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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, 08 July

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• COVID-19: 183 new cases confirmed, three fatalities (media)
• Assembly President summons PM Hoti to report on pandemic (media)
• Health Minister says situation with COVID-19 under control (media)
• Haziri criticises recently introduced restrictive measures (media)
• Four northern municipalities introduce new restrictive measures (media)
• Beyer: Dialogue must resume, and agreement reached (RTK)
• Grenell: We support EU for meetings on 10 – 12 July (Express)
• Lajcak discusses the dialogue with senior German officials (media)
• Hoti: France committed to support Kosovo in dialogue process (media)
• Selmanaj: France has dilemmas and hesitates on visa liberalisation (T7)
• 42 MEPs call for visa liberalisation for Kosovo (media)
• EU confident Thaci will extend EULEX’s mandate (Koha)
• Vucic on dialogue with Kosovo: They will pressure us to lose (media)
• KLA associations reveal July 9 protest method (media)

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  • COVID-19: 183 new cases confirmed, three fatalities (media)
  • Assembly President summons PM Hoti to report on pandemic (media)
  • Health Minister says situation with COVID-19 under control (media)
  • Haziri criticises recently introduced restrictive measures (media)
  • Four northern municipalities introduce new restrictive measures (media)
  • Beyer: Dialogue must resume, and agreement reached (RTK)
  • Grenell: We support EU for meetings on 10 – 12 July (Express)
  • Lajcak discusses the dialogue with senior German officials (media)
  • Hoti: France committed to support Kosovo in dialogue process (media)
  • Selmanaj: France has dilemmas and hesitates on visa liberalisation (T7)
  • 42 MEPs call for visa liberalisation for Kosovo (media)
  • EU confident Thaci will extend EULEX’s mandate (Koha)
  • Vucic on dialogue with Kosovo: They will pressure us to lose (media)
  • KLA associations reveal July 9 protest method (media)

Kosovo Media Highlights

COVID-19: 183 new cases confirmed, three fatalities (media)

183 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the last 24 hours in Kosovo and three patients have died from the virus. 57 cases have recovered from the virus in the last 24 hours.

73 new cases are from the municipality of Prishtina.

According to the Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health, there are currently 1,910 active coronavirus cases in Kosovo.

Assembly President summons PM Hoti to report on pandemic (media)

Kosovo Assembly President Vjosa Osmani has summoned Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti to report to the Assembly on the government’s actions in the management and prevention of the coronavirus pandemic.

“At the latest meeting of the Assembly Presidency, we have among other things expressed our concern over the latest developments with the management of the pandemic. Following consultations with members of the presidency, we have unanimously agreed to summon you to report to the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo on the matter,” Osmani said in her invitation. She also said that Hoti needs to inform the Assembly on the date of his reporting, “but no later than a week”.

Health Minister says situation with COVID-19 under control (media)

Kosovo’s Minister of Health, Armend Zemaj, said in an interview with Klan Kosova on Tuesday that the situation with COVID-19 is under control. He said that after the restrictive measures were initially lifted in late May, people believed that the coronavirus doesn’t exist. “Unfortunately, this was also expressed by the intellectual elite, by people from different professions, but also by some heads of institutions,” he added.

“The situation is under control as long as we have the required capacities to manage it … Fortunately, the level of hospitalised cases has not yet reached an extreme level to ask assistance be it from private hospitals or to create new areas,” Zemaj said.

Zemaj also said that there are ongoing investigations into the fatalities from COVID-19 at Prishtina Hospital over the weekend. He said the case should not be used as a political battle.

Zemaj did not rule out a possible state of emergency if the situation goes out of control but said they would exhaust all resources to avoid another lockdown or a state of emergency.

Haziri criticises recently introduced restrictive measures (media)

Mayor of Gjilan and deputy leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) Lutfi Haziri has criticised the newest measures taken by the government of Kosovo in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus saying they are “panic decisions”.

Haziri said such measures required better inter-institutional coordination. “A selective and unconstitutional curfew, closing of the gastronomy throughout the Kosovo territory, not allowing weddings and gatherings of more than 50 persons, are decisions taken under panic. The government cannot decide in such a manner,” Haziri wrote on Facebook.

He called on the government to, as he said, not repeat the mistakes of the Kurti-led government, but to instead act in unison.

Four northern municipalities introduce new restrictive measures (media)

Most media reported on Tuesday evening that the four Serb-majority municipalities in northern Kosovo will go into a seven-day quarantine starting from Tuesday evening. From 21:00 to 05:00 movement in these municipalities will be limited only to health professionals and law enforcement authorities.

The decision to introduce the restrictive measures was made by the crisis center of the four northern municipalities and announced by Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister Goran Rakic.

53 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the municipalities on Tuesday.

Kosovo’s Minister for Health, Armend Zemaj, said: “We will fully support their request. We are in touch and coordinating with Deputy Prime Minister Rakic. All relevant institutions, including the Prime Minister, are informed on the matter”.

Beyer: Dialogue must resume, and agreement reached (RTK)

Peter Beyer, a member of the German Bundestag and a close associate to Chancellor Angela Merkel, said on Tuesday that the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia must resume and that the parties have to reach a sustainable agreement.

“I understand the concerns of Kosovars. When I heard that Borrell and Lajcak were appointed to their positions, I had my doubts too, but meanwhile I had a video conference with Lajcak, and after I raised several issues with him, he assured me that it is clear to him that he represents all of the EU. He convinced me about his position as representative of all the EU, therefore, we need to give him the chance to prove his commitment to reach a final agreement between two sovereign countries, Kosovo and Serbia,” he said.

“I understand the concerns of our Kosovar friends, it hurts to hear that there is no trust in the EU, because it is true, in the past the EU has not been very decisive in its decisions and positions, but if the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia truly aspire a European future for their citizens then they need to take over their responsibilities and not find excuses … The dialogue must resume and a sustainable agreement must be reached, because you should know that there are also influences and other interests such as those coming from Russia, China, Saudi Arabia. An agreement for the people and their European future.”

Beyer said neither Germany nor Europe would accept concepts or agreements based on ethnic lines. He called for greater coordination between the United States and the European Union on continuing the dialogue and reaching an agreement.

“Unfortunately, so far U.S. Ambassador Grenell did not have a single meeting with Lajcak and this is concerning because there could be negative consequences if citizens in Kosovo and Serbia receive contradictory messages from Washington and Brussels,” Beyer added.

Grenell: We support EU for meetings on 10 – 12 July (Express)

The United States Special Envoy, Richard Grenell, in an interview with the news website on Tuesday, commented on the latest initiatives by the European Union to resume the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.

Grenell said Washington fully supports the EU initiative and that he is pleased to see the Europeans organising the Paris Summit by video on July 10 followed by a high-level meeting between Kosovo and Serbia on July 12 in Brussels.

“We offer our full support and we are thankful for their leadership. We hope the important issue of visa liberalisation for Kosovo will be concluded at this meeting,” he said.

Grenell said the U.S. has worked hard to prove that the normalisation of economic relations between Kosovo and Serbia is the first important step toward ending the long dispute between the two countries.

“We hope that the Europeans will make a top priority the implementation of agreements on airlines, railways and roads, which have already been reached. We believe these agreements are key to creating jobs and restoring hope among the young population of the region,” Grenell said.

The U.S. envoy also said: “we have never believed in a quick agreement between Kosovo and Serbia in an election year. And we never thought that focusing only on economic normalisation would lead to a quick solution. Difficult and long-standing political issues will be easier to address if first there is progress on economic issues. If we really want to achieve progress, then the international community must really attempt to bring new and creative ideas. The people of Kosovo and the people of Serbia deserve the full and continuous attention of the Europeans”.

Lajcak discusses the dialogue with senior German officials (media)

The European Union Special Representative for the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, said on Tuesday that he discussed with senior German officials on the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, scheduled to resume on July 12.

Lajcak met on Tuesday with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Foreign Minister Heiko Mass and other high-ranking members of the German government.

“Held in-depth discussions with President Steinmeier, Foreign Minister @HeikoMaas& the Chancellor’s Foreign Policy Adviser Hecker in Berlin. Spoke about the European Union-facilitated Dialogue, the importance of the 1st high-level meeting on 12 July, following the Paris Summit on 10 July,” Lajcak tweeted after the meetings.

The German Foreign Office said in a Twitter post: It’s good that @MiroslavLajcak brings new momentum to the EU-led Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and sets ambitious goals. We want fast visible progress for people in the region. The future of the Western Balkans lies in Europe. Hence, the EU has to play a leading role.

Hoti: France committed to support Kosovo in dialogue process (media)

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said on Tuesday after meeting French President Emmanuel Macron that France remains committed to support Kosovo in the dialogue process with Serbia.

“France remains committed to support Kosovo in the dialogue process with Serbia, which should lead to mutual recognition and the normalization of relations,” Hoti tweeted.

Hoti also said that Kosovo’s relations with France are excellent and that Kosovo is grateful for their support. “Western Balkans perspective in the EU is the only opportunity for peace, stability and prosperity in this part of Europe,” he said.

A press release issued by Hoti’s office after the meeting noted that the two leaders discussed developments in Kosovo and the region, with particular focus on the Euro-integration prospects and the issue of visa liberalisation for the people of Kosovo. Macron and Hoti also agreed for France and Kosovo to cooperate in the exchange of data between the respective Interior Ministries in the rule of law area.

Selmanaj: France has dilemmas and hesitates on visa liberalisation (T7)

Kosovo’s Deputy Prime Minister, Driton Selmanaj, said in an interview with T7 on Tuesday that France continues to have hesitations on visa liberalisation for Kosovo.

Selmanaj, who accompanied Prime Minister Hoti in his meeting with French President Macron today, said: “France still has dilemmas because of the experience with some countries of the Balkans. Unfortunately it still has dilemmas and hesitations. It doesn’t have a blocking approach [on visa liberalisation for Kosovo] but it is still hesitant”. 

42 MEPs call for visa liberalisation for Kosovo (media)

Most media report that 42 members of the European Parliament sent a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron and the Prime Minister of Netherlands Mark Rutte calling for visa liberalisation for Kosovo citizens by the end of this year.

“Together w/ 41 MEPs, I co-signed 2 letters to France President @EmmanuelMacron Netherlands Prime Minister @MinPres w/ request to lift visas for the citizens of #Kosovo in the @EUCouncil by the end of 2020. It’s been 2 years since Kosovo fulfilled all tech benchmarks, only so EU can be a fair mediator!,” Andrey Kovatchev, a member of the European Parliament, tweeted.

EU confident Thaci will extend EULEX’s mandate (Koha)

Koha reports that three weeks since the mandate of the EU rule of law mission in Kosovo (EULEX) has expired, there is still no letter exchange between the EU and the Kosovo President extending the mission, as per previous practice.

Thaci has not signed for the extension of the mandate which, Koha says, has increased concern in the EU although it insists that with or without the letter exchange, “EULEX has a mandate in Kosovo based on international law and Kosovo legislation.”

As to the question of what international law provisions and Kosovo legislation serve as the basis for EULEX mandate, EU officials said one such document is the UN Security Council resolution 1244 as well as ‘joint action’ approved in 2008 just before Kosovo declared independence and the ‘operational plan’ adopted by the EU.

EU officials however said they are confident President Thaci will sign the letter exchange as the mission’s presence is still required in Kosovo.

Vucic on dialogue with Kosovo: They will pressure us to lose (media)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Tuesday that he will ask the European Union to play a more important political role in the dialogue between Prishtina and Belgrade. Vucic is scheduled to travel to Paris on Thursday where he will meet French President Emmanuel Macron.

Vucic told a press conference in Belgrade that Serbia is in for a difficult summer and autumn on the issue of Kosovo. “No one wants to give us anything, they will pressure us to lose. This is why we need unity,” he said.

KLA associations reveal July 9 protest method (media)

Representatives of the Kosovo Liberation Army war veterans’ associations said at a news conference yesterday that July 9 protest in support of Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli following war crimes accusations will be held in different Kosovo municipalities with no more than 99 participants in each, as reference to the year 1999.

KLA associations said the change in the protest method came as a result of the recent increase of coronavirus cases and following the recommendations of the Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health.

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