Albanian Language Media:
- Hoti: Dialogue has no alternative, I will lead it (Koha)
- Haradinaj: Merkel understands Kosovo’s needs, visas will liberalise (Ekonomiaonline)
- Bytyci: PDK is in opposition, involvement in government is speculation (media)
- 111 patients with COVID – 19 at Infectious Clinic, four in critical condition (media)
- 70 Prishtina doctors in self-isolation, 11 tested positive with Covid-19 (Kallxo)
Serbian Language Media:
- Vucic: I will not allow the ordered solution for Kosovo (media)
- Dacic: Relations between Serbia and US positive, despite challenges (N1, Beta)
- Germany takes over EU Presidency (Beta, N1)
- Djukanovic: There is no solution for Kosovo without merging politics and economy (RTS)
- EU to open its borders for Serbian citizens as of July 1 (Tanjug, B92)
- Brnabic: Serbia too small to interfere with great powers (N1, FoNet)
- Association “Support Me” to launch petition against ban to Arlov to enter Kosovo (Radio kontakt plus)
- Agreement between KOSTT and ENTSO foresees licensing of Serbian operator (KoSSev)
- Online classes to be continued in September? (B92, Tanjug)
- DPM Rakic met French Ambassador, OMiK Head (Radio KIM)
- Trump Administration’s Bet on Kosovo’s Thaci Fails to Pay Off (Balkan Insight)
- Kosovo’s Specialist Prosecutor begins ‘stirring the pot’ (Prishtina Insight)
- Trans-Atlantic relations and the Western Balkans (moderndiplomacy.eu)
- Kosovo president Hashim Thaçi vows to resign if war crimes trial goes ahead (The Guardian)
- New Times, New Hope for Balkan Whistleblowers (whistleblowersblog.org)
- Serbia’s ruling party just scored a landslide victory. Here’s why the opposition boycotted the election (The Washington Post)
- First joint human rights report by CSOs in Kosovo (media)
- Serbian Government denies shortage of coronavirus tests (N1)
Albanian Language Media
Hoti: Dialogue has no alternative, I will lead it (Koha)
Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti started today’s meeting of the government with discussion about the proposal-indictment of the Specialist Prosecution and the decision of the Constitutional Court on the Law for wages.
Speaking about the announcement of the Office of the Specialised Prosecution, Hoti said Kosovo institutions have shown and are showing maturity on treating the issue.
Speaking about the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, Hoti said there is no alternative to the dialogue, and added that it will be led by the Prime Minister.
“We remain in the position that the liberation war of the Kosovo population was clean and cannot be tried. Despite the developments happening, dialogue has no alternative. Kosovo is prepared for this process. A major work has been completed during the past governments and it is being systemized,” Hoti said.
“We are now working to compose a state delegation for this process, led certainly by the Prime Minister,” he added.
The government of Kosovo also decided to establish a council of experts for the dialogue with Serbia.
“This council will act within the Office of the Prime Minister. Through this decision, the state coordinator who will coordinate the work of the council for dialogue will be nominated,” he said.
Speaking about the Law on salaries, Hoti pledged speedy initiation of the procedures to address remarks of the Constitutional Court and proceed them to the Assembly.
Haradinaj: Merkel understands Kosovo’s needs, visas will liberalise (Ekonomiaonline)
Ramush Haradinaj, leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), expressed conviction that German Chancellor Angela Merkel understands the needs of Kosovo better than anyone in the EU.
“Chancellor Merkel understands better than anyone in the EU the needs of Kosovo which have been oppressed for a long time as a consequence of the EU slow policies,” he said.
“I have no doubt that during the six-month mandate of Germany’s presidency with the EU, a new energy will conclude the process of visa liberalization for the citizens of Kosovo and advance Kosovo’s integration processes in the EU organisations and institutions,” Haradinaj wrote.
Bytyci: PDK is in opposition, involvement in government is speculation (media)
Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) spokesman, Avni Bytyci, said today that this party is in the opposition and that so far there have been no talks for its eventual involvement in government.
“The Democratic Party of Kosovo is an opposition party. So far there have been no discussion for joining the government, at any decision-making level of the party. Everything that is being talked about in the media at this point is speculation,” Bytyci wrote in a Facebook post.
111 patients with COVID – 19 at Infectious Clinic, four in critical condition (media)
Several media report that 111 patients with COVID – 19 are currently being treated at the Infectious Clinic at Prishtina Hospital. Four patients are said to be in critical condition. Some media are reporting that another person has succumbed to the virus. The total number of deaths from the coronavirus in Kosovo is 55.
70 Prishtina doctors in self-isolation, 11 tested positive with Covid-19 (Kallxo)
The number of cases affected with Covid-19 in Prishtina, has increased in the last days.
Only last night, Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health informed on 40 additional cases in this municipality.
This great number of the infected, did not leave unaffected the medical staff who in many cases are the first contact with positive cases.
Sami Uka, head of the family healthcare told the news portal that 70 doctors are in self-isolation while 11 tested positive with coronavirus.
2878 people have been infected in Kosovo so far, 1577 are already healed, while 51 is the number of those who succumbed to the disease. According to NIPH, all of them suffered from additional diseases.
Serbian Language Media
Vucic: I will not allow the ordered solution for Kosovo (media)
The President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic states that Belgrade is ready to continue the dialogue with Pristina, but that he will not allow anyone to order him what the solution will be, reports Serbian media.
Vucic said that Germany’s attitude towards Serbia is as rational as Serbia’s towards them.
“They emerged as the biggest winners from this crisis. I am not happy about their attitude towards Kosovo, but we have a disagreement there,” Vucic said.
He expects important visits soon concerning Kosovo. He heard solutions several times, he says, but nothing official.
As Vucic says, the Summit in Paris will happen one day, he adds that the problem is that Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence.
“That is their problem with us, and it is our problem that no one is willing to change their position on Kosovo’s independence,” Vucic said, adding that it was also a problem of America.
“We must be serious, patient and dedicated,” Vucic said.
He points out that “Pristina is not negotiating there, but the West does it on their behalf”.
Asked about the elections, Vucic said that the Government would be formed within the legal and constitutional deadline.
When asked if he is thinking about a mandate for the composition of the Government of Serbia, Vucic says that he is, but did not state the name of a person to get the mandate.
Dacic: Relations between Serbia and US positive, despite challenges (N1, Beta)
Serbia’s Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on Wednesday that the relations between Belgrade and Washington were good despite existing challenges and that Kosovo’s issue was the most important topic in the two countries political dialogue, the Beta news agency reported.
In his online lecture about Serbia – US relations within the two countries’ academy for leaders, Dacic said he saw the US as “an important partner in reaching a lasting solution”, acceptable to both Belgrade and Pristina, reiterating his country “remains open to further talks”.
“Looking at our relations, one should be realistic and admit that asymmetry has always been there. But, despite that, Serbia has shown that a small country can be an American ally and an important friend,” Dacic said.
Thus, he added, the Belgrade – Washington relations should be looked at on a broader perspective and “point out examples from our common history as the best way to change wrong perceptions we have created about each other”.
Dacic recalled that Serbia and America would mark 140 years of diplomatic relations in 2021.
See at: https://bit.ly/2YM1VOh
Germany takes over EU Presidency (Beta, N1)
Germany took over its six-month 13th Presidency over the European Union with the priority of fighting the coronavirus pandemic and economic and social recovery of Europe, the Beta news agency reported on Wednesday.
Berlin took over from Zagreb and will be a part of the so-called presidential troika with Lisbon and Ljubljana whose mandates will be in 2021.
By the beginning of 2019, the three capitals agreed to closely cooperate in coordinating their rotating presidency mandates and adopted a joint programme for the entire July 1, 2020 -December 31, 2021, period.
The programme includes ‘the continuation of the enlargement to the Western Balkans.’
The German ambassador to Serbia Thomas Schieb confirmed his country saw the issue as “very important.”
See at: https://bit.ly/3ili84X
Djukanovic: There is no solution for Kosovo without merging politics and economy (RTS)
Center for Foreign Policy Director, Dragan Djukanovic said the intention of the US was to start from less sensitive topics in resolving the Kosovo issue, such as international economic cooperation.
Speaking for RTS morning news program Djukanovic opined that diplomatic activities regarding Kosovo are accelerating, adding that Richard Grenell is preparing a new meeting of Belgrade and Pristina representatives at the White House.
“I think it could be expected soon. One of the blackmailing potentials of Pristina towards the EU is (visa) liberalization. It was also unusual that the indictment against Thaci was published preliminary, while Thaci was in a plane on his way to Washington,” Djukanovic said.
According to him any further delay of dialogue and finding a concrete solution goes in no favor to either side.
“I think the dialogue after two years would revive. Intention of the US was to start from less sensitive topics, such as international economic cooperation, removal of all the barriers. Kosovo issue in its essence was never an economic one, but rather political and without merging the politics and economy there is no solution. And this solution must be comprehensive and confirmed through the UN system”, he said.
EU to open its borders for Serbian citizens as of July 1 (Tanjug, B92)
The EU Council adopted yesterday recommendations on the gradual opening of EU borders for citizens of 14 countries as of July 1, including Serbia and Montenegro.
The recommendations are based on assessments of the epidemiological situation, which will be made every two weeks, but in the event of a sudden deterioration of the situation in a country, a “quick decision” procedure can be applied, the EU Council said in a statement.
The main criterion is that the number of new infections per 100.000 inhabitants in the last 14 days will be “close to or below the EU average” on June 15, when the average number of new infections in the EU per 100.000 inhabitants was 16.
A stable or declining trend of new infections is also required.
The third criterion refers to the overall response of each country to the epidemic, including testing, monitoring and reporting, as well as the reliability and availability of data in the third countries, and information provided by EU delegations from those countries will be taken into account.
The list also includes Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, South Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. China also meets the criteria, but it will be possible to enter the EU from that country if Beijing lifts the ban on the entry of EU citizens.
See at: https://bit.ly/3eVsXbS
Brnabic: Serbia too small to interfere with great powers (N1, FoNet)
Serbia’s outgoing Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Tuesday that Serbia is too small to interfere in relations between the great powers, FoNet news agency reports.
“We do not want to be the grass under the feet of fighting elephants. We mind our own business and try to have good relations and communication with the US, China and our strategic goal is to become part of the European Union,” she told an online debate organized by the Atlantic Alliance.
She said that the coronavirus pandemic is not going away and added that it’s important for Europe to stick together more than ever even though that is harder than ever.
Brnabic said that the EU response to the pandemic was similar to the migrant crisis with European countries approaching the problem individually. “We lacked a common migrant policy and that hit us hard as a transit country,” she said, adding that the same is true of this crisis. “We also closed our borders, tried to limit physical contact between people and that was good and things were under control but the economy was hit hard”, she said.
She recalled that Serbia set aside EUR 2.5 million for the common European effort to find a vaccine for the coronavirus.
See at: https://bit.ly/2BRpD2O
Association “Support Me” to launch petition against ban to Arlov to enter Kosovo (Radio kontakt plus)
Association of parents of children with disabilities “Support Me” from Mitrovica North will launch a petition against the ban to Milorad Arlov, president of the Committee for helping Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, from Republic of Srpska (B&H) to enter Kosovo, Radio kontakt plus reports.
“By such an act a major damage was inflicted to us as an association, because a man of great heart and a great humanitarian was directly prevented and unable to deliver the aid for the continuation of reconstruction of a daily center for all children and young people with disabilities,” the Association said in a statement.
They recalled that reconstruction of this center was a merit of Milorad Arlov, a humanitarian and benefactor from Republic of Srpska, as well as other donors from Serbia and Kosovo.
The Association stressed that they include, same as in the future center, not only children of Serb ethnicity, but also children of other ethnicities including Bosniaks, Albanians, Roma, Gorani and others.
The Association also appealed to the entire public and institutions to raise their voice against such inexplicable acts by Pristina. The signing of the petition would commence at 10.00 hrs in front of a Tsar Lazar Monument in Mitrovica North.
Pristina-based media reported last Friday that Kosovo police confirmed it did not allow Milorad Arlov to enter Kosovo. Arlov was stopped at the Jarinje crossing point.
He told the Srna news agency that police presented him with a document which noted that his entrance to Kosovo would “threaten the political, national and health situation in Kosovo”. Kosovo police later confirmed the information to Koha.
Agreement between KOSTT and ENTSO foresees licensing of Serbian operator (KoSSev)
After the Regional Group of Continental Europe (RGCE) approved an agreement between KOSTT and ENTSO-e in April, the Kosovo operator and the European Network of Operators signed the agreement yesterday, KoSSev portal reports.
One of the points of the agreement is that the company “Elektrosever” applies to the Energy Regulatory Office and obtains a license within 30 days to supply electricity to consumers in northern Kosovo.
The Transmission System and Electricity Market Operator of Kosovo (KOSTT) and the Transmission System Operator of Albania (OST) signed an agreement in December last year, with the knowledge of the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E), on the establishment of the Kosovo-Albania Energy Systems Regulatory Block.
After that in April this year, the realization of the agreement was enabled after ENTSO-E voted that the Kosovo transmission system operator KOSTT can function independently from the Serbian transmission system operator Elektromreža Srbije (EMS), and the agreement between the two sides was approved by RGCE.
With yesterday’s signing of the agreement between the executive director of KOSTT, Ilir Shala and the representative of ENTSO-e, the agreement will enter into force, and its implementation will begin in the fall, KoSSev said referring to Pristina-based Koha.
Online classes to be continued in September? (B92, Tanjug, Politika)
The Minister of Education, Mladen Sarcevic, stated that it would be fair for the Ministry to prepare for holding online classes in September
He told today’s Politika daily that this was not yet a topic at the sessions of the Crisis Staff, but that he intends to initiate it at the meeting of that body in July and to dedicate himself more actively to that issue.
“I already have elaborated plans for older elementary and high school students, there will be no problems with them. We could introduce a combined teaching regime within which they would learn part of the material from home, and only occasionally, divided into groups, come to educational institutions,” Sarcevic said.
He added that the bigger problem represent the lower grade students of elementary school (from the first to the fourth grade) because they cannot stay alone at home, which is why additional scenarios need to be prepared for them. When it comes to graduation celebrations, Sarcevic says that they are not strictly forbidden for now, but that it would be wise to suspend them and for the graduates to postpone celebrating it for at least two more weeks.
See at: https://bit.ly/2YP6vLW
DPM Rakic met French Ambassador, OMiK Head (Radio KIM)
Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Local Government Administration (MLGA) Goran Rakic met on Tuesday with French Ambassador in Pristina, Marie-Christine Butel and discussed current issues and ways to improve cooperation in the field of public administration, MLGA said in press statement, Radio KIM reports.
“In the coming period, the Ministry of Local Government Administration will be focused on strategies and projects aimed at young people, their needs and overcoming the problems they face”, Rakic said.
In a separate meeting with the Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo Ambassador Jan Braathu, Rakic and his interlocutor discussed joint strategic plan of MLGA and OSCE, activities in the domain of law enforcement, gender equality, youth issues and their employment, building of a democratic society as well as cooperation with non-governmental organizations.
They also talked about continuous attacks against the properties and Serb families in Kosovo.
“Every type of the attack, regardless of the community in question, should be publicly condemned by international organizations and institutions, and the authorities should find the perpetrators. Many thanks to the OSCE Mission and Ambassador Braathu, for constantly doing that”, Rakic noted.
Trump Administration’s Bet on Kosovo’s Thaci Fails to Pay Off (Balkan Insight)
The White House’s envoy for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue hoped to rush both countries’ leaders into a deal and score a win for Donald Trump – but the announcement of Hashim Thaci’s war crimes indictment exposed the problem with Washington’s strategy.
The planned tour de force orchestrated by Richard Grenell, the US’s special envoy for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, was scheduled for June 27 at the White House in Washington DC.
This was the day when President Hashim Thaci of Kosovo and President Aleksandar Vucic of Serbia were to meet with Grenell and other top officials to jump-start the long-stalled peace talks, and hopefully reach an agreement on economic issues as a possible prelude to a future mutual recognition agreement between the two countries.
The meeting and any resulting agreement would have been a personal triumph for Grenell, the sharp-elbowed tactician and Trump confidant who has successfully muscled his way into the centre of discussions between the two countries.
The meeting would have also allowed the Americans to upstage the Europeans, who detest Grenell and who are desperate of late to play a meaningful role, if not a leading role, in shepherding the dialogue.
While the EU has paid lip service to resumption of the talks, it has been woefully unsuccessful in advancing the cause. As a result, both Thaci and Vucic now place greater trust in the US.
Perhaps most importantly, an agreement could have been heralded by President Trump as a foreign policy achievement, something that is glaringly absent from his resume.
As he heads toward the November 3 presidential election, his poll numbers are in freefall because of his ineffective leadership during the pandemic crisis and the recent Black Lives Matter protests, and he needs all the help he can get.
See at: https://bit.ly/2BSzfdt
Kosovo’s Specialist Prosecutor begins ‘stirring the pot’ (Prishtina Insight)
After years of silence, the Specialist Prosecution Office announced last week that an unconfirmed indictment has been filed against Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and PDK leader Kadri Veseli. Prishtina Insight spoke to three legal experts to ask: why now, and was this legal?
On Monday evening, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci released a statement in which he responded to the news that an indictment for crimes against humanity and war crimes was submitted against him in April by the Specialist Prosecution Office, SPO.
“If the indictment is confirmed, I will immediately resign as your president and face the accusations,” Thaci said. “I will not face charges from the Office of the President.” He denied any criminal responsibility for war crimes.
That an unconfirmed indictment had been filed against Thaci was announced in a press statement by the SPO on June 24, the same time the president was on his way to the White House for a meeting with his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic.
With that solitary press release, the SPO broke what until now has been its trademark silence and began stirring the pot – shifting its communications strategy from zero to sixty in a single announcement. The potential political and legal consequences of the SPO’s actions could signal disaster for the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, KSC, if not in its operation, at least in its public perception.
See at: https://bit.ly/3geEnY9
Trans-Atlantic relations and the Western Balkans (moderndiplomacy.eu)
The sudden cancelation of the planned White House meeting between the Presidents of Serbia and Kosovo provides an opportunity to pause and examine where the United States and European allies can most effectively collaborate when approaching the Western Balkans.
The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announced that rather than President Donald Trump she will host the leadership from both countries in Brussels.
Regardless of venue, it is in the best interest of the United States and our European allies to consistently devote time and attention to this complex region.
Examples of Moscow and Beijing working to degrade the Western democratic values while advancing their authoritarian vision grow at alarming rates.
As the largest country in the Former Yugoslavia, Serbia is a key to a stable, secure, and peaceful Balkans. Dialogue with and, ultimately, recognition of Kosovo is a must. Washington and Brussels should regularly repeat these sentences as they will only benefit the region.
As British Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously quipped, “the Balkans produce more history than they can consume.” History is happening before our eyes and it begs the question whether Washington and Brussels are looking in the right direction.
See at: https://bit.ly/2YLrWgO
Kosovo president Hashim Thaçi vows to resign if war crimes trial goes ahead (The Guardian)
Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaçi, has promised to resign immediately if a war crimes indictment filed against him at a special court in The Hague is confirmed.
The indictment, yet to be ruled on by the pre-trial judge, was made public in dramatic fashion last week, as Thaçi was on his way to Washington for negotiations at the White House.
The indictment was for a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance, persecution and torture. It named Thaçi and one other Kosovo politician, former parliament speaker Kadri Veseli.
See at: https://bit.ly/2NNLYkc
New Times, New Hope for Balkan Whistleblowers (whistleblowersblog.org)
“Hope is the hallelujah choir behind the sermon.”
With these words, essayist Andrea Helm adds a poignant coda to the inaugural issue of The Southeast Europe Whistleblower Journal. Entitled “New Times, New Hope,” the publication commemorates the fifth anniversary of the Southeast Europe Coalition on Whistleblower Protection.
The Coalition began out of a belief and a desire: a belief that all citizens should have the freedom and the right to report crime and corruption without suffering retaliation, and the desire to put these freedoms and rights into progressive action for the common good.
Southeast Europe is a place where democracies are new, where struggles are real, where activism is invigorating and where hopes are high. The Coalition has harnessed these energies to meaningfully advance the causes of public integrity and justice.
What started as an idea in 2015 is now one of the largest grassroots activism organizations in the region. The Coalition has grown to more than 40 NGO and media members in 16 countries, coordinated by a core staff of activists in Tirana, Prague, Belgrade and Berlin.
See at: https://bit.ly/2NM73M8
Serbia’s ruling party just scored a landslide victory. Here’s why the opposition boycotted the election (The Washington Post)
Many Serbians distrust the way elections are run.
Serbia finally held its parliamentary and local elections on June 21 — they were supposed to take place on April 26 but were postponed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. After convincingly winning the 2016 legislative and 2017 presidential elections, President Aleksander Vučić’s SNS party scored an even more impressive victory with more than 63 percent of the votes. This was one of Europe’s biggest landslides, with a 53-point difference with the party that came in second, its coalition partner SPS.
With the opposition boycotting the elections, the only other list to make it into parliament is the right-wing Patriotic Alliance. Here are five reasons Serbians had so few voting alternatives in the recent elections.
See at: https://wapo.st/2VvPbcA
First joint human rights report by CSOs in Kosovo (media)
Several news outlets covered the publication of the first joint report on human rights by civil society organisations in Kosovo in 2019. Zeri covered the report under the headline “61 percent of children under 14 have experienced psychological and physical evidence”. It notes that the report offers a summary of the situation of human rights in Kosovo in 2019, including the main problems and key challenges in the implementation of human rights and also human rights violations. According to 21 NGOs that have signed the report, in the area of children rights in Kosovo there is a considerable gap between the legal framework on children protection and their rights and its implementation in practice. The report notes that over 20 percent of children in Kosovo live in poverty, while 61 percent of children under 14 have experienced psychological and physical violence.
Read full report at: ttps://unmik.unmissions.org/civil-society-report-human-rights-kosovo-2019
Serbian Government denies shortage of coronavirus tests (N1)
The Serbian Government denied media reports on Tuesday that the country’s health care system does not have enough coronavirus tests, Belgrade-based TV N1 reports.
“The Serbian Government and Crisis Staff want to inform the public that there are more than 260,000 so-called PCR tests in Serbia and that the amount of available tests is regularly increased in line with needs,” the government’s press release said.
It said that more than 400,000 tests have been done making Serbia one of the European countries that has done the largest number of coronavirus tests.
“Citizens with symptoms of respiratory infections or symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, chest pain) should first report to special (Covid) surgeries at their local medical centers where they will be diagnosed with lung x-rays, blood tests, temperature measured and a quick test. Only after that is done and in consultation with the local medical center doctors will they go to the appropriate medical institution for a free PCR test,” the statement added.