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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, July 17, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, July 17, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 103 new cases in the last 24 hours (media)
• Clashes between Presidency and PM’s Office over the dialogue (Express)
• Von Cramon to visit Specialist Chambers in the Hague (Ekonomia Online)
• Vetevendosje: Meeting in Brussels was not productive (media)
• Weber hopes on a new flow of Pristina-Belgrade dialogue (Klan)

Serbian Language Media:

• 34 infected with Covid-19 in Serb areas in Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio)
• Vucic: We aren’t negotiating here only with Pristina; Two principles have been agreed (Tanjug, B92)
• Covic: KLA archives to open, EU to conduct dialogue based on chapter’s system (Kosovo-online)
• “Kosovo authorities intend to abolish Special Court” (Kosovo Online, B92)
• Russian FM spokeswoman says Moscow supports Vucic on Kosovo (Beta, N1)
• Djuric reacts to Haradinaj-Stublla’s statement on book in Serbian Mission in Brussels (Kosovo-online)
• Serbian opposition calls EU to help resolve political crisis (N1)
• MEPs call on EC to form expert group to publish reports on situation in Serbia (EWB, N1)

International:

• Serbia ‘Ready to Help Find Missing Kosovo Albanians’: Vucic (Balkan Insight)
• Kosovo President ‘Pleased’ after Four-Day War Crimes Questioning (Balkan Insight)
• Serbia and Kosovo resume rocky road towards an accord (Euractiv)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Dokufest and Anibar go online for 2020 (Prishtina Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 103 new cases in the last 24 hours (media) 
  • Clashes between Presidency and PM’s Office over the dialogue (Express)
  • Von Cramon to visit Specialist Chambers in the Hague (Ekonomia Online)
  • Vetevendosje: Meeting in Brussels was not productive (media)
  • Weber hopes on a new flow of Pristina-Belgrade dialogue (Klan)

Serbian Language Media:

  • 34 infected with Covid-19 in Serb areas in Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio)
  • Vucic: We aren’t negotiating here only with Pristina; Two principles have been agreed (Tanjug, B92)
  • Covic: KLA archives to open, EU to conduct dialogue based on chapter’s system (Kosovo-online)
  • “Kosovo authorities intend to abolish Special Court” (Kosovo Online, B92)
  • Russian FM spokeswoman says Moscow supports Vucic on Kosovo (Beta, N1)
  • Djuric reacts to Haradinaj-Stublla’s statement on book in Serbian Mission in Brussels (Kosovo-online)
  • Serbian opposition calls EU to help resolve political crisis (N1)
  • MEPs call on EC to form expert group to publish reports on situation in Serbia (EWB, N1)

International:

  • Serbia ‘Ready to Help Find Missing Kosovo Albanians’: Vucic (Balkan Insight)
  • Kosovo President ‘Pleased’ after Four-Day War Crimes Questioning (Balkan Insight)
  • Serbia and Kosovo resume rocky road towards an accord (Euractiv)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Dokufest and Anibar go online for 2020 (Prishtina Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

COVID-19: 103 new cases in the last 24 hours (media) 

103 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Kosovo during the last 24 hours. This was announced at a press conference organized by Kosovo’s Ministry of Health, held on Friday at 15:00 hours.

459 samples were tested on Thursday. With six new fatalities, the total number in Kosovo has reached 124, while 95 patients were recovered. 

The General Director of the Kosovo Police, Rashit Qalaj, said at this press conference that 4,000 police officers are engaged in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Clashes between Presidency and PM’s Office over the dialogue (Express)

The news portal reports that the Office of the President of Kosovo was not satisfied with Kosovo’s return at the table of discussions with Serbia, while the President is facing accusations by The Hague prosecutors.

Adil Behramaj, advisor to the president of Kosovo Hashim Thaci, said 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.’

He went on to say 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.  

Prime Minister Hoti responded briefly from Brussels to these accusations. “I represent Kosovo in the discussions, together with coalition partners, keeping completely informed the entire political specter in Kosovo,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Besnik Tahiri, took to Facebook to write that Hotis’s travelling to Brussels is not for pleasure. He also said that each time when Kosovo avoided discussions, it lost, and added that these are two separate processes. “These are two political issues that have to be treated. Any tendency to weaken Mr. Thaci at The Hague and Mr. Hoti in Brussels, is a direct damage to the national interest of Albanians in the Republic of Kosovo,” Tahiri wrote.

Von Cramon to visit Specialist Chambers in the Hague (Ekonomia Online)

Kosovo’s political analyst Agon Maliqi took to Twitter to write that he considers the fact that the President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci was interviewed only after indictment was filed, to be strange. 

“It’s strange he was interviewed only now after indictment was filed & for so long (pre-trial judge has doubts?). I have my theories but let’s wait for final decision. Odd situation is that we can’t actually see the indictment & potential charges yet know names,”

The European Parliament Rapporteur for Kosovo Viola Von Cramon replied to the tweet writing “I am curious as well, will be tomorrow in The Hague to talk to the prosecutors of the Specialist Chambers as well as to the International Commission on Missing Persons.”

Vetevendosje: Meeting in Brussels was not productive (media)

Members of the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) said today at a press conference that Thursday’s meeting of the Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic, was not productive.

MP Artan Abrashi said the dialogue is being held without a platform and that the only thing that came out from this meeting is that we know Hoti can speak Serbian.

“Mr. Hoti does not enjoy credibility or legitimacy to represent Kosovo,” he added.

Abrashi further denied accusations that coronavirus was spread due to the Vetevendosje Movement’s gathering on  12 June, saying all LVV events were in accordance with recommendations of health organisations.

LVV members also accused Hoti’s government for lack of vision on managing the situation with Covid-19 pandemic. 

Weber hopes on a new flow of Pristina-Belgrade dialogue (Klan)

German expert on the Western Balkans Bodo Weber expects the new dialogue process conducted by Kosovo’s Avdullah Hoti and Serbia’s Aleksandar Vucic to be in a new spirit. 

He said in an interview with klankosova.tv that this process, already led by EU Envoy for Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak, should have a precise aim and implement a completely opposite plan to that led by Frederica Mogherini. 

“I expect a real negotiation process based on a defined framework, so, with principles and goals, completely opposite to the secret talks led by Mogherini, which had no framework and especially that was stripped of any principle,” he said.

In the ‘race’ over who should lead the attempt to reconcile the two Balkan countries, Weber thinks the U.S. should return to its key role.

“We have to see if the U.S. can play an active role with the current administration. At the moment it seems that Grenell has managed to minimize the EU efforts, which is the most important thing. Given the fact that negotiations will continue in September and the U.S. presidential election is only two months later, I am not sure we will be able to have any relevant U.S. role. After the elections we will have to see depending on the election result. It would be best for the United States to return to the key role it played at the beginning of the political dialogue,” Weber reportedly said. 

“Contrary to the statements of negotiators who talk about a maximum of “weeks or months” to complete the negotiations, I hope that they will focus on substance, not speed. I remain skeptical that negotiations will be completed this year, but the signing of the agreement next year seems a real possibility, given that there is a reasonable framework for negotiations, based on appropriate messages from key actors, such as Germany and France to Pristina and especially to Belgrade.”

“The issue of establishing official, bilateral relations between Serbia and Kosovo must be addressed, which means addressing the issue of recognition of Kosovo by Serbia. Serbia should stop Kosovo’s blocking course for Kosovo’s EU and UN membership; the issue of the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities must find a substantial solution in a way that addresses the collective fears of Kosovo Serbs, especially those in the north, without creating a Republika Srpska in Kosovo, which means a third power. Ultimately, all unresolved bilateral issues need to be resolved,” Weber said. 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

34 infected with Covid-19 in Serb areas in Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio)

In Serbian communities in Kosovo, 34 people have been registered with the presence of coronavirus, the epidemiology specialist from the Mitrovica Institute of Public Health, Dr. Aleksandar Antonijevic, announced today.

Of the 70 people tested yesterday, 34 were positive with Covid-19.

Out of the total number, seven cases of infection were recorded each in North Mitrovica and Zubin Potok, and three each in Leposavic and Zvecan.

In Serb areas south of the Ibar River, 14 infected people were registered, seven of them in Gracanica, three in Kamenica and two each in Gnjilane and Priluzje.

A total of 97 persons are hospitalized with a positive PCR test.

“About fifteen health workers in the north of Kosovo are infected with Covid-19,” said Dr. Antonijevic.

88 people were hospitalized in the Health Center in Kosovska Mitrovica, added Dr. Antonijevic.

There are three patients in the Dragisa Misovic Clinical Hospital in Belgrade, two in the Kragujevac Clinical Center, and four in the Nis Clinical Center, reported Kontakt plus radio.

Vucic: We aren’t negotiating here only with Pristina; Two principles have been agreed (Tanjug, B92)

President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, said that he had meetings in Brussels with Pristina about missing persons, internally displaced persons, and the economy.

As he stated, there are 1.643 or 1.644 missing persons in Kosovo and Metohija, depending on the records kept by the two sides, of which 570 are Serbs and non-Albanians, and the rest are Albanians.

“We were ready to accept any form of conversation,” he told reporters in Brussels.

“We said that Serbia will never protect anyone, that we want it to be important to find the places where those people were buried because of their families and those who lost their loved ones. We said that we are ready to respond to every request of Albanians, that we are ready to work with them, with the EU’s presence to show whether there is something in that place or not, but we asked for the same right for us”, he said.

“Serbia is prepared to meet every demand from the Albanian side and we are ready to show whether there is anything in places which they think are mass grave sites but we are demanding the same for us,” he said, adding that 570 of the 1.643 persons missing in Kosovo are Serbs and non-Albanians.

Vucic said that he asked for that right because we did not have access to Lapusnik, Donjice, Djakovica, Kosare, Istok and some other locations, and that talks on the issue of missing persons would continue on Wednesday.

“Albanians demanded that all military and police archives be opened. We said there were no problems with the issue of missing persons and internally displaced persons, but Serbia demanded that the so-called KLA archives be opened so that we could see where Serbs and other non-Albanians were killed. As soon as we mentioned that, the Albanian side strongly protested,” he said.

Vucic said that two principles had been agreed upon: it was agreed that we would work with the Red Cross and accept their rules, and the other was that we would be open and express our political will to find the missing persons.

The issue raised at the meeting is also about internally displaced persons, of whom, according to Vucic, there are 220.000, of which 177.000 are Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, and 16.000 are in various places in Kosovo and Metohija, and the rest are in central Serbia.

“Kosovo and Metohija is the place in the world where people rarely return to. There has never been a war conflict where only 1.9 percent of the displaced persons returned to their homes in Kosovo,” he said, but expressed hope that appropriate solutions would be found.

Vucic said that issues on the economy were also discussed, but that some came to talk about war reparations.

“One of the issues was war reparations. I refused, I said there was no point in talking about it,” Vucic said.

As he said, he proposed a trade agreement which, he added, “would not demean us and with which we would not show that we recognize Kosovo as a state because we aren’t”.

“We have something to offer Pristina, I hope that they also have something to offer us. I believe that it can be a good job in creating an incomparably better political climate for our political cooperation in the future and everything else,” he said.

However, Vucic said that they discussed speeding up the works on the Nis-Pristina highway with greater European participation.

“It will be difficult, you all know for what reasons, because we are not negotiating here only with Pristina, but also with Brussels and with the most powerful countries of the European Union that have all recognized an independent Kosovo. I think we are well prepared for the meeting,” he concluded. .

He added that he would be in Brussels again in fifteen days, and that other issues would be on the table in September, such as property, and that he asked for the Union of Serbian Municipalities to be discussed.

“I am glad that we really came to talk, to make progress, and now let the Europeans assess how and in what way the other side approached it,” he concluded.

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

Covic: KLA archives to open, EU to conduct dialogue based on chapter’s system (Kosovo-online)

Former head of the Serbian Coordination Center for Kosovo and Metohija, Nebojsa Covic commenting on the continuation of dialogue under the EU’s auspices said the EU is responsible for implementation of the Brussels agreement.

“Serbian side implemented everything that was in the Brussels agreement. Do you recall permanent attacks against the Serbian side regarding so-called parallel institutions, and by Brussels agreement they were eliminated. And now we have come to the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities”, Covic told TV Pink.

According to him, the EU is responsible for implementation of this agreement. Covic added after that Pristina started making excuses there are no constitutional possibilities to have these measures implemented.

“Then a play around tariffs was used as a ‘smoke screen’ and it lasted long. The EU should apply the same system in the dialogue as it does with the EU’s accession. Set 10 or 20 areas and declare each of them a chapter and then see if Pristina fulfilled obligations”, Covic said.

He also said it was of crucial importance to “open archives of the so-called KLA”.

“KFOR should open those archives, if we want to normalize the situation and that those who have committed serious crimes are held accountable”, Covic concluded. 

“Kosovo authorities intend to abolish Special Court” (Kosovo Online, B92)

The Kosovo authorities intend to abolish the Special Court, lawyer Branislav Tapuskovic told portal Kosovo Online.

He adds that nothing will come out of the indictment against Kosovo President Hashim Thaci.

Tapuskovic assessed that the interrogation of Thaci in the Special Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague and his statement that the prosecution did not ask him anything about the “Yellow House”, indicates that the subject of conversation was not an indictment.

“They were not interested in the indictment at all. They talked about everything else, except about it. You can see that the attempt initiated by Haradinaj in Kosovo, and Thaci also joined that campaign, to abolish that court is underway. They founded that court. The court was established under the laws and the Constitution of Kosovo, and the decree on its establishment was signed by Thaci. As he signed it then, he will now put the law out of force,” Tapuskovic said.

He states that the international community has nothing to do with that court, except that it was relocated to the territory of the Netherlands for security reasons, and that the judges and prosecutors are foreigners.

“You can see that they are protesting in Kosovo and asking how it is possible that Thaci was indicted by the Special Prosecutor at all. The prosecutor filed the indictment precisely because Thaci is in a hurry to abolish that court. The decree on the proclamation of the Special Court was signed by Thaci. Now, he will abolish it,” Tapuskovic firmly believes.

He believes that the fact that nothing concrete is said in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, which has been re-launched, supports his claim. He believes that Thaci intends to return to negotiations with Serbia, despite everything, because he has led everything so far.

“Who knows when we will find out anything about the contents of that indictment. You can see that he did not say a word about it. The question is whether Thaci will be indicted at all. He is not yet in the status of an accused, but a suspect, and if that indictment is not confirmed, he will not be indicted. The indictment cannot enter into force until it is confirmed by the pre-trial judge,” Tapuskovic concluded.

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

Russian FM spokeswoman says Moscow supports Vucic on Kosovo (Beta, N1)

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that Moscow supports Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Kosovo problem, Beta news agency reported. 

She told a regular press briefing that Moscow believes that the European Union will do its job as mediator conscientiously and will invest effort towards the implementation of agreements reached by Belgrade and Pristina the key one being the Community of Serb Municipalities which she said the authorities in Pristina are “sabotaging”. “That is how we view the July 12 video conference and today’s meeting in Brussels,” she said.

According to Zakharova, Moscow advocates a solution which will be functional and mutually acceptable under UN Security Council Resolution 1244.

See at: https://bit.ly/3j9KvDn

Djuric reacts to Haradinaj-Stublla’s statement on book in Serbian Mission in Brussels (Kosovo-online)

Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Marko Djuric reacted last night to the statement of Kosovo Foreign Affairs Minister Mimoza Haradinaj-Stublla that the book on Kosovo and Metohija, which could be seen on the table during the meeting of Vucic and Varhelyi at the Serbian Mission in Brussels, was “a diplomatic scandal”. Djuric said that Christian heritage is a painful topic for Albanians, Kosovo-online portal reports.

Djuric recalled that the meeting Haradinaj-Stublla referred to, took place at the Serbian Mission in Brussels adding that the book “Christian Heritage of Kosovo and Metohija” is a beautiful monography.

“I am aware that the Christian heritage is a painful topic for you, because Albanian extremists burned down around 150 Serbian Orthodox temples in 1999 and 2004”, Djuric wrote on his Twitter profile. 

Meanwhile, Kosovo-online portal reporting on the topic said that Pristina was more shaken over the book about Kosovo and Metohija than over the fact that Kosovo President Hashim Thaci was questioned in The Hague for four days. The portal added that Pristina-based media outlet Gazetta Express sought clarification from Varhelyi’s office.

Varhelyi’s advisor Maja Kocijancic said the photo was not taken at the office of the EU Commissioner, adding that the Serbian President Aleskadnar Vucic organized the reception.

“What I can tell you is that the meeting with Commissioner Varhelyi was organized by the President Vucic at the Serbian Mission in Brussels, and not at the office of the commissioner,” she said.

Kosovo-online portal concluded that it remains completely unclear what was disputable regarding the book about Kosovo and Metohija in the premises of the Serbian Mission in Brussels to some Pristina-based media and politicians. 

Serbian opposition calls EU to help resolve political crisis (N1)

The united Serbian opposition sent a letter to the European Commission expressing concern over the erosion of democracy in the country and calling for expert commissions to identify key problems and help resolve the political crisis.

“We are deeply concerned about the erosion of democracy in Serbia and believe that without democracy, rule of law and media freedom, Serbia has no future in the European Union. We therefore propose to our European partners the establishment of new instruments that would address two fundamental problems that currently plague Serbian democracy, which have resulted in a spiraling slide towards authoritarianism in our country,” the signatories said in a letter.

It was further said that Serbia is a captured state in which President Aleksandar Vucic holds all power and controls the mainstream media with his associates.

As Nova.rs portal reported the letter was signed by president of Freedom and Justice Party (SSP) Dragan Djilas, president of Dveri Movement Bosko Obradovic, president of Democratic Party (DS) Zoran Lutovac, president of Peoples’ Party (NS) Vuk Jeremic, and representatives of some other civic movements and platforms.

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

MEPs call on EC to form expert group to publish reports on situation in Serbia (EWB, N1)

Three groups of MPs accepted Serbian opposition request to the European Union institutions to more actively engage in solving what the opponents of President Aleksandar Vucic’s ruling party see as a deep political crisis, according to a statement which the European Western Balkans (EWB) had access to.

Serbian opposition wrote to the EU institutions on Thursday seeking help in resolving the crisis in the country.

On Friday, the three MPs asked the European Commission (EC) to form “a senior expert group to publish reports on state and media capture in Serbia.”

The aim of the group would be “to enable all relevant political parties and movements in Serbia to solve the crisis and this way enables revival of democratic development of Serbia for the interest of its citizens.”

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

 

 

International

 

Serbia ‘Ready to Help Find Missing Kosovo Albanians’: Vucic (Balkan Insight)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Thursday evening that Belgrade is ready to offer assistance to Pristina in finding the remaining ethnic Albanian missing persons from the 1998-99 war, but wants the Kosovo authorities to reciprocate by helping to find missing Serbs.

Vucic was speaking after the issue of wartime missing persons was discussed at talks with Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti in Brussels, mediated by the EU.

The talks marked the resumption of face-to-face dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo after a gap of 20 months caused by a series of disputes between the two countries.

See at: https://bit.ly/3jh9kxw

Kosovo President ‘Pleased’ after Four-Day War Crimes Questioning (Balkan Insight)

After being questioned for four days in The Hague, President Hashim Thaci, a former Kosovo Liberation Army leader, said prosecutors should conclude that he hasn’t committed any war crimes.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said on Thursday evening after that the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, which questioned him for four days in a row this week, should conclude that he is innocent.

“I am very pleased that for four days I had the opportunity to give evidence on all issues related to my activity during the war period, and my efforts for peace, stability, development and progress,” Thaci, who was a Kosovo Liberation Army leader during the 1998-99 war, told the media.

Thaci said he gave the Hague prosecutors, who are probing wartime and post-war crimes in Kosovo, “information about my role, my responsibilities during the war”.

He said that “now it is up to the prosecutor and the judge to evaluate my testimonies impartially”.

See at: https://bit.ly/2ZzNH3x

Serbia and Kosovo resume rocky road towards an accord (Euractiv)

Former war foes Serbia and Kosovo restarted talks in Brussels on Thursday (16 July) as the EU urged them to compromise to normalise their strained relationship.

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.

After a virtual meeting organised by EU officials last weekend, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s new Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti came to talk face-to-face in Brussels on Thursday.

EU diplomatic chief Josep Borrell hailed the fact the two leaders were talking for the second time in a week as a sign of their commitment to the process.

See at: https://bit.ly/2B8RdZl

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Dokufest and Anibar go online for 2020 (Prishtina Insight)

Kosovo’s two biggest international film festivals, Dokufest and Anibar, have announced that the organisers are planning for the entire programmes of the two festivals to take place online. 

Dokufest, the documentary film festival that takes place annually in Prizren, announced that its theme this year is ‘Transmission,’ which aims to complement the transformation of the festival’s programme to purely digital platforms.

“This year’s theme, Transmission, will highlight in many forms the transition we’re experiencing as a society and as we come to understand that the world and everything in it as we know is transforming rapidly,” the Facebook event for the 19th edition of the festival states.

See at: https://bit.ly/3fF6MGX

 

 

 

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