- COVID – 19: 205 new cases, 3 dead (media)
- Kosovo PM in favor of state of emergency to fight COVID – 19 (media)
- PM Hoti: We’re heading toward a state of emergency (media)
- Mitrovica Mayor against state of emergency: Grave consequences (Koha)
- Kosovo Assembly stops session amid tensions and insults (media)
- Quint ambassadors: Debate without recourse to insults and threats (media)
- EU Head of Office: Violence has no place in democratic societies (media)
- Kosovo-Serbia talks in Paris close without results (Prishtina Insight)
- Biden hails continuation of talks, calls for coordination with Europeans (media)
- Grenell: Biden threw negotiations into a US presidential political issue (media)
- Meeting in Washington can happen within weeks, says Kosovo PM (media)
- Prishtina with highest number of domestic violence cases (Kosovapress)
- The real heroes of our time: the lives of workers in Kosovo (Prishtina Insight)
COVID – 19: 205 new cases, 3 dead (media)
Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health confirmed 205 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. Three patients have died from the virus. 87 new cases are from the municipality of Prishtina. There are currently 2,540 active coronavirus cases in Kosovo.
Kosovo PM in favor of state of emergency to fight COVID – 19 (media)
Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti held a video conference today with mayors of municipalities to assess the latest situation with COVID – 19. Hoti said in a Facebook post that greater coordination will be needed between the inspectorates and the police in monitoring the implementation of protective measures. “I thanked the municipalities for the support they have given to the police throughout this period. I informed the mayors that with the current trend of infected cases with COVID – 19, we must consider declaring a state of emergency. The Council of Mayors within the Association of Municipalities of Kosovo supports the new measures of the Kosovo Government, including a state of emergency, in the fight to prevent the further spread of COVID – 19 and to protect the people’s lives. The state of emergency does not imply paralysing businesses and institutions but rather gives authorisations to respective institutions to undertake faster and more flexible measures,” Hoti said.
PM Hoti: We’re heading toward a state of emergency (media)
Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said on Friday evening that a state of emergency could be declared in Kosovo if the current increase rate of coronavirus cases continues. “We are now heading toward a state of emergency. I had a meeting this evening with the COVID – 19 Management Committee and we had very open discussions. The decision might be very unpopular, but I am ready to go to the extreme to protect the lives of citizens,” Hoti said in an interview with Klan Kosova.
Hoti said he will another meeting with the same committee on Sunday. “I have scheduled another meeting with the COVID – 19 Management Committee on Sunday to assess the situation together with some additional information we have required, all health institutions will be part of this assessment. Afterwards I have called for a meeting of the Security Council to discuss with its members if we must consider declaring a state of emergency,” he added.
Hoti said he would be criticised if a state of emergency is declared but added that damages to the economy are nothing compared to people’s lives. “We will see if we need to move toward declaring a state of emergency. People’s lives are most important, other issues are secondary … I know this is not popular and I know that I might be heavily criticised by businesses, but I am willing to take on all public costs as head of the government,” he said.
Mitrovica Mayor against state of emergency: Grave consequences (Koha)
Mitrovica South Mayor, Agim Bahtiri, said today that he is against the initiative to declare a state of emergency in Kosovo, as part of efforts to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.
“I am strongly against the initiative to declare a state of emergency which I believe will have even graver consequences than the current situation. An invisible enemy such as COVID – 19 cannot be fought with the army and with measures that will ruin the country’s economy which is going through the most difficult period since the end of the war,” Bahtiri said.
Kosovo Assembly stops session amid tensions and insults (media)
All news outlets reported on Friday evening that the Kosovo Assembly stopped its session on Friday amid tensions and insults. Namely Democratic League of Kosovo (MP) Xhavit Ukaj, following a dispute, approached the seat of the Assembly President Vjosa Osmani and insulted her. Osmani decided to stop the session and the Assembly will reconvene on Monday. In a statement issued later on Friday, Osmani said she has initiated a case with the Kosovo Police “against the MP that threatened me physically and used unprecedented banal language”. “I hope the law enforcement authorities will deal with this case swiftly. Meanwhile the Assembly will reconvene on Monday at 14:00, based on a decision of the Assembly Presidency. There are more important issues that we need to address, such as the management of the pandemic, and I will not allow any irresponsible person to prevent me from carrying out my official duties in line with the regulation of the Assembly,” Osman said.
Quint ambassadors: Debate without recourse to insults and threats (media)
The Ambassadors of the France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States issued the following statement following the incident in the Kosovo Assembly on Friday evening:
“We call on Kosovo’s political leaders to debate the many challenges and opportunities facing Kosovo without recourse to insults and threats. Kosovo’s democratic future depends on the ability of its leaders to set a positive example of civil discourse and respect for freedom of expression. Any form of inflammatory language, particularly personal attacks intended to promote political objectives, can contribute to an atmosphere that encourages acts of violence. The people of Kosovo deserve better”.
EU Head of Office: Violence has no place in democratic societies (media)
European Union Head of Mission in Kosovo, Nataliya Apostolova, took to Twitter today to comment on last night’s incident in the Kosovo Assembly. “Kosovo Assembly needs a constructive work to face serious challenges ahead. All must commit to a political consensus & refrain from violence, which has no place in democratic societies, let alone in the House of People, especially against a woman – Speaker of the Assembly,” Apostolova tweeted.
Kosovo-Serbia talks in Paris close without results (Prishtina Insight)
Serbia and Kosovo maintained their previous tough positions at the German-French-hosted virtual forum in Paris, ahead of the official re-start of EU-sponsored talks that were postponed to next week.
The official re-start of talks in Brussels between Serbia and Kosovo, scheduled for Sunday, has been postponed for next week after a German-French facilitated summit in Paris on the dialogue, seen as a precursor to the official restart of talks, did not yield much fruit.
The summit was held via a video conference in the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
In his speech, Hoti said the dialogue should be guided by the principle that the territorial integrity of Kosovo was non-negotiable, that its constitutional organisation would not be affected and that any agreement with Serbia must fully accord with the Kosovo constitution. Hoti said mutual recognition with Serbia was the only acceptable outcome of the dialogue for Kosovo.
He listed five objectives of the dialogue for the Kosovo side.
“The Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia should result in mutual recognition,” Hoti said.
The other outcomes were Kosovo’s recognition by the remaining five EU countries that haven’t done so, UN membership and membership of “other international organisations, and the emergence of a clear opening of the European perspective for Kosovo”.
“Last but not least, missing persons [from the war in the 1990s] and victims of all forms of violence, war damages, casualties, are issues of our utmost concern in this process”, Hoti said.
After the meeting, Serbia’s President said it had been a “hard talk”.
“I said if this is the point of everything they want to talk about, everything is completely meaningless,” Vucic told journalists after the meeting, after he read Kosovo’s requests.
He also announced that the re-start of the dialogue, planned for Sunday, had been postponed for Thursday next week.
“Now everything has changed; we will have a video conference on Sunday, and the continuation of the dialogue is planned for Thursday in Brussels, with the participation of both delegations,” Vucic said.
The meeting came after another initiative to resume talks failed, when a planned meeting in the White House on June 27 was postponed.
This came after the Hague-based Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, SPO, issued an indictment for war crimes against Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, who was planning to represent Kosovo at the meeting.
Biden hails continuation of talks, calls for coordination with Europeans (media)
Joe Biden, a former United States Vice President and a candidate in the 2020 presidential election, hailed the decisions of leaders from Kosovo and Serbia to continue the dialogue for the normalisation of relations between the countries. In a statement issued on Friday, Biden said this marks an important step forward in the region.
“A comprehensive solution which would result in mutual recognition and maintaining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both countries and strengthening their democratic institutions, is key for Kosovo and Serbia to move forward,” he said.
Biden called for greater trans-Atlantic cooperation in the process. “The partnership between the U.S. and Europe calls for the engagement of all parties,” he said. Biden criticised the Trump administration that while planning for the June summit at the White House they did coordinate with the European envoys that have mediated the dialogue between the two countries for nearly a decade.
“Although the meeting was cancelled, our European partners sent a clear message. The United States must cooperate with their European partners and not turn their backs on them. This is the biggest hope to reach a sustainable solution that would pave the way for a more prosperous and European future for both countries.”
Biden also said that if he is elected President, “my administration will work for peace and security in South-East Europe and will cooperate with EU partners to make this dream a reality”. He also called on the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia to embrace the spirit of compromise and reconciliation in the talks and that they have the full support of the American people.
Grenell: Biden threw negotiations into a US presidential political issue (media)
The United States Presidential Envoy for the Kosovo – Serbia Dialogue, Richard Grenell, took to Twitter to react to a statement by U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, on the talks between Kosovo and Serbia.
“As Vice President, Joe Biden loved for the media to portray him as the Administration’s foreign affairs heavyweight, even though their own Secretary of Defense stated that Biden had “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
It should come as no surprise then that today Biden continued to deliver nothing but more talk and empty promises to the people of Kosovo and Serbia.
Joe Biden has today thrown the negotiations between the parties into a US presidential political issue. By doing so, he guarantees that nothing will move forward before November and the people of Kosovo and Serbia will have to wait – again – for politicians to stop using them.
In contrast to Biden’s all-talk-no-action approach, the Trump Administration has concentrated on taking the important first step of economic normalization between Kosovo and Serbia. To that end, President Trump oversaw successful negotiations of three separate agreements between Belgrade and Pristina on air, rail and motor travel. In short, President Trump has delivered long overdue results and Joe Biden is again just talking like he has throughout his forty years in Washington.
The people of Kosovo and Serbia know there is no comparison between the 8 years of Obama-Biden’s empty promises and the Trump Administration’s actions.”
Meeting in Washington can happen within weeks, says Kosovo PM (media)
Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said on Friday that the meeting between the Kosovo and Serbian delegations in Washington could happen within weeks. Hoti said it was natural to cancel the original meeting following a proposed indictment against President Hashim Thaci by the Specialist Chambers.
“There have been different opinions. I believe it was natural to cancel the meeting after what happened,” he said. “We had intensive consultations with Grenell. They were ready to hold the meeting, but we asked for the meeting to be postponed for another date and now we are waiting for Grenell to set a date for a meeting between the two sides.”
Asked when the meeting in Washington could take place, Hoti said: “I believe within weeks, but this does not depend only on us now”.
Prishtina with highest number of domestic violence cases (Kosovapress)
The news agency reports that the isolation during the coronavirus pandemic has led to increased cases of domestic violence. According to the Center for Counseling, Social Services and Research (SIT), the highest number of reported cases is in the municipality of Prishtina (239).
SIT representative Elza Islami told the news agency: “the COVID – 19 pandemic has impacted all communities, but mostly the vulnerable groups, and we have seen an increase in discrimination and inequality. There has been violence before the pandemic too, but we can see that there is an increase in the number of reported cases of violence during the pandemic.”
The real heroes of our time: the lives of workers in Kosovo (Prishtina Insight)
Prishtina Insight talked to artist Doruntina Kastrati and curator Hana Halilaj to discuss their new multimedia exhibition ‘Public Heroes and Secrets,’ now showing at the National Museum of Kosovo.
“I think it’s better to die than to get injured on the job. When you die, at least you have completed something. When you get injured, you have to live with two burdens in your life: being disabled and not being able to provide for your family,” says one of the workers interviewed by Doruntina Kastrati for her new exhibition ‘Public Heroes and Secrets’.
The exhibition opened on Friday at the National Museum of Kosovo, and explores the darker sides of being a part of the precarious workforce engaged in manual labour in Kosovo.
“What rights are there to speak of? Here, there is nothing, no laws, they only profit for themselves, we have nothing here, only thieves,” says another worker in Kastrati’s haunting expose, who was injured at work and fell into a coma for three months as a result.
Both the name of the exhibition and that of the video that shares the stories of these workers, ‘When it left, death didn’t even close our eyes,’ were inspired by verses from Roberto Bolano’s poem ‘Godzilla in Mexico.’
Kastrati’s work is the product of 12 months of in-depth research into the human dimension of workplace accidents in Kosovo. She and exhibition curator Hana Halilaj spent the year collecting data on workplace accidents, and conducted numerous interviews with workers who were directly affected.
They also spoke to other physical labourers who have been working long hours in environments without safety standards. According to Kastrati, their needs are neglected and voices unheard by both their employers and the state.
Kastrati travelled around Prishtina, Ferizaj and Shtime, talking to those who gather at meeting points on the side of roads where workers wait for people seeking some short-term work to come along and hire them.
“They wait there all day long for somebody to come and give them work to do,” said Kastrati. “Their experiences are very similar to one another, many of them are surprised to still be alive at the end of a working day.”
The experiences of these workers are indeed so similar that they somehow merge into a single narration, that of the helplessness of the working class in Kosovo.
The exhibition also includes three 3D printed sculptures by Kastrati resembling limbs and body parts which are created with materials such as resin, silicone, spray brush and goat hair.
“It gave me shivers listening to these people’s stories. They sometimes wait all day at these points to come and get picked up for work, but there is none,” says Kastrati. “Their families heavily depend on them and they have no other choice but to wait for a job which they know puts their health and wellbeing at great risk.”
Statistics detailing workplace deaths in Kosovo are shocking. From 2018 to July this year, more than 50 people have died while at work.
“These workers earn minimum wage – for a whole day they get paid 10 or 15 euros. They have no benefits, they work without contracts, and they are in constant fear of being fired by their bosses at any time,” says Halilaj. “It is very worrying that the rights of these workers are violated to such an extent but that nobody is held accountable for this.
Halilaj believes that Kastrati’s exhibition serves as a reflection on a system that suffers from lack of regulation, which makes room for the exploitation of those seeking employment.
“Through the exhibition, we also wanted to allude to neoliberal policies and the role of the state in doing the groundwork that created this continued violation of workers rights, offering them no support whatsoever,” she says.
Their decision to show the exhibition at the National Museum of Kosovo is not by chance: the Museum’s permanent collection merges with, and stands in contrast to, the context of Kastrati’s exhibition.
“We see artefacts belonging to war martyrs and other personalities exhibited at the National Museum of Kosovo who are recognized for their contributions to our society,” Halilaj says. “The exhibition tries to question the understanding of heroes today. Who are the real heroes of our modern society? We have to give the term hero a new meaning.”
‘Public Heroes and Secrets’ is Kastrati’s second exhibition. Her first, Red Landscape, was exhibited at the Stacion Center for Contemporary art in Prishtina in 2017. Her work has also been shown in numerous group exhibitions, most recently in Tirana Patience curated by Adam Szymczyk and Natasa Ilic at the National Gallery of Arts in Tirana.