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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, May 6

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• One new case of Covid-19, 87 recoveries (media)
• Borrell is not against Kosovo border changes (Koha)
• Osmani: Intl community must stop border changes attempts (media)
• Von Cramon: Ethnoterritorial shifts are dangerous (media)
• Rouge: How did we get back to this dangerous idea? (media)
• Kurti: Vjosa Osmani, true leader of LDK (media)
• Participants of Zagreb summit without state symbols (RTK)
• Venice Commission replies to PM Kurti (media)
• President Thaci on reply from the Venice Commission (media)
• Osmani seeks legal interpretation on MP’s mandate (media)
• OECD expresses solidarity with Kosovo govt during pandemic (media)
• Kosovo loses around €6 million daily from the pandemic (RFE)
• Kurti appoints new head of Office for Community Affairs (media)

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  • One new case of Covid-19, 87 recoveries (media)
  • Borrell is not against Kosovo border changes (Koha)
  • Osmani: Intl community must stop border changes attempts (media)
  • Von Cramon: Ethnoterritorial shifts are dangerous (media)
  • Rouge: How did we get back to this dangerous idea? (media)
  • Kurti: Vjosa Osmani, true leader of LDK (media)
  • Participants of Zagreb summit without state symbols (RTK)
  • Venice Commission replies to PM Kurti (media)
  • President Thaci on reply from the Venice Commission (media)
  • Osmani seeks legal interpretation on MP’s mandate (media)
  • OECD expresses solidarity with Kosovo govt during pandemic (media)
  • Kosovo loses around €6 million daily from the pandemic (RFE)
  • Kurti appoints new head of Office for Community Affairs (media)

Kosovo Media Highlights

One new case of Covid-19, 87 recoveries (media)

National Institute for Public Health announced that there has only been one confirmed case of coronavirus infection over the last 24 hours in Kosovo while 87 patients have been declared as having recovered.

The Institute said that it carried out 220 tests yesterday of which one resulted positive for Covid-19. The newest case is from the municipality of Mitrovica.

Acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti hailed the news saying it is a result of the tireless work of the healthcare workers.

Borrell is not against Kosovo border changes (Koha)

In an interview with four reporters of media from the Western Balkans, including Koha, the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security, Josep Borrell, talked about the importance of the EU summit in Zagreb tomorrow. In his answers, Borrell did not rule out the idea of Kosovo border changes if Kosovo and Serbia were to agree on this. He said that if the parties reach such an agreement “the EU cannot be more catholic than the Pope”.

Borrell said the EU has an agreement of cooperation with Kosovo. “This proves that we accept that something that is called ‘Kosovo’ exists. You cannot sign an agreement with something that does not exist. On the other hand, the recognition of a state is not an issue for the European Union, because this is not under its competencies. This is in the competencies of every member state and every country makes their own decisions. You know that some countries recognise it and that others don’t. But a difference needs to be made and I am sure you do this, between individual recognitions of a country by a member state and the fact that we have an agreement at the level of the European Union. The Commission has signed an agreement with Kosovo in order to cooperate and help the Kosovars to address their many challenges. We have also recently appointed a Special Representative, following my proposal, to mediate the dialogue between Prishtina and Belgrade. This proves that we acknowledge that something as Kosovo exists. I have personally visited Kosovo among the first places after I took over my mandate. We are engaged in the dialogue, which is the only way to resolve the problem. The problem will not be resolved at the summit because it is a problem that can be resolved only by the Serbs and Kosovars,” he said.

Asked if he, like Germany, is opposed to the idea of land swaps between Kosovo and Serbia, Borrell said: “this is an issue that needs to be resolved in the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo. I don’t see a need for us to be more catholic than the Pope. It is not up to us to tell the Serbs and Kosovars what they should or should not agree upon. Our role is to facilitate the dialogue. But like I said we should not be more catholic than the Pope. If they agree on something, we definitely need to study that agreement because any agreement between Serbia and Kosovo has an impact on the region. In principle, this needs to be a free and fair dialogue between the parties. A lot has already been achieved and this should not be underestimated, because today we have a free movement of goods between Serbia and Kosovo. The integration of police and Serb courts in the Kosovo system, elections in Kosovo, are proof of progress in difficult circumstances. But it is also true that some agreements were not implemented as expected. This is why we need to resume the dialogue and then it will be up to the Serbs and Kosovars to decide on the outcome of the process.”

Asked by Koha that his reply “the EU cannot be more catholic than the Pope” can be interpreted that he doesn’t rule out Kosovo border changes and if the EU will not oppose land swap if the parties agree, Borrell said: “Let us say that I am more eclectic. We need to facilitate the dialogue and like I’ve said we need to take into consideration the collateral effects of any agreement on other parts of the region, where the problem of border changes has always been a sensitive issue. I completely understand the position of Germany and others, but my role and the role of my Special Representative is to facilitate the dialogue.”

Osmani: Intl community must stop border changes attempts (media)

Kosovo Assembly President Vjosa Osmani said on Tuesday that the international community must turn down what she called attempts by certain individuals to push forward proposals for a solution that is based on ethnic divisions and border changes.

“With regards to statements about border changes. I highly appreciate the engagement of our international friends in facilitating a final agreement between the Republic of Kosovo and Serbia. However, the European Union cannot serve simply as a forum for the dialogue, rather it must offer guidelines based on the principles and values upon which the European Union functions. Border changes along ethnic lines are not part of these principles and values,” Osmani wrote in a Facebook post.

Osmani argued that such a solution would go against the values of the European Union and that it would not translate into sustainable peace for the region.

“Above all, such solutions would not be supported by our citizens and would remain unimplemented. History has taught us that solutions and ideas that lack popular support are destined to fail,” Osmani said.

In a Twitter post, Osmani wrote: “I call on all international actors to refrain from legitimizing backward ideas in the process of dialogue btw Kosovo & Serbia. Any proposed solution that doesn’t have a strong basis in the sovereignty & territorial integrity of Kosovo will be rejected decisively by our people.”

Von Cramon: Ethnoterritorial shifts are dangerous (media)

The European Parliament Rapporteur for Kosovo, Viola Von Cramon, took to Twitter on Tuesday to react to the latest remarks about a potential land swap between Kosovo and Serbia.

“Indeed surprising. I’m not aware of any debates and especially not of an EU position regarding the landswap on Kosovo and Serbia. We should ask for a debate about border changes asap in the European Parliament. Ethnoterritorial shifts in Europe are really dangerous,” she tweeted.

Rouge: How did we get back to this dangerous idea? (media)

Boris Rouge, Vice Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, reacted following remarks by EU High Representative Josep Borrell on a potential land swap between Kosovo and Serbia.

Rouge tweeted: “Is this the EU position on Kosovo and Serbia – being open-minded about border changes? One wonders: Is the European Parliament on board, are member states? How did we get back to this dangerous idea?”

Kurti: Vjosa Osmani, true leader of LDK (media)

Kosovo acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti said in an interview to RTSH on Tuesday that in new general elections, his party – the Vetevendosje Movement – must win more than 51 percent of votes. “We must come out even higher … because when it comes to our fight against crime and corruption, all are joining their forces against us”.

Kurti argued that Vjosa Osmani, President of the Kosovo Assembly, is “the true leader” of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) because she helped the party become the second biggest in Kosovo. “But with their current approach, this party will fall back to the third place again,” he added.

Participants of Zagreb summit without state symbols (RTK)

There will be no state symbols for 11 the participants of the EU-Western Balkans Summit Brussels informed.  This decision comes due to the participation of Spain, which has continuously objected Kosovo’s equal participation at the high level meetings.

Brussels informs that organising the video conference raised the matter of neutrality towards the status of Kosovo and it was carefully resolved by requesting from all participants to use similar background to prevent state symbols complicate the flow of the video conference.

Asked by the media about the participation of the Spanish Prime Minister Josep Borell at a conference where Hashim Thaci will be present, an EU official said all the invited leaders confirmed their presence. He added that four states which did not recognize independence of Kosovo will be participating at the conference.

Venice Commission replies to PM Kurti (media)

All media reported that the Venice Commission has replied to a letter from Kosovo acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti asking the court’s opinion on the competencies of the President of Kosovo with respect to the dissolution of the Assembly and the formation of the Government.

A letter signed by the President of the Venice Commission noted that the Constitutional Court of Kosovo is already dealing with the issue and has taken an interlocutory decision. The letter further noted that if the Venice Commission were to intervene this would risk undermining the authority of the Constitutional Court.

“The Commission is therefore not in a position to comply with your request. I am confident that the Constitutional Court will provide a satisfactory solution for this issue,” the letter added.

President Thaci on reply from the Venice Commission (media)

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci took to Facebook on Tuesday to comment on a reply from the Venice Commission to a request from acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti.

Thaci wrote: “the Venice Commission turned down the government’s request for their interpretation of the Constitution, saying that the issue is already being addressed by the Constitutional Court. Unlike the outgoing government, the Venice Commission has expressed faith and full support for our court … Respecting the decisions and the authority of the Constitutional Court is crucial for the rule of law in Kosovo.”

Osmani seeks legal interpretation on MP’s mandate (media)

Kosovo Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani has asked the Committee for Legislation, Mandate, Immunities to deliberate on the mandate of Kosovo MP, Etem Arifi. Osmani also asked the Assembly’s Legal Office to provide an opinion on the matter.

Osmani undertook steps towards clarification of Arifi’s MP status after reports in the media suggested that he has lost the mandate because of a criminal conviction. Arifi’s conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court.

OECD expresses solidarity with Kosovo govt during pandemic (media)

Organisation for Economic Co-operation (OECD) and Development Secretary-General Angel Gurria wrote a letter to acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti expressing solidarity with his government and citizens during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gurria said that the coronavirus crisis is testing the collective capacity to respond and while in many economies, including Kosovo, ambitious responses have been undertaken, “only a combined, co-ordinated international effort will meet the challenge.”

“Be assured that building on our longstanding expertise and our analyses, the OECD stands ready to further engage with your government to support your recovery efforts, advising on policy solutions and helping you steer your economy towards a bright, European future,” the OECD top official wrote.

Kosovo loses around €6 million daily from the pandemic (RFE)

Kosovo acting Minister of Finance, Besnik Bislimi, said in an interview to Radio Free Europe that Kosovo’s economy will lose up to €500 million as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bislimi said that the package for economic revival, after the pandemic is over, will be around €1 billion. He also added that the biggest problem for the government will be to secure support in parliament after the political crisis that was created with the no-confidence motion.

According to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Kosovo’s budget will have €200 million less this year as a result of the pandemic.

Kurti appoints new head of Office for Community Affairs (media)

The Acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti, has appointed Mr. Cvetko Veljković, economist from Shtrpce, Political Adviser to the acting Prime Minister and head of Office for Community Affairs.

Veljkovic’s appointment comes a day after Kurti dismissed Nenad Rasic from the same position.

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