Albanian Language Media:
- COVID-19 report: 171 new cases, 13 deaths (media)
- PM Hoti calls for coordination in security area, especially with KFOR (media)
- Vetevendosje wants intelligence chief to report to the Assembly (media)
- Osmani: Kosovo’s territory is inviolable (Ekonomia Online)
- Vetevendosje MP calls for vote on no-confidence motion (media)
Serbian Language Media:
- Crisis Staff in North to receive results later today, press conference tomorrow at noon (Kontakt plus radio)
- Serbia’s Justice Min: Belgrade will never give up processing KLA war crimes (Vecernje Novosti, N1)
- Deliberate dramatization of a routine action? (KIM radio)
- Vulin: Armed Forces of Serbia did not illegally cross the ABL, it was a regular patrol with KFOR (KoSSev)
- RFE: US warns Serbia over Chinese AA missile system purchase (N1, Beta)
- Omens for Post-Pandemic Balkans Don’t Look Promising (Balkan Insight)
- Countering Russia’s Influence Operations in the Balkans (realcleardefense.com)
- The spirit of “Greater Albania” acquires Brussels substance (moderndiplomacy.eu)
- Putin: Russia becomes first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine (Reuters)
- Will Serbia and Kosovo Open Up Secret War Archives? (Balkan Insight)
- Pompeo Visit: US’s Anti-China Recruitment Drive Targets Willing Central Europeans (Balkan Insight)
- NATO over-sensitive to Serbia’s pragmatic arms purchase from China (globaltimes.cn)
- Are we approaching Covid-19 collapse? (Kosovo 2.0)
- Serbia’s Crisis Staff: The youngest return to school, combined classes for higher grade pupils (B92, Tanjug)
Albanian Language Media
COVID-19 report: 171 new cases, 13 deaths (media)
The latest figures presented by the Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health indicate that 171 new cases of coronavirus and 13 deaths have been recorded in Kosovo over the last twenty-four hours.
The Institute also said that 190 recoveries were confirmed over the same time period.
Prishtina has the highest number of new cases (46), followed by Gjilan (24), Gjakova (15), Vitia (13). The rest of the municipalities have less than ten new recorded cases.
PM Hoti calls for coordination in security area, especially with KFOR (media)
Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti held a virtual meeting today with heads of security institutions in the country to discuss the overall security situation and the coordination of institutional actions in the area of security. A press release issued after the meeting notes that Hoti thanked the heads of security institutions for their commitment and increased engagement in handling the situation with the COVID – 19 pandemic. Hoti also called for greater coordination with international security mechanisms in Kosovo, especially with KFOR, as a strategic partner of Kosovo in the areas of defense and security.
Vetevendosje wants intelligence chief to report to the Assembly (media)
The Vetevendosje Movement has filed a request for Kosovo Intelligence Agency (AKI) Director, Kreshnik Gashi, to report to the Assembly, after members of the Serbian Gendarmerie were recently seen patrolling in a village inside the territory of Kosovo. The request calls for Gashi to report “on the security situation in the country, namely the violation of Kosovo’s territorial integrity by the incursion of the Serbian Gendarmerie”.
Osmani: Kosovo’s territory is inviolable (Ekonomia Online)
Kosovo Assembly President, Vjosa Osmani, said today in Mitrovica that she will remain in politics for a long time and with people that want to see Kosovo doing well. During a debate with young people, Osmani said no one will be allowed to make deals with Kosovo’s borders. “If anyone is planning to go into negotiations to give away territory or to turn Mitrovica into a dysfunctional city, we will never allow such plans,” she added.
Asked if Vetevendosje has asked her support for the no-confidence motion against the Hoti-led government, Osmani said because of her busy agenda she has not discussed the issue with Vetevendosje leaders yet. She also said: “the current ruling coalition has not been stable since its first day in office because as you all know some of the votes were a result of direct pressure”.
Vetevendosje MP calls for vote on no-confidence motion (media)
Vetevendosje MP and Vice President of the Kosovo Assembly, Arberie Nagavci, said today that parties that criticise the Hoti-led government for bad governance and mismanagement should sign the Vetevendosje-initiated no-confidence motion and not make dishonest and unserious statements in TV debates.
“It is hypocritical to say something and then to act differently,” Nagavci said in a Facebook post. “The Vetevendosje parliamentary group has started collecting signatures for the no-confidence motion against the government, because it believes there are numerous arguments proving that this government is irresponsible and incapable. The country needs legitimitate institutions with honest, reliable and professional leaders … The people, businesses and institutions have concerns and they are faced with many challenges. The time has come for concrete and swift actions, not for unsustainable statements and party-based calculations.”
Serbian Language Media
Crisis Staff in North to receive results later today, press conference tomorrow at noon (Kontakt plus radio)
Yesterday’s published information stated that 11 people tested positive in Serbian areas in Kosovo, thus the total number of infected people has increased to 899 since March 12.
New information about patients and tested persons in the last 24 hours is expected during the day, a press conference is scheduled for tomorrow at noon, Crisis Staff in Mitrovica North announced today, reports Kontakt plus radio.
Serbia’s Justice Min: Belgrade will never give up processing KLA war crimes (Vecernje Novosti, N1)
Nela Kuburovic, Serbia’s Justice Minister, said on Tuesday her country would never quit processing war crimes suspected to have been committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) I the 1998-1999 war and its aftermath.
“The proceedings before Serbia’s courts are based on material evidence, so there is no legal explanation and reason to withdraw the warrants for war criminals,” Kuburovic told the Belgrade Vecernje Novosti daily.
She commented on Pristina’s demand to Belgrade to drop the wanted list.
Kuburovic said “Serbia offered to The Hague Tribunal and the UN Security Council the irrefutable evidence about fighting about war crimes, giving the most significant contribution to the establishment of the rule of law in the region.
Commenting on the draft Law on Protecting KLA Values, she described it as “a desperate act of avoiding to face the truth that it was a terrorist organisation,” as well as “an attempt to intimidate people and prevent any healthy thought and voice, not only of the Kosovo Serbs but of any citizen regardless of the ethnicity.”
The European Union office in Pristina also warned Kosovo’s authorities about the draft Law.
Deliberate dramatization of a routine action? (KIM radio)
Kosovo politicians and the media strongly condemned the entry of members of the Serbian Army and Gendarmerie into the village of Karacevo on August 7 in a joint patrol with KFOR, KiM radio reports today.
Analyst Behlul Beqaj believes that the lively reaction of Kosovo politicians regarding the entry of Serbian soldiers into Kosovo territory has a negative impact on the continuation of the dialogue. On the other hand, Dusan Janjic states that Pristina was informed about the cooperation between KFOR and the Serbian army.
Beqaj told the radio that the intentional entry of the Serbian Army into the territory of Kosovo would mean a desire to interrupt the dialogue on the part of the Serbs.
“If it was done intentionally by the Serbian side, then Serbia wants to slowly deactivate the continuation of the dialogue for reasons known to them, but if the entry happened due to some other circumstances, accidentally, it can be overcome with an apology, and to continue the dialogue without a serious ‘ripples’,” said Beqaj in a telephone statement for RTV Kim.
On the other hand, analyst Dusan Janjic claims that Pristina was informed about the exercise of KFOR and the Serbian Army, so he sees the reaction of the media and politicians as political mistrust.
“I interpret the reaction within the Albanian media as political mistrust and deliberate dramatization of the entry of the Gendarmerie, even though Kurti’s government was informed. The consequences will still be monitored, and I am now expecting new Russia’s interests. I think it is good that the exercise was done, and the reaction of Albanian politicians and the media was expected, but that this is not a reason for Belgrade to give up cooperation with KFOR,” Janjic stated for RTV Kim.
Vulin: Armed Forces of Serbia did not illegally cross the ABL, it was a regular patrol with KFOR (KoSSev)
Kossev portal reported yesterday that three days after a group of Serbian Armed Force members reportedly illegally crossed the administrative boundary line in the territory of the village of Donje Karacevo in Kosovo, the Serbian Minister of Defense, Aleksandar Vulin confirmed KFOR’s statement that it was a joint patrol of the Serbian Armed Forces and KFOR. Vulin also said that the patrol had a predetermined course, as well as confirming that the Armed Forces did not illegally cross the ABL.
The Minister of Defense pointed out that this was a regular activity.
”The only fact is that a joint patrol of the Serbian Armed Forces and KFOR and the Regional Command East – the Turkish contingent, along with two contingents from the US, conducted a joint patrol from 16.50 to 18.10 from the village of Muhovac to the village of Donje Karacevo, according to a pre-determined administrative line,” said Vulin, reported Belgrade based agency FoNet.
He emphasized that the patrol course is well known and pre-determined.
Furthermore, Vulin claimed that, for several days now, Pristina has been attempting to ”attack the Serbian Armed Forces once again” so that they could say that international agreements were not being respected and that Belgrade was encroaching upon the administrative line.
He underlined that the goal of these attempts was to include members of the Kosovo Police Force in joint patrols.
”The Serbian Armed Forces have refused to do so several times. We have signed an agreement with KFOR – not with the KPS,” Vulin said, adding that Belgrade only recognizes KFOR as someone tasked with maintaining security throughout Kosovo.
Ever since Self-Determination MP, Mefail Bajqinovci published a video from Karacevo near Kamenica on Friday night, claiming that the Serbian armed forces allegedly entered this village, and calling on Kosovo security institutions to ”urgently react to protect the citizens, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Kosovo”, Kosovo media have been reporting extensively on the situation.
Following numerous reactions from Kosovo officials, KFOR reacted with a press release on Saturday afternoon, stating that KFOR and the Serbian Armed Forces conducted a joint patrol along the administrative boundary line, in order to provide security and ensure that there are no accidents. They also indicated that the administrative boundary line stretches for approximately 350 kilometers and is not clearly marked on the terrain, nor is it defined by natural and recognizable elements of the terrain, such as rivers or mountain ranges.
Residents of the village of Karacevo claimed that they feel unsafe because of this event. They announced they will be protesting on Wednesday, demanding that the Kosovo government take stock of the situation in Karacevo.
See at: https://bit.ly/3gMngxJ
RFE: US warns Serbia over Chinese AA missile system purchase (N1)
The United States warned the Serbian authorities over the announced purchase of Chinese anti-aircraft missile batteries, the Beta news agency said on Monday.
It quoted a Radio Free Europe report that said that Washington told Belgrade that it should be aware of the risk of buying weapons from Chinese companies and that the choice of supplier should reflect Serbia’s declared goal of integration into the European Union. The Serbian authorities are reported to have contracted the purchase of the FK-3 AA missile system from China.
According to the US Embassy in Belgrade, the purchase of military equipment is the sovereign decision of each individual country but that governments should be aware of the short- and long-term risks and cost of doing business with Chinese companies.
Earlier on Monday, majority of the Russian media were surprised with Serbia’s decision to buy the Chinese anti-aircraft FK-3 rocket system instead of the Russian-made S-300, according to the Balkan Security Network website.
Every country should trust that the purchase of military equipment will not jeopardize its national security or economic sovereignty, the RFE quoted the embassy as saying. It warned that there can be no trust if the sale of military equipment depends on the authoritarian government like the one in China. Serbia was advised to invest the effort to harmonize with the European Union’s joint security and defence policy.
“The choice of the supplier should reflect Serbia’s declared goal: integrating with Europe. There are other sellers who do not depend on authoritarian regimes and who offer equipment not only capable of meeting Serbia’s defence needs but which is of comparable quality and price,” the US Embassy statement to the RFE said.
The specialized portal balkansec.net cited an annual business report from the Jugoimport SDPR state-owned arms trade company which showed that contracts had been signed to buy drones and the FK-3 AA system from China. RFE said that it had asked Serbian officials for comments about the purchase but got no response.
See at: https://bit.ly/340O2z1
Omens for Post-Pandemic Balkans Don’t Look Promising (Balkan Insight)
The prospects for the region once the immediate pandemic subsides are not good – and include long-term economic decline, increased migration, growing authoritarianism and a bigger role for China.
The COVID-19 pandemic in the Western Balkans has shown us that, despite a good response in the first half of 2020, once the rules were loosened, things quickly took a turn for the worse.
With the number of cases rocketing throughout the region, predictions for this year are already grim.
The pandemic, moreover, has proven to be more than a health issue, with politics again taking precedence, and the new normal turning out to be a much worse version of the old. But one question that nobody seems to be addressing is: what awaits the region in the coming years?
The pandemic has shown that ethnonationalist populists will strengthen their position, which comes bundled together with further entrenchment of nationalism.
See at: https://bit.ly/3adB2Xy
Countering Russia’s Influence Operations in the Balkans (realcleardefense.com)
Even the pandemic has the potential for fomenting political unrest.
In recent days, thousands of Serbs have taken to the streets to protest Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s announced strict curfew in response to a surge in Covid-19 cases. Many have pointed a finger at pro-Russia ultra-right groups and foreign intelligence services for fueling the violent riots.
Moscow denies any “Russian trace” in the unrest. Whether Russia is behind the violent protests in Belgrade remains to be seen. One thing is for certain. The Kremlin’s efforts to sow mayhem in the Balkans would not be new; this would merely be the latest attempt by a resurgent Russia to threaten Euro-Atlantic security and challenge the United States’ ability to defend its interests in Europe.
See at: https://bit.ly/31UsLEv
The spirit of “Greater Albania” acquires Brussels substance (moderndiplomacy.eu)
A meeting of Serbian and Kosovo leaders which is scheduled to take place in Brussels in September may result in the signing of an agreement on the normalization of relations. According to reports, the EU leaders, who act as mediators in the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue, have prepared a draft agreement. Serbian and Brussels sources say the draft provides for recognition of the self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo by Belgrade in exchange for Serbia’s membership in the EU.
However, even if Belgrade chooses to sign the above-mentioned agreement, – such a step will do nothing to secure normalization in the Balkans. On the contrary, it could open a new chapter in the political and administrative “reformating” of the region. What comes as a key factor here is activization on the part of Albania, which is using the Belgrade-Pristina deal for its own purposes, and these purposes are infinitely far from what the leading European capitals count on. It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that a full-blown international and legal recognition of Kosovo’s independence (which is supposed to result from the agreement prepared in Brussels on the normalization of bilateral relations between Belgrade and Pristina) will become a prologue to more active efforts on the part of Albanian radicals to establish “Greater Albania”, which would incorporate Albania proper, most of Kosovo, Presevo Valley, parts of Macedonia, Montenegro, and, possibly, Greece, with a total population of up to 10 million.
Statements in support of creating such a state have come recently from many high-profile political and public figures in Kosovo, who maintain close ties with the Albanian community abroad and with influential American and European politicians. One of them is Azem Vlasi, who headed the regional branch of the Union of Communists of Kosovo and was a member of the Central Committee of the Union of Communists of Yugoslavia in the 1980s. He doubts that the recent talks in Brussels on the division of Kosovo will produce an agreement. In his opinion, the authorities in Pristina are not prepared to give up control of the entire territory of the region. Besides, it’s Kosovo that could become a center of the “collection” of Albanian lands in the Balkans.
See at: https://bit.ly/3isyfga
Russia becomes first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, says Putin (Reuters)
President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia had become the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, a move hailed by Moscow as evidence of its scientific prowess.
The development paves the way for the mass inoculation of the Russian population, even as the final stage of clinical trials to test safety and efficacy continue.
The speed at which Russia is moving to roll out its vaccine highlights its determination to win the global race for an effective product, but has stirred concerns that it may be putting national prestige before sound science and safety.
Read full article at: https://reut.rs/2DQ1Yk8
Will Serbia and Kosovo Open Up Secret War Archives? (Balkan Insight)
Serbia and Kosovo have asked each other to open up military archives to help reveal where missing persons from the 1998-99 war are buried – but despite cooperative rhetoric, neither appears likely to do it.
On August 2, 1998, two of Zenun Xhemajli’s sons, 27-year-old Muharrem and 25-year-old Ilir, were stopped by a Serb police patrol near their village of Rracaj in Kosovo’s Gjakova/Djakovica municipality and taken away. He never saw them again.
Less than a year later, on the morning of April, 27, 1999, his two younger sons, 21-year-old Shkelzen and 19-year-old Alban, were killed alongside 375 other Kosovo Albanians in a massacre in the village of Meja/Meje.
Alban’s remains were found in a mass grave in the Belgrade suburb of Batajnica in 2004. But the bodies of Muharrem, Ilir and Shkelzen are still missing.
When senior officials from Serbia and Kosovo met in Brussels last month to restart dialogue aimed at normalising relations, both sides said they were ready to help the other to find the remains of people who went missing in the 1998-99 war, like Zenun Xhemajli’s sons.
The Kosovo delegation asked Serbia to open up its Yugoslav-era military and police archives to help find the locations of wartime mass graves, while Serbia’s delegation asked for the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA’s archives to be opened up for scrutiny.
“The Albanians demanded that all military and police archives be opened, and we said, regarding missing persons and internally displaced people, there is no problem, but you have to open the archives of the so-called KLA, so that we can see where Serbs and other non-Albanians were killed,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said.
But despite the rhetoric about cooperation, none of this seems likely to happen any time soon. Serbia has classified some of its military archives as state secrets, while Kosovo insists that the KLA, as a guerrilla organisation, never had military archives at all.
Pompeo Visit: US’s Anti-China Recruitment Drive Targets Willing Central Europeans (Balkan Insight)
The US Secretary of State will arrive in Central Europe on Tuesday for a tour of countries already onside with the White House push to counter Chinese influence in the region.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will arrive in Prague on August 11, the first stop on a tour of Central Europe designed to extend the Trump’s administration’s efforts to counter Russian and Chinese influence in the region.
In the wake of the recent US announcement that it will withdraw over 10,000 troops from Germany, American military redeployment has been declared a major topic for the trip. However, that’s only really a headline grabber in Poland; Pompeo’s main task is to rally support for an anti-China push.
All the countries that the secretary of state will visit – labelled “great friends of America” by Pompeo – have indicated a willingness to follow Washington’s call to shun Chinese telecommunications company Huawei. The US insists it is a security threat and should be blocked from participating in the rollout of 5G networks.
After a sluggish start, the US campaign in Europe is gathering momentum. In a sudden about face, the UK banned Huawei last month, prompting fury in Beijing. Pompeo will use his trip to encourage this Central European “coalition of the willing” to continue resisting Chinese pressure.
See at: https://bit.ly/3ac45Ll
NATO over-sensitive to Serbia’s pragmatic arms purchase from China (globaltimes.cn)
In early July, Serbia officially inducted six Chinese CH-92A attack/reconnaissance drones into the country’s armed forces. The country will also be purchasing Chinese-made FK-3 air defense missile system, export version of the HQ-22 system, in the near future.
This makes Serbia the first European country to deploy Chinese unmanned aerial vehicles. The move opens up new channels for China to break into the European arms market.
These deals have Western countries, especially NATO members led by the US, worrying about closer ties between Beijing and Belgrade. But their worries are totally excessive and redundant.
First of all, it is necessary for Serbia to maintain its national security, and it needed to purchase advanced defense weapons. Memories of the Kosovo War in the late 1990s when NATO unilaterally attacked the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and caused great economic losses still run strong. The Kosovo War, which ended in the defeat of the Serbs, is a modern, regional war with a profound background that has had wide-ranging influences.
See at: https://bit.ly/2XR0ZHv
Are we approaching Covid-19 collapse? (Kosovo 2.0)
Afrim*, a man in his 50s, wandered from one room of the Emergency Service to another. Sometimes he stopped to talk to a doctor passing by; occasionally, he picked up the phone to try to call someone.
About two hours earlier he had urgently brought in his 83-year-old mother. She had a cough, difficulty breathing and lethargy that made it impossible for her to stand on her feet. The oxygen saturation value — which in healthy people is between 95 and 100 percent — was showing 32 percent on the monitor.
She was suspected to be infected with the SARS-CoV-19 virus that causes COVID-19.
The Emergency Service is the main gateway for patients needing urgent treatment to enter the University Clinical Center of Kosovo (QKUK). After diagnosis and acute treatment, this clinic refers patients requiring longer-term treatment to other QKUK clinics.
But the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases has led to an increase in the number of patients seeking help at QKUK, making it difficult to transfer patients from the Emergency Service to the clinics now known as “COVID.”
“Doctors are saying that there are no free beds,” Afrim said with concern. “I’m looking to find her a place in the Pulmonology Clinic through an acquaintance.”
See at: https://bit.ly/33OYlWs
Serbia’s Crisis Staff: The youngest return to school, combined classes for higher grade pupils (B92, Tanjug)
Epidemiologist Dr Darija Kisić Tepavčević stated that the youngest will return to school, while the older will combine online classes with attending school
She explained that the youngest students will attend classes at school, respecting all measures, including the principles for reducing the physical possibility of transmitting the virus, which means the minimum number of students.
According to her, there will be up to 15 pupils in one classroom, who will sit at a distance of at least 1.5 meters, and classes will be shortened to 30 minutes.
After the session of the Crisis Staff, Kisić-Tepavčević told reporters that all aspects were discussed, such as the number of students in schools, the age of the children, and special attention will be paid to something that will be continuously monitored, and that is the current epidemiological situation.
She pointed out that now we have a situation when prevention measures give effects and we have a more favorable epidemiological situation.
“Accordingly, decisions were made on how to organize classes in the next school year. We did everything to ensure that our youngest students attend classes in the school as much as possible. This is important for their future schooling. For older grades, we will have different combinations of classes”, she explained.
She announced that the Minister of Education, Mladen Šarčević, would inform the public about this in more detail today, at a press conference at 3 p.m.