Albanian Language Media:
- COVID-19: 34 new cases, three deaths (media)
- COVID-19: North Macedonia to lift border restrictions on 12 October (media)
- Enlargement Package: EU finds limited progress in Kosovo (Koha)
- Haradinaj: We support the idea of a broad-based government (Kosovapress)
- Vetevendosje: Hoti can help Kosovo by resigning (media)
- “Mothers’ Calls” demand conditioning of dialogue with missing persons (media)
- Minister Selimi dismisses advisor arrested on drug trafficking charges (Koha)
- Serbian minister defends use of the term ‘siptar’ (Prishtina Insight)
- Billboard near Pristina Airport wishes Trump a speedy recovery (Klan)
Serbian Language Media:
- Vucic: Ana Brnabic new prime minister designate (B92)
- Dacic replies to Stano: Before warning Serbia, first provide an answer when the ZSO (CSM) will be formed
- Yucom: Because of hate speech, Vulin cannot be a minister (NMagazin, Beta)
- National Convent says Serbia moving backwards on road to EU (FoNet, N1)
- Milivojevic: EU biased, ready for concessions to Pristina (Kosovo-online)
- Spahiu: Thaci with Lajcak, a medal for Grenell, something has changed around his indictment (Kosovo Online)
- EC economic and investment plan for Western Balkans (N1)
- Serbian President ‘Observes Minute’s Silence’ for Kosovo War Dead (Balkan Insight)
- 10th Belgrade Security Forum titled “No Trust – No Peace” begins this week (EWB)
- In Kosovo, ‘Lake Trump’ lands with a bump (Politico)
- The art of wine-making in the north of Kosovo (KoSSev)
- Serbian prison inmates make masks for Torino Fashion Week (N1)
- Transport Community in favor of permanent Green Lines in the Western Balkans (EWB)
Albanian Language Media
COVID-19: 34 new cases, three deaths (media)
Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health said today that 34 new cases of coronavirus have been recorded in the last 24 hours.
122 persons have meanwhile recovered from the virus during this time and three deaths were recorded.
The highest number of new cases is from the municipality of Prishtina (6).
COVID-19: North Macedonia to lift border restrictions on 12 October (media)
Online media report that as of next week, North Macedonian authorities will no longer request PCR tests for citizens of Kosovo entering the country.
Kosovo’s Health Minister Armend Zemaj hailed the news: “The current epidemiological situation in our country does not represent a risk and I welcome today’s decision to open borders without PCR test. PCR test requirement could be reintroduced if there is an increase of the number of infections.
Enlargement Package: EU finds limited progress in Kosovo (Koha)
As the European Commission prepares to unveil this year’s Enlargement Package for Western Balkans countries, Koha reports that the part dedicated to Kosovo is very similar to those of the previous years.
A draft of the report which Koha claims to have secured states that organised crime, corruption, political interference in judiciary, public administration, and the economic criteria are some of the fields where the European Commission has concluded Kosovo has made “limited progress.”
This however is in a way justified with the need to respond to the pandemic and also because Kosovo held extraordinary elections following the resignation of then prime minister Ramush Haradinaj.
EC has found that the election process has generally been well administered and urged relevant institutions to address shortcomings in the electoral reform. The report also called on institutions to tackle cases of media intimidation.
The report further hailed the decision of the Kosovo Government to lift the 100-percent import tax on Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and appeals for commitment in achieving an agreement which the EU considers to be ‘urgently needed.’
Haradinaj: We support the idea of a broad-based government (Kosovapress)
Leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) Ramush Haradinaj spoke to Kosovapress about the possible inclusion of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) in the ruling coalition saying his party supports the idea of a broad-based government which would be stable and help processes in which Kosovo is going through.
“At the same time we should never try to avoid the citizen verdict, return to elections, voters, citizens because at the end of the day, the citizens have the right to decide how to move ahead,” Haradinaj said.
Vetevendosje: Hoti can help Kosovo by resigning (media)
Glauk Konjufca from the Vetevendosje Movement said on the anniversary of last year’s parliamentary elections that the best way for the Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti to help Kosovo is to step down.
“Democratic will cannot be stolen,” he said at a press conference.
“Today marks one year since the October 6 elections. On October 6, citizens voted not just for change but for an end to bad governance. Citizens voted for change and punished corrupt politicians,” Konjufca said. He added that the citizens of Kosovo do not trust in the government led by Hoti.
“Mothers’ Calls” demand conditioning of dialogue with missing persons (media)
The association of missing persons “Mothers’ calls” has urged Kosovo institutions to condition dialogue with Serbia with resolving the fate of the missing persons.
Speaking at a press conference in front of the Kosovo Assembly, head of the association Nysrete Kumnova said: “Talks with Serbia should not be concluded without Serbia officially apologising for war crimes in Kosovo. The identity of perpetrators is known and they should be tried for their criminal acts.”
Kumnova said that the Kosovo delegation in talks with Serbia should also include a representative from the families of missing persons. She also condemned the statement of the Serbia’s Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic threatening those who reveal the burial site of Albanians killed by Serbian forces. “This should serve as the last lesson to our officials and all international instances.”
Minister Selimi dismisses advisor arrested on drug trafficking charges (Koha)
Kosovo’s Minister of Justice Selim Selimi announced via social media that he has dismissed his political advisor, Enis Qerka, arrested on charges of drug trafficking.
Selimi’s move follows Koha’s report that one of persons arrested at the border crossing between Kosovo and North Macedonia in December 2018 was appointed a political advisor for Selimi. Qerka and two men were apprehended transporting 113 kg of heroin. At the time, Qerka was issued a one-month detention but was released on bail a week later.
Minister Selimi wrote: “This morning, following media reports, I have released from duty Enis Qerka.”
Serbian minister defends use of the term ‘siptar’ (Prishtina Insight)
Serbia’s Minister of Defence Aleksandar Vulin stated on Monday that he will continue to use the word ‘siptar’ despite complaints by Kosovo foreign minister Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla that it constitutes racist language.
“When they throw the word ‘Shiptar’ out of their language, whatever they start calling themselves, I will call them that,” Vulin said. “Until then, I will respect their customs and language, and I will respectfully call Shiptars what they call themselves – Shiptars.”
Vulin used the term, which was deemed as ‘offensive’ by a Belgrade court in 2018, in official press statements from the Ministry of Defence on both Friday and Saturday. In a televised interview on Sunday, Haradinaj-Stublla responded to the statements, labelling the language as “racist, insulting, and discriminatory towards Albanians.”
Kosovo’s foreign minister called for an ‘international reaction’ and wrote an open letter to the Quint Group, which consists of the Ambassadors to Kosovo from the US, the UK, Germany, France and Italy. In her letter to the Quint, Haradinaj-Stublla stated that Vulin’s language deserved “strong condemnation.”
Vulin, however, dismissed these complaints. “If Haradinaj-Stublla is ashamed of being a Shiptar, she should not be angry with me,” he stated.
The Serbian defence minister has a history with the term, having caused controversy in 2019, when he said he was “in favour of forming the border with the Siptari as soon as possible.” The National Council of the Albanian Minority in Serbia submitted a lawsuit against Vulin over the comments in June 2019, though the case has yet to be heard.
Read more at: https://bit.ly/34wAhX4
Billboard near Pristina Airport wishes Trump a speedy recovery (Klan)
A new billboard has been put up near the Pristina Airport wishing the U.S. President Donald Trump a speedy recovery from coronavirus.
The billboard, featuring a picture of President Trump against a backdrop of the American and Kosovo flags, reads: “Get well soon, Mr. President! You are in our thoughts.”
Naim Murseli said he used his personal savings to pay for the billboard which he said is a sign of respect for President Trump and the American people.
Serbian Language Media
Vucic: Ana Brnabic new prime minister designate (B92)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stated that he had made the decision to name Ana Brnabic as the Prime Minister designate for the composition of the new Government of Serbia, B92 reports.
“I hold a high opinion of Ana Brnabic. She has done well and in the interest of Serbia and there is nothing much to criticize her for. I think she is a good choice”, he pointed out, adding that she pursued a disciplined and responsible policy.
He was asked why this decision was waited for 106 days.
“I needed to make a concept of what the government would look like. I talked to everyone. During that time, people could see, unlike those enjoying themselves at seaside, I worked hard, I was with Putin, Erdogan, Trump. A lot of things happened for a short period of time”, Vucic said.
He also said that he proposed to the prime minister designate that the new government, if possible, should be composed of 50 percent or more of women.
“I think it would be revolutionary for Serbia, we would present our country in the best possible way and we would show in practice how gender equality works”, Vucic said.
He stated that there was no talk of possible coalition partners at the session of the party’s presidency yesterday. He reminded that he talked to everyone who secured the parliamentary mandates, and that the partners will be known in five to seven days, and the choice, he says, is up to the prime minister.
He points out that he expects significant changes in the government, especially when it comes to the party he leads.
He spoke about the messages coming from Pristina.
“It is our obligation that, while facing the challenges, and the biggest are the pressures around Kosovo and Metohija and the attempt to force Serbia to recognize the independence of Kosovo, without getting almost anything for it, we show willingness to always express our intention to talk and reach a compromise solution. We certainly do not accept the humiliation of the citizens of Serbia, and our citizens in Kosovo and Metohija”, Vucic said.
In his address at the Palace of Serbia, he emphasized the importance of the fact that the previous elections passed peacefully.
“It is very important that the elections passed peacefully, without any incidents, and it is important that the citizens of Serbia showed how much they respect democracy and elections,” said Vucic, adding that the turnout was higher than in many other countries.
“We managed to make the country, which has always been among the last when it comes to economic progress, among the leading countries, and that should not be accidental,” Vucic said, adding that it was a result of a hard work.
He said that it was important to point out to the future prime minister-designate the three basic goals of Serbian politics.
“That is that in the policy we will pursue, Serbia is proud of three facts. First of all, Serbia is a free and independent state. Secondly, Serbia is on the European path. Thirdly, Serbia will maintain relations with Russia and China, but also develop relations with the United States”, he said.
See at: https://bit.ly/30AxWt8
Dacic replies to Stano: Before warning Serbia, first provide an answer when the ZSO (CSM) will be formed (media)
On Monday, Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic said that before warning Serbia, the question should be answered on when would the EU fulfill the signed promise on the formation of the Community of Serbian Municipalities in Kosovo and asked whether the EU signature meant anything, reported Serbian media.
Yesterday, Peter Stano stated that certain statements did not contribute to good neighborly relations and regional cooperation, thus Dacic reminded Stano that he, precisely out of a desire for reconciliation and cooperation, had signed with High Representative Catherine Ashton the Brussels Agreement, which was not realized even after seven years.
“Thus, who is endangering the reconciliation and cooperation, Belgrade or Pristina, with the EU’s silence?” Dacic asked, adding that Stano did not say a word about the intention, declared publicly a few days ago about the removal of the border between Albania and so-called Kosovo.
“Serbia is in favor of a peaceful solution to the problem and for compromise, but hypocrisy is not a way to reconcile, especially if it is still unknown what happened to the 570 missing Serbs, non-Albanians and Albanians who are victims of the so-called KLA and where their bodies are,” Dacic said.
Dacic stated that Pristina condemned the alleged threat to witnesses in Serbia, while at the same time every day secret documents from The Hague were being published in Pristina with testimonies and names of witnesses against the so-called KLA.
“After all, nothing happened to any witnesses in Serbia, and in the case of (former Prime Minister Ramush) Haradinaj, dozens of witnesses were killed, even in the EU, and the Hague Tribunal had to say that Haradinaj was released because there are no living witnesses,” Dacic emphasized.
Yucom: Because of hate speech, Vulin cannot be a minister (NMagazin, Beta)
The Committee of Lawyers for Human Rights in Belgrade, Yucom, called on the prime minister-designate of the new government of the Government of Serbia Ana Brnabic to omit Aleksandar Vulin, the former Minister of Defense, from the proposal of future ministers.
“During his tenure as Minister of Defense, and during the talks between Belgrade and Pristina, Aleksandar Vulin publicly called Albanians ‘Shiptars’ and insulted the dignity of the Albanian national minority. This way, he showed disrespect towards the views of domestic courts; that derogatory designation of the Albanian minority by this name is hate speech,” Yucom said.
Yucom estimates that Vulin by “abusing” the function of the Minister of Defense, used the official statements of the ministry, in order to “spread hate speech” against the Albanians from Kosovo.
The Committee of Lawyers for Human Rights, in the absence of the head of the institution of the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality, filed a lawsuit against Vulin for establishing hate speech.
Yucom decided to take this step because of the “damage” that Aleksandar Vulin, as stated, inflicts on the foreign and domestic policy of Serbia, which proclaim respect for the rights of national minorities.
National Convent says Serbia moving backwards on road to EU (FoNet, N1)
The National Convent on the European Union (NKEU) said Monday that Serbia has taken steps back on its path to the EU over the past year, N1 reports.
A presentation of the Convent’s recommendations for 2019 was told that no progress has been recorded and that in some cases there has been backward movement such as in rule of law, the fight against organized crime and corruption, freedom of speech and the media as well as in political criteria.
NKEU coordinator Maja Stojanovic told the presentation that the situation was especially hard for local media during the state of emergency declared at the start of the pandemic, adding that those media were prevented from getting information from local hospitals. She said that greater pressure on the media was reported at that time, including the arrests of journalists all of which made the human rights and liberties situation even worse than it was.
See at: https://bit.ly/33zpX1l
Milivojevic: EU biased, ready for concessions to Pristina (Kosovo-online)
Retired diplomat Zoran Milivojevic assessed that the EU with the meeting of Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and with the Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajcak “demonstrated it is being biased” and sent a message it is ready to make concessions to Pristina, disrespecting Serbia’s stance that everything what was agreed upon should first be implemented, Kosovo-online portal reports.
“I think that our stance should not change. There is not even a word to mention that Serbia is giving up or accepting any pressure or blackmails, in order to meet Pristina’s demands”, Milivojevic said.
He further opined this is a test for the EU, whether it is able to regain its credibility given what it stood behind, and the second thing is if it is able to run the dialogue as a status neutral. Milivojevic added the readiness of Serbia to continue the process is indisputable; however, Serbia can’t give up its principled stance to continue insisting that everything that was agreed upon earlier should be implemented.
“There are no talks until the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities is not on the agenda. The Community of the Serb-majority Municipalities can’t be excluded from previously accepted obligations and once it is resolved, we can move ahead”, Milivojevic said.
Spahiu: Thaci with Lajcak, a medal for Grenell, something has changed around his indictment (Kosovo Online)
Political analyst Nexhmedin Spahiu told portal Kosovo Online that yesterday’s surprise meeting between Hashim Thaci and EU special envoy for dialogue Miroslav Lajcak was a completely justified and positive step but warned of the inconsistency of the Kosovo president.
Spahiu reminded Thaci once said “that he will not cooperate with Lajcak, because he does not recognize the independence of Kosovo”.
“Thaci’s statements are not serious, he says one thing now, then a moment later the other, depending on the needs and the situation in which what he says will be sold better. Based on his experience so far, he has shown many times that he is inconsistent in what he said yesterday, today or will say tomorrow. In any case, what he said now is completely fine, there is no alternative to dialogue and problems must be resolved through dialogue as soon as possible, and as well as possible, that is the national interest of both Kosovo and Serbia,” Spahiu said.
After the announcement that the President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, was indicted by the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague, he was in some way boycotted by diplomats and international factors, Spahiu pointed out, adding that something has changed lately.
“Grenell agreed to receive the decoration from him, now Lajcak, and that means that something has changed. We will see when the time comes to confirm the indictment against Thaci. Or it has already been given up from it”, Spahiu pointed out.
Spahiu’s opinion was that after the meeting in Washington, Serbia “raised the price”, that the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia was in difficulties, but it did not mean that it was in crisis, reported portal Kosovo Online.
EC economic and investment plan for Western Balkans (N1)
The European Commission on Wednesday presented a nine billion Euro economic and investment plan for the Western Balkans which is intended to help the region move forward on its path to the Union and forge closer links between its economies.
According to the plan which N1 had access to, six of the nine million Euro will be directed towards the transport, energy, digitalization, agriculture, health care and education sectors in all the countries of the region. Another 1.5 billion is earmarked for the private sector and the remaining 1.5 billion for education.
The Commission said that the coronavirus pandemic had a massive disruptive effect on the economies of the region which were already lagging behind in terms of economic convergence with the EU and added that the plan was intended to spur long-term recovery which would lead to sustained economic growth.
It said that the countries of the region had to implement reforms in order to move forward and draw closer to the EU Single Market. The plan is intended to unleash the untapped economic potential of the region and the significant scope for increased intra-regional economic cooperation and trade.
The Commission said that it would mobilise up to nine billion Euro from IPA funds for the 2021-2027 period to support economic convergence with the EU primarily through investments and support to competitiveness and inclusive growth, sustainable connectivity, and the twin green and digital transition. It added that a new Western Balkans Guarantee facility should be put in place which could potentially raise investments of up to EUR 20 billion.
According to the commission, better links between the economies of the region are a priority which requires a strong commitment from the to implementing fundamental reforms, deepening regional economic integration and developing a common regional market on the basis of the EU acquis. The priorities also include wastewater management and moving from coal-based to renewable energy.
The commission warned of poor governance and limited progress in dealing with shortcomings in rule of law and the fight against corruption. It said that regional and cooperation with the EU are essential in addressing fraud, corruption, money laundering, terrorism, extremism, trafficking in arms and people and smuggling migrants.
See at: https://bit.ly/30DOJLS
Serbian President ‘Observes Minute’s Silence’ for Kosovo War Dead (Balkan Insight)
Aleksandar Vucic was among the participants of a closed meeting with NGO representatives who took part in a tribute to victims of the Kosovo war including ethnic Albanians whose remains were buried in a mass grave in Batajnica near Belgrade, eyewitnesses have revealed.
A minute’s silence was observed at the meeting in Belgrade on Saturday for more than 13,000 people who were killed during the 1998-99 war, who included over 2,000 Serbs but more than 10,000 Kosovo Albanians – 744 of whom were buried in the mass grave at a Serbian police training centre in Batajnica in an attempt to cover up their killings, news website Nova.rs reported.
Milan Antonijevic, the executive director of the Open Society Foundation in Serbia, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that “everyone in the hall, including the President of Serbia, stood up at the round table and observed a minute of silence in honour of the Albanian victims buried in the mass grave in Batajnica”.
See more at: https://bit.ly/2GBbWat
10th Belgrade Security Forum titled “No Trust – No Peace” begins this week (EWB)
BELGRADE – Lack of trust and solidarity in international relations, COVID-19 pandemic, and state of democracy and state capture will be the main topics of the 10th Belgrade Security Forum titled “No Trust – No Peace”, which will take place online in October.
European Western Balkans will again be the strategic media partner of this year’s event.
During the six days throughout October, the BSF will address Belgrade–Pristina dialogue, future of Europe and the Western Balkans, the US elections, technology and privacy, anti-western narratives in the Western Balkans, depopulation, a crisis of democracy and solidarity. More than 20 online panels, sessions, discussions and special events will be organized as a part of celebratory 10th Belgrade Security Forum.
Some of the speakers at this year’s BSF will be Miroslav Lajčák, EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and regional issues, Matthew Palmer, Deputy Assistant Secretary United States Department of State, Olivér Várhelyi, European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, EU Commission, Tomáš Petříček, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Susanne Schütz, Director for South-East Europe, Turkey and the EFTA States, German Federal Foreign Office, Ivan Krastev, Centre for Liberal Studies, Bulgaria, and Majlinda Bregu, Secretary-General, Regional Cooperation Council.
See at: https://bit.ly/36wCkxc
In Kosovo, ‘Lake Trump’ lands with a bump (Politico)
Locals aren’t happy and critics see a superficial White House approach to deep differences.
For residents of this rural patch of northern Kosovo, the renaming of the local lake in honor of U.S. President Donald Trump came as an unwelcome surprise.
“We saw the news on Facebook before we noticed it right in front of our noses. No one who lives here was aware of this,” said Savo Dašić, 65, a former agricultural worker who lives in a wooden hut in the shadow of a bridge over the lake.
The lake straddles the territories of Kosovo and Serbia, who fought a war in 1998-99 and have yet to reach a permanent peace settlement. The two governments have refused to share the lake and they also use different names for it — the Kosovan side calls it Ujman while the Serbian side calls it Gazivode.
The lake and bridge were apparently rechristened after leaders of both Kosovo and Serbia endorsed the idea. Banners suddenly appeared with the new name late last month — an unlikely byproduct of a push by the Trump administration to encourage economic cooperation between the two sides, dismissed by many political analysts of the Balkans as underwhelming.
“I don’t accept that I live underneath the Trump Bridge, no matter what the banner on the bridge might say,” said Dašić.
See at: https://politi.co/3jyXY7K
The art of wine-making in the north of Kosovo (KoSSev)
The tradition of wine growing is being rekindled in Leposavic. Hectares of vines in the vineyards of Jevremovic and Lakicevic adorn the north of Kosovo. Inspired by the work and results of their more experienced colleagues, the up and coming winemakers are joining this tradition. The harvest is in progress, and the scenes from the slopes of Kopaonik and Rogozna fill your soul, and in a few months – wine glasses.
Winemaking in this area began modestly, but boldly, more than a decade ago. At first, the vines stretched to only a couple of dozen acres, at their own initiative and without support, today dozens of hectares of different grape varieties are a breathtaking sight to behold.
The largest orchards are located in the village of Kutnje at the Lakicevic winery. Our team was welcomed by a young winemaker Luka Lakicevic. Although finishing his studies in Italy and France, Lakicevic is perfecting his wine-growing skills in Austria, putting all of his acquired knowledge into the family winery. About 30 varieties of red and white grapes are grown on 12 ha of land on the slopes of Rogozna on the left bank of the Ibar, 10.5 ha of which are used for the production of about 30,000 liters of wine, and varieties that are tested for their suitability to be grown in this region stretch over a hectare and a half of land.
See at: https://bit.ly/2HU5Y56
Serbian prison inmates make masks for Torino Fashion Week (N1)
Inmates at the Sremska Mitrovica prison designed and made face masks for Torino Fashion Week, the Department of Corrections said on Monday.
It said that the 26 masks made by the inmates will be shown at a fashion show in the Italian city. Inmates at prisons in Sremska Mitrovica, Nis and Zabela as well as the women’s prisons in Pozarevac have been designing and sewing masks since the coronavirus pandemic broke out.
Some 30 inmates have undergone training with the support of the German NGO Help. The press release said the training has been ongoing for a year and that 10 more inmates are planned to go through it to help them get jobs once they are released.
See at: https://bit.ly/3ixXFc0
Transport Community in favor of permanent Green Lines in the Western Balkans (EWB)
A more connected region of the Western Balkans, in which the travel of people and the transport of goods are faster, cheaper, healthier and more enjoyable, is one of the Transport Community’s visions for the Western Balkans, which could be achieved by greater investment in sustainable infrastructure and connecting roads, railways, ports and airports into the Trans-European Network (TEN-T).
For the time being, the only international organization based in Belgrade, whose members are partners of the Western Balkans and the European Union, was created by an agreement signed at the summit in Trieste in 2017 within the Berlin Process, while the founding agreement was signed in October of the same year.
After that, the transport ministers of the region decided in December that Belgrade would become the seat of the Permanent Secretariat, so that the opening ceremony would be held in September 2019.
See at: https://bit.ly/3dav9Mw