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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, April 29, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, April 29, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• LDK signs governing coalition agreement with AAK (RTK)
• Thaci another letter to Mustafa, wants name of PM candidate (Indeksonline)
• Veseli: PDK MPs won’t vote a govt of fraud, elections after pandemic (media)
• BiEPAG: Western Balkans in Times of the Global Pandemic (Koha)
• Behgjet Pacolli is still in Tirana (RTK)
• 2018 report: Amnesty for war crimes could be part of Kosovo-Serbia agreement (Koha)
• Hyseni: The matter of the new government to conclude soon (Klan, RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

• NGOs and Media: Responsible institutions to protect human rights (Kosovo Online, KIM Radio, Kontakt plus radio)
• US Ambassador to Serbia: Return to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is important to Washington (Kontakt plus radio, N1)
• Djuric: We disagree on status, but we can’t beat the virus without cooperation (Kosovo Online, Tanjug)
• US Embassy in Pristina: Violence against minorities should be investigated and prosecuted (Kosovo-online)
• Jevtic: Violence against Serb properties must end immediately (Kosovo-online)
• Office for KiM: Burning down of family house in Cernica latest in series of attacks against Serb properties in Kosovo (TV Most)
• One person infected and five more cured of Covid-19 in Kosovo north (Kontakt plus radio)
• KP classified assault on RTV Puls owner case as minor bodily harm and destruction of property (KoSSev)
• EU – WB draft declaration: Close cooperation after crisis (N1)

Opinion:

• Collective amnesia for an elusive normalisation of relations (Prishtina Insight)
• Surroi: The clash between two majorities (Koha)

International:

• Ian Bancroft: With North Kosovo the Only Obstacle is in Your Mind (Kosovo 2.0)
• Recession Looms for Western Balkans as Countries Respond to COVID-19 (miragenews.com)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Number of confirmed coronavirus cases drops (Prishtina Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • LDK signs governing coalition agreement with AAK (RTK)
  • Thaci another letter to Mustafa, wants name of PM candidate (Indeksonline)
  • Veseli: PDK MPs won’t vote a govt of fraud, elections after pandemic (media)
  • BiEPAG: Western Balkans in Times of the Global Pandemic (Koha)
  • Behgjet Pacolli is still in Tirana (RTK)
  • 2018 report: Amnesty for war crimes could be part of Kosovo-Serbia agreement (Koha)
  • Hyseni: The matter of the new government to conclude soon (Klan, RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

  • NGOs and Media: Responsible institutions to protect human rights (Kosovo Online, KIM Radio, Kontakt plus radio)
  • US Ambassador to Serbia: Return to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is important to Washington (Kontakt plus radio, N1)
  • Djuric: We disagree on status, but we can’t beat the virus without cooperation (Kosovo Online, Tanjug)
  • US Embassy in Pristina: Violence against minorities should be investigated and prosecuted (Kosovo-online)
  • Jevtic: Violence against Serb properties must end immediately (Kosovo-online)
  • Office for KiM: Burning down of family house in Cernica latest in series of attacks against Serb properties in Kosovo (TV Most)
  • One person infected and five more cured of Covid-19 in Kosovo north (Kontakt plus radio)
  • KP classified assault on RTV Puls owner case as minor bodily harm and destruction of property (KoSSev)
  • EU – WB draft declaration: Close cooperation after crisis (N1)

Opinion:

  • Collective amnesia for an elusive normalisation of relations (Prishtina Insight)
  • Surroi: The clash between two majorities (Koha)

International: 

  • Ian Bancroft: With North Kosovo the Only Obstacle is in Your Mind (Kosovo 2.0)
  • Recession Looms for Western Balkans as Countries Respond to COVID-19 (miragenews.com)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Number of confirmed coronavirus cases drops (Prishtina Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

LDK signs governing coalition agreement with AAK (RTK)

Ramush Haradinaj, leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) informed after the meeting with the leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), Isa Mustafa and the candidate for the Prime Minister from LDK Avdullah Hoti, that they have signed the agreement for governing coalition.

“Today, together with the candidate for Deputy Prime Minister Besnik Tahiri, we met with the leader of the LDK Isa Mustafa and the candidate for the Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti. We reached an agreement for coalition, new governing,” Haradinaj said. 

Haradinaj said his political party will lead with four ministries and will also have the position of the Deputy Prime Minister.

“Besnik Tariri will be the Principal Deputy to the Prime Minister, Meliza Haradinaj will lead with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Selim Selimi with the Ministry of Justice, Blerim Kuci will be Minister for Economic Development, and Rame Lika, Minister for Education,” Haradinaj said.

The meeting took place after Hoti’s announcement that the agreements for coalition with AAK and the Social-Democratic Initiative (NISMA) will be reached today.

Thaci another letter to Mustafa, wants name of PM candidate (Indeksonline)

The news website claims to have seen a copy of another letter that Kosovo President Hashim Thaci has sent to Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Isa Mustafa calling on him to propose a Prime Minister candidate that will prove he has the required majority in parliament and pledge to form a stable and broad-based government and in line with the guiding principles.

Thaci wrote in his letter that in a recent meeting with representatives of political parties he presented “the guiding principles for the formation of a new government with the aim of avoiding elections”.

Veseli: PDK MPs won’t vote a govt of fraud, elections after pandemic (media)

Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) leader Kadri Veseli said today that no MP from his party will vote in favor of a new eventual government consisting of the LDK, AAK, NISMA and minority communities.  

“No PDK MP will vote in favor of a government of frauds. LDK and VV are responsible for the current situation and they need to find a solution. We want the country to go to new democratic elections after the pandemic,” Veseli said during a visit to Hani i Elezit today. 

BiEPAG: Western Balkans in Times of the Global Pandemic (Koha)

The Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG) think tank published a report titled “Western Balkans in Times of the Global Pandemic” identifying critical fields where the pandemic and the respective governments’ responses pose a challenge for the region.

The fields identified by the report include the role of the state, democracy and state capture, geopolitical shifts, new nationalisms, social resilience, environmental impact, migration and health care, health care and social security, and economic implications.

Kosovo is referred to in the report under the section of democracy and state capture saying that “a perfect storm” managed to oust a newly appointed government.

“If the caretaker government is marginalized by the President – who, with the declaration of the state of emergency, will take full charge of the situation – there is a possibility of a Kosovo-Serbia agreement facilitated by the US administration signed between the two presidents, but lacking broader democratic legitimacy and involving land swap, with all its destabilizing potential for the region,” the report warns.

Under the recommendation section, the authors note that the EU needs to include all Western Balkans countries in its emergency response,  irrespective of the status of their accession talks.

“The full inclusion of the region is essential so as to prevent dire economic consequences and geopolitical drift. Support to overcome post-crisis economic and social effects should be conditioned on measures to reduce state capture.”

See the full report: https://bit.ly/2VJCVFQ

Behgjet Pacolli is still in Tirana (RTK)

Kosovo’s national broadcaster RTK reports that Behgjet Pacolli has not entered Kosovo. Pacolli was in Switzerland from the beginning of the pandemic, while he reportedly arrived in Tirana last night.

“Pacolli is still in Tirana,” his adviser Naim Murseli is quoted as saying. He added that they will inform later when Pacolli would return to Pristina.  

There were several statements of government officials on Tuesday with regards to Pacolli’s return. They stressed he has to quarantine for 14 days as each Kosovo citizen who returned from abroad during the pandemic period.

2018 report: Amnesty for war crimes could be part of Kosovo-Serbia agreement (Koha)

The news website carries an article originally published in the print edition of Koha Ditore in July of 2018 where it quoted what is said were reliable diplomatic sources saying that amnesty for war crimes, applying to the two sides, could be part of a final agreement between Kosovo and Serbia and that there was a level of readiness on the part of negotiators both in Kosovo and Serbia for this to be implemented.

Sources said that the Specialist Chambers would cease to function as a result of this amnesty agreement.

The Office of the President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci is reported to have indirectly confirmed that amnesty could be part of the package. “Of course that in case of an agreement, it would comprise of many other issues, respectively special protocols. Amnesty and reconciliation could be one of these special issues,” the office had said in a written reply to the paper.

It added: “One thing is clear. Kosovo is a democratic country that respects international conventions and laws. Therefore, in case there is an amnesty agreement between the two countries, this would have to be categorised and only include certain crimes or criminal acts.”

The Office of the President stressed that this means that even if there is amnesty, it would not be applied to war crimes as this would be in conflict to the international law.

Hyseni: The matter of the new government to conclude soon (Klan, RTK)

Member of the leadership of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) Skender Hyseni informed that they are discussing also with the New Kosovo Alliance (AKR) for the formation of the new government.  

Asked whether they were discussing with Behgjet Pacolli for the formation of the new government, Hyseni confirmed but did not want to give further details.

“First of all, I can say that discussions and contacts are ongoing and I believe that the matter of the formation of the new government will conclude soon. This is what I can say for now, I cannot go into details,” Hyseni said. 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

NGOs and Media: Responsible institutions to protect human rights (Kosovo Online, KIM Radio, Kontakt plus radio)

A group of non-governmental organizations and media from Kosovo issued a statement once again condemning the physical attack on the owner of the company ”Pulse Engineering” and RTV Puls Nenad Milenkovic and demand that all the facts surrounding the event be determined, report media in Kosovo in Serbian language. 

NGOs and media in Kosovo require:

-The police to issue an urgent statement detailing what exactly happened in the attack on Nenad Milenkovic in downtown North Mitrovica on April 27, 2020;

– The Prosecutor on duty to publicly disclose what he did after the act of violence and against those responsible for the attack;

–  The Municipality of North Mitrovica to announce on the attack and provide all support to clarify the case;

– The police to urgently determine why video surveillance cameras were not working in front of the seat of the Kosovska Mitrovica Interim Authority at the time of the attack;

– The Provisional Body of the Municipality of Kosovska Mitrovica to urgently make available to the public all relevant data related to the procurement process for at least the period from 1 January 2019 to the present, and present it at a public conference within 2 weeks;

-The Office for KiM to identify the circumstances under which the attack on Milenkovic occurred, verify his allegations of unlawful procurement by the Kosovska Mitrovica Municipal Authority, and then initiate a possible proceeding either against the Temporary Body for misuse, or against Milenkovic for presenting false information. 

NGOs and media representatives are demanding that the relevant institutions “transparently and responsibly do their job, protect human rights and freedoms, and do their best to ensure that public funds are used in the proper interest of the citizens and the community.”

The announcement was signed by “Media Center” Caglavica, “Center for Peace and Tolerance” Gracanica, “Black and White World” Leposavic, “Aktiv” Mitrovica North, “Center for Community Development” Mitrovica North, “Communication for Social Development” Gracanica, “Center for Social initiatives” Mitrovica North, “ New Social Initiative ” Mitrovica north, Human Center Mitrovica and “Institute for Territorial Economic Development ”Zubin Potok, Radio Gorazdevac, RTV Kim Caglavica, Gracanica Online Portal, Radio Kontakt Plus – Mitrovica North, RTV Mir Leposavic and RTV Herc – Strpce.

US Ambassador to Serbia: Return to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is important to Washington (Kontakt plus radio, N1)

US Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey said his country’s policy towards the Western Balkans has not changed due to the pandemic and that return to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is important to Washington, quotes Kontakt plus radio.

“Our policy towards the Western Balkans has not changed. My colleagues in Washington are unhappy with the loss of progress that could have been made, but I think we can make up for that,” Godfrey told regional broadcaster N1 this  morning.

He added that it is difficult to predict when the Kosovo problem will be resolved, as the situation with the formation of a government there is awaited in order to continue the dialogue.

He said that Serbia had helped Pristina a lot in the fight against the coronavirus, and that he hoped it was an opportunity to move forward.

The ambassador said he was optimistic about the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, adding that US Special Envoy Richard Grenell was in constant contact with leaders on both sides.

Commenting on the restrictive measures taken by the Serbian government to prevent the spread of the Covid 19, Godfrey said the pandemic was a major challenge, and that each country had its own approach, but that Serbia had done a good job.

“It is a whole new situation. I would like to commend the Government of Serbia and its actions in the fight against the virus. I think they have done a good job. There are criticisms of the government’s approach, some people think that the measures have gone too far. I would not criticize the government,” he said. 

But he added, however, that he shared the European Union’s concerns about the state of media freedoms, but that it had nothing to do with the coronavirus.

The United States has earmarked $ 1.2 million to help Serbia combat the pandemic.

“A set of 6,000 tests is part of our help, the other part is the hygiene kits that go to the most vulnerable. More help is coming, but US assistance programs in Serbia are ongoing,” he added.

Godfrey told N1 that aiding is not a competition, and that Serbia, as a sovereign country, should have contacts and receive assistance from both China and Russia.

Djuric: We disagree on status, but we can’t beat the virus without cooperation (Kosovo Online, Tanjug)

Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric says that  by treating humanitarian aid in Kosovo, everyone showed themselves in the right light, both human and political, and that it was not bad that the international community and the public could see the civilizational level of those who said – “even if we die, we will not have Serbian medicines or tests,” quoted portal Kosovo Online the Tanjug’s report.  

Djuric added that cooperation was established with the Kosovo Ministry of Health, which helped Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo, he said and added that Belgrade also helped them as much as it could, “because we cannot win the virus without cooperation even though we will not agree on status “.

He also reminded that Pristina did not abolish, but temporarily suspended the tariffs, and that it was crucial for Serbia that Washington took the position that the tariffs had to be abolished, after which it could be talked. 

“I am not an over optimist, because our views are completely different, but that does not mean that we cannot contribute to greater security of people. It is better to talk 1,000 days than to make war one day,” Djuric concluded.

US Embassy in Pristina: Violence against minorities should be investigated and prosecuted (Kosovo-online)

The violence against minority communities and recent arsons in which houses owned by Serbs were burned down should be investigated and prosecuted, the US Embassy in Pristina said, Kosovo-online portal reports.

“Violence targeting minority communities, including recent alleged arson affecting houses owned by Kosovo Serbs, should be unacceptable to all citizens who believe in peace and justice.  Such incidents should be fully investigated and prosecuted,” the Embassy wrote on Twitter. 

Jevtic: Violence against Serb properties must end immediately (Kosovo-online)

Non-majority communities deserve equal opportunities and protection in particular at the moment when growing trend of violence against their properties is evident, Minister for Communities and Returns Dalibor Jevtic said, reacting to the latest incident targeting the Serb community in Kosovo, in which a house in Cernica village was set on fire.

Jevtic further noted that all the efforts made so far to enable a better future for all go in vain after learning that the houses belonging to non-majority communities are being set on fire, their cemeteries desecrated and their property stolen unobstructed.

In a press statement Jevtic warned that over the last couple of days and weeks synchronized attacks against the Serb properties are taking place, adding that the inferiority of the Kosovo institutions and Albanian intellectual elite in this regard are rather concerning.

“Novake near Prizren, Babin Most near Obilic, Crkolez near Istok, Orahovac and Cernica near Gnjilane have become targets of extremists. The violence against Serb properties and properties of other non-majority communities must end immediately,” Jevtic underlined.   

Office for KiM: Burning down of family house in Cernica latest in series of attacks against Serb properties in Kosovo (TV Most)

Burning down of the Cvetkovic family house in the village of Cernica is the latest in a series of attacks against the Serb properties in Kosovo, and therefore we request responsible authorities to undertake the most decisive measures to end this wave of violence and punish the perpetrators, Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija said in a statement, TV Most reports.

The Office also said that over the last couple of weeks there were many positive examples of Serbian-Albanian cooperation in fighting the common enemy coronavirus, and one must not allow that inhumanity which stands behind this and previous attacks against the Serb properties becomes something that we would remember about these difficult days.

The Office once again in the strongest terms condemned all those who resort to violence to satisfy their chauvinistic or self-interests at these challenging times for the entire humankind, TV Most reports. 

One person infected and five more cured of Covid-19 in Kosovo north (Kontakt plus radio)

One new patient was registered in the last 24 hours, while five others were cured of Covid-19, according to the Emergency Situations Headquarters of the municipality of Kosovska Mitrovica, reports Kontakt plus radio. 

The newly infected is from Zubin Potok.

Of the five cured from Covid-19, two persons are from Mitrovica north, while one is from Leposavic, Zvecan and Zubin Potok.

Mitrovica north, 38 patients were affected by Covid-19 (two died, 19 were cured), in Zvecan 23 (one died, 17 were cured), in Zubin Potok 21 (one died, 10 were cured) and in Leposavic 15 (four died and six cured).

In Kosovska Mitrovica, there are currently 23 persons at the Student Center, while 10 patients are hospitalized at Clinical Hospital Center. 

At Kragujevac Clinic center are two patients, and two are in Clinical Hospital Center “Dr Dragisa Misovic”.

In northern Kosovo, the total number of patients is 97.

So far, 52 people have been cured, while 8 patients have died.

KP classified assault on RTV Puls owner case as minor bodily harm and destruction of property (KoSSev)

Kosovo police announced new details about yesterday’s assault of RTV Puls owner from Silovo, Nenad Milenkovic and his colleague C.G. (1984). The assault took place outside the Mitrovica North municipal building. The case has been classified as “minor bodily harm“ and “destruction or damage of property“. The perpetrators remain unknown for the time being, Kosovo police spokesman for the north region, Branislav Radovic confirmed for KoSSev.

“On April  27, around 9:40 hrs, unknown persons attacked Serbs, employees of TV Puls from Silovo near Gnjilane, in Lole Ribara Street in Mitrovica, in front of the Mitrovica municipality,” Radovic said.

He confirmed the allegations made by Milenkovic yesterday that the injured party intended to submit tender documentation for the construction of residential buildings.

“The owner of Puls from Silovo came to submit an offer to participate in a tender for the construction of residential buildings in Mitrovica North. At the time, the director and employees of TV Puls were not on duty but came as representatives of the Puls company, which is also registered for construction works. They came to submit tender documentation, which had been stolen,“ Radovic said.

See at: https://bit.ly/2W6dRbi

EU – WB draft declaration: Close cooperation after crisis (N1)

The European Union welcomes the Western Balkans countries’ efforts to empower democracy and the rule of law, anti-corruption fight and the respect of human and gender rights, the bloc’s draft declaration to be discussed during the Summit in Zagreb on May 6, says, N1 reports.

At the same time, the Western Balkans’ leaders are asked to strictly respect the fundamental values, democratic principles and the rule of law despite the emergency measures introduced to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

“Social transformation and efficient implementation of the reforms rest on those foundations,” the draft said, adding that the independent media and civil society had a crucial role in the democratization processes.

The European leaders reiterated their full support of the European perspective of the regional countries, which said that view was their strategic goal.

See at: https://bit.ly/2KL7p3Y

 

 

Opinion

 

Collective amnesia for an elusive normalisation of relations (Prishtina Insight)

Proposing amnesty for war crimes as a golden ticket to securing a final comprehensive agreement between Kosovo and Serbia jeopardises the pursuit of justice for human rights violations in Kosovo, with a senseless disregard for victims and their families, writes Raba Gjoshi in an opinion piece.

“An amnesty for crimes committed on the territory of Kosovo during the war has once again been raised as a solution for finalising a comprehensive agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.

“Such a proposal has been made before, and it remains a gross miscalculation of the nature of the peace and reconciliation that people in Kosovo have been seeking, with impunity for war crimes contradicting the very foundations upon which Kosovo’s statehood is based.”

See at: https://bit.ly/2SgOWRd

Surroi: The clash between two majorities (Koha)

Publicist Veton Surroi argues in an opinion piece that “we are witnessing efforts to smuggle a new government by sidestepping the constitutional norms”. He writes that the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) considers it has been mandated by the President to form a new government and is holding consultations with interested parties for a coalition. The moment it has the signatures for a coalition agreement it will send a note to the President to prove it has the majority in parliament to form a new government. According to Surroi, “the smuggling will create two realities: one is the violation of the Constitution (according to an earlier interpretation by the Constitutional Court on analogue issues). Another is the formation of the government with a majority of 61 votes. These two realities are in opposition with one another and create a natural collision. The acting government has in its favor the procedure (the Constitution) but not the numbers (the majority in parliament). The smuggled government would have in its favor the majority, but not the procedure (the Constitution)”.

Surroi argues that “instead of the motives of a new and smuggled government, maybe it is easier to understand it through three basic components. This government would consist of three lists: the Serbian List, the Russian List and the List of Incomes”.

He further writes that “the Serbian List is part of the acting government, but not as a member of the coalition. The smuggled government wants the Serbian List to join their coalition. This means that a coalition cannot be formed without their votes. This also means that the smuggled coalition cannot be formed without Belgrade’s direct consent.”

“The clash that will result from the two parallel and contradicting realities (an acting government with support from the Constitution and a smuggled government with support from 61 MPs) would be dangerous for any country in any situation. Even more so for Kosovo in the time of the pandemic. Perhaps when the highest peak of confrontation is reached, there will be maturity to seek a procedural way to resolve the mess that is being created”.

 

 

International

 

Ian Bancroft: With North Kosovo the Only Obstacle is in Your Mind (Kosovo 2.0)

Writer and diplomat speaks about his recent book on the north of Kosovo, dissolving misconceptions around the north and showing its humanity.

Ian Bancroft spent just under four years working and living with his family in north Mitrovica.

As coordinator of the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) office covering the north of Kosovo, he had the unique opportunity to work with and have access to both the power structures and regular citizens who live in the north of Mitrovica. But the north is much more than Mitrovica; there are four municipalities and history and traditions that many citizens of either Kosovo or Serbia know very little about.

Full interview is available at: https://bit.ly/2Sg9ARu

Recession Looms for Western Balkans as Countries Respond to COVID-19 (miragenews.com)

The Western Balkans region is expected to enter a recession in 2020, with all six countries forecast to experience negative growth as they continue to grapple with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

Regional growth in the Western Balkans is forecast to be between -3 and -5.6 percent, according to the World Bank’s latest Regular Economic Report (RER) – which uses a baseline scenario and a downside scenario in the face of high uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. The baseline scenario assumes that the outbreak in Europe begins to slow soon enough, such that containment measures can be lifted by the end of June and a gradual recovery can begin in the second half of 2020. The downside scenario assumes the outbreak lingers and containment measures can only be lifted at end of August, with a recovery of economic activity only in final quarter of 2020.

“The magnitude of the recession depends on the duration of the pandemic in Europe. While the economic impact of the ongoing pandemic in the region is difficult to forecast, there is little doubt that this pandemic is wreaking havoc on lives around the region – taxing health care systems, paralyzing economic activity, and undermining the wellbeing of people,” says Linda Van Gelder, World Bank Country Director for the Western Balkans.

“Over the medium-term, growth is expected to rebound strongly in the region, as economic activity gradually returns to normal, but this also depends on the length and intensity of the current crisis, as well as what steps policymakers take to address this pandemic.”

See at:https://bit.ly/35emW5S

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Number of confirmed coronavirus cases drops (Prishtina Insight)

For the first time in the six weeks since the outbreak began, the number of those recorded as recovered from coronavirus in Kosovo has outnumbered new cases announced, with 35 people recovered and only 17 new cases reported on Monday, which has been hailed as a promising start to the new week by public officials.

See at: https://bit.ly/2YfQm23

 

 

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