- COVID-19 report: 218 new cases, 15 deaths (media)
- Thaci: The more careful we are, the faster we will return to normality (media)
- Kosovo begins negotiations to obtain COVID-19 vaccine (RFE)
- Zemaj backtracks over drug pricing regulation (Prishtina Insight)
- Vetevendosje MP: Situation with COVID-19 graver than reported (KTV)
- Serbia plans to open a COVID-19 testing facility in Kosovo’s north (media)
- Palmer: We are focused to support EU in Kosovo – Serbia dialogue (media)
- Dialogue with Serbia shaking the foundation of Kosovo government (Koha)
- Ismaili: Joining the government, not an option for PDK (media)
Kosovo Media Highlights
COVID-19 report: 218 new cases, 15 deaths (media)
Kosovo has recorded 218 new cases of coronavirus over the last 24 hours and 15 deaths, the National Institute for Public Health said. Meanwhile, 156 recoveries were confirmed over the same time period.
Majority of the new cases are in Prishtina municipality (70).
According to the National Institute for Public Health figures, there are currently 3,862 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.
Thaci: The more careful we are, the faster we will return to normality (media)
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, in a Facebook post on Wednesday, called on Kosovo citizens to respect all measures and recommendations from the National Institute for Public Health, the World Health Organisation and other line institutions.
“Changing our lifestyles and maintain a physical distance from our loved ones, families and society, from working places, with the preventive measures, has not been easy for any of us. This has been a difficult time for us all! But today it is important to be patient and responsible and respect all measures and recommendations from the National Institute for Public Health, the World Health Organisation and other line institutions. Today, it is our responsibility to show love and respect to each other from a distance. Today it is patriotism to protect our heroes, the whole healthcare staff that are fighting against this pandemic. The more careful we are now, the quicker we will be able to go back to normality,” Thaci said.
Kosovo begins negotiations to obtain COVID-19 vaccine (RFE)
Kosovo authorities have begun negotiations with international partners like UNICEF and WHO to obtain a coronavirus vaccine doses when they become available, officials from the Kosovo’s Ministry of Health said.
Radio Free Europe reports that smaller and less developed countries are trying to secure the coronavirus vaccine through joint international schemes such as COVAX, which is co-led by the GAVI vaccines alliance, the WHO and the CEPI Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
Zemaj backtracks over drug pricing regulation (Prishtina Insight)
Kosovo’s Health Minister Armend Zemaj has cancelled his ministry’s decision to repeal a regulation controlling the price of pharmaceutical products following an outcry from pharmacists and civil society organisations.
After a meeting with representatives from Kosovo’s pharmaceutical industry on Wednesday, Minister of Health Armend Zemaj has annulled the ministry’s decision to repeal a regulation that determines the price of medicinal products in the private sector.
The regulation was repealed 24 hours earlier on Tuesday, when the Ministry of Health claimed that its abrogation would pave the way for the pricing of medicine to be put back on a “legal track,” ensuring “public interest” becomes the driving focus of regulation of the pharmaceutical sector.
The ministry alleged that conflicts of interest had emerged within the pricing commission established by the regulation, and that provisions in the regulation had forced the withdrawal of “some quality products from European countries” from the Kosovo market.
However, the decision to repeal the regulation came under a barrage of criticism from pharmacists, civil society organisations and former health minister Uran Ismaili. At a press conference on Wednesday, Kosovo’s Chamber of Pharmacists labelled the decision as “scandalous,” and threatened protests if it was not cancelled.
Dardane Mehaj, the deputy head of the Chamber, stated that the guidance in the regulation was essential, as prior to its implementation, Kosovo citizens were spending an additional 12 million euros per year on pharmaceuticals, compared to other countries in the region.
The Kosovo Democratic Institute also expressed concern over the ministry’s decision, citing a lack of “business ethics” in the pharmaceutical sector as potentially causing “enormous” increases in medicine prices.
Read more: https://bit.ly/2PsSA8D
Vetevendosje MP: Situation with COVID-19 graver than reported (KTV)
Vetevendosje MP and member of Kosovo Assembly’s Health Committee, Fitim Uka, said in an interview with KTV on Wednesday that the situation with COVID-19 in Kosovo is graver than reported.
“I can say with full honesty and regret that the situation is much graver than what is being reported, because of the simple fact that there are fewer tests today than before. Tests have been reduced only in people with severe symptoms, while persons of contact are being totally ignored. It is very likely that there are far more infected people than what is being reported daily. This has overloaded all health institutions in Kosovo,” he said.
Uka argued that the Kosovo Government is only a spectator in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. “When all states were in lockdown, Kosovo was a good example for the management of the pandemic. Whereas after we opened, we became the worst model,” he said.
Serbia plans to open a COVID-19 testing facility in Kosovo’s north (media)
Prime Minister of Serbia Ana Brnabic has announced that the government plans to open nine new coronavirus testing facilities, including one in the north of Kosovo.
Brnabic said the exact location of the new labs has not yet been determined. “We need to see if it’s possible to train people, purchase the necessary equipment and open safe laboratories,” she said.
Palmer: We are focused to support EU in Kosovo – Serbia dialogue (media)
Matthew Palmer, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Special Representative for the Western Balkans, said in an interview with Balkan Insider that Washington is focused to support the EU-led process that will result in an agreement Serbia and Kosovo.
“The history of land swaps or any other aspect of the agreement shifts the attention from the main objective: for Serbia and for Kosovo and for their governments to meet and work in finding a way for the normalisation of relations,” he said.
“We support the process and we think it is not important and even destructive to discuss issues such as the territorial exchange. We must think what should be done for the participants in the negotiations to move forward to a comprehensive agreement that will once and for all end disputes”.
Palmer also said: “I am just happy to be back in business. Recently I have met here in Washington with Skender Hyseni, Kosovo’s representative in the process. They have a lot of work to do – foreign participants in the negotiations are engaged to make the necessary progress to reach a comprehensive agreement for the normalisation of relations. This agreement would restart relations in the region, and it would encourage all countries of the Western Balkans that are on their way of joining the European Union”.
Dialogue with Serbia shaking the foundation of Kosovo government (Koha)
Dialogue with Serbia, which was the main cause of the fall of the previous government of Kosovo, is yet again threatening the stability of the current coalition government, writes Koha Ditore.
The paper adds that the negotiations process in Brussels has revealed differences between coalition partners, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK). AAK feels it is being ignored by the LDK in the process.
AAK MP Time Kadrijaj spoke to the paper and said that the party supports the dialogue but demanded it be transparent and inclusive. “A single political party cannot take the lead of dialogue,” she said. The LDK has said AAK’s concerns are a result of misunderstanding. LDK deputy leader Agim Veliu said he believed everything would be sorted out and it will not come to the end of the coalition.
Political commentator Donika Emini at the same time said dialogue continues to be used for political gains and that AAK leader Ramush Haradinaj is trying to lay the groundwork for securing the post of Kosovo president.
Ismaili: Joining the government, not an option for PDK (media)
Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) Secretary General Uran Ismaili said in a debate on TV Dukagjini on Wednesday that there is a wrong impression that the PDK could join the Hoti-led government. “We have been against joining the government and we maintain the same position,” he said.
“We supported the budget review because we believe it is necessary given the coronavirus pandemic, but we have criticised too. We have done a proactive job from the opposition and this has created some impressions that we are close to the government.”