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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, September 24

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• COVID-19: 62 new cases, one death (media)
• Thaci warns publication of “SPO files” could harm possible indictees’ case (media)
• “Information leak could undermine the work of Specialist Chambers” (RFE)
• Gashi: Communication of Specialist Chambers with Serbia can be published (T7/RTK)
• Opposition, EU undermine Serbia-Kosovo Washington deal (Balkan Insight)
• Meeting between Hoti and Vucic could be postponed (Radio Free Europe)
• Meeting of Kosovo, Albania governments postponed (media)
• Ukrainian diplomat signals possible recognition of Kosovo (Koha/Telegrafi)
• PM Hoti holds virtual meeting with EU ambassadors (media)
• Tahiri: Hoti is not concerned at all if we leave the coalition (Kanal 10/RTK)
• Ruling coalition MP admits they don’t have majority of votes in Assembly (Koha)
• Ymeri: Trump holding same line as Serbia (media)

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  • COVID-19: 62 new cases, one death (media)
  • Thaci warns publication of “SPO files” could harm possible indictees’ case (media)
  • “Information leak could undermine the work of Specialist Chambers” (RFE)
  • Gashi: Communication of Specialist Chambers with Serbia can be published (T7/RTK)
  • Opposition, EU undermine Serbia-Kosovo Washington deal (Balkan Insight)
  • Meeting between Hoti and Vucic could be postponed (Radio Free Europe)
  • Meeting of Kosovo, Albania governments postponed (media)
  • Ukrainian diplomat signals possible recognition of Kosovo (Koha/Telegrafi)
  • PM Hoti holds virtual meeting with EU ambassadors (media)
  • Tahiri: Hoti is not concerned at all if we leave the coalition (Kanal 10/RTK)
  • Ruling coalition MP admits they don’t have majority of votes in Assembly (Koha)
  • Ymeri: Trump holding same line as Serbia (media)

Kosovo Media Highlights

COVID-19: 62 new cases, one death (media)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health announced in its briefing on Wednesday that of 528 samples tested for coronavirus, 62 resulted positive.

At the same time, one death and 85 recoveries were recorded over the last 24 hours.

The majority of the new infections (17) are from the municipality of Prishtina.

The number of active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo is 1,990.

Thaci warns publication of “SPO files” could harm possible indictees’ case (media)

President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci commented on the alleged leakage of files pertaining to the work of the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague saying publication of the documents could harm the case of the potential indictees.

“This leakage of classified information could prejudge the criminal procedures that could take place there and harm the accused. This is because this development could be used as a pretext to limit the rights of the accused during the criminal procedures, be it by restricting their freedom of movement or by restricting them the right to question fully and comprehensively witnesses against them,” Thaci told T7.

“Recent developments regarding claims there is a leak of classified information from these institutions are deeply concerning because they undermine the main reason why the location of these institutions was decided to be outside Kosovo. If confirmed that the leaked classified information are authentic, I expect relevant authorities from these institutions to carry out criminal investigations and bring to justice persons responsible, whoever they may be,” he said.

“The involvement of KLA war organisations in this issue – by misusing their public position against the Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office – threatens to divert attention from the need to investigate persons responsible for this leakage of classified information,” Thaci noted further.

Thaci welcomed the decision of the Kosovo Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani to forward his proposed amendment to the Specialist Chambers for assessment. He said it is up to the Assembly to decide where it wants to send the amendment for review, to Kosovo or to The Hague.

He however expressed belief that the proposed amendment does not undermine constitutional freedoms. “It is more than clear that my amendment for extending the mandate of these institutions does not limit the constitutional rights and freedoms set forth in Chapter 2 of the Constitution.”

“Information leak could undermine the work of Specialist Chambers” (RFE)

Mark Ellis, executive director of the London-based International Bar Association, commented on the alleged leak of classified information from the Specialist Chambers in The Hague saying it constitutes a ‘real crisis’.

“This is a clear intimidation and attack on the court, the process, the fair trial. If you are in an environment where groups or individuals offer information on the names and addresses of witnesses, then the whole process, in essence, collapses. It cannot function,” he said.

Ellis said it is the prosecution’s duty to protect the identity of witnesses. “This needs to stop. Otherwise, the entire judicial process is threatened.”

He added that the credibility of the Specialist Chambers could be undermined if it doesn’t react swiftly and take firm measures against those involved in the affair. “In my view, this is such a serious violation of the judicial procedure that everyone, including the prosecution, should be extremely worried and do all they can to make sure not only that this does not happen again but to make it clear that they will react against anyone who brings such information out in public.”

Gashi: Communication of Specialist Chambers with Serbia can be published (T7/RTK)

Kosovo lawyer Tome Gashi, appealed on Wednesday against publication of the content of files that would compromise the names of the witnesses. However, he told T7 TV channel that is possible, communication of the Specialist Chambers with Serbian institutions, should be published.

“I do not believe that it is a crime to make public communication of Serbia with the Specialist Chambers,” he said.

“I appeal to not publish the names of the witnesses or other names under any circumstances. We have spent all those millions that were EU funds. Instead of building schools, buildings and other institutions to build the country, now we have to spend on international courts. We have reached a situation where through our help, the U.S. opened doors to Serbia. For the first time since 1999 Serbia is visiting the White House,” Gashi said.

Opposition, EU undermine Serbia-Kosovo Washington deal (Balkan Insight)

As opposition leaders voice scepticism about the Washington agreements between Serbia and Kosovo, the EU has claimed it is already dealing with some of the key topics that the US agreements address.

One day after former prime minister Albin Kurti voiced deep doubts about the economic normalisation deal with Serbia, signed in Washington under US President Donald Trump’s auspices on September 4, the EU has also undermined its significance.

Kosovo politicians remain divided on the separate agreements that the two countries signed with the US – which do not specify when they should enter into force, or whether they require ratification by their national parliaments, although domestic laws in both countries say they should be.

After the EU initially adopted a restrained attitude to the US-brokered agreements, on Wednesday, Ana Pisonero, EU Spokesperson for International Partnerships, Neighborhoods and Enlargement, told Radio Free Europe that the EU was already realising key items in the Washington deal.

“The EU has provided technical assistance to the entire Peace Highway”, she said, referencing the planned US-funded motorway connecting Nis in Serbia and Kosovo’s capital, Pristina. It had “already approved investments for the first sections of the highway in Serbia and Kosovo”, she added.

On September 15, the US International Development Finance Corporation, DFC, and the US Export-Import Bank, EXIM, signed Letters of Intent with Serbia and Kosovo on building the new motorway.

Kosovo opposition parties have meanwhile dubbed the US-brokered agreements non-implementable.

Read full article at: https://bit.ly/3mNerqL

Meeting between Hoti and Vucic could be postponed (Radio Free Europe)

A meeting between Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic scheduled for September 28 in Brussels could be postponed. Unnamed diplomatic sources in Brussels told the news website that the meeting is not certain although both parties have confirmed they will attend.

One of the reasons why the meeting might not be held could be Kosovo’s refusal to discuss the formation of the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities, which was expected to be discussed as part of arrangements for non-majority communities.

Meeting of Kosovo, Albania governments postponed (media)

The joint meeting of the governments of Kosovo and Albania, scheduled for this Friday, has been postponed, most news websites report.

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti told media on Wednesday that because of the Kosovo Assembly session on Friday they have agreed with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama to postpone the meeting of the two governments for October 2.

Ukrainian diplomat signals possible recognition of Kosovo (Koha/Telegrafi)

Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Vasyl Bodnar is reported to have signaled the possible recognition of independence of Kosovo by Ukraine adding that there can be no parallels drawn between the situations in Kosovo and Crimea.

Bodnar said Ukraine could move towards recognition of Kosovo as it has already decided to recognise Kosovo passports. “We have not recognised Kosovo formally but if you look at our steps, there is something. Last year we decided to work with Kosovo passports. Now our ambassador here [in Tirana] and those in other countries have received instructions to recognised these passports and not hinder travel. Perhaps by taking small steps we can move in the direction of some results. I am not speaking about a certain perspective as our formal position is our formal position. So we need to treat the case in the circumstances we are in,” Bodnar told the Tirana-based media outlet, RTV Ora. 

PM Hoti holds virtual meeting with EU ambassadors (media)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti held a virtual meeting yesterday with ambassadors of EU countries in Kosovo and thanked them for the support in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking about the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, Hoti said he expects it to conclude in a comprehensive and legally binding agreement on mutual recognition.

Tahiri: Hoti is not concerned at all if we leave the coalition (Kanal 10/RTK)

The principal deputy Prime Minister, Besnik Tahiri spoke about the positioning of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) in the governing coalition with the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK).

He told Kanal10 TV channel that AAK is not interested to breach the governing coalition.

“Hoti does not care if he is brought down from the government. I know that he does not have this concern. It is not in AAK’s culture to use blackmail in order to bring down the government,” Tahiri said.

Ruling coalition MP admits they don’t have majority of votes in Assembly (Koha)

Besa Gaxherri, MP from the ruling Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), has admitted that the coalition partners do not have the majority of votes in the Assembly.

In an interview with KTV, Gaxherri commented on the failed attempts to pass the law on economic recovery saying it is challenging to secure 61 votes to adopt the legislation. “We have to admit that the coalition is fragile with 61 MPs who are not always present be it because of the pandemic, infected MPs or other reasons but the fact of the matter is that it is difficult for the coalition at this time to secure 61 votes.” 

Ymeri: Trump holding same line as Serbia (media)

Visar Ymeri, former leader of the Vetevendosje Movement, said in a debate on Dukagjini TV on Wednesday that U.S. President Trump was wrong to use the phrase “mass killings between Kosovo and Serbia”.

“During an election rally, Trump said that ‘Albanians and Serbs have been killing each other’. This position by Trump, whether intentional or not, is along the same lines as Serbia’s position that everyone carried out killings in the wars of the former Yugoslavia,” he said.

Ymeri said Kosovo authorities need to react to “Trump’s inaccurate statement”. He also said it was problematic if Trump thinks that Serbs and Albanians cannot live together because this could indirectly pave way to Kosovo’s division.

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