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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, October 7, 2020

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• COVID-19: 34 new cases, three deaths (media)
• Hoti: Nothing will be implemented without the final agreement (media)
• EC issues report on Western Balkans, finds limited progress in Kosovo (media)
• “Progress Report recommendations to be addressed seriously” (RFE)
• EU unveils 9 billion euro investment plan for the Balkans (AP)
• PDK’s Hoxhaj: We will remain in the opposition (media)
• Bytyci: PDK has not discussed joining the government (Telegrafi)
• Minister Selimi’s resignation requested (Koha)
• Tahiri: Serbia is aiming for autonomy through the Association (media)
• Another mass grave with bodies of Albanians civilians in Serbia? (Gazeta Blic)
• Kumnova: I want to be part of the Brussels talks (Koha)
• Hague Court Document Leak Scares Kosovo War Crimes Witnesses (Balkan Insight)

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  • COVID-19: 34 new cases, three deaths (media)
  • Hoti: Nothing will be implemented without the final agreement (media)
  • EC issues report on Western Balkans, finds limited progress in Kosovo (media)
  • “Progress Report recommendations to be addressed seriously” (RFE)
  • EU unveils 9 billion euro investment plan for the Balkans (AP)
  • PDK’s Hoxhaj: We will remain in the opposition (media)
  • Bytyci: PDK has not discussed joining the government (Telegrafi)
  • Minister Selimi’s resignation requested (Koha)
  • Tahiri: Serbia is aiming for autonomy through the Association (media)
  • Another mass grave with bodies of Albanians civilians in Serbia? (Gazeta Blic)
  • Kumnova: I want to be part of the Brussels talks (Koha)
  • Hague Court Document Leak Scares Kosovo War Crimes Witnesses (Balkan Insight)

 

COVID-19: 34 new cases, three deaths (media)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health said yesterday 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).

There are currently 1,439 active coronavirus cases in Kosovo. 

Hoti: Nothing will be implemented without the final agreement (media)

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti told a press conference on Tuesday that Kosovo has no reason to obstruct the process of dialogue with Serbia and that there can be no other solution except mutual recognition and a final settlement between the two countries. Hoti said Kosovo and Serbia are being treated equally in the process and added that no agreement that has been reached so far will be implemented without the signing of the final agreement.

“This government is not afraid to engage in the dialogue. We will sit at the table, because the principles are clear and agreed upon both domestically and with our international friends. The dialogue is the only way to resolve outstanding issues between Kosovo and Serbia. Even if it takes one, two or even five years, we will dialogue until we reach the finale of mutual recognition in the existing borders. There is no other solution,” he said.

On the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities, Hoti said: “when I say that the topic of the Association is closed I say it in the sense that there is an agreement in 2013 that was ratified by the Kosovo Assembly, and another agreement of principles in 2015, and we also have the opinion of the Constitutional Court. From this standpoint, this topic is closed. However, the state of Kosovo has an obligation and we will respect it … Nothing will be implemented until a final agreement including mutual recognition is reached. We have built the process of the dialogue not for a provisional but rather a permanent solution that normalizes relations between the two countries once and for all”.

EC issues report on Western Balkans, finds limited progress in Kosovo (media)

European Commission adopted its Communication on EU enlargement policy and the 2020 Enlargement Package: The annual reports, assessing the implementation of fundamental reforms in the Western Balkans and Turkey.

As regards Kosovo, limited progress was made on EU related reforms and it is important that Kosovo authorities redouble their efforts to advance on the European path, including through the implementation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, the report stated.

“The reporting period was marked by early legislative elections, two changes of government and relatively long periods with only a caretaker government in place. Due to this volatile political context and the necessary focus on the pandemic response, there was overall limited progress on EU-related reforms in Kosovo.”

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, said: “The citizens of the Western Balkans are part of Europe and they belong in the European Union. Today’s reports on the Enlargement Package provides a rigorous assessment that indicates the way forward, highlighting what has been achieved and where there is still hard work to be done.”

At the same time, the EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, commented: “From the start of the mandate of this Commission, my aim has been to make sure both our partners in the Western Balkans and our Member States regain trust in the accession process. Our rigorous but fair assessments presented today detail where the countries stand with the reforms, with clearer guidance and recommendations on the future steps. Their dynamic implementation will speed up their progress on EU path and bring long-lasting results. In parallel, we have presented an Economic and Investment plan to spur their long term recovery and accelerate their economic convergence with the EU”.

See the report at: https://bit.ly/3noM4zn

“Progress Report recommendations to be addressed seriously” (RFE)

The news website reports that heads of Kosovo’s institutions have pledged they will address the issues raised in the European Commission’s Progress Report. The latest report was delivered to Kosovo Assembly President Vjosa Osmani and Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti. The latter told a press conference that all the findings in the report are problems which Kosovo is fighting. He added that Kosovo’s institutions will address the recommendations of the report. “The government has set up the necessary structures in the Office for European Integration within the Office of the Prime Minister. There will be full oversight of the ministries and agencies that work on the challenges identified in the report,” Hoti said.

Hoti also said that within a couple of days an action plan will be presented to the government for approval to address the recommendations and the findings of the report.

Assembly President Osmani said every parliamentary committee will specifically address the recommendations of the report.

EU unveils 9 billion euro investment plan for the Balkans (AP)

The European Union said Tuesday that it will invest up to 9 billion euros ($10.6 billion) in the Western Balkans to help develop transport and energy infrastructure and spur economic growth and employment in six countries of the volatile region.

The EU’s executive arm, the European Commission, said the funds will be invested in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia from 2021-2027. The countries have ambitions to join the EU and the funds will help bring their economies into line with the bloc’s standards.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3da2Q0v

PDK’s Hoxhaj: We will remain in the opposition (media)

Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) deputy leader Enver Hoxhaj said in an interview with RTK on Tuesday that this party will remain in the opposition. “We are looking into the 12 years of our governance and what affected our position, even though the difference with the other political parties in the [2019] October 6 elections was small,” he said. “The PDK is using this time to come out with new initiatives, but because of the pandemic we were not able to present our ideas for education, healthcare and the environment.”

Asked to assess the work of the previous government led by Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti and the current government led by LDK’s Avdullah Hoti, Hoxhaj argued that Kurti’s government damaged Kosovo’s relations with its international allies and that the Hoti-led government is lame.

Bytyci: PDK has not discussed joining the government (Telegrafi)

Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) spokesman Avni Bytyci said on Tuesday that this party has not discussed the possibility of joining the Hoti-led government. “I can confirm once more that the PDK has not discussed joining the ruling coalition in any of its decision-making structures. This is some sort of monologue by members of the ruling coalition,” he said.

Minister Selimi’s resignation requested (Koha)

Kosovo’s Minister of Justice Selim Selimi announced on Tuesday via social media that he has dismissed his political advisor, Enis Qerka, who was arrested on charges of drug trafficking.

Former Minister of Justice from the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) Albulena Haxhiu requested at a press conference on Tuesday resignation of the Minister.

“There is no doubt that for a normal and decent government this would be unacceptable. For a normal state, under these circumstances, except for dismissing the advisor, the Minister should have resigned. Just imagine the situation, the Minister of Justice being advised by someone who was caught with 113 kilograms of drugs,” Haxhiu said.

Political experts also requested Minister Selimi’s resignation. “This means that if Koha did not report about the adviser of the Minister of Justice, he would continue to hold that position. In the meantime, the Minister still exercises his duty, despite the scandal,” Imer Mushkolaj wrote.

“The Minister, educated at ‘Duke University’, needs this kind of advisers? Once again: the greatest evil for this country has not came from the old political class, but from the young ones with respectable diplomas from the best universities in the world, who dream to serve bosses of the political parties, accepting these kinds of advisers,” wrote Agron Demi from GAP Institute.

Tahiri: Serbia is aiming for autonomy through the Association (media)

Ramush Tahiri, Prishtina-based political commentator, told RTK on Tuesday that Serbia is aiming for autonomy for Kosovo Serbs through the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities.

“They want to make Kosovo dysfunctional … Serbia’s interference in Kosovo’s internal affairs is aimed at turning the Association into an autonomy within Kosovo with special ties with Serbia and to make the state of Kosovo dysfunctional,” he said. 

Another mass grave with bodies of Albanians civilians in Serbia? (Gazeta Blic)

The news website learns that local and international institutions have recently received information about a possible mass grave in a place called Stavalj in Serbia. It is believed that 20 buses filled with Albanian civilians during the war in Kosovo were sent there, executed and then buried on the site.

Kosovo’s Government Committee for Missing Persons confirmed to the news website on Tuesday that there is suspicion about a mass grave in Stavalj and that a team from Kosovo institutions together with representatives of the Serbian Government Committee and the International Committee of the Red Cross have recently visited the site.

Kumnova: I want to be part of the Brussels talks (Koha)

Nysrete Kumnova, from the missing persons association “Mothers’ Cries”, said in an interview with KTV on Tuesday that she wants to be part of the Brussels-facilitated talks between Kosovo and Serbia.

Asked what pressure Kosovo can put on Serbia for the missing persons, Kumnova said: “we need to set conditions to Serbia, because the internationals are mediators between the two parties. Our institutions and government representatives must make legitimate demands … I am interested to take part in the talks when they go to Brussels”.

“We have information; we know the names of the Serbs. They were from our city and we need to ask them where they left them and ask them to return our sons to us.”

Hague Court Document Leak Scares Kosovo War Crimes Witnesses (Balkan Insight)

Ethnic Albanians who agreed to testify as witnesses in cases against Kosovo Liberation Army fighters are frightened that their identities could have been revealed by a leak of documents from the Hague-based war crimes court.

Mehmet lights a cigarette, taking long pauses between words.

“I have spent almost half of my life in fear and in hiding. Once from the Serbs then from those who blamed me as [a member of the] LDK [Democratic League of Kosovo political party], and then from the stigma of being a traitor. Now nothing matters to me,” he said.

More than 21 years have passed since Mehmet (not his real name) says he was detained and tortured by Kosovo Albanian guerrillas in a secret prison in the mountains of northern Albania.

A Kosovo Albanian, Mehmet’s sin had apparently been to support the guerrillas’ political rivals, the LDK, during the turbulent years of 1998-99 when Kosovo Albanians took up arms to resist Slobodan Milosevic’s regime in their quest for independence.

See more at: https://bit.ly/2GMWQio

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