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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, August 17, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, August 17, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 129 new cases, nine deaths (media)
• 40 coronavirus patients treated in Kosovo hospitals, in critical condition (media)
• Hoti: Final preparations underway for start of school year (media)
• Decan Mayor reacts to calls for halting road construction works (media)
• Decan Mayor sends letter to heads of state on Decan – Plav road (media)
• Vetevendosje seeks clarifications for halting of Decan-Plav road construction (media)
• Germany supports visa liberalisation, some countries still hesitant (RFE)
• PM Hoti calls on youth to join KSF (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Five cases of Covid-19 registered in Serb areas in Kosovo yesterday (Radio KIM)
• Blic: Grenell, Vucic and Hoti would discuss economy in White House, not politics
• Djuric: Pristina appeases domestic public saying it talks about independence (Kosovo-online)
• Countryman: Belgrade and Pristina not ready to reach agreement (N1, RFE)
• Hoti on suspension of works on Decani-Plav road section; Janjic: We were never against road, but its construction within SPZ (KoSSev)
• Simic: Works near Decani Monastery form of pressure before continuation of dialogue (Kosovo-online)
• KFOR Commander visited municipality and Visoki Decani Monastery (KoSSev)
• Novosti: Serbian Government and SOC to form team for protection of cultural heritage
• Brnabic: International community to clearly prevent jeopardy of cultural heritage (Kosovo-online)
• Thaci: Gazivode jewel of Kosovo, Djuric: Jewel heart of Serbia (Kosovo-online)

Opinion:

• Access to 10% of our pensions will not revive the Kosovo economy (Prishtina Insight)
• Kosovo is a test of Israel’s moral character (The Jerusalem Post)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Economic Downturn Prompts Germany to Cap Western Balkan Workers (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 129 new cases, nine deaths (media)
  • 40 coronavirus patients treated in Kosovo hospitals, in critical condition (media)
  • Hoti: Final preparations underway for start of school year (media)
  • Decan Mayor reacts to calls for halting road construction works (media)
  • Decan Mayor sends letter to heads of state on Decan – Plav road (media)
  • Vetevendosje seeks clarifications for halting of Decan-Plav road construction (media)
  • Germany supports visa liberalisation, some countries still hesitant (RFE)
  • PM Hoti calls on youth to join KSF (media)

 Serbian Language Media:

  • Five cases of Covid-19 registered in Serb areas in Kosovo yesterday (Radio KIM)
  • Blic: Grenell, Vucic and Hoti would discuss economy in White House, not politics
  • Djuric: Pristina appeases domestic public saying it talks about independence (Kosovo-online)
  • Countryman: Belgrade and Pristina not ready to reach agreement (N1, RFE)
  • Hoti on suspension of works on Decani-Plav road section; Janjic: We were never against road, but its construction within SPZ (KoSSev)
  • Simic: Works near Decani Monastery form of pressure before continuation of dialogue (Kosovo-online)
  • KFOR Commander visited municipality and Visoki Decani Monastery (KoSSev)
  • Novosti: Serbian Government and SOC to form team for protection of cultural heritage
  • Brnabic: International community to clearly prevent jeopardy of cultural heritage (Kosovo-online)
  • Thaci: Gazivode jewel of Kosovo, Djuric: Jewel heart of Serbia (Kosovo-online)

 Opinion:

  • Access to 10% of our pensions will not revive the Kosovo economy (Prishtina Insight)
  • Kosovo is a test of Israel’s moral character (The Jerusalem Post)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Economic Downturn Prompts Germany to Cap Western Balkan Workers (Balkan Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

COVID-19: 129 new cases, nine deaths (media)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health announced in its daily report that 129 new cases of coronavirus and nine deaths have been recorded in Kosovo over the last 24 hours. 

Meanwhile, 152 recoveries have been confirmed over the same time period. 

According to the National Institute for Public Health, the total number of recovered patients stands at 7,343 and that there are currently 3,792 active cases. 

The highest number of new infections have been recorded in the municipality of Prishtina (45).

40 coronavirus patients treated in Kosovo hospitals, in critical condition (media)

Online media outlets report that according to the Hospital and University Clinical Service of Kosovo (SHSKUK), 573 patients are receiving medical care at the Kosovo’s University Clinical Center (QKUK) and seven regional hospitals, of which 441 are confirmed to have coronavirus.

Of this number, 40 are in critical condition and 372 are on oxygen therapy.

Hoti: Final preparations underway for start of school year (media)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti said he discussed with Education Minister Rame Likaj and associates about the beginning of the new school year.

He said final preparations are underway and that municipalities and all stakeholders will have clear guidelines on how the teaching process will be organised, depending on conditions of respective schools.

Hoti said meanwhile that online classes will be active throughout the process.

Decan Mayor reacts to calls for halting road construction works (media)

Mayor of Decan, Bashkim Ramosaj, has reacted on social media to Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti’s call for halting construction works on the Decan-Plav road. 

Ramosaj wrote: “Mr. Prime Minister, when activity is suspended it is good to come up with adequate solutions. I am sorry you have to be burdened at this time by problems accumulated for 20 years now. Enough is enough! The state needs to resolve misfortunes it has created in Decan. I am doing so by building the Road. Today is only a warning!”

Decan Mayor sends letter to heads of state on Decan – Plav road (media)

Decan Mayor Bashkim Ramosaj has sent a letter with 15 proposals today to President Thaci, Assembly President Osmani and Prime Minister Hoti, after a decision to halt construction work on the Decan – Plav road.

Ramosaj said that in order to end the dispute with the Decan Monastery, the Republic of Kosovo, namely the state institutions, together with the municipality, should among other issues make the following solutions: allow the municipality of Decan to build the R – 108 road in the fifth kilometer of the Special Zoning Area, with standard parameters and in line with the current budget; allow the municipality to build the road on the side of Gushavc (mineral spring water) at the length of 3 kilometers with standard width parameters and in line with the current budget; find modalities for the withdrawal of KFOR and for having Kosovo Police guard the passage on the side of Decan Monastery. 

“Meanwhile, we are informing you that the road R – 108 will be built in any way,” Ramosaj said in his letter.

Vetevendosje seeks clarifications for halting of Decan-Plav road construction (media)

The Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) parliamentary group has called on the Government of Kosovo to brief MPs behind the decision to halt Decan-Plav road construction works.

“Decan-Plav road is of state and national importance. The Decan-Plav road is one of the most significant road projects which links the Balkans countries with one another and with Europe. This road is of vital and development importance for three countries: Kosovo, Montenegro, and Albania,” LVV said in the letter to Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti.

Germany supports visa liberalisation, some countries still hesitant (RFE)

German presidency of the European Union and the European Commission consider Kosovo has fulfilled visa liberalisation criteria but they have no firm response to when the issue would enter the agenda of the EU Council, Radio Free Europe reports. 

At the same time, diplomatic sources in Brussels said that the upcoming progress reports from the European Commission, expected in autumn, will also include assessment of Kosovo’s performance in implementation of visa liberalisation criteria and that the EC  is most likely to reaffirm recommendation that Kosovo should be granted visa-free travel. 

Sources also said that certain countries, France among them, want to see a new assessment on whether Kosovo has continued to work in implementing the necessary criteria while Germany is reported to be acknowledging Kosovo’s efforts in this regard. 

“Germany supports Kosovo on the path to visa liberalisation. To this end we have already had talks at the expert level between representatives of Kosovo and the German Federal foreign and interior ministries where we discussed all open issues,” an unnamed source told RFE. 

PM Hoti calls on youth to join KSF (media)

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti has called on the youth to join the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) as it has announced it is admitting recruits. 

“Become part of KSF and give your contribution for it to be perfected to NATO standards. By being members of the KSF, you will be NATO soldiers. Apply to become part of the KSF – part of Kosovo’s mosaic of harmony, coexistence and prosperity,” Hoti wrote on Facebook.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Five cases of Covid-19 registered in Serb areas in Kosovo yesterday (Radio KIM)

Five new cases of Covid-19 infection were registered in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo, while 41 persons have been cured, the Crises Committee of Mitrovica North announced yesterday, Radio KIM reports.

A total of 71 samples were tested, and five came positive. Two cases were registered in the north of Kosovo, one case each in Mitrovica North and Leposavic, while three cases were registered in the Serb-populated areas south of the Ibar River, one each in Gracanica, Kamenica and Strpce.

The Crisis Committee also announced there are 384 active cases in the Serb-populated areas, while 520 persons have been cured.

Since March 12 until yesterday a total of 4.211 persons have been tested. Out of this number 940 persons were positive

Blic: Grenell, Vucic and Hoti would discuss economy in White House, not politics

The United States of America consider the progress in the economic issues as crucial for advancing the peace process between Belgrade and Pristina, senior official of the American National Security Council, Grayson Vincent told Belgrade-based daily Blic.

Ever since the meeting planned to take place on June 27 in the White House got postponed following the announced indictment against Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli, a new date of a meeting has been awaited.

US President Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Richard Grenell revealed last Friday the new meeting would take place on September 2. What Grenell did not say, Blic asked other US officials, what would be the topic of the meeting and who would run the meeting on behalf of the US.

“National Security Adviser Robert O’Brian would host the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo on September 2, together with Ambassador Grenell. The US is looking forward to these important talks with President Vucic and Prime Minister Hoti. The US considers that progress in the economic issues is crucial for advancing the peace process”, Vincent told Blic daily   

The question related to the speculation if on that day signing of the agreement is being prepared remained unanswered, same as the one if division of the territory would be the topic of the meeting. The daily further continued, referring to unofficial information, it is almost certain Kosovo President Hashim Thaci will not be present at that meeting.

Commenting on the meeting, Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Ivica Dacic said Belgrade would not allow unpleasant surprises or manipulations at the upcoming meeting with the Pristina delegation in Washington.

“We will not allow it to be manipulated. President Vucic said all the talks with US Special Envoy Grenell were in direction that the topic in Washington would be about the economy. If somebody tries to push through the back door in some papers or agreement proposals for some political parts, President Vucic said it was not acceptable,” Dacic said.

Meanwhile political analyst Dusan Janjic also opined politics will not be on the agenda of the upcoming Washington meeting but rather economic cooperation including regional and bilateral. 

Djuric: Pristina appeases domestic public saying it talks about independence (Kosovo-online) 

“Pristina is trying to obstruct the talks between Belgrade and Priština scheduled for September 2 in the White House, saying that they are negotiations on the independence of Kosovo”, Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Đurić said on Monday, Kosovo-online portal reports. He added he expected that these would be talks on economic issues.

“In Pristina, they are doing that for two reasons – to appease the domestic public and to confuse and shake the states that were ready to change their position and withdraw the recognition of Kosovo independence”, Djuric told TV Happy.

“Pristina”, as he said, “is running away from real talks, because they hope this is 1999, that someone will ‘slam some kind of solution on the table’ and use a magic wand to force Serbia to agree to it”.

“That’s not going to fly, neither is Serbia today what it was in 1999, nor the Albanians are the ones from 1999, nor has the world remained the same”, Djuric said. 

Countryman: Belgrade and Pristina not ready to reach agreement (N1, RFE)

Kosovo and Serbia are not ready for an agreement at the upcoming meeting in the White House, which, on the other hand, needs a foreign policy success, Thomas Countryman, former US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs said in an interview with Radio Free Europe.

He said it is important to understand that the only priority for the White House these days is the re-election of President Donald Trump. In that sense, he said the White House wants photo op because the number of foreign policy successes the Trump administration achieved is zero.

The official said that he did not believe that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdulah Hoti showed will and readiness to reach any significant agreement at the meeting in the White House, scheduled for September 2.

Countryman also expressed hope that the White House would force both leaders (Vucic and Hoti) to engage in the Brussels dialogue more actively and concretely.

Hoti on suspension of works on Decani-Plav road section; Janjic: We were never against road, but its construction within SPZ (KoSSev)

Kosovo Prime Minister, Avdullah Hoti requested the suspension of the works on the Decani-Plav road – the section of the road that especially affects the protective zone of the Visoki Decani Monastery, the office of the Kosovo Prime Minister officially announced yesterday, KoSSev portal reports.

The mayor of Decani, Bashkim Ramosaj announced yesterday that the works were suspended until Monday, but at the request of the Prime Minister of Kosovo. However, he revealed that it was a temporary suspension, noting that Sunday was a “non-working day“.

Ramosaj came out with this information after Pristina media reported that construction of the Decani-Plav road had been stopped by KFOR.

“After noticing false news on various portals, I would like to inform you that at the request of Prime Minister, Mr. Avdullah Hoti, we suspended works on the R-108 road until the beginning of next week. Tomorrow is Sunday, a non-working day! We will continue on Monday,“ Ramosaj said.

Previously, he announced that he would not give up on the road construction. At the same time, he used a derogatory reference for the Abbot of Visoki Decani, describing him as “crazy” – although he did not use the abbot’s name, KoSSev portal reported.

Meanwhile, the Abbot of Visoki Decani Monastery Father Sava Janjic responded last night to the accusations that the monastery is preventing economic development of the Decani municipality saying that “we have never been against the Decani-Plav road, but the problem has always revolved around the construction of that road through the protective zone“.

Abbot Janjic did not want to address the comments of the mayor of Decani, saying that he “does not intend to stoop to using street language“. Janjic, however, reacted once again in order to interpret the actions of the municipal leadership.

While stressing that “some do not seem to read their own laws“, the Abbot underlined:

“The law on special protective zones was adopted by the Kosovo Assembly, and it clearly indicates what is allowed and what is not allowed within protective zones. What is forbidden without discussion, and what can be discussed. Transit routes, i.e. highways through uninhabited parts of the protected zone are prohibited“.

Even if the monastery supported the construction of the road through the protective zone, it would be illegal, Abbot reiterated, reminding of the multi-member Commission for Protective Zones, in which Bishop Teodosije is only one of the members.

“After all, we have never been against the Decani-Plav road. The problem always revolved around the construction of that road through the protective zone, which is prohibited according to the law and legal analysis of the law by the OSCE and the EU Mission. If we want to respect the laws, it simply cannot be discussed“.

The decision on this matter was made at the Council for the implementation of protective zones in Pristina, and the municipality did not implement it, the Abbot noted.

The Implementation Council, as well as international representatives, proposed the construction of a bypass around the protective zone as the only solution to this problem. The works on the bypass started in 2014 as per the decision of the then Prime Minister Thaci, but its construction was soon stopped. In the meantime, KFOR Commander Michele Risi also visited Decani and the SPZ on Saturday.

See at: https://bit.ly/313s6RD

Simic: Works near Decani Monastery form of pressure before continuation of dialogue (Kosovo-online)  

Works on the road near the Visoki Decani Monastery has been suspended until Monday, and Serbian List Vice President Igor Simic said it was a form of pressure ahead of the dialogue in Washington and Brussels, and that the rule of law did not apply to the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo, portal Kosovo-online reports.

“Illegal construction near the Decani Monastery is also contrary to Kosovo Law on special protective zones, and on the other hand it presents an attitude towards the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija, because we all know how important the Serbian Orthodox Church is for the survival of our people and as part of our identity”,  Simic said. 

He added “we should not forget that this is a kind of pressure before the continuation of the dialogue in Brussels and Washington”. 

“The rule of law, which is often talked about by the representatives of the international community, simply does not apply when it comes to the Serbian Orthodox Church and the rights of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija”, Simic noted. 

KFOR Commander visited municipality and Visoki Decani Monastery (KoSSev)

KFOR Commander Major-General Michele Risi visited the protective zone of the Visoki Decani Monastery on Friday, and met separately with Abbot Sava Janjic and Decani Mayor Bashkim Ramosaj, KoSSev portal reported.

General Risi’s visit arrived after the Diocese of Raska and Prizren once again demanded the suspension of the construction of the Decani-Plav road passing through the special protective zone around the monastery, as well after the mayor of Decani warned that “the construction will not be suspended at any cost.“

During his visit, General Risi met with the Mayor of Decani Bashkim Ramosaj in his office, upon invitation by the local municipality.

The Commander of KFOR also met with Abbot Sava Janjic at Visoki Decani Monastery.

“In both meetings the overall situation in the area was discussed, with special regard to the impact on security of the works on the R108 road that stretches in vicinity of the Visoki Decani Monastery,” the KFOR press release reads.

KFOR added in a statement that Major General Risi “reaffirmed KFOR’s impartial commitment to continue contributing to a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all communities in Kosovo, in accordance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999.”

See at: https://bit.ly/3h6TX9d

Novosti: Serbian Government and SOC to form team for protection of cultural heritage

Serbian Government together with the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) would establish a team for the protection of the Serbian and Christian cultural heritage in areas populated by the Serbian people, Belgrade-based daily Vecernje Novosti reports today.

According to the daily, this idea of the President Aleksandar Vucic, who recently spoke about the necessity to establish such a team induced by latest Pristina attacks against the Visoki Decani Monastery, received strong support at the Patriarchy and intellectual cycles.

The idea behind was that this team through its work presents to the international public all the risks of vanishing the Christian cultural heritage, foremost in Kosovo and Metohija, as well as to prevent that similar evil fate happens to the Serbian holy shrines in Croatia, and Montenegro.

The team would include, the daily further continues, a significant number of experts from different fields, including historians, historians of arts, architects, painters, church dignitaries, intellectuals and other reputable public personalities. 

Brnabic: International community to clearly prevent jeopardy of cultural heritage (Kosovo-online)

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said today it is expected that the international community is clear not only in condemning the events related to Visoki Decani Monastery but also in preventing the Serbian cultural, historic and religious heritage be jeopardized, Tanjug news agency reports.  

She also underlined that this heritage is not only important to Serbia but to the entire world. 

Thaci: Gazivode jewel of Kosovo, Djuric: Jewel heart of Serbia (Kosovo-online)

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci called on Sunday the Gazivode lake “the jewel of the state of Kosovo”, Kosovo-online portal reports. Meanwhile Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Marko Djuric reacting to this statement said that Gazivode lake was one of the most beautiful natural gems in the heart of Serbia, in  Kosovo and Metohija. 

In reaction to Thaci’s FB post on Gazivode lake, Djuric also posted a panoramic video of the lake on his Facebook profile and wrote that Gazivode is one of the most beautiful natural gems in the heart of Serbia.

“Kosovo and Metohija is the heart of Serbia”, Djuric wrote. 

 

 

Opinion

 

Access to 10% of our pensions will not revive the Kosovo economy (Prishtina Insight)

By Agron Demi

The possibility to withdraw 10 per cent of pension savings announced by the government last week is useless for the social groups worst hit by the pandemic and puts the future financial security of those who may decide to withdraw at serious risk.

By the end of this year, Kosovo citizens who have pension savings will be entitled to access to these savings before reaching retirement age. The economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has seen many families faced with great financial difficulties. To stimulate consumption and financial circulation, the Kosovo Government has provided the opportunity for citizens to withdraw 10 percent of their pension savings.

In June, knowing that part of their pension savings could be accessed, citizens flooded the website of the Pension Savings Fund, the Trust, to calculate their share. This volume of traffic to the Trust’s website caused it to crash, as it could not handle such a large number of visits. Meanwhile, the Trust has given several explanations through its official Facebook page, noting that savings cannot yet be withdrawn without necessary amendments to the Law on Pension Funds.

See at: https://bit.ly/2Fn8f7B

Kosovo is a test of Israel’s moral character (The Jerusalem Post)

Jews and Albanians share a history of suffering and persecution. Albanian leaders have paid tribute to Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust, visiting the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem and praying before the Eternal Flame. Israel should honor the victims of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo by recognizing its independence and establishing diplomatic relations, write in an joint opinion piece David Phillips who directs Columbia University’s Program on Peace-building and Rights and Alush Gashi political adviser to Kosovo’s prime minister Avdullah Hoti.

“In the 1990s, 10,000 Kosovo Albanians died and about one million were displaced as a result of Serbia’s aggression. Targeting Albanians because of their ethnicity meets the definition of genocide in the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The Convention was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948 to prevent what happened to the Jews of Europe from happening elsewhere.

“Kosovo might not exist if not for the worldwide Jewish community, which played a critical role opposing Serbia’s insidious plan to deport ethnic Albanian population in order to change Kosovo’s demography. Appeals by Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel and other Jewish leaders led to NATO’s intervention in 1999, which prevented the escalation of genocide against Kosovo Albanians, liberated Kosovo from Serbia’s tyranny and put Kosovo on the path to independence.”

Read more at: https://bit.ly/2Q25iLX

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Economic Downturn Prompts Germany to Cap Western Balkan Workers (Balkan Insight)

Faced with rising unemployment, Germany is poised to limit the number of low-skilled workers it takes in from the Western Balkans.

Every morning, without fail, Djordje Nikolic checks the website of the German embassy in Belgrade, hungry to find out when he will be allowed to apply for a work visa. Breakfast can wait.

Nikolic, a 40-year-old Serb, had a job waiting for him with a construction company building apartments on the outskirts of Frankfurt, but COVID-19 got in the way.

“I’m supposed to work there as a painter but the pandemic closed the borders and consulates just five days after I got a job offer,” he said. “Now my fate is at the mercy of the corona situation.”

Yet even when borders reopen for citizens of the Western Balkans, low-skilled workers like Nikolic will soon face a new obstacle.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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