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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, August 10, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19 report: 172 new cases, 14 deaths (media)
• Government approves draft law on EU financial assistance (media)
• Private labs to begin with COVID-19 testings (media)
• Haziri signals ‘important’ developments in Kosovo this week (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• 11 newly infected and 34 cured in Serbian communities in Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio)
• Serbian List: So-called analysts do not possess basic knowledge about the Kosovo Assembly Rules of Procedure (Kosovo Online)
• International community reacts to Law on KLA, Serbian List silent (N1)
• Vejvoda: EU will insist on fulfilling the 2013 agreement, including the Community of Serbian municipalities (KoSSev, N1)

Opinion:

• Serbia Is Sitting at the Great-Powers Crossroads (The National Interest)
• Balkan Fatalism Risks Becoming Self-Fulfilling Prophecy (Balkan Insight)

International:

• Rule of Law Key to Balkans’ Progress – Germany’s Schutz (Balkan Insight)
• COVID-19 School Dilemma Troubles Balkan, Central Europe Govts (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19 report: 172 new cases, 14 deaths (media)
  • Government approves draft law on EU financial assistance (media)
  • Private labs to begin with COVID-19 testings (media)
  • Haziri signals ‘important’ developments in Kosovo this week (media)

 Serbian Language Media:

  • 11 newly infected and 34 cured in Serbian communities in Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio) 
  • Serbian List: So-called analysts do not possess basic knowledge about the Kosovo Assembly Rules of Procedure (Kosovo Online)
  • International community reacts to Law on KLA, Serbian List silent (N1)
  • Vejvoda: EU will insist on fulfilling the 2013 agreement, including the Community of Serbian municipalities (KoSSev, N1)

Opinion:

  • Serbia Is Sitting at the Great-Powers Crossroads (The National Interest)
  • Balkan Fatalism Risks Becoming Self-Fulfilling Prophecy (Balkan Insight)

International:

  • Rule of Law Key to Balkans’ Progress – Germany’s Schutz (Balkan Insight)
  • COVID-19 School Dilemma Troubles Balkan, Central Europe Govts (Balkan Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

COVID-19 report: 172 new cases, 14 deaths (media)

Kosovo’s National Institute of Public Health announced that 172 new cases of coronavirus and 14 deaths have been recorded in Kosovo during the last 24-hour period. 

Meanwhile, 114 persons have recovered from the virus over the last 24 hours. 

Municipality of Prishtina has the highest number of new cases (78). 

Government approves draft law on EU financial assistance (media)

In today’s video conference meeting, the Government of Kosovo endorsed the draft law on ratification of loan agreement with the European Union.

The move paves way for the draft law, which provides up to €100 million in the form of long-term loans, to be voted by the Assembly of Kosovo. 

On 30 July 2020, the European Commission signed an MoU with Kosovo paving the way for the first disbursement of €50 million in macro-financial assistance while the second instalment of €50 million would be disbursed later 2020 or early 2021. 

The funds are aimed at enabling the Kosovo government to be able to mitigate socio-economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

Private labs to begin with COVID-19 testings (media)

Twenty-nine private labs, licensed by the Kosovo’s Ministry of Health, will begin as of this week carrying out tests for COVID-19 using the serological and PCR methods. 

Radio Free Europe reports that tests in the private labs will cost anywhere between 20 and 50 euros.

“These prices have not been dictated by anyone but are reasonable considering the situation,” said the owner of one of the private labs.

Officials from the Ministry of Health said that the testing in private facilities will be overseen by the National Institute of Public Health and that the labs are expected to provide daily reports. 

Haziri signals ‘important’ developments in Kosovo this week (media)

Mayor of Gjilan and deputy leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) told a newly launched cable TV station, Kanal 10, that decisive actions are expected this week in the government of Kosovo.

Haziri did not rule out the possibility of a government reshuffle and it being joined by the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) but noted that even if the PDK chooses not to enter the ruling coalition, the current government will not fall.

Haziri also said the important developments are also expected to happen in the course of the week.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

11 newly infected and 34 cured in Serbian communities in Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio) 

According to the latest data, 11 positive cases have been registered in Serbian communities in Kosovo, while 34 people have been cured, said Dr. Desanka Novakovic, an epidemiologist at the Public Health Institute in North Mitrovica, at today’s press conference.

In the north of Kosovo, based on 86 samples taken on 7 August, 6 new cases of infection were recorded, and in the Serb areas south of the Ibar River, 5 newly infected cases were recorded.

In the north of Kosovo, new patients by municipalities: North Mitrovica (3), Zvecan (2) and Zubin Potok (1).

When it comes to Serb areas south of the Ibar, positive cases were recorded in Strpce (3) and one positive case each in Gracanica and Gnjilane. 

According to the latest data, during the previous two days, in the north of Kosovo, 29 patients were cured – 15 from North Mitrovica, four from Zvecan, six from Leposavic and four from Zubin Potok.

In the areas south of the Ibar, three patients were cured – two from Gnjilane and one person from Gracanica.

Dr. Novakovic states that 403 patients are in home isolation, 66 are being treated at the Health Center in Kosovska Mitrovica, one patient is placed in the “Dragisa Misovic” Clinical Center, one in the Kragujevac Clinical Center and three in the Nis Clinical Center.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 3,871 people have been tested, of which the presence of the coronavirus has been confirmed in 899 people.

The total number of active cases is 474. To date, 34 people have died in Serbian communities in Kosovo.

Serbian List: So-called analysts do not possess basic knowledge about the Kosovo Assembly Rules of Procedure (Kosovo Online)

The Serbian List in a statement, regarding the debate on the Draft Law on protection of KLA Values, reacted last night to the statement of Miodrag Marinkovic from NGO Aktiv who said that Serbian ministers in the Government of Kosovo voted against the law, but that it did not happen in the Assembly. 

The List reminded that the session was interrupted due to lack of quorum and that the enactment of the law was uncertain because of that. 

The statement further read that “active quasi-analysts and representatives of the local civil sector, in cooperation with ‘well-intentioned’ media, which (here’s a shocker!) are financed from the same countries, which as a rule are inactive and silent on all attacks against Serbs, are trying to use attacks on the Serbian List to secure better positions for them and additional security from foreign sources “. 

In their press release SL pointed out they have repeatedly expressed their opinion regarding the Law, publicly in the downtown of Pristina at government sessions. 

The Serbian list emphasized that the member of the Presidency of the Serbian List, Ivan Todosijevic, was persecuted for telling the truth about Racak, and that they exclusively defend the interests of the Serbian people “and not the personal interests of foreign financiers”. 

“At that time, these active experts did not stand so actively in defense of Ivan Todosijević,” the statement said.   

“How reliable analysts are, in addition to elementary ignorance, is also shown by the fact that they once predicted the defeat of the Serbian List and hoped for the success of disunity” SL pointed out in their statement. 

“Fortunately for the protection of Serbian interests, back then the Serbian List also won 99 percent of the votes of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija, and therefore disappointed them- the entire 1 percent of them” SL concluded. 

International community reacts to Law on KLA, the Serbian List silent (N1)

Regional broadcaster N1 reported about the controversial “Law on Protection of Kosovo Liberation Army War Values” and reactions to it, including those from the Serbian List.

N1 reported that “defence of the interests of the Serbian people in Kosovo” was a message one can often hear from the Serbian List, the party that has power among the Serbs in Kosovo. However, these days, there is silence in this party. 

Miodrag Marinkovic from NGO Aktiv told N1 that with the establishment of the Specialist Court for the prosecution of crimes committed by the KLA, that perception has been shaken because ”it now shows, already argued and in court, that their romantic heroes were in fact criminals”.  

According to N1, reactions came from the addresses of numerous international representatives in Kosovo, and the US Ambassador to Pristina, Kosnett. He opined that this bill would produce a frightening effect on freedom of speech. 

Serbian President agreed with this reaction. 

N1 reported that Serbian List even two days later did not respond to the questions sent to them.  

Marinkovic told N1 that Serbian ministers voted against the law in the Government, but not in the Assembly. 

“For years, Serbian List has been showing passivity in parliamentary activities, except perhaps at sessions that have a constitutive character. When, for example, the mandates of MPs are confirmed, when a majority is formed, and so on. Is it a lack of capacity or part of some tactics? That is very difficult to say,” he said.  

Vejvoda: EU will insist on fulfilling the 2013 agreement, including the Community of Serbian municipalities (KoSSev, N1)

The EU will insist on fulfilling the April 2013 agreement, Ivan Vejvoda, a permanent fellow of the Vienna Institute of Human Sciences and director of the “Europe’s Futures project,” said in an interview with portal KoSSev. According to Vejvoda, the position of Kosovo Serbs is a fundamental issue, and Brussels will insist on fulfilling the agreement on the (Community) Association of Serb-majority Municipalities (ASM).

“I don’t see a solution if the Kosovo Serb community does not feel that their safety and security and well-being in the places where they live are guaranteed, otherwise we will have a demographic outflow, which is absolutely not the goal of the solution sought after,“ he stressed.

He added that no Serbian leader would “readily” recognize Kosovo’s independence.

At the same time, according to Vejvoda, the lack of the EU’s role in the so-called Brussels dialogue can be seen in the fact that it did not publicly monitor which side fulfilled which obligations.

“The public in both Pristina and Belgrade needs to see what has been signed and done in a generally binding manner,” said Vejvoda.

After an attempt to organize a meeting between the Serbian and Kosovan delegations in Washington in June failed, practically on the eve of the scheduled meeting in the White House, the European Union took the initiative the following month. In July, after almost 20 months of deadlock, the dialogue between the two sides was re-launched.

When asked what happened in Brussels last month, Vejvoda replied that the EU realized that it had „lost its footing and initiative.“

„It is as if this Grenell initiative, which came very suddenly, prompted Europe to put a finger on its forehead and say – wait, we are still the authorities in this matter, given that the EU is the one that was given the mandate to solve this issue. And suddenly we saw the EU, Brussels and the main European capitals – Berlin and Paris, activating.“

Vejvoda then proceeded to recall the recent meetings which took place as part of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, such as Macron’s initiative to host Aleksandar Vucic and Avdullah Hoti in separate meetings, the virtual meeting of Macron and Merkel with the two leaders, the preparatory meetings in Brussels, and then formal renewal of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina in the presence of Borel and Lajcak, which took place last month.

“It was a serious renewal, a serious commitment of key actors in Europe with an ambiguous ending,“ Vejvoda emphasized.

See at: https://bit.ly/2XJwt2r

 

 

Opinion

 

Serbia Is Sitting at the Great-Powers Crossroads (The National Interest)

Resolving differences with Kosovo could be the key to Serbia’s emergence as an important force in regional development and stability.

Serbia has been here before. In ancient times, the Western Balkans sat astride the dividing line between the Roman Empire and the infinite frontier to the East. Later, the region marked the point of converging interests for Imperial Russia and the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empire.  

But sitting at the crossroads on great powers doesn’t necessarily make you the doormat of great powers. On the contrary, it can set you up for peace and prosperity.  

Today, Serbia has a unique opportunity for a strategic reset that could set the country and the region on course for a better future. The road starts with making space for Kosovo statehood.  

See at: https://bit.ly/31yWWAU

Balkan Fatalism Risks Becoming Self-Fulfilling Prophecy (Balkan Insight)

The region needs to take some bold moves, if it wants to reverse a growing view among the young that the future of their home countries is “hopeless”.

Life in the Balkans provides ample reasons to worry. But the region’s still barely discussed demographic hemorrhage is the most worrying trend of them all.

Part of the Westward migration from the region is normal – a decades-long trend of poorer Eastern Europeans seeking better opportunities in higher income parts of the continent, many of whom end up sending back money, and some returning with capital and valuable skills.

Yet this latest Balkan wave feels different and more consequential, mostly because of the type of people leaving, their motivations, and the consequences it will have for regional democracy, development and peace.

A recently published regional poll of the Western Balkans, excluding Albania, carried out by the International Republican Institute, IRI, provides further evidence that the main reason behind the exodus may be the toxic narrative that people nurture about the region’s prospects.

While this narrative derives from legitimate frustrations with things such as living standards and unaccountable governance, it is amplified by a rather ahistorical outlook and by unrealistic expectations, which produce a climate of fatalism.

Big majorities of two-thirds or more in almost all the countries polled say they don’t see a good future for the young in the country, or don’t like the directions their countries have taken.

Even in seemingly more optimistic countries, like Kosovo and Serbia, there is an important caveat – the young below 35 are more pessimistic than the generations above 56.

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

 

 

International

 

Rule of Law Key to Balkans’ Progress – Germany’s Schutz (Balkan Insight)

The Western Balkans Director at the German Federal Foreign Office says the region will be high on the agenda during Berlin’s EU Council Presidency – but countries seeking integration must do their part.

The Western Balkans are high on the agenda of the German EU Council Presidency, but the concrete progress of states towards EU integration – from opening negotiations and chapters– depends on their own commitment to the rule of law and  media freedom, Susanne Schutz, director for the region at the German foreign office, told BIRN.

Germany took over the six-month presidency of the European Union this July and Schutz says it wants to see “renewed momentum” in relations between the bloc and the West Balkans.

This follows the EU decision to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, and the substantive solidarity package of 3.3 billion euros agreed for the region, to mitigate the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

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

COVID-19 School Dilemma Troubles Balkan, Central Europe Govts (Balkan Insight)

Preparations for the new school year are underway throughout Central and Southeast Europe, but governments across the region are still uncertain exactly how teaching will resume – at home, online, or both.

Countries in Central and Southeast Europe are preparing for the new school year as they grapple with a spike in coronavirus infections, and while some say they are ready for – almost – business as usual, others have not yet decided what teaching mode to employ as they wait for epidemiologists to show them the way.

The variety of approaches on offer includes shorter lessons, fewer students in classrooms, alternative periods of online and onsite teaching or combinations of these and other solutions.

See at: https://bit.ly/30J3r4U

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