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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, July 22, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• COVID – 19: 241 new cases, six deaths (media)
• Thaci: Kosovo has faith in international justice (media)
• Hyseni: Kosovo status not up for negotiations (Telegrafi)
• Hoti: Osmani doesn’t have experience to lead Assembly (media)
• Kurti: Kosovo failed to capitalise on Serbia’s failure at ICJ (media)
• Quni: KSF able to guarantee Kosovo’s sovregnity by 2027 (EO)
• Thaci: Kosovo, the best model of interreligious tolerance and coexistence (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• 22 new cases of Covid-19 infection in Serb areas (Kosovo-online)
• Risi: KFOR to do 750 tests per week (Tanjug)
• Djuric: Economic cooperation and Pristina’s obligations to be discussed in Brussels (Tanjug)
• EU allocates € 12.5 billion for Western Balkans (N1)
• Fabrizi says new budget important for Serbia (FoNet, N1)
• Romania does not change stance on Kosovo (Radio KIM)
• Serbian DefMin Vulin warns Germany not to arm Kosovo (N1, FoNet)
• Media: Angela gave the green light, the Germans are arming Kosovo (B92, Sputnik, Kosovo Online)

Opinion:

• Restarted, but… (Peacefare/Koha)

International:

• Kosovo Needs National Strategy for Sustainable Peace, Report Says (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• How McKinsey Put ‘Productivity’ At Heart of European Refugee Policy (Balkan Insight)
• Loncar says letter signed by almost 800 doctors “political” (N1)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID – 19: 241 new cases, six deaths (media)
  • Thaci: Kosovo has faith in international justice (media)
  • Hyseni: Kosovo status not up for negotiations (Telegrafi)
  • Hoti: Osmani doesn’t have experience to lead Assembly (media)
  • Kurti: Kosovo failed to capitalise on Serbia’s failure at ICJ (media)
  • Quni: KSF able to guarantee Kosovo’s sovregnity by 2027 (EO)
  • Thaci: Kosovo, the best model of interreligious tolerance and coexistence (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • 22 new cases of Covid-19 infection in Serb areas (Kosovo-online)
  • Risi: KFOR to do 750 tests per week (Tanjug)
  • Djuric: Economic cooperation and Pristina’s obligations to be discussed in Brussels (Tanjug)
  • EU allocates € 12.5 billion for Western Balkans (N1)
  • Fabrizi says new budget important for Serbia (FoNet, N1)
  • Romania does not change stance on Kosovo (Radio KIM)
  • Serbian DefMin Vulin warns Germany not to arm Kosovo (N1, FoNet)
  • Media: Angela gave the green light, the Germans are arming Kosovo (B92, Sputnik, Kosovo Online)

Opinion:

  • Restarted, but… (Peacefare/Koha)

International:

  • Kosovo Needs National Strategy for Sustainable Peace, Report Says (Balkan Insight) 

Humanitarian/Development:

  • How McKinsey Put ‘Productivity’ At Heart of European Refugee Policy (Balkan Insight)
  • Loncar says letter signed by almost 800 doctors “political” (N1)

 

Albanian Language Media

 

COVID – 19: 241 new cases, six deaths (media)

Kosovo’s Ministry of Health said in a statement today that 241 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the last 24 hours and that six patients have died from the virus. The highest number of new cases is from the municipality of Prishtina (86). 143 people have recovered from the virus in the last 24 hours.

Thaci: Kosovo has faith in international justice (media)

On the tenth anniversary of the International Court of Justice ruling that declaration of Kosovo’s independence was not in violation to the international law, President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci said that Kosovo and its people have always had faith in international justice “despite the fact that we still have no justice for the Serbian state’s genocide against Albanian civilian population in Kosovo.”

“We never doubted our historic right to live free in our independent and sovereign country,” he wrote on Facebook.

Hyseni: Kosovo status not up for negotiations (Telegrafi)

Skender Hyseni, newly appointed Kosovo’s coordinator for dialogue with Serbia, commemorated the anniversary of International Court of Justice verdict on Kosovo’s declaration of independence saying that ten years on, Serbia still calls for talks on Kosovo’s status.

“This cannot happen, should not happen and WILL NOT HAPPEN,” Hyseni wrote in his first posts since being appointed to the new post.

“On 22 July 2010, the International Court of Justice with a convincing vote of 10 to 4 concluded that ‘declaration of independence of Kosovo approved on 17 February 2008 did not violate international law’. This Opinion of the Court was confirmation and affirmation of Kosovo’s position and legal arguments throughout the advisory process. The opinion therefore leaves no doubt that the Declaration of Kosovo’s Independence was and is legitimate and in harmony to international law.

“The Court was also clear in regards to UN SC Resolution 1244: ‘Declaration of independence has not violated the Security Council resolution 1244 (1999)’ it stated and provided direct justification: the UN SC Resolution 1244 was essentially designed to create an interim régime for Kosovo… the Resolution did not contain any provision dealing with the final status of Kosovo.’ Therefore, Kosovo’s existence as a sovereign country cannot violate the UN SC resolution 1244,” Hyseni wrote on Facebook.

He said he was proud to have coordinated and represented Kosovo before the International Court of Justice and went on to publish his remarks he delivered before the court in 2010 when he served as foreign minister.

Hoti: Osmani doesn’t have experience to lead Assembly (media)

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti responded today to a statement by Assembly President Vjosa Osmani who said that Hoti lacks experience in leading the dialogue with Serbia. Hoti said in a press conference that “the Assembly President lacks experience in managing the Assembly”. “We need to focus on our constitutional competencies,” he said.

Hoti said Skender Hyseni, who was recently appointed state coordinator for dialogue, will represent him in the dialogue with Serbia in Brussels. Hoti also said that Ibrahim Makolli will join Hyseni at the meeting in Brussels on Thursday to draft a final agreement on the issue of missing persons.

Hoti said he has submitted a request to report to the Assembly on the process of dialogue on Friday. He said Kosovo’s objectives are clear and that it wants to conclude the process and not continue it as a technical dialogue. “We have held discussions so far starting with the Paris Summit and the two parties have expressed our positions. I presented our platform with our guiding principles and objectives in the process … We have a clear objective to conclude the process and not to have a technical dialogue. We have entered the dialogue to conclude an agreement with Serbia. We have two objectives: mutual recognition and the normalisation of relations,” Hoti added.

Kurti: Kosovo failed to capitalise on Serbia’s failure at ICJ (media)

On the anniversary of the International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion on the declaration of Kosovo’s independence, the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) leader Albin Kurti said Kosovo failed to capitalise on its victory. 

“Serbia’s failure at the ICJ was not capitalised by Kosovo. It is regrettable that in this decade the ICJ’s opinion was mostly mentioned because of the footnote placed on Kosovo’s name. Instead of strengthening our international standing and internal state-building, the then government had entered a technical and then political dialogue with Serbia, always on internal affairs of Kosovo, by overshadowing the importance of this decision and by allowing to create the impression that Kosovo is renegotiating its status,” Kurti wrote on Facebook.

“The ICJ has provided an important weapon in the international arena. It is never too late to use it well,” Kurti concluded.

Quni: KSF able to guarantee Kosovo’s sovregnity by 2027 (EO)

Anton Quni, Kosovo’s Minister of Defence, said today before members of the Assembly’s committee on security and defence issues that by 2027 the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) will be in a position to guarantee Kosovo’s stability and sovregnity. 

Quni said that by this time, the KSF troops will also be ready to take part in peacekeeping operations abroad, under the UN umbrella. He said that the KSF enjoys high confidence on the part of strategic partners and through the allocated budget and donations, the Force will make effort to meet standards of armies in the region.

Thaci: Kosovo, the best model of interreligious tolerance and coexistence (media)

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci took to Facebook today to say that Kosovo has been a model for outstanding interreligious tolerance and coexistence for centuries.

“I feel proud that together with the head of the Christian community and with President Rugova we laid the cornerstone of the Cathedral in Prishtina. I also feel good and proud that together with the head of the Islamic community and with President Jahjaga we laid the cornerstone of the Mosque in Prishtina,” Thaci writes.

“Kosovo is the best example not only in the region but beyond for an outstanding interreligious tolerance and coexistence for centuries. No one needs to feel insulted, ignored or privileged on religious grounds in our modern state. Protests and expressions of discontent are democratic values in our society and they must never serve as means to incite interreligious and interethnic hatred.”

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

22 new cases of Covid-19 infection in Serb areas (Kosovo-online)

22 new cases of Covid-19 infection were registered in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo over the last 24 hours, epidemiologist Aleksandar Antonijevic said today. At the same time two persons have been cured, Kosovo-online portal reports. 

Antonijevic added that out of 22 new registered cases, five are in Mitrovica North, one in Zvecan, five in Leposaic and three in Zubin Potok. Eight cases were registered in the Serb-populated areas south of the Ibar River. 

The total number of active cases in the Serb-populated areas is 483. Since the outbreak of the pandemic a total of 3001 persons have been tested and 659 were positive. 

119 patients are hospitalized while 344 persons are staying in self-isolation. 

Risi: KFOR to do 750 tests per week (Tanjug)

KFOR would soon be able to do 750 tests per week aiming to curb the coronavirus pandemic, thus helping the Kosovo institutions and the health system, KFOR Commander Major General Michele Risi said today, Tanjug news agency reports. 

“A medical unit whose capacities would be 750 tests per week would work at KFOR”, Risi told the eight NATO Week organized by the Center for European Studies. 

Risi also spoke about “a complex unprecedented challenge – Covid-19 – that KFOR has faced, as it was necessary to urgently ensure protective equipment in order for all the Mission members to be safe, and not only them but citizens as well. 

“Our main aim was not to allow the health crisis to turn into security one”, Risi said, adding that is why the cooperation among institutions, communities, with Serbia, was very important as well as the aid provided by embassies of Italy in Belgrade and Pristina, and the US Embassy. 

Djuric: Economic cooperation and Pristina’s obligations to be discussed in Brussels (Tanjug)

Serbian delegation will travel to Brussels today to have two-day talks with Pristina and EU representatives, Tanjug news agency reports. Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric said the topic of mutual recognition as insinuated by Pristina is not on the agenda, but rather economic cooperation, missing persons and displaced persons as well as obligations that Pristina undertook by Brussels agreement. 

“Primarily we would discuss economic cooperation, and how to return to the market where Serbian goods were banned for more than 20 months”, Djuric told TV Pink. 

According to him, the two sides will also discuss the issue of missing persons, adding that families of the missing persons of all ethnicities deserve to know the truth as to what happened to their beloved ones. 

Also, creating preconditions for the return of displaced and expelled persons would be discussed. “We will ask what Pristina has done in 20 years to allow more than 40,000 banished people to return and be compensated”, he said.

He noted that the delegation of Serbia would raise the issue of the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities and all the obligations of Pristina from the Brussels agreement at every meeting with the representatives of Pristina.

“What we saw in the previous days, which is a consequence of their nervousness on the internal level, is that they are most directly trying to lie about the content of the talks. They can only dream that, either with President (Aleksandar) Vucic or at any other level, they will try to talk about forcing Serbia to recognize the independence of Kosovo”, Djuric said.

He opined that negotiations with Pristina should be continued, stating that in 2012 and 2013, Serbia was in an incomparably more difficult situation in international circumstances than today, when, he reminded, more than 100 countries recognized Kosovo and there was a wave of admissions to international organizations.

EU allocates € 12.5 billion for Western Balkans (N1)

The European Union will increase the amount planned for financing the candidate countries for almost ten percent in the next seven years, the bloc’s leaders agreed on the pandemic recovery plan and seven-year budget after marathon talks on Tuesday, N1 reported.

The meeting during which 27 EU leaders agreed on the amount ended at 5 am, after almost five days of negotiations.

The Western Balkans countries will have access to those 12.5 billion Euro through the pre-accession funds.

“Those are not the only funds Serbia and the Western Balkans could count on. There are the European funds for sustainable development, as well as the EU Recovery Fund with ten billion Euro in grants available to the region,” Marina Maksimovic, a Deutsche Welle correspondent from Brussels, said.

Earlier, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic tweeted about the meeting, writing his country, as an EU member state, would get “22 billion Euro as a guarantee of a quick economic recovery and further balanced development of the country.”

See at: https://bit.ly/3fQXw2M

Fabrizi says new budget important for Serbia (FoNet, N1)

Head of the European Union Delegation in Serbia Sem Fabrizi said on Wednesday that the Union’s new budget is important for Serbia because it covers the expansion policy, FoNet news agency reports.

“Serbia is not an EU member but it is very close to the EU and we expect the quick recovery of the Union to have an effect on Serbia’s recovery”, Fabrizi told the Serbian public broadcaster RTS.  

According to Fabrizi, the EU budget is focused on new issues such as the digital agenda and green economy which, he said, will be reflected on Serbia and the entire region.

Romania does not change stance on Kosovo (Radio KIM)

Romania, but also some other EU member states do not think of recognizing Kosovo, Radio KIM reports. Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry said there is no change in the stance of the country regarding Kosovo.

The statement delivered to Pristina-based portal Klan Kosova said the stance of Romania is based on the principle derived from a general political consensus and respect of international law. 

“Currently we do not think to change this stance. Romania will support the solution of the Kosovo statues only if it is based on the agreement of the two involved sides, contributes to the regional stability and is in line with the international law,” the statement added. 

It was also said that Romania has a positive and constructive approach regarding Kosovo European path, including the process of visa liberalization. When it comes to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Romania supports its continuation the same as all other EU member states. 

“Romania hopes that the dialogue would lead towards a comprehensive, legally binding agreement, in line with international law and fundamental European values, and as such contribute to the regional stability and be acceptable to the both sides”, the statement concluded.  

Serbian DefMin Vulin warns Germany not to arm Kosovo (N1, FoNet)

Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin warned Germany that it would be violating both UN Security Council resolution 1244 and its own laws by sending arms to the Kosovo military, the Defense Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The minister said that by approving the supplying of arms to Kosovo Germany was also sending a message to Serbia, it said and added that providing weapons to terrorists whose leaders have been indicted for war crimes while hoping for peace and stability in the region is either hypocrisy or madness.  

“When Germany shows military force the whole world should be concerned for the future. History repeats itself,” Vulin said.  

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

Media: Angela gave the green light, the Germans are arming Kosovo (B92, Sputnik, Kosovo Online)

While Germany propagates Pristina-Belgrade negotiations, it nevertheless negotiates with Kosovo the purchase of weapons and military equipment, Sputnik reports.

Thus, in fact, it is further stated in the text, Germany is violating its own laws.

Authorities in Pristina have been negotiating for months with German intelligence services on the procurement of cannons and anti-tank missile systems for the so-called Kosovo Army, and their focus is on the supplementation of light artillery and modern infantry weapons.

By arming Kosovo, Germany is violating its own rules and laws, because the 1971 provision prohibits in principle the export of weapons to non-NATO countries.

In order to justify the status of the fourth largest arms exporter in the world with a 5.8 percent share in the arms market, this provision has been replaced by a complicated process, so the final word in “disputed” arms sales has the Federal Security Council, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel and several line ministers of the German government.

The Council approved about 60 percent of the requests of arms manufacturers for export to countries that are not members of the EU or NATO, the study of the Hessen Foundation for Peace and Conflict Research (Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung (HSFK)) showed, made on the order of the non-governmental organization Greenpeace.

Kosovo Albanians have so far, Sputnik writes, spent around 170 million euros on Germany for the purchase of weapons, equipment and training of members of the Kosovo Security Force, and are negotiating the purchase of a new contingent of German G-36 automatic rifles (Heckler and Koch) and Leopard 2 tanks”.

See at: https://bit.ly/2WK8GPg

 

 

Opinion

 

Restarted, but… (Peacefare/Koha)

With the US initiative for White House talks between Serbia and Kosovo aborted, the European Union last week reconvened its own dialogue with Kosovo Prime Minister Hoti and Serbian President Vucic participating. They reportedly discussed two things: accounting for missing people and economic issues. This was wise. The talks had to be convened quickly, in order to maintain momentum and EU credibility. But neither side is ready to discuss the tough political issues that the dialogue aims to resolve, writes Daniel Serwer from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

“Missing people is an issue that concerns both Belgrade and Pristina, as both governments are under pressure to show that there is some tangible benefit to talking with the adversary. It should have been done long ago, but that doesn’t make it less necessary now. Families on both sides want the identification and return of the remains of their loved ones. Completing that process requires extensive collaboration that can increase confidence and open up further issues for joint action.

“The economic issues are more fraught. Vucic has already got what he wanted: an end to the tariffs Kosovo had levied on Serbian goods in retaliation for its so-called “de-recognition” campaign. Hoti has a long list of economic issues he wants discussed: “compensation for war damage, succession [of ownership of former Yugoslav property], state debt, pensions, savings in banks, the lost wages of laid-off workers, damage to private property and other issues.” Vucic isn’t interested in discussing those items. No doubt he’ll have his own list of damages and debits when the time comes.”

See at:  https://bit.ly/3eRZD4S

 

 

International

 

Kosovo Needs National Strategy for Sustainable Peace, Report Says (Balkan Insight)

Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina aimed at normalising relations has resumed, but Kosovo still needs a comprehensive strategy to deal with the legacy of the 1998-99 conflict, a new research report says.

A research report published this month entitled ‘Democratising Transitional Justice in Kosovo’ says that the country needs to focus on comprehensively dealing with the legacy of the 1998-99 war with Serbian forces in order to move towards a sustainably peaceful future.

“Twenty-one years since the end of violent conflict in Kosovo, the country has not managed yet to devise a national strategy on transitional justice due to lack of political will and commitment among national and international stakeholders to genuinely engage with the legacies of the past,” says the report, which was written by Gezim Visoka and Besart Lumi and published by PAX, Integra and the New Social Initiative.

Initiatives undertaken so far “have suffered from a lack of coordination and harmonisation, politicisation and personalisation by political leaders, and most importantly did not manage to ensure adequate representation and inclusion of affected communities (victims and survivors of the conflict)”, the report adds.

See at: https://bit.ly/2E2Tnup

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

How McKinsey Put ‘Productivity’ At Heart of European Refugee Policy (Balkan Insight)

Documents obtained by BIRN and DER SPIEGEL show how US management consultancy McKinsey put ‘maximising productivity’ at the heart of European asylum policy, at the cost of refugee rights, critics say.

A woman in her mid 60s and a six-year-old child killed when a gas canister used for cooking exploded; three men dead within a matter of days apparently from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a makeshift heating system. 

Five tragedies, one scene: the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

The victims were among thousands of people stranded on the ‘hotspot’ Greek islands of Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Leros and Kos during the first winter after the signing of a landmark deal between the European Union and Turkey in March 2016 to stem the flow of asylum seekers from the Middle East, Asia and Africa trying to reach the shores of the bloc.

Amnesty International decried the “squalid living conditions” in the camps, the “bad nutrition and inadequate medical care”. Greek asylum authorities were overwhelmed.

This was the backdrop to the start of a contract in January 2017 between the EU and US consultancy giant McKinsey to eliminate the “backlog” of asylum requests.

See at: https://bit.ly/3eYfkI9

Loncar says letter signed by almost 800 doctors “political” (N1)

Serbian Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar continued efforts by the authorities to discredit the open letter calling for the dismissal of the government’s pandemic Crisis Staff, claiming that it is “political and has nothing to do with the medical profession”, N1 reports.  

The letter was initially signed by 350 doctors but was left open for others to join in and was signed by 775 doctors by 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday.  

The minister said that the letter is not about the profession but also about politics and added that the letter was signed by members of political parties and others living abroad. He claimed to have been contacted by a number of people who signed the letter because “aid was given to people working in COVID hospitals”.

“This is not the time for politics if we’re fighting for lives 24 hours a day”, he said. Loncar also claimed that the signatories include a man banned from the medical profession, another who is involved in politics and with unions, people who have not been in the country for years, former CEOs and others. 

According to the minister, the public should know that the parties that lost the elections are expected to take the side of the signatories to the letter because they are pushing the whole thing forward.

See at: https://bit.ly/39ldcZr

 

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