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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, April 29

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• Ten new cases of COVID-19, 31 recovered (media)
• Kurti: Tremendous progress against COVID-19, but we must not relax (media)
• Vitia: Relaxation of measures to be announced in coming days (RTK)
• Caretaker PM Kurti’s interview to Euronews Albania
• Mustafa: We have votes to form new government (media)
• By not making the letter for PM candidate public, Thaci is impeding the matter to reach the Constitutional Court (Koha)
• Hoti: Agreement expected tomorrow, AKR too will be part of govt (EO)
• Sources: Pacolli is in Prishtina, joins talk for government formation (Lajmi)
• Vitia speaks about Pacolli’s return to Kosovo (media)
• EULEX chief slams Pacolli’s claims on quarantine measures (Kallxo)

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  • Ten new cases of COVID-19, 31 recovered (media)
  • Kurti: Tremendous progress against COVID-19, but we must not relax (media)
  • Vitia: Relaxation of measures to be announced in coming days (RTK)
  • Caretaker PM Kurti’s interview to Euronews Albania
  • Mustafa: We have votes to form new government (media)
  • By not making the letter for PM candidate public, Thaci is impeding the matter to reach the Constitutional Court (Koha)
  • Hoti: Agreement expected tomorrow, AKR too will be part of govt (EO)
  • Sources: Pacolli is in Prishtina, joins talk for government formation (Lajmi)
  • Vitia speaks about Pacolli’s return to Kosovo (media)
  • EULEX chief slams Pacolli’s claims on quarantine measures (Kallxo)

Kosovo Media Highlights

Ten new cases of COVID-19, 31 recovered (media)

Acting Minister of Health, Arben Vitia, informed that from 250 samples, ten tested positive with coronavirus on Tuesday, while 31 patients recovered.

Kosovo’s National Public Health Institute informed that five of these new cases are from Kamenica municipality, village Policke, three from Vitia, village Ramjan, one case is from Shtime, village Mallopoljc, and one from Rahovec.

This Institute also informed that from February 8 to April 28 2020, 6,955 samples were tested at their Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Kosovo at present stands at 797.

Kurti: Tremendous progress against COVID-19, but we must not relax (media)

Kosovo’s caretaker Prime Minister Albin Kurti said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that Kosovo has achieved tremendous progress in the fight against COVID – 19, “but this does not mean that should relax, we need to have maximal care”. 

“Thanks to the measures on April 15 and cooperation with most of you, the increase percentage in cases has dropped under 4 percent. This means that the infected citizens are passing the virus less to other people compared to the period before April 15, when the daily increase had gone to 27 percent.” 

“Our further improvement does not solely on the work of the government, it depends from all of us together. We must not allow the progress we achieved so far to relax us, because this could threaten sending the whole process backwards. The virus does not forgive.”  

Vitia: Relaxation of measures to be announced in coming days (RTK)

Acting Minister of Health Arben Vitia, said Kosovo people should be cautious and respect the instructions of the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute, because an immediate increase of the infected would collapse the health system within days.

He said that lifting of the measures will be divided in phases and it will depend on epidemiological  situation. 

“We are also forced to relax the measures in several stages. In the beginning, the freedom of movement of citizens, so the time to go out will not be much longer than it is now. We can double the movement time from 1 hour and 30 minutes as it is now,” he said. 

Speaking about opening of some businesses from 4 May, Vitia warned on keeping the required distance.

He said Kosovo stands better than other countries of the region, adding that fortunately the situation in these countries is also improving. He added that in coordination with these countries, they will decide when to open the borders.

Vitia further informed that dentists and physiotherapists will have the opportunity to work in the second phase, after May 18, while sports activities will be opened in the third phase.

Caretaker PM Kurti’s interview to Euronews Albania

All news websites cover an interview that Kosovo’s caretaker Prime Minister Albin Kurti gave to Euronews Albania on Tuesday.

Asked to comment on the role of US Presidential Envoy for the Kosovo – Serbia Dialogue, Richard Grenell, Kurti said he has been in touch with Grenell even after the no-confidence motion against his government. “Ambassador Grenell visited Kosovo in October and January. I met him on both occasions. In October he said Kosovo must lift the 100 percent tariff and that Serbia would have to stop its campaign against recognitions of Kosovo’s independence. However, after he visited Belgrade in January, he did not talk about the second part anymore [Serbia’s campaign] but only said that Kosovo must lift the tariff, and he did not mention Serbia. His pressure was initially an insistence that the issue should not be discussed. I have communicated with him until recently, even after the government was brought down,” he said.

 Kurti argued that Grenell applied pressure on the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) until they gave up on the issue of the import tariff on Serbia. “He started stepping up pressure against my partner in government until they gave in and yielded. He had a role which was not neutral, but on the contrary, it was a very active role. For me this does not say anything about the United States of America. He is a very powerful envoy of the U.S., with whom I have communicated, but at the same time I did not agree to put into question Kosovo’s interests. I think he was very interested in a very fast agreement between Kosovo and Serbia. His focus was more on the signing of the agreement rather than its content, which would have consequences for Kosovo as a state and its people,” he said. 

Kurti said recent polls show that Vetevendosje has doubled the support it got in the 2019 October parliamentary elections and argued that it would beat the other political parties even if they joined forces in an election. According to Kurti, recent polls show that Vetevendosje would win 50.7 percent of votes, LDK 17%, and PDK would get 12.4%.

Kurti refused to comment on a question about Albanian counterpart Edi Rama’s complete silence on the ousting of his government and other political developments in Kosovo. “In the middle of March I wrote to Prime Minister Rama, telling him to hold a meeting between Rama, Meta, Ruçi, and me, Osmani and Thaçi [Albania and Kosovo’s Prime Ministers, Presidents and Speakers of Parliament], given that we couldn’t hold the governments’ meeting. We would discuss on the pandemic and other things, but I never received a reply on this,” Kurti said.

Mustafa: We have votes to form new government (media)

Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Isa Mustafa told reporters on Tuesday that “we have secured enough votes to form a new government”, several news websites reported. “We certainly have the votes. If we didn’t have them, we wouldn’t be working on this,” Mustafa said prior to meeting NISMA leader Fatmir Limaj as part of talks for the new ruling coalition.

Mustafa said there is no decision yet on who the new government ministers will be. “We are discussing this. I haven’t been directly involved in these talks. The Prime Minister candidate, Avdullah Hoti, is part of this process,” he added.

By not making the letter for PM candidate public, Thaci is impeding the matter to reach the Constitutional Court (Koha)

Five days have passed since the President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci sent a letter to the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) to request the name of the PM candidate and formation of new government.

However, while the letters that Thaci sent to the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) were made public, this did not happen with the letter sent to LDK. The President also did not want to give reasons why the letter is not being made public.

LVV caucus Rexhep Selimi said one of the reasons stands on the flow of legal deadlines. And according to Arton Demhasaj, Executive Director of non-governmental organization “Cohu”, lack of publication of the letter is impeding sending the case of the PM candidate to the Constitutional Court.

A day before writing to the LDK about the PM candidate, Thaci informed LVV through a letter that he will request from the other political parties the possibility to form the government, concluding that the political party of the Acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti, has refused to do so. 

Hoti: Agreement expected tomorrow, AKR too will be part of govt (EO)

Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) candidate for Prime Minister, Avdullah Hoti, told reporters in Prishtina on Tuesday that a coalition agreement is expected to be finalised tomorrow between the LDK, AAK, NISMA, Serbian List and AKR. He said the Pacolli-led AKR too will be part of the new government. 

“I believe we will finalise the agreement tomorrow and we will announce the composition of the new government. With some of the coalition parties we are finalising the names of ministers but also the government principles because this is essential for me,” Hoti said. 

Hoti said the Serbian List’s participation will be in accordance with the constitutional norms. “I believe this will be agreements that will take into consideration the weight of every partner,” he added. 

Hoti also said that once they are ready, they will send a note to President Thaci informing him that they have secured a majority. “This is a matter between us and the President and the moment we are ready we send our note for an agreement to the President,” he said. 

Sources: Pacolli is in Prishtina, joins talk for government formation (Lajmi)

New Kosovo Alliance (AKR) leader Behgjet Pacolli landed in Tirana on Tuesday and then travelled to Prishtina to join ongoing negotiations with the LDK, AAK and NISMA, for a new ruling coalition, the news website reported citing an unidentified source.

The same source said Pacolli’s AKR would get the Ministry for Economic Development in the eventual new coalition government led by LDK’s Avdullah Hoti.

Klan Kosova on the other hand reported that Pacolli would spend the night in Tirana. Indeksonline quoted an unnamed source as saying that Pacolli wants the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs in a new government.

Vitia speaks about Pacolli’s return to Kosovo (media)

Acting Minister of Health Arben Vitia commented on the developments relating to Behgjet Pacolli’s return to Kosovo after he accused the government of denying him arrival at the Pristina airport.

Vitia said Pacolli’s return was unnecessarily politicised and added that if he presents medical documents about his medical condition, he will be able to also self-isolate at his home and not be placed under quarantine measures at the students’ dormitory in Pristina.

“I tried to directly speak to Mr. Pacolli as early as [yesterday] morning to explain to him what the procedures are and that there is no need to politicise the issue,” Vitia said. He added that the 14-day quarantine or self-isolation rules apply to everyone, regardless of their posts.

EULEX chief slams Pacolli’s claims on quarantine measures (Kallxo)

Head of EULEX Lars-Gunnar Wigemark reacted to claims made by leader of the New Kosovo Alliance (AKR) Behgjet Pacolli that the UNMIK and EULEX staff and diplomats were exempted from quarantine measures upon arrival in Kosovo during the pandemic crisis.

“All #EULEX staff returning to #Kosovo have to stay 14 days in quarantine. We have been implementing this policy since end of February and, for instance, 31 Polish police officers who returned to Kosovo last week are now in quarantine in their camp,” Wigermark wrote on Twitter.

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