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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, July 29, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, July 29, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• COVID – 19 report: Four deaths, 194 new cases (media)
• Hoti: We must activate National Reaction Plan (media)
• Committee passes anti-COVID law, sends it to Assembly for approval (media)
• Without facemasks on the dialogue, Hyseni meets Hoxhaj (Kallxo)
• “Two governments fall because of dialogue; this one too is clashing” (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• 16 new Covid-19 infection cases registered in Serb areas in Kosovo (Radio kontakt plus)
• Jevtic: Negative PCR test not needed to enter Kosovo from Serbia (Kosovo-online)
• Zemaj: PCR tests based on reciprocity; Albania does not ask for a test from Kosovo, neither will we from Albania (KoSSev)
• Vecernje Novosti: EU prepares ultimatum to Serbia on Thursday (B92)
• Dacic: Serbian side not aware of some document within the Brussels meeting agenda (RTS)
• Dusan Janjic: There is no ultimatum in Brussels; it is a spin (N1, BETA)
• 77% of Serb citizens would not support Kosovo independence in exchange for faster EU accession (KoSSev)
• Bishop Maksim on Christian Heritage of Kosovo and Metohija Monograph: It sends a message that we should not erase others (KoSSev)
• US Embassy in Serbia: When the Serbian Flag Flew Over the White House

International:

• Cvijić: Unless the EPP joins the criticism of Serbia, there will be no shift in Commission’s position (EWB)
• Critics Decry Serbian Probe Of Media, Rights Groups Over Terror Financing, Money Laundering (RFE)
• Kosovo artist pulls out Belgrade Biennial in nationality dispute (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• It has been decided: EU remains closed to Serbia (B92)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID – 19 report: Four deaths, 194 new cases (media)
  • Hoti: We must activate National Reaction Plan (media)
  • Committee passes anti-COVID law, sends it to Assembly for approval (media)
  • Without facemasks on the dialogue, Hyseni meets Hoxhaj (Kallxo)
  • “Two governments fall because of dialogue; this one too is clashing” (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • 16 new Covid-19 infection cases registered in Serb areas in Kosovo (Radio kontakt plus)
  • Jevtic: Negative PCR test not needed to enter Kosovo from Serbia (Kosovo-online)
  • Zemaj: PCR tests based on reciprocity; Albania does not ask for a test from Kosovo, neither will we from Albania (KoSSev)
  • Vecernje Novosti: EU prepares ultimatum to Serbia on Thursday (B92)
  • Dacic: Serbian side not aware of some document within the Brussels meeting agenda (RTS)
  • Dusan Janjic: There is no ultimatum in Brussels; it is a spin (N1, BETA)
  • 77% of Serb citizens would not support Kosovo independence in exchange for faster EU accession (KoSSev)
  • Bishop Maksim on Christian Heritage of Kosovo and Metohija Monograph: It sends a message that we should not erase others (KoSSev)
  • US Embassy in Serbia: When the Serbian Flag Flew Over the White House

International:

  • Cvijić: Unless the EPP joins the criticism of Serbia, there will be no shift in Commission’s position (EWB)
  • Critics Decry Serbian Probe Of Media, Rights Groups Over Terror Financing, Money Laundering (RFE)
  • Kosovo artist pulls out Belgrade Biennial in nationality dispute (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • It has been decided: EU remains closed to Serbia (B92)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

COVID – 19 report: Four deaths, 194 new cases (media)

Kosovo National Institute for Public Health Director, Naser Ramadani, said that 194 new coronavirus cases and four deaths have been recorded in the last 24 hours. The highest number of cases is from the municipality of Prishtina (81). 138 patients have recovered from the virus during this period. 

Ramadani said the fewer number of infected persons in the last 24 hours is good news and called on citizens to strictly abide by the government’s protective measures.

Most news websites report that representatives of the Islamic Community of Kosovo (BIK) said today that the prayer for the Eid al-Adha will be held in mosques on Friday. Under the headline “BIK goes against the government measures”, Koha recalls that the Kosovo Government said on Tuesday evening that all religious activities are prohibited as part of new measures to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.

Lajmi news website quotes a data management expert as saying that with the current daily rate of infected persons, in early and mid-August Kosovo could see up to nine fatalities daily from the coronavirus.

In an op-ed titled “Chaos, irresponsibility and cynism”, publicist Enver Robelli argues that the current government in Kosovo is not able to control the pandemic. “Kosovo and the coronavirus are on autopilot. There is a dramatic increase in the number of deaths and infected persons. The government seems divided; some are in favor of weddings, while others are against. Some are in favor of the seven-day isolation for Kosovo nationals returning home, and some are against. The situation has become dramatic because this government does not have authority among the people,” Robelli writes.

Hoti: We must activate National Reaction Plan (media)

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said today that Kosovo must activate its National Reaction Plan to better manage the coronavirus pandemic.

“We must activate the National Reaction Plan which foresees the engagement of all government ministries, and the private sector, and especially the hospitals. By fully activating the reaction plan it will be easier to coordinate the interinstitutional engagement. My request is to activate the National Reaction Plan starting from today,” Hoti said.

The request will be discussed at the government’s meeting tomorrow.

Committee passes anti-COVID law, sends it to Assembly for approval (media)

Most news websites report that the Kosovo Assembly’s Committee for Health and Social Welfare has unanimously voted in favor of the anti-COVID law. The news was announced by Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) MP, Haxhi Avdyli, who is part of the committee.

“Although a little late, the Committee on Health and Social Welfare has voted unanimously in favor of the anti-COVID law and it was sent for first reading to the Assembly. Thank you to all MPs regardless of which party they come from, for their support and readiness to further contribute to the amendment of laws in line with the current pandemic in Kosovo,” Avduli wrote in a Facebook post.

Without facemasks on the dialogue, Hyseni meets Hoxhaj (Kallxo)

Kosovo’s State Coordinator for Dialogue with Serbia, Skender Hyseni, met today with Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) deputy leader, Enver Hoxhaj, to discuss the EU-facilitated dialogue in Brussels between Kosovo and Serbia.

The news website notes that in a picture that Hyseni posted on Facebook from the meeting, neither him nor Hoxhaj are seen wearing facemasks despite the fact that the Kosovo Government decided yesterday that it is mandatory to wear facemasks in public. 

Hyseni said he and Hoxhaj discussed “the need for close coordination and cooperation in the process of the dialogue and on all other issues of national importance, by building broad-based political consensus and unity in Kosovo”.

“Two governments fall because of dialogue; this one too is clashing” (media)

Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) MP, Blerta Deliu – Kodra, said in a Facebook post today that two previous governments fell because disagreements over the dialogue with Serbia and that the current one is clashing too. 

“It was absolutely irresponsible to create a new government without prior agreement on the dialogue,” she writes. “The outbreak of recent public clashes between partners in the ruling coalition clearly shows that they too have not reached a prior agreement on this issue [the dialogue] … Governments need to treat the dialogue as a national agenda and include all political and public stakeholders otherwise they will share the same fate. The Prime Minister must convey Kosovo’s political clarity in the meetings of the dialogue and not its dilemmas.”

“Government will soon fall because it is politicising the pandemic” (media)

Vetevendosje MP ad Alternativa leader, Mimoza Kusari-Lila, said in a Facebook post that the current government will soon fall because it has politicised the coronavirus pandemic. She criticised the Hoti-led government for the bad management of the situation. “This government came to power and it will fall because it has politicised the pandemic. It lifted the decision on reciprocity measures where it was needed – on economic and political issues, and it is establishing reciprocity measures where there is no sense, and is threatening public health,” Kusari-Lila argued.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

16 new Covid-19 infection cases registered in Serb areas in Kosovo (Radio kontakt plus)

16 new Covid-19 infection cases were registered in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo over the last 24 hours, while 6 patients have been cured; epidemiologist Aleksandar Antonijevic said today, Radio kontakt plus reports.

Antonijevic added that over the last three days, three persons passed due to Covid-19 caused health complications. Deceased persons were from Leposavic, Zvecan and Priluzje.

Out of 60 samples sent for testing 16 were positive, seven cases were registered in Zvecan, five in Mitrovica North, two in Leposavic and one case each in Zubin Potok and Strpce. 

Since June 18, there are 514 active cases of Covid-19 infection in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo while 100 persons have been cured. 

86 patients are hospitalized, 412 persons are staying in self-isolation while the information for 16 other persons whether they would be hospitalized or sent to self-isolation is awaited. 

Out of 86 hospitalized patients, 78 are staying at Clinical Hospital Center in Mitrovica North, one at Clinical Center of Serbia in Belgrade, two in Dragisa Misovic hospital in Belgrade, one in Kragujevac and four in Nis.

Since the beginning of the pandemic a total of 3301 persons have been tested and 745 persons tested positive to Covid-19.  

Jevtic: Negative PCR test not needed to enter Kosovo from Serbia (Kosovo-online)

Kosovo Minister for Communities and Returns Dalibor Jevtic said today the information that persons entering Kosovo from Serbia should have negative PCR tests is incorrect.

“Negative PCR test is not needed to enter Kosovo from Serbia regardless if citizens have Kosovo or Serbian ID cards”, Jevtic wrote on his Twitter profile.

The portal added the Kosovo Government adopted a decision yesterday that all citizens from Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina should have negative PCR tests to enter Kosovo.

Some Pristina-based media reported earlier that citizens of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja may enter Kosovo without the tests while this does not apply to others coming from Serbia. 

Zemaj: PCR tests based on reciprocity; Albania does not ask for a test from Kosovo, neither will we from Albania (KoSSev)

The Kosovo government adopted new measures last night in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus infection. Among the key new obligations is a negative PCR test for citizens of Montenegro, Albania, Serbia and BiH upon entering Kosovo, but according to the “principle of reciprocity”, wrote portal KoSSev. 

Today, Kosovo’s health minister further explains the decision. 

Since Albania does not ask PCR tests for people from Kosovo, so the same will be valid vice versa i.e. no need for PCR test for Kosovo.

Zemaj met today with Albanian Ambassador to Pristina Qemal Minxhozi to explain the new decision.

“Citizens of the Republic of Albania who enter the territory of the Republic of Kosovo do not have to be tested for COVID-19. The decision of the Government of Kosovo is based on the principle of reciprocity. Therefore, testing is not necessary for the citizens of Kosovo and Albania, nor for our fellow citizens from the Presevo Valley.”

Serbia does not require PCR tests for people coming from Kosovo either, but Zemaj did not specify whether reciprocity in that sense also applies to Serbian citizens, although the allegations are that people from the Presevo Valley are exempted. 

Zemaj, on his Facebook profile, once again shared some of the basic measures introduced yesterday, with a new emphasis on the fact that the COVID-19 test is required from countries in the region only based on reciprocity, reported portal.

Vecernje Novosti: EU prepares ultimatum to Serbia on Thursday (B92)

Representatives of the EU administration in Brussels will practically deliver an ultimatum to Serbia on Thursday, Belgrade-based Vecernje Novosti daily writes.

According to the daily, the Belgrade delegation traveling for talks with Miroslav Lajcak and representatives of Pristina institutions at the European Union headquarters will be handed a draft comprehensive agreement which implies de facto recognition of Kosovo by Serbia and which irrevocably demands that it essentially recognize the unilaterally declared independence of a false state.

Interlocutors from diplomatic circles claim that Brussels, through Lajcak as Special Envoy, plans to hand over a confidential draft to the head of the Serbian team, Marko Djuric, with a request to forward it to the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic.

“This draft was made by the EU without negotiations with any of the parties and abusing their presence in the technical dialogue. The text demands that Serbia accept Kosovo membership in the UN and other international organizations,” a well-informed source said.

Meanwhile, Novosti daily reports today that the EU’s spokesperson Nabila Masrali did not in a single word refute the exclusive information of the daily that the Serbian delegation will be presented a draft comprehensive agreement with Pristina that envisages de-facto recognition of Kosovo by Serbia.

In a statement to Pristina-based Gazetta Express Masrali said the EU has made it clear to Belgrade and Pristina it would not make separate or partial agreements as it happened during the previous processes in Brussels, rather it would be a comprehensive agreement that would be signed only after the agreement on all topics has been reached.

According to Novosti, this new methodology could mean that the topics on economy or missing persons issue that should be discussed tomorrow, Brussels could “push into” legally binding agreement, respectively that these topics are in fact “a smoke screen” for indecent offer to Belgrade.

The daily further speculates that the aspirations of Germany then could come forward to first resolve the status of Kosovo and then continue bilateral talks on technical issues.    

Dacic: Serbian side not aware of some document within the Brussels meeting agenda (RTS)

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told RTS that he, as other citizens, learned from the media about the handing over of the draft agreement between Belgrade and Pristina at the meeting on Thursday. Dacic noted that the Serbian side was not informed of any document possibly being on the agenda. 

Belgrade based daily Vecernje Novosti reported, citing diplomatic sources, that a Belgrade delegation, traveling to meet Miroslav Lajcak and representatives of Pristina institutions at EU headquarters on Thursday, will be handed a draft comprehensive agreement, which includes de facto recognition of Kosovo by Serbia.

Dacis told RTS that the presentation of that document now, at this stage of the dialogue, would be a surprise because it was not even announced that it would happen.

“It is strange why they are doing it now. That is, why are they doing it when Vucic is not there? He was told that the continuation of the dialogue will be only in September. If there is a document, what is the purpose of delivering it to someone that would give it to him?  Probably to gain time to exert pressure on Serbia, both internally and externally. Externally so that some international factors would use this as blackmail for Serbia to accept the document. And internally, on the political scene there are those who support these pressures by violence in the streets. These are two sides of the same medal,” believed Ivica Dacic.

As he said, Belgrade would be blackmailed by those factors that want everything to return to the old state of affairs.

“They will blackmail us with joining the EU. They say that a legally binding agreement must follow before our path to EU membership. The organization of demonstrations is an indicator for Vucic that ‘if you don’t listen, we can bring you down on the street,” Dacic told RTS. 

Dacic believed that, if there was a document, Vucic would inform the public about its content and that the answer would be in accordance with Serbia’s national interests.

Dacic told RTS that it was obvious that there were several lines and flows to influence the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.

“There is a UN resolution that transfers that dialogue to Brussels, but when we draw the line, that agreement must be verified in the Security Council, great powers must give an opinion,” Dacic stated. 

He believed that there was no coordination between the EU and the US on the issue of dialogue.

“I think that there is great pressure from EU countries, such as Germany and France, to marginalize the United States in this dialogue. They undermined the planned meeting in the White House. The two countries believe that the dialogue so far has been unproductive,” Dacic said.

Speaking about the initiation of cooperation between Europol and Pristina, he said that they cannot be members of Europol nor Serbia, as they are not members of the EU.

“The biggest problem for them is that 18 countries have withdrawn recognition and do not have a majority in the UN. Today, out of 193 UN members, they can count on 92 votes. They are upset because again the political issues are discussed which they had considered resolved. Their whole concept is based on lies and disrespect of the agreement,” stated Dacic. He pointed that the statements of the officials from Pristina were extremely “rude and insolent”, and added that the international community did not say a word about it.

“They are doing everything, the minister from Kosovo said that they prevented the two countries from withdrawing recognition. That is a lie. They can do nothing more. But it is true that some big countries have insisted that we stop with it (withdrawal of recognitions) so that an agreement could be reached. We are reluctant to do so, and we will wait for material evidence to see if any country has recognized Kosovo, if Pristina has prevented the withdrawal of recognition,” Dacic said.

Dusan Janjic: There is no ultimatum in Brussels; it is a spin (N1, BETA)

There would be no ultimatum in Brussels on Thursday to recognize unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo, political analyst and director of a Forum for Interethnic Relations Dusan Janjic told BETA news agency.

“I think this could be about spinning and Russian interests and few politicians from the ruling coalition could be behind it and Vecernje Novosti are affiliated with. Vucic should take off his jacket and see where those great friends of his are sitting and putting hot stones into his shoes,” Janjic opined.

He termed the information about possible ultimatum to be presented to the Serbian delegation on Thursday that Vecernje Novosti wrote about earlier as “yet another in a million of spins” that follow the dialogue in Brussels.

“It is about continuation of experts’ meeting with clearly defined topics on economy and restoration of railway traffic. It is about the meeting organized a day prior to the EU diplomats’ annual holiday and under such circumstances no one would bring out the historic issue to recognize unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo”, Janjic said.

Asked who would now initiate the issue of Kosovo recognition, Janjic responded “those who do not wish the dialogue”. He also said that the peaceful region does not suit many politicians, rich people and criminals both in Serbia and Kosovo, but also Russians.  

77% of Serb citizens would not support Kosovo independence in exchange for faster EU accession  (KoSSev)

If a referendum on Kosovo would take place tomorrow in Serbia, 66% of Serb citizens would not support Kosovo independence. On the other hand, as many as 77% of respondents would not support Kosovo independence for faster EU accession, according to this year’s survey conducted by the Institute for European Affairs, KoSSev portal reports.

A total of 1,203 respondents participated in the poll. The survey was carried out for the fifth year in a row.

The Institute for European Affairs, in cooperation with the Ninamedia market research company, conducted an opinion poll from March 6th – March 12th on the position of Serb citizens towards the territory of Kosovo.

The citizens have divided views on whether Kosovo has been ‘lost’. The majority believe that Serbia cannot regain full control of Kosovo. Although more than 50% of respondents are certain that the Serbian Government will not recognize Kosovo independence, the overwhelming majority do not know what the government’s plan on this issue is.

While 46% of citizens think that ‘Kosovo is not lost,’ 42% have the exact opposite view, and 12% of respondents are undecided.

Compared to previous research conducted by this Institute, the number of Serbian citizens who claim that Kosovo is not lost is now on the rise, while the number of those who think it is lost is declining.

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

Bishop Maksim on Christian Heritage of Kosovo and Metohija Monograph: It sends a message that we should not erase others (KoSSev)

“When there is someone’s most precious possession, culture is never just the past. As a collection of testimonies, our monograph has modest ambitions. Its editors and publishers have a firm hope that today’s peoples in Kosovo will be able to resume their talks while placing a positive emphasis on all that is constructive, such is on the areas in which there was once some kind of Serbian-Albanian ethnic symbiosis,” reads the response of the Bishop Maksim of Western America and the editor of the book “Christian Heritage of Kosovo and Metohija“ to the harsh reactions of the Kosovo Albanians after the book’s title appeared on a photo shared by an EU official on his Twitter profile.

A single detail of a photo the Enlargement Commissioner, Oliver Varhelyi shared recently on Twitter of his meeting with Aleksandar Vucic, held at the premises of the Serbian Mission to the EU in Brussels, was enough to provoke a wave of criticism and severe accusations against European officials. The contentious detail in the photo was a book titled “Christian Heritage of Kosovo and Metohija“, which was visible on a table, right between the two politicians.

“More than a diplomatic scandal, provocation and partiality“, a “chauvinist book“, and the “promotion of fascism“, in European institutions – were some of the comments from Pristina. The Kosovo Minister of Foreign Affairs, Meliza Haradinaj Stublla was one of the loudest critics of the book. In addition to these comments, Haradinaj Stublla described it also as “a derivative of ethnic cleansing and territorial claims, which destroy a sovereign and independent country“. The Minister also sent a note of protest to the EC, alleging that it promotes “ethnic hatred with offensive content and it is an unacceptable name for Kosovo“.

The editor of the book, Bishop Maksim of Western America spoke to Serbia Americana about the book published by the LA-based “Sebastian Press“ back in 2015.

He reminded of the book’s initial edition from 1987, which was over 800 pages long and which has since been expanded to 1,008 pages, prepared by dozens of top experts, scholars, professors, historians, artists, and the dean and professors of the Faculty of Theology – headed by Patriarch Pavle. The Patriarch Pavle had personally worked on the first 1987 edition of the book, while serving as the then Bishop of Raska-Prizren for 33 years.

In the meantime, and after being criticized by Pristina, the book also became available in an online edition. As the Diocese explained, the book is now available online so that all interested parties may familiarize themselves with its content.

See at: https://bit.ly/3081qi6

US Embassy in Serbia: When the Serbian Flag Flew Over the White House

On this day (July 28th) in 1918, upon the advice of his good friend Mihajlo Pupin, President Woodrow Wilson gave the order to fly the flag of Serbia over the White House. This was one of a number of acts that reflected the solidarity of Americans with the Serbian people who suffered so tremendously during the First World War.

At the start of the conflict, thousands of young Americans of Serbian descent volunteered to cross the Atlantic and fight shoulder-to-shoulder with their cousins. Malvina Hoffmann’s famous poster urged people to make donations to assist the people of Serbia. Pupin, Mabel Grujić, and others collected not only money, but also thousands of tons of humanitarian aid for the poor and for displaced refugees from Serbia. The Columbia Relief Expedition, organized by Pupin, delivered medicine, food, agricultural tools, and seed to the war zone, as well as dozens of cars to deliver aid and also serve as ambulances.

Dr. Richard Strong, director of the Harvard School of Tropical Medicine and one of the world’s preeminent epidemiologists, headed the medical mission, organized by the Rockefeller Foundation and the American Red Cross, that came to Serbia to halt the deadly spread of typhus. The philanthropist John Frothingham and his wife Jelena Lozanić donated a fully equipped field hospital sent to Skopje. After the war, the couple set up a home for war orphans in Vranje.

Dr. Rosalie Morton, special commissioner of the Red Cross, not only tended to Serbian soldiers on the battlefields. She also stayed behind after the war ended in order to set up the first women’s hospital in Belgrade.

Americans and Serbians should not forget our shared history. The friendship that exists today was forged over a century ago during the Great War.

We were allies again during the Second World War. Indeed, America is tremendously grateful to the Serbian families who hid 500 American and Allied pilots and crew members from the Nazis and helped them escape in a daring rescue mission known as Operation Halyard in 1944.

Today we Americans recommit ourselves to building upon our friendship as we work together with our Serbian partners to strengthen democracy, increase prosperity, and bring peace and security to this country and to this region.

See at: https://bit.ly/3f5o3rL

 

 

International

 

Cvijić: Unless the EPP joins the criticism of Serbia, there will be no shift in Commission’s position (EWB)

According to Srđan Cvijić, Senior Analyst at the Open Society European Policy Institute in Brussels and member of the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG), demands from the Serbian opposition for special reports on rule of law and media freedom will not lead to a fundamental shift in the position of the European Commission.

Speaking for EWB, Cvijić claims that it would nevertheless help the Serbian opposition if they would “unambiguously embrace pro-European policies” and stop courting Moscow.

“Until the largest group in the European Parliament, the EPP does not join the criticism against the regime in Serbia, I am not expecting a fundamental shift in the European Commission’s position”, Cvijić says.

He assesses that police brutality at the demonstrations served as an eye-opener for many who did not pay attention to the problem in the past.

The opposition requested that the EU forms an expert group to report on the state of democracy and the rule of law, and recalled that a similar report (authored by Reinhard Priebe and his team) played a key role in resolving the political crisis in North Macedonia, which is comparable to Serbia’s due to high levels of corruption and cover-up of data on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Srđan Cvijić states that the report alone can not replace the action by the very opposition and other political forces on the ground in Serbia.

“As long as the opposition is not truly united but continues fighting each other instead of the regime a substantial change is not likely to come. One should not confuse the low turnout in the elections with the support to the opposition”, Cvijić says.

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

Critics Decry Serbian Probe Of Media, Rights Groups Over Terror Financing, Money Laundering (RFE)

Serbia’s Finance Ministry has launched a terrorist financing and money laundering probe into journalists and nongovernmental organizations that critics say is a blatant attempt at intimidation by President Aleksandar Vucic’s government.

The ministry has requested bank information since the start of 2019 from 20 individuals and 37 nongovernmental organizations and institutions known for their work on human rights, transparency, and exposing corruption, according to documents published by TV Newsmax Adria Serbia on July 28.

The ministry’s order cites the need “to determine whether the listed organizations and individuals have anything to do with terrorist financing or money laundering.”

Zeljko Radovanovic, who heads the ministry’s anti-money-laundering unit, said the requests were standard procedure and not directed at government critics.

“We need to check if there are donors, or if there are any donors that carry a certain amount of risk,” he said.

But those on the list and others point out that the move is mostly targeted at critics of Vucic’s government. The list includes individuals and organizations that have advocated for Serbia’s EU accession and associated reforms.

See at: https://bit.ly/3g9JN7b

Kosovo artist pulls out Belgrade Biennial in nationality dispute (Balkan Insight)

Kosovo-born visual artist Petrit Halilaj has pulled out of the autumn Belgrade Biennal after the show hosts refused to list his country of origin as Kosovo, saying they could not go against government policy.

A Berlin-based visual artist of Kosovo origin, Petrit Halilaj, has withdrawn from the October Belgrade Biennial after failing to reach an agreement over how the exhibition would present his country of origin.

In an open letter on his experience with the 58th October Salon: Belgrade Biennial, hosted by the Cultural Centre of Belgrade, KCB, Halilaj lamented what he saw as a “structural lack of free political opinion or agency in this art institution, which for me was in direct contrast with the initial aim of the show”.

Haliaj was invited to participate in an iteration called “The Dreamers” in 2019 by the curators Ilaria Marotta and Andrea Baccin. It was to start on October 16.

He was to present a video of the performance called Shkrepetima (FlashLight), which displays Kosovo’s multi-ethnicity, staged in the ruins of the former House of Culture in Runik, which was destroyed in the Kosovo war of the late-1990s.

“When I received the invitation to the Belgrade Biennial I was internally conflicted but I also saw it as an opportunity to create a bridge, to open up a dialogue and explore new paths of reconciliation through art,” Halilaj wrote.

After a bloody war in the late-1990s, the former province declared independence from Serbia in 2008, which Serbia and various other countries have refused to recognise.

Currently, the two countries are engaging in an EU-facilitated dialogue to reach an agreement that could potentially normalize relations and result in mutual recognition. It has been unable to join the UN as a result.

In his open letter, Halilaj recalled that he spent more than two years in refugee camps, as one of the many people displaced from Kosovo during the war in 1999.

At first, the show organisers entirely omitted Kosovo as Halilaj’s country of origin from the list of artists released in May. Information on the country and city of origin of all the other participants was presented in the document.

Halilaj said Marotta, one of the curators, had noticed the omission first. Claiming it was a typo error, after Halilaj requested a correction, the KCB included Kosovo – but with an asterisk.

Use of such an asterisk occurs in a number of official international documents on Kosovo, in deference to the 1999 UN Resolution 1244 on Kosovo, which maintained neutrality over its status.

But Halilaj said he considered this solution unacceptable, as it “reiterates the refusal of Serbia to recognize Kosovo as an independent country”.

In his letter, he added: “The asterisk does not even begin to repair a century of oppression and genocide that Serbia has inflicted on Kosovo and it is painful to witness [this] in the context of an art institution”.

KCB tried to resolve the issue by then removing all the countries of origin of all the participants.

Halilaj insisted that his work still risked “being miscommunicated and misinterpreted, or even politically instrumentalized”, however, and instead withdrew from the show.

A spokesperson of KCB told Artnet News, a media platform, that they had no choice to act as they had done, as “the official policy of the Republic of Serbia doesn’t recognize Kosovo as an independent country, so we as a public institution could not write it differently”.

“From the beginning of this unpleasant situation for Petrit Halilaj we were open for dialogue with the artist,” the show’s organisers said, adding that they hope he changes his mind, Artnet News reported.

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

It has been decided: EU remains closed to Serbia (B92)

The ambassadors of the EU member states decided to keep Serbia on the list of countries that are not allowed to travel to the EU due to Covid-19 situation, B92 reports.

The new updated list does not include new countries, or any country from the Western Balkans, diplomatic sources in Brussels confirmed.

The decision of the ambassadors should be confirmed by a written procedure and then confirmed by the member states, and then officially adopted by the EU Council on August 1.

According to Tanjug news agency there will be no sessions of EU ambassadors during August, and the list will be updated as a matter of urgency only in case of a “drastic change in the epidemiological situation” in one of the countries.

 

 

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