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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, May 22, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, May 22, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• Haxhiu concerned over Constitutional Court’s leaks of possible ruling (media)
• Abazi: No underground scenario can prevent LVV’s governance (Kosovapress)
• Kosnett, Osmani discuss pandemic and political developments (media)
• Grenell’s office denies September is deadline for agreement (Express/RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

• Vucic: The “big ones” do not care about the opinion of Serbs and Albanians on resolving the Kosovo issue (Beta, N1)
• No new Covid-19 infection cases in Serb areas, one person cured (Kosovo-online)
• Vucic and Quint ambassador discuss Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, situation in region (FoNet, N1)
• Thaci says no land swap with Belgrade, dreams about parts of Serbia in Kosovo (N1, KoSSev)
• Djuric: Thaci once again reminds world about true face of his politics (Kosovo-online)
• There is no consensus on Kosovo’s NATO membership (AlJazeera, Tanjug, Kosovo Online)
• Member of Project Evaluation Commission of Office for Communities resigns (Kosovo-online)

International:

• Balkans Not Ready to Declare Victory Over COVID-19 (Balkan Insight)
• Week in Review: Times Too Interesting (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• CoE Development Bank chief says Serbia doing well in pandemic (N1, Radio Free Europe)
• Number of people who can gather in public places in Serbia changed (B92)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Haxhiu concerned over Constitutional Court’s leaks of possible ruling (media)
  • Abazi: No underground scenario can prevent LVV’s governance (Kosovapress)
  • Kosnett, Osmani discuss pandemic and political developments (media)
  • Grenell’s office denies September is deadline for agreement (Express/RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Vucic: The “big ones” do not care about the opinion of Serbs and Albanians on resolving the Kosovo issue (Beta, N1)
  • No new Covid-19 infection cases in Serb areas, one person cured (Kosovo-online)
  • Vucic and Quint ambassador discuss Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, situation in region (FoNet, N1)
  • Thaci says no land swap with Belgrade, dreams about parts of Serbia in Kosovo (N1, KoSSev)
  • Djuric: Thaci once again reminds world about true face of his politics (Kosovo-online)
  • There is no consensus on Kosovo’s NATO membership (AlJazeera, Tanjug, Kosovo Online)
  • Member of Project Evaluation Commission of Office for Communities resigns (Kosovo-online)

International:

  • Balkans Not Ready to Declare Victory Over COVID-19 (Balkan Insight)
  • Week in Review: Times Too Interesting (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • CoE Development Bank chief says Serbia doing well in pandemic (N1, Radio Free Europe)
  • Number of people who can gather in public places in Serbia changed (B92)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Haxhiu concerned over Constitutional Court’s leaks of possible ruling (media)

Acting Minister of Justice Albulena Haxhiu expressed concern over circulating reports suggesting that the Constitutional Court is to rule in favour of President Hashim Thaci regarding the mandate for formation of the new government of Kosovo.

In a Facebook post, Haxhiu wrote: “The citizens are entitled to be angry. On the one hand, there are calls to ‘not interfere in the Court’s independence’ and on the other, their first orientations are making the rounds, including in the media! How is it possible that the ruling and the voting can be known without being yet announced by the Court?! If this is the case, this is not an independence of the Court.”

Haxhiu said that the Constitutional Court’s mandate is limited to interpretation of the Constitution and not its amendment. 

“Constitutional amendments can only be proposed by the Government, the President and 1/4 of MPs and then need to be voted by the Assembly. According to the Constitution, there is no timeline for the prime minister candidate. The Court cannot set a timeframe. This would destroy the constitutional order and democracy. This would overturn the will of the people,” she wrote.

Today, Koha reported quoting sources that the Constitutional Court will overturn President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci’s decree for prime ministerial candidate but will at the same time pave way to his plan for forming a new government without the Vetevendosje Movement. It also said that seven out of nine judges of the Court are siding with Thaci.

Abazi: No underground scenario can prevent LVV’s governance (Kosovapress)

Acting Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo Haki Abazi said that “no underground scenario” will be able to prevent a Vetevendosje-led government which he said has massive citizen support.

“Attempt to set a precedent for governance from non-winners of elections is a reaction and fear from the growth and great victory of LVV in next elections. Precisely at this point there is a need to defend the country and state interests from the capturers of the state,” Abazi wrote on Facebook.

He said that personal and professional integrity is the only way to be on the right side of history and to be fit to hold important state positions. 

“The change has happened on 6 October, attempting to stop the change or forcefully return the country to pre 6 October is irresponsible and contributes to the crumbling of the constitutional and democratic order,” Abazi concluded. 

Kosnett, Osmani discuss pandemic and political developments (media)

Several news outlets report that US Ambassador to Kosovo Philip Kosnett met today with Assembly President Vjosa Osmani. The latter posted on Twitter: “Happy to get back to our regular weekly (and socially-distanced) mtngs with @USAmbKosovo after holding most our commun. online for the past few wks. We discus. latest on Covid19 manag., political dev., issues related to rule of law and ideas how we can help all communities in Kosovo”.

Grenell’s office denies September is deadline for agreement (Express/RTK)

Dick Custin, spokesperson for the U.S. presidential envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations Richard Grenell said no deadline has been set for when the agreement between the parties ought to be reached. 

In a response to Gazeta Express, Custin said: “There is no time frame set.”

Speaking to a group of Harvard students and professors, acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti said that Grenell wants an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia to be reached by September.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Vucic: The “big ones” do not care about the opinion of Serbs and Albanians on resolving the Kosovo issue (Beta, N1)

The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic stated that European countries are more concerned with the discussion about Belgrade and Pristina, and added that the “big ones” give themselves the right that everything was in their interest and that “they have the right to do whatever they can”.

At a press conference at the Palace of Serbia, Vucic said that large countries do not care what Serbs and Albanians think about resolving the Kosovo issue.

Speaking about Albanian organizations in the United States that sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to change the policy in the Balkans, which they saw as a result of Serbian lobbying, Vucic said that he never underestimated the initiatives of Albanians in America because it was a “strong factor”.

“We have to take care of that. I don’t think Trump is on Serbia’s side, but I think he is a man who wants to hear our side as well,” he said.

The exchange of territories was talked about only in the media, and he said that it was a completely meaningless idea. 

Vucic stated that “never in his life” no one told him that there was an idea of exchanging 17 Serb villages in Kosovo for Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, and that he never commented on such things because he only heard about them in the media.

“I do not answer those ideas because it is completely meaningless. When you look at Medvedja, you can only laugh, because 6.5 percent of Albanians live in Medvedja. And what is the dispute between Bujanovac and Presevo? I did not notice that they were. In Bujanovac, 42 percent of Serbs live, I do not understand what this is about? What 17 villages, so we have four Serb municipalities in the north and six more unrecognized majority municipalities,” Vucic told reporters.

He said that he did not have a problem with the thesis that the Kosovo issue could not be solved by changing the borders.

“Here, we also have our borders according to the Constitution of Serbia and Resolution 1244. And let me see what you will do now,” he said.

Vucic said that at the meeting with the Quint ambassadors, he recently asked what they see as a real solution to the problem of Kosovo, apart from “empty stories that they sell to newspapers”.

“I haven’t received an answer to that yet. I can see what it might be. And if that’s what I think might be, my answer will be, ‘No!’,” he said. 

Vucic said that he was afraid that many thought that the solution to the problem in the Balkans was exclusively in humiliating Serbia, and that this was not possible because the problem would only increase if the imbalance in the region continued to be created.

“Everything in the Balkans must be the fruit of compromise, and victories can only be sought in the economy, not in the territories and the expulsion of others,” he said.

Answering the question about the events in Montenegro, Vucic said that it was obvious that some could arrest church dignitaries and not suffer any consequences.

“And, if we had done that, the consequences would have been huge. The end.” said Vucic.

No new Covid-19 infection cases in Serb areas, one person cured (Kosovo-online)

No new Covid-19 infection cases were registered in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo, while one person from Leposavic has been cured, the Crisis Committee of Mitrovica North announced, Kosovo-online portal reports.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic a total of 116 persons in Serb-populated areas in Kosovo had been infected. Out of this number 105 persons have been cured while ten persons have passed away.

There is one patient remaining with Covid-19 infection, and the person is staying at the Clinical Centre in Mitrovica North. 

Vucic and Quint ambassador discuss Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, situation in region (FoNet, N1)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met with Quint Ambassadors on Thursday to discuss the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and the situation in the region, N1 reports referring to the statement of Vucic’s press office.

It said that President Vucic met with the ambassadors of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany and the head of the European Union Delegation in Serbia, adding that they discussed European integration and the coming elections. 

“They concluded that it’s important for the elections to be held in a good election atmosphere and that all parties have fair campaigns as well as for voters to be motivated to turn out,” the statement added. 

They also discussed the EU-Western Balkans video conference and the break in the Kosovo dialogue as well as rule of law. “The open, constructive and substantial talks said that effort should be invested on good neighbor relations with the aim of full stabilization of the political circumstances in the region,” the press release said, adding that the president thanked the EU and US for their help during the pandemic and informed them of the economic situation and the program of economic recovery. 

The ambassadors are also reported to have expressed satisfaction with the fight against the COVID-19 disease.

See at: https://bit.ly/3gf7747

Thaci says no land swap with Belgrade, dreams about parts of Serbia in Kosovo (N1, KoSSev)

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci denied the outgoing Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s claims that Pristina and Belgrade had an agreement on the exchange of territories but said his dream was that Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, three municipalities in southern Serbia with Albanian population, join Kosovo, the KoSSev website reported on Friday.

He said he was convinced that the US would encourage ‘a final agreement’ with Belgrade.

“I dream about Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac becoming a part of Kosovo territorial integrity without any compromise,” Thaci told TV Klan Kosova, adding there were no talks or agreements that would include the exchange those three municipalities for a part of northern Kosovo with a local Serb majority.

“Whoever speaks about the exchange (of territories) does that for internal use, since that has never been on the agenda anywhere, let alone in Washington,” Thaci told the TV.

He described Kurti’s accusations that he made a secret deal with Belgrade as rumors and said that what happened in Washington was “a show of goodwill to resume the dialogue” on the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina. 

At the same time, Thaci accused Kurti of handing over the north of Kosovo to Serbia.

KoSSev portal recalled that in spring, summer and autumn 2018 Thaci made a series of public statements and messages on merging the three southern Serbian municipalities with Kosovo, while at the same time there was no reaction of Serbian officials on these statements for a longer period of time. 

Djuric: Thaci once again reminds world about true face of his politics (Kosovo-online)

Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Marko Djuric reacted to the statement of Kosovo President Hashim Thaci that his dream is to merge three municipalities of southern Serbia with Kosovo, by saying it would never happen, adding it was good that Thaci once again reminds the entire world about true face of his politics.

“Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, and municipalities Bujanovac, Presevo and Medvedja are and will be part of the same state – Republic of Serbia. Hashim Thaci may dream that he would merge Tahiti or Jamaica with the self-declared Kosovo, but it will never happen, same as his dreams about Bujanovac, Presevo and Medvedja will never come true,” Djuric said in a press statement.

He also underlined there would be no administrative crossings between Kosovo and mentioned municipalities.

Djuric said that “once Kosovo regains factually the status it has based on UN SC Resolution 1244 there would be no administrative crossing points between these municipalities and southern Serbian province, and that residents of Kosovo and Metohija for whom there are no arrest warrants would be able to freely move across entire territory of their state Serbia.”

There is no consensus on Kosovo’s NATO membership (AlJazeera, Tanjug, Kosovo Online)

To be honest, there is currently no collective agreement on the status of Kosovo in the Alliance, says Tracey Newell, a NATO official.

NATO official Tracey Newell said that there is currently no consensus in the military alliance on Kosovo’s accession because, as she stated, it is a sensitive issue for some of the allies, reports Belgrade based news agency Tanjug.

“It is a complicated issue … To be honest, there is currently no collective agreement in the Alliance on the status of Kosovo. It remains a sensitive issue for some allies who have separatist regions within their countries, such as Spain. So there was no consensus on that. The United States has a clear position, but I can’t say more,” Newell said.

Online discussion

According to Tanjug, citing Pristina media, Newell said this during an online discussion on Northern Macedonia’s NATO membership organized by the US Embassy in Oslo, in which one of the issues was related to Kosovo’s possible NATO membership. 

Northern Macedonia’s ambassador to Norway, Serdjim Muhamed, pointed out that the country has good relations with Kosovo and will help it join NATO, but added that “there are some obstacles that need to be overcome over time,” reports portal Kosovo Online.

Member of Project Evaluation Commission of Office for Communities resigns (Kosovo-online)

Lazar Danic, a member of the Project Evaluation Commission at the Office for Communities within the Kosovo Government submitted his irrevocable resignation today and withdrew his signature from the decisions on granting subsidies due to, as he stated, drastic and flagrant violation of the Rules of procedure prescribed by the Ministry of Finance’s regulations on criteria, standards and procedures and public funding of NGOs, Kosovo-online portal reports.

Danic who was a member of this commission as an external expert, listed a number of procedural violations during the realization of the call for non-governmental organizations for the distribution of aid to the most vulnerable members of communities in Kosovo affected by the coronavirus.

According to him the procedure was performed in Albanian language, and that the translation of the applications that arrived in Albanian was done by Nenad Rasic, for whom, Danic further said, he did not know in what capacity he attended the procedure of reviewing and opening applications.

He also stated that the evaluation of applications was performed superficially, i.e. partially and that only parts of projects and applications were translated, with the pretext of translating only what was important.

“The excuse for not translating the applications was that there was no time for that. I was not able to fully find out the information about the mentioned projects”, Danic stated, stressing that the applications were evaluated in less than ten minutes.

“On the website of the Office, during the publication of the preliminary list on the possible selection of NGOs and individuals, it is mentioned that the list was formed in accordance with Decision 047/2020 dated May 18 2020 for analysis and evaluation of applications, which is impossible, because the evaluation was completed a day later, after 5 p.m., and the said decision was not communicated to any of the members of the Commission, nor was it signed by any of us, which is directly contrary to Article 16, paragraph 4 of the Ministry of Finance Decree No. 04/2017 on criteria, standards and procedures public funding of NGOs”, Danic said.

Kosovo-online portal said it contacted Nenad Rasic regarding this issue, who said he was at the meeting and that he would be able to speak later.

 

 

International

 

Balkans Not Ready to Declare Victory Over COVID-19 (Balkan Insight)

While some Balkan countries believe the worst of the pandemic is over, and have begun easing COVID-19-related restrictions, others are seeing their infection rates creep back up, prompting fears of a second wave.

As Europe starts to ease itself out of the COVID-19-related lockdown, some countries in the Western Balkans also hope they have seen the worst of the pandemic.

Montenegro and Croatia have either not registered any new cases of COVID-19 for days, or have marked only single-digit numbers, prompting a gradual easing of movement restrictions and safety measures.

But in most parts of the Balkans, the fight against the coronavirus seems far from over, with numbers in some countries beginning to climb back up again.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3gd26ck

Week in Review: Times Too Interesting (Balkan Insight)

With elections aplenty in the near future, political life in the Balkans is anything but dull. Yet some observers are concerned over the prospect of politics becoming ‘too’ interesting.

See more at: https://bit.ly/2TuO0cj

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

CoE Development Bank chief says Serbia doing well in pandemic (N1, Radio Free Europe)

Council of Europe (CoE) Development Bank Governor Rolf Wenzel said on Thursday that Serbia will not be hit hard by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wenzel told Radio Free Europe that Serbia is in a better position than other countries because it does not rely on tourism for economic growth. “It’s clear that Serbia will have lower economic growth, if not a drop,” he said but added that recovery will start in the second half of 2020. 

He warned of uncertainty about recovery. “There is great uncertainty about how fast countries can get out of the crisis, stimulate spending,” Wenzel said.

According to him “Serbia has strong economic performance, economic growth was good compared to other countries in the region which puts it in a better position in the fight against the crisis caused by the pandemic”.

He recalled that the bank is active in the Serbian health care sector. “Last year we approved a EUR 200 million loan and offered expert support for the reconstruction of hospitals across the country. We cooperate very closely with the government and its agencies, especially the Finance Ministry, to make sure the money is spent properly,” he said.

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

Number of people who can gather in public places in Serbia changed (B92)

In Serbia, the number of people who can gather in a public place, in an open or closed space, has increased from 50 to 100, B92 reports.

This is stated in the new amendment to the Order on the Prohibition of Public Gatherings, which was passed by the Minister of Health, Zlatibor Loncar.

The amendment to the order was passed and published yesterday, and it came into force with the publication in the Official Gazette.

Preventive measures must still be taken during public gatherings to combat the infectious disease COVID-19, such as wearing protective masks and gloves.

See at: https://bit.ly/36ojhDi

 

 

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