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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, July 01

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• 79 new coronavirus cases in last 24 hours (media)
• Health Minister: Situation with coronavirus is under control (media)
• EU intends to continue Kosovo – Serbia dialogue without Thaci (RFE)
• MEPs: Merkel to put visa liberalisation for Kosovo on EU council agenda (media)
• Grenell: US focus on economic normalisation motivated Europeans (media)
• Judah: Dialogue weakens if Thaci resigns (media)
• Wisner: Kosovo is in a very serious crisis after proposed indictment (media)
• Without EULEX, operation of Special Court becomes impossible (Koha)
• Hoti calls on Assembly to address budget with priority (media)

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  • 79 new coronavirus cases in last 24 hours (media)
  • Health Minister: Situation with coronavirus is under control (media)
  • EU intends to continue Kosovo – Serbia dialogue without Thaci (RFE)
  • MEPs: Merkel to put visa liberalisation for Kosovo on EU council agenda (media)
  • Grenell: US focus on economic normalisation motivated Europeans (media)
  • Judah: Dialogue weakens if Thaci resigns (media)
  • Wisner: Kosovo is in a very serious crisis after proposed indictment (media)
  • Without EULEX, operation of Special Court becomes impossible (Koha)
  • Hoti calls on Assembly to address budget with priority (media)

79 new coronavirus cases in last 24 hours (media) 

79 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the last 24 hours, Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health said in a statement on Tuesday evening. 40 new cases are from the municipality of Prishtina. Two new fatalities were also confirmed on Tuesday. So far 54 people in Kosovo have succumbed to the virus.

Health Minister: Situation with coronavirus is under control (media) 

Kosovo’s Minister of Health, Armend Zemaj, said on Tuesday that the situation with the coronavirus is under control. “There has been an increase in cases after we relaxed the measures early this month. We are doing our best in managing the situation. It is under full control,” he said.

Zemaj denied reports that there is no room for more patients at the Infectious Clinic. “It is not true. It is also not true that University Clinical Center of Kosovo is about the collapse. These are lies and manipulation. We have enough room. We have beds, respirators, a professional staff that are working around the clock with the support of the Ministry of Health, the Kosovo Government and other actors,” he said.

EU intends to continue Kosovo – Serbia dialogue without Thaci (RFE) 

European Union officials intend to continue efforts to resume the dialogue on normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia and they are no longer including Kosovo President Hashim Thaci in these plans, the news website reported on Tuesday.

EU officials said that after the recent developments they no longer consider Thaci a partner in the process of dialogue. “In our reactions so far, we have said between the lines that it would be better if he (Thaci) focuses on his indictment and that until the matter is resolved, the EU will have very little interaction with him,” a European official involved in the Kosovo – Serbia dialogue told RFE.

Virginie Battu-Henriksson, a spokeswoman for the EU, said: “It is not up to the European Union to choose the interlocutors. It is up to the Kosovar side to decide who best represents their interests”.

MEPs: Merkel to put visa liberalisation for Kosovo on EU council agenda (media) 

32 Members of the European Union’s Parliament have co-signed a letter directed to the German Chancellor Angela Mercer and the Minister of Interior Horst Seehofer, asking them to put the issue of visa liberalisation for Kosovo in the agenda of the EU Council during the German Presidency.

In the letter, which is also signed by the EU Rapporteur for Kosovo, Viola von Cramon, the MEPs demand the Kosovo visa liberalisation issue be addressed as it has been two years since the country fulfilled all benchmarks set by the EU.

“At the moment, Kosovo is one of the very few remaining European countries, whose citizens cannot travel freely into the Schengen area without a visa. However, this does not depend on Kosovars anymore. The process to achieve visa liberalisation is supposed to be based on objective criteria, which, as announced by the European Commission, has been fulfilled in July 2018, exactly two years ago, and since then the country has been awaiting the final decision of the Council to grant visa freedom to its citizens,” the letter reads.

It also points out that over the past years, four different Council Presidencies have not dealt with the issue, expressing their hope that Germany’s historical ties and commitment towards the neighbourhood and to the Western Balkans could be used to resolve this problem.

The letter dismisses claims that Kosovo shall not be granted with visa liberalisation due to the number of unfounded asylum application and problems of organised crime, emphasising that the EU institutions have clarified in several occasions that these two are not obstacles for granting a country with visa liberalisation.

“The benchmarks have been fulfilled by Kosovo. They have done their homework, now it is our turn not to break our promise. We are losing our credibility when a third country does what we demand from them but they do not get the advantages we promised them. How can we demand any other reforms from countries in our neighbourhood, when they cannot be sure that they can gain anything from their work?” the MEPs ask.

The MEPs also bring up the fact that the European Parliament itself has called on the Commission to grant visa liberalisation to Kosovo citizens, reminding the German Presidency of the Council that this is a chance to improve the lives of Kosovars and bring Kosovo closer to the EU.

On June 19, the issue of Kosovo visa liberalisation caused a row between the EU Rapporteur for Kosovo Viola von Cramon and the Special Presidential Envoy for Serbia and Kosovo Peace Negotiations Richard Grenell on Twitter.

The latter told von Cramon to concentrate om Kosovo visa liberalisation instead of criticising “everything the Trump Administration does to help normalise the economies of Kosovo and Serbia.”

Von Cramon replied to Grenell, telling him to ask the French President Emanuel Macron on this matter.

Grenell: US focus on economic normalisation motivated Europeans (media) 

The U.S. Presidential Envoy for the Kosovo – Serbia Dialogue, Richard Grenell, took to Twitter on Tuesday to comment on a letter that 32 members of the European Parliament sent to German Chancellor Angela Merkel asking her to put the issue of visa liberalisation for Kosovo in the agenda of the EU Council during the German presidency.

“Finally. This is welcomed news even if for only some targeted business industries. The US focus on economic normalization has motivated action from the Europeans. And we are happy to see them taking the lead,” Grenell tweeted.

Judah: Dialogue weakens if Thaci resigns (media) 

British reporter and analyst on the Balkans, Tim Judah, said in an interview for Voice of America in Serbian on Tuesday the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia will weaken if the indictment against Kosovo President Hashim Thaci is confirmed and he resigns. He said that if Thaci resigns, the parties will not have negotiators with the same strengths. He added that it is not likely that the meeting in Washington will take place because of the uncertain situation surrounding Thaci and with the upcoming presidential elections in the United States.

Judah also said he believes the indictment against Thaci will be confirmed. “I think it will be confirmed, because it has been worked on for 20 years. I think the prosecutor wouldn’t  have proposed the indictment if he wasn’t confident that it will be confirmed. Not only that, I also think there is sufficient evidence to win the case in court,” he added.

Wisner: Kosovo is in a very serious crisis after proposed indictment (media) 

Frank Wisner, former U.S. Special Envoy for Kosovo, said on Tuesday that the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia must continue regardless of the proposed indictment against President Thaci and PDK leader Veseli. Wisner said political unity is needed as in his words Kosovo is currently faced with the biggest crisis since the declaration of independence.

“The dialogue must continue but there are now many things that need to happen before a serious political dialogue can resume. I see this is a great challenge in the short history of the state of Kosovo. There has never been such a big crisis. This is a very serious political and constitutional crisis. Now we have an indictment that was published in the media in unprecedented fashion. I have never seen a prosecutor making public an indictment before a judge approving it. This is very unusual and unprecedented. I have listened to Kosovo President Thaci’s address very closely and I think he took the only possible position and I respect his decision. He said that if the judge confirms the indictment, he will resign his post and face the legal consequences. I also greatly respect his position in support of justice, the formation of the court and he promised even before becoming President that Kosovo would respect the will of the international community and the work of the judiciary,” Wisner said in an interview to RTV21

Wisner also said he is very concerned with the current crisis in Kosovo. “This hasn’t happened before and Kosovo’s institutions are young. Political consensus in the country is still weak and this is a serious blow. If the President resigns and the government has a fragile majority in the Assembly, how can a functioning government system be reestablished, without even mentioning the indictments by the Specialist Chambers. I think this is a time for all Kosovars to be concerned with the stability of their institutions. I don’t want to say what the leaders need to do but they know what is in their best interest. If there is a moment when they must rise above personal and party interests and unite around a common national position to safeguard the stability of the country and to create a unity government that can address the economic and health problems and the current crisis, that moment is now. I believe that all of Kosovo’s friends abroad must support this unification. The negotiations must certainly continue. The Europeans have made it clear that they want to play a role in these negotiations, and I am certain that the United States will continue to be interested in the process. First however we need to manage and overcome this crisis.”

Without EULEX, operation of Special Court becomes impossible (Koha)

Without EULEX, the Special Court will find it difficult to carry out its mandate in Kosovo, a source of Koha Ditore who was part of the working group on both the Law on Special Court and the Law on this European Mission said on Tuesday. This is because the European mission provides this court with logistical and operational support.

The source argued further that the non-extension of the EULEX mandate, or any termination of cooperation by the institutions with this mission, would greatly complicate the work of the Special Court.

“So there is an attempt to remove a very important link that works on behalf of the Special Court, such as EULEX. Although there are legal dilemmas if the extension of the mandate of this mission depends on the correspondence or not, still under the circumstances when the institutions of Kosovo would not offer cooperation, it would be difficult to implement the ordinances, or access to information, be it at the police or local courts,” this source said.

Hoti calls on Assembly to address budget with priority (media) 

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said on Tuesday that he has sent a written note to Assembly President Vjosa Osmani asking for the Assembly to address with the priority the daft law for the amendment of the 2020 budget and to readdress the ratification of international agreements.

Hoti said the adoption of the budget bill and the ratification of international agreements would pave way for the government to undertake immediate measures for assisting the citizens and businesses with the economic revival plan.

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