Albanian Language Media:
- COVID – 19: 43 new cases, two deaths (media)
- Hoti: Association is a closed topic (media)
- LDK leader: Government is stable (Indeksonline)
- Kosnett doesn’t expect unrest from work of Specialist Chambers (Koha)
- Gashi: Police, prosecution didn’t want to deal with files (Telegrafi)
- Judge orders war veterans’ attorney not to publish confidential files (media)
- Kosovo, Albania governments to meet tomorrow in Tirana (RTK)
- UN could investigate expulsion of Tienmu Ma (media)
Serbian Language Media:
- Vucic on EU decision to keep Serbia on unsafe countries list relating to Covid-19 (B92)
- “Friendship between Serbia and China made of steel” (FoNet, N1)
- FM Dacic: ”Apostolova informed the members about the problems of the Special Court” (NMagazin, Politika, Danas, TV Pink)
- Tapuskovic: Witnesses against KLA already intimidated (Tanjug)
- Djuric: EU to react on ban to Sarcevic to visit Kosovo (Radio KIM)
- The ceremony at the University of Pristina, based in North Mitrovica, canceled (Kontakt plus radio)
- Kosovo police refutes media reports on kidnapping attempt in Plemetina (KoSSev)
- Kosovo War Crimes File Leaks Deliver a Blow to Justice (Balkan Insight)
- The Kosovo Assembly isn’t working (Prishtina Insight)
- Kosovo Indicts Pro-Iranian Radical for Inciting Terrorism (Balkan Insight)
- The whole of Europe has switched to Swedish model, but doesn’t want to admit it? (B92, media)
- Vucic says data on coronavirus-related deaths will be reviewed (FoNet, N1)
- Serbia Hugely Underestimated COVID-19 Death Toll, Official Admits (Balkan Insight)
- EBRD hopes Nis-Pristina motorway tenders to open in Nov (seenews.com)
Albanian Language Media
COVID – 19: 43 new cases, two deaths (media)
Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health said today that 43 new cases of coronavirus and two deaths have been recorded in the last 24 hours. 123 persons have recovered from the virus during this time. The highest number of new cases is from the municipality of Prishtina (15).
Hoti: Association is a closed topic (media)
Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said today that for Kosovo the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities is a closed issue. “The Association is a closed issue; it was closed in 2013. The dialogue will not stop because of Kosovo. We are an independent state; we have clear principles agreed upon with our international friends. We are ready for the dialogue based on these principles … Kosovo made its compromises when it declared independence in 2008,” he said during a visit to Prizren.
Asked if the LDK would make any compromise to vote in favor of a presidential candidate from the PDK, Hoti said: “the government is functioning normally; we have a stable majority in parliament. We are implementing the government program with our partners … What I can say is that when we get to that point in February, all political parties will have to meet and discuss, without any exceptions, in order to secure 80 votes in parliament.”
Hoti also said he believes that the Economic Recovery draft will be adopted in the next session of the Kosovo Assembly.
LDK leader: Government is stable (Indeksonline)
Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Isa Mustafa told the news website today that the Hoti-led government is stable and that Ethem Arifi who has started to serve a 15-month sentence will be replaced by an MP from his political party.
“As far as the stability of the government is concerned, I think it is as stable as the first day when it was formed. The MP that is now serving his sentence, will be replaced by a candidate from the same political party in line with legal procedures,” he said.
Mustafa denied media reports according to which the LDK presidency would meet today to discuss the possible enlargement of the ruling coalition. “We don’t have a meeting today,” he said.
Commenting on the failure to adopt the law on economic recovery, Mustafa said this is total irresponsibility by the ruling coalition and opposition parties. “I think the nature of the law involves both the government and the opposition, because it includes all citizens and businesses in Kosovo. The failure to adopt the law is an absolute irresponsibility of the government and the opposition. If there was strength and reason to vote in favor of the law against COVID – 19, then why cannot the same be done for the law that will help recover from the impact of the coronavirus. There should be no politics or deals about such laws,” Mustafa said.
Kosnett doesn’t expect unrest from work of Specialist Chambers (Koha)
The United States Ambassador in Kosovo, Phillip Kosnett, said at an online roundtable with reporters today that he does not expect unrest in Kosovo as a result of recent actions by the Specialist Chambers.
Kosnett said the Specialist Chambers are an important and independent institution and that it must be allowed to do its work. Asked if he expects unrest following the recent arrests, he said: “No”. Kosnett also said that he does not want to comment on individual cases and that justice is important. “What is important is to allow the Court to do its work.”
Gashi: Police, prosecution didn’t want to deal with files (Telegrafi)
Tome Gashi, attorney for the KLA War Veterans Organisation, said in an interview with the news website today that the Kosovo Police and State Prosecution did not want to deal with the files sent to the war veterans. “According to my information, the first time that the files were sent to the KLA War Veterans Organisation, Police and the State Prosecution did not want to deal with the issue … Kosovo Police had no role in the matter, and if they did, the scandal would have larger proportions because it would involve the police or the prosecution in what are called sensitive documents of the Specialist Chambers,” he said.
Gashi said he advised the war veterans’ leaders not to publish the names of witnesses that were mentioned in the files they received. “We don’t know who brought the files, because they were always anonymous, there were three persons. The Specialist Chambers should identify its own people. These documents were not produced by the KLA War Veterans Organisation … We don’t know who organised this. It is up to the Specialist Chambers to identify these people. They need to find out how the files were leaked. They could have prevented this. This was not accidental, it was organised,” Gashi added.
Judge orders war veterans’ attorney not to publish confidential files (media)
Tome Gashi, attorney for the KLA War Veterans Organisation, said today that he has received a letter from a judge of the Specialist Chambers asking him to notify the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office if he receives any confidential files from now on.
Gashi published the letter on his Facebook account, showing that the judge asked him not to publish confidential information but to send them to the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office. According to Gashi, the email he received from the judge proves that the leaked files belong to the Specialist Chambers.
Kosovo, Albania governments to meet tomorrow in Tirana (RTK)
The governments of Kosovo and Albania will meet in Tirana tomorrow to discuss the construction of the Prishtina – Durres railway, the news website reports. Kosovo’s Ambassador in Tirana, Nait Hasani, said the construction of the railway is of special importance as it would boost the economic development of both countries. The meeting on Friday will mark the sixth meeting between the two governments.
UN could investigate expulsion of Tienmu Ma (media)
Several news websites are reporting on a letter that Yale University professor James Silk has sent to US Ambassador in Kosovo, Kosovo Prime Minister and to US Assistant Deputy Secretary of State Matthew Palmer about the decision of Kosovo authorities not to extend the residence permit for Tienmu Ma, former external political advisor on human rights to former Kosovo PM Albin Kurti. Silk said in his letter that he was deeply concerned with the effort to expel Tienmu Ma from Kosovo, especially amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Silk also said that the issue might be investigated by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.
Serbian Language Media
Vucic on EU decision to keep Serbia on unsafe countries list relating to Covid-19 (B92)
Commenting on the EU’s decision for Serbia to stay on the list of unsafe countries regarding COVID-19 infection, President Aleksandar Vucic said that it hadn’t concerned only Serbia, B92 reports.
“They did not decide only on Serbia”, he said during a tour of the construction of a new hospital in Zemun, adding that a campaign against the EU was being conducted for reasons he did not understand.
“I do not understand that campaign against the EU. They did not decide only on Serbia, but on all other countries that are not members of the EU, and they could not agree on the countries that are members. We then put headlines that they are against Serbia. This is far from the truth”, Vucic said.
He added he talked to American officials yesterday, to whom he showed the “curve” of the coronavirus in Serbia, saying they are also aware that Serbia’s results are the best when it comes to flattening it.
According to the President of Serbia, the EU members did not make a decision to expand the list of safe countries whose citizens would be allowed to enter the EU member states, because they have a terrible situation in their countries.
See at: https://bit.ly/3n32PAh
“Friendship between Serbia and China made of steel” (FoNet, N1)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the Chinese Ambassador to Belgrade Chen Bo agreed on Wednesday that the two countries had a steel-made friendship, FoNet news agency reports.
At the reception marking the Chinese Statehood Day, the two officials also said the relations between Belgrade and Bejinig “are further improving,” and that the two countries “proved their friendship in practice”. The People’s Republic of China was established on October 1, 1949.
The statements came after speculations about the hick-ups in Serbia-China relations following the Belgrade – Pristina meetings at the White House and the document Vucic signed saying his country would not rely on “unreliable” G5 providers. Many read it as an allusion to China and its giant Huawei which had already entered Serbia’s market. Vucic later said the document had not mentioned either China or Huawei specifically.
On Wednesday, Bo said that “despite the effects of the coronavirus epidemic, the relations between China and Serbia have been improving”.
“There are still some difficulties and pressures on our path, but we are convinced we will continue to cooperate, help each other and go forward.”
Vucic said he was proud of the friendship between the two countries and that they would manage to preserve the brotherly and friendly relationship.
He added Serbia “will not allow its friendship with China to be put in question, regardless of pressures it will be exposed to”.
“The time behind us has not been easy, the one ahead of us is probably even more difficult, but we must prove our friendship”, Vucic said.
In Washington, he added, “probably the most inconvenient place to say something positive about China, I said we have excellent relations with China. That speaks about the strength of our friendship”.
FM Dacic: ”Apostolova informed the members about the problems of the Special Court” (NMagazin, Politika, Danas, TV Pink)
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Ivica Dacic stated today that the head of the Office of the European Union in Kosovo Nataliya Apostolova informed the EU members about the “big problems” that the Special Court for “KLA” crimes in Kosovo was facing, Serbian media quoted.
During a guest appearance this morning on TV Pink, Dacic stated that Apostolova asked EU members for the help so that the court’s work would not be obstructed in Kosovo, and he reminded that Pristina had previously asked for the Special Court in The Hague to be abolished and to sit only in Kosovo.
“Now they have made some amendments to put the court outside the constitution, which means outside the law – to abolish the court. They asked for that to be one of the points in Washington (during the talks between the representatives of Belgrade and Pristina),” said Dacic.
He emphasized that the “sequence of events” led towards the arrest of the President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, by the order of that court, and that, as he said, was proven by the disclosure of the indictment.
He said that he was sure that the indictment was not published by Europeans and noted that “one American is at the head of that court” and that he believed that the US administration could not afford to sign an agreement on economic normalization by someone who would be arrested soon.
Speaking about the issue of protected witnesses of the Special Court, Dacic said that the murders of those persons took place in Western countries, and not in Kosovo, and it showed that these were “organized conspiracies and that someone was assisting”.
Tapuskovic: Witnesses against KLA already intimidated (Tanjug)
Lawyer Branislav Tapuskovic said today disclosure of the names of witnesses and their addresses in the case of indicted heads of the KLA war veterans association Hysni Gucati and Nasim Haradinaj would impact upcoming proceedings and possibilities to prove the guilt of defendants before the Specialist Court in The Hague, Tanjug news agency reports.
Tapuskovic also noted regardless of the proceedings against the heads of KLA war veterans association under the charges of witnesses’ intimidation, the action of the defendants had made its goal already – the witnesses are intimidated.
“What was intended to be achieved by disclosing the names of the witnesses and their addresses has been achieved – their lives have been brought into question as well as their safety and this consequence can’t be eliminated”, Tapuskovic said.
He added it was of no importance that the entire case is being investigated now and two suspects are in detention, because the witnesses are already in fear, and it would be the same prior and after they enter the courtroom.
This all will impact upcoming proceedings and possibility to prove the guilt of defendants before the court, Tapuskovic underlined.
Djuric: EU to react on ban to Sarcevic to visit Kosovo (Radio KIM)
Pristina representatives with their decision to ban Serbian Minister for Education, Science and Technology Mladen Sarcevic visit Kosovo “in the most harsh and ruthless manner violated a number of agreements signed in Brussels (…)”, Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric said.
He also called upon the EU to react. Djuric added by doing this Pristina once again “hit the very foundation of the normalization of relations”.
Arbitrariness of Pristina, Djuric said, is the highest threat to the political stability in the region, and it is a high time “that the EU as a mediators in the dialogue and a guarantor of the agreements’ implementation, reacts in the sharpest manner in order to prevent such attitude”.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic also reacted to the ban saying “it was only a sign of Pristina’s weakness”.
“It is always a sign of weakness when you try to ban somebody from entering some territory, because you have your own party or political problems”, Vucic said.
The ceremony at the University of Pristina, based in North Mitrovica, canceled (Kontakt plus radio)
Kontakt plus radio reported today that due to the impediment of the arrival of the Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia, Mladen Sarcevic, the announced activities at the University of Pristina (with the seat in North Mitrovica) planned for today, were being canceled.
Minister Sarcevic was supposed to visit the University on the occasion of the beginning of the new academic year, and attend the session of the Rector’s Collegium in an expanded composition, and welcome freshmens of the 51st generation of students of the faculties within the university together with the Rector of the University, Prof. Dr. Zdravko Vitosevic.
Pristina based Gazeta Express reported earlier that the decision to ban Serbian Minister of Education Mladen Sarcevic from entering Kosovo, which was issued yesterday by the Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs, could change in the cabinet of Avdullah Hoti, reported the radio.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Avdullah Hoti, announced that they were considering allowing Sarcevic to enter Kosovo, since such a proposal came from the international community.
– This is due to the relaxation of relations between the two countries, but there is no final decision yet – said the advisor to the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Xhevat Beqiri.
However, the Kosovo Foreign Ministry said Sarcevic’s visit to North Mitrovica was rejected for several reasons, including “that the Serbian government continues its campaign against recognizing Kosovo’s independence”, constantly updated international arrest warrants for alleged war crimes at Interpol, and because “constantly interferes in the efforts of Kosovo institutions in the integration of the Serb community in Kosovo and better coordination in northern Kosovo”, reported Kontakt plus radio.
Minister Sarcevic told Belgrade based Tanjug agency that his visit to Kosovo was banned without any “smart explanation”, and that they cited as an explanation the south event, arrests; and which have nothing to do with education.
Kosovo police refutes media reports on kidnapping attempt in Plemetina (KoSSev)
Day after Belgrade-based media reported on the kidnapping attempt of a Serb-boy in the village of Plemetina near Obilic, re-run by the Serbian media based in Kosovo including confirmation of the family of a boy, Kosovo police said these were “inaccurate reports” and “ill-intended tendencies”, KoSSev portal reported.
The police said it received information from parents of the boy the previous day, around 14.00 relating to the concerns that it was a kidnapping attempt of their child. It further said the police undertook the measures and sent a police unit and investigator who interviewed the family.
Police added its officials, in the presence of the parents, interviewed the child as well, saying that “his statements and information he gave were contradictory and not credible, which caused doubts”.
At the same time, police added that parents of the child were not interested to give a statement or open the case “since he found out and cleared up doubts that something like that happened”.
Kosovo War Crimes File Leaks Deliver a Blow to Justice (Balkan Insight)
The alleged leak of Kosovo war crimes case documents from the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague could compromise witnesses’ safety and hinder the prosecution of heinous crimes.
The stunning news that confidential files have recently leaked from the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague would provide a thrilling plot for a John le Carré spy novel. But this is not a novel; it’s the real thing, it’s a scandal and it’s serious.
The Specialist Prosecutor’s Office’s mandate to prosecute high-ranking Kosovo Liberation Army veterans for serious crimes allegedly committed during and shortly after the war with Serbia, from 1998 to 2000, could be in jeopardy. And the Prosecutor’s Office’s credibility, already tenuous at best with Kosovo Albanians, could now be in tatters.
As is well known by now, what are alleged to be three batches of confidential Prosecutor’s Office files, including the names of protected witnesses and other highly sensitive information, were delivered to the Kosovo Liberation Army War Veterans’ Organisation in Pristina by anonymous couriers during September.
The leader of the War Veterans’ Organisation, Hysni Gucati, and his deputy, Nasim Haradinaj, have held three press conferences about the documents, and Gucati has urged Kosovo journalists to publish the contents. He has been a vociferous opponent of the Prosecutor’s Office, claiming it is biased against the KLA, and he argues that these documents prove his point.
Haradinaj actually mentioned the names of certain potential witnesses and provided information about where they lived and other personal details.
The files – whose authenticity has neither been independently verified nor denied – have been returned to the Prosecutor’s Office, and so far journalists have declined to publish any of them, apparently out of fear of legal liability.
However, 260 pages of confidential Prosecutor’s Office documents have also made their way to the TV station Top Channel in Tirana, Albania, reportedly from a source at The Hague; certainly a disturbing revelation.
See at: https://bit.ly/2HNhsYb
The Kosovo Assembly isn’t working (Prishtina Insight)
Political disputes have prevented the Kosovo Assembly from functioning smoothly for years, but its failure to address the economic and public health crises caused by COVID-19 is a new low, write Agnesa Haxhiu and Jeta Krasniqi.
“The week’s news began with the same old story from the Kosovo Assembly. The draft Law on Economic Recovery made its way to the parliament for the fifth time and did not pass due to the lack of a quorum.
It is far from the first piece of legislation that has got stuck at the Assembly. In July this year, five international financial agreements, some of which dated back to the days of the Haradinaj government, finally passed unaltered after being proposed to the Assembly during three different plenary sessions.
Over the years, Kosovo seems to have grown used to political parties that time and time again puts their own political agendas before the greater common good of the public.
Nevertheless, when faced with a global pandemic that threatens to severely damage Kosovo’s already fragile economy and society’s most precarious groups, the Assembly’s failure to provide any kind of economic solace to society is both puzzling and disturbing.”
Read more at: https://bit.ly/3cMGfa3
Kosovo Indicts Pro-Iranian Radical for Inciting Terrorism (Balkan Insight)
Kosovo’s Special Prosecution charged Ikballe Berisha-Huduti with inciting terrorist acts ten months after she reportedly called for revenge following the killing by the US of a top Iranian general.
Kosovo’s Special Prosecution said on Wednesday that it has indicted Ikballe Berisha-Huduti for posting a message on Facebook calling for revenge after the US killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike at Baghdad airport in January.
“Iranian people took to the streets immediately after the American crime to strongly condemn the injustice,” Berisha-Huduti wrote on Facebook on January 4, using an account that was later deleted.
“May God give them patience because by assassinating the lord of the house, you have assassinated all the family members, and then revenge becomes an obligation, but it has no boundaries,” she added.
Huduti-Berisha was arrested in January and remanded in custody for 30 days by a Pristina court.
See at: https://bit.ly/33jddMr
The whole of Europe has switched to Swedish model, but doesn’t want to admit it? (B92, media)
With the new wave of the epidemic, European countries are reintroducing certain measures, experts estimate that Europe is trying to implement the Swedish model.
This model is based on the trust in the responsibility of every citizen, writes the New York Times.
“New normalcy” is nowhere more unusual than in Sweden, which is almost the only country in the West that refused to introduce a complete lockdown this spring, and there were no other mandatory restrictive measures.
During the “Black Spring”, Sweden did not close its borders, public transport functioned smoothly, and even restaurants, cafes, public institutions, hairdressers and yoga studios remained open.
Prevention of the infection was based on Swedish solidarity and trust, that is, on the trust of the authorities in the citizens that measures such as maintaining distance and regular hand hygiene will be kept voluntarily. Whether it was the right decision or not has been the subject of debate around the world for months.
Many scientists have argued that such behavior has resulted in an increase in coronavirus deaths, while libertarian politicians and activists have argued that Sweden can be a role model for all countries, and leading Swedish health experts say the Swedish model was adequate and prevented the country’s economic collapse.
Sweden acknowledged that the approach may not have been perfect and that mistakes were made, especially in nursing homes where a large number of deaths occurred. Analyzes show that the mortality rate in such institutions in Sweden was noticeably higher than in neighboring “lockdown” countries.
But the New York Times raises the question of whether the possibly low growth of new cases in Sweden, compared to the relatively high growth in other European countries, shows that Sweden has found a balance, something other countries have been longing for months.
See at: https://bit.ly/2HJv72l
Vucic says data on coronavirus-related deaths will be reviewed (FoNet, N1)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Thursday that a full review would be launched into the data on the number of coronavirus-related deaths, adding that the authorities did not hide anything, N1 reports.
“Serbia will conduct a full review of every death, every man, to see what that’s like and it will be done by clinical experts”, Vucic said. According to him, there won’t be any great difference between the numbers.
Government pandemic Crisis Staff epidemiologist Predrag Kon said earlier this week that there were three times as many coronavirus related deaths between March and June this year than official figures showed, drawing denials from the authorities.
Vucic said that the authorities would continue their efforts to combat the pandemic transparently. “None of us lied. I spoke to people at Batut (National Public Health Institute) and they say that there are fewer people dead”, he said.
Ombudsman Zoran Pasalic said that his office is gathering information to assess whether an investigation into Kon’s claims is warranted.
Also on Thursday, Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar said that the claims that three times more people died of coronavirus-related ailments than official figures show “is not right.” “I stand by the view that this is not grounded in any evidence, that it is absolutely not right”, Loncar said.
See at: https://bit.ly/2ShBpsc
Serbia Hugely Underestimated COVID-19 Death Toll, Official Admits (Balkan Insight)
Confirming the substance of BIRN reports on this issue, a Government Crisis Staff member has admitted that the COVID-19 death toll in June was far higher than was officially reported, blaming a new information system.
A member of the Serbian Government’s Crisis Staff, Predrag Kon, has admitted that the number of deaths related to COVID-19 by June officially announced by the government was three times less than the real number.
See at: https://bit.ly/36m4ISt
EBRD hopes Nis-Pristina motorway tenders to open in Nov (seenews.com)
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) hopes that the tenders for the construction of the Nis-Plocnik section of a motorway that would connect the city of Nis to Kosovo’s Pristina will be launched in November, a bank official said.
“The tenders are ready to be launched already in early November,” Zsuzsanna Hargitai, EBRD Regional Director, Western Balkans and Head of Serbia, said in a video file posted on the website of Tanjug news agency on Wednesday.
The EBRD has already negotiated a 85 million euro ($100 million) loan agreement with Serbia and the country only needs to establish a new government that will sign it, Hargitai said.
“We will be signing an agreement for an investment that can actually start immediately,” she added.
See at: https://bit.ly/36jk3U1