Albanian Language Media:
- COVID-19: 132 new cases recorded in last 24-hour period (media)
- One new coronavirus-related death reported in Podujeve (media)
- Italy closes border to Kosovo and region (media)
- Pristina begins serology testing for COVID-19 (Kallxo)
- Thaci’s advisor says Hoti has no consensus for dialogue (Telegrafi)
- Gazeta Express: PDK could decide to join Kosovo’s ruling coalition
Serbian Language Media:
- 39 new cases of Covid-19 infection registered in Serb-populated areas (Kosovo-online)
- Gracanica: Six more people infected with coronavirus (KIM radio)
- European Commission: In the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina on all open issues (Danas, Kosovo Online)
- McAllister: The positions of Belgrade and Pristina still very distant (Kosovo Online, DW)
- Bilcik: No easy solution to Kosovo issue (Beta, N1)
- Timothy Less: EU has nothing to offer to Serbia (Tanjug, B92, Kontakt plus radio)
- MIA: The North Mitrovica municipality closed due to Covid-19 among its staff (Kontakt plus radio)
- Jevtic welcomes inclusion of displaced persons as topic in Brussels dialogue (RTV Puls, RTV KIM)
- Council of Europe expresses concern over protests in Serbia (N1)
- Kosovo’s Disunited Negotiators can’t Compete With ‘Monolithic’ Serbia (Balkan Insight)
- Serbia and Kosovo to resume rocky road towards an accord (France24)
- EU provides EUR one million aid to finance pandemic medical teams in Serbia (N1)
Albanian Language Media
COVID-19: 132 new cases recorded in last 24-hour period (media)
Kosovo’s Ministry of Health announced that of 486 tests carried out during the last 24 hours, 132 have resulted positive for COVID-19.
Majority of the new cases are from the municipality of Pristina (47).
The Ministry said the total number of coronavirus cases in Kosovo is 5,369 of which 2,706 are active.
One new coronavirus-related death reported in Podujeve (media)
Acting Mayor of Podujeve, Nexhmi Rudari, announced on Facebook that a municipality resident has died from Covid-19.
Expressing condolences to the family of the victim, Rudari called on the citizens to adhere to the recommendations of health institutions.
Media report that so far 116 people in Kosovo have died from the coronavirus pandemic.
Italy closes border to Kosovo and region (media)
Italian authorities have decided to close the border to people coming in from Kosovo, Serbia, and Montenegro after assessing them as COVID-19 high risk countries, media report.
Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza has signed the directive stipulating that persons that have stayed in the above countries in the last 14 days will not be allowed entry or transit to Italy.
Pristina begins serology testing for COVID-19 (Kallxo)
The Municipality of Pristina has announced it will begin serology testing for COVID-19 after it purchased over 10,000 testing kits.
Deputy Mayor Selim Pacolli said on Facebook that the results of such tests will be ready in 30 minutes and that they are aimed at determining the presence of antibodies not of the virus itself.
Thaci’s advisor says Hoti has no consensus for dialogue (Telegrafi)
Adil Behramaj, advisor to the president of Kosovo Hashim Thaci, said that Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti has travelled to Brussels to resume dialogue with Serbia without having a mandate from the Assembly and without political consensus or platform.
“Avdullah Hoti cannot even represent the LDK, let alone Kosovo,” Behramaj wrote on Facebook.
He went on to say that Hoti has chosen to meet President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic on the same day that President Thaci is being interviewed in The Hague over “slanders of the Serbian regime.”
“Since 24 June when the Washington meeting was canceled due to the bizarre publication of the accusations by the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, Avdullah Hoti has not uttered a single word in support of the president, although he did find time to congratulate Liverpool.”
Gazeta Express: PDK could decide to join Kosovo’s ruling coalition
The Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) is discussing the option of becoming part of the Avdullah Hoti-led government, Gazeta Express reports quoting sources.
The PDK is said to have been discussing the prospect over the last two weeks but officially it said it has not changed the position expressed earlier that it will remain in the opposition.
Serbian Language Media
39 new cases of Covid-19 infection registered in Serb-populated areas (Kosovo-online)
39 new cases of Covid-19 infection were registered in Serb-populated areas in Kosovo over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number to 359, epidemiologist Aleksandar Antonijevic said today.
Out of 65 samples 39 tested positive, and the new cases were registered in Mitrovica North 13, five each in Leposavic and Zubin Potok, four in Zvecan and 12 cases were registered in the Serb-populated areas south of the Ibar River.
82 patients are hospitalized at the Clinical-Hospital Center in Mitrovica North, three are in Belgrade, two in Kragujevac and four in Nis.
229 persons are obliged to stay in self-isolation, while 39 more are waiting for the result of tests, Antonijevic said.
Over the last three weeks of the pandemic seven persons have been cured, while four persons have passed away.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic a total of 489 cases have been registered in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo.
Gracanica: Six more people infected with coronavirus (KIM radio)
On the territory of the municipality of Gracanica, 6 new cases of coronavirus were registered, so the total number of confirmed cases is now 30. Five people were hospitalized, the Crisis Staff of the Municipality of Gracanica announced today, KIM radio reports.
The Crisis Staff says that the persons who were in contact with the newly infected were given a measure of self-isolation, and they will be monitored in the coming days due to possible symptoms of infection.
Despite the increase in the number of infected, the Crisis Staff still claims that “everything is under control and that there is no room for panic.”
“Prescribed measures and recommendations of the competent institutions and the municipal Crisis Staff must be strictly followed, as well as all hygienic protection measures, disinfection and physical distancing.”
European Commission: In the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina on all open issues (Danas, Kosovo Online)
The dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina will discuss all issues “because they are of key importance for the normalization of relations” between the two sides, and there will be no discussion and conclusion of agreements on individual issues, the European Commission (EC) announces before today’s round of dialogue in Brussels, reports Belgrade based daily Danas.
EC spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said that “all issues in the dialogue are of key importance for the overall normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo.”
That is why, she said, “all open issues will be considered, which also the agenda of today’s meeting refers”, determined last week.
Massrali thus answered the question of the journalists about the “methodology of dialogue” and whether they will first discuss individual issues and reach an agreement on each of them, or the goal is to reach a complete agreement at the end of consideration of all topics, Beta news agency reports.
Ahead of today’s round of dialogue, EU diplomatic sources in Brussels assessed that Berlin and Paris in particular strongly encouraged Belgrade and Pristina to resume negotiations “with small steps towards normalization of relations”, with the implementation of previously agreed, such as the Brussels Agreement.
However, they noticed that the Kosovo Albanians will not accept anything thoroughly before the American elections and without the consent and support of Washington, as well as that “after all, everyone is waiting for the outcome of the November presidential elections in America.”
The EU media are reluctant to look at the prospects for the success of the renewed dialogue.
The French newspaper “Le Monde” wrote that “the key argument of the Europeans is simple – the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina is a precondition for any progress on the road to the EU.”
Citing sources from the Elysee Palace, the paper writes that “mutual recognition can only follow at the end of a journey made up of small steps that include trade, the fate of those missing during the war and respect for the Orthodox heritage in Kosovo”.
The German portal “Deutsche Welle”, referring to the previous video summit of the leaders of Germany, France, the EU and Belgrade and Kosovo, notes that “no one can expect an imminent turn, but the first political result is obvious – the continuation of negotiations”.
“The first real progress would be the full implementation of the Brussels agreement from 2013 and 2015,” DW said.
However, European diplomatic sources estimate that essentially nothing new is happening around the Western Balkans, and that there is a desire and promise that the EU will be more open to the region.
They explained that awaited in the autumn are a “new methodology” of EU accession negotiations, a package of economic and financial assistance to the EU region. They point to the doubts in some political circles, a stance in the EU on how much is advisable admitting new members when the Union itself is in great difficulty and turmoil, wrote Danas.
McAllister: The positions of Belgrade and Pristina still very distant (Kosovo Online, DW)
The President of the Foreign Policy Committee of the European Parliament David McAllister assessed that Belgrade and Pristina must agree on the topics that would be on the table, because the EU would preserve a strictly mediating role, Deutsche Welle wrote.
McAllister said that it was good that after almost two years of silence, the representatives of Belgrade and Pristina were talking again, but that quick solutions should not be expected, quoted portal Kosovo Online. .
“This meeting at the highest level can only be the beginning of the normalization of relations,” McAllister said about the meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti in Brussels today.
McAllister added that the positions were still very far apart and that it was necessary for both sides to show political will and engagement, as well as that it was in the EU’s interest to encourage talks and connect them with a clear perspective of EU accession.
“The unresolved situation between Serbia and Kosovo remains a potential factor of destabilization for the entire Western Balkans, and thus is of political and special security importance for the whole of Europe,” McAllister said.
He said that he appreciated the success of Special Envoy Miroslav Lajcak, because he managed, with the initiative of France and Germany, to bring the negotiating parties back to the table.
McAllister recalled that Brussels explicitly welcomed the abolition of Kosovo customs duties on goods imported from Serbia and BiH, “because it was a condition for returning the two sides to the negotiating table. In that regard, the decision of Prime Minister Hoti’s government deserves recognition.”
When asked about the idea of exchanging territories, McAllister answered that the result must be the “consent” of the two sides, and that “the Kosovo side categorically ruled out the possibility that exchanging territories be on the agenda.”
The German politician stated that “American mediation activities” between Serbia and Kosovo were not agreed with the EU in that way.
According to McAllister, the door to European-American cooperation in resolving the Kosovo issue remained open “if the interests coincide” but added “the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo was led by the EU and the EU will continue to lead it.”
When asked why there is no visa liberalization for the citizens of Kosovo yet, McAllister reminded that the European Parliament voted for liberalization by a convincing majority.
“From our point of view, Kosovo has fulfilled all the preconditions. Unfortunately, there are EU member states that continue to block the decision and that is why I can certainly understand the disappointment in Kosovo. I have always believed that when the EU makes demands and our partners meet them, then we must because of our own credibility to fulfill our part of the agreement,” concluded McAllister.
Bilcik: No easy solution to Kosovo issue (Beta, N1)
Ahead of today’s continuation of the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue, Vladimír Bilcik, the European Parliament (EP) Rapporteur for Serbia, said it was encouraging the leaders committed themselves to the talks, but that he did not expect an easy solution, the media reported.
After several preparatory online sessions and separate talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, Vucic and Hoti are due to meet face-to-face in Brussels under the European Union auspices on Thursday’s afternoon.
Vucic has also said the negotiating will be tough, adding the first topics will focus on missing and internally displaced people.
Bilcik told at a conference organized by the European Movement in Serbia (EPuS) and Fridrih Ebert, he hoped the dialogue would produce results and conclusions as “a vital sign for (Serbia’s and Kosovo’s) European future.
“We expect a more apparent situation in autumn concerning a solution to Belgrade – Pristina issues, though we know it won’t be easy.”
The head of the Brussels office of the German Institute for International Relations and Security (SWP), Dusan Reljic, assessed that it would be a real miracle if there were concrete results in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina by the autumn, because of the US elections but also because neither side in the negotiations has a real legitimacy.
Reljic said that because of that, he was not convinced that any concrete results should be expected and added that a critical discussion was needed in the EU about what was really happening in Serbia and Kosovo.
The vice president of the European Movement in Serbia, Vladimir Medjak, agreed that the legitimacy is questionable, emphasizing that Kosovo is not a ticket for the EU and that a possible agreement reached quickly would quickly falter.
“The issue of Kosovo is neither the only nor the main condition for EU membership. Even if it is completed by the fall, the question of where the rule of law is – opens,” Medjak added.
Timothy Less: EU has nothing to offer to Serbia (Tanjug, B92, Kontakt plus radio)
Timothy Less, a researcher at the Cambridge University Geopolitical Forum and a former diplomat in the Balkans says, ahead of today’s meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti under the auspices of the EU in Brussels, that he expects the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina to continue for a while, but emphasizes that he does not expect progress in resolving the Kosovo problem.
The EU initiative, he says, will not bring progress because Europeans who want to solve the Kosovo problem at the same time reject the only realistic compromise solution – division in exchange for recognition.
“The only alternative they offer is theoretical membership in the EU, which Aleksandar Vucic said, with some justification, that it is not enough. No matter what the European intentions are, taking over the dialogue from them will ensure only that, when there is no solution, at least when it comes to a solution that will be negotiated,” Less told Tanjug.
He adds that there is not much that the EU can offer to Serbia, and that is a big part of the problem.
If Germany and others reject the idea of adjusting the borders, the only alternative would be urgent membership in the EU, which could, he believes, change the entire political context of this problem, but he is skeptical that it will really happen.
Because, as he says, France and other European countries do not want to let Serbia, Kosovo or any other part of the Balkans into the EU until they are sure that these countries are ready, in other words, until they meet thousands of strict conditions for entry and show that are stable and prosperous democracies.
“In other words, the European initiative to solve the Kosovo problem is likely to get stuck right where it got stuck in the last decade, excluding any solution other than one in which Serbia recognizes Kosovo in exchange for a promise of eventual EU accession,” Less said.
He sees Germany as the biggest obstacle to reaching an agreement, and when asked if it would be possible to change Brussels’ position on a compromise solution that would take into account Serbian interests, Less answered that it is theoretically possible, given that European politicians have different views on this question, but it’s hard to believe that it will happen.
“In the past, both Emmanuel Macron and Sebastian Kurz, along with others, have stated that if Serbs and Albanians agree to solve the Kosovo problem by moving the borders, they will not stand in the way. Josep Borrell said the same thing recently,” Less recalls.
He adds that it is strange when, over the years, European leaders demand a solution to the Kosovo problem, and when Serbia and Kosovo agreed with the outlines of the solution, Angela Merkel and some others blocked that solution because they did not like it.
“In the long run, this is neither a credible nor a sustainable position. The precondition for resuming negotiations in continuity is probably Merkel’s departure and her replacement with a more pragmatic leader, which will not happen until next year at the earliest,” Less said, noting that this is not any guarantee either.
Less reiterates that Germany believes that the partition of Kosovo would open the mythical Pandora’s box – in other words, the partition of Kosovo would be the trigger for the collapse of Bosnia, because Bosnian Serbs only lack a precedent that would serve as a justification for achieving their goal of partitioning Bosnia. it makes no sense, he says, for three reasons.
He is the first to state that Bosnia, he says, is not sticking together because of the lack of precedent, but because as long as Serbs risk punishment for disbanding Bosnia, they will not do so, and the second is that the partition of Kosovo does not set any precedent. According to him, foreign powers have divided the Balkans for decades, and the last time was in 1999, when the United States, supported, among others, by Germany, agreed on the division of Serbia.
“If developments in Kosovo serve as any kind of trigger for the disintegration of Bosnia, it will not be because of Kosovo’s division, but because of the officialization of Kosovo’s independence, which will anger the Serbian public who will demand compensation for it. Realistically, it can only be the Republic of Srpska, a territory of similar size with the Serb population,” Less said.
He adds that in other words, if Germany wants to freeze Bosnia in its current form, and then North Macedonia – the best thing it can do is insist on freezing the Serbian-Kosovo problem.
Asked how he sees the role of the United States in resolving the Kosovo problem at the moment, whether a new move by Richard Grenell can be expected and whether he believes in a common EU approach about the final solution, Less said that Europeans really do not want Americans to get involved in these talks, at least as long as Donald Trump stays in the White House.
“Richard Grenell’s recent comments suggest that the United States will now leave the leading role to the Europeans. I think Grenell was relieved that he handed over this task, with a feeling of disappointment because he failed to reach an agreement and the objection that the Europeans managed to oust the Americans.”
However, he adds that this will not be the end of American involvement, if the Europeans fail, as he expects, to solve the Kosovo problem.
“Events related to Kosovo follow a well-known practice from the post-Yugoslav period when Europeans claimed to have a solution to the problem, told Americans not to interfere, and ultimately failed to reach a solution as things on the ground worsened. We saw the 1990s when Europeans said they would end the wars, but they didn’t, and in 2000, when Europeans said they would stabilize the Balkans by integrating it into the EU, they didn’t”.
In that context, he says, it is logical to be skeptical of European claims that they can solve the Kosovo problem, especially since they do not have any credible solution to offer.
“I think there will now be a period of deadlock in which Europeans will try again to persuade Serbia to recognize Kosovo within the existing borders with the promise of eventual EU membership. In the meantime, the situation in the region, in Serbia and Kosovo, but also in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia, become more unstable. The locals will work with the Russians, Chinese and Turks to help them with various problems. And the EU will dive deeper into its internal crisis,” he said.
The consequences will be such that, when the United States eventually returns, it will have to resolve not only the burdensome issue of where the borders between Serbs and Albanians will be set in Kosovo, but a wider set of problems that will cover the entire Balkan region.
See at: https://bit.ly/2OIc60J
MIA: The North Mitrovica municipality closed due to Covid-19 among its staff (Kontakt plus radio)
The municipality of North Mitrovica will be closed from July 16, due to new cases of Covid-19 among the officials of this municipality, announced the Ministry of Internal Affairs, i.e. the Agency for Civil Registration.
“Since the Vehicle Registration Center and the the Centre for personal documents are located in the municipal facility, the Ministry of the Interior informs citizens that from July 16, vehicle registration services will not be provided until reopening, because they cannot be performed in other municipalities due to municipal fees,” reads the announcement.
It is noted that document issuance services can be provided in all other nearby municipalities, reported Kontakt plus radio.
Jevtic welcomes inclusion of displaced persons as topic in Brussels dialogue (RTV Puls, RTV KIM)
Kosovo Minister for Communities and Returns Dalibor Jevtic said he was pleased that one of the topics of the upcoming dialogue in Brussels would be the issue of displaced persons from Kosovo, RTV Puls reports.
He also said that displaced persons issue was also a topic of discussion in a meeting of Serbian List representatives and the EU special envoy for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajcak during his recent visit to Pristina.
“At the last meeting we as Serb representatives from Kosovo had with Mr. Lajcak in Pristina, we emphasized the importance of the issue of displaced persons and personally I am pleased to see that this issue finally got to the agenda of the dialogue”, Jevtic said.
He added the biggest problem related to the potential return of displaced persons is the issue of their properties.
“This is something we insist on and I hope that the issue of properties would be included within this topic, but I also want to reiterate that for us it was of crucial importance that the dialogue continues. When there is a dialogue, there is also the possibility to talk about problems”, Jevtic said.
He also underlined the importance of missing persons issue. “This is a very painful issue, very difficult, but certainly something that we all need to deal with, in particular within the dialogue at a high political level”, Jevtic concluded.
Council of Europe expresses concern over protests in Serbia (N1)
The Council of Europe (CoE) Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) expressed concern on Wednesday over the protests and brutal clashes on the streets of Belgrade and other Serbian cities, N1 reports.
“The PACE monitoring co-rapporteurs for Serbia, Ian Liddell-Grainger and Piero Fassino have expressed great concern following the latest demonstrations and last week’s brutal clashes with police after new lockdown measures were announced in the country”, a press release said, adding that this level of violence is unacceptable in a democracy.
The co-rapporteurs urged the Serbian authorities to launch a thorough investigation of the violent incidents and called all sides to show restraint.
See at: https://bit.ly/38ZPz8V
Kosovo’s Disunited Negotiators can’t Compete With ‘Monolithic’ Serbia (Balkan Insight)
US and EU-mediated normalization talks are unlikely to end fruitfully while Serbia’s negotiating team is monolithic and Kosovo’s team is divided.
White House discussions to normalize relations between Serbia and Kosovo were set for June 27 but were postponed. Then, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a virtual Summit on July 10, which will be followed by face-to-face talks in Brussels on July 16.
While mediators may have good intentions to intensify the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue, it might actually be better to slow the negotiations down. The current asymmetry between Serbia and Kosovo’s negotiation teams could produce problematic results.
Monolithic Serbia versus divided Kosovo
Negotiation experts would characterize Serbia’s negotiation team as “monolithic” in the sense that its participants are broadly unified. In part, this has to do with the fact that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s power is currently unmatched.
Prime Minister from 2014 to 2017, and Serbian President since then, Vucic has provided a fair amount of stability to Serbia’s negotiation team. His governing Serbian Progressive Party also recently scored a landslide victory in parliamentary elections, winning 63 per cent of the total votes cast, reinforcing its virtual monopoly in Serbian politics.
None of this means that Vucic will agree to normalization; it merely means he has the power to make an agreement without major obstacles. The coming months will reveal his true intentions and whether he is serious about normalizing relations with Kosovo.
In contrast to Serbia’s stable and “monolithic” team, Kosovo’s negotiation team is unstable and “heterogenous” in the sense that negotiators from the same team hold different interests, which may be in conflict with one another.
See at: https://bit.ly/32p7p3B
Serbia and Kosovo to resume rocky road towards an accord (France24)
Former war foes Serbia and Kosovo will restart talks in Brussels on Thursday to normalise their strained relationship after a long stalemate, though the road to settling their many disputes is paved with stumbling blocks.
More than two decades after clashing in war, the Balkan neighbours are still haunted by unresolved tensions that threaten instability in their corner of southeastern Europe.
The overarching dispute is territorial: Belgrade refuses to recognise the independence that its former province, home mainly to ethnic Albanians, proclaimed in 2008.
See at: https://bit.ly/2ZxQjPh
EU provides EUR one million aid to finance pandemic medical teams in Serbia (N1)
The Serbian Government signed an agreement with the European Union and United Nations to finance the salaries of 200 doctors, nurses and other medical staff as well as hospitals and laboratories over the next six months, N1 reports.
The agreement, worth EUR one million was signed at the request of the Serbian Health Ministry by European Integration Minister Jadranka Joksimovic, EU Delegation chief Sem Fabrizi and UNOPS Serbia chief Michela Telatin in the presence of Batut Public Health Institute CEO Verica Jovanovic, the EU Info Center said.
Fabrizi told the signing ceremony that the agreement is another sign of strong EU support to Serbia during the coronavirus pandemic. He recalled that the EU has provided significant aid to Serbia during the pandemic. “We are showing concrete solidarity with Serbia once more in partnership with the health sector and UNOPS,” Fabrizi said.
See at: https://bit.ly/2CI1XOt