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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, September 18, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, September 18, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 57 new cases, four deaths (media)
• Quint countries call on Kosovo not to discredit Specialist Chambers (media)
• Kosovo Assembly fails to pass resolution on dialogue with Serbia (media)
• Schütz: Unimaginable for two EU members not to recognise one another (Koha)
• EU has not set timeline for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue but is against delays (Koha)
• Osmani asks Specialist Chambers to assess Thaci’s proposed amendment (media)
• Abrashi: Trump himself demanded mini-Schengen (Prishtina Insight)
• AAK insists Haradinaj becomes future president of Kosovo (Telegrafi)
• Court finds former Lipjan mayor guilty of abusing power (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Six new cases of Covid-19 registered in Serb areas in Kosovo, three persons recovered (KoSSev)
• Drecun: Pristina wants to play us false, Lajcak succumbs under pressure (RTS)
• Beqaj: The formation of the ZSO is an obligation that needs to be implemented, Hashim Thaci more dangerous for Kosovo (Kosovo Online)
• Belgrade & Pristina clash over the Community of Serbian municipalities in Brussels (Beta, N1)
• Palestine won’t change policy towards Serbia – yet, envoy tells N1 (N1)
• Djuric: Viola von Cramon false fighter for democracy, blames Serbia without arguments (Kosovo-online)
• Cramon: What was signed in Washington is hard to call an agreement; and it is “not historical” (KoSSev, Danas)
• Petkovic instead of Djuric at helm of Office for KiM? (Danas)

International:

• Spain to recognise Kosovo if it gets Serbia deal (euobserver.com)
• Serbia vows to deepen telecommunication cooperation with China despite agreement signed in Washington (globaltimes.cn)
• Kosovo veterans handed more ‘leaked witness files’ from Hague court (AFP)

Humanitarian/Development:

• A year of big losses (Prishtina Insight)
• Southeast Europe’s Schools Face COVID-19 Challenge as Pupils Return (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 57 new cases, four deaths (media)
  • Quint countries call on Kosovo not to discredit Specialist Chambers (media)
  • Kosovo Assembly fails to pass resolution on dialogue with Serbia (media)
  • Schütz: Unimaginable for two EU members not to recognise one another (Koha)
  • EU has not set timeline for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue but is against delays (Koha)
  • Osmani asks Specialist Chambers to assess Thaci’s proposed amendment (media)
  • Abrashi: Trump himself demanded mini-Schengen (Prishtina Insight)
  • AAK insists Haradinaj becomes future president of Kosovo (Telegrafi)
  • Court finds former Lipjan mayor guilty of abusing power (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Six new cases of Covid-19 registered in Serb areas in Kosovo, three persons recovered (KoSSev)
  • Drecun: Pristina wants to play us false, Lajcak succumbs under pressure (RTS)
  • Beqaj: The formation of the ZSO is an obligation that needs to be implemented, Hashim Thaci more dangerous for Kosovo (Kosovo Online)
  • Belgrade & Pristina clash over the Community of Serbian municipalities in Brussels (Beta, N1)
  • Palestine won’t change policy towards Serbia – yet, envoy tells N1 (N1)
  • Djuric: Viola von Cramon false fighter for democracy, blames Serbia without arguments (Kosovo-online)
  • Cramon: What was signed in Washington is hard to call an agreement; and it is “not historical” (KoSSev, Danas)
  • Petkovic instead of Djuric at helm of Office for KiM? (Danas)

International:

  • Spain to recognise Kosovo if it gets Serbia deal (euobserver.com)
  • Serbia vows to deepen telecommunication cooperation with China despite agreement signed in Washington (globaltimes.cn)
  • Kosovo veterans handed more ‘leaked witness files’ from Hague court (AFP)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • A year of big losses (Prishtina Insight)
  • Southeast Europe’s Schools Face COVID-19 Challenge as Pupils Return (Balkan Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

COVID-19: 57 new cases, four deaths (media)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health announced that 678 samples were tested for coronavirus during a 24-hour period, of which 57 resulted positive.

Meanwhile, 137 recoveries and four deaths were recorded over the same timeframe.

The highest number of new infections (16) is in the municipality of Pristina.

According to the Public Health Institute, there are currently 2,003 active cases of coronavirus in Kosovo.

Quint countries call on Kosovo not to discredit Specialist Chambers (media)

The Embassies of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States have called on the Government and Assembly of Kosovo to oppose any attempts to undermine or discredit the mission of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) and the Specialist Chambers Prosecution Office (SPO), and to ensure that they can carry out their mission in line with the Constitution. 

In a statement, the countries said: “In this context, we commend both the Speaker of the Assembly for forwarding the constitutional amendment proposal of the President to the Constitutional Court of the Specialist Chambers in The Hague, and the Special Prosecution Office of the Republic of Kosovo for respecting the authority of the SPO to investigate the potential illegal disclosure of confidential documents and information, while offering to assist if requested.”

Kosovo Assembly fails to pass resolution on dialogue with Serbia (media)

Online media report that the Kosovo Assembly did not adopt a resolution on the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue due to lack of quorum.

The four-point draft resolution, sponsored by the Vetevendosje Movement, stated that Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti is not authorized to make unilateral commitments on behalf of Kosovo and that the Assembly does not support the agreement for normalisation of economic relations with Serbia, signed in Washington on 4 September.

The text of the draft resolution further notes that the Assembly does not support talks that reopen the issue of the Association of Serb-majority municipalities and that the Ujman Lake is entirely property of Kosovo and as such, managed by Kosovo.

“The Republic of Kosovo does not participate in any initiative, arrangement, or agreement, including that of Novi Sad in 2019, that aims at establishing a common market with some of the 

Western Balkans countries, considering that Serbia does not recognise the Republic of Kosovo and its objective is to expand influence in the internal politics of some of the countries in the region,” the final point of the draft resolution states. 

Schütz: Unimaginable for two EU members not to recognise one another (Koha)

Susanne Schütz, Director for South-East Europe, Turkey and EFTA States in the German Federal Foreign Office, said in an interview for Koha Ditore that Germany expects the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia to result in a comprehensive and legally binding agreement that regulates all open issues between the parties and well as paves way for their European perspective, and contributes to regional stability. 

“An agreement that would bring greater stability for the region. As is well known, we do not believe that territorial changes or land swap scenarios would contribute to such a sustainable solution,” Schütz elaborated.

“As far as mutual recognition is concerned, it is unimaginable for two member states of the European Union not to recognise one another,” she said. 

Schütz hailed the progress in the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue since the appointment of the EU special representative Miroslav Lajcak saying that the parties should demonstrate full commitment in the process. “We need a comprehensive, sustainable agreement between Kosovo and Serbia which enables both countries realisation of the European perspective and contributes to regional stability.”

Commenting on the agreement signed in Washington on normalisation of economic relations between Kosovo and Serbia, Schütz noted that both parties expressed readiness to improve their relations but also underlined that any agreement needs to be in line with EU legislation. 

“As we see, the documents contain elements from previous agreements in the dialogue facilitated by the European Union and the current EU dialogue agenda, including infrastructure projects funded earlier by the EU and last, but not the least, stances that distance Serbia and Kosovo from EU positions and with this from their European perspective path… While we welcome the planned establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Kosovo, we regret plans for opening of relocating embassies to Jerusalem, which would go against the EU’s position on the matter.” 

The German official said there is close cooperation between the EU and the U.S. on the issue of Kosovo-Serbia dialogue and that the presence of the U.S. special envoy for Western Balkans Matthew Palmer in Brussels during dialogue meetings is an indicator of this. “The United States is an important partner for the EU in Kosovo and we share our commitment also within the continuous presence of KFOR.”

With regards to the timeline of an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia, Schütz said that while the matter is urgent, “it is clear there can be no quick fix.” “I believe the essence of an agreement is more important than the timeframe,” she underscored.

On the issue of visa liberalisation, Schütz said she understood the frustration in Kosovo over the fact that the process has not yet been concluded. “However, to convince the remaining skeptics within the EU, it is important for Kosovo to do its share of the work. We need a continuous and clear commitment to fight corruption and organised crime, and strengthen the rule of law.”

EU has not set timeline for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue but is against delays (Koha)

European Union has not set a timeline for when an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia should be reached, said EU foreign policy spokesperson Peter Stano.

Stano said at a press conference that the EU does not want to set an ‘artificial’ deadline but also added that “it is not interested in indefinite prolongation.”

“The interest is to help the two sides reach a joint, legally binding agreement for normalisation of relations. The time is in their hands because, ultimately, their will is required to agree. We do not impose anything, we are facilitators,” he said. 

Osmani asks Specialist Chambers to assess Thaci’s proposed amendment (media)

Kosovo Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani has written to the President of the Specialist Chambers, Ekaterina Trendafilova, about the proposed amendment of the Constitution of Kosovo relating to the work of the Specialist Chambers.

Enclosing a copy of the amendment proposed by the President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci, Osmani said: “I would be grateful if this proposed amendment will be referred to the Specialist Chambers of the Constitutional Court, in accordance with the Constitution of Kosovo and the Law on Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, for prior assessment that the proposed amendment does not diminish any of the rights and freedoms set forth in Chapter II of the Constitution.”

Abrashi: Trump himself demanded mini-Schengen (Prishtina Insight)

In an interview for BIRN’s televised show, Jeta ne Kosove, Minister of Infrastructure Arban Abrashi has described the agreements reached by Kosovo and Serbia on ‘economic normalisation’ in Washington DC, as the first step towards Serbia recognising Kosovo.

Abrashi, who was a member of the Kosovo delegation in Washington, also praised the role played by the Trump administration, and its new focus on economic issues while putting politics to one side. 

“America understood that the Balkans needs peace, that we need a better economy and that people should work and not deal too much with politics,” he said.

However, Abrashi added that the Kosovo Government remains committed to receiving recognition of Kosovo’s independence by Serbia, and that the delegation tried to achieve this in Washington.

“We were focused on recognition and we believe that recognition will come soon,” Abrashi said. “We are in coordination – it’s not like we are working on our own for it to happen.”

Read more: https://bit.ly/32DNcqG

AAK insists Haradinaj becomes future president of Kosovo (Telegrafi)

The Alliance for the Future of Kosovo remains firm in its position that the party leader, Ramush Haradinaj, should become the new president of Kosovo saying he is a unifying figure, a quality which the post requires. 

Time Kadrijaj, deputy leader of the AAK, said a wider agreement than the current one between coalition partners is required for electing Haradinaj to the post. 

“If political parties do not agree on Haradinaj for president, two options are possible: elect a consensual president or head to elections because if the election of the president fails, the Constitution foresees new elections. We did not say the coalition will collapse, we gave a proposal and thought the right one is for Haradinaj to be president in this situation that the country is in,” she said. 

Kadrijaj said she is hopeful the AAK’s proposal will find support. “I believe we will have the support of other parties, not just coalition ones.”

Court finds former Lipjan mayor guilty of abusing power (media)

Shukri Buja, former mayor of Lipjan, has been found guilty and sentenced to a two-year prison sentence for abusing official post during his time in office.

The Basic Court in Pristina upheld a previous guilty sentence against Buja after the case went to retrial.

In the first verdict, Buja was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the expropriation of socially-owned property to the benefit of a private company.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Six new cases of Covid-19 registered in Serb areas in Kosovo, three persons recovered (KoSSev)

Six new cases of Covid-19 infection were registered in the Serb-populated areas out of 31 tested samples that arrived yesterday, while three persons have recovered, the Crisis Committee of Mitrovica North announced today, KoSSev portal reports.

Out of six new cases one was registered in Mitrovica North, while two persons from the same town have recovered.

Another five cases were registered in the Serb areas south of the Ibar River. One case in Kamenica, two in Strpce, one in Gracanica, and one in Istok. Recovered person is from Strpce.

At the moment 19 patients are hospitalized, while 42 persons are staying in house isolation.

At the Clinical Hospital Center in Mitrovica North there are 16 patients, one in Belgrade and two in Nis.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, respectively since March 12, 5.128 persons have been tested, and out of this number 996 were positive on Covid-19.

At the moment there are 61 active cases, and 898 recovered people. A total 37 people passed away in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo due to Covid-19 complications.   

Drecun: Pristina wants to play us false, Lajcak succumbs under pressure (RTS)

Chairperson of the Serbian National Assembly Committee for Kosovo and Metohija, Milovan Drecun told RTS that Pristina wants to play Belgrade false in the negotiations and impose the stance that only ‘mutual recognitions’ could be discussed. It is strange that Miroslav Lajcak accepts this game of Pristina, Drecun added.

Speaking for RTS morning program about yesterday’s talks in Brussels Drecun said that Pristina does not want to talk about the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities (ZSO).

He also opined that the EU Special Envoy Miroslav Lajcak succumbs under pressure of Pristina, and tries to take some other way that would not lead to reaching the agreement.

Drecun recalled that in preparation of the Belgrade-Pristina talks, it was agreed for the talks to continue on two tracks – one to discuss what has not been implemented, primarily the ZSO, while on the other track to talk about economic cooperation, missing persons issue and displaced persons.

Drecun also said Pristina wants to push ZSO aside, to reach some so-called agreement on those three issues and say that a comprehensive agreement on normalization of relations was reached and now we only need to talk about mutual recognition.

“Serbian delegation made a good move preventing that political game by saying – there must be an agreement on ZSO and to precisely agree when it would be established, otherwise there would be no progress”, Drecun said.

He further explained Pristna’s tactic goes in two directions. “One is to say it is not in line with the constitution, although they have accepted the agreement. On the other hand, Thaci is introducing the parallel with the Republic of Srpska. Community of Serb-majority Municipalities was not designed to be another Republic of Srpska, but rather a missing mechanism for survival of the Serbian people and its development”, Drecun concluded.

Beqaj: ”The formation of the ZSO is an obligation that needs to be implemented, Hashim Thaci more dangerous for Kosovo (Kosovo Online) 

Political analyst Belul Beqaj told portal Kosovo Online that the Community of Serbian Municipalities (ZSO) should be formed in accordance with the commitments made and the agreement signed by Kosovo, stating that currently the biggest danger for Kosovo is President Hashim Thaci, who acts in accordance with his interests.

“There have been a lot of mistakes in the process so far, but since the agreement on the ZSO is a part of the accepted parliamentary obligations of the Kosovo side, I think it would be frivolous for MPs to behave differently from what was already agreed. In this sense, I believe that the undertaken obligation regarding the creation of the Community of municipalities with a Serb majority should be implemented, ” says Beqaj.

Although Kosovo President Hashim Thaci signed an agreement seven years ago envisioning the establishment of the ZSO, he now warns that the Kosovo government has begun talks on “closed topics” and that issues threatening Kosovo’s statehood are on the table in Brussels, reported the portal. 

Beqaj points out that President Thaci is acting in accordance with his needs, adding that the formation of the Community is not as harmful for Kosovo as President Thaci is.

“I think the biggest danger is President Thaci. He was one of the causes of that process and in the context of the circumstances at the time, he considered it a rational solution, while now, as part of his changed position, he claims that the Community of Serbian Municipalities is a dangerous solution,” concludes Beqaj.

Belgrade & Pristina clash over Community of Serbian municipalities in Brussels (Beta, N1)

The issue of the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM) has not been on the agenda of the Thursday’s meeting between Belgrade and Pristina technical negotiations in Brussels after Serbia’s delegation insisted on the issue, while Kosovo’s team strongly opposed the idea.

The head of Serbia’s Government Office for Kosovo Marko Djuric said that after the talks about mutual financial claims and property, Belgrade’s delegation “did not agree to remove the CSM topic from the agenda” or “renamed it in a way that would not reflect a status-neutral form of dialogue. “

However, he added, Pristina was firmly against mentioning CSM as Belgrade wanted it.

“No way we will allow the talks on CSM to switch to the position of national minorities’ topic, nor will we ever agree that Kosovo Serbs are treated as a national minority,” Djuric told reporters in Brussels.

He said the negotiations were “very intensive and difficult”.

“We had a bitter discussion. The Pristina delegation tried to take the discussion 13 centuries back to say the Serbs had colonized Kosovo,” Djuric added.

Skender Hyseni, who led the Kosovo delegation, told the Pristina media that Serbia’s team tried to open the CSM but that he “categorically refused”.

Ahead of the talks, Djuric and the European Union Special Representative for the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajčák exchange tweets, expressing different ideas about the Thursday’s meeting, with Lajčak saying the CSM issue was not on the table and Djuric assuring him it would be.

“But one fact must be remembered. We have two agreements on CSM signed in 2013 and 2015. In the latter, the court commented on 21 or 22 specific issues and did not say that CSM should not be implemented “, Hyseni said.

He added it was now about the CSM statute, saying Pristina would take an exact political position on that issue.

The mutual financial claims were discussed, Hyseni said, adding that was one of the elements of the general agreement on mutual recognition.

However, as he confirmed, the parties had opposed views about it.

“The views on this topic are very different. We see the issue of succession as one which must be treated following international law and the successions that took place between the entities of former Yugoslavia, now independent states,” Hyseni said, reiterating that was Kosovo’s position.

Lajčák said the talks at the expert level referred to mutual financial claims and property, and that they showed the complexity and sensitivity of those issues.

“I have just finished today’s talks with Marko Djuric and Skender Hyseni on mutual financial claims and property. Our talks confirmed the complexity and sensitivity of the issue,” Lajčák wrote on his Twitter account.

See at: https://bit.ly/2RF8eiu

Palestine won’t change policy towards Serbia – yet, envoy tells N1 (N1)

Palestinian Ambassador to Serbia Mohamed Nabhan told N1 TV on Thursday that “he will not change his attitude towards Serbia” yet,” adding Palestine “support Serbia in its intentions to preserve the territorial integrity of its country.”

“We respect Resolution 1244 (on Kosovo), as well as Resolution 478 (on Jerusalem),” he said speaking in Serbian.

Palestine will remain committed to international law, Nabhan says, adding “we will do everything to ensure that no one violates that international law, especially when it comes to Jerusalem.”

He said it was painful for him to hear Serbia would move the embassy to Jerusalem.

“We consider ourselves to be very close friends with Serbia and the Serbian people. I also appreciate President (Aleksandar) Vucic, I appreciate his intentions and policy, and I appreciate the friendship he is trying to promote with us…”

However, the ambassador said that “Jerusalem is a red line for us, we cannot accept anyone moving their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” adding he believed Serbia would not do that.

“We are following (Serbia’s) steps. I hope that will not happen because it would cause enormous damage to the whole situation. I do not believe that it will happen. I am still firmly convinced of the friendship between the Palestinian and Serbian people,” Nabhan said.  

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

Djuric: Viola von Cramon false fighter for democracy, blames Serbia without arguments (Kosovo-online)

Vice President of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) Main Board Marko Djuric said today that the comments of the EP rapporteur Viola von Cramon were groundless, demonstrated that she is not a truthful fighter for democracy, and wants to impose obligation that citizens in Serbia chose in line with her will or the will of the ones she lobbies for, Kosovo-online portal reports.

“I am urging Viola von Cramon to surprise us a bit by dealing with something else rather than groundless and biased blaming of Serbia. I welcome that she as the European Parliament rapporteur for our southern province also deals with the situation in other parts of Serbia, although she does it in an ill-intended and propagandistic manner. However, it would be much wiser for her to lecture about democracy in Lower Saxony or Brussels”, Djuric said.

Djuric added it was expected from von Cramon “to serve her co-citizens in Germany and not only to the Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija”.

Cramon: What was signed in Washington is hard to call an agreement; and it is “not historical” (KoSSev, Danas)

The delegations of Belgrade and Pristina did not sign the historic agreement in the White House, it is even difficult to call it an agreement, considering that the two leaders signed separate documents, said the EP rapporteur for Kosovo, Viola von Cramon Taubadel, in an interview for Belgarde based daily Danas.

“It is about a very limited agreement, and certainly not a historical one, as some people in Washington would like to present,” she stressed.

She believes that parts of the documents on Israel, based on which Serbia is obliged to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and Kosovo and Israel to recognize each other, “are certainly significant and have consequences”.

On the other hand, it raises the question of how much of the above declarations will be applied, as well as whether something will be applied at all.

“Mr. Grenell did not even try to resolve the Kosovo issue, it was everyone’s suspicion before the meeting in the White House, and the result also shows that the whole event was more important in the domestic campaign than in the process of establishing stability in the Balkans,” she added.

On the other hand, she states that under the leadership of the EU envoy for dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Miroslav Lajcak, rounds of negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade are constantly being worked on and maintained.

Viola von Cramon notes that the goal of the Brussels dialogues must be a final political agreement, but also adds that it is difficult to say when that can be achieved.

“It is important that all three sides – Brussels, Belgrade and Pristina are committed to that.”

Negotiations are underway at both the expert and political level, and everyone wants to have tangible results, which is why I am optimistic about this process,” she said.

Commenting on the current situation in Serbia in the area of the rule of law and freedom of expression, Cramon says that there are serious concerns about freedom of expression, as well as that the rule of law is weakening.

“The election campaign showed that democratic debate and competition do not work in Serbia. Not to mention police violence against peaceful protesters in July. Who is responsible for such attacks? In a state governed by the rule of law, the police are not outside the law, people should be held accountable for their actions,” said Cramon.

She cited the election process in Sabac as an example.

“The court has already established once that numerous irregularities have occurred, and that there is literally over a hundred pieces of evidence collected by citizens and opposition politicians about irregularities and fraud in only one city. The elections were partially repeated, but the same kind of irregularity happened again,” Viola von Cramon Taubadel, a Green MP and rapporteur for Kosovo in the European Parliament, told daily Danas, when asked how she assesses the current situation in Serbia in the field of rule of law and freedom of expression.

Speaking about the upcoming European Commission Report on Serbia’s progress in European integration, Viola von Cramon points out that if the EC Report is not critically intoned on certain issues, then writing these reports is “just a waste of time and resources”.

The fact that the Government of Serbia has not been formed yet is characterized by Cramon as an interesting situation because, as she notes, in reality “Mr. Vucic has to agree only with himself in order to decide on the Government”.

“He must have a good reason for delaying this process, although, especially in times of this health crisis, it should be very important to have very clear responsibilities and ‘chains of command.’ I criticized Kosovo for the same reason, when a new government was formed this spring: when we are in the middle of a pandemic, governments need to be ready to take decisive action and react quickly, which is why it is necessary to have clear competencies. Any delay can cost lives,” said Viola von Cramon.

Petkovic instead of Djuric at helm of Office for KiM? (Danas)

Marko Djuric will be director of the Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija for a little longer,  until he gets an agrément to be appointed as Serbian ambassador to the United States, and the favorite for his successor is Petar Petkovic, the current Assistant Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, unofficial sources from Serbian political scene told Danas daily.

Danas interlocutors also said Vucic decided Djuric would be the highest diplomatic representative of Serbia in Washington ‘because he has great faith in him’.

The daily further reported that Petar Petkovic was the spokesman of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) at the time when Vojislav Koštunica led the party, and he left the DSS in October 2014, just one day after Kostunica did so.

In the meantime, he became a member of the Serbian Progressive Party, and he has been performing the function of Assistant Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija since April 2016. 

 

 

International

 

Spain to recognise Kosovo if it gets Serbia deal (euobserver.com)

Spain would be prepared to recognise Kosovo if it clinched a deal with Serbia, Madrid has said, in the first positive signal of its kind since EU-brokered talks resumed.

“Our position is not obstructionist. It is, on the contrary, a constructive one,” the Spanish foreign ministry told EUobserver.

“The Spanish position can be synthesised in the following sentence: ‘nothing without an agreement, everything with it’, including political recognition [of Kosovo] and the establishment of diplomatic relations,” it noted.

Spain has not recognised Kosovo because it deemed its 2008 unilateral declaration of independence to be “contrary to the rule of law and to our idea of a diverse and tolerant Europe”, the ministry noted.

See at: https://bit.ly/33FKFeJ

Serbia vows to deepen telecommunication cooperation with China despite agreement signed in Washington (globaltimes.cn)

Serbia has expressed its views openly and pledged to deepen cooperation with China after a Washington meeting in early September, which Chinese analysts believe shows US’ wishful thinking of wooing and pressuring Serbia to join its alliance to counter China in fields like 5G is doomed to fail.

The iron-clad friendship between China and Serbia has become even stronger since the COVID-19 pandemic this year, and Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo has frequently met with Serbian leaders to exchange views on bilateral and multilateral cooperation. 

In a recent move, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic have openly pledged to deepen cooperation with Chinese tech giant Huawei multiple times, despite Serbia signing an agreement with Kosovo at the White House in early September in the presence of US President Donald Trump, committing not to use equipment supplied by “untrusted vendors” in their telecommunications networks.

See at:https://bit.ly/32GhM2J

Kosovo veterans handed more ‘leaked witness files’ from Hague court (AFP)

Kosovo war veterans said Thursday an “unknown person” had handed them a new batch of confidential files about witnesses from a war crimes court in The Hague, in a potential major security breach.

The veterans, from the ethnic Albanian rebel group that waged a 1990s uprising against Serbia, are the target of the Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) investigating alleged war crimes.

The court’s work is highly sensitive in Kosovo, where former rebel commanders are still at the apex of political life. Previous high-profile investigations have been hampered by witness intimidation.

The vice chairman of the veteran’s club, Nasim Haradinaj, told media his association “received documents from an unknown person” on Wednesday who said “he would bring more”.

The files allegedly include details on protected witnesses in Serbia, the club said.

See at: https://bit.ly/3hImf9t

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

A year of big losses (Prishtina Insight)

Up to 1,000 businesses are estimated to have closed in Kosovo in 2020, leaving many Kosovars counting the cost of the COVID-19 crisis as unemployment soars.

Over the last few years, Flurim Hysenaj managed to save up 7,000 euros by working various jobs in the gastronomic industry, mostly as a waiter or a barman. In January, he decided to invest this money into opening a small restaurant of his own on the outskirts of Fushe Kosove.

In the first two months of 2020, Hysenaj’s small business was beginning to establish itself and he had taken on an employee. “Up to the beginning of March, I had a lot of work,” the 27-year-old tells Prishtina Insight. “I had many customers, including a lot of construction workers.”

However, in mid-March, when the first cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Kosovo, the government took the decision to close gastronomic businesses across the country. 

Hysenaj applied to the government’s Emergency Fiscal Package to receive two payments of 170 euros to provide salaries for himself and his employee, while he paid the rest of his employee’s salary out of his own pocket.

Although restaurants were permitted to open again in June, business did not return as usual for Hysenaj. “Upon reopening, everything changed,” he explains. “The number of customers greatly reduced, and I was still obliged to pay rent and my employee.”

Read more at: https://bit.ly/2ZQnsW6

Southeast Europe’s Schools Face COVID-19 Challenge as Pupils Return (Balkan Insight)

As the new school year gets underway, there is concern across the region that the return of many pupils to classrooms could lead to another spike in infections.

The beginning of the academic year has brought new challenges to schools all across Southeast Europe where some countries are struggling to deal with a second wave of COVID-19 cases.

Although all schools across the region have introduced special health measures, such as compulsory masks, maintaining social distance and enhanced hygiene protocols, infections in some schools have already been reported and many pupils are already back at home, self-isolating.

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

 

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