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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, September 29, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• COVID – 19: 53 new cases, no deaths in last 24 hours (media)
• EU Head of Office: Association must be discussed in Brussels (media)
• PDK leaders Veseli slams Hoti government (media)
• Convicted MP hands himself over to police (media)
• PM advisor: We don’t expect any difficulties after Arifi went to jail (media)
• Serwer: Americans are wrong, Vucic won’t recognise Kosovo (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Vucic: The signed in Brussels must be implemented, but not according to the Pristina’s regulations (media)
• Dacic: Azeri-Armenian conflict a warning to the region (FoNet, N1)
• Djuric: If the idea of ZSO is dead, the possibility of success of the dialogue is also dead (TV Prva, Tanjug, Politika)
• Serbian FM: Thaci facing indictment soon (FoNet, N1)
• KFOR Commander: The formation of the ZSO is a controversial issue (Kontakt plus radio)
• Petkovic: Necessary to establish permanent police and international presence in Babin Most (Kosovo Online)
• Robbery attempt in Babin Most village (KIM radio)
• ”Fatherland” movement: Banner placed on Vucic’s initiative; he will need to say now “I will not give Trump” (KoSSev)

Opinion:

• A self-inflicted drama (Koha)
• Are ‘Serb’ churches Serb? Critique of an unwise choice (EWB)

International:

• “Western Balkans should join the EU, but regional political elites should do their job” (EWB)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID – 19: 53 new cases, no deaths in last 24 hours (media)
  • EU Head of Office: Association must be discussed in Brussels (media)
  • PDK leaders Veseli slams Hoti government (media)
  • Convicted MP hands himself over to police (media)
  • PM advisor: We don’t expect any difficulties after Arifi went to jail (media)
  • Serwer: Americans are wrong, Vucic won’t recognise Kosovo (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Vucic: The signed in Brussels must be implemented, but not according to the Pristina’s regulations (media)
  • Dacic: Azeri-Armenian conflict a warning to the region (FoNet, N1)
  • Djuric: If the idea of ZSO is dead, the possibility of success of the dialogue is also dead (TV Prva, Tanjug, Politika)
  • Serbian FM: Thaci facing indictment soon (FoNet, N1)
  • KFOR Commander: The formation of the ZSO is a controversial issue (Kontakt plus radio)
  • Petkovic: Necessary to establish permanent police and international presence in Babin Most (Kosovo Online)
  • Robbery attempt in Babin Most village (KIM radio)
  • ”Fatherland” movement: Banner placed on Vucic’s initiative; he will need to say now “I will not give Trump” (KoSSev)

Opinion:

  • A self-inflicted drama (Koha)
  • Are ‘Serb’ churches Serb? Critique of an unwise choice (EWB)

International:

  • “Western Balkans should join the EU, but regional political elites should do their job” (EWB)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

COVID – 19: 53 new cases, no deaths in last 24 hours (media)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health said in a statement today that 54 new cases of COVID – 19 have been recorded in the last 24 hours. There have been no deaths from the virus during this period, and 72 patients have recovered. The highest number of new cases is from the municipality of Prishtina (26).

EU Head of Office: Association must be discussed in Brussels (media)

The European Union Head of Office in Kosovo, Tomas Szunyog, said today that the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities is an open topic that must be discussed in Brussels as part of a final agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.

Addressing a press conference after meetings with leaders in Mitrovica South and North, Szunyog said he has no idea when the EU-renovated bridge over Ibar River in Mitrovica will be reopened. He said there needs to be agreement between the Kosovo and Serbian side to open the bridge for normal communication. 

Szunyog also said that the EU pays special attention to the northern part of Kosovo and the development of this region.

PDK leaders Veseli slams Hoti government (media)

Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) leader Kadri Veseli slammed the Hoti-led government today for failing to secure the required number of votes in the Assembly to pass the law on Economic Revival.

“The Prime Minister knows that he doesn’t have the required votes and he still tries to pass something. This shows that this government is irresponsible. The PDK is ready to contribute to the law on Economic Revival. You have seen that the Prime Minister and the government are not willing to help the citizens. There are hundreds and thousands of families in the private sector waiting for help from the state and this is not happening, because the Prime Minister thinks that only he is right and he has blocked the businesses,” Veseli told a press conference in Prishtina today.

Asked to comment on the “red lines” which Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Isa Mustafa recently said he has removed for the PDK, Veseli said he never set red lines to anyone and that he was always against them. “I don’t know the position of others but in politics I have always said that there should not be any red lines,” he added.

Convicted MP hands himself over to police (media)

All news websites report that Ethem Arifi, an MP from the Ashkali Party for Integration, who was convicted to a 15-month sentence for fraud in 2018, but eluded justice, has handed himself over to the police today. The head of the Kosovo Correctional Service confirmed to the media that Arifi is at the detention centre in Prishtina. Arifi’s vote was the 61st vote in the formation of the Hoti-led government. The Vetevendosje Movement then submitted a case to the Constitutional Court questioning the constitutionality of Arifi’s vote. The court has yet to decide on the matter.

PM advisor: We don’t expect any difficulties after Arifi went to jail (media)

Xhavit Beqiri, media advisor to Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti, said today that although MP Ethem Arifi handed himself over to the police today to serve a 15-month sentence for fraud, this would not affect the government’s daily operations. Arifi had voted in favor of the Hoti-led government.

“We don’t expect any problems in this regard. We also don’t think this will make the work of the government any harder. We will continue with our daily operations,” Beqiri said.

Serwer: Americans are wrong, Vucic won’t recognise Kosovo (media)

U.S. analyst on the Balkans, Daniel Serwer, said in an interview to Sarajevo-based TV station Face that Washington needs to deal with the problem of Serbia’s refusal to recognise the independence of Kosovo.

“I don’t see any signs that Vucic will use his domination in the Serbian political landscape and recognise Kosovo’s sovereignty. The Americans are wrong for getting close to him … and celebrating the Chetnik help to the U.S. in World War Two. This is a major mistake. The Biden administration would not have made such mistakes,” he said.

Serwer also said, “Serbia will always have a dominating position in the region, but this doesn’t necessarily mean political domination. I find it hard to imagine a situation in which Serbia would dominate over Kosovo again. Montenegro might be the only country where Serbia can have some hope to influence Montenegrin politics, but there is no reason for the Balkans countries to give up on their interests.”

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Vucic: The signed in Brussels must be implemented, but not according to the Pristina’s regulations (media)

Everything that was signed in Brussels must be implemented, but not in accordance with Kosovo regulations, because if everything is viewed in that way, that it must be in accordance with the regulations of Pristina or Belgrade, without any changes, then no compromise was possible, stated today President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic, reported news agency Tanjug.

Asked whether a good signal was the statement of German government spokesman Stephen Zaibert that everything signed in 2013 and 2015 must be realized, and the ZSO should be implemented in accordance with Kosovo regulations:

“One thing – what was signed must be implemented. I am grateful to Zaibert for noticing that, but things will not be in accordance with Kosovo regulations, because if were to go this way, that everything must be in accordance with Serbian regulations and that nothing changes, then it is impossible to reach a conversation, an agreement and a compromise”, said Vucic. 

As he said, there was no discussion in Brussels about something being implemented in accordance with the regulations, because in that case, as he said, negotiations were not even necessary.

“We negotiated, because not everything is in accordance with the regulations,” Vucic said with a remark, “but if someone doesn’t understand that …”.

He added that the messages from Pristina were often vague for him, because they were not rational.

“Although I thought I had experience, perhaps most in this part of the world, because of meetings with leaders, somewhat because of age. I understand the opponent when he behaves rationally. I cannot see them as opponents, because we want peace and cooperation with Albanians, but sometimes I can’t understand their approach to solving the problem,” Vucic said.

“But we will push on; the most important thing for us is that Serbia is being built and that it progresses, but we will talk,” Vucic added.

Dacic: Azeri-Armenian conflict a warning to the region (FoNet, N1)

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic warned that the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan shows how little it takes to rekindle a war.

Speaking on the pro-government Happy TV after the Azeri Embassy called for Serbia’s support, Dacic recalled that the conflict between the two former Soviet republics over the Nagorno Karabakh region has been ongoing for years, adding the Serbia considers both countries friends and wants the conflict resolved. He said that Serbia has an embassy in Azerbaijan but only a diplomat in Armenia because the opening of the embassy in Yerevan has stalled.  

The embassy of Azerbaijan in Belgrade issued a statement saying that official Baku expects Serbia to support it in the conflict. “Bearing in mind that Azerbaijan has supported the Serbian position on Kosovo on the international scene since 2008, and invoking the constant mutual support to the Declaration on Friendly Relations and a Strategic Partnership between Azerbaijan and Serbia and the Joint Action Plan for a strategic partnership, the Azeri side expects the Serbian side to lend full support and make a statement on this issue,” the statement said.  

See at: https://bit.ly/3n2iNKU

Djuric: If the idea of ZSO is dead, the possibility of success of the dialogue is also dead (TV Prva, Tanjug, Politika)

The director of the Office of Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric stated today that Belgrade was absolutely always ready for dialogue with Pristina, but that there were serious problems in the dialogue, since Pristina representatives said they did not want to talk about the Community of Serbian Municipalities (ZSO), reported Serbian media. 

“If, as Pristina says, the idea of the ZSO is dead, then the possibility of a successful dialogue is also dead,” Djuric pointed out as a guest on TV Prva.

He added that it was up to the EU to show that this was not the case. Djuric said that if the EU failed to bring the representatives of Pristina to their senses and bring them back to the table to discuss the ZSO, then he could not expect the talks to be productive and have results.

Djuric pointed out that the agreement on ZSO was reached seven and a half years ago and that it must be implemented. 

“We have a very clear mandate of President Vucic and the Government, and we insist on the implementation of the agreement on the ZSO,” Djuric emphasized.

Djuric said that the significance of the agreement reached in Washington was great, because it removed the topic of mutual recognition, Pristina was introduced in the “mini Schengen”, close to four billion dollars of investment in infrastructure was provided, and monasteries and Serbian shrines in Kosovo were directly mentioned in the agreement and Pristina was given an obligation to enforce the laws.

He also stated that the opening of the DFC office in Belgrade and the bilateral meeting between the presidents of Serbia and the United States were of great importance. 

When asked whether he would be the new ambassador of Serbia to the US, Djuric answered that he would not comment on that and if that was the case, as he said, such a thing could not be commented prior to consultations with the host country.

Serbian FM: Thaci facing indictment soon (FoNet, N1)

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said that The Specialist Chambers for war crimes in Kosovo was about to indict Kosovo President Hashim Thaci which was why Pristina wanted to move the court to Kosovo, reported regional broadcaster N1.  

N1 reported that Dacic said, in his guest appearance on TV Happy, that the authorities in Pristina wrote to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to demand the transfer of the Specialist Chambers from the Hague to Pristina as part of the White House Agreements. Dacic added that a meeting between Thaci and US President Donald Trump was canceled to avoid embarrassment.  

The foreign minister said that Washington has ways to discipline Pristina and force it to implement the agreements it signed. “Many people have realized that Pristina is the problem,” he said. Dacic claimed that the US President’s special envoy Richard Grenell was informed about Pristina’s letter calling the authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina to recognize Kosovo and that he reacted by calling Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti. “(Serbian President Aleksandar) Vucic told me that he got so upset, he called Hoti and said all kinds of things and Pristina apologized,” he said.

According to Dacic, Serbia has built up its image as a credible partner who fights hard and negotiates and implements what it agrees to. “On the other hand, you have Pristina who signs everything but implements nothing and you have a third side, the European Union, who does not seem to be interested in the fact that it guarantees the Brussels Agreement,” Dacic said.

See at: https://bit.ly/3cFf4y1

KFOR Commander: The formation of the ZSO is a controversial issue (Kontakt plus radio)

KFOR Commander, Major General Michele Risi stated that the point in the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo under the auspices of the European Union, which refers to the formation of the Community of Serbian Municipalities (CSM), was a controversial issue that carries a certain risk, reported Kontakt plus radio. 

“A very controversial point in the dialogue is related to the formation of a community of municipalities in which Serbs are majority population and what function and executive power will be assigned to it then,” Risi said during a speech at the NATO Defense College Foundation conference in Rome on European and Euro-Atlantic integration of  Western Balkans.

“Several representatives of Kosovo Albanians warned of the risk of “Bosnianization” of Kosovo, which could endanger the state entity of Kosovo,” Risi stated.

He emphasized that the Washington agreement signed with the United States of America (USA) on September 4 in the White House by the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic and the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Avdullah Hoti helped to create a favorable moment for building trust between Belgrade and Pristina.

“The 16-point agreement certainly represents a step forward in the normalization of economic and trade relations and a stimulus to EU activities,” Risi stressed, emphasizing that KFOR is doing everything to prevent Kosovo from becoming a frozen conflict, but that “there is a risk.”

Petkovic: Necessary to establish permanent police and international presence in Babin Most (Kosovo Online)

Assistant Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic stated that last night’s burglary in  Boban Dancetovic’s house in Babin Most was the third serious incident in this ethnically mixed environment in just a few weeks, and sent a request for the most urgent steps to be taken, in order to improve the security of inhabitants of that settlement. 

“I also remind moderate politicians in Pristina and representatives of the international community on the ground that Babin Most, as one of the few villages in Kosovo and Metohija where Serbs and Albanians still live together, is a kind of test of ability to create conditions for functional coexistence on the ground,” Petkovic, said, according to the press release of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija. 

He added that all residents of Babin Most must feel completely safe, and given that attacks on Serbs, their property and holy shrines were becoming more frequent, he opined that it was necessary to establish a permanent police and international presence in the village. 

“I expect the competent authorities to uncover the perpetrators, and I emphasize the need for urgent action, because regardless of whether the latest incident is nationally motivated or the most common crime of greed, every event of this kind among Serbs in Babin Most intensifies the feelings of insecurity and unrest and distances us, from the idea of reconciliation, coexistence and multi-ethnic society in Kosovo and Metohija,” Petkovic pointed out. 

Robbery attempt in Babin Most village (KIM radio)

Unknown perpetrators broke into the family house of Boban Dancetovic yesterday and ransacked the house, KIM radio reported.

Dancetovic told RTV Kim that he noticed that the house was broken into yesterday afternoon and immediately called the police, which investigated.

“When I entered the house, I noticed the mess, they were probably just looking for money and there was no material damage. I don’t keep the money in the house, so they didn’t find anything. After the police investigated, when I put things back in their place, I noticed that the key to the car disappeared”, stated Dancetovic. 

He added that “the system does not want or does not have the strength to do its job.”

“We are witnesses of everything that is happening in the past period in Babin Most, I hope that the judicial authorities will do their job properly and discover the perpetrators.”

The president of the local board of Babin Most, Goran Dancetovic, said in a telephone statement for RTV Kim that this was another type of pressure on the remaining Serbs in Babin Most.

“After the church was broken into and attacks on Serbian children, pressures on Serbs are more frequent and it is even more disturbing. Tensions are constantly rising and there is fear among citizens, no one feels safe after attacks on private property,” said Dancetovic.

”Fatherland” movement: Banner placed on Vucic’s initiative; he will need to say now “I will not give Trump” (KoSSev)

Fatherland movement said in a press statement that ”the placement of a banner on Brnjak bridge ”Trump’s bridge” was the icing on the cake of Vucic’s condescending, humble and servile behaviour towards the American president”. Contrary to the allegations of the President of Serbia, they say that the banner was placed on Vucic’s initiative, and not the Kosovo Serbs, reported portal KoSSev.  

”What a hypocrisy and what a political scandal” – the movement reacted, KoSSev reported.  

They also reminded of the slogan of the President of Serbia, which could be heard several times in the last few years: “I will not give Trepca, I will not give Gazivode away”. Fatherland stated that now Vucic would have to say: “I will not give Trepca, I will not give Trump away”. 

Unlike the President of Serbia, who stated this weekend that the banners were made and placed by the locals themselves, with an indication that Serbs from Kosovo like the American president, Fatherland Movement made different allegations. 

”This hypocritical banner (on Brnjak bridge) was placed by short-haired guys with four runner SUVs with Novi Sad and Belgrade license plates, based on the recommendation and initiative of the President of Serbia”.  

Fatherland reminded that the Brnjak bridge was built more than 30 years ago because the inhabitants of the local community Brnjak were able to reach their homes only by boat. They stated that the then leadership of the municipality of Zubin Potok, together with the locals, asked for the help of the then President of SFRY Presidency Nikola Ljubicic, with whose help the bridge was built. 

”As a sign of gratitude, the citizens of Ibarski Kolasin called that bridge the bridge of Nikola Ljubicic and declared him an honorary citizen,” Fatherland reminded, and claimed that US planes allegedly targeted the bridge several times during the bombing, but did not hit it, but did hit the repeater on nearby Mokra Gora, and another bridge nearby.  

 

 

Opinion

 

A self-inflicted drama (Koha)

Did the war veterans fall into a trap or became part of a scenario for intimidation of witnesses and discrediting the Specialist Chambers? Be as it may, the commotion caused during their arrests puts a bad shadow over Kosovo as a country that sabotages justice, writes Enver Robelli, columnist for Koha Ditore.

Robelli notes that what has come to be realized in Kosovo, especially in recent years, is that witness intimidation cannot pass without consequences. “This will not be allowed by the Specialist Chambers, international prosecutors (mainly Americans), it will not be tolerated by western countries. Needless to say, witness intimidation in any way represents a serious violation of Kosovo laws. Interest and destructive groups in Kosovo can continue with their old ways but the consequences will be serious for the country and the society.”

Robelli argues that the arrest of leaders of the KLA War Veterans Associations is “an expected outcome and a self-inflicted drama” and the fact that not once, but three times, an ‘anonymous’ person dropped classified files to the veterans’ offices is an indicator that all security institutions in Kosovo failed in their response to the events.

“EULEX units intervened when it became clear that Kosovo institutions were sitting idly.  When the fabricated plot or trap came to end, president of Kosovo said it was not good for veterans to disclose confidential documents,” Robelli writes. As for the Democratic League of Kosovo’s response, Robelli notes that the party ‘as always’ remained silent for fear of being branded treacherous. “At least the prime minister of Kosovo gave a half-statement in support of justice.”

When the Kosovo media decided against publishing confidential documents following the warning from the Specialist Chambers, this role was taken on by the media in Tirana, Robelli adds. “Whether these were also part of the plot, maybe time will tell. Nevertheless, the image Kosovo showed in recent days to the western world is bad: images of a country that sabotages justice.  In principle, everyone in Kosovo says they want justice. But when it comes to consequences, the problem begins….because in essence, many people, especially parties of the war wing, would like to have justice without perpetrators. Nothing has been done to find and convict them. The victims on the other hand are facts. Some have graves, some don’t.”

Robelli further notes that any time there are indications that the Specialist Chambers are about to act, calls for its dissolution increase. He also points out that the Kosovo society has failed to demonstrate capacity to face some of the ‘dark sides’ of the liberation war. “There is no doubt that confronting Serb occupation through arms was an act of patriotism. No one disputes that. But, as in Croatia’s case, the argument that no crime can be committed in a liberation war, is groundless.”

“If there are heroes who want to undo the court, let them go ahead. Why not? Except they need to get ready for some answers afterwards. Glory, respect and honour to all fighters that stood up to the Serb occupiers in the battlefields. But no praise can be expected for individuals who misused the KLA uniform and killed people they had taken hostage and detained in illegal prisons in Kosovo or North Albania,” Robelli concludes.  

Are ‘Serb’ churches Serb? Critique of an unwise choice (EWB)

By Andrea Lorenzo Capussela

On 12 and 19 September Kosovo’s main newspaper, Koha Ditore, printed a two-part article by Dr Bedri Muhadri, a historian, on Kosovo’s medieval churches and monasteries (English versions are here and here, respectively). Publishing it was unwise, I think, and I would like to explain why.

Dr Muhadri makes several claims on the history of those buildings, which I have no competence to discuss, and draws two main conclusions from them. My criticism focuses on the latter, and shall require no confutation of those claims. My main concern, equally, is the projection of those conclusions onto the current situation, which is objectively invited by the title given to the article: Appropriation by Serbs of medieval Arberian monuments in Kosovo. So I begin with the context into which these words have set foot.

Kosovo’s independence is irreversible. Its citizens now have more reason to be anxious than a few years ago, however, because the country’s Western friends are more divided, many grew more demanding on the dialogue with Belgrade, and some support the land-swap idea. Indeed, in the first paragraph of his first article Dr Muhadri laments precisely that the idea of further ‘bitter concessions’, beyond the Ahtisaari plan, is again circulating.

Despite remaining largely segregated in its enclaves, Kosovo’s Serb minority is often the target of demonstrations of hostility, occasionally of attacks. Those anxieties might increase their numbers. This is what happened since 1999, at least, whenever concerns about Kosovo’s independence or international standing became acuter, and the target often were the religious building that Serbs attend.

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

 

 

International

 

“Western Balkans should join the EU, but regional political elites should do their job” (EWB)

ROME – Western Balkans should join the EU, but regional political elites should do their part of the job is one of the conclusions of the first panel of the yesterday’s conference “Balkan Perspectives 2020: The Fight for a Timely Inclusion” organised by NATO Defense College Foundation.

“There is no doubt to us that this part of Europe should join the EU and Euro-Atlantic institutions. The point of arrival should be visible and concrete. The Balkan is important because this is the region in which EU and NATO work closely together for the benefit of all”, said Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo, President of NATO Defense College Foundation in his welcoming remarks.

The first panel titled “Ways and means for a credible inclusion” dealt with the current state of the EU and NATO integration of the Western Balkans countries and what can be done to improve on them.

See at:https://bit.ly/3n37qSH

 

 

 

 

 

 

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