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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, June 30, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, June 30, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• Rama: I am here to support Kosovo and its politicians (media)
• PM Rama annuls his meeting with Haradinaj (RTK)
• Orlando: We look forward to visa liberalisation for Kosovo soon! (media)
• 111 patients with coronavirus currently treated at Prishtina Hospital (media)
• Council reacts to Hoti and Zemaj on facemasks remarks (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Tanjug: The EU ‘took note’ of Thaci’s announcement (B92)
• Mihajlovic: Thaci thinks he would manage to ‘cleanse’ his biography as Haradinaj did (Kosovo-online)
• Kosovo police to assist municipal inspectors in enforcing new measures on Covid-19 (Radio kontakt plus)
• Bieber: Enthusiasm for Serbia’s Vucic declining in Germany (Beta, Danas, N1)
• German Ambassador: Serbia’s EU integration depends on progress in reforms (N1, FoNet)
• DPM Rakic met Norwegian Ambassador Grondahi (TV Most)

Opinion:

• PDK’s lawsuit against BIRN can’t hide the truth (Prishtina Insight)

International:

• Kosovo’s president hits out at ‘fabricated’ war crimes charges (Politico)
• Serbia’s Vučić: Kosovo talks must go on despite Thaçi indictment (Politico.eu)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Coronavirus: Worst could be yet to come, WHO warns (BBC)
• Live Blog: Central, Southeast Europe Responds to Uptick in COVID-19 Pandemic (Balkan Insight)
• OpisMEDIJavanje: Fact-checking protects the journalist and the reputation of the media (KoSSev)
• 60 organizations condemn Austrian embassy’s role in ‘illegal’ hydropower operation (Prishtina Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Rama: I am here to support Kosovo and its politicians (media)
  • PM Rama annuls his meeting with Haradinaj (RTK)
  • Orlando: We look forward to visa liberalisation for Kosovo soon! (media)
  • 111 patients with coronavirus currently treated at Prishtina Hospital (media)
  • Council reacts to Hoti and Zemaj on facemasks remarks (media)

 Serbian Language Media:

  • Tanjug: The EU ‘took note’ of Thaci’s announcement (B92)
  • Mihajlovic: Thaci thinks he would manage to ‘cleanse’ his biography as Haradinaj did (Kosovo-online)
  • Kosovo police to assist municipal inspectors in enforcing new measures on Covid-19 (Radio kontakt plus)
  • Bieber: Enthusiasm for Serbia’s Vucic declining in Germany (Beta, Danas, N1)
  • German Ambassador: Serbia’s EU integration depends on progress in reforms (N1, FoNet)
  • DPM Rakic met Norwegian Ambassador Grondahi (TV Most)

Opinion:

  • PDK’s lawsuit against BIRN can’t hide the truth (Prishtina Insight)

International:

  • Kosovo’s president hits out at ‘fabricated’ war crimes charges (Politico)
  • Serbia’s Vučić: Kosovo talks must go on despite Thaçi indictment (Politico.eu)

Humanitarian/Development: 

  • Coronavirus: Worst could be yet to come, WHO warns (BBC)
  • Live Blog: Central, Southeast Europe Responds to Uptick in COVID-19 Pandemic (Balkan Insight)
  • OpisMEDIJavanje: Fact-checking protects the journalist and the reputation of the media (KoSSev)
  • 60 organizations condemn Austrian embassy’s role in ‘illegal’ hydropower operation (Prishtina Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Rama: I am here to support Kosovo and its politicians (media)

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama told a press conference at Prishtina Airport today that his visit was aimed at giving his “full support to Kosovo and all its political representatives at a time that something grave and deeply unjust has happened”.

Rama argued that the publication of the press release by the Specialist Chamber on the proposed indictment against President Hashim Thaci and PDK leader Kadri Veseli, on the eve of the meeting in Washington, resembled press releases issued during what he called the Chinese revolution in Albania. He added that regardless of whether the timing of the publication was intentional or not, “it did abort a process aimed at establishing peace”.

“The meeting at the White House was a very important moment and an opportunity to move forward the process to a new level and with the direct support of the United States,” he said.

Rama also said that the Specialist Chambers have created a crisis in Kosovo and weakened Kosovo’s position vis-à-vis Serbia.

“For two decades, the process of establishing justice for war crimes in Kosovo was concepted, supported and developed as an inseparable part of the process of state-building, reconciliation, European integration, and even as part of the process of dialogue,” Rama said.

PM Rama annuls his meeting with Haradinaj (RTK)

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has canceled a scheduled meeting with the leader of the Alliance of the Future of Kosovo (AAK) Ramush Haradinaj, following his meetings with Kosovo’s political leaders.

This meeting was scheduled to take place at 11:00 hours at the AAK headquarters.

The cancellation of the meeting comes after Haradinaj’s statement on Monday evening, rejecting the meeting with the Prime Minister of Albania. 

“It is impossible for the defendant to meet with the plaintiff. That makes no sense. I do not feel good to meet as a defendant with anyone and neither with Mr. Edi Rama,” was Haradinaj’s answer last night on TV Dukagjini, after being asked whether he would accept the meeting with Rama.

Rama met today with the leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) Isa Mustafa, mayor of Prishtina Shpend Ahmeti,  and AKR leader Behxhet Pacolli. 

Orlando: We look forward to visa liberalisation for Kosovo soon! (media)

The Italian Ambassador to Kosovo, Nicola Orlando, tweeted today: “Thanks for excellent #Croatia semester & good luck to #Germany for its Presidency of #EU! As Italian Prime Minister @GiuseppeConteIT said in Zagreb: we look forward to visa liberalisation for #Kosovo soon. I hope all hesitant EU Member States allow visa liberalisation to happen during the German semester. It’s time!”

111 patients with coronavirus currently treated at Prishtina Hospital (media)

Several news outlets report that 111 patients with COVID – 19 are being treated at Prishtina Hospital. 66 cases are receiving oxygen therapy and are under intensive care. Two cases are reportedly in critical condition. 

Prishtina Mayor: Respect the measures! (media)

Prishtina Mayor Shpend Ahmeti said in a Facebook post on Monday that citizens need to follow the recommendations of health institutions otherwise simple complications can become fatal. “There will simply be no beds for patients or doctors to heal you,” he said.

Council reacts to Hoti and Zemaj on facemasks remarks (media)

The Prishtina-based Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms (CDHRF) issued a statement today reacting to statements made by Health Minister Zemaj and Prime Minister Hoti that they will use the force of law if citizens don’t wear facemasks. The Council said they cannot threaten the citizens because they have no legal grounds to do so. “The CDHRF is concerned with the spike in COVID – 19 cases but this does not give the heads of state the right to threaten the citizens, even more so when they lack the legal grounds to do so,” the statement noted. The Council also said that government leaders are obliged to provide free protective gear to the people.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Tanjug: The EU ‘took note’ of Thaci’s announcement (B92)

The Brussels “took note” of Thaci’s announcement that he would remain on duty until the indictment is confirmed. Message to Pristina: You decide who represents you in the continuation of the dialogue.

Regarding the European plans for the continuation of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, EU spokeswoman Virginie Battu emphasized that Brussels was aware of the intention of the President of Kosovo and so far chief negotiator of Pristina, Hashim Thaci to remain on duty despite the indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity, reports portal B92, quoting Tanjug news agency. 

“We call for full co-operation with the Special Court. This is an important indicator of Kosovo’s commitment to the rule of law, which is a key element for progress on the path to EU integration,” Battu said.

Asked whether Thaci would be an acceptable interlocutor for the EU to continue the dialogue scheduled for July, Battu reiterated that the EU “does not comment” on court proceedings, nor prejudges the decisions of the Kosovo authorities.

“It is not up to the EU to choose who to talk to within the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. It is up to the Kosovo authorities to decide who will best represent their interests,” Battu said.

A summit in Paris dedicated to the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina is expected to be held in July, as well as a round of talks in Brussels. It is unknown at this time who will represent Pristina at the meetings, reports B92 portal.

Mihajlovic: Thaci thinks he would manage to ‘cleanse’ his biography as Haradinaj did (Kosovo-online)

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci announced he would resign if the indictment against him gets confirmed because he believes it won’t happen, Serbian public broadcaster RTS assistant director Milivoje Mihajlovic told Kosovo-online portal. Mihajlovic also spent many years working as a journalist in Pristina.

“Thaci said he would resign if the indictment against him gets confirmed because he hopes scenario of Ramush Haradinaj would happen again this time in his case, when The Hague Tribunal washed up Haradinaj’s biography, declared him innocent and Haradinaj returned to the political scene in Kosovo,” Mihajlovic said.

According to Mihajlovic, Thaci believes that the pressure exerted by Pristina and Tirana on the Specialist Court in The Hague would bore fruit.

“Thaci believes the court would dismiss the indictment. The cleansing of his biography would last four more months and after that he could regain the Kosovo political scene again in full capacity,” Milivojevic opined.

Commenting on Edi Rama’s visit in Kosovo, Mihajlovic said the visit is directed towards the same aim.

“Edi Rama’s visit is also directed in the same direction. By playing the card of a national unity of all Albanians in the Balkans the intention is to try from another Albanian center, Tirana exert pressure on the Specialist Court so it eventually drops the charges,” Mihajlovic noted.

However, he added, the card of a national unity is the last card they could use at this moment, because Hashim Thaci is facing two problems – the first one is the Specialist Court and the second one is Albin Kurti who threatens to take over power from him, which would, as it seems, happen

Kosovo police to assist municipal inspectors in enforcing new measures on Covid-19 (Radio kontakt plus)

Kosovo police spokesperson for the North region Branislav Radovic told Radio Kontakt Plus yesterday that police would provide assistance to the municipal inspectors in controlling the work of coffee bars, restaurants and other catering and sales facilities in the northern municipalities.

“In accordance with the law, the police will control the implementation of prescribed measures in the zone of responsibility of the Mitrovica North region, where the work of restaurants and other catering facilities is limited to 11 p.m.”, Radovic said.

He added that “the distance between the people and the tables will also be controlled, as well as disinfection measures, wearing of the protective masks, gloves and all other measures related to Covid-19 pandemic”.

He also urged citizens to adhere to the prescribed measures, in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“Keeping a distance from each other is also important for all sales facilities, pharmacies and other places where there is a danger of the virus spreading”, Radovic said.

Bieber: Enthusiasm for Serbia’s Vucic declining in Germany (Beta, Danas, N1)

Florian Bieber, a Balkan expert, said that Germany’s warm relation with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic had cooled and that enthusiasm shrunken due to his support to border changes with Kosovo and the strengthening of power, the Beta news agency reported on Tuesday.

“While the diplomats and politicians dealing with the situation in Serbia notice the rise in authoritarianism, the will to openly talk about it is still lacking,” Bieber, a professor at the Gratz University, told the Belgrade based daily Danas. 

Regarding the Kosovo issue, Bieber said that “after such elections, Vucic can’t say he has any obstacle to a compromise (with Pristina), especially after the far-right Serbian Radical Party (SRS) hasn’t entered the parliament.”

Speaking about the cancellation of the White House meeting between Vucic and Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci scheduled for last Saturday, Bieber said that the US President Donald Trump’s special envoy for the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations Richard Grenell, “cooperated only with Thaci and even contributed to the fall of (former Prime Minister Albin) Kurti’s cabinet.”

“Pending the confirmation of the war crimes indictment against Thaci, his (Grenell’s) partner is not there anymore, and it will take months before he finds another strong partner with a mandate to negotiate,” Bieber said, adding he expected the European Union back behind the wheel in the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina.

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

German Ambassador: Serbia’s EU integration depends on progress in reforms (N1, FoNet)

German Ambassador to Serbia Thomas Schieb told an online conference on Monday that the speed of the European integration process depends on progress in several areas, adding he is sure that the new Serbian government will secure that speed, FoNet news agency reports.

Speaking at the conference on preparations for a post-pandemic European Union, the ambassador said that the speed on Serbia’s path to the European Union depends on progress in rule of law, media freedom and judiciary reforms.

He voiced the conviction that new chapters will be opened and inter-governmental conferences held during Germany’s six months as chair of the EU Council. Serbia sets the pace of reforms and the date of membership depends on that, Schieb noted.

DPM Rakic met Norwegian Ambassador Grondahi (TV Most)

Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Local Government Administration Goran Rakic met yesterday with Norwegian Ambassador in Pristina Jens Erik Grondahl, TV Most reports.

The meeting focused on the coordination of activities, all with the aim of establishing efficient management of municipalities. Priorities in the work of the ministry related to transparent and democratic representation of citizens, as well as improving the quality of public service delivery were highlighted.

The interlocutors also agreed that the fight against Covid-19 is still in force and appealed to all municipal bodies to provide additional attention and support to vulnerable and marginalized groups in accordance with the possibilities and capacities.

 

 

Opinion

 

PDK’s lawsuit against BIRN can’t hide the truth (Prishtina Insight)

The defamation lawsuit filed against BIRN over its investigation revealing the involvement of public officials in promoting territorial exchange with Serbia is evidence of the lengths that some politicians will go to cover their tracks.

On June 26, Skender Musa, the legal representative for the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, announced that a lawsuit had been filed on behalf of Dhurata Hoxha, a former PDK Minister of European Integration, against Jeta Xharra, an investigative journalist, as well as KALLXO.com and Prishtina Insight.

The defamation suit challenges BIRN’s investigation that offered the public proof that both a PR company hired by the ministry and Kosovo’s Ambassador to France lobbied for a land swap between Kosovo and Serbia as a route to a final peace agreement between the two countries.

See at: https://bit.ly/31sjULu

 

 

 International

 

Kosovo’s president hits out at ‘fabricated’ war crimes charges (Politico)

Hashim Thaçi says accusations delivered ‘a strong blow to the opportunity of achieving peace between Kosovo and Serbia.’

PRISTINA, Kosovo — Kosovan President Hashim Thaçi on Monday said there was not “a single piece of evidence” that he committed crimes against humanity and war crimes, charges leveled against him by a special court in The Hague.

In a pre-recorded video statement published on his Facebook page, Thaçi rejected accusations that he had participated in war crimes as part of a guerilla force during the conflict in Kosovo.

“I have never committed war crimes,” said Thaçi, making his first comments since the charges were announced last Wednesday. “There never was and there never will be a single piece of evidence addressed to Hashim Thaçi.”

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC), set up to examine war crimes during and after the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict, said last week that a prosecutor filed an indictment in April against Thaçi, his close associate and former speaker of parliament Kadri Veseli and others, accusing them of “a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture.”

See at: https://politi.co/3g9G21g

Serbia’s Vučić: Kosovo talks must go on despite Thaçi indictment (Politico.eu)

Serbian president aims for EU membership in 2026.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said Friday that Kosovo peace talks must resume despite war crimes charges filed against Kosovan President Hashim Thaçi.

In an interview with POLITICO in Brussels, Vučić signaled he would still be willing to meet with Thaçi if Kosovan leaders chose to make him part of their delegation for future talks. But he said he did not believe they would do so.

See more at: https://politi.co/2YMfA8g

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Coronavirus: Worst could be yet to come, WHO warns (BBC)

The worst could be still to come in the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned, six months on from when the outbreak began.

WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the virus would infect many more people if governments did not start to implement the right policies.

His message remained “Test, Trace, Isolate and Quarantine”, he said.

More than 10m cases have been recorded worldwide since coronavirus emerged in China late last year.

The number of patients who died is now above 500,000. Half the world’s cases have been in the US and Europe but Covid-19 is rapidly growing in the Americas.

The virus is also affecting South Asia and Africa, where it is not expected to peak until the end of July.

See more at: https://bbc.in/2AfxnuS

Live Blog: Central, Southeast Europe Responds to Uptick in COVID-19 Pandemic (Balkan Insight)

Follow the latest updates as governments in Southeast and Central Europe struggle to tackle the rising number of cases of the coronavirus in the region. After reopening in as early as April, the situation around the COVID-19 pandemic is again worsening.

While some countries in Southeast and Central Europe seem to have the pandemic under control, the health situation in others risks worsening once again – due to what some fear is the premature lifting of protective measures.

Governments in the region seem determined not to restore tough restrictions, even though the number of COVID-19 infections is on the rise once again.

In contrast to the beginning of the health crisis in March, when most countries in the region rushed to impose severe movement restrictions, and despite a new spike in infections and fatalities, authorities and citizens alike now seem more relaxed.

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

OpisMEDIJavanje: Fact-checking protects the journalist and the reputation of the media (KoSSev)

A desire for exclusivity and a reaction to current events in society is in the very nature of the media. Fact-checking, on the other hand, sometimes demands additional time, which many media outlets are not prepared for, which is why false and unverified information is often published, BIRN journalist and fact-checker, Ivana Jeremic told KoSSev.

In the latest episode of the media literacy campaign ”OpisMEDIJavanje”, Jeremic spoke about the meaning of fact-checking, the fact checker’s role, and the importance of this process in journalism.

Fact-checkers are the persons in charge of checking facts in journalistic texts. They are a kind of devil’s advocate and have the task of checking every claim made in the text, noticing its weaknesses and giving comments to strengthen it – Jeremic briefly described the role of a fact-checker.

According to her, the fact-checking process takes place just before a story is published.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3eJY2Pq

60 organizations condemn Austrian embassy’s role in ‘illegal’ hydropower operation (Prishtina Insight)

The Austrian Embassy’s support of KelKos Energy has been criticised in a letter signed by 60 civil society organisations in Kosovo, who state that the company’s illegal operations have degraded the environment and undermined the rule of law.

A consortium of 60 civil society organisations in Kosovo have sent a letter to the Austrian Embassy in Kosovo and the Austrian Federal Ministry of European and International Affairs, expressing concern over support for KelKos Energy.

KelKos is a hydropower energy management company that the consortium states have built a number of illegal hydropower plants within Kosovo. “KelKos has built and now operates several hydropower plants in the Decan Valley, a national park and a protected zone in the Accursed Mountains of Kosovo, where construction of hydropower plants is strictly prohibited by law,” the letter reads.

See at: https://bit.ly/2AkK9Zc

 

 

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