Albanian Language Media:
- Grenell: We will try to build an economic zone between Kosovo and Serbia (media)
- Hoti meets Thaci prior to his travelling to Brussels (media)
- EU borders may remain closed for Western Balkans (media)
- Osmani requests voting of international agreements (media)
- Assembly has no quorum to vote on the million-dollar agreements (media)
Serbian Language Media:
- Vucic and Hoti at the end of the week in Brussels, but not about the dialogue (RTS)
- Vucic: We are dealing with painful issues, compromise is not easy for Serbia (Tanjug, B92)
- New round of Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on June 25 in Brussels (N1)
- Djuric: SNS in Kosovo won 86 percent of votes (KoSSev)
- Returnee family robbed in the village of Veliko Krusevo (Kosovo Online)
- MEPs: Mocking of democracy in Serbia, stop opening negotiating chapters (N1, EWB)
- Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia’s stabilocrat (DW)
- Serbia’s Strongman Wins Big in Election Boycotted by the Opposition (The New York Times)
- Serwer: Vucic’s victory convincing but stained (VoA, N1)
- Serbia’s Vucic To Discuss Kosovo With Putin In Moscow On Wednesday – Ambassador (urdupoint.com)
- Number of COVID-19 hospitalisations peaks (Prishtina Insight)
- Serbia’s anti-COVID-19 Crisis Team: Face masks mandatory in public transport (N1)
- OpisMEDIJavanje: Sometimes a politician’s refusal to answer a question will be the answer (KoSSev)
- Serbia Under-Reported COVID-19 Deaths and Infections, Data Shows (Balkan Insight)
- SO2 emissions in Western Balkans coal plants six times above limit in 2019 (balkanenergynews.com)
Albanian Language Media
Grenell: We will try to build an economic zone between Kosovo and Serbia (media)
An economic approach is the “first step” to reaching a long-lasting peace between Serbia and Kosovo, according to the U.S. Presidential Envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, Richard Grenell.
“We decided to get involved because there’s been a long history of lots of different experts, so-called experts, that have been pushing in on just political issues, largely ignoring the economic issues,” Grenell, told on Monday the “American Agenda” TV show on Newsmax.
“When I started discussing these issues with the people of Kosovo, and the business community in Kosovo, the people of Serbia and the business community, what was clear is that they wanted economic development; they wanted jobs for young people; they wanted hope.
And so, what we tried to do is immediately figure out, ‘how do you get the economies to grow?’ We did an airline deal, the first ever in 21 years, a flight between Pristina,” the capital of Kosovo, “and Belgrade,” the capital of Serbia.
“That’s not quite implemented yet, but we have the agreement, and we’re working on it. The same with the railway agreement, which would open up the borders to commerce, and a large border agreement with motor traffic. What we’re trying to do is concentrate on the economic situation, to create a little mini Shenzhen zone,” referring to China’s first special economic zone.
“We think that’s a very, very good idea, and we think if you can create jobs in the region, if you can bring capitalism and force the parties to get along economically and commercially, then the political issues would be the second step. The political issues are clearly the responsibility of the Europeans.
“Bring European and American businesses to the region, and then I think the Europeans will have more success on the political side,” Grenell continued. “We’re trying to be helpful and trying to shift the paradigm, because after 20 years we still haven’t seen enough progress.”
When asked if he is concerned about Russia’s influence over the region, Grenell added, “we’re always concerned about the propaganda that Russia pushes and the destabilization policies; we’re always looking at that.”
Hoti meets Thaci prior to his travelling to Brussels (media)
The Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti met today with the President of Kosovo, prior to his travelling to Brussels on Thursday. They however decided not to make any announcement for the media about their discussions.
A press release issued by the Office of the President informs that Thaci said that fortunately the political situation has normalized and now political unity is required in order to unite everyone in the dialogue process with Serbia.
PM Hoti stressed that Kosovo needs to create a comprehensive team for the final phase of the dialogue with Serbia, where opposition political entities should also partake.
Both Thaci and Hoti reportedly expressed concern about the increase of cases infected with Covid-19.
“The recommendations of the Public Health Institute should be strictly implemented,” Thaci said.
They agreed that inter-institutional coordination is necessary in order to overcome the challenges.
EU borders may remain closed for Western Balkans (media)
The external borders of the European Union may remain closed to the citizens of Kosovo and other countries in the Western Balkans region, even after July 1, despite the earlier recommendation of the European Commission that these borders be opened by this date.
EU’s Spokesperson for Migration Adalbert Jahns said it was up to member states to decide whether or not to lift restrictions on citizens of the Western Balkans.
“The recommendation was not only because of the epidemiological situation but also because of the EU’s relations with that region. As for the situation, we are following it very carefully. Discussions in the Council are ongoing and in those discussions the current epidemiological situation is taken into account,” Jahns said.
Although the European Commission may make recommendations, the decision to open or not the borders belongs to the member states. Some EU member states are already stepping up measures to restrict citizens from entering the Western Balkans.
Osmani requests voting of international agreements (media)
The Speaker of the Assembly of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani, called today during the Assembly session on the MPs to vote for the international agreements, saying that there should be no selective approach to such important issues.
Osmani said that she had tried for two months to achieve the support of parliamentary groups for these international agreements, even though the government had been ousted, as they are in Kosovo’s interest.
“If we exceed the deadline of two of the agreements that are today with the World Bank for which we have time only until the end of June, what will be our credibility as Kosovo to negotiate tomorrow other good agreements with the World Bank that I was personally in contact, in order to get emergency assistance for Covid-19,” she said.
“Due to political grudge, the government did not allow the anti-Covid-19 law to come to the Assembly,” Osmani said.
Assembly has no quorum to vote on the million-dollar agreements (media)
Five international agreements have again failed to be ratified by the Kosovo Assembly. Despite the over four hour debate, the votes of over 81 deputies have not been secured to get the green light.
The two opposition parties, the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) and the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) did not take part in the vote, while the ruling parties did not get more than 58 votes.
These international agreements were decided to be reconsidered at the next session.
Serbian Language Media
Stano: Vucic and Hoti at the end of the week in Brussels, but not for a meeting within the dialogue (RTS)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdulah Hoti are coming for separate visits to Brussels at the end of the week, and not for a meeting within the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Peter Stano, spokesman for EU High Representative Josep Borell, told Radio Television of Serbia (RTS).
Peter Stano states that both sides agreed to continue the dialogue in July.
“We are working on realizing that agreement, and the specific date will be announced in a timely manner,” Stano said.
An EU spokesman said President Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Hoti would be on separate individual visits to Brussels at the end of the week.
“There will be no dialogue this week. There has been a lot of speculation on that topic, but such a meeting is not planned. The President of Serbia and the Prime Minister of Kosovo will pay individual visits to Brussels at the end of the week, but it is best to check the agenda with their cabinets,” he said.
He added that “the EU is preparing meetings and will announce the program when it is completed.”
Stano reminded that Miroslav Lajcak, the EU special representative for the Balkans, held consultations with the political leaderships in Belgrade and Pristina.
“Based on these talks, we can confirm that both sides are ready to continue the dialogue next month,” Stano concluded.
Vucic: We are dealing with painful issues, compromise is not easy for Serbia (Tanjug, B92)
Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic, met this afternoon with the EU Special Representative for the Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Miroslav Lajcák.
“Lajcak can guarantee objectivity and impartiality in the process. Topics are painful for us, but compromise solutions can never be easy for Serbia,” Vucic said.
He adds that the dialogue is expected to continue in July.
He further stated that the meeting with Putin is scheduled for tomorrow, but he hopes that there will be time for a meeting with representatives from Brussels until the meeting in Washington.
“Certainly, we will not have easy days, there will be no easy issues for Serbia, but I hope that we will manage to protect our vital and national interests,” the president explained
According to Lajcak, he said that the dialogue does not make sense if only one side participates.
“We are open for talks, but that is the thing we ask from the other side, and not to hand us a list of requests that are impossible to fulfill before each conversation,” Vucic said, adding that the most important thing is to talk about fulfilling the Brussels agreement.
“Once again, I want to thank the EU for its solidarity during the coronavirus epidemic and to thank Lajcak, he is always welcome to Serbia,” he added.
“Serbia’s path to the EU is closely linked to this dialogue,” Lajcak said.
He said that the meeting was good, and that specific methodologies and dates were discussed.
He stated that they are proposing a comprehensive agreement that will resolve all unresolved issues.
“I’m here to help the sides to reach an agreement, not to push anyone into any deal,” Lajcak said.
“That includes economic and regional issues,” Lajcak explained.
“When the dialogue comes to an end, there should remain no open issues”, he added.
Vucic says that he likes when the cards are openly put on the table, and that this was one of the more concrete conversations.
Vucic and Lajcák first talked “tete-a-tete”, and then a meeting involving other participants followed.
About the elections
When asked how he comments on the statements that the elections are illegitimate due to the turnout of about 50 percent, Vucic answered:
“I would be tired of telling untruths to the public. Even in 2012, in the clash between Nikolic and Tadic, the turnout was lower.”
He says that he would like to see to what extent other parties were represented in the media, as well as with what ratings they entered and left the election race.
New round of Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on June 25 in Brussels (N1)
The resumption of the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations will be held on June 25 in Brussels, regional broadcaster N1 unofficially learned on Monday.
If confirmed, the meeting would take place two days ahead of the one between Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and his Kosovo’s counterpart Hashim Thaci at the White House on June 27.
The European Union special envoy for the dialogue Miroslav Lajcak said last week during his visit to Kosovo that he would announce the date for the new round of talks after consultations with both capitals.
Djuric: SNS in Kosovo won 86 percent of votes (KoSSev)
Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric said that the list Aleksandar Vucic ‘For our children’ achieved a historic result in Kosovo and said that 86 percent of voters voted for this list, i.e. 46,505 people.
He confirmed at the party’ press conference on Monday that the total turnout in Kosovo was close to 60 percent, noting that SNS won 14,675 more votes in these elections compared to the previous ones in 2016.
According to Djuric the second-placed party in Kosovo was the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), with a total of 7.8 percent of voters.
Returnee family robbed in the village of Veliko Krusevo (Kosovo Online)
A new attack on Serb property in Kosovo took place in the village of Veliko Krusevo, near Klina, where Ranko Bicanin’s returnee family was robbed last night, reports portal Kosovo Online.
As the president of the Provisional Authority of the Municipality of Klina, Bozidar Sarkovic, confirmed for Kosovo Online, Ranko noticed the theft this morning when he got up to feed the cattle.
“A padlock was broken in the room where he keeps the machinery and tools, and the door was broken, and a combined mill for animal feed, a cyclone for spreading fertilizers, and numerous tools were stolen,” said Sarkovic.
He emphasized that the case was reported to the Kosovo Police, but that almost no case has been discovered so far, nor have the perpetrators been punished.
MEPs: Mocking of democracy in Serbia, stop opening negotiating chapters (N1, EWB)
The second-largest group in the European Parliament (EP), the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) said on Monday that a new composition of Serbia’s Parliament was “a mocking of democracy” and called on the European Union member states not to open any new chapter in the accession negotiations with Belgrade, the European Western Balkans (EWB) website reported.
Kati Piri, S&D deputy leader, in charge of foreign affairs, said Serbia’s elections were not representative and that she was afraid they would not prevent further deterioration of the rule of law in the country.
“This should not be possible in an EU candidate country. We call on the European Commission (EC) to analyse what went wrong and draw conclusions,” Piri said.
She added that no new chapter in negotiating with Belgrade should be opened as long as the state of democracy did not improve.
“We need free media and a diverse parliament at least, in which the opposition will be presented. I’m shocked by Commissioner Varhelyi’s statement in which he hadn’t said a word about it in his last night’s statement,” Piri said.
Tonino Picula, a member and the spokesperson for the S&D in the EP Foreign Affairs Committee, added the group would resume its close relations with the parties that boycotted the Sunday’s elections in Serbia.
“We never support a boycott and think that political debate should be held in a parliament. However, the boycott of these elections by the main opposition parties and the failure of any opposition to enter the parliament despite the reduction in the threshold to three percent ahead of the vote, Serbia’s National Assembly lost its role as a legislative body which represented the entire society,” Picula said.
He added the European People’s Party (EPP), which the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) was an associate member of, was much responsible for the situation (in Serbia) because it “supported (President Aleksandar) Vucic for years, while he was transforming the state into autocracy.”
“We call on the EPP to finally consider the membership of Vucic’s party,” Picuala said.
Tanja Fajon, an MEP and the chairwoman of the EP Delegation for Serbia, said the level of democracy in Serbia had substantially deteriorated after these elections, “not to mention the media freedom.”
“We don’t have a parliamentary opposition any more, and that challenges the legitimacy of a new parliament,” Fajon said.
She added that due to the coronavirus epidemic, the monitoring of the Sunday’s elections was limited, but that based on the local observers’ reports, there were more irregularities than during previous votes. At the same time, the turnout was lower despite the regime’s pressure on people to take part.
“As an EP mediator in the interparty dialogue in Serbia’s Parliament on the election conditions, I’m sorry to say that despite our efforts, they were not enough for the main opposition to take part in the ballot. We have to find new methods to include them in the next round of our inter-party dialogue,” Fajon said.
Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia’s stabilocrat (DW)
By Norbert Mappes-Niediek
Serbs appear to have chosen stability in the parliamentary election, with the president’s party winning around 61% of the vote. All opposition has apparently been vanquished, says Norbert Mappes-Niediek.
At a time when the rest of the world seems to have gone crazy, calm and contentment prevail in — of all places — the heart of the Balkans.
For decades, the theory was that countries in this oft troubled region would only find safer waters if they steered steadfastly toward Europe, democracy and the rule of law. This, apparently, was all wrong.
Serbia appears to have found itself at last thanks to authoritarian President Aleksandar Vucic. Instead of bobbing along in the wake of the rolling tanker that is the European Union, the president is guiding his ship of state with a firm hand amid the perils posed by the turbulent sea of world events. And he has even shown everyone how to arrive safely on new shores: Vucic intends to travel to the White House as early as Saturday to celebrate a “reconciliation” with Kosovo, or at least “start a new chapter.” Security and order can’t be guaranteed by Europe or Chancellor Angela Merkel; that’s now the job of Vucic and — hard to believe — US President Donald Trump.
Yes, it’s hard to believe — and we’d be wise not to.
See more at: https://bit.ly/3hS2r4X
Serbia’s Strongman Wins Big in Election Boycotted by the Opposition (The New York Times)
By Patrick Kingsley
Opposition leaders said Serbia’s parliamentary elections lacked legitimacy. But they could allow for greater momentum in peace talks with Kosovo.
BERLIN — President Aleksandar Vucic’s nearly complete control over the Serbian state was bolstered on Sunday after his party won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections boycotted by most of the opposition in protest at his autocratic policies.
Mr. Vucic was not personally up for re-election, but his political coalition, the nationalist Serbian Progressive Party, was projected to win more than 60 percent of seats in Parliament, according to initial results.
This puts the party on the threshold of a “supermajority,” which, if secured, would allow its lawmakers to change the constitution without the support of any other political faction.
The result could also give Mr. Vucic greater leeway to forge a peace agreement with Kosovo, the former Serbian province that broke from Belgrade in 1999, helped by an American-led bombing campaign, but whose sovereignty Serbia has never officially recognized.
The vote cemented Serbia’s move, under Mr. Vucic, away from a pluralist political culture. Since Mr. Vucic won the presidency in 2017, the quality of Serbian democracy has fallen from “free” to only “partly free,” according to Freedom House, an independent Washington-based rights research group that makes an annual assessment of each country’s political freedoms.
Rights observers regularly express concern over the influence Mr. Vucic wields over the judiciary, the electoral process, and both state and private media.
See more at:https://nyti.ms/2ARDndN
Serwer: Vucic’s victory convincing but stained (VoA, N1)
The Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and its leader Aleksandar Vucic scored a convincing victory in the country’s general elections, but the lack of democracy blurred it, Daniel Server, a professor at the John Hopkins University in Washington, told the Voice of America (VOA) on Tuesday.
“I don’t support (election) boycott in general, but in this case, I understand that (Serbia’s) opposition identified some real democratic deficiencies, primarily in media freedom and an independent judiciary. Those were the reasons which motivated the boycott and infringed this victory,” Server, an expert in the Balkans, said.
He added that the presidential election due in 2022, was a chance for the opposition to unite behind a strong candidate and take part in the vote even if conditions were not much better.
Server said he could not see how the election conditions might improve, since “Vucic doesn’t feel any pressure to allow more media freedom, independent judiciary or correct many other things that should be fixed in Serbia.”
“The European Union has partially given up its responsibility; the Americans strongly support President Vucic and his territorial aspirations in the division of Kosovo. So, I don’t see where the pressure could come from,” Server said.
Asked if Vucic would make a deal on Kosovo, Server said he was not sure Vucic himself knew it. He “has always been open in saying he wants something in return for accepting an agreement, and even more open in letting know he wants a chunk of Kosovo territory.”
“However, some real agreement on that won’t be possible because Kosovo’s Government, Parliament and people are against it, as are the Serbs south of the river Ibar. I don’t see any agreement on full normalisation, the establishment of diplomatic relations, recognition and Kosovo’s UN membership soon,” Server told VOA.
He added he could support the efforts by the White House special envoy Richard Grenell to make economic deals between Belgrade and Pristina, if, he said, “it was really the casel.”
Serbia’s Vucic To Discuss Kosovo With Putin In Moscow On Wednesday – Ambassador (urdupoint.com)
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic, are expected to discuss the international handling of Kosovo’s independence aspirations during a personal meeting in Moscow on Wednesday, Serbia’s ambassador to Russia, Miroslav Lazanski, told Sputnik in an interview.
See more at: https://bit.ly/3fMXXe0
Number of COVID-19 hospitalisations peaks (Prishtina Insight)
The Infectious Disease Clinic in Prishtina has reported that 93 patients are currently hospitalised due to experiencing complications after developing COVID-19. Of these patients, 41 are being treated with a ventilator and five are in a critical condition.
This marks a drastic increase from the beginning of May, when there were 42 patients hospitalised and only five people requiring the use of a ventilator. By the final week of May, the number of patients at the Clinic due to COVID-19 was often in single digits.
The Clinic also announced that on Sunday night, a 70-year-old patient from Vushtrri passed away. The patient, who was admitted into the hospital on June 13, was suffering from other illnesses in addition to COVID-19 and is the 37th person in Kosovo to have died after testing positive for coronavirus.
Serbia’s anti-COVID-19 Crisis Team: Face masks mandatory in public transport (N1)
As of Tuesday, the use of face masks is compulsory in public transport, while their wearing indoors is only recommended, Serbia’s Government said after the anti-COVID-19 Crisis Team meeting, following the increase of newly infected people, N1 reported.
The passengers without face masks won’t be able to use the city and inter-city transport. “
“People don’t have to wear surgical masks, they can use reusable cotton masks,” Government’s statement said.
The Team recommended wearing face masks indoors as well, particularly in post offices, banks, public institutions, shops and shopping malls.
The Government said it would continue to monitor the situation carefully and inform the public timely.
OpisMEDIJavanje: Sometimes a politician’s refusal to answer a question will be the answer (KoSSev)
”Anonymous sources are the most sensitive group of people a journalist can work with. Just as a journalist should not abuse an anonymous source and reveal his identity – if a source stresses that he wants to remain anonymous, a journalist must also avoid being taken advantage of by the source,” the N1 journalist, Jelena Zoric said.
In the latest episode of the media literacy campaign ”OpisMEDIJavanje”, Zoric spoke about sources, the interlocutors’ rights, and interviews.
The N1 journalist warned of the importance of checking the source’s allegations from at least three other sources, especially if the original source requested to be anonymous.
”Anonymous sources sometimes don’t want their identities to be revealed because they believe that their security could be jeopardized – and this should be respected. But you should always keep in mind that someone may be deceiving you and harming someone else with their information,” she said.
Zoric added, however, that such sources are extremely important when they are reliable.
See more at: https://bit.ly/3hSI5IL
Serbia Under-Reported COVID-19 Deaths and Infections, Data Shows (Balkan Insight)
Data from the Serbian state’s COVID-19 information system shows that more than twice as many infected patients have died than the authorities announced, and hundreds more people tested positive for the virus in recent days than admitted, BIRN can reveal.
In the period from March 19 to June 1 this year, a total of 632 people died in Serbia who had tested positive for the coronavirus – more than twice as many as the officially announced number of 244 deaths in that period, BIRN has learned by analysing data obtained from the state’s COVID-19 information system.
Another data set from the state’s COVID-19 information system also indicates that the number of people who became infected in Serbia from June 17 to June 20 was at least 300 per day.
This is far more than the officially announced figures, which recorded a maximum of 97 new cases in a single day during that period. Serbia held elections on Sunday in the midst of this apparent increase in infections.
BIRN conducted a detailed analysis of the data from the information system, focusing on the patients who died whose COVID-19 test results were marked as positive.
See more at: https://bit.ly/2NzHspL
SO2 emissions in Western Balkans coal plants six times above limit in 2019 (balkanenergynews.com)
There was no improvement last year on air pollution from lignite-fired industrial facilities reported to the European Environment Agency by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, Serbia and North Macedonia, Bankwatch said. A comparison with the National Emissions Reduction Plans reveals coal plant sulphur dioxide emissions were increased and that they were six time higher than the ceiling.
See more at:https://bit.ly/2Z3zr1h