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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, June 29

By   /  29/06/2020  /  Comments Off on UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, June 29

• 87 new coronavirus cases in last 24 hours (media)
• Due to increased cases of Covid-19, EU borders remain closed for Kosovo (Koha)
• PM Hoti: We might have to reintroduce isolation measures (media)
• Osmani: Significant rise requires government’s urgent attention (media)
• Coronavirus spreads in the Assembly (Indeksonline)
• Assembly Presidency and committees should not meet, Council suggests (media)
• President Thaci to address the media on Monday (media)
• Specialist Chambers comment on accusations against Thaci (Klan/Telegrafi)
• Albanian PM Rama to visit Kosovo on Monday (media)
• EULEX work not affected by lack of letter exchange (Koha)
• Serwer: Shore up the Kosovo state (Peacefare.net/Koha)
• EU undercut the U.S.-led Kosovo–Serbia summit (National Review/media)
• Police detain then release two persons during St. Vitus celebrations (media)

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  • 87 new coronavirus cases in last 24 hours (media)
  • Due to increased cases of Covid-19, EU borders remain closed for Kosovo (Koha)
  • PM Hoti: We might have to reintroduce isolation measures (media)
  • Osmani: Significant rise requires government’s urgent attention (media)
  • Coronavirus spreads in the Assembly (Indeksonline)
  • Assembly Presidency and committees should not meet, Council suggests (media)
  • President Thaci to address the media on Monday (media)
  • Specialist Chambers comment on accusations against Thaci (Klan/Telegrafi)
  • Albanian PM Rama to visit Kosovo on Monday (media)
  • EULEX work not affected by lack of letter exchange (Koha)
  • Serwer: Shore up the Kosovo state (Peacefare.net/Koha)
  • EU undercut the U.S.-led Kosovo–Serbia summit (National Review/media)
  • Police detain then release two persons during St. Vitus celebrations (media)

Kosovo Media Highlights

87 new coronavirus cases in last 24 hours (media) 

87 new coronavirus were confirmed in the last 24 hours, Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health said in a statement on Sunday evening. 33 new cases are from the municipality of Prishtina.

Meanwhile, one more coronavirus-related death was reported in Kosovo over the weekend, taking the total number of victims to 49.

At present there are 1,208 active coronavirus cases in Kosovo.

Due to increased cases of Covid-19, EU borders remain closed for Kosovo (Koha)

European Union border will remain closed for the citizens of Kosovo beyond July 1 due to the high increase of coronavirus cases in the recent period, Koha reports.

The EU will open its borders for the rest of the Western Balkans countries but Kosovo is considered to currently have one of the worst situations in Europe with a very high number of new infections and a very little testing taking place.

PM Hoti: We might have to reinstate isolation measures (media) 

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said in a Facebook post on Sunday that the government might have to reinstate isolation measures if the significant increase in coronavirus cases continues. “At this pace, the Infectious Clinic will soon be blocked and then our doctors are going to have to make the moral decision on who they should help first. We have already seen such scenes in other countries … We cannot allow these situations to be created. If this pace continues, we are going to have to reinstate measures of total isolation, with major consequences for our economy and families,” Hoti said.

Osmani: Significant rise requires government’s urgent attention (media) 

Kosovo Assembly President Vjosa Osmani wrote in a Twitter post on Sunday: “Kosovo appears to have flipped the chart from one of the winning stories in defeating Covid-19, to top 3rd country per new additional (+) cases. The concerning significant rise, calls for the urgent attention of the Government & dedication of all in respecting the guidelines.”

Coronavirus spreads in the Assembly (Indeksonline) 

The news website reported on Sunday evening that the Kosovo Assembly Secretary and the Director for Legal and Procedural Affairs have both tested positive for the COVID-19 and are now in self-isolation. Earlier in the day, media reported that the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) parliamentary group chief has tested positive for the virus. The Assembly Press and Information Office issued a statement on Sunday evening saying that the meeting of the Assembly Presidency scheduled for Monday has been cancelled.

Assembly Presidency and committees should not meet, Council suggests (media) 

The Prishtina-based Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms (CDHRF) said in a statement on Sunday that the Kosovo Assembly Presidency and parliamentary committees should no longer hold their meetings after the significant increase in coronavirus cases and after some MPs and members of the Assembly administration have tested positive.

President Thaci to address the media on Monday (media) 

Most news outlets reported that Kosovo President Hashim Thaci will address a press conference in Prishtina on Monday in relation to the accusations raised against him by the Specialist Chambers. Thaci was initially scheduled to address the media on Sunday but the conference was postponed.

Specialist Chambers comment on accusations against Thaci (Klan/Telegrafi)

Specialist Chambers in The Hague has explained the decision to announce accusations for war crimes against President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci and leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) Kadri Veseli.

Michael Doyle, spokesperson for the chambers, is quoted saying for Klan Kosova that the statement made by the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office is separate from the indictment itself which remains sealed.

“The statement was issued with full consideration regarding protective measures and the rights set out in the legal framework regulating the Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office,” Doyle said.

He did not wish to comment on the question as to why only Thaci and Veseli’s name were made public and not the rest who are also accused on the same charges. “I cannot comment on any other detail except what has been said in the statement of the prosecutor,” he said.

Albanian PM Rama to visit Kosovo on Monday (media) 

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama will visit Kosovo on Monday, most media report. Citing its sources, Indeksonine reports that Rama will meet President Thaci, Assembly President Osmani, Prime Minister Hoti and leaders of the main political parties.

EULEX work not affected by lack of letter exchange (Koha) 

The lack of a letter exchange between Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and representatives of the European Union to extend the mandate of the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) has not affected the work of this mission, the news website reported on Sunday.

EULEX officials argue that their mandate is guaranteed by the local legislation and the decisions of European institutions.

In a written reply to the news website, EULEX recalled the obligations of Kosovo authorities deriving from the Stabilisation/Association Agreement, namely the chapter on the rule of law.

“The presence and functioning of the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) continues to be guaranteed in accordance with Kosovo and international laws, including the decisions of the European Council. We want to continue to work with the Kosovo Government to push forward our common agenda for strengthening Kosovo’s law enforcement institutions,” the reply noted.

EULEX also said in its reply that in line with its mandate, this mission also continues to assist the Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office in line with Kosovo’s legislation.

Serwer: Shore up the Kosovo state (Peacefare.net/media) 

Several news outlets cover an opinion piece by Daniel Serwer, directs the Conflict Management Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, published in Peacefare.net.

This week’s announcement that the prosecutor of the Specialist Chambers in The Hague has recommended an indictment of Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and a former Speaker of the parliament wrecked the prospects for a Serbia/Kosovo supposedly “economic” summit that was to have taken place in Washington this weekend. That has led some to conclude that Europeans plotted the maneuver, as they resented the American initiative and some have targeted Thaci for years. I’m more inclined to think the Americans did it to themselves, because they had concluded the summit had little chance of success.

Whatever. It’s hard to believe the unusual, some would say illegitimate, initiative to publicize the indictment recommendation was not known in both in Brussels and Washington before it happened. Neither stopped it. The result is an earthquake that has shaken the Kosovo state.

The right reaction is to reinforce that state. Kosovo will need a government with a wider margin in parliament and a new president.

No Kosovo prime minister should come to Washington or Brussels to re-engage in the dialogue with Belgrade without a majority that comes close to matching that of President Vucic, who won more than 75% of the his parliament’s seats in last weekend’s election in Serbia, as the opposition boycotted.

To achieve this, Kosovo Prime Minister Hoti, who came into office less than two months ago, would need to bring in either Thaci’s Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) or Vetevendosje (Self-Determination, or VV), which led the short-lived government that

preceded Hoti’s. Both joining the government is asking too much, as they despise each other. The PDK will be licking its wounds, as the President is its founder and the Speaker is its party secretary, and there are likely other proposed indictees among its leadership. VV would drive a hard bargain but would be a hefty addition to a weak coalition.

If the indictment is confirmed in July, President Thaci will need to resign–in dignity–and commit to go to The Hague to defend himself. There is ample precedent for this: former Prime Minister Haradinaj resigned twice to defend himself in The Hague, successfully. The parliament will then need to elect a new chief of state, or risk new elections within 45 days. A distinguished, uncompromised, and unpolitical candidate, comparable to former President Atifete Jahjaga, is the right direction. Kosovo has an ample supply of well-qualified people, especially women. Few of them can be accused of war crimes and many are unsullied by corruption and other malfeasance.

A new election would likely bring VV back to power with stronger representation in parliament than it had the last time around, when it came in first by a smidgen. But the time and political competition required for an election would leave Kosovo adrift at a crucial moment. A weakened state would be vulnerable to all sorts of shenanigans, by Europeans, Americans, Russians and others. It would be far better if VV’s obvious political strength could be recognized without repeating the October 2019 contest.

With a new president and a widened government, Kosovo needs first and foremost to stabilize itself, ending all attacks on Serbs and Serb property as well as the internecine quarreling within its majority Albanian population, which makes Kosovo look ungovernable. Attacks on Serbs give Belgrade the ammunition it needs to argue that the ethnic groups need to be separated and Serb-occupied territory transferred to Serbia as well as much of the Serb population south of the Ibar river. Such a land/people transfer is an enormous threat to Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state, as it would remove a big obstacle to union with Albania: the Serb population.

The cancelled Washington summit was ill-conceived and no loss to anyone. But Kosovo and Serbia both need to improve their political and economic relations. The EU-run dialogue has been without significant results since 2013, but Brussels still holds the key incentives to make normalization between the two countries a reality, including the promise of Kosovo recognition by the five nonrecognizing EU states. The proper US role is one of support for the EU, which is admittedly difficult right now because the Trump Administration dislikes both Europe and the Union. It would be much easier in a Biden Administration, which is starting to look likely as Covid-19 resurges across red states in the south and west.

But that question won’t be resolved until November 3. Right now the power balance in the Balkans is what counts. Serbia is already strong. Strengthening the Kosovo state is a prerequisite for a better outcome.

EU undercut the U.S.-led Kosovo–Serbia summit (National Review/media) 

When it comes to diplomacy, President Trump has, according to his critics, a habit of elevating appearances over substance. He lacks tact toward allies and too often he puts his vulnerable ego on display. As the Kosovo–Serbia summit at the White House unraveled over the course of this past week, all of these character flaws were on full display — by the European Union.

When the news of a White House summit between Serbia’s and Kosovo’s leaders, Aleksandar Vučić and Hashim Thaçi, was initially announced, most Balkans watchers were bemused. The reaction from Europe was outright frosty. “A good agreement would bring Kosovo and Serbia closer to the EU and I don’t believe that such an agreement can be reached without the EU presence there,” said the EU’s special representative for dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo, Miroslav Lajčák.

No wonder. Excluding the EU from the meeting was indeed a brazen move. It did not help that President Trump’s envoy for the Kosovo–Serbia talks, Richard Grenell, cuts a distinctly undiplomatic figure. During his two-year stint as ambassador to Germany, he alienated much of the country’s political class. When the summit was being prepared, he berated its critics on Twitter: “You don’t know what you are talking about. But you are so sure you do. Typical.”

However, bluster aside, there was merit to Grenell’s initiative. Since the largely aspirational Brussels Agreement (2013), which committed Kosovo and Serbia to a gradual “normalization” of their relationship, the EU has very little to show for its years of engagement in the region. A U.S.-led restart to the talks, organized around questions of economic integration, with the additional carrot provided by prospective U.S. investment might have been maladroit, but it was not misguided.

Read full opinion piece at: https://bit.ly/3dIBHk7

Police detain then release two persons during St. Vitus celebrations (media)

Kosovo Police shortly detained two persons who were part of a group of hundreds of Serbs celebrating St. Vitus yesterday at Gazimestan, near Pristina.

The two persons were detained for provoking the police, media report. Kosovo Police said the two persons were under the influence of alcohol.

Media also report that the participants in the gathering did not wear face masks and did not respect social distancing measures.

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