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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, May 19, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• “Talks to resume as soon as possible” (Lajmi)
• Albania to open border with Kosovo this month (Klan Kosova)

Serbian Language Media:

• Fifth day in a row no new Covid-19 infection cases in Serb-majority areas in Kosovo (Kosovo-online)
• Godfrey: The solution for Kosovo can only be an agreement between the two sides (Kosovo Online, TV Prva)
• Djuric: Kosovo PM fears resumption of talks with Serbia’s Vucic (FoNet, N1)
• Serbian PM Brnabic: Crisis Staff today on possibility of opening administrative crossings with Kosovo (Tanjug, B92)
• Godfrey: Everyone should take part in June elections in Serbia (BETA, N1)

Opinion:

• What happened with Metohija? (KoSSev)
• WWII Commemoration Dispute Shows Balkan Weaknesses and Strengths (Balkan Insight)

International:

• China on the Sideline as Japan Plays Bigger Role in Kosovo (thediplomat.com)
• Not just apps: privacy, personal data and COVID-19 in the western Balkans (balcanicaucaso.org)

Humanitarian/Development:

• OpisMEDIJavanje: You have the right to know what the institutions are doing (KoSSev)
• UNMIK donation distributed in Klokot municipality (Kosovo-online)
• Kawasaki syndrome in children also appeared in Serbia after the coronavirus (B92, Sputnik)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • “Talks to resume as soon as possible” (Lajmi)
  • Albania to open border with Kosovo this month (Klan Kosova)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Fifth day in a row no new Covid-19 infection cases in Serb-majority areas in Kosovo (Kosovo-online)
  • Godfrey: The solution for Kosovo can only be an agreement between the two sides (Kosovo Online, TV Prva)
  • Djuric: Kosovo PM fears resumption of talks with Serbia’s Vucic (FoNet, N1)
  • Serbian PM Brnabic: Crisis Staff today on possibility of opening administrative crossings with Kosovo (Tanjug, B92)
  • Godfrey: Everyone should take part in June elections in Serbia (BETA, N1)

Opinion:

  • What happened with Metohija? (KoSSev)
  • WWII Commemoration Dispute Shows Balkan Weaknesses and Strengths (Balkan Insight)

International:

  • China on the Sideline as Japan Plays Bigger Role in Kosovo (thediplomat.com)
  • Not just apps: privacy, personal data and COVID-19 in the western Balkans (balcanicaucaso.org)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • OpisMEDIJavanje: You have the right to know what the institutions are doing (KoSSev)
  • UNMIK donation distributed in Klokot municipality (Kosovo-online)
  • Kawasaki syndrome in children also appeared in Serbia after the coronavirus (B92, Sputnik)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

“Talks to resume as soon as possible” (Lajmi)

Peter Stano, a spokesman for the European Union, told the news website that work is ongoing for an eventual new meeting between Kosovo and Serbia.

“The Belgrade – Prishtina dialogue has been facilitated by the EU since 2011. We are working on the successful conclusion of the dialogue to reach a comprehensive normalisation and a final agreement to resolve all outstanding issues,” Stano said.

“It won’t be easy and we will ask both sides to approach the dialogue in a spirit of compromise and readiness to work for the future.”

“The EU reiterates that the current status quo is not sustainable and that talks must resume as soon as possible depending on the circumstances of the coronavirus. It is completely up to the parties involved (Belgrade and Prishtina) to decide when, where and how this will happen.”

Albania to open border with Kosovo this month (Klan Kosova)

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said on Monday evening that Albania will open its border with Kosovo this month.

“We will make our decision and open the border. We will do this this month, I cannot say an exact date right now,” Rama said.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Fifth day in a row no new Covid-19 infection cases in Serb-majority areas in Kosovo (Kosovo-online)

For the fifth day in a row, there are no new cases of Covid-19 infection registered in the Serb-majority areas in Kosovo, Crisis Committee of Mitrovica North announced today, Kosovo-online portal reports.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, a total of 116 persons have been  infected, 103 persons have been cured and nine persons have passed away.

Out of active cases, one person is staying at Clinical Centre in Mitrovica North, two at the Students’ Centre in the same town, and one person is at the hospital in Kragujevac, the portal recalled. 

Godfrey: The solution for Kosovo can only be an agreement between the two sides (Kosovo Online, TV Prva)

We are convinced that a solution can be found for Kosovo, but it must be an agreement between the two sides, and not something that will be imposed from outside, said the American ambassador to Serbia, Anthony Godfrey.

“If we focus on concrete things that are in everyone’s interest, then we may make some progress,” Godfrey said as a guest on Belgrade based TV Prva.

Asked whether the impression deceives that the United States wanted to move the Kosovo issue from the deadlock, he said that the Kosovo issue was very important and that the United States supported the dialogue, “over which the EU presides in a way, between Belgrade and Pristina.”

“We are convinced that a solution can be found, but to that end both sides must rule, that solution cannot be imposed from the outside. 

Grenell is an energetic man who believes that if we introduce economic incentives and if people in the region understand the economic benefits and if we remove the political differences, they will be more motivated for dialogue. Also, Matthew Palmer understands in detail the politics, history and culture of this region, not only in Serbia but in the entire region,” Godfrey said.

As he said, with the two of them, you can see how much Washington is interested in making things work here.

“And for us, that means prosperity, stability, a country that respects democratic norms and a country that will be an exporter of stability and peace in the region. Serbia’s results in the fight against the coronavirus and cooperation with countries in the region during the pandemic show that there is great opportunity for Serbia to be a leader in the region, and I hope that Serbia will take on that role,” the US ambassador said.

Asked if he had the impression that the United States was slowly losing influence over Kosovo, and if Germany had pushed them aside in that regard, he said:

“I am often asked if this is a battle between global interests. I do not see the situation like that, I think we have different actors and leaders here who are interested in achieving the same goal, and that is a stable region that will be able to help prosperity and security of the region, I think Serbia can be a leader,” Godfrey points out that in order to resolve the Kosovo issue, Serbia must rely on itself and on talks with Pristina, and that the United States and the EU will help realize that goal.

“However, the focus should be on the future, not the past. Let’s look at the future and what is best for Serbia and what it wants. Serbia aims at EU membership. Serbia is a strong country in the Western Balkans and a potentially large economy,” he said. 

When asked who will have the main say in solving the Kosovo problem and the statement that Belgrade considers Kosovo to be the heart of Serbia, Godfrey said that it is a difficult question, and that the search for an answer is not outside the region.

“Who will solve that issue is not a good question for us, but how we will solve that issue. A lasting solution can only be what the parties will achieve. We want to support that and with incentives, if we try to impose a solution from outside, it will not be long-lasting,” Godfrey said.

He added that he did not think that there had been no talks between Belgrade and Pristina for a year and a half.

“I would not say that there is no conversation, I hope that maybe the cooperation in the field of coronavirus will give new topics for conversation. I was present at the security conference in Munich when Grenell met with Vucic and Thaci and we talked about concrete things we can do,” Godfrey said.

Djuric: Kosovo PM fears resumption of talks with Serbia’s Vucic (FoNet, N1)

The head of Serbia’s Government Office for Kosovo Marko Djuric said on Tuesday that Pristina outgoing Prime Minister Albin Kurti feared the continuation of the dialogue on the normalisation of relations with President Aleksandar Vucic, the FoNet news agency reported.

 “To avoid the dialogue, he (Kurti) and his cabinet introduce new taxes; fabricate reasons to prevent that from happening. It is likely that they would prefer to see some of their friends and like-minded people across the table, and it is known who their friends and like-minded people are in Belgrade,” Djuric told Belgrade based Pink TV.

The European Union representative to Belgrade – Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajcak tweeted last Friday that he agreed with the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Isa Mustafa that the talks should resume normalising relations with Serbia.  

Kurti has said that the US President Donald Trump’s special envoy to Belgrade – Pristina dialogue Richard Grenell wants an agreement between Pristina and Belgrade till September, but that he doesn’t focus on the content.

“Grenell has asked for an express agreement, and my impression is he hasn’t meant anything bad for the Kosovo Albanians. (But) when you want something fast, the pressure increases. He’s in a hurry to get an agreement, and he’s less focused on its content,” Kurti said, adding “we should not rush.”

“Belgrade – Pristina dialogue should be well prepared under the EU and US auspices because when Washington is involved, there is mediation, while when it’s only the EU, you have facilitation,” KoSSev quoted Kurti as saying. He added he was against the idea of the division of Kosovo, saying that it was Vucic’s intention.    

Serbian PM Brnabic: Crisis Staff today on possibility of opening administrative crossings with Kosovo (Tanjug, B92)

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic convened a session of the Crisis Staff for Tuesday, to discuss the current situation with the coronavirus, especially the new hotspots. 

She stated that the Crisis Staff will consider the issue of possible opening of administrative crossings between central Serbia and Kosovo today. 

“I will insist that it be resolved as soon as possible, that is in our greatest interest. We will see if we will solve it tomorrow”, Brnabic told reporters yesterday.

Asked about relations between Belgrade and Pristina during the coronavirus crisis, Brnabic said that throughout the crisis, Serbia tried to have good regional cooperation and support all regional partners, regardless of differences and confrontations, emphasizing that the most important thing in the previous two months was to preserve lives and health of people.

She said that Serbia helped everyone in the region in difficult circumstances through continuous export of oxygen, donation of tests, export of flour and other food products.

Prime Minister Brnabic said that during the crisis, there was certain communication with Pristina, and that the government tried to make those relations better than usual, in the interest of people’s lives and health.

“I would not say how Pristina reacted to that, it is not important, but how we have reacted is what matters. When we donated 1.000 tests to Pristina, we did not want to collect political points. That was once again an outstretched hand towards the region,” Brnabic said.

When it comes to Vranje as a new hotspot, the Prime Minister said that it was a local hotspot, and that at this moment the situation at the level of the whole of Serbia was under control and that she believed that the situation in Vranje would resolve.

“I have scheduled a meeting of the Crisis Staff for tomorrow, to discuss whether anything needs to be done. We are not planning any new measures now, but I appeal once again to everyone – the crisis is not over. We have come out of the worst times and we can live more or less normally, but we still have to wear masks, to keep our distance”, Prime Minister pointed out, when asked if and what measures could be introduced after the sudden leap in the number of infected people.

Brnabic said that the situation was being monitored in detail and continuously, that was the reason to continue extended testing for 5.000 or 6.000 people a day, just to know if any local hotspots appear and how to react immediately, in order to detect all asymptomatic cases, and with the main aim being – an eradication of COVID-19 throughout Serbia.

“We had a crisis in Nis, a local hotspot in Leskovac, now we have it in Vranje. You will see information, but even today the number of infected people in Vranje is increasing, yet, it is still under control”, Brnabic stated.

The Prime Minister pointed out that she always talks about numbers at the level of the whole of Serbia, because then it could be seen whether the situation was under control and that it seems that it was under control at that moment. 

Brnabic once again appealed to everyone not to forget that we have not yet declared an overall victory, but that the epidemic is still there, and that we can live and work with all prevention measures.

“We will monitor the results; the scope of testing has been expanded. Health is absolutely a priority,” Brnabic concluded.

Godfrey: Everyone should take part in June elections in Serbia (BETA, N1)

US ambassador to Serbia Antony Godfrey urged on Tuesday all parties to run in the June 21 general vote because “different views and stands should be presented in a new parliament,” BETA news agency reports.

Speaking to Belgrade-based Prva TV, Godfrey said the US “supports Serbia’s goal to join the European Union, to develop and become a prosperous country with matured democratic institutions; that there is peace and trade with neighbors raises.”

He did not want to comment on Bosko Obradovic, an opposition leader’s hunger strike, adding he did not receive his letter which Obradovic said had sent to 300 addresses in Europe, US and Russia.

Asked about the situation with the media in Serbia, Godfrey said “there are things which Serbia should work on,” and that both Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the Prime Minister Ana Brnabic respectively agreed with.

“I think there is still a lot to be done regarding the media scene in Serbia to secure better access and equal coverage,” Godfrey noted.

He added he expects elections in Serbia to be fair and democratic. Asked how that would be possible with the current media situation, he said he hoped that “media freedoms will be at the highest level during the campaign.”

“That is important not only because of the OSCE evaluation of the atmosphere but more than that because the people who want to cast a ballot, wish a new parliament to have a full legitimacy, i.e., that all views are represented,” Godfrey concluded.

 

 

 

Opinion

 

What happened with Metohija? (KoSSev)

By Stefan Surlic

Recently, a Kosovo public service journalist received a second reprimand for using the term ”Metohija” , which was interpreted as spreading racial and religious intolerance, as well as inappropriate behavior within RTK. This is just one in a series of similar situations in which the term ”Metohija” has been predominantly polarizing Serbs and Albanians for decades. The absence of public debate on this issue has turned the term into a taboo topic and it is not the only term that has an impact overextending the lack of understanding between the two peoples. With the aim of encouraging public debate, the KoSSev portal will publish a series of op-eds on this issue in the coming period.

As Petrit Imami writes in the book ”Serbs and Albanians through Centuries”, there was a conflict between Albanian quisling-nationalists and anti-fascists during World War II. In response to the abuse of the Prizren League in 1878, in the newspaper KPJ Sloboda (1943), Fadil Hoxha announced: ”The peoples of Kosovo and Metohija will organize a conference, perhaps not in Prizren, which will hold more importance than the one in 1878. (Imami, 2016: 469)”. This Bujan conference, created as a response to the Second Prizren League, was later contested in CPY circles mostly due to the following sentence: ”Kosovo and Dukagjin/Metohija is an area mostly inhabited by the Shiptar people, who today, as always, want to unite with Shipnija (470)”.

The autonomous region of Kosovo and Metohija was created as early as 1945. It was confirmed in the Constitution a year later. A constitutional solution from 1963 expanded the autonomous competencies of the province of ”Kosovo and Metohija”. The term Metohija was removed from its official title only with the Constitution of the SFRY from 1974, when the province, although still part of the FR of Serbia, essentially rose to the level of an equal federal unit. With Milosevic coming into power, the autonomy of Kosovo was reduced to the authority of the 1963 Constitution, and the term Metohija was returned to its official name. The derogation of competencies by the majority of Albanians and their representatives was understood as an act of abolition of autonomy. Later, the experience of conflict and repression by the state apparatus led to an ingrained opinion among the Albanian population that the term ”Metohija” was offensive because it was ”imposed by Milosevic”. Historically speaking, Metohija is a much older term, of Greek origin, the plural form of  ”monastery property ”.

See more at:https://bit.ly/2XbuO4r

WWII Commemoration Dispute Shows Balkan Weaknesses and Strengths (Balkan Insight)

By Srecko Latal

A controversial Catholic mass in Sarajevo to commemorate the WWII-era killings of Croatian Nazi-allied troops and civilians sparked protests and highlighted enduring divisions, but showed that ethno-political arguments do not have to descend into violence.

The coronavirus pandemic, political scandals and looming recession in the Balkans were briefly overshadowed at the weekend by an event that took place three-quarters of a century ago.

The 75th anniversary of the killings of Croatian Nazi-allied troops and civilians by the Yugoslav Partisans at the end of World War II, known as the Bleiburg ordeal, which was marked with a Catholic mass at Sarajevo Cathedral on Saturday, triggered angry reactions across the region. The event and its fallout proved that Balkan nations and people are still very much divided about their common history.

See more at: https://bit.ly/2ThW8wY

  International

 

China on the Sideline as Japan Plays Bigger Role in Kosovo (thediplomat.com)

Beijing doesn’t recognize Pristina, making the small state a relatively China-free spot in Europe.

Advertisements for Huawei are ubiquitous in Europe. In Skopje, the capitol of North Macedonia, a massive electronic sign for Huawei towers above the central square. A similarly large Coca-Cola sign looms over a statue of what any local will tell you is Alexander the Great that dominates the square. Officially the figure is known as “Warrior on a Horse” in order not to inflame Greek sensibilities.

Yet, the streets of another capital city in the western Balkans just a little over an hour’s drive to the north is entirely devoid of Chinese products.

Over lunch, in a traditional Kosovar restaurant, a senior government official reflects on China’s role in the country.

“China doesn’t play a big role here. There are some Chinese individuals just involved in textiles and some individual merchants,” says Nebi Halil, who heads legal affairs for Kosovo’s penitentiary system, over lunch in Pristina. Halil has held a variety of roles in Kosovo’s bureaucracy. He is joined at lunch by a United Nations bureaucrat who nods in agreement regarding China’s minimal influence.

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

Not just apps: privacy, personal data and COVID-19 in the western Balkans (balcanicaucaso.org)

The measures adopted by some Balkan countries to contain the pandemic have raised perplexity in associations and researchers who deal with privacy and digital rights. Emergency actions, derogating from the national rules of law, could translate into mass surveillance tools.

See more at: https://bit.ly/36jCbLl

Humanitarian/Development

 

OpisMEDIJavanje: You have the right to know what the institutions are doing (KoSSev)

Everyone has the right to access documents of public importance, although it is most often expected from journalists, the editor of the Crno Beli Svet portal, Sanja Sovrlic said. It is important to use this option because institutions are not the private property of individuals and everyone has the right to know how citizens’ money is being spent, Sovrlic added.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3dVD5jR 

UNMIK donation distributed in Klokot municipality (Kosovo-online)

Safety Committee of Klokot municipality handed over UNMIK’s donation, including hygiene and food packages, to the socially disadvantaged families, Klokot mayor Bozidar Dejanovic told Kosovo-online portal.

“We have distributed yesterday and today UNMIK’s donation, consisting of 50 food packages and 40 hygienic packages to the socially disadvantaged families in Klokot and Grncare and tomorrow we will continue distribution in Vrbovac and Mogila,” Dejanovic said.

He also noted that Klokot municipality has extraordinary cooperation with UNMIK, adding he is certain the cooperation would continue.

Talking about the current situation related to the coronavirus pandemic in this municipality, Dejanovic said it is more than satisfactory.

“We do not have Covid-19 infected cases, and there are no people in isolation either. We are trying to make sure the easing of measures would not go to our detriment. The municipal committee along with respective institutions undertakes all measures that are in force, while police and inspections are on the field,” Dejanovic explained.

Kawasaki syndrome in children also appeared in Serbia after the coronavirus (B92, Sputnik)

Kawasaki syndrome, which appeared in the countries of Europe and the United States in children who had the coronavirus, also recorded in Serbia

But, it should not worry the parents because this is an extremely rare disease that is curable if detected in time.

“In any case, parents should not worry, because even if this disorder occurs, it is curable if it is noticed in time, that is the bottom line. Parents should call a doctor the moment they feel that the child has a fever without knowing the reasons for it, if rash and other changes characteristic of Kawasaki occur”, Ida Jovanovic, head of cardiology at the University Children’s Clinic, told Sputnik.

Jovanovic adds that the reason for the appearance of this syndrome is not weakened immunity, but an immune reaction that is individual, and says that it can also occur in children who are completely healthy, and after overcoming an infection, this phenomenon occurs.

See more at: https://bit.ly/2LE9OOj

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