Albanian Language Media:
- Thaci: Constitutional Court to work independently, free of pressure (media)
- Mustafa and Lajcak agree resumption of dialogue is a priority (Klan)
- Mustafa: LDK focused for the dialogue with Serbia to start soon (Klan)
- Haradinaj: Governing program with LDK, in its final phase (Klan)
- Kosovo-Switzerland air travel to resume by 15 June (media)
- Kurti and Minxhozi discuss economic cooperation, Covid-19 pandemic (media)
Serbian Language Media:
- Borell: EU shares regional agenda with US (N1)
- No new Covid-19 infection cases in north (Radio KIM)
- Vucic & Putin on mutual relations, region and fight against coronavirus (Beta, N1)
- Pristina reinstates taxes on flour from Serbia; Belgrade’s doctors turned back (Beta, N1)
- “Now they have finally confirmed that Kosovo is a NATO project” (B92)
- Kosovo Health Ministry: Serb doctors prevented from entering Kosovo due to unclear purpose of their visit (KoSSev)
- Doctors: We were not allowed to enter Kosovo, because we had Serbian documents only (TV Most)
- Over 200 medical workers from Kosovo await permission to visit Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja (KoSSev, Gazeta Express)
- Opposition Alliance for Serbia says it won’t recognize election results (BETA, N1)
- Will Serbia have to choose between China and the EU? (EWB)
- IMF Offers Emergency Support to the Balkans (imf.org)
- Kosovo families seek answers 21 years after Serb conflict (AP)
- ‘Until the last person is found, we will not be satisfied’ (Prishtina Insight)
- Pastrimi protests exclusion from emergency package (Prishtina Insight)
- First country in Europe to declare end of epidemic (B92)
- UNMIK donated aid packages in Gracanica municipality (KIM radio)
- Distribution of aid packages continues in Novo Brdo (Kosovo Online)
Albanian Language Media
Thaci: Constitutional Court to work independently, free of pressure (media)
President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci held a news conference today where he said that the Constitutional Court should work in an independent way, free of pressure from anyone.
Thaci said he has submitted his remarks to the Constitutional Court on the case regarding giving the mandate for forming the new government to the candidate from the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), Avdullah Hoti.
“It is crucial for the democracy in Kosovo for the Constitutional Court to work independently, without pressure from any party. No one can block the country and state institutions and for this reason I call on all to contribute to the strengthening of institutions and law and order,” Thaci said.
He added: “No one has the right to try to usurp any office of the country’s institutions, especially after the Assembly’s decisions.”
Thaci also said that acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Health Minister Arben Vitia, and Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla, should be held accountable for events relating to the return of the AKR leader Behgjet Pacolli to Kosovo and the death of a 26-year-old man at the quarantine centre in Pristina.
“Kurti’s, Svecla’s and Vitia’s group should explain why Pacolli rerouted his flight in the direction of Tirana and incited the suicide of the student, as well as political selection of who will be quarantined and who will not,” Thaci said adding that the sooner these answers are provided the better.
Thaci also spoke about the Covid-19 pandemic and underlined that he respects the recommendations from the National Institute for Public Health and not those, which he said, are unconstitutional and taken by “Kurti’s group”.
Mustafa and Lajcak agree resumption of dialogue is a priority (Klan)
The leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) Isa Mustafa held a telephone conversation with EU’s Special Envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak.
“Thanks @IsaMustafaKS for a constructive talk on the current political situation, #COVID19 response, and future expectations for Kosovo. Agreed on priority of resuming Dialogue. Should lead to normalization of relations with Serbia and accelerated progress on their European path,” Lajcak wrote on his Twitter account.
Mustafa: LDK focused for the dialogue with Serbia to start soon (Klan)
Isa Mustafa, leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) said his political entity is focused for the dialogue with Serbia to start soon and result with mutual recognition.
Mustafa reportedly made these comments during his conversation with the EU Special Reresentative for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak.
He also informed Lajcak that his political party will accept and respect the decision of the Constitutional Court with regards to the decree of the President Hashim Thaci for Avdullah Hoti’s mandate for Prime Minister.
Haradinaj: Governing program with LDK, in its final phase (Klan)
Acting leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) Ramush Haradinaj, informed today during his visit to Gjilan for the anniversary of AAK’s first branch in this city, that the governing program with the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and the other coalition partners is almost concluded.
“The Prime Minister candidate talks about the program, I respect his privilege. AAK is a contributor on the governing program. The Program is in its final phase and the time of waiting for the Constitutional Court was used for its advancement,” Haradinaj said.
He added that he cannot talk about the number of deputy ministers in the future government, stressing that AAK is for the format of the new government to remain the same.
“It is under Avdullah Hoti’s competency to tell what the number of deputy ministers will be,” he said.
Kosovo-Switzerland air travel to resume by 15 June (media)
Kosovo and Switzerland are expected to open their border points for air travel as of 15 June, media report quoting Kosovo’s deputy ambassador to Switzerland, Islam Spahiu.
“We will relax restrictions as of June. Normal flight operations could resume by 15 June, at the latest. Tourists will also be able to return to the country,” Spahiu said.
Kurti and Minxhozi discuss economic cooperation, Covid-19 pandemic (media)
Acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti met today Albania’s Ambassador Qemal Minxhozi and discussed economic cooperation and increase of movement of goods and products.
According to Kurti’s office, the two officials also discussed energy issues, following Kosovo joining Albania in the regulatory bloc for energy transmission.
Kurti and Minxhozi also discussed the public health crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic and ways of cooperation in this regard.
Serbian Language Media
Borell: EU shares regional agenda with US (N1)
The European Union’s top diplomat said on Friday that the EU supports everything that helps improve communication between Serbia and Kosovo, adding that it is working closely with Washington on a shared agenda for the region.
High Representative Josep Borell said in a written reply to questions from MEPs said that “the EU supports in principle all measures and actions that contribute to easing movement and communication between the people in Serbia and Kosovo … as one of the ways towards normalisation of relations and advancing regional cooperation”.
“Serbia and Kosovo need more of these steps, more agreements, more normalisation and this objective is of course not contradictory with necessary temporary restrictions of movements decided as part of the response COVID 19 crisis,” he said.
“Now with the appointment of EU Special Representative (Slovak diplomat) Miroslav Lajcak for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and other Western Balkan regional issues, the EU continues to lead the Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and to work very closely with the United States. The EU has a shared agenda with the United States for the region,” Borell said.
Borell recalled that the EU welcomed the decision by the Kosovo authorities to lift the 100 percent tariffs on goods from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina as a positive development for regional cooperation which can contribute to the resumption of the EU-mediate Belgrade-Pristina dialogue to normalize relations.
No new Covid-19 infection cases in north (Radio KIM)
No new Covid-19 infection case was registered in the north of Kosovo, over the last 24 hours, the Crisis Committee of Mitrovica North announced today, Radio KIM reports.
It was also announced that one person has been cured and the person is from Zvecan,
Thus far, 116 persons in total have been infected with Covid-19 in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo, nine passed away, while 97 persons have been cured, Radio KIM recalled.
Out of this number, 43 cases were in Mitrovica North (three persons passed away, 40 persons have been cured), 25 in Zvecan (one person passed away, 24 persons have been cured), 24 in Zubin Potok (one person passed away, 20 persons have been cured), and 24 in Leposavic (four persons passed away, 13 persons have been cured).
Vucic & Putin on mutual relations, region and fight against coronavirus (Beta, N1)
Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin talked by phone about the relations between the two countries, the situation in the Western Balkans and the struggle against the coronavirus pandemic, Vucic’s office said in a statement late on Thursday, as carried by the Beta news agency.
Vucic thanked Putin for his worries about Serbia and for medical aid to the country, which “confirmed excellent strategic relations between Belgrade and Moscow.”
The talks came after the European Union said it was concerned with Serbia’s increasingly closer relationship with Russia and China and Belgrade’s massive emphasis on the aid from the two countries and neglect of that coming from the bloc, despite it being much more substantial over the years.
Some EU politicians even wondered if Serbia had changed its pro-European orientation.
Vucic reacted by saying he had enough lectures by the Europeans about Serbia’s relations with China and Russia.
In the meantime, he slightly changed the tone and praised the EU help as well and reiterated that Belgrade’s chief foreign policy goal was to join the Union.
But on Thursday he again glorified the relations with Moscow, saying that “Serbia is privileged to have such an honest friend like Russia,” adding he was “honoured to have such a personal relationship (with Putin) of mutual respect and trust.”
The statement from his office added that Vucic informed Putin about the events in the region, including the situation in Kosovo and “persecution of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) clergy in Montenegro.”
Vucic offered help to Russia in its fight against the pandemic “within our possibilities.”
He added he decided, pending the Russian side’s consent, to decorate the Russian soldiers who helped Serbia to put the coronavirus epidemic under control in a short time.
Vucic office’s statement said that the two leaders expected that the circumstances would soon allow the exchange of visits at the high level and the resumption of previously planned contacts between the two countries.
Pristina reinstates taxes on flour from Serbia; Belgrade’s doctors turned back (Beta, N1)
Kosovo’s Government activated a previous decision suspended, but not abolished, about import taxes on flour and construction material from Serbia, and banned Belgrade’s doctors from entering Kosovo, the Beta news agency reported on Thursday.
The implementation of the decision means that the flour exporters must pay Euro 40 per tonne, i.e. Euro 1,000 per a 25-tonne lorry.
Vukosav Sakovic, the Director of Zita Srbija, the association for the improvement of flour production and export, said the taxes were reinstated after Kosovo stabilized its market during the coronavirus pandemic.
He added that Serbia exported less than 2,000 tons of flour and 16,000 tons of wheat in April.
Sakovic said the taxes were reintroduced “for the benefit of ‘M’ grain tank firm which doesn’t want competition, and which has made stock by buying high quantities of wheat.”
In another development, Kosovo Health Ministry said it sent back doctors from Serbia “because they ‘couldn’t explain whether they were coming to work as foreign medical staff, or their aim was monitoring.”
“Now they have finally confirmed that Kosovo is a NATO project” (B92)
The representative of the German left “Die Linke”, Zaklin Nastic, stated that the ruling CDU recognized that Kosovo is a NATO project, B92 reports. This happened during the debate in the Bundestag on the extension of the mandate of German soldiers at KFOR.
“At the debate in the German Bundestag, MPs from the ruling parties allowed themselves to be led to revealing and scandalous confessions. Thus, the CDU MP in charge of foreign policy, Gisela Manderla, called Kosovo a “transatlantic project”, i.e. a NATO project,” Nastic wrote on her Facebook profile. She stated that other MPs characterized Kosovo as “their child”.
“Thus, the advocates of the military mission in Kosovo confirmed that Kosovo is not a sovereign state,” Nastic underlined. B92 also reported the MP from the left emphasized that Kosovo is an illegally separated province and a protectorate of the West.
The assaults on the former Yugoslavia in 1999 were criminal and present a violation of international law, and the fact that the Bundeswehr (German Federal Defense Forces) remains after 21 years in Kosovo is a shame, Nastic concluded.
See at: https://bit.ly/3dNWItW
Kosovo Health Ministry: Serb doctors prevented from entering Kosovo due to unclear purpose of their visit (KoSSev)
Twenty healthcare workers from central Serbia were prevented from entering the territory of Kosovo yesterday, the Kosovo Office announced. The Kosovo Ministry of Health, however, confirmed for KoSSev today that the healthcare workers were not allowed to enter due to “ambiguities regarding the purpose of their arrival”.
The Kosovo Office announced yesterday that twenty healthcare workers were prevented from entering Kosovo via the Merdare border crossing “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”.
On the other hand, the Kosovo Ministry of Health told KoSSev today that the healthcare workers were not allowed to enter due to “ambiguities regarding the purpose of their arrival”.
“The reason why this team of doctors from Serbia was not allowed to enter the Republic of Kosovo was due to the ambiguity/ misunderstanding regarding the purpose of their arrival in Kosovo. They did not explain whether they are coming to work as foreign healthcare workers or to monitor the health situation,” the Kosovo Health Ministry underlined.
If these healthcare workers wanted to work in Kosovo, they are obliged to “adhere to the rules for licensing foreign healthcare workers”.
“One of those rules says that each of them must be a member of the Medical Chamber of Kosovo,” the ministry added.
However, if the reason behind their visit to Kosovo is periodic monitoring of the health situation in Serb-majority municipalities, the ministry said that it is necessary to check the documentation, and that, in that case, they would not be placed in quarantine.
“They are allowed to enter Kosovo after their documentation is checked, which applies to all citizens. However, as healthcare workers, they will not be quarantined – according to the provisions that apply to quarantine. There are five such provisions, one of them exempts doctors from mandatory quarantine.”
In the meantime, the KoSSev portal tried to get in touch with the Kosovo Office for additional information on where these healthcare workers are at the moment and which group of healthcare workers were prevented from entering Kosovo, as well as whether they are employed within the healthcare institutions on the territory of Kosovo or whether they are healthcare workers who work in central Serbia. Prior to this news been published, we did not receive a response.
The ban on healthcare workers entering Kosovo arrived 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 the Jarinje border crossing for several hours, and then in Pec/Peja later on, that an ambulance had been detained at the same crossing. Pavicevic also revealed that many similar situations occurred in the past.
Doctors: We were not allowed to enter Kosovo, because we had Serbian documents only (TV Most)
Serbian doctors prevented by Pristina authorities from entering Kosovo and Metohija in order to provide health care to their patients, said yesterday that this Pristina’s act is discriminatory and degrading, both in professional and human aspects, TV Most reports.
Doctor Jelena Krdzic said she was in a group of 20 doctors, nurses and technicians, who have waited more than eight hours at Merdare crossing point and they were not allowed to report to their working places under the explanation that “they have Serbian documents only.”
“What we have experienced is absolutely unacceptable, discriminatory and degrading both in professional and human aspects,” Krdzic said.
Doctor Ilija Dragojevic said Serbia is doing its utmost to enable normal life and health care to its population in Kosovo.
“By limiting the freedom of movement to a group of people, you are hampering the rights of other groups of people. In this case, by preventing doctors from coming to work, you are preventing other patients from having health care. And the only one reason for this was because we have Serbian documents,” Dragojevic said.
TV Most recalled that doctors and nurses were stopped at Merdare crossing point, although liaison officer in Pristina, Dejan Pavicevic announced their arrival earlier.
These 20 doctors and nurses already live and work on the route central Serbia – Kosovo and they all originate from Kosovo respectively and worked in the health institutions there for decades, TV Most reported.
Over 200 medical workers from Kosovo await permission to visit Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja (KoSSev, Gazeta Express)
Portal KoSSev reports that over 200 medical workers – volunteers from Kosovo reported to visit Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, in order to monitor the situation regarding the coronavirus, confirmed the president of the Federation of Health Trade Unions of Kosovo, Blerim Sula, Gazeta Express reported.
Last night, Sula announced that he addressed the Prime Minister of Kosovo, the Minister of Health and Foreign Affairs, with the aim of enabling a delegation of health workers from Kosovo to visit Bujanovac, Presevo and Medvedja. He asked them to get in touch with the Ministry of Health of Serbia in order to enable them to do so, but also not to politicize their request and the whole situation.
KoSSev quotes that in a statement to Telegrafi, Sula then said that they had not yet received any response to the request sent to the Kosovo government.
“So far, we have not received any answer, neither from the Prime Minister, nor from the Ministry of Health, nor from the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He reiterated that this request should not be confused with politics, but that it is a matter of “solidarity and humanitarian request based on international conventions in Vienna and others that are related to the current situation.”
He told the international community that it should get involved and allow doctors from Kosovo to go to the part of Serbia where Albanians also live, because they had previously “mediated for doctors from Serbia to enter the territory of Kosovo,” Gazeta Express reported.
He adds that their stay there will not be of a political nature – that is that they would not meet with politicians.
“We are talking about health and we are not pretending to go and meet with political bodies… If allowed, I will only meet the needs of health institutions and the population, and not a political party.”
On the same day when the request of the president of the Federation of Health Trade Unions was sent to Pristina, 20 health workers from central Serbia who were heading to Kosovo were stopped at the Merdare crossing, the Office for Kosovo and Metohija confirmed last night. The Kosovo Ministry of Health later told KoSSev, these health workers were not allowed to enter due to “ambiguities regarding the purpose of their arrival”, i.e. “they did not explain whether they come to work as foreign health workers or because of a visit to monitor the health situation”.
Opposition Alliance for Serbia says it won’t recognize election results (BETA, N1)
The opposition Alliance for Serbia (SzS) said on Friday it will not recognize results of the June 21 vote called by President Aleksandar Vucic nor the authorities formed based on it, N1 reports.
“We consider the un-free elections a violation of constitutional order and will not recognize their results. We will not recognize the authorities formed on the basis of those elections,” the Alliance for Serbia (SzS) said in a written statement.
It added the minimum of conditions for free elections are not in place because of the coronavirus pandemic and that the vote on June 21 would be unsafe because it would endanger the health of the entire nation.
“The media darkness was never deeper. The state of emergency, imposed unconstitutionally, was used for unprecedented regime propaganda and repression. After that, the Serbian Parliament adopted unconstitutional changes to the election laws which change election conditions,” the statement said and called on the opposition, intellectuals and all citizens to boycott the June 21 elections.
Will Serbia have to choose between China and the EU? (EWB)
One of the questions that has been preoccupying researchers in our field for years is when Serbia will be forced to decide between the European Union (EU), or, what we colloquially call the “West” and Russia. This issue really came to the fore following the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, and the introduction of sanctions in response from the EU. The relationship between Belgrade and Moscow is observed within Chapter 31 (foreign, security and defense policy) of Serbia’s EU membership negotiations. From the point of view of the interests of the Union and the individual members, this relationship was assessed as unfavorable to the extent that six years since the beginning of the negotiations, the so-called screening report has not been published. (It is an open secret that Belgrade and Brussels have reached a “gentleman’s agreement” that the content and conclusions of the screening – comprehensive analysis of Serbia’s foreign policy positions in relation to those of the EU – are not published, so that mutual relations would not be further damaged.)
See more at: https://bit.ly/2yRF1uW
IMF Offers Emergency Support to the Balkans (imf.org)
The emerging economies of southeastern Europe that are not part of the European Union, where incomes are lower, and social safety nets less developed, are particularly vulnerable to the economic and social impact of COVID-19. In recent weeks, the IMF has responded with a number of rapidly-disbursing loans to countries in the region.
In an interview with IMF Country Focus, Jan Kees Martijn of the IMF’s European Department, explains that with the decline in economic activity in the Balkans, large fiscal and external financing gaps have emerged.
See more at: https://bit.ly/2X1lr7c
Kosovo families seek answers 21 years after Serb conflict (AP)
Halil Hasani is convinced his four sons are alive and imprisoned somewhere in Serbia more than two decades after police and paramilitary forces took them from a village in Kosovo.
At the time, an armed uprising by ethnic Albanian separatists had led to a bloody Serb crackdown, an international humanitarian crisis and a NATO bombing campaign in Kosovo, then a Serbian province. The 1998-1999 war left more than 10,000 people dead and 6,500 missing. Forensic scientists are still searching for hidden graves.
‘Until the last person is found, we will not be satisfied’ (Prishtina Insight)
Families whose loved ones are still missing 21 years after the war in Kosovo continue to press Kosovo and Serbian authorities to work together to locate and identify the 1,641 people that are yet to be found.
Myrvete Hoti has been searching for her brother for more than 20 years. A well-known political activist, philosopher and international law professor, Myrvete’s brother Ukshin spent much of the 1980s and 1990s in and out of prison, sentenced for his participation in political protests condemning discrimination and human rights abuses committed against Albanians.
See at: https://bit.ly/2WXrzh0
Pastrimi protests exclusion from emergency package (Prishtina Insight)
A parade of refuse collection trucks circled around Prishtina on Wednesday, as employees of the publicly owned waste management company ‘‘Pastrimi” protested a lack of provisions for their sector in the Kosovo Government’s emergency fiscal package. It was the second protest held by Pastrimi employees from across Kosovo in the space of a week, following a previous demonstration on May 8.
The emergency package is designed to cope with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the country’s economy. Its provisions include salary top-ups of 300 euros for workers directly exposed to risk of the virus, including doctors, prison guards, firefighters and employees of Kosovo Police. It also foresees additional payments of 100 euros to employees at supermarkets, pharmacies and bakeries.
First country in Europe to declare end of epidemic (B92)
Slovenia is the first European country to declare the end of the coronavirus epidemic, Croatian news agency Hina reported.
The Slovenian Government declared the end of the epidemic at a telephone session on Thursday.The National Institute of Public Health estimated that all indicators show that the spread of the coronavirus has calmed down, i.e. that a total of 35 new cases of infection have been recorded in the last 14 days. The first confirmed case of coronavirus in Slovenia was recorded on March 4. By May 13, 1.464 cases of infection had been confirmed, and 103 people had died from COVID-19.
The coronavirus epidemic in Slovenia was declared on March 12.
See at: https://bit.ly/2WVIAbu
UNMIK donated aid packages in Gracanica municipality (KIM radio)
UNMIK members delivered aid packages for socially disadvantaged families in Gracanica municipality.
UNMIK provided a total of 50 packages of food products and 30 hygiene packages for residents and families “in a state of social need” on the territory of the Municipality of Gracanica. read the statement of the municipality delivered to the media.
“From the very beginning of the epidemiological situation, our interest and priority has been to supply socially endangered and elderly households on our territory.”
“We managed to establish contacts with many institutions and organizations that came out to meet us,” said the mayor of Gracanica, Srdjan Popovic.
The Municipality of Gracanica states that volunteers and members of the Crisis Staff have so far distributed about 500 aid packages.
“Recently, we received help in food packages from the Swiss organization SDC and hygiene packages from the UNHCR, and next week we expect help from the German organization HELP,” said Popovic, concluding that flour, basic foodstuffs and hygiene products mean the most to the socially endangered.
Distribution of aid packages continues in Novo Brdo (Kosovo Online)
Volunteers from Novi Brdo continued today with the distribution of humanitarian aid, which was donated by UNMIK for the socially endangered population in this municipality, reports portal Kosovo Online.
Assistance in the form of basic foodstuffs and personal hygiene items, provided by the UNMIK mission, arrived at the addresses of 14 Roma families living in poor economic conditions, stated the announcement posted on the official Facebook page of the municipality of Novo Brdo.
“Even today, the volunteers of the Municipality of Novo Brdo showed unconditional humanity and distributed packages, while respecting all protection measures, in order to prevent the possibility of the epidemic spreading,” the announcement reads.
The Municipality of Novo Brdo asked all citizens to show patience until the arrival of volunteers and the delivery of packages, ”because it will not happen that help is missing for those who need it”.