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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, 23 July

By   /  23/07/2020  /  Comments Off on UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, 23 July

• COVID-19: 241 new cases, six deaths (media)
• Newly founded COVID-19 advisory board holds first meeting (media)
• Haradinaj: Thaci will resign if indictment is confirmed (Klan Kosova)
• Hoti’s delegation of dialogue powers to Hyseni, deemed unconstitutional (Koha)
• Wilson: Russia wants a status quo in Kosovo (Radio Free Europe)
• Limaj: We cannot have dialogue with Serbia without all leaders at table (T7)
• Haradinaj-Stublla: Agreement with Serbia needs U.S. leadership (media)
• Mothers’ Cries: Do not rush in finalising talks with Serbia (media)
• Ali Ahmeti summoned as witness by Specialist Chambers (media)
• KLA associations demand resignation of EP rapporteur (media)
• Vucic: I expect greater engagement by the U.S. in the dialogue (Lajmi)
• Board of Kosovo Telecom resigns over Z-mobile dispute (Prishtina Insight)

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  • COVID-19: 241 new cases, six deaths (media)
  • Newly founded COVID-19 advisory board holds first meeting (media)
  • Haradinaj: Thaci will resign if indictment is confirmed (Klan Kosova)
  • Hoti’s delegation of dialogue powers to Hyseni, deemed unconstitutional (Koha)
  • Wilson: Russia wants a status quo in Kosovo (Radio Free Europe)
  • Limaj: We cannot have dialogue with Serbia without all leaders at table (T7)
  • Haradinaj-Stublla: Agreement with Serbia needs U.S. leadership (media)
  • Mothers’ Cries: Do not rush in finalising talks with Serbia (media)
  • Ali Ahmeti summoned as witness by Specialist Chambers (media)
  • KLA associations demand resignation of EP rapporteur (media)
  • Vucic: I expect greater engagement by the U.S. in the dialogue (Lajmi)
  • Board of Kosovo Telecom resigns over Z-mobile dispute (Prishtina Insight)

Kosovo Media Highlights

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

Kosovo’s Ministry of Health said in a statement on Wednesday 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. 

Valbon Krasniqi, infectious disease specialist and acting director of Kosovo’s Hospital Services, said in an interview to KTV on Wednesday that 46 patients with coronavirus are currently on respirators and that 286 patients with the virus are being treated in Kosovo’s health facilities. Klan Kosova meanwhile reports that there are 550 patients receiving treatment for COVID-19 in Kosovo hospitals of which 286 are confirmed to have the virus.

There are currently 3,296 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

Newly founded COVID-19 advisory board holds first meeting (media)

The advisory board, set up by the Ministry of Health, to assist efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic held its first meeting yesterday, media report.

Chairman of the board, Lul Raka, said they discussed the tasks ahead and noted that the board does not have executive powers but will present recommendations based on scientific data. Raka also said that he expects to see improvements not only with regards to the testing for COVID-19 but also to informing the citizens about the pandemic.

Hoti’s delegation of dialogue powers to Hyseni, deemed unconstitutional (Koha)

Koha reports that Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti’s move to delegate competencies for leading the dialogue with Serbia to coordinator Skender Hyseni is in conflict to the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 2019 which stipulates that the prime minister of Kosovo should lead the process.

Hoti has meanwhile insisted that Hyseni will be speaking on his behalf in Brussels but at the same time, the appointment decision signed by Hoti does not specify tasks he is expected to perform in dialogue. The decision merely states that Hyseni’s duties are set out by the regulation of the administrative responsibilities of the Office of the Prime Minister and that he will also be required to carry out additional tasks as required by the Prime Minister.

At the same time, representatives from Kosovo and Serbia are expected to meet in Brussels today to discuss topics addressed at the high-level meeting between Prime Minister of Kosovo, Avdullah Hoti, and President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic.

Haradinaj: Thaci will resign if indictment is confirmed (Klan Kosova)

Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) leader Ramush Haradinaj said he is certain that President Hashim Thaci will resign his post if the indictment by the Specialist Chambers is confirmed.

Haradinaj argued that Thaci’s interview at The Hague has an impact on Kosovo’s sovereignty because it was conducted by foreign judges and prosecutors. “There are implications in the sovereignty and state integrity when the President is interviewed,” he said.

Haradinaj criticised Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti for not taking Justice Minister Selim Selimi at the meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Brussels. “If you don’t trust Selim Selimi, then I don’t trust you,” he said. “I want to know what happened at the meeting between Hoti and Vucic, and no one can tell me about this. I want to have my own person there; we are two different political parties after all”.

Haradinaj, whose party is a partner in the ruling coalition, said he does not support SkenderHyseni’s appointment as state coordinator in the dialogue with Serbia. “I received no message, either from Hoti or Mustafa, that Skender Hyseni will be appointed to the post,” he added. “If Prime Minister Hoti continues this, I will not support him in the government”.

Wilson: Russia wants a status quo in Kosovo (Radio Free Europe)

Damon Wilson, U.S. foreign policy advisor and Executive Vice President of the Atlantic Council, said on Monday that Russia is aware that the unresolved Kosovo issue is a challenge in relations between Serbia, the United States and the European Union.

“We see that Russia’s strategy is to maintain the status quo. The status quo undermines Serbia’s ability to enter into serious negotiations and to improve relations with Prishtina … We could even be seeing a hybrid war against the government to discourage the possibility of reaching an agreement [between Kosovo and Serbia,” Wilson said.

“I think in this point we need to be courageous and even face some threats. Serbia’s future is blocked without an agreement and the benefits of our partnership cannot be fully achieved. Kosovo’s future cannot be bad without an agreement.” 

Limaj: We cannot have dialogue with Serbia without all leaders at table (T7)

NISMA leader Fatmir Limaj said in an interview to T7 on Wednesday that last week’s meeting between Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic marked the resumption of the dialogue in Brussels. He said that all partners in the ruling coalition in Kosovo supported the Paris summit via video conference.

Limaj also said that all political leaders in Kosovo must be at the table of talks to conclude the dialogue with Serbia. “There is a threat of resorting to technical dialogue. We have unfortunately lost three years in a useless dialogue for individual purposes. We want dialogue on vital issues. We don’t want dialogue on normalisation but dialogue for mutual recognition. If Serbia is not willing to negotiate on recognition, then we are not interested,” he said.

Haradinaj-Stublla: Agreement with Serbia needs U.S. leadership (media)

Kosovo’s Foreign Minister, Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla, said on Wednesday that U.S. leadership is needed in a final settlement between Kosovo and Serbia. “The dialogue on a final agreement with Serbia will not have the expected results without the U.S. leadership is respecting Kosovo’s territorial integrity is a non-negotiable principle,” Haradinaj-Stublla said in a Facebook post.

Mothers’ Cries: Do not rush in finalising talks with Serbia (media)

The Mothers’ Cries, a non-governmental organisation founded by mothers of victims of the Kosovo war, said in a statement on Wednesday that it is very important that they take part in the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia on the issue of missing persons.

“We understand the good intention of the Kosovo Government to conclude finalise the talks but you must not forget that there cannot be any reconciliation with Serbia without resolving the fate of our loved ones and without an apology for the crimes committed against Albanian civilians,” the statement noted. “We call on President Thaci, Assembly President Osmani and Prime Minister Hoti, to be careful and not rush in finalising the talks with Serbia, because the chapter of war cannot be closed if criminals do not apologise for the crime committed against innocent Albanians”. 

Ali Ahmeti summoned as witness by Specialist Chambers (media)

Ali Ahmeti, leader of the Democratic Union for Integration (BDI) in North Macedonia and one of the founders of the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), has been summoned as a witness by the Specialist Chambers.

“The Specialist Chambers of the Republic of Kosovo, namely the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, has summoned me as a witness as one of the founders of the KLA and a member of its General Staff. I have accepted the invitation without hesitation, and I have established constructive and cooperative contact with the officials in The Hague. I have always been a supporter of nonselective justice and I am available to the judicial bodies to prove the purity of the liberation war of the Albanian people in the face of genocide by Milosevic’s Serbian regime,” Ahmeti wrote in a Facebook post.

KLA associations demand resignation of EP rapporteur (media)

Kosovo Liberation Army War Veterans’ Associations have called for the resignation of the European Parliament’s rapporteur for Kosovo, Viola von Cramon, following her visit to the Specialist Chambers in The Hague which the KLA associations say was an attempt to interfere at the court’s work.

Hysni Gucati, head of KLA war veterans’ associations, said von Cramon’s actions are ‘unprecedented’ and ‘politically incorrect’. Gucati also accused von Cramon of trying to, as he said, reformat the political scene in Kosovo.

Von Cramon has insisted her visit to the Specialist Chambers was prearranged and that it was part of her work. She also said that even her predecessor had visited the court in The Hague. 

Vucic: I expect greater engagement by the U.S. in the dialogue (Lajmi)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday that the United States have not withdrawn from the talks on the Kosovo issue and that he expects a greater engagement from Washington in the process.

Commenting on negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia, which will continue at the level of experts in Brussels on Thursday, Vucic told the Radio Television of Serbia that “Serbia’s room for maneuvering will grow smaller”. “We are not opposing the Albanians there. It is the same to talk to Albanians, or to representatives of the European Union and the United States. They all think the same and they all want an independent Kosovo,” he added.

Board of Kosovo Telecom resigns over Z-mobile dispute (Prishtina Insight)

Kosovo Telecom has been plunged further into chaos after the board of the state-owned enterprise resigned following a dispute with the government over its multi-million euro debt to Z-mobile, while union leaders claim the company accounts have been emptied.

The interim board of Kosovo Telecom has resigned following a dispute with its main shareholder, the Kosovo Government, over the handling of a multi-million euro debt to Z-mobile.

Kosovo Telecom’s accounts were frozen on July 15 following a decision by the Basic Court of Prishtina to allow a private enforcement agency to recoup millions of euros in compensation ordered to be paid to Z-mobile by an international arbitration court in 2016.

A meeting aimed at unblocking the accounts was held on Tuesday between Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti, economic minister Blerim Kuci, senior Kosovo Telecom Officials and representatives of Z-mobile.

However, in its resignation letter to Hoti, the Kosovo Telecom board stated that during this meeting it became clear there were “different points of view” on how to resolve the issue.

“We, the interim board of directors, believe strongly that when there is a huge discrepancy with the shareholder,” the letter states. “There exist only two options: First, approximation of positions, or second a change in positions of one part.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Blerim Kuci, the Minister for the Economy and Environment, stated that the board’s refusal to pay Z-mobile left no room to find a solution. “This behaviour from the board risks closing the door to a solution, and will send Kosovo Telecom into a financial crisis,” Kuci wrote in a Facebook post.

The interim board of Kosovo Telecom was in place for less than five months, having been appointed in February 2020 after the previous government sacked the former board, citing irregularities, poor results, and growing corruption and nepotism.

On Tuesday night, LamihBalaj, the Head of the Independent Trade Union of Post and Telecommunications stated that a private enforcement agency had already emptied Kosovo Telecom’s company account, which reportedly contained around 3.5 million euros.

“Today, 3,500 workers and their families have been left without wages and the national security of communication has been fundamentally endangered,” Balaj said, while the Union has called for a 24-hour protest beginning at 13:00 on Thursday.

Halil Krasniqi, the now former technical director of Kosovo Telecom, has warned that if the company ceases operations and cannot provide services, telecommunications at Kosovo’s key state institutions are at risk, including the police and other emergency services.

Krasniqi also warned that removing liquidity from Kosovo Telecom will have a knock-on effect in regard to debts owed to other companies. “For example we owe 15 million euros to 808 contractors,” he told KTV’s Interaktiv last week. “Then we pay 600,000 euros every month to Kosovo Post for rent.”

The dispute between Kosovo Telecom and private operator Z-mobile is rooted in a contract entered into in 2009.

Z-mobile have accused Kosovo Telecom of failing to provide sufficient SIM cards and 3G and 4G services in breach of the contract. In December 2016, the London Court of International Arbitration ruled in favour of Z-mobile and obliged Kosovo Telecom to pay around 30 million euros in compensation.

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