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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, August 06, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19 report: 196 new cases, 16 deaths (media)
• Science and Arts Academy says pandemic, not dialogue, top priority for Kosovo (media)
• Rohde: More needs to be done to fight COVID-19 (media)
• Vetevendosje initiates no-confidence motion against government (media)
• PDK receives LVV’s request for no-confidence motion against government (Kallxo)
• Kosovo FM Haradinaj-Stublla talks dialogue with British Minister Morton (media)
• German ambassador echoes U.S. objection to KLA law (Kallxo)

Serbian Language Media:

• 23 new cases in Serbian communities in Kosovo (KIM radio)
• Serwer: It would be useful if Pristina made clearer the readiness to form the Community of Serbian Municipalities (Kosovo Online)
• PM Brnabic: Epidemiological situation in Kosovo calming down, but still unstable (Radio Mitrovica Sever)
• Blakaj: There is no law that can deny any crime (Kosovo Online)

International:

• Balkan Leaders Made Big Mistake in Politicising the Pandemic (Balkan Insight)
• Kosovo Claims About US Support in Serbia Dialogue Disputed (Balkan Insight)
• Serbia Turns the Tables, Investigates the Investigative Journalists (VoA)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Education minister appoints party member to Quality Council (Prishtina Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19 report: 196 new cases, 16 deaths (media)
  • Science and Arts Academy says pandemic, not dialogue, top priority for Kosovo (media)
  • Rohde: More needs to be done to fight COVID-19 (media)
  • Vetevendosje initiates no-confidence motion against government (media)
  • PDK receives LVV’s request for no-confidence motion against government (Kallxo)
  • Kosovo FM Haradinaj-Stublla talks dialogue with British Minister Morton (media)
  • German ambassador echoes U.S. objection to KLA law (Kallxo)

 Serbian Language Media:

  • 23 new cases in Serbian communities in Kosovo (KIM radio)
  • Serwer: It would be useful if Pristina made clearer the readiness to form the Community of Serbian Municipalities (Kosovo Online)
  • PM Brnabic: Epidemiological situation in Kosovo calming down, but still unstable (Radio Mitrovica Sever)
  • Blakaj: There is no law that can deny any crime (Kosovo Online)

International:

  • Balkan Leaders Made Big Mistake in Politicising the Pandemic (Balkan Insight)
  • Kosovo Claims About US Support in Serbia Dialogue Disputed (Balkan Insight)
  • Serbia Turns the Tables, Investigates the Investigative Journalists (VoA)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Education minister appoints party member to Quality Council (Prishtina Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

COVID-19 report: 196 new cases, 16 deaths (media)

196 new cases of coronavirus and 16 deaths have been reported in Kosovo over the last 24-hour period. 134 persons have recovered from the virus. 

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health said there are currently 3,908 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo. 

Several media outlets meanwhile highlight that the number of fatalities in Kosovo has reached 300.

Science and Arts Academy says pandemic, not dialogue, top priority for Kosovo (media)

Academy of Science and Arts of Kosovo expressed concern over the rising number of coronavirus cases saying the situation has gotten out of control. “It is clear that Kosovo’s healthcare system has failed in entirety,” the Academy said in a statement. 

“The situation presented publicly does not correspond to the reality which is much more serious, undetected, undeclared, or being intentionally concealed.”

The political class of Kosovo should demonstrate responsibility and focus all its resources into managing the pandemic, the Academy of Science and Arts said further. It added that dialogue with Serbia should not at present be treated as a priority by Kosovo because it is being used as a tool by ‘recividivst’ individuals to hold on to power and to divert the public’s attention to issues of secondary importance. 

Rohde: More needs to be done to fight COVID-19 (media)

The new German Ambassador to Kosovo, Jorn Rohde, delivered a video message to his followers on social media where he spoke about dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia and the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. 

Rohde recognised the progress made by Kosovo but noted that challenges remain, including on the path towards Euro-Atlantic integration.

“Let me underline: Germany is on your side,” he said adding that the Western Balkans, including Kosovo, are on Germany’s list during its EU presidency.

“Dialogue for normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia is an important priority. Germany, as the biggest bilateral donor, also expects progress on the rule of law and the fight against corruption.”

The German ambassador stressed that immediate steps are necessary to overcome the COVID pandemic and pledged the support of his country: “The recent rising figures are of great concern. More needs to be done in terms of protecting the health of the population and economic recovery. Both parliament and government must focus on this.”

Vetevendosje initiates no-confidence motion against government (media)

Vetevendosje Movement officials, Arberie Nagavci and Rexhep Selimi, announced in a press conference today that the party has initiated a motion of no confidence against the government of Kosovo led by Avdullah Hoti.

Selimi, head of the party’s parliamentary group, said they have begun collecting signatures of MPs in support of the motion. Asked whether they have the support of any other party, Selimi said their goal is to secure sufficient signatures to bring down the government. 

Deputy speaker of the Assembly, Arberie Nagavci, meanwhile said that the current government is ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘unlawful’. 

PDK receives LVV’s request for no-confidence motion against government (Kallxo)

Bedri Hamza, head of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) parliamentary group, confirmed that the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) has sent to them an official request to support the motion of no confidence against the government of Kosovo.

Speaking to Kallxo news website, Hamza said the party would review the request and come out with a position.

Kosovo FM Haradinaj-Stublla talks dialogue with British Minister Morton (media)

Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla had a telephone conversation with the British Minister for European Neighbourhood & the Americas Wendy Morton.

Haradinaj-Stublla said the United Kingdom is among Kosovo’s historic and strategic allies. 

“Kosovo’s historic achievements have been possible only when all our allies acted together. In this context, I underlined the importance of the United Kingdom’s active role in the conclusion of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue which should result in mutual recognition under existing borders,” Haradinaj-Stublla said in a Facebook post.

German ambassador echoes U.S. objection to KLA law (Kallxo)

German ambassador to Kosovo, Jorn Rohde, has echoed the position of his U.S. colleague, Philip Kosnett, in opposing the initiative to adopt a law on protection of Kosovo Liberation Army values. 

“In a democratic society it was and it is seldom a good idea to try to stifle discussions by limiting them through criminal law,” Rohde wrote on Twitter as a response to Kosnett’s post. 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

23 new cases in Serbian communities in Kosovo (KIM radio)

According to the latest data, 23 new cases of infected with coronavirus were registered in Serbian communities in Kosovo, while five people were cured and four deceased, said at today’s press conference, epidemiologist of the Institute of Public Health in North Mitrovica, Dr. Aleksandar Antonijevic.

Two deceased were North Mitrovica and two from Leposavic.

Out of the total number of newly infected, 12 are from the north of Kosovo and 11 new cases were recorded south the river Ibar.

North Mitrovica (3), Leposavic (2), Zubin Potok (1) and Zvecan (6).

When it comes to Serb areas south of the Ibar, positive cases have been reported in Gracanica (2), Gnjilane (2), Strpce (4) and Kamenica.

Five patients were cured in the last 24 hours – one from North Mitrovica, three from Leposavic and one person from Strpce.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 3,705 people have been tested, of which 848 people have been confirmed to have the coronavirus.

The total number of active cases is 533.

To date, 34 people died in Serbian communities in Kosovo, reported KIM radio.

Serwer: It would be useful if Pristina made clearer the readiness to form the Community of Serbian Municipalities (Kosovo Online)

American analyst and expert on Balkan issues, Daniel Serwer assessed for portal Kosovo Online that Serbia was not interested in forming the Community of Serbian municipalities (ZSO) in accordance with the Kosovo constitution, but pointed out that it would be useful if Pristina made clearer the readiness to form the Community Serbian Municipalities.

Kosovo Online wrote that there were many unknowns regarding Skender Hyseni’s trip to Washington and that the result was a joint picture of the Kosovo negotiating team coordinator with Matthew Palmer and a telephone conversation with Richard Grenell.  

“It seems to me that Skender Hyseni came to Washington with a clear idea about normalization, preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of his country and negotiating, primarily with Washington and Brussels. Now, can he agree to an agreement that can be approved in Kosovo, and in the referendum, it is far less clear. That would of course have to be approved in both the Serbian parliament, and the referendum on the new Serbian Constitution. So, there are obstacles, but I like the starting point.”

However, Secretary of State Pompeo did not meet with Hyseni, and some reports state that he refused. Your comment, and does that mean that Pristina is waiting for the elections in November (US presidential elections)?

”I really don’t know what happened. I can’t imagine that Skender refused to meet with Pompeo. I can’t even imagine that Pompeo didn’t want to meet with Hyseni, but they will need to clear that up with the State Department, not me.”

It is noticeable that Grenell “disappeared” when it comes to Kosovo. Your comment?

Grenell did not succeed. I think you can hope that you will not see him again and that he will now be preoccupied with Trump’s presidential campaign. However, I would not be surprised if he jumps out from time to time. Among Americans, he clearly has a better approach to President Trump than anyone else.

You recently stated that you have the impression that President Vucic is not ready to approve Kosovo’s admission to the UN. Is a final agreement possible without it?

There is no so-called final agreement or normalization without it. But there are so many other agreements that can be made without it. It seems that the first item on the agenda is a serious effort when it comes to missing persons. That certainly seems like a good idea, as well as the arrests in Serbia of all those who were involved in war crimes in Kosovo, now when the Special Court is acting against the KLA. I would especially like to see arrests and trials when it comes to the murder of the American Bytyci brothers.

Pristina has not fulfilled its obligations under the Brussels Agreement regarding the establishment of the Community of Serbian Municipalities (ZSO). Why?

My impression is that Serbia was not interested in the ZSO in accordance with the Kosovo Constitution, which was required by the decision of the Supreme Court. But I think it would be useful if Pristina made clearer its readiness to form the Community of Serbian Municipalities.

PM Brnabic: Epidemiological situation in Kosovo calming down, but still unstable (Radio Mitrovica Sever)

“The epidemiological situation in Kosovo and Metohija is gradually calming down, there are fewer patients, but it is still very unstable, similar to the territory of central Serbia,” Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said, reported Radio Mitrovica sever. 

“We will continue to monitor the situation and all measures will have to be respected there for some time to come, without abrupt mitigation of measures,” Brnabic said.

She added that there was the necessary equipment in Kosovo, as well as that doctors from central Serbia were available to go to Kosovo if needed but added that there was no need for now.

Brnabic pointed out that the priority was to open a laboratory in North Mitrovica, with the desire to speed up testing and to make testing more massive in the fall.

As she said, the medical staff from Kosovo went to Belgrade, for training in the laboratory in Batajnica, planned to start these days. 

“We are in search of the facility to be a diagnostic laboratory for Covid, we will pay for the necessary additional work, procure equipment through the Republic Health Insurance Fund. The situation is calmer, but we cannot be safe,” Brnabic said.

When it comes to the situation in Presevo and Bujanovac, for which epidemiologist Branislav  Tiodorovic said was out of control, Brnabic appealed to the citizens of that part of Serbia to go to the ambulance in those cities, to be tested as soon as possible so that the treatment starts as soon as possible in the case of present symptoms.

“It is more difficult there in terms of diagnostics, because people do not come for testing or some of them are tested and treated in Kosovo and Metohija, so we have a problem when they return with a more severe clinical picture, and then the treatment lasts longer,” said Brnabic.

Epidemiologist Tiodorovic said earlier that in Bujanovac and Presevo there was no complete insight into the sick and infected among the population because they are often treated in private clinics and in Kosovo, reported the radio.

Blakaj: There is no law that can deny any crime (Kosovo Online)

Director of the Humanitarian Law Center in Kosovo Bekim Blakaj told portal Kosovo Online that the eventual adoption of the law on protection of KLA values cannot deny crimes committed against Serbs and non-Albanians during the last war in Kosovo, stating that it cannot affect the work of The Hague.

“I honestly do not believe that this law could deny responsibility for the crimes committed and that should not be the case, there is no law that can deny any crime when there is evidence. The values of any army, in this case the KLA, cannot be defended by no law,” Blakaj points out.

Blakaj states that the bill he had insight into does not give much details about the measures for the protection of the KLA fight, as he says, “it is conceived poorly and is rather vague”.

“What is concrete and visible in it is the establishment of that War Museum, the Day of Remembrance and the construction of a Memorial Center for fallen KLA fighters are planned. The categories that should be protected by law are listed, but without specifying how. There is another article that says  the Government of Kosovo should take action when it learns that a former KLA member has been arrested in a third country for a warrant issued by Serbia and I am not sure what that means, and how it will be concluded that the warrant is politically motivated. Also unknown are the measures that the Government of Kosovo should take in that case,” notes Blakaj.

The Law on KLA values cannot be in any way linked to the work of the Specialized Chambers in The Hague, underlines Blakaj, adding that it can be seen as a countermeasure, which can in no way prevent or affect the work of those chambers.

 

 

 International

 

Balkan Leaders Made Big Mistake in Politicising the Pandemic (Balkan Insight)

Throughout the Western Balkans the region’s leaders have left a depressing impression that people’s health considerations always take a back seat to their own immediate political needs.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck Europe in early March, many turned a fearful eye to the Western Balkans. Concerned that underfunded, under-staffed and often sub-par health systems in the region would buckle, governments in the region opted for a conservative approach to lockdown.

Although some of their decisions were questionable, the end result was a surprisingly low number of COVID-related cases and deaths. More importantly, the usual ethno-nationalist politics of fear seemed to take a backseat for once; it appeared as if the “new normal” of having to live with the virus would bring a much-needed unity and hope, and possibly trigger a change in the right direction.

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

Kosovo Claims About US Support in Serbia Dialogue Disputed (Balkan Insight)

A CNN report about the new US ambassador to Germany, and his allegedly hostile views on Kosovo, has overshadowed claims that Kosovo has the ‘full support’ of the US for an agreement resulting in mutual recognition.

Kosovo’s State Coordinator for Dialogue with Serbia, Skender Hyseni, on Tuesday said he had received the full support of the US special envoy for the dialogue, Richard Grenell, during his visit to the United States, when he requested the permanent and active presence of the US at the negotiating table between Kosovo and Serbia.

Hyseni said via a Facebook post said that he received full support from the American diplomat in a telephone conversation with Grenell.

https://bit.ly/2PqeNnM

Serbia Turns the Tables, Investigates the Investigative Journalists (VoA)

WASHINGTON – Five years ago, Serbia’s Anti-Corruption Agency opened a money laundering investigation into Sinisa Mali, who was then mayor of the capital, Belgrade.  

The Crime and Corruption Reporting Network (KRIK) —a Serbian investigative journalism outlet — had reported on Mali’s alleged involvement in the purchase of 24 apartments on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast in 2012 and 2013. But the mayor denied ownership, claiming his signature had been forged. A court ultimately ended up clearing Mali based on a lack of evidence. 

Now, it’s KRIK’s turn.  

The media outlet is among several investigative news organizations and reporters being targeted in a probe launched by the Finance Ministry and its minister — Mali, the ex-mayor.  

On July 28, the Anti-Money Laundering Unit — which falls under the Finance Ministry — asked banks to provide transaction details dating back to January 2019 on 20 individuals and 37 non-governmental organizations as part of a sweeping inquiry into potential money laundering or terrorism financing. 

See at: https://bit.ly/2Ptda95

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Education minister appoints party member to Quality Council (Prishtina Insight)

BIRN has learned that Binak Beqaj, a member of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, has been appointed to the State Quality Council of the Kosovo Accreditation Agency. Beqaj was appointed by AAK-nominated Minister of Education, Rame Likaj, who announced the decision to other members of the Council on Wednesday night.

Beqaj has confirmed his new position on the Council to BIRN, as well as the fact that he is a member of AAK. However, Beqaj insisted that he holds no function within the party and is simply a member, adding that politics has played no influence in his appointment.

“I cannot evaluate it as I did not participate in the verification or selection,” he said. “You could make that connection but I think that the facts and arguments were different. This is not the reason, it should not be the reason.”

The State Quality Council is the board which oversees the Kosovo Accreditation Agency, and is tasked with guaranteeing the quality of education and scientific research in higher education institutions in the country. Beqaj, its latest member representing private universities, is a professor at UBT in Kosovo and also works part time at the Polytechnic University of Tirana.

https://bit.ly/3ifKTPv

 

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