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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, August 13, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 193 new cases, eight deaths (media)
• Hoti: COVID-19 situation in Kosovo, grave (media)
• CDHRF says citizens should not be paying for COVID-19 tests (media)
• Draft law on KLA values doesn’t pass first reading (media)
• PDK MP vows to reintroduce draft law on KLA (media)
• Gucati: Sooner or later law on KLA values will be adopted (media)
• Civil society groups call on PDK to withdraw draft law on KLA values (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• In Serbian areas in Kosovo five new cases of Covid-19 (Kontakt plus radio)
• Serbian FM Dacic: “Their whole policy is based on lies” (B92, TV Prva)
• Seventeen years since the crime on the Bistrica river (media)
• Djuric: “Anniversary of the murder of Serbian children in Gorazdevac, failure of international justice in KiM” (media)
• CEAS: ”KLA Law continues to intimidate Serbs, an attempt at historical revisionism”(Kosovo Online)
• PDK MP: ”Serbs to respect the ‘KLA’ because it also fought for their freedom” (KoSSev, Gazeta Express)
• Serbia loses € bill due to lack of foreign tourists; export to Kosovo € 86 mil (Beta, N1)

International:

• ‘Universal Enemy’: A Reappraisal of Jihadism through the Lens of Bosnia (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 193 new cases, eight deaths (media)
  • Hoti: COVID-19 situation in Kosovo, grave (media)
  • CDHRF says citizens should not be paying for COVID-19 tests (media)
  • Draft law on KLA values doesn’t pass first reading (media)
  • PDK MP vows to reintroduce draft law on KLA (media)
  • Gucati: Sooner or later law on KLA values will be adopted (media)
  • Civil society groups call on PDK to withdraw draft law on KLA values (media)

 Serbian Language Media:

  • In Serbian areas in Kosovo five new cases of Covid-19 (Kontakt plus radio)
  • Serbian FM Dacic: “Their whole policy is based on lies” (B92, TV Prva)
  • Seventeen years since the crime on the Bistrica river (media)
  • Djuric: “Anniversary of the murder of Serbian children in Gorazdevac, failure of international justice in KiM” (media)
  • CEAS: ”KLA Law continues to intimidate Serbs, an attempt at historical revisionism”(Kosovo Online)
  • PDK MP: ”Serbs to respect the ‘KLA’ because it also fought for their freedom” (KoSSev, Gazeta Express)
  • Serbia loses € bill due to lack of foreign tourists; export to Kosovo € 86 mil (Beta, N1)

International:

  • ‘Universal Enemy’: A Reappraisal of Jihadism through the Lens of Bosnia (Balkan Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

COVID-19: 193 new cases, eight deaths (media)

193 new cases of coronavirus and eight deaths have been recorded in Kosovo during the last 24-hour period, said head of National Institute for Public Health, Naser Ramadani, at a news conference.

205 recoveries have meanwhile been confirmed over the same time period.

Ramadani expressed cautious optimism saying there is a ‘moderate, slow, gradual, but certain” decline in the number of new cases. 

Prishtina with 56 new recorded cases remains Kosovo’s coronavirus hotspot.

Hoti: COVID-19 situation in Kosovo, grave (media)

In a Facebook post, Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti said that the epidemiological situation in Kosovo is grave and that the number of cases remains high as does that of deaths. 

“The battle with this pandemic cannot be won only by the doctors, nurses, police, and the inspectorate. This is everyone’s battle, of each and every citizen. High level of awareness is required to protect public health or else we risk facing a disappointing situation,” Hoti said.

CDHRF says citizens should not be paying for COVID-19 tests (media)

The Kosovo-based Council for Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms (CDHRF) said citizens of Kosovo should not be paying for COVID-19 tests in privately owned labs as this should be covered by Kosovo institutions. 

Hailing the decision to increase the testing capacity for coronavirus in Kosovo, CDHRF warned that the price for a COVID-19 test in private labs cannot be afforded by the majority of Kosovo citizens.

“CDHRF proposes that social categories, marginalised groups, unemployed persons, and all those that have no means to pay should be exempted from paying while those that receive regular wages should participate with no more than 30 percent.”

Draft law on KLA values doesn’t pass first reading (media)

The draft law on Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) values, initiated by the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), has not passed the first reading at the Assembly.

Of 68 MPs present at the session, only 36 opted to vote of which 35 were in favour and one against the draft law.

The draft law has come under criticism from the international community which has voiced concern that certain provisions of the law undermine the freedom of expression.

PDK MP vows to reintroduce draft law on KLA (media)

The initiator of the draft law on Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) values, Gazmend Bytyqi from the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), said he was surprised with the way MPs voted today.

Bytyqi said the draft law was discussed with all parliamentary groups and there was political consensus to pass the law on the first reading and address concerns at the second reading stage. 

“We understand some of the concerns of colleagues and international friends but we assured them that we are ready to make necessary corrections and amendments in the second reading,” Bytyqi said adding that the goal of the draft law is to “institutionalise the KLA war as a sublime value of the people of Kosovo”. 

He said that the legislation will be reintroduced at the Assembly until such a time when 61 MPs do vote on it, be it in favour, against or by abstaining.

Gucati: Sooner or later law on KLA values will be adopted (media)

Head of the Kosovo Liberation Army War Veterans’ Association, Hysni Gucati, reacted after the draft law on KLA values failed to pass the first reading saying that the law will, sooner or later, be approved.

Gucati accused MPs from the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) for ‘cowardice’ for not supporting the draft law. “You are nothing more than cowards unable to serve your country. Sooner or later the law on war values will be approved but you will always remain cowards and pathetic,” he said.

Civil society groups call on PDK to withdraw draft law on KLA values (media)

Six civil society organizations have issued a joint statement calling on the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) to withdraw the draft law on protection of KLA values saying it is not in line with rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of Kosovo. 

“The current draft-law violates freedom of speech, while it undermines the efforts toward bringing justice for all victims and survivors from all ethnic backgrounds,” they said. 

The civil society organisations expressed particular concern over article 5 of the proposed draft law which states that “any public official and citizen of the Republic of Kosovo shall be obliged to respect and protect the war values determined by this Law in any time and circumstance within the country and abroad.” 

“This article clearly violates freedom of expression guaranteed with the Constitution and as such should not be enforced,” reads the statement, signed by the Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Kosovo (YIHR KS), Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo (HLC), Kosovo Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims (KRCT), Integra, Alternative Dispute Resolution Center (ADRC), and the New Social Initiative (NSI).

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

In Serbian areas in Kosovo five new cases of Covid-19 (Kontakt plus radio)

Epidemiologist of Public Health Institute in North, Dr. Desanka Novakovic said that according to the latest data, five new cases were registered in Serbian majority municipalities in Kosovo, while 34 people were cured., reported Kontakt plus radio. 

In the north of Kosovo, based on 60 processed samples, three new cases of infection were recorded, that is one each in North Mitrovica, Zubin Potok and Leposavic.

In Serbian areas south of the river Ibar, two new cases were recorded, one each in Strpce and Gnjilane. 

According to the latest data, during the previous two days, in the north of Kosovo, 28 patients were cured: In Zvecan eight, seven in North Mitrovica, seven in Leposavic, and six from Zubin Potok. 

Six cases of recovery were recorded south of the Ibar: Strpce two, Gnjilane two, one each in Gracanica and Kamenica. 

385 patients are currently in home-isolation, 57 are being treated at the Health Centres. 

Serbian FM Dacic: “Their whole policy is based on lies” (B92, TV Prva)

Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic stated that the decision has not been made yet on introducing quarantine for foreigners and a mandatory PCR test, reported portal B92, quoting Belgrade based TV Prva. 

“It will be discussed today and tomorrow, the decision has not been made yet. It is motivated by the need to protect the country when it comes to epidemiological reasons,” he said, and added that the government would discuss it today, and the Crisis Staff tomorrow. 

When asked about reciprocity, he stated that reciprocity was a political move and added that when it comes to some countries, such as Montenegro, such a decision was of a political, not epidemiological nature. 

Dacic also commented on Patriarch Irinej’s statement that negotiations with Kosovo were uncertain.

“The circumstances under which they are happening are uncertain. We had one situation, an unfavorable one, when we started the dialogue. Now, we have reversed the situation, we are again in a situation where the need for a political solution is being discussed, unlike the time in the past. It is a consequence of Serbia’s improved position,” according to Dacic.  

Dacic told TV Prva that Pristina did not want a compromise, ‘’but lies, their whole policy is based on lies. They sign something and then they do not want to implement it, as is the case with the Brussels Agreement and the Community of Serbian Municipalities,” Dacic told TV Prva.

According to him, the question arises about the purpose of the dialogue. 

“They reckon that Serbia is as weak as it used to be and that it will have to accept something under pressure,” he says.

He also stated that Serbia accepted Grenell’s request to stop the derecognition campaign, but if there was an attempt for Kosovo to join international organizations, or someone else to recognize independence – Serbia would continue with its campaign.

Asked whether he would remain in the government, Dacic said:

“I perform this job as if the situation is completely normal. I would say this if I were in opposition. As for our party – we are proud of everything we have done together in the past years. Of course – it’s up to Aleksandar Vucic to decide,” he said. 

Seventeen years since the crime on the Bistrica river (media)

Serbian media today reports on 17 years since the murder of Serbian children in Gorazdevac. 

Two pupils were killed by an automatic weapon, with a burst, and four more children were seriously wounded, while they were swimming in the village river – Bistrica during the summer vacation. To this day, the killers have not been found, the investigation was suspended 10 years ago.

In an armed attack on August 13, 2003, on the bank of the Bistrica, near Gorazdevac, Ivan Jovovic (19) was killed on the spot. 

Pantelija Dakic (12) succumbed to his injuries in the Pec hospital. 

Bogdan Bukumiric (14), Djordje Ugrenovic (20), Marko Bogicevic (12) and Dragana Srbljak (13) were seriously injured. 

The most seriously injured Bukumiric was transferred to the French hospital in South Mitrovica, and on the way to the hospital, an ambulance was attacked. After the first operation, Bukumiric, without signs of life, was urgently transferred to another hospital, in northern Mitrovica, and from there by helicopter to the Military Medical Academy in Belgrade, where he spent six days in a coma and survived four difficult operations.

Seventeen years later, the killers were not found, while the Kosovo Special Prosecutor’s Office and EULEX suspended the investigation in 2010 because it “did not lead to concrete results, or potential suspects”, wrote portal KoSSev. 

Today, as in previous years, a memorial service for boys Ivan and Pantelija will be held at the Gorazdevac cemetery and in the Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God.

KoSSev recalled that in 2015, with heavy automatic weapons, Gorazdevac was shot at twice on July 9 and December 7,fortunately without casualties, while the monument to the victims of the NATO bombing and the children killed on the Bistrica river, located in the center of Gorazdevac , was set on fire and demolished. The December attack was condemned by Serbian officials, international and Kosovo officials.

In February 2016, a renewed monument to the victims of the NATO bombing and two boys who died in the Bistrica crime was erected in Gorazdevac, which was destroyed in an attack in early December 2015. As RTS stated at the time, the monument was renovated by the Office for Kosovo and Metohija.

Djuric: “Anniversary of the murder of Serbian children in Gorazdevac, failure of international justice in KiM” (media)

Director of the office for KiM Marko Djuric expressed his sympathy but also his respect with the residents of Gorazdevac, whose children were shot at seventeen years ago, for ”surviving in their homes despite the tragic loss and daily sufferings”. 

”Serb children have perished as victims to the crazy ideology of hatred, which is not directed toward anyone, but toward an entire nation, its culture and duration,” Djuric emphasized.

He also spoke about the ”failure of the international judiciary in Kosovo” and pointed that ”it did not shed light on any of the crimes committed against the Serb population after 2000”.

”By shutting down the investigation into the killings of our children and the martyrdom of many of our compatriots in Kosovo, a sin was committed against humanity,” concluded Djuric.

Jevtic: ”Who blurred the Bistrica river near Gorazdevac with the blood of innocently killed children”

”Only a man with a darkened mind could shoot at Serbian children from an ambush while they were playing and swimming in the river. That is why the murder of innocent children who have not yet stepped into life is a monstrous crime that must not go unpunished,” said the Minister for Communities and Returns Dalibor Jevtic in a statement. 

Jevtic stated that every crime bear the name and surname of the perpetrator and that it was sad and devastating that for the murder of twelve-year-old Pantelija Dakic and nineteen-year-old Ivan Jovovic, as well as the severe wounding of other children no one was accountable even after 17 years.

He appealed to the representatives of the international community, which, as said in the statement, guaranteed security and peace to everyone, but also to the institutions in Kosovo, to do more in order to adequately punish the perpetrators of the crime.

The CI SDP: A crime without a statute of limitations

The Civic Initiative “Freedom, democracy, justice” (SDP) also reacted on the occasion of the anniversary of the murders in Gorazdevac.

After so many years, this case has still not been resolved and the killers have not been brought to justice, this civic initiative stressed. 

The SDP urged the police, the prosecution, EULEX, and other international organizations to step up their efforts to resolve the case, as this was a crime without a statute of limitations, a crime which would not be forgotten and one that demanded justice.

Coordination of Serbian Associations of Missing and Killed Persons: ”Silence and indifference to atrocities are cooperation with evil and criminals”

The Coordination of Serbian Associations of Families of Missing and Killed Persons from the Former Yugoslavia also reminded of the victims and wounded in the attack in Gorazdevac today.

“The murder of Serbian children was condemned by domestic and international officials, and because of that tragic event, an extraordinary session of the UN Security Council was held. After the attack, UNMIK announced that an unknown number of people from the bushes opened fire from “Kalashnikovs” on about fifty children and young Serbs from Gorazdevac. The then UNMIK police examined 75 witnesses in the investigation, and searched about a hundred houses, with no concrete results. The killers of the children, despite the reward of one million euros and the promise of the then head of UNMIK that they would ‘turn every stone to find them’, are still unknown,” the Coordination said in a statement, recalling the continuation of the investigation under the auspices of EULEX, which was suspended “due to lack of evidence”.

They call on the international factors in Kosovo and the authorities in Serbia to do everything in their power to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“Normalization of relations between Serbs and Albanians cannot be built without facing the past, on forgetting mass and organized crimes of members of the so-called The Kosovo Liberation Army, without truth and justice for numerous Serbian victims in Kosovo and Metohija,” concluded the statement.  

CEAS: ”KLA Law continues to intimidate Serbs, an attempt at historical revisionism”(Kosovo Online)

The Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS) in Belgrade said today in a statement that they with regret ascertain that ”deeply controversial proposal was put up for parliamentary discussion, the Law on Protection of the Value of War of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), and on the day of anniversary of the massacre in Gorazdevac,” reported portal Kosovo Online. 

According to the CEAS, ”literally no one in Kosovo and Metohija was held accountable for this crime, as well as for more than a thousand killed Serbs and others.”

”The mentioned draft law is just a continuation of intimidation of Serbs who still live in Kosovo and Metohija with an undisguised intention that they move out, and a flagrant violation of the right to freedom of expression and a kind of attempt at historical revisionism, which seems to be part of a political project to which the West not only weakly opposes, but it seems that it supports it,” said the CEAS statement. 

‘’This can be seen in the way Agon Maliqi’s text for the portal KoSSev, with the headline “Why the term Kosovo and Metohija is offensive”, was promoted and praised. According to CEAS, the text was of historical inaccuracies and revisionist interpretations of history.’’

“The bill was put to a vote after twenty years of noticeable absence of almost all elements of Kosovo-Metohija society to face its responsibility for crimes against Serbs and other non-Albanians, including long-standing obstructions to establishing internationally assisted mechanisms to do so,” said the statement. 

CEAS believes that just as it is in Serbia’s interest to realize the expectations of dealing with its bad past, which we as individuals and organizations have supported all these years; so, it is in the interest of everyone in Kosovo to do the same.

“CEAS welcomes the fact that the US Ambassador to Kosovo, the OSCE Mission in Kosovo and the EU Mission in Kosovo have been very critical of the draft law, but notes with concern the loud, now proverbial, silence of regional NGOs, “independent research portals”, as well as analysts and commentators who greatly influence the formation of the Western international community’s policies towards Kosovo and Metohija, as well as the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina, on these and similar circumstances.”

”Unfortunately, this unquestionable trend leaves room for suspicion of opportunism and clientelism, donor pressure or intentional one-sidedness in the function of achieving someone’s political goals, and not in the function of punishment for perpetrators, justice for victims and a compromise sustainable solution to the new status of Kosovo and Metohija.”

CEAS recalled among other that Serbia, despite the lack of internal consensus, extradited two presidents and six generals to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, during which witnesses who were supposed to testify about crimes committed by the KLA “disappeared” in Kosovo, and are openly refusing to cooperate with the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office of Kosovo (STK) in The Hague, reported the portal.

PDK MP: ”Serbs to respect the ‘KLA’ because it also fought for their freedom” (KoSSev, Gazeta Express)

Portal KoSSev wrote, quoting Gazeta Express, about one of the articles of the Draft Law on the Protection of the ”KLA” War Values, initiated by the PDK party, which read that ”all citizens of Kosovo are obliged to respect the KLA”. When asked about Serb citizens who have a different view of the Liberation Army, PDK MP, Gazmend Bytyqi said that the KLA also fought for their freedom.

The portal recalled that when speaking about the articles (cf. of the draft law), which foreign embassies considered as problematic, Bytyqi said that it was possible to revise them.

”We are not saying they should remain like that. We are open to changes,” Bytyqi said.

According to this PDK MP, Serbs in Kosovo should be taught to respect the ”KLA” because, in his words, it also fought for their freedom.

”We understand the political reality. We understand how the state of Kosovo was formed, with which allies it was formed. We also understand the Constitution, but we must also teach the citizens of Serb nationality that the ‘KLA’ fought for their freedom as well.” 

”It would benefit them to get rid of centuries-old propaganda that Kosovo is their country, with all that false mythology. Kosovo is a country of its citizens, and everyone within it must get used to it, but also its neighbors,” he added.

Bytyqi did not reveal whether this law will sanction everyone who has a different opinion on the ”KLA”, but he said that those who insult the ”KLA” would be sanctioned as per basic Kosovo laws.

”When it comes to this law, we will adapt to the basic laws of the Republic of Kosovo.”

”I would not wish for this law to scare any citizen of Kosovo,” the PDK MP said, among other things.

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

Serbia loses € bill due to lack of foreign tourists; export to Kosovo € 86 mil (Beta, N1)

Rasim Ljajic, Serbia’s Trade Minister, said on Thursday his country would lose some billion Euro this year due to the coronavirus epidemic which caused the lack in foreign tourists’ visits.

“The damage might be less because of good results recorded in January and February and partly in March,” Ljajic told the state RTS TV, adding that domestic tourists would lessen the loss.

He said the increase in foreign tourists’ visits was 28 percent in January and 18 percent in February compared to the same months in 2019, but the decrease in the following months was over 90 percent.

That, according to Ljajic, made some new destinations in Serbia drawing the attention of local people.

However, that would not be enough to compensate the smaller number of foreigners at the country’s level, although the increase in the number of tourists at some places was higher than in Belgrade, usually the most popular destination, Ljajic said.

Commenting on Serbia’s export to Kosovo, he said it reached 86 million Euro in April after Pristina suspended the 100 percent import taxes on goods from Serbia.

“Still, it is twice less than in 2018 before the taxes,” Ljajic said, adding it would take time to get back to the Kosovo market supplied by other countries before April.  

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

 

 

International

 

‘Universal Enemy’: A Reappraisal of Jihadism through the Lens of Bosnia (Balkan Insight)

A new book explores the motives of jihadists who fought in Bosnia’s 1992-95 war and what became of them.

Fadhil al-Hamdani’s story opens and closes Darryl Li’s new book on the Bosnian jihad.

Originally from Iraq, Fadhil came to Yugoslavia through Non-Aligned Movement student exchanges in 1979 to study metallurgy at the University of Zenica.

He did not plan to stay for good, but the war with Iran was raging back home and he wanted to avoid conscription. He married a local Bosniak woman, had kids and settled down in his adopted homeland.

Fadhil avoided the Iraq-Iran War, but not the war in Bosnia. Though exempt from conscription as a foreigner, he enlisted in the Bosnian Army in 1993 to “defend myself and my children.”

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

 

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