Albanian Language Media:
- COVID-19 report: 181 new cases, three deaths (media)
- Zemaj calls on MPs not to politicise pandemic crisis (Koha/Telegrafi)
- Assembly does not pass COVID-19 resolutions due to lack of quorum (media)
- LVV responds to PDK’s ‘red lines’ question (Koha)
- EULEX’s Formisto: Kosovo, Serbia to be willing to share information on missing persons (DW)
Serbian Language Media:
- In Serbian communities 22 new patients, 42 cured (Kontakt plus radio)
- Vucic: On September 7, in Brussels, I will ask the fulfillment of the agreement on the Community of Serbian Municipalities from 2013 (media)
- Vucic: A clear message to Serbs in Kosovo that they are undesirable (Kosovo Online)
- Godfrey: US supports Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (TV Happy, Blic, Tanjug)
- Bolton: Belgrade and Pristina far from solution, exchange would not affect BiH (N1)
- Washington worried about current situation in Serbia; will help Podgorica (VoA, N1)
- Pompeo to Serbia’s FM: Every leader should protect human rights (FoNet, N1)
- Pompeo Announces Tour of Europe Next Week (VoA)
- DokuFest’s online edition launches (Prishtina Insight)
Albanian Language Media
COVID-19 report: 181 new cases, three deaths (media)
181 news cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Kosovo over the last 24 hours and three deaths, the National Institute for Public Health said in its daily report.
Meanwhile, 125 patients have recovered over the same timeframe.
Majority of the new cases (87) are in the municipality of Prishtina.
Zemaj calls on MPs not to politicise pandemic crisis (Koha/Telegrafi)
At the Kosovo Assembly session today, Minister of Health Armend Zemaj responded to MPs who criticised the way the government is handling the COVID-19 pandemic by calling on them not to politicise the issue.
“I ask you to spare us and not use deaths and increase of cases but rather provide us with recommendations,” Zemaj said.
Head of the Vetevendosje parliamentary group, Rexhep Selimi, accused the government led by Avdullah Hoti for, as he said, abandoning the front line health workers. “The crisis has engulfed the country. There is a health, humanitarian, and moral crisis, not to mention a political one,” he said.
Meanwhile, Uran Ismaili from the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and former minister of health, said Zemaj’s approach to the regulation determining the price of medical products encourages criminal activity.
Assembly does not pass COVID-19 resolutions due to lack of quorum (media)
Two draft resolutions tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, one proposed by the Vetevendosje Movement and the other by the Democratic Party of Kosovo, did not pass at the Kosovo Assembly due to lack of quorum, online media report.
The draft resolution proposed by LVV received 25 votes in favour while that of PDK received 20.
Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani said the draft resolutions will be put up for vote in the next plenary session.
LVV responds to PDK’s ‘red lines’ question (Koha)
The Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) has responded to the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) regarding the motion of no confidence against the government initiated yesterday.
Uran Ismaili, general secretary of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), commented on the motion by calling it a ‘political show’ and noted that before asking for support from PDK, LVV should clarify what made it remove the red lines it had proclaimed to have towards the PDK.
Vetevendosje said the red lines remain towards a possible governing coalition but not with regards to bringing down the Hoti-led government which the party said is ‘inept’ and ‘harmful’.
“The pandemic was not a sufficient reason not to overthrow the Kurti government although it was successfully managing it, therefore it can be no different now when this government is taking us towards a humanitarian catastrophe,” said LVV spokesperson Perparim Kryeziu.
EULEX’s Formisto: Kosovo, Serbia to be willing to share information on missing persons (DW)
Tarja Formisto, Deputy Director of the Institute on Forensic Medicine and expert working for EULEX, said that authorities in Kosovo and Serbia need to demonstrate the will to share information to move forward in determining the fate of more than 1,640 missing persons.
“EULEX is here to help but transitional justice is a process that needs to be respected by both parties, which needs to engage all levels willing to cooperate and share information so that the families of missing persons get the answers they so desperately need,” Formisto said in an interview with Deutsche Welle which several media outlets in Kosovo carry.
Formisto said EULEX’s cooperation with authorities in Kosovo and Serbia is good noting however that “everyone could benefit from more transparency.” She said the issue of missing persons should not become part of political agendas.
“Continued work on the fate of missing persons will support reconciliation in the region. Without addressing this, reconciliation will be difficult and sustainable peace in the Western Balkans will not be possible,” Formisto said.
Serbian Language Media
In Serbian communities 22 new patients, 42 cured (Kontakt plus radio)
Dr. Aleksandar Antonijevic, an epidemiologist at the Public Health Institute in Kosovska Mitrovica, at today’s press conference said that 22 newly infected people have been registered in Serbian communities in Kosovo, while 42 people have been cured.
In northern Kosovo, based on 120 samples taken on August 4 and 5, 16 new cases of infection were recorded, and 6 newly infected cases were recorded in Serb areas south of the Ibar River.
In the north of Kosovo, new patients by municipalities: North Mitrovica (8), Zvecan (4), Zubin Potok (3) and Leposavic (1).
When it comes to Serbian areas south of the Ibar, positive cases were recorded in Strpce (4) and Gracanica (2).
During the previous two days, in the north of Kosovo, 29 patients were cured – 15 from North Mitrovica, seven from Leposavic, four from Zubin Potok, three from Zvecan.
In the areas south of the Ibar, 13 patients were cured – four in Gracanica, three each in Gnjilane and Strpce, while one patient each was cured in Kamenica, Lipljan and Prizren.
Antonijevic states that 424 patients are in home isolation, 82 are being treated at the Health Center in Kosovska Mitrovica.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 3,786 people have been tested, of which 870 people have been confirmed to have the coronavirus. In North Mitrovica 253, in Leposavic 168, in Zvecan 143, and in Zubin Potok 90.
A total of 206 patients were registered south of the Ibar.
The total number of active cases is 513.
To date, 34 people have died in Serbian communities in Kosovo.
Vucic: On September 7, in Brussels, I will ask the fulfillment of the agreement on the Community of Serbian municipalities from 2013 (media)
The President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic says that in the continuation of the Brussels dialogue with Pristina on September 7, he will ask for the fulfillment of the agreement from 2013 on the establishment of the Community of Serbian Municipalities (ZSO), Belgrade based daily Danas reported.
Vucic says that Serbia will not leave the dialogue, but also that he wants those talks to be substantial, and not formal.
“Our proposal was that these talks solve problems, and not just that someone waits for time to pass in order to deliver a request that we must accept. If the meaning of everything is just to recognize Kosovo, then tell us that you will not negotiate on anything,” Vucic said.
He also said at a press conference in Belgrade, where he presented Serbia’s development plans for the coming period, that Belgrade’s proposal, for the free flow of goods between Kosovo and central Serbia, is for the goods to bear the same marks of origin.
“Whatever is written for you, let it be written and for us. No need for the Republic of Serbia to stand, let it be written only Serbia. If the problem is that we are not letting the goods to pass with the Republic of Kosovo written on it, that will not change,” said Vucic, adding that it is important for Serbia to respect the freedom of movement of people, capital, goods and services.
Commenting on the statement of the US Special Envoy for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer that in an ideal form, the dialogue should end with mutual recognition of Serbia and Kosovo, Vucic said that they understand the policy of the US and Germany, for which he said will not withdraw recognition of Kosovo but are looking into how to ”introduce Serbia into it.”
“The situation is not easy for us. Everyone speaks unequivocally about how there is no other solution but the recognition of Kosovo, and that is why I ask the citizens of Serbia to understand the weight of our position and to stand as united as possible, because that way we will save the country and pave an even faster path to the future,” Vucic said.
Vucic: A clear message to Serbs in Kosovo that they are undesirable (Kosovo Online)
The announced adoption of the law on the protection of the KLA values in Pristina is very bad for the Serbs in Kosovo, since they will be exposed to very great pressure, Vucic assesses at the press conference in Belgrade.
“I believe that you will already have information from Djuric this afternoon or tomorrow, because the Serbian List will have to oppose it very sharply,” Vucic said.
The President of Serbia pointed out that such laws represented a message that they did not want to see Serbs to live in Kosovo and that it was a clear message to the Serbian population.
“I think that even the American ambassador Kosnnet noticed it well,” Vucic added.
He recalled the arrest of Ivan Todosijevic, because of the words that the KLA committed crimes.
“Ivan Todosijevic is a very brave and family man, a guy from Zvecan, I know how much he struggled and how hard it was for him, and I can imagine how hard it will be for other ordinary people,” said Vucic.
Vucic pointed out that the Serbian List would have to take certain measures concerning that.
Godfrey: US supports Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (TV Happy, Blic, Tanjug)
US Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey told Belgrade based TV Happy that the US supports the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, saying they are satisfied that it has resumed.
“We will support it in all possible ways we can,” says Godfrey.
He pointed out that the United States expects that Serbia will continue to play the role of leader in the Western Balkans and said that he will engage in that.
To the statement of the journalists that there is a preconception here that both Europe and America need a weak, not a strong Serbia, Godfrey says that is not true, because, according to him, the most stable country is a successful country.
“Neighbors also wish their neighbors to be rich since this means that the entire region will be in a better position. I admire the work of President Aleksandar Vucic and PM Ana Brnabic, who are trying to improve and connect people in the Western Balkans, and the US supports the idea of a ‘mini Schengen’. We believe that investments in transport and infrastructure will be encouraged,” he says.
He says that this is the heart of what the US official Richard Grennel had focused on.
“He believes that we can show people in Pristina and in Belgrade the economic value of cooperation and then there will be more support for difficult decisions that need to be brought,” says Godfrey.
The attention is focused on trying to enable the Belgrade and Pristina’s economies to have closer ties and that is why there is so much insisting on abolishing taxes, since, according to him, this is a big obstacle to move the dialogue forward.
“We think that the big role is in the private sector, not only in bringing Belgrade and Pristina closer, but also in the fight against Covid-19,” the ambassador pointed out.
The United States wants Serbia to be a prosperous, stable country, where democratic institutions are well developed, to be at peace with its neighbors, said Ambassador Godfrey.
He points out that the best way to achieve this, that Serbia become an EU member, which is its goal. He adds that this is also the goal of the United States, and that he is there to help make that happen.
“Serbia has chosen its destination; it wants to be part of the EU. Of course, it will not forget its historical and cultural ties with Russia and the Orthodox world. That is an important part of what constitutes a Serbian national identity, but I am very happy to see that Serbs are western-oriented,” he said.
Godfrey believes that we should not focus on a short period in which the relations between our two countries were not good, but on a long period in which we were friends.
When asked by the host whether he was sent to Serbia to “suppress Russian influence”, the ambassador answered that it was too excessive to talk about “so much power struggle over Belgrade”, reports daily Blic.
“However, I admit that the goals of the Russian Federation and the goals of the European Union for this part of the Balkans are not the same. I think that most Serbs understand that EU membership is not a goal that is supported by all Serbian partners and friends,” the Ambassador said.
Stating that he lived in Russia for four years and that he had a good time there, he said that “the vision of a stable democracy with good institutions, with a free press, with a responsible government is what the US, EU and OSCE support and advocate”, but, as he noted, he does not see that this exists in Russia or China where the Communist Party is in power.
The ambassador reminds that the US has an international development agency that has an agreement with the Serbian government with which it is working on various programs, and that they define plans together.
“We now see Serbia as a leader in the Western Balkans, and its economic power is growing, because Serbia has become a more attractive place for foreign investments, including American direct foreign investments,” Godfrey said.
The US ambassador says that the envoy for dialogue, Richard Grenell, is in close contact with the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic and the Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, with whom he says he is discussing the possibility of a new meeting in the White House, which was postponed earlier.
To the statement of the journalists that the meeting between the representatives of Belgrade and Pristina was postponed because the indictment against Hashim Thaci was activated, and that the tabloids said that Germany was “undermining” the American initiative, Godfrey said that was certainly not the case.
“Certainly not. I reject it completely,” Godfrey said on TV Happy, adding that the United States is disappointed that the meeting did not take place in Washington.
”We are not giving up on that initiative. I hope that if we can hold that meeting in the White House, we will be able to push the process forward,” Godfrey said.
He also stated that he did not know anything about the talks that would concern the change of borders.
“I see it all the time in the press, and I haven’t talked about it with anyone, or any official. What we have said and what is consistent is that in order for an agreement to be applicable, both sides must accept it as their own,” he said.
According to Godfrey, that agreement cannot be imposed ‘from above’, stating that both sides must devise it themselves, and that is what the US supports.
“A dialogue in which the two sides can sit together and find a solution,” the ambassador said.
When asked how it is possible that Belgrade fulfilled everything, and Pristina did not, Godfrey noted that not everything was finished on both sides and that it would be extremely simplified to say that Serbia did everything, and Pristina did nothing.
“We acknowledge that these 100 percent taxes are a serious obstacle to the continuation of the dialogue, and I think that what helped to abolish those taxes was the influence of America and Grenell’s personal engagement. I think that made it possible to catch some momentum,” Godfrey said.
Godfrey says there is concern over what Russia and China are trying to achieve in Western Balkans and in general in Europe.
“Do they support Serbia’s goals, western integration and EU membership, do they support the way Serbia develops democratic institutions, and is it safe for Serbia, for its telecommunications industry, for example, to use technology controlled by the Chinese Communist Party? These are questions that Serbia needs to answer,” said Godfrey.
” When we talk with the Serbian government, for example, about its energy policy, we draw their attention to the fact that Russia uses dependence on sources to achieve political goals and that countries that are able to make their energy sources diverse achieve independence from external influences. That is important,” noted Godfrey.
Bolton: Belgrade and Pristina far from solution, exchange would not affect BiH (N1)
Former US National Security Adviser John Bolton stated that Belgrade and Pristina may be far from resolving their mutual dispute, reports the regional broadcaster N1.
In an exclusive interview for N1 Sarajevo, Bolton said that a possible agreement between Belgrade and Pristina on the exchange of territories should not have an impact on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“As for Serbia and Kosovo, if they agree on the exchange of the territory, in the part of the negotiations that resolve all unresolved issues and which would lead to economic, diplomatic and similar relations, I think we will probably support that. But, other countries in the region, especially Bosnia, I think we have to make it clear that bilateral solutions between Serbia and Kosovo have no impact on Bosnia, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria or anyone else,” Bolton said.
“I am concerned about the lack of US engagement in the Balkan region,” the former US national security adviser said in an interview with N1.
Bolton, who is one of the most controversial figures in American foreign policy for N1, talks about Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, relations in the Balkans, NATO and the EU, but also about Joe Biden.
The interview with John Bolton will be aired tonight at 9 pm on N1 channel.
Washington worried about current situation in Serbia; will help Podgorica (VoA, N1)
Mathew Palmer, Deputy Assistant Secretary at US Department and its special envoy for the Western Balkans, said Washington was concerned about the “current trends in Serbia” regarding the last elections, anti-government protests across the country, but also about the Finance Ministry Department for Money Laundering and Financing Terrorism’s financial probe into journalists’, media and NGOs’ accounts, the Voice of America (VOA) reported on Thursday.
“We noticed the Freedom House (FH) report which put Serbia among the countries with a hybrid regime. Freedom House is a well-respected organisation which uses the methods recognised in the world,” Palmer said, speaking at a Balkan Insider webinar, commenting on the ‘Countries in Transition’ FH report published in May.
He said that the public in Serbia did not have many choices in the elections on June 21.
“We wanted the opposition to take part (in the vote), but it said the election conditions were not fair enough for it to participate. We are worried about the lack of opportunity for the opposition parties and their representatives to appear in the media. That particularly applies to the public broadcaster – RTS TV. We would like some changes to happen and that Serbia’s public has a chance to choose among different options,” Palmer said.
Referring to the Finance Ministry’s investigation of NGOs, journalists and media, he said the move would not help Serbia on its proclaimed road to the European Union membership.
“We are also concerned about the perception of selective implementation of the law which targets civil society and investigative journalists. That could only make Serbia’s way to the EU more difficult,” Palmer warned.
He added the US “strongly supports Serbia’s European perspective and its bloc’s membership. But, for that to happen, Serbia needs to qualify, i.e., to carry out democratic reforms. We hope that Belgrade and Serbia see us as partners in that process.”Palmer said there still was a lot of work to be done.
He also talked about the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations, saying that “an agreement would ideally lead to mutual recognition.”
Palmer referred to the situation in Montenegro ahead of general elections, promising Washington’s help in fighting disinformation and warning people about its external nature.
“A part of that aid is technical, but also in developing abilities for the surveillance of the sphere where the information comes to so that the disinformation can be recognised. We also help in developing counter-narrative,” Palmer told VOA.
He added the aim was to make it difficult for “the sides which use that information for inciting mistrust.”
NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence (STRATCOMCOE) published in May analysis of mechanisms used by the Russian information agencies and media to spread the narrative aiming at slowing down the Western Balkans’ Euro-Atlantic integration and causing the polarisation of the peoples in the region.
Pompeo to Serbia’s FM: Every leader should protect human rights (FoNet, N1)
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote to his Serbia’s counterpart, the outgoing Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, on Thursday, saying his homeland had always cooperated with Serbia and other countries to secure peace, stability and economic prosperity of all nations.
“We are also aware that every leader should protect human rights and practice diplomacy on behalf of our peoples,” Pompeo said, thanking Dacic for his congratulatory note on the occasion of the 4th of July, the US Independence Day.
Pompeo added he was gladdened with the note “in these difficult times caused by the pandemic.”
“Every 4th of July, the Americans celebrate the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence (of the US, brought on July 4, 1776) which clearly says that all human beings have right to life, freedom and search for happiness. Those ideals pervade American diplomacy every day,” he wrote.
“I’m looking forward to further cooperating with you in overcoming the challenges we both face, and to work on improving freedoms and protection of human dignity of all people,” Pompeo said in the letter to Dacic, as reported by his Ministry.
Pompeo Announces Tour of Europe Next Week (VoA)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday he would visit Poland and three other European countries next week, as the United States announced plans to reposition troops outside of Germany.
During this tour, which will begin Aug. 11, the U.S. top diplomat will also visit the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Austria.
“It will be a very important and productive trip,” he said, announcing the tour during a press conference.
Polish President Andrzej Duda, a populist conservative, was narrowly reelected to a new five-year term last month after a highly polarizing campaign in which he was notably received into the White House by Donald Trump.
The American president, who has a terrible relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has decided to withdraw thousands of American soldiers from Germany to reposition some of them in Poland.
The Pentagon announced last week that the United States would deploy 1,000 additional troops to Poland in rotations, thanks to an agreement reached with Warsaw on their status in the country. They will be added to the 4,500 American soldiers already deployed by rotations in the country.
The tour should also be placed under the sign of China, as Pompeo, who seeks to reduce Beijing’s influence in the world, urges U.S. allies to avoid Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.
See at: https://bit.ly/2DMvOG0
DokuFest’s online edition launches (Prishtina Insight)
The 19th edition of DokuFest kicks off on Friday under the theme of ‘Transmission,’ with 150 films, music performances, workshops and panel discussions available to watch through DokuFest’s online platforms.
In Kosovo, Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia, 150 films will be made available to stream through DokuFest’s online cinema platform on Friday, as the 2020 edition of Kosovo’s biggest film festival goes virtual.
The team behind DokuFest took the decision to move the festival online in July due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. But Veton Nurkollari, the festival’s artistic director, told Prishtina Insight it would not be the same without the thousands of guests, visitors, volunteers, artists and filmmakers that normally descend on Prizren every year in the first week of August.
“There are a number of things we will miss this year, with screenings in the cinemas and amazing atmosphere in the city being probably on top,” Nurkollari said. “Also, the absence of guests already feels strange, and we will certainly miss seeing our army of volunteers around the city.”