Albanian Language Media:
- LDK, NISMA reach coalition agreement (media)
- Thaci: International silence created amnesty for Serbia’s crimes (media)
- Sources: Pacolli to arrive in Kosovo today (Koha)
- Prishtina Mayor calls on leaders to set aside differences (media)
- LDK leader reacts to Svecla’s remarks (media)
- Abazi: Parties, especially LDK, must distance themselves from Thaci (media)
Serbian Language Media:
- New incident against Serb community in Kosovo (Radio KIM)
- SL: Passivity of police and lack of responsibility among Albanian leaders and international community concerning (Kosovo-online)
- Five new cases of Covid-19 infection in north, four persons cured (Kosovo-online)
- Vucic: We may lift the state of emergency next week; The unstable situation in Kosovo does not suit Serbia (B92, RTS, Kontakt plus radio)
- EU High Representative Borell wants Kosovo dialogue resumed soon (N1)
- Serbian Trade Minister says 16 million Euro in goods shipped to Kosovo (Blic, N1)
- “KEK will no longer drill holes without consent of Kuzmin residents” (Radio KIM)
- CoE SecGen warns against media restrictions during pandemic (N1)
- Media: Curfew in Serbia from 6 pm on Thursday, April 30 to 5 am on Saturday May 2 (B92)
- Delevic: Special Prosecution indicted five persons (Radio Kosovska Mitrovica)
- Kosovo-Serbia Land Swap Deal Risks Destabilizing the Balkans, Researchers Group Warns (exit.al)
- The dialogue between two people will continue, and not two societies (KIM radio)
- Why Serbia’s President Vucic chose Richard Grenell over Angela Merkel (EurActiv)
- COVID-Related Boom Reveals Video Conferencing’s Dark Side (Balkan Insight)
- UNFPA and UN Women continue offering support to victims of gender-based violence (Radio KIM)
Albanian Language Media
LDK, NISMA reach coalition agreement (media)
NISMA leader Fatmir Limaj told reporters after meeting LDK leader Isa Mustafa today that they have signed a coalition agreement.
Limaj said his party would have two ministries and the post of deputy prime minister in a new coalition government.
“Kosovo needs a government that can function according to the laws and rules, something that has been lacking for some time now,” he said.
According to Indeksonline, NISMA will get the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Thaci: International silence created amnesty for Serbia’s crimes (media)
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci criticised today what he called the silence of the international community over Serbia’s crimes in Kosovo.
“It is clear that Serbia committed genocide, ethnic cleansing, in Kosovo. The international silence created a kind of amnesty for Serbia’s genocide. However, there is no time, factor or circumstance that can amnesty the Serbian genocide in Kosovo,” Thaci said.
Sources: Pacolli to arrive in Kosovo today (Koha)
New Kosovo Alliance (AKR) leader Behgjet Pacolli will arrive in Kosovo today, the news website reports citing sources in the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment. “Yes, he will arrive at 15:30,” the source said.
Prishtina Mayor calls on leaders to set aside differences (media)
Prishtina Mayor Shpend Ahmeti called on political leaders today to set aside their differences and focus on helping the people during the coronavirus pandemic. Ahmeti’s call comes after an exchange of accusations between President Thaci and Vetevendosje representatives.
“Let us distribute aid and food packages to those in need. Set aside your disputes. It is better if we help the people until the pandemic passes,” Ahmeti said.
LDK leader reacts to Svecla’s remarks (media)
Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Isa Mustafa took to Facebook today to comment on last night’s press conference by acting Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla. Mustafa criticised Svecla for “shamelessly threatening to arrest an MP and party leader” in reference to AKR leader Behgjet Pacolli.
Mustafa said when they divided government ministries in the previous coalition with Vetevendosje, he first chose the Ministry of Interior Affairs “fearing that they would use this ministry to arrest their opponents”.
Abazi: Parties, especially LDK, must distance themselves from Thaci (media)
Kosovo’s acting Deputy Prime Minister, Haki Abazi, said today that all political parties, especially the Democratic League of Kosovo, must distance themselves from the discourse of President Hashim Thaci. His reaction comes one day after Thaci referred to the Vetevendosje Movement as a criminal enterprise. Abazi said Thaci’s insistence to declare a state of emergency should make it clear to the LDK what his real motives are. He also argued that the LDK is sidestepping some of its own members by supporting Thaci.
Serbian Language Media
New incident against Serb community in Kosovo (Radio KIM)
Serbian school “21 November” in the village of Gojbulja, in Vucitrn municipality became the target of a vandal attack, Radio KIM reports.
“Graffiti was inscribed, window broken and football goalposts scattered on a school playground,” Minister for Communities and Returns Dalibor Jevtic wrote on Facebook.
It was also said that after the incident, the perpetrators rang the bell of the Serbian Orthodox Saint Petka Church.
“Our findings indicate this was done by young men, aged around 25, whom police met. We are shocked over the number of incidents against Serbs and their properties that are taking place over the last couple of days,” Jevtic further said.
He also requested an urgent reaction from responsible authorities.
Around 100 Serbs live in the village of Gojbulja nowadays.
SL: Passivity of police and lack of responsibility among Albanian leaders and international community concerning (Kosovo-online)
Serbian List (SL) condemned today the latest attacks against the Serb in the villages of Gojbulja and Babin Most, adding that these ethnically motivated attacks caused uneasiness among the Serb population, Kosovo-online portal reports.
In a statement delivered to the media, SL said that the passivity of the Kosovo police which neither prevents these attacks nor tries to find the perpetrators is concerning.
“We condemn in the strongest terms these misdeeds as well as lack of a minimum of responsibility among the Albanian leaders and part of the international community, respectively their embassies, to raise the voice and condemn these attacks. Unfortunately, we are also concerned over the silence of Serbian and Albanian non-governmental organizations that should protect and fight for the rights of all citizens,” Serbian List noted.
Five new cases of Covid-19 infection in north, four persons cured (Kosovo-online)
Five new cases of Covid-19 infection were registered in northern Kosovo over the last 24 hours, while four persons have fully recovered, Kosovo-online portal reports.
Out of five new cases, three were registered in Mitrovica North, one in Zvecan and one in Leposavic.
Epidemiologist Aleksandar Antonijevic said that the number of newly infected persons is not concerning, given that the higher number of people are getting tested, as per recommendation of the Serbian Government.
He once again appealed to the citizens to respect measures, do not leave houses without urgent need and wear protective equipment while outside.
He also asked citizens not to get relaxed during forthcoming holidays, because everything goes in a good direction, and it could be spoiled by lack of discipline and assuming that we had overcome everything.
32 samples were sent for testing this morning, and results are expected this evening, while during the course of a day samples of 35 more people would be taken.
The total number of Covid-19 infected persons since the beginning of pandemic in the Serb-populated areas is 102, while eight persons have passed away. 56 persons have been cured.
Vucic: We may lift the state of emergency next week; The unstable situation in Kosovo does not suit Serbia (B92, RTS, Kontakt plus radio)
Serbian President Aleksandra Vucic said in RTS Show ‘’Oko” last night that curfew begins at 6 pm on Thursday and runs until 5 am on Saturday and stressed that “would not rule out the possibility” of an end to the state of emergency at the end of next week and no curfew thereafter.
Concerning relations in Kosovo, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he expected major political upheavals in Pristina and said that the unstable situation in Kosovo did not suit Belgrade.
President Vucic said he thought it might happen that the state of emergency was lifted next week, adding that “we want to leave the state of emergency.”
For that to happen, he said, one should wait for seven days of good results in the fight against coronavirus as in the previous three days.
“You ask me the question as if it depends on me, it depends on the virus and the decision of the doctors,” President of Serbia responded when asked when the citizens of Serbia would return to their pre-epidemic state.
He added that he understood that people were impatient, but that impatience was not an ally for the moment.
“People haven’t even had a chance to see what the real crisis looks like,” Vucic explained.
“None of us are sadists, nobody wanted to bother people, we just wanted to save the country and our people,” he said, stating that the numbers were good.
He added that the doctors agreed with the measures. He said that he spoke with Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Dr Predrag Kon, and today he would come up with a proposal that epidemiologists have been seeking.
“I said we would listen to the profession, not politics. We would come out with a proposal that tomorrow, Thursday at 6 pm, a ban on movement would last until Saturday at 5 am.”
The unstable situation in Kosovo does not suit Serbia
Vucic said that “it is not an easy situation” when the strongest party in the future government, the Democratic Alliance of Kosovo, has the support of 21 percent of citizens, while in the opposition remained the Self-Determination of former Prime Minister Aljbin Kurti with 37 percent of support.
“Big upheavals are expected in Pristina, the legitimacy is on the seesaw there, because the split is half-and-half. The first in the government has 21 percent and Kurti remains in opposition with 37 percent. This is not an easy situation, because you have a problem with legitimacy,” said Vucic.
He stated that Serbia did not suit such a situation and that it cannot take advantage of it.”
If the situation in Pristina was more stable than you would have partners for discussion. With the unstable situation, they would race who would repeat more that Serbia committed genocide. I am not looking forward to any turbulence in Pristina, or anywhere in the region,” Vucic added.
He said he did not know how the relations between Belgrade and Pristina would unfold in the future, and added that he had had several talks with Special Representatives of the EU and the US President for the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo, Miroslav Lajcak and Richard Grenell in recent days.
“I do not know how it will go, I would like that an absolutely free flow of goods, capital and services is established. This is crucial for both us and them. There will be many problems, nothing will be easy,” the Serbian president said.
EU High Representative Borell wants Kosovo dialogue resumed soon (N1)
European Union High Representative Josep Borrell said on Thursday that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue needs to be resumed soon, reported regional broadcaster N1.
“The current status quo is not tenable. There is no alternative to a rapid resumption of the normalization talks between Belgrade and Pristina” the EU’s top diplomat said in a written reply to a question from the European Parliament.
He added that “Serbia and Kosovo need to create an environment that is conducive for the Dialogue to resume, to the benefit of both” and that he is looking forward to a swift resumption of the dialogue to help achieve a comprehensive normalization of relations.
Borell recalled in the reply that he “underlined his readiness to play his role as the facilitator of the Dialogue on behalf of the EU and to continue engaging with all political actors in Kosovo” following a visit to Belgrade and Pristina earlier this year and that he welcomed the Kosovo Government’s decision to lift the 100 percent tariffs on goods from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina as a step which had a positive effect on restoring regional trade and ensuring the free flow of goods to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
Serbian Trade Minister says 16 million Euro in goods shipped to Kosovo (Blic, N1)
Trade Minister Rasim Ljajic told Belgrade daily Blic that almost 16 million Euro worth of goods have been shipped from central Serbia to Kosovo in April.
He said that the value of goods shipped to Kosovo in April 2018, before the authorities in Pristina imposed 100 percent tariffs on goods from Serbia, stood at 37.6 million Euro.
“There were no problems in trade during the crisis probably because the market in Kosovo needed raw goods from Serbia, as well as wheat, corn, flour, fertilizer and other goods,” he said.
“KEK will no longer drill holes without consent of Kuzmin residents” (Radio KIM)
Residents of Kuzmin village met yesterday with the Kosovo Polje municipality deputy mayor and KEK’s representatives in order to find a solution to the problem of unlawful drilling on their properties in a pursuit for coal, Radio KIM reports.
Resident of the village and a lawyer Jovana Filipovic told Radio KIM after the meeting that KEK officials promised they will no longer enter into the private properties without prior consent of the owner of the land parcel.
“They said they were entering the properties without consent of the owners because they could not find the owners. This reason does not stand because at any moment they could have asked any of the residents and got the information where to find the owners of the parcels,” Filipovic said.
The Kuzmin residents also requested to be provided with an environmental impact assessment report, which according to Filipovic should have been prepared prior to commencing the works.
“We were told they have the report, but cannot give it to us because it was not a public document. We will continue insisting on getting that report, if it was prepared at all, and we will ask that decisions are given to us in the Serbian language.
Decision from 2009
The Kuzmin residents at yesterday’s meeting also found out that the village they live in, by the decision of the Kosovo Government from 2009 was declared as “a zone of economic interest.” At that time Kosovo Prime Minister was Hashim Thaci. This decision, after 11 years, was handed over to the residents in the Albanian language.
“We have received decisions of the government from 2008 and 2009, however, in the Albanian language only. We were told that by these decisions our village was declared as a zone of economic interest. KEK representatives promised that their commission to assess the damage made would visit us and make assessments, and after that the financial compensation would be paid on the bank accounts of the affected persons,” Filipovic said.
She added that the commission in addition to assessing the damage and ensuring financial compensation should also instruct that the drilled holes currently filled with water are covered up.
CoE SecGen warns against media restrictions during pandemic (N1)
Council of Europe (CoE) Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric on Thursday warned against excessive restrictions on the media during the coronavirus pandemic and expressed concern over violence against journalists.
A statement released ahead of World Press Freedom Day on May 3 called governments to “avoid unduly restricting media freedom during the crisis”.
“Governments are facing unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 crisis, but the situation must not be used to silence or hinder journalists,” she said, calling member states to protect the role of journalists as “watchdogs” and as an important part of the necessary checks and balances in democratic societies.
The statement added that the media must be free to report on all aspects of the crisis. “Journalists have a key role and a special responsibility for providing timely, accurate and reliable information to the public. They must be able to scrutinise the decisions of authorities in response to the pandemic. Through responsible reporting, journalists can also help prevent panic from spreading and highlight positive examples of solidarity in our societies. I have been personally impressed and encouraged by the many media reports I have seen of citizens helping each other and of carers, nurses, doctors and other ‘heroes’ on the frontline of this crisis,” she is quoted as saying.
Pejcinovic Buric expressed concern over the trend of violence and intimidation against journalists reported by the CoE Platform for the Protection of Journalism and the Safety of Journalists.
“Unfortunately, the worrying trend of violence and intimidation against journalists observed in recent years continues. Too many journalists are in prison and there are too many cases of impunity for the killing of journalists. I am also aware of the difficult economic situation that many journalists find themselves in today”, she said.
Media: Curfew in Serbia from 6 pm on Thursday, April 30 to 5 am on Saturday May 2 (B92)
The Crisis Staff adopted a decision on banning movement in Serbia from Thursday 30 April at 6 pm to Saturday 2 May at 5 am, media reported.
During that period, citizens over the age of 65 will be able to go outside on two occasions, per an hour, they said. According to the media, the measure that will apply after curfew is banning gatherings of more than two people in a public area.
Delevic: Special Prosecution indicted five persons (Radio Kosovska Mitrovica)
In the Kosovo Police action, conducted on May 28 last year, 19 Kosovo police members, including 11 Serbs, 4 Albanians and 4 Bosniaks were arrested, including one commander, three lieutenants and fifteen police officers.
Attorney Milos Delevic confirmed this for the Radio Kosovska Mitrovica that a special prosecutor’s office in Pristina has indicted five people.
“Three persons are members of the Kosovo Police who have been charged with having committed three criminal offenses of Participation in an organized criminal group referred to in Article 283, Abuse of office and authority under Article 422, and receiving a bribe under Article 429, while two persons are charged with Smuggling of goods and bribing,” said Delevic.
He expressed the expectation that the court would schedule a preparatory hearing or a so-called first hearing at the statutory deadline, at which these persons would enter a plea.
“The Defense considers that the President of the Chamber violated the proceedings because she extended judicial custody after the indictments had been filed, and without scheduling a hearing to hear the prosecution’s arguments and the defense’s about the extension of custody. I am genuinely concerned about the deteriorated health of my client, Veroljub Dimitrijevic, who has been in custody since May 28, 2019. Namely, he has had severe inflammation of the veins for a long time. I didn’t even get a response to the multiple requests where I asked from the pre-trial judge to order him a more lenient measure, or to allow him to be transferred to Kosovska Mitrovica,” Delevic said.
“He is a citizen of Kosovo and has a family living in Kosovo and all movable and immovable property is in Kosovo. I also don’t see the logic that he may possibly destroy the evidence in the Special Prosecutor’s Office, and much less that he may repeat the crime when he is no longer employed by the Kosovo Police,” said lawyer Milos Delevic.
Within the same action of the Kosovo Police, two more police officers were arrested (D.P., V.T.) at Jarinje crossing and in South Mitrovica, as well as one Kosovo police member in Zubin Potok (B.T.).
On October 24, the Kosovo Police Inspectorate and investigators of the Investigation Department, in cooperation with Kosovo police, arrested three other police officers in North Mitrovica.
Kosovo-Serbia Land Swap Deal Risks Destabilizing the Balkans, Researchers Group Warns (exit.al)
A group of researchers and experts from the Western Balkans and Europe have warned against a Kosovo-Serbia deal that would include land swap.
In a policy brief titled “The Western Balkans in Times of the Global Pandemic”, BiEPAG researchers (The Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group) argue that such deal signed by presidents and facilitated by the US administration would have no democratic legitimacy and would potentially destabilize the region.
“Kosovo is the best example of how a pandemic can create a perfect storm to oust a newly appointed government. Despite the fact that the clashes between Prime Minister Kurti and President Thaci have been long-standing, the debate over the state of emergency which would empower the weakening figure of the President triggered a political crisis. Kosovo marks the first case in which a government has been toppled in a no-confidence vote during the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.”
BiEPAG is a cooperation initiative of the European Fund for the Balkans (EFB) and Centre for the Southeast European Studies of the University of Graz (CSEES). It aim at promoting the Western Balkans’ integration in to the EU and consolidation of democracy in these countries.
Well-established researchers contribute to policy analysis by BiEPAG. The latest paper was authored by Florian Bieber, Tena Prelec, Marika Djolai, Donika Emini, Jovana Marović, Srdjan Majstorović, Vedran Džihić, Alida Vračić, with contributions by Nikos Tzifakis, Natasha Wunsch, Will Bartlett, Richard Grieveson and Mario Holzner.
See the policy here: https://bit.ly/2VPAG3R
The dialogue between two people will continue, and not two societies (KIM radio)
In a new ”Dogovor” TV Show, political analyst from Pristina Ramush Tahiri thinks that the new government will be formed soon, and that it will have 15 ministries as the previous one. His Belgrade counterpart Milivoje Mihajlovic points out that after the election of the new government, power will return into Hashim Thaci’s hands.
Former Kosovo Presidential Adviser Ramush Tahiri said the government would be formed quickly, as President Thaci entrusted his mandate to the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). The LDK then nominated Avdullah Hoti as the new prime minister and began talks with the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, NISMA, minority communities and the Serbian List.
“If this coalition happens, there will be about 64 votes in the parliament, which is enough to cast confidence in the new government. The problem is that in the LDK, three to four MPs might not vote, as well as some of the representatives of minority communities. It can happen that the government does not get the required majority by one vote. What is known, based on an agreement already reached, this government will have 15 ministers. The LDK will keep 6 ministries, the SL will have two, the Bosniak Party will have one, they will not change, but the Ministers from Self-Determination will. And that is where the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo will get four, while NISMA Fatmir Limaj will get two,” Tahiri said.
Former director of the Office for Media Cooperation with the Government of Serbia, Milivoje Mihajlovic, points out that Belgrade is preoccupied with the coronavirus epidemic, and therefore some special reactions cannot be expected.
“What you can hear in Belgrade when it comes to the election of the new Kosovo Government is that the power will return to the hands of Kosovo President Hashim Thaci. He felt threatened after the last elections, especially when Albin Kurti embarked on a sharp offensive to dismiss his key staff. Obviously, the new government will have much more power, it will have the support of the PDK. I think the new government will have about 90 votes if it comes to the election,” Mihajlovic said.
The Constitutional Court will not accept Kurti’s appeal, agreed both analysts.
“The decision of Hashim Thaci is legal and legitimate, because Kurti’s government is overthrown by a two-thirds majority and does not have the legitimacy to continue work, to represent the country or to lead to new elections. Kurti has the right to appeal to the Constitutional Court, but I do not believe the Constitutional Court will accept that appeal,” Tahiri said.
“The Constitutional Court has to decide on this, but I think they will avoid that decision. It’s going to be a pretty volatile scene, protests, tear gas, unrest,” Mihajlovic expects.
“The EU has allowed the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue to be a conversation of two people, not two societies. So, it will continue. As for the US, they have always been present in the dialogue, they will try to maintain their presence. Still, this year was lost due to the current situation. We can expect to continue the dialogue only next year, in the middle of May. The Serbian side will continue to be represented in the dialogue by President Aleksandar Vucic, while Hashim Thaci will be the representative of Kosovo. Richard Grenell will have the keynote, while Miroslav Lajcak’s role will depend on how allied with Grenell he will be,” Mihajlovic said.
Ramush Tahiri believes that this will be a voluntary dialogue, in the interests of two countries and two peoples, that nothing will be imposed, and that US involvement is inevitable in its continuation.
“Kosovo cannot be imagined as an independent state without US support, but without mutual recognition, dialogue is not possible,” Tahiri said.
The guests of the program “Dijalog” also spoke about the donation of thousands of tests by Serbia to Kosovo. Mihajlovic recalled that conflicts in the world were not resolved by deepening or pushing them under the rug, but that “simply it has to be played with open cards”. Tahiri believes the donation of those tests “came at the right time for Kosovo”.
Why Serbia’s President Vucic chose Richard Grenell over Angela Merkel (EurActiv)
Although EU membership is Serbia’s official foreign policy goal, Russia and China – and perhaps the USA in the future – are providing something that is much more valuable for the Serbian leaders: a hope that the drawing of the national borders will be possible again, writes Filip Milacic.
“The last several weeks in Europe were marked by the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic. Accordingly, the stories of the pandemic’s effect on the health, economy and politics have been dominating the news, which is why one important development slipped past under the radar.
In the midst of the pandemic, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti lost the vote of confidence in the parliament.”
COVID-Related Boom Reveals Video Conferencing’s Dark Side (Balkan Insight)
Use of apps like Zoom, Houseparty and TikTok has risen massively in the lockdowns – but so have data breaches, security vulnerabilities, concerns about espionage and other challenges.
More than ever before, because of the coronavirus outbreak, use of video conferencing is on the rise.
Whether it is attending work meetings or online seminars and conferences, or taking part in leisure activities like online fitness classes and birthday parties – video conferencing and social media apps have brought huge relief, and a sense of continuity, to people feeling trapped inside their homes by government-imposed lockdowns.
However, while the coronavirus wreaks havoc outside, this time of increased online activities has also generated growing challenges. While some of the most popular video conferencing and video sharing apps, such as Zoom, Houseparty, and TikTok, have seen record-breaking growth in the numbers of users, the apps have also faced serious data breaches and other cybersecurity-related issues.
See at: https://bit.ly/2YpZbXj
UNFPA and UN Women continue offering support to victims of gender-based violence (Radio KIM)
UNFPA and UN Women have donated hygienic packages, clothes, bed linings, towels and other items to the provisional quarantine premises for the victims of gender-based and domestic violence, Radio KIM reports.
“As the percentage of domestic violence increases, it is needed that shelters’ services remain functional and accessible to anyone,” the organizations said in a statement.
Kosovo Minister of Health Arben Vitia during the handover said that according to the latest figures the percentage of domestic violence during pandemic increases.
“That is why the Ministry of Health in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice provided the premise where all the victims can stay. With the support of UN Women and UNFPA all those staying in this premise would have necessary conditions,” Vitia said.
Minister of Justice, Albulena Haxhiu said that the number of domestic violence cases is getting higher during the isolation, adding it is a concerning issue for the Kosovo institutions.
UN Development Coordinator Ulrika Richardson said one of the highest concerns of the organization she heads is an increase of domestic violence.
“Today with the support of UN Women and UNFPA, shelters for the victims of domestic violence have received basic commodities enabling them to be available and operational also during lockdown,” Richardson said.