Albanian Language Media:
- Covid-19: Hospital and University Clinic director dismissed (media)
- Thaci: Danger of coronavirus pandemic still high (media)
- Zemaj warns of legal sanctions for not respecting Covid-19 measures (media)
- Stjernvall: Pristina a ‘party town’ as Covid-19 cases spike (media)
- EU confirms Paris summit, Hoti-Vucic meeting (media)
- CDHRF: Talks with Serbia to be suspended (Zeri)
Serbian Language Media:
- The dialogue continues, Hoti and Vucic on July 12 in Brussels (N1)
- Serbia-Kosovo summit on Friday, Merkel and Macron hosts (Blic)
- Vucic with Macron on Thursday in Paris (Kosovo Online, Tanjug)
- John Bolton publicly presented the deal (Danas)
- Antonijevic: 60 people tested today, 300 by Friday (Radio Mitrovica Sever)
- “Epidemiological situation in the municipality of Gracanica under control” (KIM radio)
- Serbian election commission says less than half of electorate voted (N1)
- Another theft in Priluzje: A cultivator with a rotary tiller stolen from farmer (KoSSev)
- Turkey in the Balkans: A march westward (moderndiplomacy.eu)
- Serbia, Kosovo leaders to meet as EU-backed talks resume (AP)
- Kosovo Confronts ‘New Situation’ After Record Daily Deaths From COVID-19 (RFE)
- Kosovo Politician Threatens BIRN Country Director (Balkan Insight)
- Balkan States Find Prosecuting Terrorism a Challenge (Balkan Insight)
- BIRN editor says many more COVID-19 deaths than officially reported (N1)
Albanian Language Media
Covid-19: Hospital and University Clinic director dismissed (media)
Several online media outlets are reporting that Basri Sejdiu, director of the Hospital and University Clinical Service of Kosovo (SHSKUK), has been dismissed following the recent fatalities from the coronavirus.
The Board of the Hospital and University Clinical Service of Kosovo said that Sejdiu’s dismissal follows the findings of an Internal Audit on numerous violations, mismanagement and poor performance.
The Kosovo Patients Rights Association had called for Sejdiu’s dismissal on Sunday saying the situation with COVID – 19 is getting out of control.
Thaci: Danger of coronavirus pandemic still high (media)
President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci extended condolences to the families of coronavirus victims saying that “the increase of the number of deaths in recent days is an indicator that the danger from the Covid-19 pandemic is still high.”
“Citizens of Kosovo need to demonstrate a high level of caution and strictly adhere to recommendations of the National Health Institute and the institutions of Kosovo so that we overcome this global challenge in the easiest way possible,” Thaci wrote on Facebook.
Zemaj warns of legal sanctions for not respecting Covid-19 measures (media)
In the wake of new measures against coronavirus, Kosovo’s Minister of Health Armend Zemaj said that those not respecting them will face legal sanctions.
He said that the Ministry of Health has prepared an action plan for immediate implementation of Covid-19 testing procedures and that they will increase capacity to help health facilities treat patients with Covid-19. “Health personnel will be reorganised and increased, medical staff will be mobilised at a country level,” Zemaj wrote on social media.
Stjernvall: Pristina a ‘party town’ as Covid-19 cases spike (media)
Finnish Ambassador Pia Stjernvall commented on the recent record rise of coronavirus cases in Kosovo calling on people to exercise caution.
Stjernvall tweeted: “Yesterday I passed by #Pristina city and it was really a party town. #corona numbers are growing fast and no one seemed to be caring! Be careful, please, if not for you, but for you parents, grand parents, sick relatives etc. Thank you and respect for the first responders!!!”
EU confirms Paris summit, Hoti-Vucic meeting (media)
A virtual summit between Kosovo and Serbia will take place on July 10 under the facilitation of the French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Koha reports.
It adds that two days later, on July 12, Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti and President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic are expected to meet in Brussels in what will be regarded as the official resumption of dialogue for normalisation of relations.
EU spokesperson Peter Stano officially confirmed the meeting in Brussels in a tweet. “Belgrade Pristina Dialogue will resume on July 12 in Brussels with @JosepBorrellF @MiroslavLajcak @Avdullah @avucic to take forward work on comprehensive deal on normalisation of Kosovo Serbia relations,” he wrote.
CDHRF: Talks with Serbia to be suspended (Zeri)
The Kosovo-based Council for Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms (CDHRF) issued a statement calling for suspension of Kosovo-Serbia dialogue following the Specialist Prosecutor’s indictment against Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli.
“It is clear that certain decision makers at the global level were not interested in continuing talks in the previous composition,” CDHRF said.
It added that the Specialist Chambers move to announce the accusations against Thaci and Veseli was political and not legal in nature and that its purpose was the continuation of dialogue whereby Kosovo would be on an unequal footing as Serbia. “It is good that Prime Minister Hoti will not go to Washington and it would be good if he didn’t go to Paris either because, with a crippled negotiating team, he would lack credibility and would have no right to take any major decisions or even discuss them,” CDHRF said.
CDHRF said that Kosovo needs to either build a broad-based government or head to fresh elections: “Prime Minister Hoti needs to free himself from the enthusiasm of the moment and face the reality that he cannot do anything without the opposition.”
Serbian Language Media
The dialogue continues, Hoti and Vucic on July 12 in Brussels (N1)
The dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina under the auspices of the European Union will continue Sunday, July 12, the European Commission announced.
Belgrade will be represented by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, and Kosovo by Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti.
The meeting is being organized by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell and will be chaired by Special Representative for Dialogue and Other Issues in the Western Balkans Miroslav Lajcak.
“At that meeting, negotiations and work on reaching a comprehensive and legally binding agreement on the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina and resolving all unresolved issues will continue,” said Peter Stano, spokesman for the European Commission’s foreign affairs service.
The meeting will be held after the “Paris Summit”, scheduled for two days earlier, on Friday, July 10.
Although there was an idea for French President Emanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to bring representatives of the two sides to the same table, the meeting will still be held virtually.
“This is a logical sequence of events. Everything we do as the EU or as member states, we do with the goal of restarting the dialogue,” Stano added. He added that the EU will be represented at the summit by Josep Borrell.
The regional broadcaster N1 reports that the European Commission announced today that the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Avdullah Hoti, and the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, will meet on Sunday, July 12.
Serbia-Kosovo summit on Friday, Merkel and Macron hosts (Blic)
French President Emanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will organize a summit on July 10, in which representatives of Serbia and Kosovo will attend via video conference, AFP reports, Belgrade based daily Blic quoted.
The German Foreign Ministry told Belgrade based daily Blic that re-establishment of a political dialogue mediated by the European Union should happen without delay between Belgrade and Pristina, and other regional issues in the Western Balkans.
At the same time, German Foreign Ministry said that the Special Chambers of Kosovo enjoys the full support of the Federal Government of Germany, but also that the international community, including Germany, clearly expected Kosovo to respect that commitment and support the work of the institution.
The summit was announced back in March but was not held due to the situation with the coronavirus, recalls daily Blic.
Vucic with Macron on Thursday in Paris (Kosovo Online, Tanjug)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will meet with French President Emanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday, it was confirmed to Tanjug from President Vucic’s cabinet.
It will be the first in a series of meetings of President Vucic, since a video summit on the Kosovo issue is scheduled for the next day, on Friday, organized by Paris and Berlin, and on Sunday, as already reported, the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina was scheduled in Brussels.
Vucic and Macron will talk behind closed doors, and the topics of conversation in the Elysee Palace are, in addition to Kosovo, the European integration of Serbia, as well as bilateral relations between the two countries.
John Bolton publicly presented the deal (Danas)
”To expose the whole background, the actors of that tendency, the exchange of territories between Serbia and Kosovo, that has been negotiated upon by the presidents of Serbia and Kosovo, Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci, were the East-West Institute from New York, former US Ambassador to Belgrade Cameron Munter, Alec Soros – Junior, Wolfgang Petritsch, former EU Special Representative for Kosovo, Ivan Krastev, analyst, Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, and from the domestic stage – Sonja Liht, president of the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, Ivan Vejvoda, senior associate at the Institute for Social Sciences in Vienna, and Jelena Milic, director of CEAS, as well as many others,” president of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights Sonja Biserko told Belgrade based daily Danas in her reply to the question to comment the statement of the former advisor to the American president for national security, John Bolton, that the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo discussed the possibility of exchanging territories in 2018, as a solution to the Kosovo issue, despite public denials by President Vucic.
The whole endeavor, adds Biserko, circulated in the public as a plan for “correction of borders”. According to Biserko, many maps were circulating, but no one came out with a specific proposal in public. The Austrian government organized a conversation on that topic, Biserko reminds, at the Alpbach forum, at which the “changes in the borders” of Kosovo and Serbia were officially discussed for the first time.
– John Bolton did not reveal anything that was not already known. It is good that he, as a part of that deal, presented it publicly. There is no more speculation. Because the whole attempt of that division was not transparent, so it was the subject of various speculations and denials. As a reminder, in addition to the Brussels dialogue, which was to be crowned with an agreement on the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, it turned out that there were other channels of dialogue in some international centers, where Kosovo and Serbian negotiators secretly discussed modalities for a final, comprehensive , a political agreement. In his author’s text for the Washington Post, from 2018, Carl Bildt pointed out that Serbian and Albanian political leaders are agreeing on the possibility of exchanging territories, which, as he commented at the time, is a recipe for geopolitical instability. That idea has always been the only option for Belgrade, however, on this occasion, it also attracted the attention of the leading Albanian circles, not only in Kosovo but also in Albania – Biserko points out.
According to her, the idea of “correcting the borders” was prevented by Germany. That idea, without German support, simply cannot be realized. Germany bases Belgrade’s dialogue with
Pristina on the perspective of Serbia’s EU membership. The importance of Germany in the Balkans is huge, which is ignored by both Thaci and Vucic, concludes Sonja Biserko.
According to Goran Miletic, director of the Europe – Civil Rights Defenders, John Bolton’s statement is not a surprise for anyone, especially not in Serbia, because government officials have proposed this model as the essence of the solution for the last ten years and it is in line with the president’s idea that “Serbia must get something.”
– However, such a solution is extremely irresponsible because it would mean instability not only for Serbia and Kosovo, but for many other regions in the world. That is why it is surprising that the American administration encouraged these talks, if the statement is correct – says Miletic.
Dr. Antonijevic: 60 people tested today, 300 by Friday (Radio Mitrovica Sever)
Sixty patients with symptoms of respiratory infections were tested today at the Public Health Institute in Kosovska Mitrovica, epidemiology specialist Dr. Aleksandar Antonijevic confirmed for Radio Mitrovica Sever.
According to the radio, as of today, the samples will be processed by the laboratory of the Veterinary Institute in Kraljevo, which will speed up the process of waiting for the results.
The radio reports that 60 samples from North Mitrovica are analyzed every day, which means that 300 people with symptoms will be tested on a weekly basis.
“That is quite enough for the territory we cover, so there will be no triage, but everyone with symptoms who report to the Covid outpatient clinics of the Health Centers will be tested,” said Antonijevic, adding that the number of patients has increased.
The clinical picture and suspicion of respiratory infections are the only conditions, he added.
The Institute of Public Health says that the previous practice shows that the results of the samples will be known the day after the testing, which is very important since the epidemiological picture in the Serbian areas in Kosovo will be known more precisely by Friday.
The results of 50 samples that were sent to the laboratory in Belgrade on Saturday have not arrived yet and are expected according to the announcements of this laboratory today after 1 pm, said Antonijevic.
So far, 43 infected have been confirmed in Serbian communities in Kosovo, of which 39 are in the north.
“Epidemiological situation in the municipality of Gracanica under control” (KIM radio)
According to the director of the hospital in Gracanica, prof. Dr. Bratislav Lazic, on the territory of the municipality of Gracanica, four people were infected with the coronavirus, and three more patients with very clear clinical symptoms that indicate Covid-19 infection are under health supervision, reports KIM radio.
“Tests have been done and only after the results will we be able to say whether it’s a coronavirus infection. Until then, considering the clinical symptomatology, the patients have treatment as if we already know that these are confirmed cases, and accordingly, the families and contacts of those patients have been placed in self-isolation,” said Lazic.
The directors of the health institutions informed Gracanica mayor Srdjan Popovic that these institutions had taken all measures with the aim of detecting possible suspicious cases in order to prevent the appearance and spread of the disease caused by the new Covid-19 virus.
The Municipality of Gracanica also took measures.
“We are intensively monitoring the situation and we have taken measures in accordance with that.”
”The inspection is constantly in the field, talking to the owners of restaurants and shops, and everyone’s attention has been drawn to the mandatory wearing of masks indoors, that physical distance is necessary, as well as enhanced personal hygiene,” said Popovic.
Due to the current epidemiological situation, the Municipality of Gracanica is limiting its work with the parties, KIM radio reports.
According to the instructions on reducing the number of workers in public administration bodies, the administration of the Municipality of Gracanica will work with the parties from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM.
“Parties will be received individually, in order to avoid crowds and reduce the possibility of transmitting the infection. When entering the building of the Municipality of Gracanica, it is obligatory to wear masks and maintain physical distance,” the municipality states.
Serbian election commission says less than half of electorate voted (N1)
The Serbian central election commission (RIK) released official results for the June 21 parliamentary elections which showed that less than 50 percent of the electorate turned out to vote.
The RIK said that a total of 6,584,376 adult Serbian citizens are registered to vote and that 3,221,908 votes were cast at 8,433 polling stations on June 21 and the repeated vote at some polling stations on July 1. According to those figures, a total of 48.9% of the electorate turned out to vote.
A statement said that the final report on the election results was adopted on July 5 and added that seven parties and coalitions won seats in parliament. It specified that three coalitions crossed the three percent threshold and that four minority parties and coalitions won guaranteed seats.
See at: https://bit.ly/3gsb5FN
Another theft in Priluzje: A cultivator with a rotary tiller stolen from farmer (KoSSev)
A cultivator with a rotary tiller belonging to Zoran Aritonovic from the village of Priluzje was stolen last night. The police are investigating the theft. Thefts in this Serb-majority village in the municipality of Vucitrn are an everyday occurrence. The Ministry of Communities and Returns warned the international institutions and the police of this long-standing problem while describing the situation as alarming.
”They opened the door of the courtyard last night and took the 509 motor cultivator with a hoe. It was located 50 meters from the gate,” Aritonovic told KoSSev.
”Thefts are very frequent. They occur every day, every night. A plow was stolen from a relative the day before, the theft was caught on camera but the police are not doing anything,” Aritonovic also said.
He added that due to ongoing robberies from households in Priluzje for many years, its inhabitants gave up raising livestock, as livestock, in addition to agricultural machines, were also frequently stolen.
”Every household raised cows and all of them were stolen. Thefts occurred even before the war,” he stressed.
Aritonovic stated that he is making his living thanks to agriculture and that this caused great harm to his home where he lives with his wife and two children. ”I made my living by using that machine.”
The Kosovo police investigated and classified it as theft. This is the only information the KoSSev portal managed to learn in telephone conversations with the police station in Priluzje, and the commander of the South Mitrovica region, Avni Zahiti.
Ministry of Communities and Returns: Alarming situation, we are doing everything we can
The spokesman of the Kosovo Ministry for Returns and Communities, Uros Staletovic told KoSSev that this ministry is aware of incidents both in returnee areas and in farms in Serb-majority areas and other minority communities throughout Kosovo.
”The ministry and Minister Jevtic himself are in constant communication with KFOR and the Kosovo Police. He had meetings with an OSCE official and asked for an urgent reaction to all incidents and protection of Serbs because the situation is alarming,” Staletovic said.
He confirmed that after these alerts, KFOR had increased its presence in certain villages, such as the village of Novake, and that the OSCE had promised to increase surveillance of places where thefts and other incidents frequently occur.
The ministry’s spokesman also revealed that the ministry holds regular meetings regarding incidents and thefts. The ministry also asked the Kosovo Police to report regularly on the progress of the investigations.
Staletovic explained, however, that for many years now, due to the lack of trust in the local police, the injured parties report the incidents directly to the Ministry of Communities and Returns.
Turkey in the Balkans: A march westward (moderndiplomacy.eu)
The Balkan Region is becoming attractive for a wide spectrum of foreign players – from Beijing to Washington, and from Brussels to Riyadh. Also, it presents considerable interest for Ankara.
For Turkey, the Balkan Region is important historically, culturally, politically and economically, playing the role of a “bridge” into Europe. In addition, the Turkic-Islamic foreign policy paradigm stimulates Ankara into action: nearly 17 million or more than one third of the population of Turkey are Muslims, while Recep Tayyip Erdogan is positioning himself as the main “advocate” of Islamic world. Significantly, his authority as a patron of the Balkan umma is on the rise.
Muslims make up the majority of the population in Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sanjak (in Serbia), in Macedonia and Montenegro the proportion of Muslims is 33% and 17% accordingly. Moreover, the peninsula is home to some 1.5 million Balkan Turks, even despite the fact that many of them emigrated to Turkey and that Turkey and Greece carried out an exchange of population after the Second World War.
Ankara began to demonstrate an ever increasing interest in the Balkan Region after the disintegration of Yugoslavia, but what gave the Balkan direction a new impetus was the arrival in 2009 of Ahmet Davutoglu, who announced that Turkey would assume the role of mediator between the EU and countries of the region, thereby contributing to rapprochement and integration of the latter into Euro-Atlantic structures.
Since then the Turkish-Balkan foreign economic ties and military and political cooperation have demonstrated progressive growth. Countries of the region have become involved in NATO programs and have reformed their armed forces in accordance with NATO standards. Since 1995 Ankara has been taking part in all NATO operations in the Balkans and has dispatched its servicemen to serve with international security forces in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. And it has no intention to stop – Turkish military schools provide classes in Serbian, Croatian and Albanian.
In recent years many experts have noticed Turkey’s “soft force”, and the Balkan Region is no exception. The Balkans have become a venue for dozens of educational, healthcare and cultural projects, with Turkey financing humanitarian campaigns and investing hefty sums in educational and medical projects, and in infrastructural and energy facilities. Under development is a plan to publish history textbooks in tandem with Albania, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to the Internet edition Balkan Insight, the popularity of Turkish soap operas in the Balkans boosts Turkey’s authority, simultaneously making it possible for Turkey to “re-write history”.
See at: https://bit.ly/2BxLfl1
Serbia, Kosovo leaders to meet as EU-backed talks resume (AP)
The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo will hold talks in Brussels on July 12, the first meeting between the two in long-stalled European Union-supervised negotiations aimed at normalizing relations, European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said Monday.
Sunday’s meeting between Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, which will be the first in this format since November 2018, will be hosted by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
Kosovo Confronts ‘New Situation’ After Record Daily Deaths From COVID-19 (RFE)
Authorities in Kosovo have announced restrictions on movement in the capital, Pristina, and three other cities after a dramatic increase in both new cases of coronavirus infections and deaths in the country.
Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said July 5 that the country is dealing with a “new situation” and therefore will restrict movement from 9 p.m. (2000 GMT) to 5 a.m. in Pristina as well as Ferizaj, Vushtrri, and Prizren. The restrictions will take effect on July 6, he said on Facebook.
Kosovo Politician Threatens BIRN Country Director (Balkan Insight)
Kosovo politician Gani Koci has threatened several public figures on Facebook, including BIRN Kosovo director Jeta Xharra, calling them malodorous ‘Serbian septic tanks’ that need to be ‘covered in concrete’.
A former deputy minister from the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, Gani Koci, on Friday threatened several politicians and journalists on Facebook, including BIRN Kosovo director Jeta Xharra, saying they should be covered over with concrete because they are “Serbian septic tanks”.
“The time has come not to disinfect but to cover with concrete the Serbian septic tanks still left in Kosovo. They are releasing a lot of odour!” Koci wrote on Facebook, sharing photos of several public figures.
See at: https://bit.ly/3izaqEl
Balkan States Find Prosecuting Terrorism a Challenge (Balkan Insight)
Evidence in terrorism cases is proving difficult to find, while experts warn that the reintegration and rehabilitation of foreign fighters is an even greater challenge.
Since the mid-1990s, more than 200 people have been sentenced to more than 1,100 years in prison in six Western Balkans countries for terrorist acts, or for leaving to fight in a foreign war, according to BIRN analysis.
But their record of sentencing is uneven, and experts interviewed by BIRN say each country faces significant challenges in dealing with foreign fighters and their families who have returned, or are expected to return.
See at: https://bit.ly/2C4aivL
BIRN editor says many more COVID-19 deaths than officially reported (N1)
The editor of a Serbian investigative news portal said that the officially released figures for coronavirus-related deaths is far below the number in the Public Health Institute’s data base.
BIRN Editor Milorad Ivanovic said that 1,080 people have been entered into the state-administered COVID-19 data base at the Batut Public Health Institute adding that BIRN reported 632 as the lowest number of deaths that its journalists determined were certainly coronavirus-related. The official figure for COVID-19 deaths released on Sunday by the Serbian Health Ministry is 311.
Speaking on the Impression of the Week talk show on Nova TV, Ivanovic said that BIRN reported that figure because the data for those COVID-19 patients was complete and added that the data for the other deaths entered into the data base was incomplete. “Those others had one negative coronavirus test, the data was not clear or has been lost in the meantime,” he said.
Ivanovic explained that the data in the state-administered data base is gathered from all COVID hospitals and medical facilities every day to keep track of the pandemic, including data on deaths. He said BIRN did not contact Prime Minister Ana Brnabic to get confirmation for the data but did contact her cabinet official in charge of the data base, Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar, epidemiologist Predrag Kon and the Public Health Institute CEO as well as others who knew about the data base.
He said that the Public Health Institute, Health Insurance Fund (RFZO), Health Ministry and government had access to the data every day an hour before it was published on the Health Ministry’s COVID19.rs web site. He said that some of the doctors on the government’s pandemic Crisis Staff did not have access to the data base. “The figures were lowered for some reason and there’s a pattern to who that was done. The Public Health Institute drafted a report for the government from the data base every day at 2:00 pm,” Ivanovic said.
The COVID19.rs web site publishes new data for the previous 24 hours every day at 3:00 pm.
“The Batut data base said that 38 people died on April 13 and we were told that just six died that day,” Ivanovic said. “We just want an explanation of why this was done,” he said.
See at: https://bit.ly/2VRXf7A