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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, May 4, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, May 4, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• LDK-AAK-NISMA meet to harmonise programs (ekonomia)
• Vitia: I considered resigning, I’m also responsible to shed light on case (media)
• Kurti calls on MPs to leave aside political calculations (RTK)
• Abrashi: We don’t have names of ministers yet (Lajmi)
• Pacolli expected to travel back to Switzerland today (Koha)
• Public Health Institute urges caution in light of lockdown relaxation steps (media)
• Haradinaj: Acting government is commiting recidive violation of the Constitution (RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

• No new Covid-19 infection cases in north, quarantine measure lifted (Kosovo online, Radio Mitrovica sever, Radio KIM)
• Jevtic: Wave of attacks against Serb returnees in Kosovo continues, two persons arrested (Kosovo-online, KoSSev, RTK 2)
• Head of UNMIK Tanin concerned over recent incidents against non-majority communities (social media)
• Empirika: Institutions to take measures to protect Serb property (KIM radio, Kontakt plus radio)
• EU in Pristina concerned over incidents in Serb-populated areas (RTS)
• OSCE Mission expresses concern over incidents in Gojbulja village (social media)
• Vucic: State of emergency to be lifted on Saint George Day, May 6 (B92)
• Borrell: Covid-19 pandemic has shown essential role of journalism (N1)

International:

• Kosovo Orders Retrial of Wartime Guerrilla Unit Commander (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Brnabic: If numbers are not under control, restrictive measures again (Prva TV, B92)
• Contact Tracing: Europe’s Coronavirus Tech Tangle (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • LDK-AAK-NISMA meet to harmonise programs (ekonomia)
  • Vitia: I considered resigning, I’m also responsible to shed light on case (media)
  • Kurti calls on MPs to leave aside political calculations (RTK)
  • Abrashi: We don’t have names of ministers yet (Lajmi)
  • Pacolli expected to travel back to Switzerland today (Koha)
  • Public Health Institute urges caution in light of lockdown relaxation steps (media)
  • Haradinaj: Acting government is commiting recidive violation of the Constitution (RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

  • No new Covid-19 infection cases in north, quarantine measure lifted (Kosovo online, Radio Mitrovica sever, Radio KIM)
  • Jevtic: Wave of attacks against Serb returnees in Kosovo continues, two persons arrested (Kosovo-online, KoSSev, RTK 2)
  • Head of UNMIK Tanin concerned over recent incidents against non-majority communities (social media) 
  • Empirika: Institutions to take measures to protect Serb property (KIM radio, Kontakt plus radio)
  • EU in Pristina concerned over incidents in Serb-populated areas (RTS)
  • OSCE Mission expresses concern over incidents in Gojbulja village (social media)
  • Vucic: State of emergency to be lifted on Saint George Day, May 6 (B92)
  • Borrell: Covid-19 pandemic has shown essential role of journalism (N1)

International: 

  • Kosovo Orders Retrial of Wartime Guerrilla Unit Commander (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Brnabic: If numbers are not under control, restrictive measures again (Prva TV, B92)
  • Contact Tracing: Europe’s Coronavirus Tech Tangle (Balkan Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

LDK-AAK-NISMA meet to harmonise programs (ekonomia)

Senior officials of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) and the Social-Democratic Initiative (NISMA) met today at the offices of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK).

The meeting intends harmonisation of the program of the new government, as the agreement to govern together has been reached.

The Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) on the other hand addressed the Constitutional Court to clarify if the decree of the President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci was in accordance with the Constitution.

The Constitutional Court suspended President Thaci’s decree until 29 May of this year. 

AAK’s Secretary Besnik Tahiri said they discussed a future governing program. Asked about the decision of the Constitutional Court, Tahiri said ‘no political entity has the right to interfere in the work of the Constitutional Court.’

Endrit Shala from the Social Democratic Initiative said ‘we met with the intention of drafting a good governing program.’

Vitia: I considered resignation, I’m also responsible to shed light on case (media)

Kosovo’s acting Minister of Health, Arben Vitia, told reporters today that he considered resigning his post following the death of a young man at the quarantine center in Prishtina on Sunday. The 26-year-old, who was sent at the quarantine center after returning from Germany, is suspected of having fallen off from the fifth floor of the building.

“As far as my responsibility is concerned, as Arben Vitia I thought about resigning last night and I am still considering this. But as Minister of Health I have a multi-dimensional responsibility in this respect and one of them is to shed full light on the circumstances of the incident,” he said. 

Vitia also called on the state prosecution to treat the incident with priority. “I call on the prosecution to investigate the case with the highest priority. Any early assumption would be a lack of responsibility. We are all aware that condolences do not suffice in such cases. We need to stay strong and offer our support to those in need,” Vitia said. “This misfortune has touched all of us. It has been two months now in the atmosphere of the pandemic, a long period of time of limited movements. The measures however were very necessary and as other countries we acted in the defense of the lives of our citizens. We were notified about the incident yesterday as we were working on the report with positive information from the National Institute of Public Health. We cannot allow ourselves to comment on unconfirmed information. The Ministry of Health will undertake all institutional steps to help shed light on all details surrounding the incident.”

Vitia also said they will request a report from every institution about the case, starting from the Kosovo Embassy in Germany and from the managers of the student dormitory.

Several news websites quote the father of the deceased as saying that the acting Prime MInister, acting Interior Minister and the Minister of Health are responsible for his son’s death.

Indeksonline reports that the Basic Prosecution in Prishtina has already initiated investigations into the case.

Koha reports that Prishtina Mayor Shpend Ahmeti and Gjilan Mayor Lutfi Haziri, in separate statements, have called for the incident not to be politicised.

Kurti calls on MPs to leave aside political calculations (RTK)

Acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti commented today on Facebook the decisions of the Constitutional Court with regards to the measures undertaken by the Ministry of Health. He said that in essence, the Constitutional Court agreed that their measures are in compatibility with the Constitution.

“Along with this historic confirmation, the Court has provided two useful clarifications. First, the Court found that an earlier decision by the Ministry of Health should not have used the phrase “quarantine zone” to designate a ban on entry and exit from the Municipality of Prizren. However, as mentioned above, the substance of declaring the Municipality of Prizren a “quarantine area”, means the Court has considered the prohibition of entry and exit from that municipality in full compliance with the Constitution. Secondly, the Court has found that the fine of natural and legal persons for violating measures to prevent infectious diseases cannot be done without being based on a law of the Assembly or an act of a Municipal Assembly. In fact, precisely for this reason, the scheme of fines provided by the Decisions of the Ministry, has been copied and transferred directly from Article 53 of Law no. 02 / L-109 on Prevention and Control of Adverse Diseases. To help the Court better understand this legal basis, it may have been necessary for the Ministry’s Decisions to cite this provision directly at the contested point of the Decisions, and not only in their introductory part, as is common practice,” Kurti wrote, adding that he government will take these technical and linguistic explanations into account in drafting future decisions, not only in the context of the battle against COVID-19, but also in other areas.

“Also, the Government welcomes the finding of the Court that the Assembly has so far not established the necessary legal basis for taking other necessary measures to prevent, combat and eliminate COVID-19 disease. This has resulted directly from the refusal of the MPs of our coalition partner and the opposition parties to proceed with the draft law proposed by the Speaker of the Assembly regarding this issue. The obstruction of the work of the Assembly by these MPs has significantly hindered the work of the Government and the Ministry of Health and, in this way, has endangered the lives and health of the citizens of the Republic. Joining the Constitutional Court’s remark, the government calls on all members of the parliament to set aside political and partisan calculations and take appropriate steps for the benefit of citizens, especially in this time of pandemic.

Abrashi: We don’t have names of ministers yet (Lajmi)

Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) MP Arban Abrashi told reporters that the LDK, Alliance for the Future of Kosovo and NISMA have met today to discuss the program of a new joint government. “We met representatives of AAK and NISMA today to discuss our government program and we talked about our program orientations, especially the pandemic and most certainly the economic revival which we want to include as a high priority in our government program,” he said. 

Abrashi said he believes the Constitutional Court will rule in their favor. “I believe they will. The practices of parliaments but also our parliamentary system shows that those that have the majority form the government,” he said.

Abrashi said they will make public their agreement with the Serbian List. “We have nothing to hide,” he said.

Asked to comment on reports of disagreements within the LDK about the names of new government ministers, Abrashi said: “there have been no disagreements. I take part in all the meetings. Reports in some media were ‘fake news’. We have yet to reach the point of deciding the names [of government ministers],” he added.

Pacolli expected to travel back to Switzerland today (Koha)

Leader of the New Kosovo Alliance (AKR) Behgjet Pacolli is expected to travel back to Switzerland, four days after arriving to Kosovo, Koha reports quoting sources.

Pacolli is reported to have been granted the permission from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment to travel to Lugano and his flight is set to take place this afternoon.

Public Health Institute urges caution in light of lockdown relaxation steps (media)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health has called on citizens to exercise caution in light of the recent relaxation measures that entered into force today.

The Institute said it was concerned after it noted an increased movement of people following the announcement of some relaxation in lockdown rules today. 

“This is a dangerous behaviour and relaxation of movement does not mean disregarding recommendations of the National Institute and the Ministry of Health regarding social distancing and wearing face masks in public spaces,” the Institute said adding that the threat of Covid-19 spread is not over.

Haradinaj: Acting government is commiting recidive violation of the Constitution (RTK)

Ramush Haradinaj, leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), took to Facebook to criticize Kurti’s acting government.

“Kosovo’s Constitution and applicable laws are in power to preserve the constitutional order, life and human rights. Unfortunately, the recidivist violation of the laws in power by the outgoing Prime Minister Albin Kurti, outgoing Minister Arben Vitia and the outgoing acting Minister Xhelal Svecla, caused consequences in many directions, even the loss of a young man’s life.

The outgoing government with a biased and authoritarian approach disregards the decisions of the Constitutional Court, the laws and protocols to offer the necessary health care.

I call on the outgoing government to return to the constitutionality and respect of the laws, preserve the constitutional order, lawfulness and life of the citizens,” Haradinaj wrote. 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

No new Covid-19 infection cases in north, quarantine measure lifted (Kosovo online, Radio Mitrovica sever, Radio KIM)

In the Serb-populated areas in northern Kosovo over the last 24 hours there was no case of Covid-19 infection registered, Kosovo-online portal reports.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo 108 persons have been infected, while 74 persons have recovered. Unfortunately, nine people have passed away.

Meanwhile, Mitrovica North mayor Goran Rakic announced on Sunday that the quarantine measure for Mitrovica North has been lifted. He added that the decision was made based on the recommendations of medical professionals and responsible authorities. Rakic noted the fact that “the number of cured persons is higher than the number of infected indicates that by responsible and joint endeavor we have succeeded to significantly reduce the number of victims and newly infected,” Rakic said.

He urged the citizens to continue respecting the measures introduced to curb the spread of coronavirus and remain responsible.

Zvecan mayor Vucina Jankovic told Radio Mitrovica sever that quarantine in Zvecan was lifted on Sunday. He appealed to citizens in the municipality to respect the measures introduced by medical professionals aiming to curb the spread of coronavirus pandemic and exercise maximal caution and responsibility.

He also thanked the residents for their patience and high degree of responsibility demonstrated over the previous period.

The quarantine measures in Mitrovica North and Zvecan municipalities were introduced on April 3, and since April 6 the movement between the two municipalities was also banned.  

Jevtic: Wave of attacks against Serb returnees in Kosovo continues, two persons arrested (Kosovo-online, KoSSev, RTK 2)

Kosovo Minister for Communities and Returns Dalibor Jevtic said on Sunday that a new incident against the Serb community in Kosovo took place, this time targeting the Vickovic family in the village of Babin Most, Obilic municipality, Kosovo-online portal reports.

Jevtic wrote on Facebook that this 6-member returnee family was the target of the thieves.

“Police came this morning and conducted the investigation. This is not the first attack against this family, whose house the Ministry for Communities and Returns reconstructed in 2017. The same year, agricultural machinery belonging to this family was stolen,” Jevtic said.

He added that unfortunately the wave of attacks against the returnees continues. “It is necessary that perpetrators of these attacks are brought before the justice, to make it clear that the spread of fear will not be tolerated. The responsibility rests on all institutions whose job is to implement the rule of law and laws,” Jevtic noted.

Apart from Babin Most, over the previous days targets of attacks were Serbs in the village of Gojbulja, Vucitrn municipality, where following interventions and reactions, including the ones by the Minister for Communities and Returns Jevtic, Kosovo police and KFOR increased patrolling in this area.  

Meanwhile, KoSSev portal reported that the Kosovo police arrested a man from Vucitrn over inscription of “UQK” graffiti on the wall of “21 November” school in Gojbulja village. He is also accused of inscribing the same graffiti on a private house, however he only confessed to inscribing graffiti on the school’s wall. According to the prosecutor’s order, the arrested person was released, and the proceeding is underway.

Also, one of the youngsters who have disturbed the Serbs in this village has been arrested.

“It is of crucial importance that residents of this village feel safer today than in the previous days when they were attacked in many different ways. Institutional protection, the rule of law, and full respect of the rights of non-majority communities are the only way to build the trust and co-existence in Kosovo. There are many unresolved problems and that is why it is important to act in order to prevent creation of new problems,” Jevtic wrote on Facebook.

Head of UNMIK Tanin concerned over recent incidents against non-majority communities (social media)  

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIK, Zahir Tanin, has expressed concern over the growing number of reported incidents directed against non-majority communities during recent weeks, including arson and intimidating graffiti, the Mission announced on social media.

“The SRSG Tanin urged Kosovo authorities to act swiftly to find the perpetrators and to publicly discourage such acts. He called upon all members of society to bear in mind the fragile circumstances Kosovo is facing during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and emphasized the need to promote unity and solidarity.”

Empirika: Institutions to take measures to protect Serb property (KIM radio, Kontakt plus radio)

With the recent cases of jeopardizing the private property of Serbs throughout Kosovo, the Empirika Advocacy Platform, made up of multiple NGOs and media, urges the relevant institutions of Kosovo to take the necessary steps to prevent and protect – the right to inviolability and the protection of private property.

In a time when the COVID-19 pandemic affects all of Kosovo citizens, irrespective and irresponsible individuals have been abusing these measures that were issued due to the fight against this virus without sanction. Restrictions on freedom of movement and the absence of preventative security measures have given certain individuals the opportunity to violate the law and to endanger the private property of citizens of Kosovo.

However, it is clear that this is merely an extension of a series of ever-more frequent attacks on citizens’ private property. Beginning at the end of November and continuing throughout December of 2019, the residents of the Gračanica/Graçanicë municipality were on a number of different occasions the victims of robberies, that over an extended period of time generated feelings of fear and insecurity among the local population. In mid-February, this string of incidents continued with the destruction of private property in the village of Cernica/Cërnicë (Gjilan/Gnjilane Municipality), and was swiftly followed by the acts of vandalism committed against ten returnee homes in the Novake village, and thefts in the Banje/Bajë (Skenderaj/Srbica Municipality) and Osojane (Istog/k Municipality) villages which occurred within a short period of time (at the end of March.)  The unresolved case of arson committed against a home in Janjina Voda (Obilic Municipality) in mid-April constituted the first in a succession of attacks on private property held by citizens of Serb nationality.

During this last week a number of robberies of private property were carried out in the villages of Novake (Municipality of Prizren), Babin Most/Babimoc (Municipality of Obiliq/ć), Crkolez (Istog/k Municipality), as well as in the city of Leposavić/q.  Two homes in the villages of Novake and Cernica/Cërnicë were set ablaze, while a school and church in the Gojbulja/Gojbulë village (Vushtrri/Vučitrn Municipality) were targeted by vandals.

Taking into consideration the current situation and the concerns of local citizenry, Empirika members call on relevant public organs to undertake all necessary preventative measures in order to prevent similar cases of endangerment and destruction of private property irregardless of the nationality of their owners.

More meaningful efforts and engagement of institutions aimed at the protection of citizenry and their property is necessary, particularly when consideration the unusual circumstances that Kosovo currently finds itself in:

1.The Government of Kosovo and local authorities on the territory in which these incidents took place need to publicly condemn these acts and to demand that a careful investigation on the part of relevant authorities be conducted and to identify those responsible for these crimes;

2.To establish regular coordination meetings between local governments and local residents, particularly in enclaves and returnee communities in the goal of building mutual trust through a process of direct and continued dialogue;

3.The Kosovo Police should, through its regional offices, strengthen its physical presence in sensitive areas of Kosovo, enclaves and returnee communities thereby increasing the level of security in those areas;

4.Through the Ministry of Communities and Returnees and the Office for Communities, the Government of Kosovo should conduct a damage assessment and set aside additional funds that will be directed at victims;

5.Aside from the publicly condemning these criminal acts, we call on representatives of the diplomatic corps and international organisations to encourage relevant organs of local and central institutions to carry out thorough investigations and to inform the wide public of the results and to recommend adaptation of an action plan that would allow for public bodies to react to these or other similar sorts of incident in a timely and adequate manner.

See the statement here: https://bit.ly/2YyxoDU

EU in Pristina concerned over incidents in Serb-populated areas (RTS)

The EU Mission in Pristina expressed concern over repeated security incidents against non-majority communities in Kosovo, in particular the Serb community, RTS reports.

“The EU Office/EU Special Representative is concerned with repeated security incidents taking place against non-majority communities, in particular the Kosovo Serb community and we encourage relevant authorities to undertake prompt action in bringing the perpetrators to justice,” the Mission wrote on Twitter.

Over the last ten days in several Serb-populated areas in Kosovo number of houses were burglarized, three houses were set on fire and burned down, while in the village of Gojbulja near Vucitrn, graffiti “UQK” and “two-headed eagle” were inscribed on the walls of the Serbian school “21 November,” RTS recalled

OSCE Mission expresses concern over incidents in Gojbulja village (social media)

“The OSCE Mission in Kosovo expresses concern over the incidents reported in recent days in the Kosovo Serb-majority village of Gojbulja/Gobujë, Vushtrri/Vučitrn municipality. On 24 April, the goalposts at a local football pitch were damaged, on 27 April, the village church was entered and its bell rung without permission, on 29 April, graffiti was written on the village school and an underage person was verbally harassed, and there are reports of another graffiti incident on 30 April. Most of the incidents appear to be linked to the same youth group from outside the village. These incidents cause distress among the local community and require attention,” the Mission wrote on Facebook.

It was added that the OSCE welcomes mayor Tahiri’s statement on the incidents, and echoes his calls to uphold tolerance and coexistence as values of the local society. The Mission also called on Kosovo police that despite the pressure during COVID-19 times to follow up these incidents so that the perpetrators are dealt with according to the law and their provocative behavior ceased. 

Vucic: State of emergency to be lifted on Saint George Day, May 6 (B92)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has announced that the state of emergency is likely to be lifted on Saint George Day, May 6, B92 reports.

He said the signed proposal by the President and Prime Minister would be submitted to the Assembly on Wednesday and that the state of emergency was expected to be lifted, which would come into force on Thursday, May 7. “That would mean, we wouldn’t have a curfew as of Thursday,” Vucic told Belgrade-based TV Pink.

“Of course, it is difficult for people to spend time at home, but it was the only way to preserve our parents, to preserve the younger ones as well, and I think for the most part, we have succeeded,” Vucic added.

He also explained that the state found the opinion of the profession essential, when it came to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have brought these measures in line with what the profession has told us,” Vucic underlined.

See at: https://bit.ly/3deDDB6

Borrell: Covid-19 pandemic has shown essential role of journalism (N1)

The Covid-19 has proven how important the press is as “a cornerstone of democratic societies,” European Union High Representative Josep Borrell said in a statement on the May 3, World Press Freedom Day, expressing concern that the pandemic is being abused to restrict media freedom in some countries.

“On World Press Freedom Day, we pay tribute to the essential role of journalism in upholding online and offline freedom of expression in democratic societies and fostering transparency and accountability,” Borrell’s statement reads.

“The COVID-19 crisis has brought the importance of the work of the press into sharp relief. In times of uncertainty, more than ever, access to reliable fact-checked information, that is free from undue interference and influence, is crucial and contributes to a more resilient society,” it was added.

“It is a matter of concern that the COVID-19 pandemic is being used in some countries as a pretext for imposing undue restrictions on freedom of the press.”

Borrell pointed out that despite all the risks and challenges journalists face due to the pandemic, they continue their essential work, sometimes in difficult circumstances.

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

 

 

International

 

Kosovo Orders Retrial of Wartime Guerrilla Unit Commander (Balkan Insight)

The Supreme Court ordered a retrial of former Kosovo Liberation Army unit commander Remzi Shala, who was convicted of the kidnapping in 1998 of an ethnic Albanian man who was later found dead.

Remzi Shala’s lawyer, Natal Bullakaj, told BIRN on Thursday that the Supreme Court has upheld the former guerrilla commander’s appeal against his war crime conviction and sent the case for a retrial.

The retrial will be held at Prizren Basic Court, where Shala was originally sentenced in July last year to 14 years in prison.

Known during wartime as ‘The Red Apple’, Shala was convicted of the kidnapping of Haxhi Perteshi from Duhel, a village in the Suhareka/Suva Reka area, in 1998. Days after he was seized, Perteshi was found dead.

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

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Brnabic: If numbers are not under control, restrictive measures again (Prva TV, B92)

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has announced the possible reintroduction of restrictive measures if the results related to coronavirus are not good, B92 reports.

 “At the moment, we have good numbers, that is, we have an obvious drop in the percentage of positive cases of people tested. This morning and last night – below two percent, we will wait until 3 pm. Today, more than 100.000 will be tested, so we have best results in this part of Europe,” Brnabic stated in TV Prva’s Morning program on Sunday.

As we relax restrictive measures, people have to have personal responsibility, she said, in order not to increase the number again.

“If we do not see with the relaxation of measures that the situation is under control, we will have to re-introduce restrictive measures.”

See at: https://bit.ly/3b2LIXM

Contact Tracing: Europe’s Coronavirus Tech Tangle (Balkan Insight)

As Europe gropes its way out of lockdown, countries are seeking tech-based paths back to normality. Central Europe leads the way.

As countries across Europe gingerly ease restrictions imposed to fight the spread of COVID-19, governments are looking for tech-based solutions to avoid a resurgence in infections.

Experts agree that one of the most effective ways to do this is to introduce some kind of social-tracing system to let people know if they have come into contact with anyone later reported infected. Once alerted, they can self-isolate before further spreading the virus.

European countries are at different stages in developing COVID-19 social-tracing apps that governments can encourage — not require — people to install on their smartphones.

Since privacy watchdogs have decried the use of location data, most nations have chosen Bluetooth-based technology as the best way of registering potential contact with those who have been infected

See at: https://bit.ly/2Syd7uC

 

 

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