and not rush into any sort of solution for Kosovo.

Commenting on Grenell’s twitts on building the trust between Belgrade and Pristina by revoking the tariffs on Serbian goods, Covic said that the trust is not a “button you need to press” adding it must be built.

“The case of tests for coronavirus, Serbia sent to Pristina with good intentions, showed there was a huge number of Albanian leaders there still captured in the past,” Covic said.

He added that radicalization of the situation in Kosovo would occur through, as he said, anarchist Albin Kurti, who will try to create an even bigger mess.

“The masks in Europe have fallen. One could see what Germany advocates for, that Berlin and Washington do not think alike, and that their solutions to the Kosovo issue are different,” Covic noted, adding that Germany support Kurti, while the US supports Hashim Thaci.

Covic also said that Kurti, although his government has fallen, still acts as if his government is functional. According to Covic, Kurti will not benevolently look at Thaci giving mandate to Isa Mustafa to form the government.

“I have confidence that envoys Miroslav Lajcak and Richard Grenell would do their job professionally, however the trust is neither unlimited, nor one should have unlimited trust in them,” Covic concluded. 

Reporters Without Borders: Serbia drops to 93rd, Kosovo moves up to 70th place (KoSSev)

After six years under the leadership of Aleksandar Vucic, first as Prime Minister and then the President, Serbia has become a country where it is often dangerous to be a journalist, reads the latest Reporters Without Borders report on media freedom. According to RSF, Serbia fell three places in its media freedom ranking list in 2020, taking 93rd place. On the other hand, Kosovo was up five places – from 75th to 70th. The media in Kosovo, however, remains “divided along ethnic lines” – the report revealed.

Speaking about countries in the region, RSF ranked Slovenia at 32nd position, two higher than in 2019, while Romania was one place down and ended the year in 47th position. Bosnia and Herzegovina rose five places, up to 58th position, as well as Croatia which was ranked as 59th.

Greece retained its position (65), while Albania dropped to 84th position, two lower than last year.

Northern Macedonia took 92nd position, three places up than last year.

Of the European countries, only Russia (149), Belarus (153) and Turkey (154) ranked lower.

The best-ranked countries in Europe were Norway (1), Finland (2) and Denmark (3), which hold the first three places. Germany’s ranking increased two places – up to 11th position.

At the bottom of the ranking lists were Iran, China, Eritrea, Turkmenistan and North Korea. 

See more at: https://bit.ly/3eJL7xe

 

 

Opinion

 

Danas: Kosovo equation with many unknowns 

The intention of the European Union to reach an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina by March 2021 is very ambitious, as there are numerous obstacles to achieving such an objective, foreign policy experts say for Belgrade based daily Danas, commenting on a statement by EU Special Envoy for Kosovo Miroslav Lajcak, who believes that it was possible to come to an agreement over coming year. 

Interlocutors of Danas point out that much will depend on the conduct of the negotiating parties, but also on international “players”, above all on the relationship between the Union and the United States.

Johanna Deimel, a German analyst for the Western Balkans, told Danas that that it is “ambitious but also realistic to set a target date for an agreement once the strategy, the negotiating framework and the final target are clearly defined” and that, of course, “the negotiating partners must be fully prepared to reach an agreement. “

– This also means that all 27 EU countries should agree, including countries that do not recognize Kosovo, and that there must be a clear position within the Union on territorial exchange. Paris, which announced that it would organize a summit after the end of the Covid crisis, could agree to an exchange of territory, but Berlin has so far opposed it. Finally, the US also has to agree on a solution, but this will probably be difficult to achieve given the enormous transatlantic problems caused by US interference in Kosovo’s internal affairs, Deimel said. 

Igor Novakovic, a representative of the Council for Inclusive Governance, points out to the daily that there are many unknowns at the moment – “from the way of how and whether the new government of Kosovo will be formed soon, to the elections in Serbia and the subsequent formation of a new government, and after all, from the effects of the coronavirus.”

– The agreement requires both parties to have a stable majority and be able to adopt the agreement. Also, both parties must be interested in the agreement. On the other hand, the EU currently has rather low credibility in Pristina, primarily due to visa issues and other challenges, and the question is whether it can impose itself as a major or key mediator. One only has to see the latest letter from Ramush Haradinaj, the leader of the party most likely to be in the new government led by the Democratic Alliance of Kosovo, in which he declined a telephone conversation with Lajcak. The engagement of individual Member States is also essential, but the question is how much it will be, he explains.

Novakovic notes that the United States currently has a “key initiative”, and the question is how the initiative will be “pushed forward”.

– The question is also what the agreement would look like – a few signed so far essentially represent letters of intent and are rather declaratory in nature. It remains to be seen whether something similar is being prepared for the “big agreement”. Finally, it is crucial that everyone accepts and implements the agreement, and at the moment the possibilities for it are quite challenging, said the interlocutor of Danas.

Historian and analyst Dragomir Andjelkovic think the agreement between Belgrade and Pristina seems completely unrealistic.

– Pristina does not accept the change of borders between Kosovo and the rest of Serbia, even with Belgrade’s recognition of its so-called independence. On the other hand, official Serbia seems to be ready for all this, but not, fortunately, the normalization of relations according to Ischinger’s model. It implies accepting Kosovo’s so-called independence in the current border lines, but without formal recognition (joining the UN is implied). I suppose even the almighty Serbian authorities could not even try to persuade the public to swallow the loss of Kosovo without even illusory gain. From the above it is clear why nothing will happen in March. It is fortunate that this is so. Because with the incomprehensible indulgence of the Serbian authorities our national interests are protected only by Albanian rigidity, he said.

In Andjelkovic’s view, “the thing is that if Belgrade agreed to exchange territories, and unreasonably send signals of being ready, it would jeopardize not only our territorial integrity regarding Kosovo but also the future of the rest of Serbia.”

– The loss would be much greater than the minor gain. Our country would, overnight, as a whole, and not just when it comes to the part that has been occupied in some way since 1999, become disputed territory. The precedent could have tragic consequences in the future from Vojvodina to the Raska region. The Kosovo problem would turn into a Serbian one, and Serbia, after the former, as once Poland, could experience a number of other divisions. That is why, paradoxically, what Kurti is doing now is useful for Serbia, interlocutor of Danas estimates.

Diplomats: Strong pressure from Germany

Some diplomats unofficially state that Lajcak will first have to complete his team “which will have a hard time meeting until the danger of the coronavirus has passed.” 

“Then one must wait for the situation in Pristina to be resolved over the composition of the negotiating team, and in Serbia for holding parliamentary elections. Lajcak will strive to visit Belgrade and Pristina as soon as possible and be committed to the new task, but objective reasons will prevent him from doing so,” the daily’s sources specify.

According to the opinion of diplomats, writes Danas, for Serbia is, to a certain extent, a favorable circumstance that Lajcak comes from Slovakia, and EU Foreign Minister Josep Borell from Spain – two countries that have not recognized Kosovo’s independence. 

“They will, of course, work under intense pressure from Germany, but, another favorable circumstance has arisen for Serbia – there will be no more pressure from the UK through EU structures to end the negotiation process with the mutual recognition of Serbia and Kosovo. So, Serbia is getting more of maneuvering space, but it still won’t be easy, as long as in Washington and Brussels, or Berlin, respectively, consider Kosovo’s independence as an irreversible process and that one only has to find the modalities for Serbia to recognize it, if not de jure, then at least de facto. It will be very difficult for Lajcak to balance in all of this, which is why he will focus more on technical and less status issues,” interlocutors of Danas claim.

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

NGO calls on mayors to assist communities in distance learning courses (Telegrafi)

The Kosovo-based NGO “Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians” has called on mayors to help schoolchildren of non-majority communities in becoming an active part of the distance learning process.

Many children from the RAE communities remain inactive in the learning process because they do not have access to technology required to follow online classes, the NGO said.

It also called on mayors to include members of the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities to emergency response teams.

Balkan Countries Start to Lift Some Coronavirus Restrictions (Balkan Insight)

Some countries in the Balkan region that have been in lockdown for over a month have decided to lift some of the measures imposed by the authorities to control the spread of coronavirus infection.

Several countries have announced this week that they will start to gradually lift some of the measures they introduced to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, but slowly and in stages.

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

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