Albanian Language Media:
- COVID-19: 46 new cases, no deaths (media)
- German ambassador calls on MPs to adopt economic recovery law (media)
- EU insists the Brussels meeting was called off due to pandemic (Klan)
- VV accuses other parties of trying to manipulate election process (media)
- Municipality of Decan expresses concern over ‘unjust’ arrest of former KLA fighters (media)
- Kosovo Government entry restrictions based on nonexistent list (Prishtina Insight)
Serbian Language Media:
- Four newly infected with Covid-19, eight recovered in Serb areas in Kosovo (Radio Mitrovica sever)
- Trial of KLA crimes – diversions, (in)justice, and covering-up (RTS)
- US envoy to Serbia: Washington agreement shows political commitment, carries huge benefit (Nova S, N1)
- Novosti: Pristina still lobbies for recognitions despite Washington agreement
- New head of EU Office: Northern Kosovo important for Union (KoSSev,N1)
- Serb child attacked in Plemetina (Radio KIM)
- Brnabic: It is not suitable for Pristina for truth on Ivanovic’s murder to come out (B92)
- SANU President Kostic: The future of Serbia is in academic competence, education, understanding the signs of the times (Radio Mitrovica Sever)
- COVID-19 Exacerbates Ethnic Serb Limbo in Kosovo (Balkan Insight)
- Hague court begins long-delayed hearings on Kosovan war crimes (The Guardian)
- ‘Leaked files, organ removal and irrepressible anger’: What’s behind the Kosovo war crimes probe? (euronews.com)
- Risi: KFOR is still dealing with a complex security situation in Kosovo (EWB)
Albanian Language Media
COVID-19: 46 new cases, no deaths (media)
Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health said that 46 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed during the last 24 hours of 580 samples tested.
No deaths and 62 recoveries have been recorded over the same time period.
The highest number of new infections is in the municipality of Gjilan (6).
German ambassador calls on MPs to adopt economic recovery law (media)
The German Ambassador to Kosovo Jorn Rohde urged the Assembly to adopt the law on economic recovery saying that all stakeholders need to make compromises.
“The fight against the negative economic effects of the pandemic is a common responsibility and requires common efforts. In this regard it is quite disappointing and to my knowledge a unique case in Europe to see that for the 5th time in the Kosovo assembly there was no agreement on the draft Economic Recovery Law. What is urgently needed from all stakeholders is the spirit of compromise. The citizens of Kosovo rightfully expect that,” Rohde wrote on his Twitter account.
EU insists the Brussels meeting was called off due to pandemic (Klan)
European Union reiterated that the reason behind the decision to call off this week’s meeting between representatives of Kosovo and Serbia was exclusively related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
EU foreign policy spokesperson Peter Stano said the meetings held by the EU High Representative Josep Borrell and those of the EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak are not interlinked. “There is absolutely no connection between the meetings planned for Monday by the European Union Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak with chief negotiators from Kosovo and Serbia and the meeting of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell.”
Borrell met with the Foreign Minister of North Macedonia Bujar Osmani in Brussels a few days ago.
“If Lajcak cancels or postpones meetings he organises and chairs at the work level, meeting of experts, or heads of talks, this has no impact on the agenda of Borrell who has his own independent programme,” Stano said.
VV accuses other parties of trying to manipulate election process (media)
In a press conference today, representatives of the Vetevendosje Movement (VV) accused other political parties of trying to manipulate the future elections process with the way the new head of the Central Election Commission (CEC) Secretariat was selected.
“There is an attempt of the governing coalition, along with the PDK, to capture all posts in institutions or public enterprises,” said VV’s member at the CEC, Sami Kurteshi. He claimed that legal violations at the CEC are not being made public.
VV said the appointment of Burim Ahmetaj, who so far served as head of the Counting and Results Centre, was confirmed without waiting for the deadline for complaints to expire. “He began work without waiting for the legal deadline to expire,” said VV’s Alim Rama. He also alleged that the voting for prefered candidate was ‘synchronised’ by members of the interviewing panel.
Municipality of Decan expresses concern over ‘unjust’ arrest of former KLA fighters (media)
The Municipality of Decan said it was deeply concerned with recent developments in Kosovo relating to the arrests of former KLA members on warrants issued by the Specialist Chambers.
“The Municipality of Decan is following with great concern the latest events where freedom fighters who devoted their whole lives to freedom and sacrificed everything for liberation of Kosovo from Serbia’s century-long occupation are being arrested.”
The municipality added that the recent arrests by the Specialist Chambers represent a violation of human rights and freedoms, peace and Kosovo’s constitutional order.
“The Municipality of Decan and its residents stand in support of freedom fighters arrested days ago and will remain by the side of their families until this unjust process is concluded,” the municipality said in a statement issued after a meeting with representatives of KLA associations.
Kosovo Government entry restrictions based on nonexistent list (Prishtina Insight)
On Friday, the Kosovo Government approved measures proposed by the Ministry of Health to combat the spread of COVID-19, which included new restrictions on foreign citizens entering Kosovo.
Point 1 of the government decision states that “all foreign citizens entering the Republic of Kosovo from high risk countries, according to the official ECDC list (which is updated every two weeks), must prove through the RT-PCR in Sars COV-2 that they are not infected with COVID-19, based on the principle of reciprocity.”
The measure also applied to foreign citizens with a permanent or temporary residence permit in Kosovo, stating that residents without a negative RT-PCR test less than 72 hours old would be obliged to self-isolate for seven days.
BIRN contacted the European Centre for Disease Control, ECDC, to enquire about the “official list” referred to in the government decision. However, the ECDC press team told BIRN that no such list exists.
“Our recommendations for self-isolation and quarantine concerns just special groups such as probable and possible cases, contacts and travellers. See table on page 12 of our latest Risk Assessment on this,” the press team told BIRN. “It applies to both low and high prevalence settings, so therefore there is no list or similar that we keep for this.”
Read more at: https://bit.ly/36pIgrT
Serbian Language Media
Four newly infected with Covid-19, eight recovered in Serb areas in Kosovo (Radio Mitrovica sever)
According to the report of the Crisis Staff of the Municipality of Kosovska Mitrovica, in the last 24 hours, four people were newly infected, while eight cases of recovery were recorded in Serb areas in Kosovo, reported Radio Mitrovica sever.
According to the report of the Crisis Staff, 25 results of processed samples arrived yesterday.
Two new cases of infection were recorded in Zvecan and one each in North Mitrovica and Strpce.
One case of recovery was registered in North Mitrovica, one in Zvecan, and one in Leposavic, while south of the Ibar there are 5 recovered persons – two each in Kosovska Kamenica and Strpce, and one in Gnjilane.
A total of 4 positive PCR-confirmed individuals were hospitalized and treated at the Health Center in North Mitrovica.
The measure of home isolation was determined to 38 people.
There are currently 42 active cases. So far, 931 people have been cured.
A total of 267 patients have been registered in Serbian areas south of the Ibar so far.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, 38 people have died in Serbian communities in Kosovo.
Trial of KLA crimes – diversions, (in)justice, and covering-up (RTS)
A series of hearings on KLA crimes continues in The Hague. Following Hashim Thaci and Ramush Haradinaj, Agim Ceku was interviewed as well, Serbian national broadcaster RTS reports.
Also KLA veterans have been deported to the Hague charged with obstructing the justice and intimidating witnesses. The RTS interviewed several interlocutors in an attempt to get responses on what could be expected from future trials and whether the justice shall be served. The Serbian public was recently shaken by the news that documentation from the Specialist Court has leaked and reached the KLA war veterans association, RTS recalled.
Nebojsa Covic, former head of the Serbian Government Coordination Center for Kosovo and Metohija said it was “unbelievable and scandalous”.
“These are highly classified documents, people working at these chambers had to undergo specific training and verification, you have electronic and physical control. It is unbelievable it is unknown yet who took the documentation out. It was also an attempt to discredit the Specialist Chambers and intimidate the witnesses”, Covic said.
He recalled that during 2000’ies Serbia delivered to the Hague and Carla Del Ponte huge amounts of documents, and that she, as he said, complained afterwards that she was being prevented from dealing with KLA crimes.
“The Security Council received locations where detention camps were. Obviously, back then no one had political will and desire, on the part of the international factors, to open up those issues. And after the WWII the most gruesome crimes were committed against the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija”, Covic added.
He also opined that the situation is changing now, and international factors want to change political leaders in Kosovo and clash with war criminals.
He said he remains rather skeptical and cautions regarding the future proceedings that should take place relating to the KLA crimes.
Drecun: There would be new indictments
Milovan Drecun, former chairman of the Serbian Assembly Committee for Kosovo and Meothija said he believes there would be new indictments in the coming period, adding it is a decisive moment in the process of determining responsibility for KLA crimes.
Speaking about leaked documentation Drecun said the main goal of this “diversion” was to compromise evidence material submitted by the state of Serbia.
“We have provided crucial documentation and this diversion was directed against it”, Drecun said. He recalled that the Serbian state handed over documents listing locations of 159 illegal detention camps, and using it, as he said, command responsibility for committed crimes could be established, which is necessary in order to determine joint criminal enterprise.
He also said the international community knew about the murders and crimes, but they covered it up, so Kosovo could unilaterally declare independence one day.
He also said Serbia requested OSCE and KFOR to open their archives but it didn’t happen. Drecun added he had no dilemma that an indictment against Hashim Thaci would be raised.
Fila: US cleanses up the top of Kosovo
On the other side, lawyer Toma Fila who took part in several proceedings at the International Crime Tribunal for the Former Yogoslavia in The Hague said he was pessimistic when it comes to the possible indictment against Thaci.
However, he agreed that the US has decided to cleanse up the political top of Kosovo, so people, as he said, who have no blood on their hands could replace the current leaders. Fila opined one of the major problems would be to prove the crimes since much time has passed and a huge number of witnesses was intimidated”.
He noted it was of crucial importance to find out who took the documentation out of the Specialist Court and delivered it to the KLA war veterans.
US envoy to Serbia: Washington agreement shows political commitment, carries huge benefit (Nova S, N1)
The US ambassador to Serbia Antony Godfrey described on Tuesday the documents signed in Washington on September 4, as Belgrade – Pristina political commitment, not legally binding agreement, adding the economic normalisation was important and would improve the living standard of all citizens, reported regional broadcaster N1.
Speaking to Nova S TV, said the White House would meet its obligations and added the opening of the American Development Agency (DFC) in Belgrade was a clear signal the US wanted results in economic normalisation.
The US hopes Belgrade and Pristina will reach an agreement beneficial for both sides. “We cannot impose a lasting solution to them, but it must come from both sides, to be in their interest and the compromises will be made on each side,” Godfrey said.
The economic normalisation was not a competition with the European Union, but Washington’s step is an addition to the Brussels negotiations, and that the EU had primacy in political issues, Godfrey said.
He added the DFC would give an incentive to Serbia – US relations. “We don’t want Serbia to be in an oppressed position, but to be a prosperous country in peace with its neighbours and to move towards Europe.”
Godfrey also said he cooperated with Serbia’s opposition and hoped there would be a more diverse political dialogue. He added he agreed with the Europeans colleagues that the absence from such a discussion was not a good idea, referring to the opposition parties in Serbia which refused to take part in the European Parliament facilitated dialogue with the authorities.
Later on Tuesday, Kosovo Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj said her Serbia’s counterpart Serbian Foreign Minister for thanking Angola’s ambassador to Serbia for not recognising Kosovo’s independence, adding on her Twitter account Dacic had violated the agreement reached in Washington on September 4.
Some media in Belgrade reported Dacic met the new Angola’s ambassador to Serbia Alcino dos Prazeres Izata Francisco da Conceiçao who said Luanada remained firm in not recognising Kosovo’s independence what Dacic thanked him for.
The agreement stipulated that Belgrade would restrain from asking countries to withdraw their recognition.
See at: https://bit.ly/3n4fO4I
Novosti: Pristina still lobbies for recognitions despite Washington agreement
Over the last couple of weeks, apart from Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to the information from diplomatic cycles Pristna also called upon Romania and Greece to reconsider their position on Kosovo, respectively recognize it, Belgrade-based daily Vecernje Novosti reports.
According to the daily, Pristina tries to use the situation created after the Washington agreement for its own benefit, by which Belgrade obliged it would cease the de-recognition campaign for one year. According to the same agreement Pristina undertook obligation not to seek membership in the international organizations. Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Ivica Dacic commenting on the letter that Kosovo Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj-Stubla sent to Bosnia and Herzegovina earlier asking it to recognize Kosovo, said it was written in a manner that gives the impression Washington agreement promotes recognition of Kosovo independence, given that Israel recognized Kosovo.
Novosti further said, this Pristina’s latest action should not be surprising, given how Kosovo authorities treated the agreements reached over the previous years in Brussels.
The daily also recalled statement of the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic who said everything signed in Brussels must be implemented, but not in line with the Kosovo legal regulations, because if everything must be in line with Pristina or Belgrade regulations and nothing to change, then reaching compromise will not be possible.
New head of EU Office: Northern Kosovo important for Union (KoSSev,N1)
The north of Kosovo is of special importance for the European Union, both for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and the ongoing normalisation process, the new head of the EU Office in Pristina Tomáš Szunyog has told reporters on Tuesday, adding the bloc has invested a lot in the area in the recent years, and that the first results are seen, N1 reports.
He recalled the EU had so far allocated EUR 38.5 million in socio-economic projects in the north of Kosovo within the IPA programme and more than EUR 11 million from the Fund for the Development of the North, the website KoSSev reported.
“The funds are invested in infrastructure, support for local small businesses and farmers, the local NGO sector and others. I hope you make good use of EU-funded projects, such as the new bus station and the renovated health centre in Mitrovica North”, Szunyog said.
He added that “we are now in the process of preparing the financial cycle, which will begin in January 2021, and the European Commission will announce new investments by next week”, Szunyog said.
Asked why the EU hasn’t opened the bridge over the Ibar River, dividing the town of Mitrovica, one of the projects the EU has funded, he said he believed progress had already been made.
The Czech diplomat visited the north of Kosovo less than a month after taking office from Natalija Apostolova, and this, as he stated, was his first official visit outside Pristina.
Szunyog also met the representatives of local governments in the municipalities of South and North Mitrovica, students and representatives of civil society, and visited projects funded by the EU in the previous period – the building of the International Business College and a sports hall in Mitrovica North.
See at: https://bit.ly/30mwFpD
Serb child attacked in Plemetina (Radio KIM)
Unknown individuals have attacked 8-year old Serb boy M.V., on his way back from school yesterday after midday in the village of Plemetina, near Oblici, his mother Bojana Vujsanovic confirmed for RTV KIM. The family suspects it was a kidnapping attempt.
According to the child’s mother, unknown Albanians tried to drag the boy into the vehicle, however he managed to escape.
The Vuksanovic family reported the case to the Kosovo police, and according to their claims, the police advised them not to make the assault attempt public.
Bojana Vuksanovic also said she doesn’t believe the perpetrators would be found, since her family faced similar attacks three times already. Their house was burglarized three years ago and this case also remains unresolved.
Radio KIM said it tried to get more details on the case from the Kosovo police, however, the police spokesperson didn’t reply to the radio, by the time of publishing this news.
Plemetina is an ethnically mixed village. There are 100 Serb families and around 30 Albanian families living in this village.
Brnabic: It is not suitable for Pristina for truth on Ivanovic’s murder to come out (B92)
It is not suitable for Pristina that the truth about the murder of Oliver Ivanovic comes out, because otherwise they would have already uncovered both those who commissioned it and the killers, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic on Tuesday, B92 reports.
Asked whether anything was known today, 1,000 days after Ivanovix’s murder, about what actually happened, Brnabic said that justice would be done at some point and that “we would not forget about that murder”.
She said unfortunately, the investigation must be conducted in Pristina and reminded that Belgrade asked to participate in it, which was not allowed, and that it appealed to both UNMIK and EULEX to investigate Ivanovic’s murder, find out the truth and punish the perpetrators.
“Unfortunately, you have only silence on that topic from Pristina. We will not forget that topic and we will continue to search for the truth and to ask who the killers are and why Oliver Ivanovic was killed. And if it lasts 10 years and if it lasts 100 years, we will not forget. Justice will be done someday”, Brnabic said.
She added she believed that it was not appropriate for Pristina for the truth about that to come out.
SANU President Kostic: The future of Serbia is in academic competence, education, understanding the signs of the times (Radio Mitrovica Sever)
University of Pristina temporarily settled in Mitrovica North, signed a new Agreement on more comprehensive business and technical cooperation with the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) on Tuesday.
After the solemn session of Council and Senate, the agreement was signed by the Rector of University, Prof. Zdravko Vitosevic PhD and Academician Vladimir Kostic, President of SANU.
According to the media, the original agreement was signed in 2010 and this one extends this cooperation between these two scientific and cultural institutions, who are committed to the continuation of quality cooperation in all areas of science and art.
Rector Vitosevic especially expressed satisfaction that this academic year, with over 1170 enrolled freshmen, was one of the most successful at this University. With students who will start graduate and doctoral academic studies, the number is about 1400 (new) students.
-Today, University with its ten faculties, 9500 students, 700 teachers and associates and almost a hundred teachers coming from other universities and 350 administrative workers, operates within the educational system of the Republic of Serbia and is recognized as a reputable higher education institution in the Republic of Serbia, Vitosevic said.
He said that in the years to come, the University would face great challenges.
-We still have to provide the necessary spatial and technical conditions for work, in which we need the help of the Republic of Serbia and local self-government bodies, he pointed out, emphasizing the need for a construction of a university building that would house faculties and other university units.
Academician Vladimir Kostic congratulated the students and employees on the jubilee and reminded that some academies in the region did not have that much experience.
-The only topic we have is the coverage and in a way prosperity of cultural, artistic and scientific space that belongs to these people. That space, and I say that without pathos, without this university, is far from being complete, Kostic pointed out.
Kostic said that the Agreement was there and that it was a paper, which should be filled with content, which will be concretized in the next few months.
-Your university is ammunition that we will not spend on wars, but on the future, Kostic said.
Rector Vitosevic announced that the final ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the University will be held on Thursday, October 1, when the new academic year begins, reported Radio Mitrovica Sever.
COVID-19 Exacerbates Ethnic Serb Limbo in Kosovo (Balkan Insight)
The coronavirus pandemic has underscored just how far apart Kosovo’s Serbs and Albanians remain.
Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, when Serbia introduced a curfew to combat the spread the novel coronavirus, ethnic Serb local councillors in the town of Mitrovica in the north of neighbouring Kosovo followed suit.
This mainly Serb-populated pocket of Kosovo has taken its cue from Serbia on most matters since Kosovo broke away in war in 1998-99 and even after the former province declared independence in 2008. The pandemic was no different.
So while Serbs in the north of ethnically-divided Mitrovica were under orders to stay indoors between the hours of 5 p.m. and 5 a.m., Albanians in the south were free to move around.
But if this was not confusing enough, when Serbia changed the hours of its curfew, the Serbs in Mitrovica kept theirs the same. Likewise, Serbia, Kosovo and North Mitrovica all introduced different measures concerning schools, shops and public institutions, baffling local residents unsure which rules applied and the local authorities struggling to enforce them. Many of those in the north who test positive end up being treated in Serbia, not Kosovo.
While north Kosovo has long resisted integration into the majority-Albanian state, authorities in Pristina too have been accused of making only piecemeal efforts at outreach. COVID-19 has underscored just how far apart the two sides remain.
“There isn’t any kind of cooperation,” said Doctor Zlatan Elek, acting director of the Clinical Hospital Centre in north Mitrovica.
Aleksandar Antonijevic, an epidemiologist at the Institute of Public Health in the north, agreed. “We don’t have any cooperation with the Institute of Public Health of Kosovo, even informally,” he told BIRN.
Kosovo’s Ministry of Health did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
See at: https://bit.ly/33cJq82
Hague court begins long-delayed hearings on Kosovan war crimes (The Guardian)
Two former members of KLA appear before judge nine years after prosecutor first appointed.
A special court in The Hague has begun hearings on war crimes committed by Kosovo’s former separatist fighters, more than two decades after its war for independence from Serbia and nine years after a prosecutor was first appointed to investigate reports of atrocities.
Over the past week the Kosovo specialist chambers have ordered the arrest of three former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), who were detained by EU police and transferred to the Netherlands. Two of them have already appeared before a judge, in a specially built courtroom fitted with transparent screens as a precaution against coronavirus.
See at: https://bit.ly/3n2mwIg
‘Leaked files, organ removal and irrepressible anger’: What’s behind the Kosovo war crimes probe? (euronews.com)
On 26 September, European Union security officers raided the office of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) veterans in Pristina, Kosovo, and led its president, Hysni Gucati, away in handcuffs.
It was the culmination of a busy – and at times bizarre – fortnight in Kosovo, where an international court based in The Hague is probing war crimes allegedly committed during – and in the aftermath of – the Balkan nation’s two-year war with Serbia more than two decades ago.
On September 22, Gucati announced that his organisation, which represents the Kosovar veterans of that conflict, had been handed files belonging to the international court by an unidentified person. It was the third time it had happened in two months.
He then offered the files, which apparently named President Hashim Thaci and other leading KLA figures as well as charges against them, to journalists.
The Kosovo Specialist Chambers, which is probing claims that KLA members committed war crimes during and after the war, said that the veterans association was aiming to “undermin[e] the proper administration of justice.”
Less than 24 hours after Gucati was arrested and sent to the Hague his deputy, Nasim Haradinaj, was also detained in Pristina, “for […] intimidation of witnesses, retaliation and violation of secrecy of proceedings,” according to a KSC statement.
On the one hand, the charges against Gucati and Haradinajis are a sideshow to another arrest in Kosovo last week, that of former KLA commander Salih Mustafa, on war crimes charges. Mustafa is accused of arbitrary detention, torture and murder at a detention centre in April 1999.
See at: https://bit.ly/3jhA4NJ
Risi: KFOR is still dealing with a complex security situation in Kosovo (EWB)
ROME – KFOR is still dealing with a complex security situation in Kosovo, said Major General Michele Risi, current Commander of the KFOR units in Kosovo during the conference “Balkan Perspectives 2020: The Fight for a Timely Inclusion” organised by NATO Defense College Foundation.
Rissi reminded that following the Kumanovo Millatery Technical Agreement that ended 78 days of NATO intervention in FR Yugoslavia, 50.000 strong KFOR force entered Kosovo to monitor the withdrawal of Serbian forces and to stabilise the area.
“First inclusions and threats by the Belgrade forces were avoided and together with the UN Police order and security were preserved. It started demilitarisation of the Kosovo Liberation Army, assistance was provided for the return of the refugees and displaced person from North Macedonia, as well for the demining of 23.000 landmines and 7500 unexploded weapons”, said Risi.
See at: https://bit.ly/3l2II30