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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, July 07, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• Except for Hoti and Vucic, Merkel and Macron invite EU’s Borell as well (Express)
• Kosovo’s FM discusses with Germany’s EM Heiko Maas (media)
• CDHRF requests urgent voting of Covid-19 law (RTK)
• LVV accuses Hoti’s government for failing to manage Covid-19 situation (RTK)
• Judah: I was wrong, it seems dialogue can make it without Thaçi (media)
• War veterans change protest plan (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Apostolova: Current status quo in Kosovo is unsustainable (Jedinstvo, Kosovo Online, Tanjug, Blic)
• Dr. Antonijevic: We’re waiting for the results of 111 samples, some of which we have been waiting for 6 days (KoSSev)
• Covic: International community like ‘Vienna Boys’ Choir’ (RTS)
• Jevtic and Rakic about improved conditions for the return of the displaced (Radio Mitrovica Sever)
• UNESCO official says Serbia imposed pandemic measures to strengthen authorities (N1)

Opinion:

• Kosovo: a hasty rotation of power (EWB)

International:

• US soldier killed in noncombat incident in Kosovo (The Hill)
• France, Germany seek to unfreeze stalled Kosovo-Serbia talks (EURACTIV)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Conspiratorial Corona: Hoaxes and Conspiracy Theories in the Balkans (Balkan Insight)
• Novi Pazar is the biggest hotspot of COVID-19 in Serbia (EWB)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Except for Hoti and Vucic, Merkel and Macron invite EU’s Borell as well (Express) 
  • Kosovo’s FM discusses with Germany’s EM Heiko Maas (media)
  • CDHRF requests urgent voting of Covid-19 law (RTK)
  • LVV accuses Hoti’s government for failing to manage Covid-19 situation (RTK)
  • Judah: I was wrong, it seems dialogue can make it without Thaçi (media)
  • War veterans change protest plan (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Apostolova: Current status quo in Kosovo is unsustainable (Jedinstvo, Kosovo Online, Tanjug, Blic)
  • Dr. Antonijevic: We’re waiting for the results of 111 samples, some of which we have been waiting for 6 days (KoSSev)
  • Covic: International community like ‘Vienna Boys’ Choir’ (RTS)
  • Jevtic and Rakic about improved conditions for the return of the displaced (Radio Mitrovica Sever)
  • UNESCO official says Serbia imposed pandemic measures to strengthen authorities (N1)

Opinion:

  • Kosovo: a hasty rotation of power (EWB)

International:

  • US soldier killed in noncombat incident in Kosovo (The Hill)
  • France, Germany seek to unfreeze stalled Kosovo-Serbia talks (EURACTIV)

Humanitarian/Development: 

  • Conspiratorial Corona: Hoaxes and Conspiracy Theories in the Balkans (Balkan Insight)
  • Novi Pazar is the biggest hotspot of COVID-19 in Serbia (EWB)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Except for Hoti and Vucic, Merkel and Macron invite EU’s Borell as well (Express) 

The President of France Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, have restarted their engagement on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue. Several meetings between Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic, are set to take place this week in Paris and Brussels.

Macron and Merkel are to lead and mediate the virtual summit on Kosovo-Serbia discussions on 10 July. The EU High Representative is also expected to participate at this video-conference.

The French party informed that prior to this summit, PM Hoti and President Vucic will hold separate meetings with the President of France, Emmanuel Macron.

After the Paris Summit, Hoti and Vucic will resume with their discussions in Brussels, on 12 July. This meeting will be mediated by EU’s Special Envoy, Miroslav Lajcak. 

Kosovo’s FM discusses with Germany’s EM Heiko Maas (media)

Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj Stublla held today a telephone conversation with the Foreign Minister of Germany, Heiko Maas. Haradinaj wrote on her Twitter account that Germany’s principled stance was decisive in ruling out dangerous border change ideas in the Balkans. 

“Expr. profound gratefulness to @HeikoMaas & Germany for continuous support & ensured #Kosovo is #Germany’s credible partner in the EU-Atlantic path. VisaLib remains a high expectation” she continued.

CDHRF requests urgent voting of Covid-19 law (RTK)

Council for Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms (CDHRF) made a public call to the PMs of the Assembly of Kosovo to vote the anti-Covid-19 law despite the respective political parties that they represent, saying that this is the prime time to act in benefit of the citizens. 

“If the anti-Covid-19 law was voted in time, we would have today a legal basis that would make the war against the pandemics more efficient, and consequences would have been smaller. It is incomprehensible to CDHRF that the government is waiting for the latest day of 11 July instead of acting urgently and in accordance with the created situation where the lives of the citizens of Kosovo are being seriously endangered, with grave consequences,” is written in their reaction. 

LVV accuses Hoti’s government for failing to manage Covid-19 situation (RTK)

Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) criticized Hoti’s government for failing to manage the situation with Covid-19 pandemic at the time when the number of infected is significantly increasing.

LVV deputy leader Besnik Bislimi said at a press conference that confrontation with pandemic is out of control and added that a major part of politicians did not even make efforts to have it under control. “Failure with pandemics will have consequences for the economy as well,” he warned.  

Bislimi, who was Minister for Economy in Albin Kurti’s government also addressed criticism for lack of implementation of the emergency fiscal package, which according to him is being stopped and for lack of endorsement of international agreements. 

Judah: I was wrong, it seems dialogue can make it without Thaçi (media)

Well-known British journalist and political expert on the Western Balkans, Tim Judah, says he was wrong to think that with Thaci out of the equation, nothing could come of renewed Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.

“Last week I thought that with Thaci out of the equation nothing could come of renewed Kosovo-Serbia dialogue for now, but with so much activity planned for the next few days, beginning today with @Avdullah meeting Macron, I think I was wrong. They would not do all this for show,” Judah wrote on his Twitter account. 

War veterans change protest plan (media)

KLA War Veterans’ Association (WVA) has decided to hold the protest planned for 9 July, despite the recommendation of the National Institute for Public Health to avoid rallies due to the danger of spread of the coronavirus pandemics. Nasim Haradinaj, deputy head of this organization said the protest will be held by changing tactics and have 99 individuals protesting in each municipality.

“NIPHK has recommended that such gatherings are not recommended during these two weeks, because they endanger the health of the population, so we thought that the protest should not be postponed and held on July 9, but we will delegate competencies to the branches of WVA in municipalities by changing tactics. We decided that every municipality has the right to protest at 12 o’clock, with only 99 people, soldiers or veterans of the KLA, which symbolizes the year 1999,” said Haradinaj to the media. 

PDK leader Kadri Veseli called on Saturday on the WVA KLA to cancel the July 9 protest, due to the situation in the country with the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Apostolova: Current status quo in Kosovo is unsustainable (Jedinstvo, Kosovo Online, Tanjug, Blic)

Constant political instability does not contribute to the improvement of people’s lives in Kosovo, said the head of the EU office in Pristina, Nataliya Apostolova told portal Jedinstvo. 

In an interview for Jedinstvo, Apostolova said the economy, job creation, education, the environment and the fight against corruption and organized crime should be the focus of every politician and decision-maker in Kosovo, and that this was the only way to make progress.

Asked whether a compromise solution was possible, that Pristina and Belgrade gain and lose equally, and since for Serbs Kosovo was a ‘’southern Serbian province’’, i.e. part of Serbia, and for Albanians an “independent Republic of Kosovo”, Apostolova reiterated that the current status quo was unsustainable and the EU remains committed to working together with both sides.

Apostolova expected a constructive approach from the Pristina government when it comes to relations with Belgrade and the continuation of the dialogue aimed at working on a comprehensive and legally binding agreement for the normalization of relations between the two sides, as well as “resolving all remaining issues, once and for all.”

Apostolova also said that there was no doubt that the future of the Western Balkans was European, including Belgrade and Pristina.

She warned, however, that there was no possibility of the European future by bypassing the EU-assisted dialogue, led by EU High Representative Josep Borell and EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak.

On the statement that the Serbian population in Kosovo perceives the representatives of the EU and the international community in general as someone who came to strengthen “Kosovo’s independence”, Apostolova replied that the EU was implementing its mandate in Kosovo and it represented the Union as a whole, all 27 members, out of which, 22 recognized Kosovo’s independence.

“The EU and its member states are united in their firm commitment to dialogue with the help of the EU, with the goal of reaching a final agreement between Belgrade and Pristina, as well as to completely normalize relations between the two sides,” Apostolova stressed.

The EU strongly condemned the security incidents that affected the Kosovo-Serb community, she added, answering Iedinstvo’s question whether the EU can do something regarding the daily threats to Serbs and looting of Serbian property.

Apostolova also emphasized that the EU monitored the work and encouraged the relevant bodies to take measures and provide better conditions in order to create a safer environment for all communities in Kosovo. 

“In the end, the Pristina authorities should solve these cases and bring the perpetrators to justice. This is something we repeated to them and encouraged them to solve such cases,” Apostolova emphasized.

Jedinstvo recalled that 21 years have passed since the entry of the international military and civilian mission in Kosovo and the persecution of the Serb population, with Albanian refugees returning in about ten days in 1999, and Serbs cannot still, and Apostolova said that the EU recognized return to Kosovo was a challenging process for which there must be many criteria.

The EU Office has persistently supported the return process by investing millions of euros in housing and reconstruction projects to alleviate the displaced by the conflict, including Kosovo Serbs, and has continuously funded the Community Stabilization Project for those who never left Kosovo or returned and who needed additional help to reintegrate into society, concluded the head of the EU office in Pristina.

Dr. Antonijevic: We’re waiting for the results of 111 samples, some of which we have been waiting for 6 days (KoSSev)

The epidemiologist of the Public Health Institute in North Mitrovica, Dr. Aleksandar Antonijevic told portal KoSSev that he has been waiting for the results of some of the samples from Belgrade for 6 days, which makes it difficult to work on suppressing the spread of the infection.

“Even if the results arrive after 6 days, it means nothing to us. Some patients have started to recover and are no longer contagious because they are infectious a few days before the onset of symptoms and during the strongest symptoms, and after that period the result means nothing to us because we did not prevent people from spreading the infection,” he said.

KoSSev reports that the laboratory in Belgrade, in response to calls from the Institute, said that the results will be released soon, but that promise has remained unfulfilled for several days.

At the beginning of the epidemic, the Public Health Institute of Kosovska Mitrovica sent samples of swabs for PCR tests to Torlak, and then to the Veterinary Specialist Institute in Kraljevo, from where the results regularly arrived. As of yesterday, the samples are being sent to Kraljevo again, and the results are expected today after 1 p.m.

Public Health Institute in North Mitrovica is waiting for the results of 111 samples taken from persons suspected of COVID-19. With the exception of 60 samples that were sent to the Veterinary Specialist Institute in Kraljevo yesterday, other samples were sent to the “Vatreno oko” laboratory at the Clinical Centre of Serbia last week, but the results have still not been submitted, reports KoSSev. 

Covic: International community like ‘Vienna Boys’ Choir’ (RTS)

Former head of the Coordination Centre for Kosovo and Metohija Nebojsa Covic told RTS  this morning that it was expected that some kind of timing would be made when it comes to the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina, with the beginning of talks in Paris and the continuation in Brussels. However, he pointed out that the normalization of relations was a long-term process and that there were many open issues that should be resolved.

Covic told RTS that the initiative for the continuation of the dialogue was welcome, but that there were many open issues.

As he said, the first issue was the deadlines, because it was not possible for someone to just clap their hands and that would mean the normalization of the relationship.

The second issue was the credibility of the EU and Pristina, because no agreement reached so far has been completed, and there are other elements of pressure.

“We are strategically committed to the EU and we must maintain a constructive approach, but that does not mean that we should be naive in all this” Covic said.

He said that the meetings in Paris would be held purely because of the position of Germany and France, because Macron wants France in the EU, if nothing else, to be at least equal with Germany.

When it comes to the video summit, Covic said that this approach was quite unusual, but that this was only the beginning of the renewal of the dialogue.

He reiterated that the EU and Pristina should prove their credibility by implementing the Brussels Agreement, and then the talks should start. Covic said that the normalization of relations was a long-term process and that it would take time, and no signatures under pressure would normalize the situation in Kosovo. 

As he stated, after 18 months of deadlock of the dialogue, when time was bought and when smoke bombs such as tariffs were thrown, the first meeting should be introductory, because there were many technical issues and problems.

Covic said that “choir singing” could be heard in the international community and that everyone, like the “Vienna boys”, was talking about a legally binding agreement on the normalization of relations, but that could not be achieved quickly, even though large countries were imposing their approaches.

“It is one thing to talk about multi-ethnic life, and it is another to talk about reality,” he said. 

He stated that he believed that it must be done gradually, and that Serbia would be placed under a lot of pressure.

He also pointed out that Pristina was doing everything according to the concept of certain international structures.

-Now, we have different approaches from Brussels and Washington, but their goals are essentially the same, and that is that Serbia should unilaterally recognize the independence of Kosovo.

“Probably by that they mean the normalization of relations,” Covic said. 

When it comes to the proposal of indictments against Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli, Covic said that one should be careful about it, because it served to stop the initiative on dialogue.

He stated that it remained to be seen how much legal access there was and that there would be a scandal for the international community if no indictment was filed.

Jevtic and Rakic about improved conditions for the return of the displaced (Radio Mitrovica Sever)

Minister for Communities and Return Dalibor Jevtic met on Tuesday with the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Local Government Administration Goran Rakic.

As Jevtic posted on Twitter, they discussed the political and security situation in Kosovo. 

The main topic was the institutional cooperation between the two ministries in order to provide better conditions for the return of displaced persons, Jevtic stated.

UNESCO official says Serbia imposed pandemic measures to strengthen authorities (N1)

UNESCO Chair of Bioethics official Vojin Rakic told N1 on Tuesday that Serbia is without a doubt the only European country to introduce restrictive measures during the coronavirus pandemic in order to strengthen its autocratic authorities.

Rakic, head of the European Division of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, said that UNESCO completed a comparative analysis of European government reactions to the pandemic. The measures imposed by a majority of European countries were proportional to the danger and those governments did not introduce measures for the sake of repression and to restrict human rights and liberties, the professor told the N1 morning show. He said there are four countries which are suspected of imposing measures to strengthen their authorities and just one for which there is no doubt that was the case – Serbia.

“Serbia stands out in a negative context. It started in March with the declaration of the state of emergency which many lawyers believe was illegal and a silent coup d’etat. That was when the measure was introduced to report the number of sick and dead from one center only and we later got the probable explanation that has not been denied to date that dual records were being kept: the right ones which only a few people on the Crisis Staff, Prime Minister and President have access to and (the second) the data which we are being told,” Rakic said and added that this was harmful to efforts to suppress the pandemic.

Rakic said that one more thing makes Serbia unique in Europe – the reports of the government pandemic Crisis Staff and the completely opposite statements by its members in a single day. “Up to that day there was no danger and on that day one of the epidemiologists said that the situation was threatening and that was on the day after the elections. That makes the data published before the campaign suspect,” the professor said.

According to Rakic, there are differences in other countries in the coronavirus death count but added that “those are differences of just a few percent and in Serbia that difference is 300 percent”. “Take into consideration all the patients who contracted COVID-19 and had some other ailment but died of COVID-19 and the difference is around 600 percent. Those are horrific discrepancies,” he said.

Rakic said that a large number of mistakes were made, the key one among them was the fact that experts were not the ones making decisions but were subordinate to politicians. He recalled that some of the medical experts were not even granted access to the coronavirus database that the BIRN investigative news portal had access to. Rakic warned that the efforts of doctors, nurses and other medical staff to save lives are being undermined by politicians. He called doctors to launch a petition for experts to decide in this situation instead of politicians. “Politicians won’t be able to ignore that because they need doctors. So, doctors can oppose this situation,” he said.

The professor also invited President Aleksandar Vucic to a debate. “I have been in science all my life and he has been in politics so let’s see where that will get him,” he said.

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

 

 

Opinion

 

Kosovo: a hasty rotation of power (EWB)

Aurea prima sata est aetas, quae vindice nullo, / sponte sua, sine lege fidem rectumque colebat.’ Without laws or judges, Ovid says, during the Golden Age ‘rectitude spontaneous in the heart prevailed’. Now even laws and judges may not be enough.

Italy saw no rotation of power for half a century, for example, and rectitude suffered. In 1974 the poet Pier Paolo Pasolini published an article on the country’s main newspaper, which is a litany of paragraphs all beginning like this: ‘I know. I know the names of those responsible for (a famous crime follows)’. Then he says: ‘I know. But I have no evidence. I don’t even have clues.’ The evidence came out twenty years later: colossal theft, on a scale unseen in any Western country before or since.

Since Kosovo was separated from Serbia, twenty years ago, there has been no rotation of power. A fairly homogenous elite, divided in several parties but joined by common interests, ruled the country unmolested. They are thieves. They are not usually described thus, because there is no evidence, but we have clues.

One would expect such a country to stagnate and be unequal. The data do show stagnation, but very mild inequality: according to the World Bank the Gini index is 29, significantly below France (31.6). That is hardly credible, and one reason might be that when interviewed for the household survey thieves are less than precise in describing their wealth. My superficial impression, having lived in both places, is that the country is far more unequal than France.

See at: https://bit.ly/3e7s3aL

 

 

International

 

US soldier killed in noncombat incident in Kosovo (The Hill)

A U.S. soldier deployed to Kosovo was killed in a “non-combat related incident” over the weekend, the Pentagon announced on Monday.

Pfc. Alexander Blake Klass, 20, of Willamina, Ore., died as the result of the July 4 incident at Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo, according to a Defense Department statement.

https://bit.ly/2VV2Wlf

France, Germany seek to unfreeze stalled Kosovo-Serbia talks (EURACTIV)

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will host together with the EU a video summit on Friday (10 July) between Serbia and Kosovo aimed at easing tensions between the Balkan neighbours.

A video summit on Friday hosted by Macron and Merkel and joined by the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell will seek to address one of Europe’s most intractable territorial disputes, with Belgrade refusing to recognise Kosovo’s independence.

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will hold separate talks with Macron in France on Tuesday and Thursday respectively, the French side announced.

https://bit.ly/2Z6JWSN

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Conspiratorial Corona: Hoaxes and Conspiracy Theories in the Balkans (Balkan Insight)

With the spread of conspiracy theories and hoaxes, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to further undermine democracy in the Western Balkans.

As the world, including the Western Balkans, came under the spell of the COVID-19 pandemic, science seemed to rule.

Medical advice and expertise appeared to be more important than simple populist messages.

If, in previous years, facts could be denied and expertise denigrated, it looked like the pandemic had marked the return of science, or as the political scientist Ivan Krastev noted in March 2020, “Professionalism is back in fashion.”

This hopeful view underestimated the power of doubt and conspiracy. Through more than three months of pandemic so far, the world has seen the rise of conspiracy theories, fake news, and doubters of the official version of the origin and spread of the disease and its seriousness.

See at: https://bit.ly/38BA4U9

Novi Pazar is the biggest hotspot of COVID-19 in Serbia (EWB)

NOVI PAZAR – For a month now, the citizens of Novi Pazar, Tutin and Sjenica have been voicing their concerns about the worrying situation when it comes to the number of COVID-19 cases, but also about the capacities of health institutions, with suspicions that the number of deaths from those municipalities is far higher than official statistics shows.

After the videos from the General Hospital in Novi Pazar were spread on social media, showing patients lying in the hallways due to the hospital beds being already filled, then allegations that in some families several members died from COVID-19, but also news about the urgent purchase of tin coffins and sacks for remains in Novi Pazar, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and Minister of Health Zlatibor Lončar visited Novi Pazar on Tuesday (June 30th).

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

 

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