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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, July 30, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 258 new cases, 16 deaths (media)
• Hoti: There is no mini Western Balkans Schengen (Klan Kosova)
• Hyseni and Djuric to meet today in Brussels (RTK)
• Kosovo FM discusses dialogue, visa liberalisation with French minister (Telegrafi)
• New German ambassador to Kosovo assumes post (media)
• Tomáš Szunyog appointed as new EU Special Representative for Kosovo (media)
• Mustafa: Visit in the north, a positive signal of cooperation (RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

• 25 new patients with coronavirus in Serbian communities (RTV Puls, TV Most)
• Vucic: We know nothing about writing final agreement in Brussels (RTS)
• Stano: There is no ultimatum in Brussels (KoSSev, RFE)
• Vucic on coronavirus situation and new measures (B92)
• Vucic: Serbia wants to cooperate; Rama: Mini Schengen needed more than ever (N1)
• Business Council to be established in the Western Balkans, Cadez says (media)
• “Ministry of Health and Public Institute to respect Law on use of languages” (Radio KIM)
• EU earmarks € 9.9 million for Kosovo’s budget, faster reforms expected (Beta, N1)
• Three suspected explosive devices found in Mitrovica North (KoSSev)

International:

• Kosovo Pushes Ahead with Law to Protect KLA’s Reputation (Balkan Insight)
• Western Balkans leaders meet to drive coronavirus recovery and deepen regional economic cooperation
(atlanticcouncil.org)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 258 new cases, 16 deaths (media)
  • Hoti: There is no mini Western Balkans Schengen (Klan Kosova)
  • Hyseni and Djuric to meet today in Brussels (RTK)
  • Kosovo FM discusses dialogue, visa liberalisation with French minister (Telegrafi)
  • New German ambassador to Kosovo assumes post (media)
  • Tomáš Szunyog appointed as new EU Special Representative for Kosovo (media)
  • Mustafa: Visit in the north, a positive signal of cooperation (RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

  • 25 new patients with coronavirus in Serbian communities (RTV Puls, TV Most)
  • Vucic: We know nothing about writing final agreement in Brussels (RTS)
  • Stano: There is no ultimatum in Brussels (KoSSev, RFE)
  • Vucic on coronavirus situation and new measures (B92)
  • Vucic: Serbia wants to cooperate; Rama: Mini Schengen needed more than ever (N1)
  • Business Council to be established in the Western Balkans, Cadez says (media)
  • “Ministry of Health and Public Institute to respect Law on use of languages” (Radio KIM)
  • EU earmarks € 9.9 million for Kosovo’s budget, faster reforms expected (Beta, N1)
  • Three suspected explosive devices found in Mitrovica North (KoSSev)

International:

  • Kosovo Pushes Ahead with Law to Protect KLA’s Reputation (Balkan Insight)
  • Western Balkans leaders meet to drive coronavirus recovery and deepen regional economic cooperation (atlanticcouncil.org)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

COVID-19: 258 new cases, 16 deaths (media)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health announced that 258 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed over the last 24 hours. At the same time, 196 recoveries and 16 deaths were recorded over the same time period.

The majority of the new cases are from the municipality of Pristina (53). 

According to the Institute for Public Health, the total number of coronavirus cases in Kosovo is 8,104 of which 3,429 active. 

Hoti: There is no mini Western Balkans Schengen (Klan Kosova)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti is reported to have opposed the idea of the mini-Schengen agreement between Western Balkans countries.

Asked by reporters to comment on whether he would support Kosovo joining such an undertaking initiated by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Hoti said: “There is no Balkans mini-Schengen. There is however European integration and as best possible cooperation in the region. We need to intensify economic cooperation for the wellbeing of the citizens of the entire region.”

Hyseni and Djuric to meet today in Brussels (RTK)

Another meeting between Kosovo and Serbia, at the level of experts, will take place today in Brussels.

This is the second meeting within a week, mediated by the EU Special Envoy for the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak.

Kosovo delegation will be led by the state coordinator for dialogue, Skender Hyseni, while that of Serbia, by the Director of the Office for Kosovo at Serbian government, Marko Djuric.

They are expected to discuss economic cooperation, while a week ago, parties discussed the issue of the missing persons. 

The dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, at the higher level, resumed on 16 July, with a meeting of the Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti and Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic, mediated by the EU senior officials.

The meetings between experts were not welcomed in Pristina, where opposition political parties as well as coalition partners and the presidency claimed they delay reaching the final agreement with Serbia.

Hoti however insisted that these meetings initiated drafting of the agreement for mutual recognition with Serbia.

Kosovo FM discusses dialogue, visa liberalisation with French minister (Telegrafi)

Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla had a telephone conversation with the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

“I thanked Minister Le Drian for France’s valuable support in all stages of Kosovo’s state-building and underlined readiness to expand and deepen our inter-state cooperation in aspects of joint interest,” Haradinaj-Stublla said. 

She added that they also discussed Kosovo-Serbia dialogue and the visa liberalisation process which, Haradinaj-Stublla said is of strategic importance for Kosovo and in the interest of European values for the region.

New German ambassador to Kosovo assumes post (media)

Germany’s ambassador to Kosovo, Jorn Rohde, has assumed the new position replacing Christian Heldt.

Rohde presented credential papers to Kosovo President Hashim Thaci today and said Germany will continue support for Kosovo.

Thaci meanwhile said he was hopeful that visa liberalisation for Kosovo would come to a fruitful conclusion during Germany’s presidency of the EU. “Germany is an important political address of Kosovo in Europe. We appreciate the support the German people have given in the process of freedom, independence and state-building,” Thaci said. 

Tomáš Szunyog appointed as new EU Special Representative for Kosovo (media)

The Council of the European Union appointed today Tomáš Szunyog as EU Special Representative for Kosovo, media report quoting a statement issued by the EU. 

The mandate of Szunyog from the Czech Republic begins on 1 September 2020 and will extend through 31 August 2021. 

“The EUSR plays a leading role in promoting a stable, viable, peaceful, democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo, including through strengthening stability in the region and contributing to regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations in the Western Balkans. The EUSR promotes a Kosovo that is committed to the rule of law and to the protection of minorities and of cultural and religious heritage. The EUSR supports Kosovo’s European perspective and rapprochement with the EU in line with the perspective of the region and in accordance with the Stabilisation and Association Agreement,” the statement reads. 

Mustafa: Visit in the north, a positive signal of cooperation (RTK)

Isa Mustafa, leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) took to Facebook to praise the visit of the Minister of Interior and Public Administration Agim Veliu, in the north of Kosovo. 

“Yesterday’s visit of the Minister for Internal Affairs and Public Administration, MR. Agim Veliu to Zubin Potok and Bernjak borderpoint, is a very good act and positive signal of cooperation with our municipalities in the north of the country. 

The visit highlighted not only the normal and official reception by the hosts, but also many problems, starting from the most elementary ones, in those municipalities, for which all institutions should make efforts to resolve,” Mustafa wrote. 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

25 new patients with coronavirus in Serbian communities (RTV Puls, TV Most)

According to the latest data, out of 60 samples tested on Tuesday, 25 newly diagnosed persons from all Serbian communities in Kosovo, reports the media. In addition to this, 10 persons were cured, and two died. 

Out of 60 samples sent to the “Vatreno Oko” laboratory in Belgrade, 15 newly infected were registered in the north of Kosovo: in Zvecan three, North Mitrovica five, and Leposavic seven. 

In central Kosovo, 10 new cases have been reported, one each in Gracanica, Priluzje and Pec, two in Gnjilane and four in Strpce.

A total of 436 people are in self-isolation.

Epidemiologist Aleksandar Antonijevic pointed out that Strpce is currently the most endangered. “These are very severe pneumonias, it seems to me that the cases are a bit neglected, that is, they did not report to a doctor in time,” says Antonijevic, reported Kontakt plus radio. 

The number of positive cases was somewhat higher, because it included patients who have already been hospitalized at the Department of Lung Diseases of the North Mitrovica Hospital, said the epidemiologist, Dr. Aleksandar Antonijevic, as a guest on the morning program of TV Most based in Zvecan. 

The epidemiological situation in the Serbian communities in Kosovo is still very serious, but indications are that the process of stabilization and bringing the epidemic under control has begun, Antonijevic assessed. 

“In the last few days, the percentage of positive cases of coronavirus from the total number of tested is around 30 percent, which shows that it is going in the right direction,” said Antonijevic, adding that on a daily basis, the competent health institutions now check 10 to 20 citizens, which is much less than before.  78 patients diagnosed with Covida-19 are hospitalized in the North Mitrovica Hospital, whereby the capacities are half full. 

However, caution is still needed, he emphasized, appealing to citizens to call doctors as soon as they feel the first symptoms because when they appear at a later stage of the disease, the course of the disease is more difficult and the outcome more uncertain.

Antonijevic gave an example of the situation in Leposavic, where every other patient with symptoms of Covid – 19 had pneumonia. 

“A total of 650 people infected with the corona virus have been registered in Serbian communities in Kosovo and Metohija to date, while a hundred patients have been cured in the same period,” says Antonijevic. 

“The most important thing is to be responsible and respect the recommended protection measures, that is the best way to stop the spread of the infection, preserve the health of the population and make work easier for health workers who fight for patients’ lives day and night,” Dr. Antonijevic told TV Most.

Vucic: We know nothing about writing final agreement in Brussels (RTS)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in his public address today said when it comes to Kosovo and Metohija days ahead of Serbia are neither simple nor easy, RTS reports. He added Serbia would try to preserve the position of an honest partner and negotiator; however, it would also be very strong to reject what is not a compromise but rather pressure on Serbia.

Vucic also said he was surprised with the statement of Kosovo Prime Minister Avduallah Hoti that Brussels started preparing a final agreement, which as he pointed out, no one has refuted.

“We know nothing about it, we know that we want to negotiate on the topics that are on the table, we want to talk about implementation of what had been signed in April 2013, and it is the agreement on Community of the Serb-majority Municipalities and we are not interested at all what is in line or not with the Kosovo constitution”, he said.

Vucic added “Serbia wishes serious, concrete talks, but if someone thinks Serbia would be ‘a punching bag’, that we need to recognize Kosovo and get nothing, this is a wrong way that would lead us nowhere”.

The essence of Serbia’s policy is preservation of peace and stability, both for its citizens and the region where we live, he further elaborated. “(…) that is why our delegation headed by Marko Djuric is prepared for the talks about economic issues, internally displaced persons and missing persons. We will be ready to undertake further steps regarding the opening of our archives; we will demand that KLA opens its archives because we think it is important that families of the missing persons get the justice and know where their children, parents and brothers are.”

Serbian President also stressed the low percentage of people who have returned to Kosovo – respectively 1.9 percent which he termed as “the lowest in the entire world”.

Talking about economic cooperation with Pristina, Vucic said Serbia is “absolutely interested” and “wishes to find a way and modus operandi” for free flow of people, goods and capital.

Stano: There is no ultimatum in Brussels (KoSSev, RFE)

Chief Spokesperson of the European External Affairs Service (EEAS) Peter Stano refuted allegations by some media that the European Union is preparing an ultimatum to Belgrade in the upcoming round of talks between Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels on July 30, Radio Free Europe reports.

“As per rule we do not comment on media speculations, however, in this particular case I wish to explicitly reject speculations regarding tomorrow’s experts meeting and their agenda”, Stano said in a written reply to RFE yesterday.

The dialogue, after it was restarted at the highest level earlier this month, continues with a series of meetings at the level of experts as a part of the ongoing process. At today’s meeting in Brussels the issue of displaced persons and economic cooperation are on the agenda for discussion. 

Vucic on coronavirus situation and new measures (B92)

President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, said in his address to the public today that the situation with coronavirus  is getting better, B92 reports.

Serbia tests the most of all, only four countries test more than us. And we spend a lot of money on that, he said. We will bring this second phase under control, the numbers are better, the situation in the hospitals is better than it was, and today it seems to be better, Vucic added.

We expect huge problems in the world due to coronavirus. Accordingly, I want to tell you that it was very important that we defeated the virus in the first round, in order to save the economy. Some said that we lifted restrictions too soon, and if we had not, they would say that we are introducing a dictatorship.

He also said that the Government of Serbia is adopting new measures today – a moratorium on loan repayment, deferral of tax payments and payment of part of the minimum wage.

There has always been and will always be pressure on our country, not because it should be like that, but because that is the policy. But, it is important to me that the citizens know that Serbia has done everything and is working to strengthen, and when it strengthens, those who would like to attack Serbia will have to think carefully, Vucic said.

See at: https://bit.ly/338h6UB

Vucic: Serbia wants to cooperate; Rama: Mini Schengen needed more than ever (N1)

Serbia wants faster regional cooperation and a better economic environment for all Western Balkans’ states, President Aleksandar Vucic tells a video conference of the regional leaders organised by the Washington Atlantic Council.

The Council expects the conference to contribute to the economic recovery after the end of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Even if we join the European Union before others, we will remain in the region and the cooperation with other countries will still be a priority for Serbia,” he said.

Avdulah Hoti, Kosovo’s Prime Minister, said Pristina worked hard for the integration into the region, adding that the further cooperation would be healthy for the economic recovery after the coronavirus pandemic.

“I see that all political leaders have the will to work together to remove the barriers among the states,” Hoti said.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said that the Mini Schengen Initiative would be even more critical after the pandemic and that whoever complicated that process did it for political reasons.

He estimated that the recession in regional economies would reach eight percent.  

See at: https://bit.ly/33cRaan

Business Council to be established in the Western Balkans, Cadez says (media)

The President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Marko Cadez said that the region should take responsibility without waiting for signals from the side, and announced the formation of the WB6 Business Council, reported the media. 

As he said the council would consist of 12 largest companies in the region and they would be regularly informed about the development of regional cooperation, achieved results, progress in removing barriers.

At the video summit organized by the Washington Atlantic Council for the Western Balkans’ leaders of  six, he stated that, for example, transport companies and their operators will monitor how many trucks are waiting at the borders, and also other parameters and present clear data to the leaders.

-Leaders put this type of agenda among the priorities. We in the region should take responsibility without waiting for signals from Berlin, Washington, London, Brussels – Cadez said.

He underlined that the cooperation of the business community is important.

The business community of the region consists of 400,000 companies, and Cadez said that it is important to monitor everything that is happening, to hold meetings on a monthly basis and to discuss important issues.

“Ministry of Health and Public Institute to respect Law on use of languages” (Radio KIM)

Mitrovica North based non-governmental organization Aktiv warned today about violation of the Law on official languages by Kosovo Ministry of Health and National Institute for Public Health at the times of coronavirus pandemic, Radio KIM reports.

Aktiv recalled that the Kosovo Government published on July 28 a decision on new measures for curbing spread of coronavirus, which inter alia said, that all persons in Kosovo are obliged to “adhere to the measures and recommendations of the National Institute for Public Health and the Ministry of Health.”

“Members of Serb and other non-majority communities in Kosovo, however, can’t get informed about these measures and recommendations given that both institutions are leading in violation of the Law on use of languages and do not publish the information in the Serbian language”, Aktiv said.

It also warned that since the outbreak of the pandemic the information published by the Ministry of Health and National Institute for Public Health are almost exclusively available in the Albanian language, despite significance these information have for the protection of the health of the population.

“The Ministry of Health for months does not update its website in Serbian language. Covid-19 page launched by the Ministry of Health is almost fully unavailable in Serbian language. The National Institute for Public Health does not even have a website in the Serbian language. All announcements on the Facebook profile of this institution are also exclusively available in the Albanian language. In addition to this, public announcements of the Ministry of Health and National Institute are delivered to the media in the Albanian language mainly, without translation into Serbian language,” Aktiv recalled.

At the end, Aktiv urged the Ministry of Health and the National Institute to adhere to the Law on use of languages and ensure translation of all documents and information in Serbian language aiming to protect the health of all persons in Kosovo, but also respect language rights.  

EU earmarks € 9.9 million for Kosovo’s budget, faster reforms expected (Beta, N1)

The European Union office in Pristina said it allocated 9.9 million Euro to Kosovo’s budget for the reforms of public and finance administration, the Beta news agency reported

The EU said in a statement it further helped Pristina’s Government after its progress in implementation of its own strategies and achieving goals agreed upon with the bloc.

The Union has been working on those reforms with the Kosovo Government since December 2017.

“The Government now has to speed up reforms, especially to preserve its commitment to the implementation of the legislative package in public administration reforms and increase the responsibility of independent agencies, to maintain macroeconomic policy focused on the stability, and increase the transparency particularly in using budget money in public procurement,” the statement said.

The new aid is also meant for containing the coronavirus pandemic, and its effects on the economy and public finances.  

See at:https://bit.ly/336keQU

Three suspected explosive devices found in Mitrovica North (KoSSev)

Three explosive devices suspected to be anti-personnel mines – MRUD were found this morning in Sutjeska Street near the public garage in Mitrovica North, the KoSSev portal reports.

Kosovo police patrol is currently securing the scene.

According to KoSSev’s unofficial findings, an explosive ordnance disposal team (KFOR’s EOD team) is expected to arrive.

KoSSev portal reported later that the devices were safely removed by the EOD team of the Kosovo police.

See at: https://bit.ly/3fh539L

 

 

International

 

Kosovo Pushes Ahead with Law to Protect KLA’s Reputation (Balkan Insight)

Kosovo MPs are pushing to finalize enforcement of a draft law on Protection of the Kosovo Liberation Army War Values, despite US concern that it may violate freedom of speech.

On July 29, the US Ambassador to Kosovo, Philip Kosnett, reminding Kosovo’s leaders to focus on the fight against COVID-19 and on economic recovery, on Twitter raised concern that “the proposed KLA Values Law … criminalizes free speech, intimidates citizens, and is costly”.

The concern has arisen because the draft law obliges “any public official and citizen of the Republic of Kosovo … to respect and protect the war values determined by this law in any time and circumstance within the country and abroad”.

https://bit.ly/39EFq1C

Western Balkans leaders meet to drive coronavirus recovery and deepen regional economic cooperation (atlanticcouncil.org)

Leaders from the Western Balkans Six—Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia—participated in the Western Balkans Partnership Summit on July 29 to take steps to deepen regional economic cooperation and stimulate growth amid the widespread economic downturn caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Convened by the Atlantic Council, the summit provided an opportunity for the Western Balkans Six to adopt measures to stimulate economic recovery, boost the region’s long-term competitiveness, and strengthen its attractiveness for potential investors.

According to Damon Wilson, executive vice president of the Atlantic Council, the leaders agreed to several key measures that will help remove the obstacles to economic cooperation and drive future growth and investment in the region. Wilson highlighted that the leaders are seeking to “implement the European Union’s Four Freedoms of movement, goods, services, capital, and people,” in part by making permanent so-called “green lanes” which were put in place during the initial stages of the coronavirus pandemic to help expedite the transport of essential goods to and between the region, and also seeking to expand the concept to encompass more goods.

The leaders’ also placed emphasis on the need to improve infrastructure at border crossings to facilitate these new measures and to “remove barriers to live, study, work, and visit throughout the region, Wilson said.  

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

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