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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, May 14, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, May 14, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• Kurti: Let’s make sure we don’t lose the match in the last minutes (media)
• Public Health Institute appeals for caution (media)
• Malisheva receives donation from UN Mission in Kosovo (media)
• Konjufca: LDK brought down LVV-led govt as it was fighting corruption (Koha)
• Maas: Games with borders lead to dead end, delay solution (Express)
• Pacolli: Forming new government would be anti-constitutional (RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

• One person positive of coronavirus in northern Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio)
• Non-majority communities’ problems with the package of measures of the Government of Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio)
• Office for KiM: 20 healthcare workers prevented to enter Kosovo (KoSSev)
• President Vucic denies claims of talks to recognize Kosovo (N1)
• Pristina sees thousands ‘cleansed’ Albanians in southern Serbia, who never lived there (Sputnik)
• EC ready to include Western Balkans into plans on opening borders (Beta, N1)
• Serbian trade minister says 18.5 million Euro of goods exported to Kosovo (FoNet, N1)
• Serbian Government replies to Freedom House – report full of contradictions (FoNet, N1, RTS)

International:

• Head of Office of Kosovo and Metohija: Serbs and Albanians should decide on Kosovo fate (TASS)
• Kosovo Activists to Continue ‘Rehearsing’ Protests Despite Movement Restrictions (Balkan Insight)
• Wildly Wrong: North Macedonia’s Population Mystery (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Reports of domestic violence increase in 2020 (Prishtina Insight)
• Kosovo Businesses Complain Government’s Support Package Falls Short (Balkan Insight)
• Rakic received UNMIK delegation, thanked them for delivered aid (Radio Mitrovica Sever)
• UNMIK donates aid to Ranilug municipality (RTV Puls)
• Strpce, to whom does the land by the river belong? (KoSSev)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Kurti: Let’s make sure we don’t lose the match in the last minutes (media)
  • Public Health Institute appeals for caution (media)
  • Malisheva receives donation from UN Mission in Kosovo (media)
  • Konjufca: LDK brought down LVV-led govt as it was fighting corruption (Koha)
  • Maas: Games with borders lead to dead end, delay solution (Express)
  • Pacolli: Forming new government would be anti-constitutional (RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

  • One person positive of coronavirus in northern Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio) 
  • Non-majority communities’ problems with the package of measures of the Government of Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio)
  • Office for KiM: 20 healthcare workers prevented to enter Kosovo (KoSSev)
  • President Vucic denies claims of talks to recognize Kosovo (N1)
  • Pristina sees thousands ‘cleansed’ Albanians in southern Serbia, who never lived there (Sputnik)
  • EC ready to include Western Balkans into plans on opening borders (Beta, N1)
  • Serbian trade minister says 18.5 million Euro of goods exported to Kosovo (FoNet, N1)
  • Serbian Government replies to Freedom House – report full of contradictions (FoNet, N1, RTS)

International:

  • Head of Office of Kosovo and Metohija: Serbs and Albanians should decide on Kosovo fate (TASS)
  • Kosovo Activists to Continue ‘Rehearsing’ Protests Despite Movement Restrictions (Balkan Insight)
  • Wildly Wrong: North Macedonia’s Population Mystery (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Reports of domestic violence increase in 2020 (Prishtina Insight)
  • Kosovo Businesses Complain Government’s Support Package Falls Short (Balkan Insight)
  • Rakic received UNMIK delegation, thanked them for delivered aid (Radio Mitrovica Sever)
  • UNMIK donates aid to Ranilug municipality (RTV Puls)
  • Strpce, to whom does the land by the river belong? (KoSSev) 

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Kurti: Let’s make sure we don’t lose the match in the last minutes (media)

Acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti visited today the Clinical University Centre and called on the people of Kosovo to maintain caution and not risk, as he said, losing the match in its last ten minutes. 

He said he was concerned with information that the number of infected persons has passed that of recovered cases. “We urge the citizens to rigorously respect calls and recommendations.”

Kurti said that people should make use of their three-hour outdoor time only when necessary.

“We want to strengthen our message and stick to measures and instructions so that there are no failures,” he said in front of the Infectious Disease Clinic.  

Public Health Institute appeals for caution (media)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health appealed to the citizens to keep distance and wear masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus. 

“The virus is still among us. Relaxation of measures does not mean disregard of recommendations of the National Institute and the Ministry of Health,” the Institute said in a Facebook post.

It said that the lockdown measures have been relaxed so that the people become more conscientious in respecting social distancing. 

Malisheva receives donation from UN Mission in Kosovo (media)

As part of support for Kosovo municipalities in managing the situation with Covid-19 pandemic, the UN Mission in Kosovo delivered food and hygiene packages for families in need in the Municipality of Malisheva, several news websites report.

Mayor Ragip Begaj thanked the Special Representative and UNMIK chief Zahir Tanin for the donation. “The food and hygiene aid for families in need are necessary in this situation when we are facing the pandemic and helps us as a municipality to cope with the needs of the citizens who for two months now have been unable to work and as a result the majority of them need support,” Begaj said.

Konjufca: LDK brought down LVV-led govt as it was fighting corruption (Koha)

Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Glauk Konjufca said in an interview with KTV that the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) voted for the motion of no confidence against the Vetevendosje-led government because of its plan to fight corruption and used “anti-Americanism” as an excuse.

He said that the anti-corruption measures taken by the government caused fear with LDK. “A cause had to be invented and the best was Serbia, tariff, Grenell saying reciprocity is not being lifted, Bondsteel will close down, so that Vetevendosje would be the scapegoat. But it was very low. The people saw through it.”

Konjufca noted that the battle at the Constitutional Court over the mandate to form the new government focuses on two concepts. “That of VV, which is fair, to revert to the will of the people. LDK has a different concept, not about the people, but a political leader without a single vote,” said Konjufca in reference to LDK leader Isa Mustafa. He added: “The one who did not run in either 2017 or 2019 elections wants to send home the most voted one in 2019.”

Konjufca commented on relations with Vetevendosje leader and acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti saying they are better than ever. “We are closer than ever, stronger than ever. I meet prime minister Kurti on average four times a week, we discuss, and everything you heard on the media are speculations. I want to assure the citizens that our relations are excellent, we have no disagreements on the way forward.”

He also said that it is possible for the Vetevendosje Movement to win 59 MPs in future elections. “It is entirely possible at a time when these dramatic events happen in Kosovo and when the health of democracy is under a huge threat.”

Maas: Games with borders lead to dead end, delay solution (Express)

On Wednesday, German Bundestag debated the extension of the Bundeswehr mission within KFOR, which once again highlighted how German lawmakers view the resolution of the Serbia-Kosovo political conflict.

During the first debate which took place on Wednesday, it was made clear that except for the two ideologically extreme parties, the Left, and the Alternative for Germany, the four center parties: the two coalition parties, the Christian-Democratic Union / the Christian-Social Union. (CDU / CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), as well as the Liberals (FDP) and the Greens (Grüne), will vote in favor of extending the mandate.

Germany’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas spoke about the idea of change of the borders between Kosovo and Serbia, expressing that he is categorically against it.

“The intention is to avoid border solutions which were brought on the table not only by the parties, but also by others, who want to have impact there. This would only achieve a supposed progress, if it were to be called progress, given the situation there. Games with such ideas only push the solution to complex problems and lead nowhere but to a dead end,” Maas said.

Pacolli: Forming new government would be anti-constitutional (RTK)

Kosovo Assembly MP from Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) Fitore Pacolli said today that Kurti’s government has done a very good job during its first 100 days. She added that justification to bring down the government for being anti-American, does not stand.

“Those entities which voted for no-confidence motion, had only one intention: creation of an anti-constitutional government,” Pacolli told RTK.

She added that LVV made the changes for which the population voted in October of the last year. She also expressed hope that the Constitutional Court will make a professional decision, based on the one made in 2014.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

One person positive of coronavirus in northern Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio) 

Kontakt plus radio reports that in the last 24 hours another person got infected with coronavirus in the north of Kosovo, quoting the Emergency Situations Headquarters of the Municipality of Kosovska Mitrovica. 

The newly ill person is resident of Leposavic.

So far, a total of 116 people have fallen ill with Covid-19 in Serb areas in Kosovo, nine have died and 96 have been cured.

By municipalities, in Mitrovica North there were 43 patients with Covid-19 (three died, 40 cured), in Zvecan 25 (one died, 23 cured), in Zubin Potok 24 (one died, 20 cured) and in Leposavic 24 (four died, 13 cured).

The Student Center in northern Mitrovica accommodates five patients with a mild clinical picture, while the Mitrovica Hospital has five patients with a moderate clinical picture.

One patient with Covid-19 is in the Kragujevac Clinical Center.

Non-majority communities’ problems with the package of measures of the Government of Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio)

The implementation of the decision on the government’s package of economic aid measures during the coronavirus pandemic is accompanied by numerous problems when it comes to non-majority communities in Kosovo, and that may affect a certain number of citizens to give up such assistance, according to the NGO Aktiv from North Mitrovica.

NGO Aktiv states that several potential problems have been identified, which were obtained in direct contact with citizens from non-majority communities throughout Kosovo.

As stated, the most significant problem arose due to inadequate information of persons from non-majority communities about these measures, which mainly refers to the poor quality of information in the Serbian language on the official websites of ministries and agencies; delays and poor translations of information distributed in Serbian; poor functionality or lack of Employment Offices in Serb-majority municipalities; complicated explanations of the procedure that are not unified in one place, but part is on the website of the Employment Agency, and part on the website of the Ministry of Finance and Transfers; the complexity of the procedure due to the fact that potential beneficiaries of this assistance must contact two institutions – the Employment Office and the Center for Social Work.

“All this has led to great confusion among potential beneficiaries of this aid package from non-majority communities, which leads to the danger that the aid will not reach those for whom it is intended and who probably need it the most,” warns the NGO Aktiv.

See the announcement of the NGO Aktiv at: https://bit.ly/2Z2Z1p6

Office for KiM: 20 healthcare workers prevented to enter  Kosovo (KoSSev)

A group of 20 doctors and nurses were prevented from entering the territory of Kosovo through Merdare crossing from central Serbia as per the decision of Pristina, Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija said yesterday, KoSSev portal reports.

The Office for Kosovo and Metohija said that the healthcare workers were prevented from entering Kosovo “under the pretense that they do not have Kosovo work permits,” even though they were born in Kosovo and spent most of their lives there. The Office for KiM requested intervention from the international community.

In the meantime, KoSSev tried to get in touch with the spokesman of the Kosovo Ministry of Health, Faik Hoti regarding this issue. However, no answer arrived prior to the news being published, the portal added.

The statement from Office for KiM comes after last month’s conversation between the Serbian and Kosovo Ministers of Health, Zlatibor Loncar, and Arben Vitia, as well as several statements by Belgrade officials, who welcomed and underlined the importance of cooperation to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Recently, the Belgrade and Pristina liaison officer, Dejan Pavicevic announced that a doctor and a nurse were detained at Jarinje crossing point for several hours, and then in Pec later on, that an ambulance had been detained at the same crossing as well. Pavicevic also revealed that many similar situations occurred in the past.

See at: https://bit.ly/3fRgd70

President Vucic denies claims of talks to recognize Kosovo (N1)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Thursday that Belgrade’s recognition of Kosovo is not being discussed as his political rivals claim, N1 reports.

“We are not talking about Kosovo with anyone, nor are there any talks, nor ideas, nor any solution on the table about anything,” Vucic told reporters during a visit to the Kolubara mining basin, adding that his political rivals have been accusing him of intending to recognize Kosovo before the elections. 

He also said that since 2012 he is listening to the stories he has to recognize Kosovo and that he is in a hurry (to do so).

“Some are going to the western embassies and say that Vucic is Serbian nationalist, who deceives them and would do nothing regarding Kosovo and Metohija issue. And then they tell our public that Vucic would have to recognize Kosovo and that he is in a hurry to do so,” Vucic said.

“I will always advocate for peace but whenever I needed to demonstrate the strength and firmness of Serbia’s policies, I was the one to do that on the issue of Kosovo and the survival of our people,” he added.

Pristina sees thousands ‘cleansed’ Albanians in southern Serbia, who never lived there (Sputnik)

Kosovo Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani accused Serbia of conducting, as she said, a systematic ethnic cleansing of Albanians in Medvedja, Bujanovac and Presevo, listing the municipality of Medvedja as an example, Sputnik portal reports. According to Osmani 7.438 Albanians used to live there, and now there are 600 only.

The portal further said facts indicate that these thousands of Albanians have never lived in that part of south Serbia.

Mayor of Medvedja municipality Nebojsa Arsic said he was surprised with the statements of Kosovo official, noting that the number of Albanians Osmani mentioned had never lived in the territory of this municipality.

According to the census in 2011, there were 711 Albanians living in Medvedja and not seven thousand. It is true that Albanians did not officially recognize this census, and that is why an assessment on the number of population was conducted in 2015. Experts from the OSCE did that assessment and said that 531 Albanians in total live in the territory of our municipality, and that the total number of inhabitants is 7.442. Experts from the US, Great Britain and European Union took part in that assessment,” Arsic told Sputnik portal.

He also refuted claims Osmani made that Albanians were leaving the area because “they were deprived of fundamental human rights to language, education, employment, and exposed to constant pressure of the Serbian regime, without right to complain.”

“Out of 63 employees at the public administration in Medvedja, seven of them are Albanians, plus those working in the schools and other public institutions. By percentage Albanians have a much higher number of employed people compared to the number of them living in this territory. We had never had any dispute with Albanians, neither in the politics nor in everyday life. Albanians have the same rights as Serbs in Medvedja, guaranteed by the Constitution of Serbia,” Arsic emphasized.

According to him, Medvedja was always Serb-majority populated area, and he does not understand why this municipality is “involved” in such stories.

“They list us as part of the so-called Presevo valley, and we do not belong there on any grounds. We are geographically located 180 kilometers away from Presevo, and there is no valley at all here. Only the center of Medvedja in a diameter of 375 meters could be described as ‘a valley’ the rest is mountainous area,” Arsic noted.

Osmani earlier also said that “the disabling of the Albanian residence addresses is another issue and that is why Albanians could not undertake legal actions against Serbia in these cases,” to what Arsic responded that he has no influence where people would live, because it would constitute pressure when it comes also to the Serbs and others.  

EC ready to include Western Balkans into plans on opening borders (Beta, N1)

The European Commission (EC) said on Wednesday it was ready to closely link the Western Balkans countries to the implementation of the joint European Roadmap towards lifting COVID-19 containment measures, aiming at a gradual restart of the tourism, the Beta news agency reported.

The EC recommendations on freedom of movements and lifting the control on the EU internal borders indicates that special attention will be paid to the situation in the countries in the bloc’s neighbourhood.

“In line with the Support to the Western Balkans in solving problems with COVID-19 and the post-pandemic recovery, the EC is ready to link the region to the Roadmap,” the Commission said on its website.

The recommendations apply to all EU member states, the Schengen zone members, as well as the zone’s associate countries: Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein.

They are not compulsory for all EU countries but can help in a gradual and coordinated lifting of travel restrictions and resume of the tourism after several months of a stand-still caused by the pandemic, EC said.  

See at: https://bit.ly/3bzyRN8

Serbian trade minister says 18.5 million Euro of goods exported to Kosovo (FoNet, TV Pink, N1)

Serbian Trade minister Rasim Ljajic told TV Pink on Thursday that Serbian companies exported 18.5 million Euro worth of goods to Kosovo during the coronavirus pandemic state of emergency.

He said that some of those exports were higher than before the pandemic because Kosovo depends on Serbia for some raw materials. According to the minister, 83 percent of all grains sold in Kosovo originate in Serbia proper. He said that the Kosovo authorities are restoring trade barriers by introducing a tax of 40 Euro a ton on flour.  

Ljajic said that the Serbian trade sector did well because of the high demand for foodstuffs but added that a drop in the sale of household appliances and furniture was recorded. He said that the exports of grains to the countries of the region and the rest of Europe rose during the pandemic and that imports of oil and medical supplies rose. He said that all prices that had been frozen during the state of emergency were now free with the exception of surgical gloves and masks.

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

Serbian Government replies to Freedom House – report full of contradictions (FoNet, N1, RTS)

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said yesterday that the Serbian Government sent an 18-page detailed reply to Freedom House (FH) latest report on the situation in Serbia which downgraded the country from ‘partly free’ to ‘hybrid regime,’ saying it was “full of contradictions with an obvious subjective approach of a single person,” FoNet news agency reported.

Brnabic also told public broadcaster RTS she wondered why “Freedom House did not engage an expert team, but a person who works with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN).”

Brnabic said the report didn’t show the real situation regarding democracy in Serbia, adding “the author referred to sources and references that contradicted the content of his report.”

She also reiterated President Aleksandar Vucic’s remark, that “although the report didn’t show the real situation, there are some things that are true and we will accept some of them,” N1 reported. 

 

 

International

 

Head of Office of Kosovo and Metohija: Serbs and Albanians should decide on Kosovo fate (TASS)

President Vucic has long insisted that only “two of our peoples can come up with the best solution for reconciliation and resolve the differences between the Serbian and Albanian peoples,” Marco Djuric said

The settlement of the issue of Kosovo and Metohija would have been much more successful if Serbs and Albanians had been doing this without any interference from outside, Marco Djuric, head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija and Deputy of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucuc in the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, said in an interview with TASS.

See the interview at: https://bit.ly/2LqDcYn

Kosovo Activists to Continue ‘Rehearsing’ Protests Despite Movement Restrictions (Balkan Insight)

Ruling Vetevendosje party activists say they will continue staging unusual ‘rehearsal’ for future protests in the capital – amid criticism from rival parties that have accused them of playing fast and loose with health restrictions.

Supporters of the ruling Vetevendosje party and its leader Albin Kurti have vowed to stage more “rehearsals” for protests despite the continued limits on public gatherings in the COVID-19 outbreak.

They staged the first such “rehearsal for a protest” on Tuesday evening, when some 500 people formed an almost perfect square in the centre of Pristina and kept a distance from each other to comply with the restrictions.

See at: https://bit.ly/3dH18mq

Wildly Wrong: North Macedonia’s Population Mystery (Balkan Insight)

North Macedonia’s official population statistics are not just a little off — they are dramatically incorrect. And that has consequences.

According to the State Statistical Office, the population of North Macedonia is almost 2.08 million — or to be precise, 2,077,132 as of 31 December 2018.

The problem is this number is plain wrong.

At least that is the view of Apostol Simovski, the State Statistical Office’s own director. “I’m afraid there are no more than 1.5 million in the country, but I can’t prove it.”

See at: https://bit.ly/3650blh

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Reports of domestic violence increase in 2020 (Prishtina Insight)

According to statistics obtained by Prishtina Insight from the Kosovo Police, almost 650 cases of domestic violence have been reported across the country in 2020: 161 in January, 151 in February, 169 in March and 167 in April.

Rashit Qalaj, the General Director of the Kosovo Police, has said that instances of domestic violence have been on the rise this year, in part due to measures enacted by the government to prevent the spread of coronavirus which have kept families indoors. 

Qalaj told Ekonomia Online last week that the police have been constantly dealing with cases of domestic violence, and not just between couples. “When we talk about domestic violence, people think that these are cases of violence between spouses, but in many cases we have seen domestic violence among other family members,” he said.

Erza Kurti from the Kosovo Women’s Network, KWN, told Prishtina Insight that this year’s figures represent a 22 per cent increase in reports of domestic violence compared to the same four months of last year. 

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

Kosovo Businesses Complain Government’s Support Package Falls Short (Balkan Insight)

Many businesses say the measures adopted by Kosovo’s government to support them through the COVID-19 pandemic do not go far enough.

The supplies were supposed to be eaten in March and April, but by May they were rotting in the warehouse of the Artela restaurant in Podujeve/Podujevo in northeastern Kosovo.

Closed since March 21 under government restrictions to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants in Kosovo will be allowed to provide takeaway service from May 18, while some are already doing deliveries.

But Artela’s manager, Blinera Murati, said the loosening of restrictions meant little for a “family and events restaurant” like Artela.

“We have never done deliveries before and it was impossible to start now,” Murati told BIRN.

See at: https://bit.ly/2WT9Mrl

Rakic received UNMIK delegation, thanked them for delivered aid (Radio Mitrovica Sever)

Radio Mitrovica Sever reported today citing the statement of Mitrovica North municipality that mayor of Goran Rakic received a delegation of UNMIK. On that occasion, the municipality of Mitrovica North received a donation, including hygiene and food packages, intended for socially vulnerable families.

Mayor Rakic thanked UNMIK for the support in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, emphasizing that the situation in the municipality of Mitrovica North and in the north of Kosovo was getting better every day and that there are almost no infected people anymore.

UNMIK donates aid to Ranilug municipality (RTV Puls)

Representatives of UNMIK donated yesterday 90 food and hygienic packages to the most vulnerable families in Ranilug municipality, RTV Puls reports.

Ranilug mayor Vladica Aritonovic thanked UNMIK and in particular its head Zahir Tanin for the support to this municipality as well as for cooperation that is continuously on high level since the establishment of the municipality.

“The packages will be distributed to the families in need within the shortest deadline, while the municipality and emergency committee will continue their everyday activities to help and support all residents of Ranilug municipality during the situation caused by coronavirus pandemic,” Aritonovic said. 

Strpce, to whom does the land by the river belong? (KoSSev)

After entering the territory of “Kosovо Suma” near “Obe Reke” site in the municipality of Strpce, the Matkos Group wants to continue with the road construction and laying pipes for the mini hydroelectric power plant along the old riverbed, which is privately owned – the Strpce locals claim, KoSSev portal reports.

The company has been trying to convince the land plots owners that the area next to the river, where the pipeline is planned to be laid, is “state property“, but that is not the case, Milovan Filipovic, Master of Laws, an honorary member of the Lawyers Association of Serbia and a Strpce resident, said in an interview with KoSSev.

After addressing the public with his op-ed via KoSSev, Filipovic speaks now of the fear of locals losing their land next to the Strpce river.

“There is no legal act that says that the area next to the river is not private property, although it is not registered as privately owned, because the river meanders over time…somewhere it may go through a someone’s land next to the river, or pulls back and leaves more space,“ Filipovic stressed.

He explained that the property issues have been regulated on the basis of the former Yugoslav laws which stated that if a river runs through or next to the privately owned land, there cannot be any other land owner along the river but the owner himself or herself. He added that the same was also confirmed by the Brussels agreement.

See more at: https://bit.ly/2T48SXO

 

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