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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, May 11, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• Kurti self-isolated, a government official had contact with infected person (media)
• European integration minister and staff self-isolate (media)
• Kosovo Police director speaks about increasing cases of domestic violence (media)
• Number of patients at Infectious Disease Clinic increases to 21 (Koha)
• Haradinaj says certain circles in EU want to prevent agreement with Serbia (Zeri)

Serbian Language Media:

• “Resolution 1244 should be replaced with new one” (Politika)
• No new cases of Covid-19 infections in north (Kosovo-online)
• Hate graffiti in village of Gornje Kusce (Radio KIM, Kosovo-online)
• Media Literacy Project: Kosovo Serb journalists perceived as enemies and irrelevant (KoSSev)

Opinion:

• A burning issue: How to restart the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo (ecfr.eu)
• America’s Destabilizing Involvement in Serbia-Kosovo Talks (warontherocks.com)

International:

• Western Balkans in the shadow of the coronavirus (The Brussels Times)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Pre-school facilities reopen across Serbia (N1)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Kurti self-isolated, a government official had contact with infected person (media)
  • European integration minister and staff self-isolate (media)
  • Kosovo Police director speaks about increasing cases of domestic violence (media)
  • Number of patients at Infectious Disease Clinic increases to 21 (Koha)
  • Haradinaj says certain circles in EU want to prevent agreement with Serbia (Zeri)

Serbian Language Media:

  • “Resolution 1244 should be replaced with new one” (Politika)
  • No new cases of Covid-19 infections in north (Kosovo-online)
  • Hate graffiti in village of Gornje Kusce (Radio KIM, Kosovo-online)
  • Media Literacy Project: Kosovo Serb journalists perceived as enemies and irrelevant (KoSSev)

Opinion: 

  • A burning issue: How to restart the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo (ecfr.eu)
  • America’s Destabilizing Involvement in Serbia-Kosovo Talks (warontherocks.com)

International: 

  • Western Balkans in the shadow of the coronavirus (The Brussels Times)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Pre-school facilities reopen across Serbia (N1)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Kurti self-isolated, a government official had contact with an infected person (media)

The Acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti is in self-isolation from today, as an official from the Ministry for European Integration had close contact with one of the individuals who tested positive with COVID-19. Kurti on the other hand had contact with the official of this ministry.

“Today is the first day that I am not showing up for work at the Office of the Prime Minister. An official from the Ministry for European Integration (MEI) had close contact with one of the individuals who tested positive with COVID-19. Samples are taken and we are waiting for the results. I had contact with him, as with other officials of the MEI and Office of the Prime Minister, although, always by respecting regulations for physical distance. From today, I am on self-isolation at my apartment, until the results of the test for the MEI official are known,” Kurti wrote on his Facebook account.

Acting PM Kurti added further that he will accomplish his duties from distance with the same commitment and that he will make required decisions with the same responsibility. 

Media also inform that the entire close staff of the Acting Prime Minister is also isolated. 

European integration minister and staff self-isolate (media)

Acting Minister of European Integration Blerim Reka and his cabinet have self-isolated after a member of his staff came into contact with a person infected with Covid-19.

Government spokesperson Perparim Kryeziu said they were awaiting the test results of the ministry’s official.

Kosovo Police director speaks about increasing cases of domestic violence (media)

Majority of news websites carry an interview the director of the Kosovo Police, Rashit Qalaj, gave to Ekonomia Online where he spoke about the increasing number of domestic violence cases during the pandemic.

Qalaj said that the increase in domestic violence cases could be linked to the fact that the people are isolating at home due to the threat of coronavirus.

“Based on our assessment, when we speak about domestic violence, people usually think that these involve spouses but in many cases the domestic violence were between different family members,” he said. 

Number of patients at Infectious Disease Clinic increases to 21 (Koha)

The number of the patients that are being treated at the Infectious Disease Clinic has increased from 17 on Sunday, to 21 on Monday. 

Doctor Vera Berisha Ndejaj said that from this number, 13 tested positive with COVID-19, while five tested negative are still being treated. 

She also informed that five patients are in oxygen-therapy, while a 52 year old female patient is in critical condition. “She also has other concomitant diseases,” Berisha-Ndrejaj said. 

She further added that the increased number of patients is a consequence of the increased movement of the citizens. 

Haradinaj says certain circles in EU want to prevent agreement with Serbia (Zeri)

Leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj spoke to a Tirana-based media outlet and said that there are certain European circles that want to prevent an agreement for mutual recognition between Kosovo and Serbia.

“In the past the Europeans tried to attribute the criticism of the discussion on Kosovo territory to Americans. Now it is clear that fearing that the U.S. could speed up the reaching of an agreement, the Europeans themselves open the idea of territory discussions in order to create resistance towards the achievement of an agreement. Europe in the past made a huge mistake by leaving free hands to Ms. Mogherini to speak on behalf of the EU,” Haradinaj said adding that he was shocked at the position of the EU High Representative Josep Borrell on the possibility of border changes as part of the Kosovo-Serbia final agreement. 

Haradinaj said European leaders like Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron need to relieve Borrell off the issue of dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. “Tolerating the discussion on territories and borders in the Balkans has brought about wars,” he warned.

Serbian Language Media

 

“Resolution 1244 should be replaced with new one” (Politika)

Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Serbia, Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko in an interview with Belgrade-based Politika daily on Saturday spoke about WWII, Victory Day, the importance of the United Nations and the Kosovo issue.

Q: In your previous interview with Politika, you spoke about the possibility of Russia’s official involvement in the negotiations on Kosovo. You said that “the invitation of Belgrade is of principal importance and the starting point is on international law.” Are we now closer to the possibility of Moscow choosing its own “specialist?” In particular, if we know that even without “invitation from Belgrade” Americans are having two envoys already – Richard Grenell and Mathew Palmer, while the EU is sending Miroslav Lajcak, along with the High Representative Josep Borell, who deals with Kosovo as part of his job?

Ambassador Kharchenko: It is too soon to consider that. I do not think that imitating other players is a reasonable and justified strategy. Moscow has an independent vision of the situation. For us to join a call from Belgrade is primarily needed. Also, the negotiation process should be held in a reasonable, for us acceptable international-legal framework, based on the UN SC Resolution 1244, and it should have an acceptable form and content. To add, without any malice, results of the so far diplomatic activities have not been obvious that much. On the contrary, for now there is even bigger chaos in Kosovo.

Q: What are the “red lines” for Russia when it comes to the solution of the Kosovo issue? In September you told us you do not understand why division of Kosovo and Metohija would constitute a precedent. Are these ideas still actual?

Ambassador Kharchenko: Actuality of the idea of “division of Kosovo” same as any other ideas only Belgrade and Pristina can assess. Sustainable resolution of the Kosovo issue is achievable only as a result of taking into consideration balanced mutual interests, compromise – based on the international law, without imposing the schemes from outside or timeframes. The main criteria for us is that this solution should be acceptable to Serbia.

Q: The EU and the US have not demonstrated a unified stance on the overthrowing of Albin Kurti’s government and unconditional lifting of Pristina’s tariffs on goods from central Serbia. Is this yet another evidence that there is no real solution outside of the UN Security Council’s authority?

Ambassador Kharchenko: Unchanged attention of the UN Security Council to the Kosovo issue is one of the preconditions to regulate the problem. Definite resolution of the Kosovo issue should be determined at the UN SC by making a new resolution that would replace the current Resolution 1244.   

No new cases of Covid-19 infections in north (Kosovo-online)

In Serb-majority areas in Kosovo there were no new cases of Covid-19 infection over the last 24 hours, Kosovo-online portal reports, citing the information provided by the Crisis Committee in Mitrovica North.

Until now, 115 cases of Covid-19 infection were registered in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo. Out of this number 86 persons were cured, while nine persons have passed away.

In Mitrovica North until now 43 persons were infected, three persons passed away, and 36 were cured.

In Zvecan the total number of infected cases is 25. Out of this number 22 persons are cured and one person passed away.

In Zubin Potok the total number of infected persons is 24. 17 persons were cured and one person passed away.

In Leposavic the total number of infected persons is 23, four persons passed away and 11 were cured. 

Hate graffiti in village of Gornje Kusce (Radio KIM, Kosovo-online)

In the village of Gornje Kusce, Gnjilane municipality, graffiti with offensive messages against Serbs and police were inscribed, Radio KIM reports today.

Kusce residents said they feel distressed over this act, which they see as yet another in a series of provocations. They also expressed doubts that young Albanian men, members of the football fan club, wrote graffiti.

President of the Interim Municipal Authority of Gnjilane, Sasa Milosevic condemned such behavior of irresponsible individuals. “At the times when we all fight for a common cause, and it is primarily to curb the coronavirus pandemic and preserve the health of our citizens, this ill-intended activities bring us back to some not that distant times,” Milosevic said. He also urged the responsible institutions to undertake appropriate measures, find and punish the perpetrators.

Around 1.700 Serbs live in the village of Gornje Kusce, Radio KIM recalled. 

Media Literacy Project: Kosovo Serb journalists perceived as enemies and irrelevant (KoSSev)

Only a small number of media crews reporting in the Serbian language can be seen at press conferences in Pristina. Very often, the only journalist reporting in Serbian attending these conferences is the Gracanica Online portal editor, Andjelka Cup. In the latest episode of “OpisMEDIJavanje”, Cup talked about why – as the only direct link between Pristina institutions and the Serbian-speaking public – she often feels humiliated and irrelevant, and why she perceives work from Pristina as the Torment of Tantalus.

In addition to financial (in)dependence, Kosovo Serb journalists face a more serious problem – obtaining information sources, Cup stressed.

“Kosovo Serb journalists face a problem with obtaining statements and information from certain institutions where Serbs are in power, because politicians assess which side you are on. Another problem is that politicians from the majority community perceive you as an enemy and as someone who is completely irrelevant. This is especially evident at press conferences, when issuing announcements and notices, which are rarely available in the Serbian language,“ Cup explained.

The editor of Gracanica Online, who is often the only Serbian journalist attending conferences in Pristina, described these conferences without the services of an interpreter as “the Torment of Tantalus“, adding that this is the reason why she often feels unimportant and humiliated while on duty.

“Because of the disrespect of your language and disrespect for the law that guarantees the equal use of Serbian and Albanian, you have to wonder what you are actually doing there. When in fact, you simply want to inform your readers, viewers, and listeners on time and professionally about everything that is happening in the area they live in,“ she said.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3bkdpvC

 

Opinion 

 

A burning issue: How to restart the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo (ecfr.eu)

It is the EU’s responsibility to normalise relations between Kosovo and Serbia in the long term. Therefore, the bloc should set the principles of, and drive, the dialogue between the countries.

The Western Balkans summit held in Zagreb on 6 May was supposed to be yet another milestone event for the region. It followed the Sofia Summit of 2018, which reiterated the European Union’s commitments to the Western Balkans, and the European Council’s decision in March 2020 to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. The pandemic may have upstaged other challenges at the Zagreb Summit, but there is still one burning issue in the region that the EU must address – an issue that was only briefly discussed at the video-conference that replaced an in-person meeting.

Due to external pressure from US envoy Richard Grenell, the idea of a land-swap agreement between Kosovo and Serbia has gained momentum. As such, there is an urgent need to restart the Brussels-led dialogue between the countries, despite the fact that the sides have not yet agreed on its main principles. What is clear is that it will be impossible to go back to business as usual – in terms of both a behind-the-scenes approach to reaching a deal, and the role the EU has played until recently. Under former EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, the European External Action Service was unable to convince a majority of member states to accept its strategy for dealing with the proposed land swap. The organisation has alienated most Kosovars by failing to provide them with visa liberalisation – and has stood by while Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic insulted the EU and praised China, Russia, or the United States (depending on the situation).

See more at: https://bit.ly/2SRbMPl

America’s Destabilizing Involvement in Serbia-Kosovo Talks (warontherocks.com)

The United States helped topple an allied state’s government. While that sounds like an anachronism better suited to the Cold War era, it is in fact a summary of events that transpired in Kosovo two months ago. In brief, Kosovo’s coalition government did not survive the no-confidence motion in parliament in late March, and the now-acting prime minister, Albin Kurti, has placed the blame squarely on the administration of President Donald Trump and its special envoy for Serbia and Kosovo peace negotiations, Richard Grenell. Kurti charges that Grenell was pushing for a quick deal between Serbia and Kosovo, which would include controversial land swaps between the two. When Kurti came out against the deal, the United States supported his opponents to remove him from office. This allegation has since been supported by regional leaders, analysts, and even some U.S. legislators.

All of this was possible because the United States — for better or for worse — still occupies an indispensable role in the Western Balkans. This is a direct consequence of the U.S.-led interventions in the 1990s which have cemented its status as a regional security guarantor and an arbiter. The long shadow of humanitarian interventionism turned problematic when it became apparent that Trump’s desire to broker a peace deal between Serbia and Kosovo is motivated by this year’s U.S. elections, and the terms of the deal upend longstanding U.S. policy.

Politicization of U.S. Policy in the Western Balkans

The Trump administration’s latest moves in Kosovo are emblematic of the general trend of White House dominance in U.S. foreign policymaking, even in states and regions that have fallen off the priorities list, like the Balkans. History abounds with examples of presidents exploiting and instrumentalizing foreign policy issues in order to score political wins. Centralizing foreign policy in the White House can lead to politicization and suboptimal outcomes. Under the current administration, it can be detrimental to regional security, as the Kosovo example demonstrates.

See more at: https://bit.ly/2yL6AWA

International

 

Western Balkans in the shadow of the coronavirus (The Brussels Times)

EU leaders reaffirmed their support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans at a virtual summit last week with their Western Balkan counterparts. The meeting was also an opportunity to demonstrate EU solidarity with the region in the current pandemic.

“The Western Balkans belong in the EU. There is no question for us about this. And this is why I firmly believe that the European Union has a special responsibility in assisting its partners in the region”, said President Ursula von der Leyen (6 May).

See more at: https://bit.ly/3fBZFj3

 

  Humanitarian/Development

 

Pre-school facilities reopen across Serbia (N1)

Kindergartens across Serbia reopened on Monday, following their closure during the state of emergency declared to combat the coronavirus pandemic, N1 reports.

Parents of pre-school children are required to provide confirmation in writing that their kids are healthy as well as a note from employers that they have to return to work.

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

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