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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, July 03, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• Hoti: Ready to resume dialogue for mutual recognition (media)
• Hoti: We will not obstruct judicial mechanisms (media)
• PDK could join government after indictments (Koha)

Serbian Language Media:

• Spiric: We ask the citizens to be responsible and to adhere to the measures (Kosovo Online)
• Baralliu: Thaci’s reputation tarnished, EU does not want him as negotiator (Kosovo Online, Danas)
• Robert Weber: Germany and France will help dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, if necessary (Kosovo Online, Pobjeda)
• Why Not? (CorD)
• German envoy Schieb: Serbia’s pace to EU depends on corruption, media and rule of law (N1, Beta, EWB)
• Vejvoda: Grenell’s action awaken the EU, it became more active in connection with Kosovo (VoA, N1)

Opinion:

• Accusation Against Thaçi Is Premature Or In A Timely Manner? (eurasiaview.com)

International:

• Vucic Dismisses BIRN Report on COVID-19 Figures in Serbia (Balkan Insight)
• Dr. Alona Fisher-Kamm – An interview with Israel’s ambassador to Serbia (jpost.com)
• BCSP presents the “Serbia and Hungary – Hammering Democracy” analysis (EWB)
• Bearing Witness: Journalist’s Kosovo Massacre Evidence Helps Bring Justice (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Government confirms emergency declared in Belgrade (N1)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Hoti: Ready to resume dialogue for mutual recognition (media)
  • Hoti: We will not obstruct judicial mechanisms (media)
  • PDK could join government after indictments (Koha)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Spiric: We ask the citizens to be responsible and to adhere to the measures (Kosovo Online)
  • Baralliu: Thaci’s reputation tarnished, EU does not want him as negotiator (Kosovo Online, Danas)
  • Robert Weber: Germany and France will help dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, if necessary (Kosovo Online, Pobjeda)
  • Why Not? (CorD)
  • German envoy Schieb: Serbia’s pace to EU depends on corruption, media and rule of law (N1, Beta, EWB)
  • Vejvoda: Grenell’s action awaken the EU, it became more active in connection with Kosovo (VoA, N1)

Opinion:

  • Accusation Against Thaçi Is Premature Or In A Timely Manner? (eurasiaview.com)

International:

  • Vucic Dismisses BIRN Report on COVID-19 Figures in Serbia (Balkan Insight)
  • Alona Fisher-Kamm – An interview with Israel’s ambassador to Serbia (jpost.com)
  • BCSP presents the “Serbia and Hungary – Hammering Democracy” analysis (EWB)
  • Bearing Witness: Journalist’s Kosovo Massacre Evidence Helps Bring Justice (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development: 

  • Government confirms emergency declared in Belgrade (N1)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Hoti: Ready to resume dialogue for mutual recognition (media)

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said today that he is ready to resume the dialogue with Serbia with a sole objective: the mutual recognition between Kosovo and Serbia. 

“I am ready to meet with Mr. Grenell [US Presidential Envoy] to resume the dialogue for the mutual recognition between the two countries,” Hoti told reporters during a visit to Tirana, Albania.

Hoti also said that his government is stable and that Hashim Thaci still holds the office of President. He said that if the indictment against Thaci is confirmed and he resigns, the ruling coalition will find a solution for the country. “I cannot comment on hypothetical questions. The government is stable and the President has his mandate. If the President resigns, we will sit down and find a solution for the country,” he said.

“Kosovo has legitimate and constitutional institutions, ready to assume all responsibilities. I am willing and in coordination with Ambassador Grenell to schedule a date when we would meet together to resume the process of dialogue, initially with an economic agenda and then to move on to the political issues of dialogue.”

Hoti: We will not obstruct judicial mechanisms (media)

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said during his visit to Tirana today that Kosovo would not undertake any steps to abolish the Specialist Chambers. When asked about the upcoming protest by KLA war associations and the eventual abolition of the Specialist Chambers, Hoti said: “the right to protest is a basic right but we have also always displayed political and institutional culture in respecting our international obligations. We will do so again as requested by the mechanisms of order and justice. It is not wise to undertake any actions that obstruct the work of the judiciary”.

PDK could join government after indictments (Koha)

Citing unnamed sources, the paper reports that during his recent visit to Kosovo, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and the ruling political parties discussed the possibility of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) joining the ruling coalition whereby this party would have the right to nominate a candidate for Kosovo President and would get four ministries in the government.

“The idea is that if the indictment against Thaci is confirmed, he would resign as he has announced, and the Assembly would elect a new President who is expected to be proposed by the PDK. This party would also get at least four ministries in the Hoti-led government. This is done to avoid eventual new elections and for the government to continue its mandate when the trials at the Hague begin,” the source said.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Spiric: We ask the citizens to be responsible and to adhere to the measures (Kosovo Online)

Aleksandar Spiric, the president of the temporary body of the municipality of Kosovska Mitrovica, called on the citizens to respect the new measures adopted by the crisis headquarters in the north of Kosovo.

Spiric used the opportunity to thank the citizens for the responsibility they showed in the past period.

“Kosovska Mitrovica and its citizens have shown seriousness in the previous period, when it comes to combating the spread of Covid-19. Protecting the health of our fellow citizens is a priority for all of us and I would like to take this opportunity to call citizens to adhere to measures to combat the spread of coronavirus. I ask them to keep a physical distance, to wear masks and to avoid wider gatherings,” said Spiric.

In the previous days, the number of those who requested testing for coronavirus in the north of Kosovo increased, reported Kosovo Online.  

Baralliu: Thaci’s reputation tarnished, EU does not want him as negotiator (Kosovo Online, Danas)

From the aspect of his position, the President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, can be a legitimate negotiator in the dialogue with Serbia, but his reputation has been damaged after the indictment of the Special Court for War Crimes and he is not the representative that the EU would like to have at the negotiating table, Pristina University professor Mazllum Baraliu told portal Kosovo Online.

Baralliu says that “President Thaci’s reputation after the indictment is low and it has been announced by representatives and officials of the European Union that they want to reduce contacts with him.”

“It is obvious and logical that he is not a representative that someone would like to have in front of him in official relations and official contacts,” Baralliu said.

He stated that “it is difficult to replace the position of President Thaci in the dialogue, considering that he has proven to be a very skilled negotiator.”

“Based on last year’s Constitutional Court rulings, it was said that only the government can officially represent the country abroad, but it depends on whether there will be consensus among politicians in the government, including the opposition, to have a unified stance on dialogue,” Baralliu said.

He states that “it is obvious that the parties that are in opposition are not interested in being part of that platform, which the government is already preparing”. 

Baralliu assessed that the current position of the Government of Kosovo and the Prime Minister is not good, especially after the Court of Appeals on Wednesday refused to postpone the imprisonment of MP Etem Arifi.

“So now the government has 60 deputies and is even more sensitive and vulnerable and will not have the minimum vote to push some laws and decisions that are very important and concern the ratification of international treaties, which are very important for the country,” Baralliu said.

He adds that it could very easily happen that the government falls, because there is no majority in the Assembly.

“I hope that common sense will prevail and that the opposition parties will not make the same mistake, as they did before and overthrown the government in the midst of a pandemic.” 

“Elections are inevitable, but now everything depends on the reason and rationality of the opposition political parties,” Baralliu told portal Kosovo Online.

Robert Weber: Germany and France will help dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, if necessary (Kosovo Online, Pobjeda)

Germany took over the presidency of the EU Council on July 1, and together with France, it is ready to help the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, if necessary, German Ambassador to Podgorica Robert Weber said, reports news agency Tanjug.

“EU Special Representative for Dialogue Belgrade – Pristina and other regional issues in the Western Balkans, Miroslav Lajcak announced that the EU-sponsored dialogue will officially resume in July. We explicitly support the Special Representative in this and together with France we are ready to offer assistance if necessary,” Weber told Podgorica’s daily Pobjeda.

He pointed out that EU enlargement and the Western Balkans are one of the priorities of the German presidency of the EU Council.

“We want to finalize the negotiating framework and start accession negotiations with Northern Macedonia, as well as with Albania, when it meets the necessary conditions,” Weber said.

Why Not? (CorD)

“From my perspective, it’s entirely realistic to think that building stronger economic cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo is an achievable goal that will quickly bring concrete results.  It would build trust and lead to improved cooperation in other areas.  Perhaps real reconciliation between Belgrade and Pristina is within our grasp.  There is no reason to delay,” Anthony Godfrey  

When asked what current bilateral relations between the United States and Serbia are like, the American ambassador answers succinctly: excellent! Equally concisely, Ambassador Anthony Godfrey poses a counter-question “why not?” in response to our question as to whether an idea exists for reaching a solution for Kosovo soon? In this interview for CorD Magazine, Ambassador Godfrey says that Washington’s policy towards the region will not change, regardless of who will be elected president of the United States in November. Early July sees Americans celebrate their Independence Day, and this year the whole of Serbia was invited to the celebration – a virtual celebration during the time of the Coronavirus marking the 244th anniversary of American independence.

Read the full interview at:  https://bit.ly/3eUOK3a

German envoy Schieb: Serbia’s pace to EU depends on corruption, media and rule of law (N1, Beta, EWB)

Thomas Schieb, the German ambassador to Belgrade, said Serbia’s pace on the road to the European Union would depend on fighting corruption, media freedom and the rule of law, the FoNet news agency reported on Friday.

Germany took over the EU six-month presidency on July 1,

Scheib’s statement was the first coming from an EU country which did not single out the normalisation of Belgrade – Pristina dialogue as the main condition for the country’s negotiations with the bloc.

Earlier, the other conditions have been discussed, but the relations between the two capitals were seen as the major issue. 

In an interview with the European Western Balkans (EWB) website, he mentioned the dialogue but emphasised the fight against corruption, freedom of media and the rule of law.”We are ready to help as much as possible. The pace of the accession negotiations is based on those reforms, “Scheib said.

Regarding Kosovo, he said he was convinced that Belgrade and Pristina would take the “advantage of the momentum and together with the EU special envoy Miroslav Lajčák start solving the controversial issues still on the agenda.”

“I appreciate our American colleagues initiative to improve economic relations (between Belgrade and Pristina), and also the Brussels’ efforts to create an atmosphere for achieving the normalisation of relations,” Schieb said.

According to him, Germany strongly supports the EU perspective for the entire Western Balkans and their reforms that would prepare them for the full membership.

He added the enlargement would remain on top of Berlin’s presidency and that he hoped an improvement in negotiations with Skopje and Tirana would happen soon.

“I’m convinced that accession talks with Serbia will also improve during our presidency. I encourage all relevant players in Serbia to courageously take up reforms which Belgrade committed itself to in the accession process,” Schieb said.

He added that “as a country which is negotiating the EU membership, Serbia should share the key European values and adjust its foreign policy with that of the bloc.”  

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

Vejvoda: Grenell’s action awaken the EU, it became more active in connection with Kosovo (VoA, N1)

A senior associate at the Institute of Social Sciences in Vienna, Ivan Vejvoda said in an interview with the Voice of America that the departure of Kosovo President Hashim Thaci from the dialogue with Belgrade would not be an obstacle for the dialogue’s continuation.

He assessed that the changes in the dialogue refer to the European Union, because after the activities of the special representative of the President of the USA for the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Richard Grenell and the EU “has awakened and become much more active”.

“What Ambassador (Richard) Grenell has encouraged and what is really happening has led to Europe waking up and suddenly becoming much more active, given that it organized meetings in Brussels few days ago  and everyone says there will be a meeting soon in Paris, in the format of Berlin’s meeting, where the hosts were Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron,” Vejvoda said for the VoA. 

Asked whether the cooperation between the USA and the EU on the issue of Kosovo is necessary, Vejvoda pointed out that it must be a joint initiative, i.e. a joint process.

“It will not work without the United States, given its role in the last 30 years in this region,” said Vejvoda.

He added that the United States, with its influence in international financial institutions, can help create a significant economic and financial package that would help when an agreement is reached to boost development in Serbia and Kosovo, while Europe can help boost regional economic cooperation.

 

Opinion

 

Accusation Against Thaçi Is Premature Or In A Timely Manner? (eurasiaview.com)

Only just a few days before the well-planned Kosovo and Serbia summit in the White House, mediated by Richard A. Grenell, the Special Prosecutor for Kosovo made public the indictment against President Hashim Thaçi and Democratic Party Chairman Kadri Veseli. They both are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with the murder of 100 Serbs, Albanians, political opponents, and members of Roma community between 1998 and the beginning of 2000.  

The Special Prosecutor presented the indictment folder to the Special Court judge on April 24th, 2020. According to the criminal procedure, the judge examines the file within 6 months, at which time he either confirms the charges of Thaçi and Veseli or returns it for a follow-up, expanding and completing the investigation again in the Special Prosecutor’s office. According to the procedure, in this 6-months period, the names of the accused defendants remain confidential. Meanwhile, the Special Prosecutor and his information office made public the indictment almost two months after the submission, four months before the trial date and only two days before the White House summit between Kosovo and Serbia.

See at:https://bit.ly/2Bqi2bF

 

 

 International

 

Vucic Dismisses BIRN Report on COVID-19 Figures in Serbia (Balkan Insight)

Aleksandar Vucic said BIRN report on the real number of COVID-19 victims in Serbia relies on data that are ‘not authentic’ – and again attacked the outlet over its 2015 investigation into the Tamnava mine clearance.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Thursday criticised the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, over its recent investigation into the number of COVID-19 victims in Serbia, saying the report, published on June 22, used data that was not authentic.

The report said the state COVID-19 database showed that more than twice as many infected patients had died than the authorities announced and that hundreds more people had tested positive for the virus in recent days than was admitted.

See at: https://bit.ly/31Nj63M

Dr. Alona Fisher-Kamm – An interview with Israel’s ambassador to Serbia (jpost.com)

In a wide-ranging interview with the Magazine, Fisher-Kamm discussed a variety of topics such as Zionism’s roots in Serbia, Holocaust remembrance, global antisemitism and the issue of Kosovo.

In a few weeks from now, Dr. Alona Fisher-Kamm, Israel’s envoy to Serbia, will pack her belongings and make her way back to Jerusalem, completing what by all accounts has been an exceptionally successful stint in Belgrade. During her term, bilateral relations between the two countries have blossomed, boosting trade, tourism, mutual understanding and friendship to new and unprecedented levels. With its strategic location in the Balkans, close ties to both East and West, and a strong historical affinity for Jews and Israel, Serbia has been drawing ever-more attention from Israel’s foreign-policy decision-makers.

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

BCSP presents the “Serbia and Hungary – Hammering Democracy” analysis (EWB)

BELGRADE – Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) published the “Serbia and Hungary – Hammering Democracy” analysis about their political and economic cooperation, but also their common characteristics.

The document points out that Hungary is currently Serbia’s closest international partner, as well as that bilateral relations between the two countries are no longer marred by any disputes and their political and economic interests increasingly coincide.

“The values underpinning the administrations of both countries have converged to such an extent that a similar modus operandi is evident in their attitudes to issues such as democracy, the rule of law, institutions, foreign policy priorities, political opposition, the media, non-governmental organisations and the migrant crisis”, BCSP states.

See at: https://bit.ly/3f8aqZC

BCSP report available at: https://bit.ly/3gqhNfc

Bearing Witness: Journalist’s Kosovo Massacre Evidence Helps Bring Justice (Balkan Insight)

British journalist John Sweeney found evidence about a massacre in Kosovo in 1999 that was used at the trial of senior Serb officials – then two decades after the war, his testimony helped convict another man of dumping the bodies.

When a court in the Kosovo town of Prizren convicted former Serbian reservist policeman Darko Tasic of war crimes last month for his involvement in the massacre of more than 100 ethnic Albanians in the village of Krushe e Vogel/Mala Krusha in March 1999, one of the people who felt a sense of satisfaction was British investigative journalist John Sweeney.

See at: https://bit.ly/3ip8xdf

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Government confirms emergency declared in Belgrade (N1)

Serbia’s Government confirmed new stricter measures in Belgarde after Mayor Zoran Radojcic declared the emergency situation in the capital to cope with the worsening situation with the coronavirus epidemic, N1 reported.

The Government of Serbia confirmed new stricter measures to cope with the coronavirus in Belgrade and said those who disobey them would have to pay 42.5 Euro (5,000 Dinars) fine.

The measures include the ban on more than 100 people in closed space with mandatory face masks and physical distance and not more than 500 outdoor.

The night clubs will be closed from 11 pm to 6 am, while people without face masks in public transport will be sanctioned.

Radojicic told the state RTS TV it was not necessary to quarantine Belgrade due to the current epidemic situation.

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

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