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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, June 1, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, June 1, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• Constitutional Court publishes full decision (media)
• LDK waiting for full Constitutional Court ruling (media)
• Haradinaj: Realistic to expect voting of new government tomorrow (Express/RTK)
• Foreign ministry could present a challenge for Hoti government (Indeksonline)
• 15 trucks from Serbia not allowed into Kosovo (Koha)
• Kosovo courts to resume work (Klan Kosova)

Serbian Language Media:

• Serbian official react to Pristina’s reciprocity measures (media)
• “Republic” for Serbia, but not for others (KoSSev)
• Ljajic on Pristina’s measures: Trucks with goods are returning, that is a complete suspension of trade (Kosovo Online, RFE)
• Distribution of Serbian daily newspapers prevented at Jarinje (KoSSev)
• Association of Journalists of Serbia: Pristina without delay to ensure the free flow of Serbian print media (uns.org.rs)
• No new cases of Covid-19 infection in Serb-populated areas in Kosovo (Kosovo-online portal)
• Two Serbs attacked in Donja Gusterica (KIM radio)
• “Kamenica the best example of coexistence of Serbs and Albanians” (Slobodno Srpski, KIM radio)
• Jevtic about another stoned house in Ljubozda village (Kosovo Online)
• Crossing points to open today (Radio KIM, Kosovo-online)
• Pristina orders removal of goods which ‘are not in line with Constitution’ (KoSSev, N1)
• RIK: 90 polling stations in Kosovo (Kosovo online)
• Vucic: There’s no doubt – without resolving Kosovo issue, Serbia will not join EU (B92, Tanjug)

Opinion:

• Nomen est omen: Albanian-Serb territorial dispute is also 50 plus years semantics battle (KoSSev)
• Stretching the rules to breaking point (Prishtina Insight)
• A Republic of Kosovo is not what the Balkans needs (The Jerusalem Post)

International:

• Kosovo: corruption, electoral funding and political participation of women (balcanicaucaso.org)

Humanitarian:

• 300 residents of Strpce hold protest against Matkos Group (KoSSev)
• OpisMEDIJavanje: Only media close to the government in Belgrade can reach Kosovo Serb politicians (KoSSev)
• Coronavirus crisis to affect household welfare across W. Balkans – World Bank (SeeNews)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Constitutional Court publishes full decision (media)
  • LDK waiting for full Constitutional Court ruling (media)
  • Haradinaj: Realistic to expect voting of new government tomorrow (Express/RTK)
  • Foreign ministry could present a challenge for Hoti government (Indeksonline)
  • 15 trucks from Serbia not allowed into Kosovo (Koha)
  • Kosovo courts to resume work (Klan Kosova)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Serbian official react to Pristina’s reciprocity measures (media)
  • “Republic” for Serbia, but not for others (KoSSev)
  • Ljajic on Pristina’s measures: Trucks with goods are returning, that is a complete suspension of trade (Kosovo Online, RFE)
  • Distribution of Serbian daily newspapers prevented at Jarinje (KoSSev)
  • Association of Journalists of Serbia: Pristina without delay to ensure the free flow of Serbian print media (uns.org.rs)
  • No new cases of Covid-19 infection in Serb-populated areas in Kosovo (Kosovo-online portal)
  • Two Serbs attacked in Donja Gusterica (KIM radio) 
  • “Kamenica the best example of coexistence of Serbs and Albanians” (Slobodno Srpski, KIM radio)
  • Jevtic about another stoned house in Ljubozda village (Kosovo Online)
  • Crossing points to open today (Radio KIM, Kosovo-online)
  • Pristina orders removal of goods which ‘are not in line with Constitution’ (KoSSev, N1) 
  • RIK: 90 polling stations in Kosovo (Kosovo online)
  • Vucic: There’s no doubt – without resolving Kosovo issue, Serbia will not join EU (B92, Tanjug)

Opinion:

  • Nomen est omen: Albanian-Serb territorial dispute is also 50 plus years semantics battle (KoSSev)
  • Stretching the rules to breaking point (Prishtina Insight)
  • A Republic of Kosovo is not what the Balkans needs (The Jerusalem Post)

International:

  • Kosovo: corruption, electoral funding and political participation of women (balcanicaucaso.org)

Humanitarian: 

  • 300 residents of Strpce hold protest against Matkos Group (KoSSev)
  • OpisMEDIJavanje: Only media close to the government in Belgrade can reach Kosovo Serb politicians (KoSSev)
  • Coronavirus crisis to affect household welfare across W. Balkans – World Bank (SeeNews)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Constitutional Court publishes full decision (media)

The Constitutional Court of Kosovo has published in entirety its decision declaring that President Hashim Thaci’s decreeing Avdullah Hoti as candidate to form the new government is in line with the Constitution.

The move paves way for the voting of the new government.

LDK waiting for full Constitutional Court ruling (media)

The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) has postponed the meeting of its presidency scheduled to take place today saying that it is first waiting for the full ruling of the Constitutional Court to be published.

Head of the LDK parliamentary group Arben Gashi told reporters today that they are waiting for the decision of the court before taking the next steps towards formation of the new government.

“As soon as the decision arrives, other issues are a matter of minutes,” Gashi told Klan Kosova.

Haradinaj: Realistic to expect voting of new government tomorrow (Express/RTK)

Leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) Ramush Haradinaj said that it is expected for the Constitutional Court to publish the full text of its ruling today paving way for the voting of the new government. 

He said it would be realistic to expect for the new government to be voted tomorrow. 

Haradinaj added that the most difficult task for the new government will be economic recovery. “I believe we will be successful,” he said. 

Foreign ministry could present a challenge for Hoti government (Indeksonline)

Indeksonline quotes unnamed sources as saying that the leader of the New Kosovo Alliance (AKR), Behgjet Pacolli, has conditioned his party’s votes for the formation of the new government led by Avdullah Hoti with the post of foreign minister.

AKR, which has two MPs, is said to be insisting on the post which its leader held during the government led by Ramush Haradinaj. Haradinaj meanwhile is reported to be adamant in his Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) keeping the post. 

According to the news website, the two AKR votes carry an important weight in efforts to form the new government considering that there are MPs from Hoti’s Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) whose votes are not yet certain.

However, AKR has ruled out the possibility of joining the Hoti government and that Pacolli has confirmed that his party MPs will support Hoti. 

15 trucks from Serbia not allowed into Kosovo (Koha)

Kosovo Customs spokesperson Adriatik Stavileci told Koha that 15 trucks carrying goods from Serbia have not been allowed entry into Kosovo today following the government’s decision to expand reciprocity measures towards Serbia.

According to the newest decision, goods coming from Serbia should refer to Kosovo by its constitutional name.

Kosovo courts to resume work (Klan Kosova)

Kosovo’s Judicial Council announced that based on the decision by the Ministry of Health and the recommendation of the National Institute for Public Health, it has decided to reopen all courts in Kosovo noting that the hearings will take place without the presence of the media and the public in line with health recommendations. 

“The full decision will be published as soon as it is ready,” KJC said adding that its members approved the draft proposal for crisis management whose goal is to ensure the work of the Kosovo judicial council while adapting to emergency circumstances.  

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Serbian official react to Pristina’s reciprocity measures (media)

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic reacting to the latest measures Pristina introduced on goods from central Serbia said that the state as it was the case up to now will fight using diplomatic means to resolve this situation. She added she believes that all those referring to the rule of law and respecting the reached agreements will condemn Pristina’s act.

Foreign Affairs Minister Ivica Dacic told RTS that Pristina’s act is unacceptable to Serbia. He said Serbia has no intention to continue dialogue until the measures are revoked.

“These reciprocity measures are something that perhaps neither Serbia’s citizens nor the international community recognized as a measure worse than the tariffs, which have doubled the prices of the goods but at least the goods were able to pass. This government in Pristina made a decision to introduce reciprocity measures, something that some states welcomed as a step ahead. We said immediately that we find it unacceptable,” Dacic said.   

Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Marko Djuric assessed that “a colossal unlawfulness” stands behind the decision of the Pristina government to ban entry of the Serbian goods if the documentation does not contain “Republic of Kosovo” marking, Kosovo-online portal reports.

Djuric told Prva TV that because of such unlawfulness, on behalf of the Serbian Government he requested from the international community to introduce punitive measures and sanction acts that represent not only violation of the CEFTA agreement, Brussels agreements but also violation of the fundamental human values.

“How could you in Europe in the XXI century use ramps for trucks transporting milk, daily newspapers, basic commodities,” Djuric said, conveying the message to the Serbs in Kosovo not to worry as this measure can’t last.  

“Republic” for Serbia, but not for others (KoSSev)

Outgoing Kosovo government made decision late on Saturday to introduce new set of measures within the reciprocity package that replaced 100 percent tariffs on goods from Serbia in April, noting that vehicles transporting the Serbian goods may not enter Kosovo without special permit and it is mandatory to have “Republic of Kosovo” written on declaration documents, KoSSev portal reports.

Kosovo Ministry of Economy also instructed removal of all goods “which are not in line with Kosovo Constitution and applicable legislation.”

On the other hand, as KoSSev reports, the shelves of the shops in Kosovo are overly packed with products from abroad and the region whose declarations also do not include “Republic of Kosovo”. Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany and so on are some of the countries using only “Kosovo” in their declaration documents. Also, the same declarations Kosovo distributors are using.

KoSSev said it has conducted a random check in the shops in Mitrovica North this morning, that also contained imported products with declarations from Kosovo which confirmed these examples. 

Ljajic on Pristina’s measures: Trucks with goods are returning, that is a complete suspension of trade (Kosovo Online, RFE)

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade Rasim Ljajic says that since the introduction of new trade measures by the Kosovo government, trucks with goods are mostly returning from the crossing to Serbia because “no one meets the conditions required by Kosovo customs.”

“I don’t know if there will be individual cases (transfer of goods), it is difficult to anticipate at this moment, but there will certainly be no serious trade because the formal obstacles are of such a nature as to prevent them,” Ljajic said in a statement for Radio Free Europe.

Distribution of Serbian daily newspapers prevented at Jarinje (KoSSev)

Kosovo customs officials didn’t permit distribution of the daily newspapers from central Serbia, at Jarinje crossing point, referring to the instruction of the Pristina government that goods without declaration mentioning “Republic of Kosovo” as a destination point cannot enter Kosovo, representative of “Beokolp” company Zvezdan Mihajlovic told KoSSev portal on Sunday.

“We have immediately informed Beokolp and other publishers and now we are waiting for the feedback from them. Tonight we will try to distribute the newspapers again, because this is the agreed circulation rate of newspapers, and it represents a major problem now. The decision of the government they refer to was made last night and no one was informed about it,” Mihajlovic said.

He also added that the request of the Kosovo government “is hardly attainable.”

“It is almost certain we cannot fulfill this request, but we will monitor development of the situation,” Mihajlovic noted.

KoSSev portal recalled this is not the first time that the distribution of the daily press from central Serbia in Kosovo has been impeded. Previously the company was unable to distribute the newspapers in Kosovo following the introduction of 100 percent tariffs. Although they agreed to pay the tariffs, as it was stated, they were additionally requested to have “Republic of Kosovo” mentioned in their declaration documentation. Five months later, distribution of Serbian daily newspapers was normalized the same as it was the case prior to the tariffs introduction.

Association of Journalists of Serbia: Pristina without delay to ensure the free flow of Serbian print media (uns.org.rs)

”The Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) protests against the ban on the distribution of the Serbian press on the territory of Kosovo and Metohija, which followed the decision of the Government in Pristina to ban the entry of goods without the indication “Republic of Kosovo” and calls on Pristina to ensure the free flow of printed media,” reads the statement of UNS posted on their website. 

Zvezdan Mihajlovic from the company KiM Beokolp, which distributes the Serbian press in Kosovo, confirmed to UNS that Kosovo customs officers at the Jarinje crossing have not allowed them to deliver newspapers from central Serbia since yesterday, referring to a government decree in Pristina adding that the delivery is canceled and for tomorrow.

UNS points out that the ban on the Serbian press in Kosovo grossly violates the right to free information guaranteed by international documents, such as the European Convention on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that their distribution must be free of all political restrictions.

The association emphasizes that such imposition of obstacles to distribution seriously endangers the right of the Serbian people to information in their mother tongue, especially having in mind the fact that no daily or weekly newspaper in the Serbian language is printed in Kosovo. 

The UNS reminds that due to the imposition of a 100% tax on goods from central Serbia introduced by Pristina, Serbian newspapers were not on newsstands in Kosovo from November 2018 to April 2019.

UNS will inform the International and European Federation of Journalists, the OSCE and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic about this situation.

No new cases of Covid-19 infection in Serb-populated areas in Kosovo (Kosovo-online portal)

There are no new cases of Covid-19 infection in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo over the last 24 hours, Kosovo-online portal reports. No new cured case was reported either.

Thus far, a total of 118 persons have been infected with Covid-19. Out of this number 106 persons have been cured, while ten persons have passed away.

In Mitrovica North 44 persons have been infected, 40 persons have been cured while three patients have passed away. In Zvecan 25 persons have been infected, 24 persons have been cured and one person has passed away.

In Zubin Potok a total of 25 persons have been infected, 21 persons have been cured and four patients have passed away.

In Leposavic, 24 persons have been infected, 20 persons have been cured and four persons have passed away.

Two patients are staying at Clinical Hospital Center in Mitrovica North. 

Two Serbs attacked in Donja Gusterica (KIM radio, RTS) 

Branislav and Zika Vucic from Donja Gusterica were attacked by a group of young men and inflicted bodily injuries on their heads.

According to the injured, the young men who spoke Albanian attacked them with metal bars.

“They broke into our uncle’s property in order to collect fruits from the trees. We drew attention not to do that, after which an attack followed,” one of the attacked Serbs told RTS, quoted KIM radio.

The attackers fled and the injured were first given first aid at the local health center.

The president of the municipality of Gracanica, Srdjan Popovic, visited yesterday the injured Serbs in Donja Gusterica. 

“We have had robberies and burglary of houses now and attacks on the residents of our municipality, no way to put an end to this. The police must start doing their job because if this happens and, in the future, we cannot expect life here. We will not surrender. Our people are brave and strong. People are willing and eager to stay at their homes. We had the opportunity to listen to great political stories about dialogue, but what to talk about when one cannot solve the things that concern our Serbian people here. Not a single robber was found or a robber who broke into the house. We are all upset,” Popovic said.

The president of the municipality of Gracanica, Srdjan Popovic, said that all institutions must adequately act on such incidents.

“Since the beginning of my mandate, I have advocated for intensive cooperation with the police in the hope that some things will improve in the future. As you can see this is not happening. We are in daily contact with our locals, and if this case is not resolved, we as a municipality will have to do something that will depend only on us and not on the institutions that should deal with these cases,” Popovic said in the end.

The case was reported to the Police, who questioned the victims and launched an investigation into the case.

“Kamenica the best example of coexistence of Serbs and Albanians” (Slobodno Srpski, KIM radio)

The vice president of the municipality of Kamenica Bojan Stamenkovic said in the show Slobodno Srpski that inter-ethnic relations on the territory of the municipality of Kamenica are good and that, as he said, that municipality was perhaps the best example of coexistence of Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo. According to him, in this municipality, it no longer was important who was a Serb and who was Albanian, but all citizens were treated equally, and they helped each other.

“No matter how much I talk about it, you will not get that impression until you come and see it on the field. Except that we go to each other’s cafes, Serbian and Albanian, we visit each other and hang out privately, they come to our celebrations, we go for their Eid. We even have examples where they invite each other to weddings, we go to funerals, condolences … So Kamenica is a really specific environment in that regard.” 

Stamenkovic said that in this part of Kosovo, in addition to numerous examples of mutual respect, there were also examples of business cooperation between Serbs and Albanians.

“Both Serbs and Roma work in a private sponge factory in the village of Toponica, for example, where the owner is Albanian. We have another example where an Albanian and a Serb started their joint business – mushroom production. We also have an example where over thirty people from the Serbian and Roma communities, where the owner is Albanian, work in the mushroom factory during the season. We have the following case where the owner of a beauty salon, otherwise a Serb, has 90 percent of customers among Albanian women. We have the second part of the story where the owner of the hair salon is Albanian, and the customers are mostly Serbs.”

He said that in the town of Kamenica, in addition to Albanians, there are currently 550 Serbs, 137 Roma and 20 Gorani. According to him, the most important problems of the citizens of this municipality were unemployment and the departure of young people.

“The biggest problem, not only of Serbs, but of all citizens of Kamenica, is the high unemployment rate, which today amounts to more than 70 percent.”

When asked if there were any specific problems of Serbs in that municipality, such as security, Stamenkovic said that there were no such problems in the municipality of Kamenica.

“I can freely say that the municipality of Kamenica views all citizens equally. All the problems we have are common problems. This is a specific situation. Unfortunately, a good number of young people left. One part went to Europe, especially medical workers, the other part chose central Serbia and Belgrade.”

Stamenkovic said that even during the coronavirus pandemic, Serbs in the municipality of Kamenica did not have major problems. Most of them, he said, were affected by the measure of limited movement.

“Old and sick people, when they needed medical care, were not sure whether they could go to the ambulance or the emergency service. However, we managed to control and cover everything here as well, thanks to the volunteers who were constantly on the field and who served all those people.”

Stamenkovic pointed out that, in addition to institutions, numerous individuals and organizations also contributed to the fight against coronavirus and aiding the most endangered. 

He also gave the example of the Elementary School “Desanka Maksimovic” in Kamenica.

“Online classes were held without any problems. I will use the opportunity to praise the work of the elementary school in Kamenica, where on the initiative of the principal, Mrs. Jadranka Vasic and with the help of workers, funds were provided and 60 computers were bought for all students who did not have them. That is a wonderful example. The workers and the school principal raised funds from their own fund and bought computers for the children.”

Speaking about the report of TV Klan and Al Jazeera, about 92-year-old Blagica from the village of Vaganes in the municipality of Kamenica, who was brought food by Albanian Fadil Rama from the neighboring village, and which was reported by many media not only in Kosovo but also in the region, Stamenkovic said the public did not find out the second part of the story.

“This is a good gesture, of course, that an Albanian helps an old Serbian woman is certainly to be commended, and we have a million such examples, at least in the municipality of Kamenica. Mr. Fadil Rama, who lives two kilometers from Blagica, otherwise runs a local store in the village of Strezovce, visits her and brings her food and everything she needs. However, her son Slobodan, who lives in Kamenica, asked Mr. Rama to provide her with food and everything she needed during the month, so that he would eventually pay for all those services. However, that part of the story was not transmitted to the media.”

Stamenkovic also referred to the report of TV Klan in the show Ora7 from May 19, 2020, where, as he said, photographer Bujar Gashi said that the monastery Ubozac in the village of Mocare and the church of the Presentation of the Most Holy Mother of God in the village of Vaganes were Albanian. Stamenkovic said that there was relevant evidence and historical facts that these were buildings of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

“I sent the denial and the letter to Klan television; I also sent the same denial and letter to the Independent Media Commission. I believe that they will announce and give an answer to our denial. Another thing, I expect the Institute for the Protection of Monuments to announce about this and, of course, our Serbian Orthodox Church or the Diocese of Raska and Prizren, and I believe that it will happen next week,” said Bojan Stamenkovic in the show Slobodno Srpski.

Jevtic about another stoned house in Ljubozda village (Kosovo Online)

The Minister for Communities and Returns Dalibor Jevtic wrote on Twitter that Serbs were beaten in Donja Gusterica yesterday, and a returnee house in Ljobozda near Istok was stoned last night, reports Kosovo Online portal. 

”Words of concern and condemnation are not enough. All appeals fall into the water if there are no mechanisms for the protection of Serbs. The responsibility lies with all institutions, Kosovo and international,” Jevtic wrote.

Unknown perpetrators stoned Jovan Ristic’s house in Ljubozda last night. They smashed the window and damaged the facade, and no one was in the house at the time of the attack, reports the portal. 

“This is the second case of stoning in the last five days. We are all upset. The messages are clear – that we are not welcome. In the last period, incidents, thefts, attacks on returnees and their property have been happening every day. This negatively affects everyone. We plan to build several houses for Serbian families who have decided to return, but after the daily incidents they can change their decision,” the president of the Provisional Authority of the Municipality of Istok, Malisa Djuric told Kosovo Online.

Four days ago, the house of returnee Zarko Zaric was stoned in the same village. It was the second attack on his house since 2017, when he returned to Ljubozda with a dozen Serb families.

Crossing points to open today (Radio KIM, Kosovo-online)

Radio KIM reports that a third phase of easing the measures introduced to curb coronavirus pandemic will commence today.

As of today the crossing points of Merdare, Vrbnica, Kula, Djeneral Jankovic (Elez Han), Jarinje and Bela Zemlja will open to traffic. According to Radio KIM everyone entering Kosovo would be subjected to the check up. In a week’s time a decision on opening the air lines would be considered.

Kosovo Minister of Health, Arben Vitia said that any citizen with negative test on Covid-19 not older than four days will not have to undergo self-isolation, while those without tests would have to spend seven days in self-isolation. This measure would last until June 20, when a new assessment of the epidemiologic situation would be conducted.

Vitia said the risk of pandemic is not over yet, and urged citizens to adapt to the new reality. He also warned of the second wave of the epidemic and called for the respect of protective measures. 

Meanwhile, Kosovo-online portal reports that passengers having Kosovo documents or Serbian ID cards with residence in Kosovo may pass the crossing point after obligatory test of the bodily temperature, conducted by medical personnel at the crossing point.

According to the information the portal obtained persons with Serbian documents residing outside Kosovo may enter Kosovo but need to provide an exact address where they will stay and a phone number. Passengers entering Kosovo from central Serbia were not requested to provide a test on coronavirus and according to the medical personnel conducting examination at the crossing point the test is needed only for those suspected of being infected by Covid-19. 

Pristina orders removal of goods which ‘are not in line with Constitution’ (KoSSev, N1) 

Kosovo Minister of Economy, Employment, Trade, Industry, Entrepreneurship and Strategic Investments Rozeta Hajdari, ordered the removal from the market the goods which “are not in line with the Constitution,” her cabinet said late on Sunday, the KoSSev portal reported.

“The decree orders the inspectors to remove all goods that are not in line with the Constitution and the legislative,” the Ministry said on its Facebook profile.

“Special attention should be paid to the national signs of adjustment,” the Ministry added.

That means the goods from Serbia must have “Republic of Kosovo” on the declaration of destination.

RIK: 90 polling stations in Kosovo (Kosovo online)

Serbian Republic Election Commission (RIK) has adopted amended instruction on the number of polling stations in the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Serbia due on June 21, and determined 90 polling stations in Kosovo, Kosovo-online portal reports.

The instruction was made based on proposals of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Vucic: There’s no doubt – without resolving Kosovo issue, Serbia will not join EU (B92, Tanjug)

“We have to admit that we were defeated in 1999, but I’m not talking about the negligence of those who attacked us,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said last night while talking about the Kosovo issue. He added that the verdict of the International Court of Justice was passed in 2010, which shows that Serbia is in a difficult situation, Tanjug news agency reports.  

“We managed to keep Serbia respectable, to fulfill its international obligations,” he noted, adding Serbia also managed to take care of its national interests at the moment.

“There is no doubt that without resolving the Kosovo issue, Serbia will not become an EU member,” Vucic said, adding that this is an unequivocal message from the EU. “It is obvious that there is a big conflict between the two Western powers over the situation in Pristina. We will see what will happen with their government. We are ready to talk,” Vucic underlined.

He also pointed out that Germany came out of the epidemic with new strength.

Vucic said that he does not see how, in what way and what we can agree on with Pristina, but we must talk, to solve countless problems between Serbs and Albanians – we have to.

“But when I ask what the solution is, I only hear there are no border changes. They are waiting for someone in Serbia to say that it (Kosovo) is not Serbia,” or “we will give up everything so that someone can pat us on the shoulder”, Vucic told “Hit Tweet” broadcast.

 

 

Opinion

 

Nomen est omen: Albanian-Serb territorial dispute is also 50 plus years semantics battle (KoSSev)

By Petar Ristanovic

Ever since Albin Kurti started sharing posts written in English on his Twitter profile in September 2018, he has been conspicuously using the word „Kosova“ instead of the usual English word “Kosovo“. The example of the leader of the Self-Determination party was followed by other members of the movement – to indicate their patriotism and the Albanian identity of the territory. Insisting on the Albanian variant of the name is nothing but a new stage in the conflict between Albanians and Serbs over the territory, a war in the field of semantics which has been going on for more than half a century.

The reflection of that conflict was seen a few days ago when the media reported that an RTK2 journalist was suspended because she used the term “Kosovo and Metohija“ while reporting the news in Serbian and that she was facing consequences for “spreading racial and religious intolerance.“

Today, the use of the term “Kosovo and Metohija“ is considered a kind of political classification, and there is a widespread belief among both Albanians and Serbs that the use of the term “Metohija“ means siding with the Serbian side in the dispute, and vice versa – that omitting this word is proof of pro-Albanian orientation. In the semantic war, trenches were dug a long time ago, but its beginnings and complicated history are almost unknown.

The terms “Kosovo“ and “Metohija“ originated as geographical determinants. Today, the term “Kosovo“ refers to a vast valley that stretches in a northwest-southeast direction from Zvecan to Kacanik.

In an earlier period, the term had a much narrower meaning. The preserved petitions the Serbs addressed to the Sultan show that during the Ottoman Empire, the term referred only to a small area around Kosovo Polje and the monastery of Gracanica, near Pristina.

Serbian philologists believe that the term Kosovo comes from the term kos (blackbird in Serbian), while Albanians claim that the word has Illyrian roots. Therefore, the term is acceptable for both parties, which cannot be said for the disputed term “Metohija“.

In the 19th century, the name stood for the plain that stretched from the foot of Prokletije Mountain all the way to the Prizren valley and the slopes of the Sara Mountain. Today, this geographical term often means a somewhat narrower area, around the cities of Decani, Pec/Peja, Djakovica/Gjakova and Istok. The name “Metohija“ comes from the Greek word metoh and in Greek, as well as in Serbian, it represented monastery land. A significant part of Metohija was in the possession of Serbian medieval monasteries, hence the name.

That is why the name is unacceptable for Albanians today because it indicates the Serbian identity of the territory. Albanian historians claim that the term is a political construction, coined during the Serbian national awakening in the 19th century and then promoted in the 20th century, to change the identity of the area mostly inhabited by Albanians, which they call Dukagjin.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3dyOLJH

Stretching the rules to breaking point (Prishtina Insight)

The Constitutional Court’s ruling provides certainty in the short term, but completely changes the political rules of the game and weakens the voice of the electorate in choosing its government, writes Blerim Vela, a doctoral researcher at the University of Sussex.

“Late Thursday night, the Constitutional Court issued another momentous ruling: that the President’s decree to nominate Avdullah Hoti as prime minister complied with the Kosovo Constitution. The decision paves the way for the Assembly of Kosovo to elect a new LDK-led coalition government. 

Despite domestic and international calls to abide by the Constitutional Court’s ruling, Vetevendosje leader and acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti has already given signals that the party will object to the decision, and it seems likely that protesters will soon fill the public squares of Prishtina.

Vetevendosje have limited institutional options left following the Constitutional Court’s verdict, with a boycott of the Kosovo Assembly and mobilising public support for new elections the likely next steps. Its success will depend on its ability to present a coherent course of action that is both attainable and enjoys the support of the wider public.

If Vetevendosje cannot block the formation of the new LDK-led coalition government at the Assembly through an agreement with PDK and the parties representing non-Serb minorities, it can do little more than publicly question the new government’s popular legitimacy. 

Calling early elections will now require the dissolution of the Assembly through a two-thirds majority vote. Convincing MPs at the Kosovo Assembly of the need for new elections seems an almost insurmountable task at this stage, especially considering that the most recent polls give Vetevendosje a convincing lead. 

In fact, other parties in parliament now seem far more likely to try and isolate Vetevendosje, potentially even supporting the initiation of criminal proceedings against its leadership based on recent allegations made by the president.”

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3gJvJC0

A Republic of Kosovo is not what the Balkans needs (The Jerusalem Post)

By Alexandar Nikolic

The dispute over the autonomous region of Kosovo and Metohija should be resolved in compromise, not unilateral action.

One of the two essential rules in Roman law’s concept says: audi alteram partem – let the other side be heard. Having grown up in the Jewish community of Belgrade, I sometimes feel vilified by the unbalanced approach that appears occasionally in the mainstream foreign media or even in Israel, by authors like Akri Çipa (“The new Israeli government should finally recognize Kosovo,” The Jerusalem Post, May 23, 2020). The feeling of being the underdog doesn’t abolish this essential rule, to the contrary, it strengthens it. Çipa’s advocating against Israel’s principled foreign policy, in favor of its recognition of the so-called Republic of Kosovo, is continuously and systematically biased.

It is well known that the Jewish people and their only state, the State of Israel, suffered for decades from manipulative and maliciously hostile reporting, perhaps more than any other nation throughout the world. Consequently, Israelis are expected to identify and be wary of such tailor-made attempts to whomever they may be directed, and indeed they were. The State of Israel is a sovereign nation, and its leaders’ evaluations and decisions in all areas, including foreign policy, are made in their best interests.

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International

 

Kosovo: corruption, electoral funding and political participation of women (balcanicaucaso.org)

In Kosovo hierarchical and patronage based political parties prioritise funding of electoral campaigns for male candidates. This undermines participation of women in politics

Party funding regulation in Kosovo is a contested issue. In June last year, 100 civil society organisations  protested the draft law on financing of political entities claiming that it violated Kosovo’s Constitution and international party funding regulations. The Venice Commission  shared the protesters’ concerns pointing, among others, that some donations in Kosovo are still being received in cash, which is not tracked, and it is not clear how citizens have made contributions larger than their annual incomes.

Irregularities in party funding are closely connected to corruption and the shadowy patronage networks it relies on, both a serious concern for Kosovo. The country is ranked around the bottom when it comes to corruption perceptions in Europe and its Transparency International’s (TI) Global Corruption Barometer ranking dropped from 85th place in 2017 to 93rd place in 2018. The European Commission in its 2018  Report on Kosovo also noted that ”corruption is widespread and remains an issue of concern”.

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Humanitarian 

 

300 residents of Strpce hold protest against Matkos Group (KoSSev)

Approximately three hundred Strpce residents gathered yesterday near the Obe Reke site to once again protest against the continuation of the construction of hydroelectric power plants by the Matkos group, but also express dissatisfaction with the allegations that this company has all the necessary construction permits.

In a recent interview for KoSSev, the executive director of the Matkos Group, Labinot Vitija denied the accusations of the Strpce locals that the company is endangering the environment, drinking supply, violating the laws, but also that they do not have all the necessary permits. Vitija said that these accusations were made by individuals “who do not want the best for the development and well-being of citizens.“

On the other hand, Strpce resident Stojan Josimovic told KoSSev yesterday, following the protest, that Vitija’s claims are “false and one-sided.”

“It is true that he has some permits, but he never showed those permits and we never saw them,“ he added, expressing doubt in the legitimacy of these permits.

“How could someone in the ministry give any solution or consent when the works are taking place in a protected zone. The law strictly states that it is a protected zone,“ Josimovic added.

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OpisMEDIJavanje: Only media close to the government in Belgrade can reach Kosovo Serb politicians (KoSSev)

Although there are journalists who regularly report from Serb communities, in Kosovo, multi-ethnicity is mostly talked about only when it is part of a project, Klan TV journalist, Besnik Tahiri said.

For the few media workers from the majority community who report from Serbian communities, however, security is a big problem, but so are the stereotypes they face.

In the latest episode of the media literacy campaign ”OpisMEDIJavanje” Besnik Tahiri, a Kosovo Albanian reporter who covers all major events in Kosovo Serb communities, spoke about the problems he faces when reporting on the problems of the Serb community.

When the Serbian community is reported about in Albanian-language media, it is mostly related to security and political events, while ordinary problems of citizens, such as urban planning, are disregarded. The reason behind this is limited access of the journalists from the majority community, but also stereotypes, Tahiri explained.

”When an Albanian journalist goes to a municipality with a Serb majority, then people look at him differently and take a different approach toward him. For example, when they notice that the journalist speaks Serbian, they start asking questions that are full of prejudice. That is also my case. They ask: Why do you speak Serbian? You are part of the younger generation, how is it possible that you speak our language?”

On the other hand, an obstacle in reporting is not only the limited access of journalists from the majority community, as Albanian-language media are also not easily accessible to the Serb community.

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Coronavirus crisis to affect household welfare across W. Balkans – World Bank (SeeNews)

BELGRADE (Serbia), June 1 (SeeNews) – The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is likely to affect household welfare across the Western Balkans through fewer jobs, loss of labour income and lower international remittances, the World Bank said.

“It is estimated that, in the Western Balkans, without considering government response measures, the COVID-19 crisis would push at least 400,000 people into poverty, and up to 950,000 if the crisis is prolonged,” the World Bank said in a Regular Economic Report (RER) on poverty and household welfare in the Western Balkans on Friday. 

Many of those who could become impoverished because of the COVID-19 crisis are not receiving social protection unless programmes are expanded, and informal workers without access to unemployment insurance and other support to the formal economy are particularly at risk, the World Bank said.

The self-employed, informal workers and those with casual jobs or less secure contracts are in particular danger, while non-labour income is also likely to fall because remittances will drop.

“Emigrant workers, especially those whose employment is temporary or informal, may lose jobs in European countries hit hard by the pandemic and lockdowns. Some of those emigrants will return home, at risk of being unemployed without access to social protection. Remittance inflows to families in the Western Balkans will fall,” the World Bank said.

The World Bank recommended governments in the Western Balkans to ensure basic services, food security, shelter, and basic social services for the most vulnerable, and also to protect livelihoods and facilitate recovery, for informal as well as formal sector workers.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/2zGYaAd

 

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