Albanian Language Media:
- COVID-19: 213 new cases, six deaths (media)
- Municipalities call on government to review COVID-19 measures (media)
- Hoti stresses dialogue with Serbia is political not technical process (media)
- Thaci: Dialogue with Serbia cannot slide into technical level (media)
- Hoti: Kosovo’s territorial integrity non-negotiable (media)
- Lajcak: Kosovo-Serbia expert meeting was productive (media)
Serbian Language Media:
- In Serb communities in Kosovo 27 new Covid-19 cases (Kontakt plus radio)
- President Vucic aims to get Serbia back on world stage and this time won’t allow it to be cast as a villain (Pavlovic Today, media)
- First round of Belgrade-Pristina experts’ talks ended in Brussels (RTS)
- Jevtic: Dialogue gives chance to resolve problems (Radio KIM)
- Dodik asks Vucic to negotiate status of Kosovo and Bosnia’s RS region as package (N1)
- Kosovo more divided than ever over dialogue team (Prishtina Insight)
- Balkan Gangs Are Now Leading Global Smugglers, Report (Balkan Insight)
- Grassroots Group Eyes Belgrade on Route to Toppling Serbian President (Balkan Insight)
- Qendra Multimedia performance space shuts down (Prishtina Insight)
- Opposition calls EU to include Serbia in procurement of coronavirus vaccine (N1)
Albanian Language Media
COVID-19: 213 new cases, six deaths (media)
Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health announced in its daily briefing that 213 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed out of a total of 494 tests carried out over the last 24 hours.
The Institute also said there have been 109 recoveries and six deaths over the same time period.
The majority of the new coronavirus cases are in Pristina (80).
Municipalities call on government to review COVID-19 measures (media)
The Association of Kosovo Municipalities has called on the government to review the recent measures against the COVID-19 pandemic saying they are not showing any results in slowing down the spread of the virus.
In a letter to Health Minister Armend Zemaj and Interior Minister Agim Veliu, the Association of Kosovo Municipalities said that the movement restriction measures introduced on 5 July have not proven to be adequate and therefore should be lifted. The Association also said the limitations set to the hospitality industry also need to be relaxed as they are affecting the economy.
Hoti stresses dialogue with Serbia is political not technical process (media)
Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti met today Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, their first meeting since the specialist prosecutor in The Hague announced war crimes accusations, online media report.
Hoti said after the meeting that the dialogue with Serbia is of the political nature and will not be transformed into a technical process. He reiterated that the final outcome of the dialogue should be mutual recognition between Kosovo and Serbia.
“It is not a process conducted by one single person and is not one that will take place behind curtains. We will be fully transparent throughout the process as our focus is to achieve a mutual recognition agreement,” Hoti said. He added that the dialogue coordinator, Skender Hyseni, is authorised to speak on his behalf in Brussels meetings with the Serbian side.
“I informed the president about the latest developments including the Paris Summit, videoconference and Brussels meeting. We will ensure all together that the dialogue doesn’t slide to the technical level. We are also trying to coordinate with our international partners. I think it is a very good momentum because we have the attention of key EU states as well as the U.S. I believe that this could be concluded in a several-months’ time,” Hoti also said.
Thaci: Dialogue with Serbia cannot slide into technical level (media)
President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci said today after a meeting with Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti that dialogue with Serbia should not take place at the technical level.
“It is of interest for the dialogue to take place as the only way for Kosovo’s to move forward towards European perspective. At the same time, we have to preserve and strengthen our state identity and under no circumstance allow the process be lowered to the technical level as Kosovo-Serbia relations are entirely political,” Thaci said.
“I am convinced that regardless of where the dialogue takes place, at this or that city, if the U.S. is not there, I am skeptical mutual recognition can happen. In fact I am certain it will not happen so it is crucial for the U.S. to be at the dialogue table.”
Thaci also noted that no one can single-handedly push the process forward. “Coalition partners are responsible for their statements and actions. I urge more unity of action,” he said.
Hoti: Kosovo’s territorial integrity non-negotiable (media)
Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti reiterated that the agreement with Serbia will be in line with the Constitution of Kosovo.
In remarks before the Assembly, Hoti spoke about the recent developments regarding dialogue with Serbia and underlined that Kosovo’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are non-negotiable.
He also pledged to keep MPs informed at all times about talks taking place in Brussels. “I will exercise my constitutional authorisations without interference from anyone. I have appointed state coordinator for dialogue in line with the platform. I trust him,” said Hoti referring to Skender Hyseni.
Hoti said his government in a month’s time managed to bring Kosovo to its rightful place, “alongside our allies.”
“We now have support from all on the dialogue objective which is mutual recognition and normalisation of relations. In only one month we eliminated all discussions on Kosovo’s territorial integrity topic… We broke political and diplomatic isolation of Kosovo and determinedly and with courage avoided deadend roads and assumed state responsibility in dialogue,” Hoti is quoted by Koha.
Lajcak: Kosovo-Serbia expert meeting was productive (media)
The EU Special Representative for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue Miroslav Lajcak commented on the latest meeting between representatives of the two parties saying he was looking forward to the next round of expert talks soon.
“This week’s political discussions at expert level on missing persons and displaced persons were productive and constructive,” Lajcak wrote on Twitter.
Serbian Language Media
In Serb communities in Kosovo 27 new Covid-19 cases (Kontakt plus radio)
In Serb areas in Kosovo 27 new cases of Covid-19, nine recovered and two deaths were registered, the epidemiology specialist from the Mitrovica Institute of Public Health, Dr. Aleksandar Antonijevic, announced today, reported Kontakt plus radio.
Out of 27 people positive of the coronavirus, six are from North Mitrovica, five from Zvecan, four from Leposavic and three from Zubin Potok.
Nine new cases have been registered in Serbian areas south of the Ibar River: three from Kamenica, two from Gracanica, two from Priluzje, one case was registered in Strpce, and one in Lipljan.
A total of 115 people have been hospitalized with a positive PCR test. Out of that, 105 people were hospitalized in the Hospital Center in North Mitrovica, two patients were placed in the Dragisa Misovic (Belgrade) Hospital, three in the Kragujevac Clinical Center, five in the Nis Clinical Center, and one person in the Clinical Center of Serbia (Belgrade).
A total of 381 people are in self-isolation.
Currently, 483 cases are active in Serb areas in Kosovo.
From March 12 until today, a total of 3,121 people were tested in Serbian communities in Kosovo, and 707 were positive.
As of June 18, 588 newly infected have been registered in Serbian communities in Kosovo.
President Vucic aims to get Serbia back on world stage and this time won’t allow it to be cast as a villain (Pavlovic Today, media)
If you think that American politics is full of drama, take a look at the Western Balkans. A long and tense few weeks unfolded to the surprise of the seasoned political connoisseurs and spectators alike. Kosovo President Hashim Tachi canceled the Kosovo peace summit with Richard Grenell in Washington D.C. due to an indictment by The Hague prosecutors against him for war crimes “including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture.”
Swiftly, the EU called for an impromptu meeting in Brussels in an attempt to re-establish the dialog between Serbs and Albanians after two years of inactivity in regard to the situation in Kosovo. The series of turbulent twists and turns, and EU-US political wrangling, was further punctuated by the episodes of riots on the streets of Serbia just ahead of President Aleksandar Vucic’s trip to Paris to meet with Emmanuel Macron.
Sharply dressed in a dark blue suit, upon landing in Belgrade after the EU-facilitated dialogue on Kosovo in Brussels, President Aleksandar Vucic was in a reflective mood. Following his party’s landslide election victory, relaxed and confident, in an exclusive interview for The Pavlovic Today, Serbian President Vucic talked Trump, the EU, Kosovo, and laid out his plans for Serbia’s future.
Read the full interview at: https://bit.ly/2ZVwS3a
First round of Belgrade-Pristina experts’ talks ended in Brussels (RTS)
First round of Belgrade-Pristina talks at the level of experts ended yesterday afternoon in Brussels, RTS reports. The Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Marko Djuric said that Belgrade experts’ delegation would continue the talks with EU mediators today.
According to Djuric, representatives of Pristina refused to take part at today’s meeting on economic cooperation. “We will come and discuss with the European Commission about financial help to our region,” Djuric told Tanjug news agency.
Following the talks yesterday, Belgrade delegation went to the Serbian Orthodox Church Saint Sava in Brussels where they paid tribute to the Serb harvesters murdered in Staro Gracko village on July 23, 1999.
Djuric also said that Belgrade delegation requested during the technical talks on missing persons and displaced persons from Kosovo yesterday “punishment of KLA evil-doers recalling that no one was held responsible for the crime in Staro Gracko, but also for many other terrorist attacks against the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija.”
Jevtic: Dialogue gives chance to resolve problems (Radio KIM)
“It was important that the dialogue continue, because the dialogue gives a chance to resolve the problems”, Minister for Communities and Returns Dalibor Jevtic said, commenting on the talks at the expert level between Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels.
“I am glad in particular to see that the topics on resolving the issues of displaced persons and missing persons are finally included on the agenda. These are very painful topics requiring strong political will but also a courage to resolve them,” Jevtic said.
He added, it is unequivocal fact that the dialogue gives a chance to resolve the problems, expressing hope it would happen that way.
Dodik asks Vucic to negotiate status of Kosovo and Bosnia’s RS region as package (N1)
When negotiating the status of Kosovo, Serbia should make it clear that the issue cannot be discussed without also discussing the status of Bosnia’s Serb-majority region, Republika Srpska (RS), Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said after a Thursday meeting between top RS officials and Serbia’s President, Aleksandar Vucic.
But when Vucic addressed reporters, he said his country will stick to Bosnia’s peace agreement from 1995 in which Republika Srpska is part of Bosnia and Herzegovina and continued to list Serbia’s investments in the entity.
Dodik, who is the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency and the leader of the ruling Bosnian Serb party in Bosnia, has been advocating for the semi-autonomous RS region to secede and possibly join neighbouring Serbia for years.
“We see Republika Srpska as a state. The RS has its ambitions, but also its fears. We are very interested in the ongoing talks regarding Kosovo and Metohija. We believe that Serbia has a natural state right and its number one issue is Kosovo and Metohija, but that Republika Srpska should also be Serbia’s issue in a national sense,” he said.
“We believe that Kosovo can not be an internationally recognised state in the way some countries in the world accept it. The RS should have the right to be treated in the same way because the circumstances in the way this issue is being discussed are nearly identical,” he argued.
Dodik said that he and RS representatives pointed out to Vucic that “it should be made clear that it is impossible to talk about a possible secession of Kosovo without talking about the status of the RS.”
“We saw that Vucic took this seriously, but he did not comment on it,” Dodik said.
“We will try to convince him to view these issues jointly,” Dodik said, adding that this would not represent a breach of Bosnia’s 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, which ended the Bosnian war.
Vucic told the media after the meeting that Serbia treats the Dayton Agreement as “sacred scripture.”
“We are the guarantor of the implementation of this peace agreement and I would like things to remain within the framework of the Dayton Agreement,” he said.
See at: https://bit.ly/2ZUPnEJ
Kosovo more divided than ever over dialogue team (Prishtina Insight)
By Eraldin Fazliu
Dissatisfaction with the delegation representing Kosovo in the Brussels negotiations with Serbia hit new heights this week, with even parties in government objecting to the appointment of Skender Hyseni as State Coordinator for the Dialogue.
Just hours before Skender Hyseni, the newly appointed State Coordinator for the Dialogue, met his Serbian counterpart in Brussels on Thursday, leaders of Kosovo’s governing parties were publicly decrying the country’s representatives in the talks.
In a televised interview on Wednesday night, Ramush Haradinaj, the leader of Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, expressed his discontent over the absence of representatives from his party in the country’s delegation to the dialogue. He also revealed that Hyseni’s appointment was not discussed between the parties making up the coalition government, and questioned Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti’s attempts at building political consensus.
“If [Hoti] does not trust the Alliance [for the Future of Kosovo], who he is in coalition with, then why should the opposition trust him?” Haradinaj asked rhetorically, adding that a unilateral approach to governance could not continue.
The AAK leader’s fury over the lack of coordination surrounding Hyseni’s appointment was soon echoed by Fatmir Limaj, the leader of NISMA, another member of the coalition government. Limaj stated that he was not informed about the creation of the position of state coordinator or the nominee, and condemned the unilateral appointment of Hyseni.
Signs of discord between the governing parties on the dialogue had already appeared earlier in the week, when Hoti invited the leaders of all the political parties represented in the Kosovo Assembly to a meeting to discuss the new phase of the Brussels talks. Tuesday’s meeting was boycotted by opposition party leaders, but Haradinaj and Limaj also failed to attend, sending party officials in their place.
See at: https://bit.ly/2EfTymq
Balkan Gangs Are Now Leading Global Smugglers, Report (Balkan Insight)
Once small-time crime gangs from the Western Balkans have expanded their range to Latin America, Australia, Western Europe and Turkey, a new report says, so becoming key international players.
Organised crime groups from the Western Balkans have become key players in various areas of smuggling in Western Europe, Latin America and South Africa, shows a new report by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, a non-profit Swiss-based network of prominent law enforcement, governance and development practitioners.
The report, published on Friday, titled Transnational Tentacles – Global Hotspots of Balkan Organized Crime, analyses data on criminal activities by groups from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, focusing mostly on their activities in Western Europe, Latin America, South Africa, Turkey and Australia.
The idea was to trace “how certain groups from the Western Balkans have moved up the value chain in the past 20 years, from small-time crooks and couriers to becoming major distributors of drugs in networks that stretch from Latin America to Western Europe and South Africa,” the report says.
See at: https://bit.ly/3eVOpfO
Grassroots Group Eyes Belgrade on Route to Toppling Serbian President (Balkan Insight)
A grassroots movement in the Serbian capital has its eye on 2022 local elections as the next turning point in a battle to bring down the country’s ruling Progressive Party and President Aleksandar Vucic. But that’s only half the fight, says activist Radomir Lazovic.
Serbia has hit “rock bottom” and recent protests triggered by the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic are the first salvo in what promises to be a long battle to unseat President Aleksandar Vucic, an activist of the grassroots opposition movement Ne Davimo Beograd [Let’s Not Drown Belgrade] says.
Radomir Lazovic, who helped create the movement on the back of protests in 2016 over a controversial riverside development in the Serbian capital, said local elections in the city in 2022 could provide a turning point if the opposition can wrest the post of mayor from Vucic’s ruling Progressive Party, SNS.
“We cannot win by ourselves, but jointly the opposition can,” Lazovic said in an interview with BIRN, stressing that Ne Davimo Beograd would not run with traditional opposition parties but was open to cooperating after the vote.
See at: https://bit.ly/2WPZ45J
Qendra Multimedia performance space shuts down (Prishtina Insight)
The Municipality of Prishtina insists it has done all it can to support alternative theatre in the city after cultural venue Qendra Multimedia blamed the closure of its performance space on the municipality’s lack of support.
After almost ten years of hosting theatrical and musical performances, poetry readings, exhibitions, book promotions and other cultural activities, the Qendra Multimedia performing space in the Dardania neighbourhood of Prishtina has closed its doors.
In an announcement on Wednesday, the cultural space cited a lack of reliable backing from Kosovo’s institutions both practically and financially as leading to Qendra Multimedia’s closure, and criticised a lack of municipal support in the search for a new venue.
See at: https://bit.ly/32SKm1s
Opposition calls EU to include Serbia in procurement of coronavirus vaccine (N1)
The United Opposition of Serbia group appealed on Thursday to the European Commission to include Serbia and other Western Balkan countries in the joint procurement of COVID-19 vaccines in order to “prove that the health of everyone in Serbia is equally important”, N1 reports.
The opposition group recalled that the Western Balkan region has a population of some 20 million people who deserve to be assisted in the same way as other citizens of Europe.
“The EU would show that European solidarity is not reserved only for people living in EU member states but is a value which knows no borders,” a statement said and added that including Serbia in the joint procurement efforts is especially important “since President Aleksandar Vucic said that he is negotiating the purchase of five million doses of vaccine which has allegedly been tested on a certain population”.
“The media have speculated that it is a vaccine produced in China. We can’t speak to the quality of the vaccine but we believe that the citizens of Serbia and the entire Western Balkans should be protected with the same vaccines as every other citizens of Europe,” it added.
See at: https://bit.ly/3fYf9hd