Albanian Language Media:
- Two more patients die from COVID – 19 (media)
- Hospital in Vushtrri transformed into hospital for COVID – 19 patients (media)
- Osmani: PM’s Legal Office endorsed Anti – COVID 19 Law (media)
- PDK calls for urgent increase of salaries of healthcare professionals (media)
- Justice minister Selimi to be part of Kosovo negotiating team (EO/Klan Kosova)
- Roth: Western Balkans at the centre of Germany’s engagement (DW)
- UK welcomes resumption of Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (media)
- KSF ready to support efforts to fight COVID-19 (media)
Serbian Language Media:
- Elek: 93 persons hospitalized at Clinical-Hospital Center in Mitrovica North, one person passed away (KoSSev)
- Gracanica: New measures and announcement of fines, and the old problem (KIM radio)
- Hashim Thaci’s indictment will remain unknown until October (B92, RTS)
- PM Brnabic denies lack of transparency during coronavirus pandemic (N1)
- Vucic congratulates Macron, convinced in his support of Serbia’s EU path (BETA, N1)
- Samardzic: ”Vucic is going to Brussels again without a strategy” (KIM radio, Beta, N1)
- Maas: I will travel to Belgrade and Pristina, dialogue is priority (RTS)
- Serbian NGOs call on the EU to insist on core values in Serbia (KIM radio, EWB)
- A manual: how to lose the battle with COVID-19 (Prishtina Insight)
- Surroi: Kosovo yet to realise how dramatic situation with COVID – 19 is (Koha)
- Corrupt clans or startups? Kosovo must now choose (Die Welt)
- Serbia ‘Provided War Crimes Evidence’ Against Kosovo President (Balkan Insight)
- Public anger rises across Balkans as coronavirus toll grows (Financial Times)
- New restrictive measures added following jump in coronavirus cases (Prishtina Insight)
- Austria bans flights from Western Balkans (N1, DW)
Albanian Language Media
Two more patients die from COVID – 19 (media)
Most news outlets are reporting that another two patients have died from the coronavirus in Kosovo today. The total number of deaths from COVID – 19 is now 115.
Hospital in Vushtrri transformed into hospital for COVID – 19 patients (media)
Most media report that the COVID – 19 management committee in cooperation with the Kosovo Government decided today to transform the hospital in Vushtrri into a hospital for patients infected with the coronavirus. The decision was announced by Valbon Krasniqi, acting Head of the Kosovo Hospital Services. He also said that another floor at Prishtina Hospital, with 60 beds, will be made available for patients with COVID – 19. Krasniqi said that around 450 patients are currently being treated in Kosovo’s health facilities.
At the same press conference, Health Minister Armend Zemaj said that another 50 new healthcare staff have joined the Infectious Clinic in Prishtina today to help treat patients with COVID – 19. “Yesterday, 20 inspectors began work with the teams on the field that are monitoring the implementation of protective measures,” he said.
Zemaj also said that starting from today there will be more tests for the coronavirus. He said he has signed two administrative directives today enabling private laboratories and family medical centers to conduct testing.
Infectious Clinic Director Lindita Ajazaj – Berisha told reporters that 96 patients are being treated at the clinic and that 60 percent of them are getting oxygen therapy. “Five patients are in intensive care and in critical condition,” she added.
Osmani: PM’s Legal Office endorsed Anti – COVID 19 Law (media)
Kosovo Assembly President Vjosa Osmani said today that civil servants and legal experts in the Prime Minister’s Legal Office gave positive opinions about the Anti – COVID 19 Law, but that the problem rests with political persons within the government.
“They gave excellent opinions but regrettable the political persons within the government did not take this into account. The problem rests with the political motives of the government and not with the legal officers,” Osman said.
PDK calls for urgent increase of salaries of healthcare professionals (media)
Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) representatives called on the government today to take urgent steps and increase the salaries of healthcare professionals as foreseen with the draft law on salaries. PDK MP Bekim Haxhiu said the decision must include all state officials involved in the daily management of the COVID – 19 crisis. He also said that the Ministry of Health must be enabled to recruit an additional 1,500 healthcare professionals to better manage the situation.
Justice minister Selimi to be part of Kosovo negotiating team (EO/Klan Kosova)
Kosovo and Serbia will send their delegations to Brussels this Sunday to take part in the EU-facilitated dialogue for normalisation of relations, Ekonomia Online reports noting that Justice Minister Selim Selimi is expected to be part of the Kosovo team.
Selimi confirmed the Brussels trip. “Our discussions and positions have already been expressed in the statement of Prime Minister Hoti which he issued following the virtual meeting with Chancellor Merkel, President Macron, President Vucic, Envoy Lajcak and High Representative Borrell,” he said.
Roth: Western Balkans at the centre of Germany’s engagement (DW)
Michael Roth, German Minister of State for Europe, said in an interview with Deutsche Welle that during the EU presidency Germany will demonstrate engagement in the Western Balkans and this will not be limited only to supporting the fight against the coronavirus pandemic but will also encompass other fields.
“The Western Balkans is not just some kind of European Union backyard, it is our yard and serves our interests,” he said.
Roth said Germany will work to ensure the Western Balkans region has democracy, rule of law, and regional reconciliation and perspective for the new generation. “We will have a conference on the future of the new generation in the Western Balkans.”
On the issue of Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Roth said he was happy that there is now a new ‘momentum’ in the process with the involvement of the Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak.
UK welcomes resumption of Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (media)
The British Embassy in Kosovo has welcomed the resumption of the EU-facilitated Dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade.
“We encourage all to approach renewed talks positively with the goal of a sustainable normalisation agreement to improve the lives of ordinary people and enhance regional stability,” the Embassy said in a statement on social media.
KSF ready to support efforts to fight COVID-19 (media)
The Kosovo Security Force (KSF) is ready to support Kosovo authorities with efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic, said Commander Rrahman Rama in a meeting with Health Minister Armend Zemaj.
Rama said KSF possesses medical and logistical capacities to face any situation and that its medical battalion can be fully utilised to the service of Kosovo citizens.
Minister Zemaj thanked the KSF for the support and appealed to the citizens to respect the protective measures.
Serbian Language Media
Elek: 93 persons hospitalized at Clinical-Hospital Center in Mitrovica North, one person passed away (KoSSev)
At the moment there are 93 patients infected with Covid-19 hospitalized at the Clinical-Hospital Center (KBC) in Mitrovica North, acting director of KBC Zlatan Elek said, KoSSev portal reports.
Out of this number 11 persons are staying in a triage center, 67 are at the Covid-hospital and 15 patients are placed at Infectious Disease Ward. Two patients were transported to the Clinical Center in Nis. One person has passed away.
Elek also said that total capacities for the Covid-19 patients are 180 places, expecting they would be sufficient if the citizens adhere to the preventive measures, although the health system is over-stretched.
He added that KBC has nine ventilators it received from the Serbian Government, five clinical ventilators, four mobile ventilators, as well as sufficient protective garments, masks, gloves, and medications.
Gracanica: New measures and announcement of fines, and the old problem (KIM radio)
At the Health Center in Gracanica, about 20 people with respiratory problems and fever appear daily, said Dr. Sinisa Rasic. He appeals to the infected and their family members to isolate themselves, in order to prevent the transmission of the virus.
The director of the Inspection Department in the Municipality of Gracanica Milos Aritonovic said that the inspectors from the municipality started informing the citizens about the obligatory wearing of protective masks.
“As of yesterday, the measure of obligatory wearing of masks in public space came into force. As of this morning, the municipal inspectors, in cooperation with the Kosovo police, started on the field to warn the citizens who do not wear protective masks. The inspection department should impose penalties for non-compliance with these measures as early as tomorrow. “
”Based on the law on the spread and prevention of infectious diseases, the fines are from 200 to 1,000 euros,” said Aritonovic.
The residents of Gracanica are still not fully acquainted with the new measures, but they say that they will adhere to them.
“I am not familiar with the new measures that are in force, but I will, of course, adhere to them when I find out about them. The virus is not harmless at all, and the least we can do is adhere to simple measures such as wearing a mask and social distancing,” said a Gracanica resident.
Petar Djordjevic from the NGO “Young Active Gracanica” stated that the authorities should timely inform the citizens about the number of infected people and draw their attention to how they should behave.
“Citizens behave the way the authorities tell them to behave. When we were in quarantine, everyone really respected that. When the measures eased, the citizens felt the need to go outside and followed the recommended measures. However, I think that the relaxation led to the spread of the virus again. We were lucky in the first round, but now it is noticeable that the situation is becoming critical and that the number of patients is increasing sharply. We don’t even know how many patients are infected, which the people should know,” said Djordjevic.
He believes that the second wave of coronavirus had to be received better prepared, and that health institutions would have to perform a larger number of tests on potentially infected people.
“Two weeks ago, I felt bad and went to the Covid clinic. I was told that they can only perform four tests a day, which is very little for our environment, and that it takes about two weeks for them to get the test results back, since the processing of the sample is done in Nis. Meantime, potentially infected people can infect a much larger number of people, until they receive the results. The conditions for the admission of patients should be better, the admission in Laplje Selo is done in the hallway,” stated Djordjevic.
Hashim Thaci’s indictment will remain unknown until October (B92, RTS)
On Monday Hashim Thaci was questioned for six hours in the Hague Specialized Prosecutor’s Office, B92 reports. It remains unknown what questions he answered, as well as the content of the draft indictment, which has not been confirmed, and for that reason Thaci’s departure to The Hague is unclear.
Lawyer Branislav Tapuskovic, a former “friend of the court” at the Hague tribunal, said in a statement for RTS that he agreed with the assessments that we will not find out until October, when the pre-trial judge should decide whether the indictment will be confirmed.
For now, it is only known that Thaci’s indictment charges him with war crimes committed in Kosovo and Metohija, including the murder of 100 people.
“We can’t find out what crimes he was accused of and we won’t find out soon. According to what I heard in the news yesterday and this morning – Hashim Thaci went there and said that yesterday there was a conversation only between his defense attorneys and pre-investigators about technical issues. This is all for the time being. We will certainly not find out anything about the accusations against him this time”, Tapuskovic said.
He alleges that it was first heard that Thaci was going to The Hague on his own initiative, and that he was going to be summoned by the prosecutor, and then to be summoned from the court.
“However, it was all absolutely illogical, because the indictment did not enter into legal force. He should go next time only in case he is really accused”, Tapuskovic told RTS.
“He is still someone who performs the duty of the President of Kosovo, and I am convinced that everything will be done so that he will have the main say in the next talks concerning the fate of Kosovo”, Tapuskovic states.
When asked how ethical it is for Jeffrey Nice, who was the Hague prosecutor, to now assume the role of Hashim Thaci’s lawyer, Tapuskovic said that it is not unusual for someone who was a prosecutor to one day become a lawyer.
“For three years I was seeing him at the Hague Tribunal during the trial of Slobodan Milosevic. However, to work on one criminal-legal case where certain evidence existed as a prosecutor, and now to work as a defense lawyer possibly based on the very same evidence is something unimaginable, something that runs contrary to all the principles, and it must not happen”, Tapuskovic said.
According to Tapuskovic that case included irrefutable evidence on what crimes took place in the “Yellow House”, but Jeffrey Nice although having an obligation to do so, did not share the evidence with the friends of the court, or the accused one.
He added that it was subsequently established that Dick Marty raised the issue of the crimes in the Yellow House and came to the Hague Tribunal to take that evidence and that the evidence was destroyed, however, as Tapuskovic says, that evidence was not destroyed but removed, and if needs be, they will be presented.
See at: https://bit.ly/306d1NH
PM Brnabic denies lack of transparency during coronavirus pandemic (N1)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has denied any attempt by the government to hide data about the coronavirus pandemic, N1 reports.
Speaking at the first of what she said would be regular news conferences by members of the pandemic Crisis Staff, Brnabic said that everything the Serbian Government did to combat the pandemic was done transparently and accused investigative media of creating a lack of trust in the government.
She responded in length to a question from the BIRN investigative portal, repeating that the portal had launched the idea that the authorities cannot be trusted and asking who would benefit from that.
“What hurts me most is that if you from BIRN had any honorable intention you would have talked to us about those figures before publishing them. We have no written proof that you tried… You accused us, didn’t ask our opinion before you published and said: No Trust,” she said. BIRN reported recently that it had been granted access to the government’s COVID-19 database which, it said, showed that the number of coronavirus-related deaths was much higher than officially reported by the government pandemic Crisis Staff.
Brnabic responded to the report saying that anyone who shows coronavirus symptoms but dies when they are hit by a bus is entered into the COVID-19 database.
See at: https://bit.ly/2Or9Muw
Vucic congratulates Macron, convinced in his support of Serbia’s EU path (BETA, N1)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic congratulated his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on his country’s National Day, saying he was convinced Paris would support Serbia on its way to the European Union, BETA news agency reports.
“I congratulate you on the holiday, the day when France celebrates the imperishable human rights to freedom, equality and fraternity. On every July 14th, we recall that the French values are a permanent ideal for us, Serbia’s people, as well”, Vucic wrote to Macron.
Vucic’s office said he also wrote he expected the link between the two peoples, that was unbreakable in the most difficult situations, facing different challenges, will flourish again.
“Serbia and France share the values contemporary Europe is based on, and I’m convinced we will have your support of our European path for the benefit of peace and stability in the Western Balkans”, Vucic wrote adding the French strength was the strength of Europe.
See at: https://bit.ly/2OneTMn
Samardzic: ”Vucic is going to Brussels again without a strategy” (KIM radio, Beta, N1)
The President of the State-Building Movement of Serbia Slobodan Samardzic assessed that the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic in relation to Kosovo “in 2014” accepted the obligation of comprehensive normalization of relations based on a “legally binding agreement”.
Samardzic on his blog “Serbia and the World” wrote that Vucic’s previous talks with European officials ”confirmed the continuation of Serbia’s agony, because the president of our country, as up to now, played the role of the extra in the process that should end with his acceptance of the legal secession of the southern province”.
Samardzic states that for eight years, Vucic “did not have any positive ideas about Kosovo and Metohija”, as well as a serious platform for negotiations.”
He wrote that when Europeans and Albanians together cheated about the Community of Serbian Municipalities (ZSO) and when he launched the empty idea of “delimitation”, Vucic was not in conflict with the Western policy of Serbian recognition of Kosovo’s independence.
“Now, when Westerners are trying to bring the business to an end, he is going to Brussels again recklessly. Without a state strategy in this fateful issue, without a negotiating platform, without any demands on behalf of Serbia as a state,” emphasized Samardzic.
He reiterated that international law does not know the concept of secession, and that it cannot prevent it if the state whose territory is in question accepts the secession of its part through a “legally binding agreement”.
Maas: I will travel to Belgrade and Pristina, dialogue is priority (RTS)
German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas assessed it was good that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue continued, and announced his visit to the two cities, RTS reports.
While presenting the German priorities during its chairing of the EU’s Council, Maas said it was clear to him he must travel to Belgrade and Pristina and send a strong signal that the dialogue is priority for the EU.
He added that he met recently EU’s special envoy for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajcak and noted that Germany would remain committed to the continuation of the dialogue.
Serbian NGOs call on the EU to insist on core values in Serbia (KIM radio, EWB)
It can reasonably be expected that the results of the elections in Serbia on 21 June will lead to a political crisis, while the trust in government policy on fighting the pandemic has been dealt a serious blow in recent weeks, seven civil society organizations from Serbia wrote in a letter to EU institutions on Monday.
The letter was sent by the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy, Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, Centre for Contemporary Politics, European Movement in Serbia, European Policy Centre, International and Security Affairs Centre (ISAC) and Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM).
The NGOs invited the EU to remain true to its own founding values and norms and demand concrete track record in implementation of rule of law and fundamental democratic principles in Serbia.
Only democratic Serbia, firmly relaying on democratic institutions, will be able to resolve its outstanding regional issues. Whoever claims differently, does not care about the stability of Serbia and the region.
“The protests throughout Serbia are a result of a major loss of trust in government institutions, especially when it comes to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports by investigative media point out manipulation of statistics on coronavirus cases and deaths, especially in the weeks prior to the 21 June parliamentary elections. Serious suspicions that numbers were reduced, and restrictive measures revoked before the elections in order to ensure high turnout dealt a massive blow to the citizens’ trust in official statistics and government policy on fighting the pandemic,” the NGOs wrote.
They pointed out that, after parliamentary elections on 21 June, there will be no opposition in the Serbian parliament and large parts of the Serbian society will no longer have their representatives in the highest legislative body.
“Not only has one part of the opposition, unsatisfied with electoral conditions, boycotted the elections, but the electoral process was seriously compromised by unusually high number of irregularities and suspicions of electoral fraud. Independent observers have already classified these elections as the most irregular in recent memory, and it can reasonably be expected that their results will lead to a significant political crisis. Incumbent political leadership displays no willingness to accept the reality and deems these elections as a “historical victory”, thus showing lack of preparedness to engage in a badly needed broad societal dialogue about the future of Serbia’s democracy,” stressed the NGOs.
They also wrote that brutal police violence against protestors in Belgrade which took headlines around the globe is disturbingly reminiscent of the events in Serbia in the 1990s and does not belong in a democratic country which aspires to EU membership.
“This escalation of violence, where peaceful protestors find themselves between the police and a small violent group can in aforementioned circumstances easily spiral out of control. The use of force was brutal and disproportional. There are serious indications about involvement of parts of security services and organizations close to the ruling political parties in provoking violence”, the letter reads.
The organizations reminded that they recently issued a public statement on the occasion of Serbia’s demotion into a “hybrid/transitional regime” by Freedom House, expressing our serious concern about the state of democracy in Serbia and called on the Serbian government to initiate a serious societal dialogue about the state of democracy and on the EU to devote more attention to the issue of democracy within Serbia’s accession negotiations.
“Having in mind recent developments, we find our messages more relevant than ever. Unless serious efforts are made to improve the state of democracy in Serbia and bring the dialogue back in legitimate institutions where it belongs, the current crisis could deepen, and Serbia’s EU path could be jeopardized in years to come,” they concluded.
A manual: how to lose the battle with COVID-19 (Prishtina Insight)
The policies of the Hoti Government geared towards fighting coronavirus are systematically failing to protect citizens from both an economic and public health standpoint, with Monday’s restrictions revealing a careless disregard for residents in dire financial circumstances, writes columnist Agron Demi.
Demi writes: “COVID-19 is leaving, summer is coming” — this was the message of hope that came from infectious disease specialist Doctor Valbon Krasniqi back on 24 May, a time when the number of people testing positive for coronavirus in Kosovo had dropped to the single digits.
Perhaps it was the belief that Kosovo had won the battle against COVID-19 which led the governing coalition that was voted in on 3 June to name Armend Zemaj as Minister of Health, a politician with no experience to speak of in either crisis management or public health.
But even though summer arrived, the virus did not go anywhere.
A few days before the Kurti Government left office, almost all of the restrictions that had been in place since 13 March were scrapped. On 3 June, the night that the new government led by Avdullah Hoti was instated, the National Institute of Public Health announced a rapid decline in people testing positive for coronavirus, with a total of 1,142 cases of coronavirus recorded since March, 30 of whom died and 871 that had recovered. It was proof that Kosovo had done well keeping the virus at bay.
However, the situation has changed drastically since: 40 days later, there have now been 5,118 cases recorded, 2,640 of them currently active, and 108 people have died.”
Read more: https://bit.ly/3iYXLdX
Surroi: Kosovo has yet to realise how dramatic situation with COVID – 19 is (Koha)
Publicist Veton Surroi writes in a Facebook post that Kosovo has yet to realise how dramatic the situation is with the COVID – 19. He argues that it is easy to predict a health, social, economic and security breakdown in the country if dramatic changes are not made in the management of the pandemic.
“There were 187 new infected cases in Kosovo on July 13. On the same day, Italy and Germany had absolutely FEWER new cases. Italy, with a population 33 times higher, had 169 cases, while Germany, with a population 46 times higher, had 159 new cases. Italy makes 99 tests for 1,000 residents, while Germany makes 76. Kosovo for the time being cannot make even one fourth of a test per 1,000 residents. In the first half of this year, Kosovo was caught promoting as a priority topic the nature of trade with Serbia – with or without tariffs, with or without reciprocity – and the measurement of love toward the U.S. or this administration. The extension and increased testing was in NO point of the debate on the direction that the country is heading and it is very likely that in the second half of the year too the country will be caught with other priority issues, such as negotiations, the Specialist Chambers and so far,” Surroi opines.
Corrupt clans or startups? Kosovo must now choose (Die Welt)
The youngest republic of Europe is – if you will – at puberty. It is one of the smallest and poorest countries – and one of the most corrupt. Kosovo is wedged between Serbia, Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia. It is a country full of contrasts – above all economically: on the one hand, clans and organized crime still dominate, there is hardly any added value and the residents have to make do with less money than anywhere else in Europe, on the other hand the small state is more business-friendly than Luxembourg and has hardly any debts .
Now Kosovo gets another chance to choose the right path. The war crimes tribunal in The Hague is taking care of that by indicting the president. Hashim Thaci, former leader of the Kosovar guerrilla group UCK and currently still with extensive executive powers, stands for stagnation at horror level and lack of economic policy ideas.
Read full article at: https://bit.ly/2WiVZur
Serbia ‘Provided War Crimes Evidence’ Against Kosovo President (Balkan Insight)
Serbia’s former war crimes prosecutor told BIRN that his office gave evidence to Hague investigators about President Hashim Thaci’s alleged role in crimes committed by Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas during the 1998-99 conflict.
Former chief war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic told BIRN that while probing alleged organ-trafficking by Kosovo Liberation Army fighters, the Serbian authorities gathered evidence about President Hashim Thaci’s alleged role in wartime crimes, which was then passed to Hague investigators.
See at: https://bit.ly/2ZqBEVX
Public anger rises across Balkans as coronavirus toll grows (Financial Times)
Governments face mounting criticism and mass protests over handling of pandemic
Popular discontent is growing across the Balkans over governments’ handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, as concerns mount about continued lockdowns, poor testing provision and patchy access to healthcare. In Serbia, which was initially relatively successful in containing the virus, anti-government protests turned violent last week, while in Kosovo a new ruling coalition is grappling with a steep rise in infections. The protests in Serbia continued at the weekend. Elsewhere in the region, in countries such as North Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the number of cases is also rising, along with allegations of mismanagement and cronyism.
See at: https://on.ft.com/2OpVhXX
New restrictive measures added following jump in coronavirus cases (Prishtina Insight)
A decision issued by the Kosovo Government on Wednesday has placed further restrictions on freedom of movement, public gatherings and the operation of certain businesses across Kosovo.
All people are now required to wear masks during activities outside their place of residence, and maintain two metres of distance from others while in public. All people working in public and private institutions are required to provide hand sanitizer upon entry to their premises and wear masks when they are working in areas accessible to the public.
The new measures have been introduced following a significant increase in recorded cases of people with COVID-19 over the last week. According to the National Institute of Public Health, between 6 July and 12 July, 1,423 people have tested positive in Kosovo.
Austria bans flights from Western Balkans (N1, DW)
The media in German said that Austria will tighten measures against the Western Balkans related to the coronavirus pandemic and that it will ban flights from the region from Thursday, Deutsche Welle, reported on Tuesday.
“The planes from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, and also from Moldova and Egypt are banned from landing in Austria,” the Vienna Presse daily wrote.
It added that the lines from those countries would be cancelled to the end of July at earliest.
The only flights from those countries that will be allowed to land in Austria will be those carrying medical staff and day labourers.
See at: https://bit.ly/3jc1OE2