Albanian Language Media:
- COVID-19: 49 new cases, three deaths (media)
- Selimi: No final agreement without inclusion of missing persons issue (Koha)
- LVV: Government disregarding fate of the missing (Express)
- Von Cramon: European Commission report, positive on Kosovo (Express)
- Kosovo visa liberalization not on EU Council’s October agenda (Express)
- EU Commission: ‘Corruption is widespread and remains an issue of serious concern’ (Prishtina Insight)
- Hamza: PDK will remain in opposition (media)
- WB: Kosovo’s economy expected to contract by 8.8 percent (Express)
- Thaci orders Ambassador Vlora Citaku to leave Washington (media)
Serbian Language Media:
- Eight new cases of Covid-19 registered in Serbian areas in Kosovo (Radio KIM)
- PCR testing at personal request available twice a week in Mitrovica North (Radio kontakt plus)
- Risi: Gender equality important at all levels (Radio KIM)
- EC report says Serbia made little or no progress in key areas (N1)
- Varhelyi: Report as guidance for new Serbian Government (N1)
- Djuric: Serbs in Kosovo will not be Hoti’s hostages (RTS)
- EU Office Head: Existing agreements must be implemented (Kosovo-online)
- Vucic with Prince Albert II of Monaco: Serbia to join UN Alliance for Multilateralism (B92)
- Antonijevic: Vucic observed minute of silence for Kosovo Albanians (N1)
- On Saturday’s event at Our Lady of Ljevis: No crime took place and police does not comment on non-police activities (KoSSev)
- Kosovo’s Fragile Govt Aims to Lure PDK into Broader Coalition (Balkan Insight)
- Albania, North Macedonia ‘Should Start EU Accession Talks This Year’ (Balkan Insight)
Albanian Language Media
COVID-19: 49 new cases, three deaths (media)
Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health said today that 49 new cases of coronavirus have been recorded in the last 24 hours.
92 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 (22).
Selimi: No final agreement without inclusion of the missing persons issue (Koha)
The meeting of the Kosovo Assembly Committee for the Human Rights this morning treated the issue of the missing persons within the dialogue with Serbia.
The Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti did not respond to the invitation, instead, he delegated Minister of Justice Selim Selimi to report to the Committee. The latter said the issue of the missing will be the primary one in the dialogue with Serbia.
“With the resumption of the dialogue in Brussels, we have stated that the matter of the missing will be the first one, without which the final agreement cannot and will not be reached. This shows also our commitment as a government. During the three meetings held at the level of experts in Brussels, the basic principles for effective solution of this issue were set. The agreement in Brussels envisages creation of a joint commission that will be led by an EU representative and which will be in charge of enlightening the fate of the missing,” Selimi said.
He added that ‘Serbia has sufficient information on the whereabouts of the missing, but it continues to play its obstructive role.’
The Minister for Foreign Affairs Meliza Haradinaj, also delegated a representative from her department.
LVV: Government disregarding fate of the missing (Express)
The Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) reacted today to the absence of the Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla at the reporting to the Kosovo Assembly Committee for human rights, gender equality, missing persons and petitions.
“The previous rejection of Driton Selmanaj and today’s rejection of Avdullah Hoti and Meliza Haradinaj Stublla, are evidence of their and this government’s disregard of the fate of the missing persons. The missing are being used as change coins in the bargaining and conditioning for alleged return of the displaced persons,” says the LVV communique.
LVV considers Serbia should be obliged to return the missing persons. Their return, according to them, should be the condition for resumption of the dialogue.
“Enlightening and returning the missing is a necessity and should be an obligation for Serbia. Families of the missing persons deserve to have an answer on the fate of their beloved and return of their bodies to Kosovo land. Finding and returning their remains should have been a condition for resumption of the dialogue and in no case one of the issues that are considered exhausted to remain closed without a solution.”
LVV considers that the position of Kosovo delegation at the Washington meeting with Serbia was insulting for Kosovo’s victims and population.
“The position of this delegation was insulting and offensive for all the victims and Kosovo population. The behavior of this government remains insulting and negligent as well. The issue of the missing and victims of rape should have been fundamental priority of the institutions as an indisputable and unconditional request. Serbia pursued genocidal state policies and there cannot be any kind of justification or conditioning for this,” is said in this press communique.
Von Cramon: European Commission report, positive on Kosovo (Express)
The European Parliament rapporteur for Kosovo Viola Von Cramon commented on the findings of the European Commission on organized crime and corruption in Kosovo.
“Commission report on Kosovo states clearly the fight against organised crime and high-level corruption had positive steps, but the track record system needs to be developed further. This can help convincing EU MSs which are reluctant towards visa liberalization,” Von Cramon wrote on her Twitter account.
Kosovo visa liberalization not on EU Council’s October agenda (Express)
Kosovo had expectations that visa liberalisation for its citizens will be put in the agenda of the EU Council during the German Presidency. However, this seems unlikely, despite Germany’s strong support. The EU Council has not included in its agenda visa liberalisation for Kosovo during their meeting set to be held on 15-16 October, a German Government spokesperson confirmed to Gazeta Express.
“It is EU Council President Charles Michel who sets the agenda in consultation with the EU leaders. The visa issue for Kosovo is not on the agenda of the October meeting,” a spokesperson of the German Government told Gazeta Express. Asked whether Chancellor Angela Merkel has the support of French President Emmanuel Macron to push forward visa liberalisation, the German Government advises Gazeta Express to contact French authorities. “As a matter of principle, we do not comment on confidential conversations. If you have any questions about the French position on this issue, please contact the French authorities,” German Government spokesperson said.
A source from the EU also confirmed that visa liberalisation for Kosovo is not on the agenda of the EU Council this month. “At this stage the topics the EU Council will have on its agenda are relations with the UK, climate and relations with Africa, although other issues may be added depending on developments,” a source from the EU said.
On Tuesday the European Commission published the annual reports, assessing the implementation of fundamental reforms in the Western Balkans, including Kosovo. The European Commission reiterated in its Report that Kosovo has fulfilled all visa liberalisation criteria and recommended the EU Council to wave visas for Kosovo citizens.
EU Commission: ‘Corruption is widespread and remains an issue of serious concern’ (Prishtina Insight)
The European Commission’s 2020 Report on Kosovo stresses that political instability has held back implementation of European reforms, while highlighting the need to fight high level corruption.
The 2020 European Commission report on Kosovo, published alongside six other Western Balkan states on Tuesday, cites political instability and the coronavirus crisis as the main obstacles that have hampered Kosovo’s performance in implementing the EU reform agenda.
“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 2020 report reads.
The EC also highlights that progress in the fight against corruption remains low. “Kosovo has made limited progress in this area, including on the investigation and prosecution of high level cases,” it states.
The report criticizes Kosovo institutions for failing to build capacities in the prosecution to combat corruption, as well as to provide a “robust criminal response to high-level corruption.” It adds that “corruption is widespread and remains an issue of serious concern.
In a press conference with the EU Ambassador to Kosovo Tomas Szunyog, Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti stated that the EC report correctly states that Kosovo has met all the benchmarks required for visa liberalisation in 2018. “What we are doing as a government is ensuring that these conditions remain fulfilled,” Hoti added.
As well as confirming that Kosovo met the benchmarks in its visa liberalisation roadmap, the EC report highlights that, as of July 2020, there are 66 cases identified to continue to track Kosovo’s record on high level corruption and organised crime.
“There have been 56 indictments so far, of which 36 cases concern corruption and 20 cases concern organised crime,” the report states. “13 cases had a final verdict, out of which 8 ended with a (partially) guilty verdict, leading to 15 individuals being convicted of corruption-related offences.”
The EC also urges for a ‘legal binding agreement’ sealed under the EU mediation between Kosovo and Serbia.
“Kosovo needs to make further substantial efforts and contribute to reaching a comprehensive legally-binding agreement with Serbia,” the report states. “Such an agreement is urgent and crucial so that Kosovo and Serbia can advance on their respective European paths.”
Hoti stated on Tuesday that his government has already built credibility in the EU-mediated dialogue. “We took difficult decisions, but today we are at the centre of decision-making, and we are a credible partner to the EU, the United States and other countries who support us as an independent state,” the prime minister said.
See at: https://bit.ly/2FcNzj8
Hamza: PDK will remain in opposition (media)
Bedri Hamza, head of the parliamentary group of the Kosovo Democratic Party (PDK) told Epoka e Re daily that this political party will remain in opposition. He said that the issue of joining the government was never discussed at the party structures.
He added that PDK is a principled opposition to the government and not an opposition to the state of Kosovo.
“The parties which won the elections last year, spoke with pomposity, calling themselves coalition of hope and today we can see that it is not so. In reality, the actions undertaken by coalition partners have damaged the country. So they affected the interests of the country, mainly while facing pandemics and healthcare,” he said.
He also criticized the government project for economic recovery saying that PDK’s initiative was better.
“PDK has had legal initiatives on this issue in the Assembly of Kosovo since the beginning of April, which are more substantial than other initiatives, which through administrative and bureaucratic obstacles have been delayed so far and have not been introduced in the procedure in Assembly,” Hamza said.
WB: Kosovo’s economy expected to contract by 8.8 percent (Express)
The latest report on the economy in Europe and Central Asia, published today by the World Bank, indicates that Kosovo’s economy is expected to contract by 8.8 percent in 2020.
In the announcement on Facebook, the WB says that COVID-19 pandemic has caused a decrease in the export of services and a decrease in investments and consumption.
“The COVID-19 pandemic caused a decline in service exports, and reduced investment and consumption. The government responded quickly by providing support to firms and workers; nevertheless, employment is expected to fall and poverty to increase. Increasing remittances should mitigate the impact of the contraction. The recovery is expected to be slower than projected earlier, as the pandemic is lasting longer than expected, hindering growth in 2021.”
Thaci orders Ambassador Vlora Citaku to leave Washington (media)
The news portal informs that the President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci has signed the decree for the withdrawal of his longtime collaborator, Ambassador Vlora Citaku, from the mission in the United States of America.
After five years of service in Washington, Vlora Citaku will finally return to Kosovo. Her return began with the dismissal by former chief diplomat Glauk Konjufca and now it has been signed by President Thaci.
According to the decree which Gazeta Express claims to possess, President Thaci ordered the removal of the current ambassador from the mission in the USA, on October 2.
“Ms. Vlora Citaku is requested to withdraw from the position of Ambassador / Head of the Diplomatic Mission of the Republic of Kosovo to the United States of America, based in Washington,” the decree of the President reportedly says.
RTK reports that the decree came based on the request of the Ambassador Vlora Citaku, sent on 24.09.2020.
Serbian Language Media
Eight new cases of Covid-19 registered in Serbian areas in Kosovo (Radio KIM)
According to the latest information of the Crisis Committee in Mitrovica North eight new cases of Covid-19 infection were registered in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo today, Radio KIM reports.
Out of 34 tested samples, eight were positive. New cases have been registered as follows: two in Zvecan and one each in Mitrovica North, Leposavic, Strpce, Gracanica, Kamenica and Gnjilane.
Meanwhile, five persons have recovered, two in Kamenica and one person each in Zvecan, Gnjilane and Strpce.
At the moment four people are hospitalized at Clinical Hospital Center in Mitrovica North, while 46 persons are staying in house isolation. There are 50 active cases.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic a total of 5.392 persons have been tested, and 1.027 persons were positive on Covid-19.
A total of 939 persons have recovered, and 38 persons passed away since the outbreak of the pandemic.
PCR testing at personal request available twice a week in Mitrovica North (Radio kontakt plus)
Online appointment of PCR testing at personal request is available at the Institute for Public Health in Mitrovica North since Friday, October 2. The testing is performed on Monday and Thursday, from 9:00 to 11:00 hrs.
Epidemiologist Aleksandar Antonijevic told Radio kontakt plus citizens are already submitting the requests for commercial testing via e-Uprava portal, adding the procedure is rather simple. Those having difficulties making an appointment online can make an appointment by calling the phone number 011-362 000 five days a week, in the period from 8:00 to 20:00 hrs.
Antonijevic also said the PCR testing at personal request has to be scheduled in advance and paid for, while those who need to be sent to the hospitals; have indications, and students studying abroad get this service free of charge.
PCR test for the citizens of the Republic of Serbia and those having residence permits cost 6.000 RSD (50 EUR), while foreigners without residents permits (tourists) would need to pay 14.110 RSD (120 EUR).
Risi: Gender equality important at all levels (Radio KIM)
Today marks the 20th anniversary since adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. Speaking in a conference marking the event organized by KFOR, Commander Major General Michele Risi said gender equality is important at all levels, Radio KIM reports.
At the same time Chief Executive Officer at Mitrovica North Municipality, Adrijana Hodzic noted that “women must support one another”.
KFOR Commander Risi said the ethnic tensions, corruption, organized crime, religious radicalism and migrations represent security challenges in Kosovo, adding cooperation of all, regardless of gender, is important to address them.
“Gender equality at all levels is very important. It is important to share visions and experiences. Over the last eleven months of my work, I was trying to involve all genders in all the segments of the work (…)”, General Risi said.
Clare Hutchinson, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security said she hopes that by taking small steps, the position of women would improve.
“We must involve more women into the army, for now around 20 percent of women have joined the army, which certainly is not bad. We must work faster and better. We have to know what our focus is and what we need to do. We must work in the interests of women. We need political support, as well as foundations; we have to move ahead by taking small steps”, she said.
Former Kosovo president Atifete Jahjaga noted that the number of women in leading positions compared to the previous years is slightly increasing, thus the position of women is better, however, it is needed to work further on gender equality.
Adrijana Hodzic said her focus was “to convince women to support one another, since this support is not on the appropriate level”.
A special edition of KFOR Chronic – Magazine was also published on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of UN SC Resolution 1325 including a number of illustrated articles highlighting activities of the international security forces in support of the Resolution 1325.
EC report says Serbia made little or no progress in key areas (N1)
The European Commission said on Wednesday that Serbia had made limited or no progress in key areas on its path to the European Union, N1 reports.
The section of the Commission’s progress report on the Serbian elections said that “fundamental freedoms were respected but voter choice was limited by the governing party’s overwhelming advantage and the promotion of government policies by most major media outlets, according to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR)”.
It said that Serbia is moderately prepared in the area of public administration reform. “No progress was made overall as the excessive number of acting senior manager positions was not sizably reduced. Lack of transparency and respect of the merit-based recruitment procedure for senior civil service positions is an issue of increasingly serious concern”, the report noted.
“Serbia has some level of preparation in the fight against corruption. Limited progress was made over the reporting period,” the report said.
“In the fight against organized crime, Serbia has some level of preparation with limited progress over the reporting period related notably to structural reforms and interagency cooperation,” the report noted.
“On the economic criteria, Serbia made some progress and is moderately prepared/at a good level of preparation in developing a functioning market economy. … By reducing the budgetary deficit and maintaining a prudent fiscal stance, Serbia has significantly improved debt sustainability. Labour market performance has improved, with the lowest unemployment rates in the last decade; however, this was also due to large-scale emigration”, it said.
Regarding the normalisation of relations with Kosovo, Serbia needs to make further substantial efforts and contribute to reaching a comprehensive legally binding agreement with Kosovo.
See more at: https://bit.ly/2GOeh1J
Varhelyi: Report as guidance for new Serbian Government (N1)
European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Oliver Varhelyi said on Tuesday that he hopes the new Serbian Government will use the latest European Commission report as its main guide for reforms, N1 reports.
“The report on Serbia can serve as key guidance to the new government once it is in place and a springboard for reforms. I hope they will use it in that way. Taking the reforms forward in a sustainable way, will require a genuine dialogue across the political spectrum”, he said in remarks after the report was adopted.
“The report encourages the Serbian leadership to urgently accelerate and deepen reforms in particular on political criteria and the rule of law. This will pave the way for Serbia to open further chapters in its EU accession negotiations”, he added.
Djuric: Serbs in Kosovo will not be Hoti’s hostages (RTS)
Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Marko Djuric said yesterday that blackmailing strategy of Kosovo Prime Minister Avduallah Hoti in addition to destroying Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, contains a message that Pristina is not interested in any sort of normalization, but sees the normalization only as a means to extort recognition, RTS reports.
“Hoti is using methods of professional blackmailers in order to try and bring Serbia and the European Union before a final act, offering a choice between blockade of the dialogue and recognition of self-declared Kosovo by Belgrade”, Djuric said in a statement delivered to the media.
He also expressed hope that the international community would know to read Hoti’s messages “between the lines”, since they, as he said, in essence contain the threat Pristina would take on the destabilization path if it does not receive recognition by Belgrade.
According to Djuric, if Hoti wished well to his people and other residents in Kosovo and Metohija he would not act as “a hijacker in a hostage situation” but would work diligently on implementation of solutions contributing to the both stability and reconciliation in Kosovo and Metohija, adding that the concept of the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities aims to do exactly that.
EU Office Head: Existing agreements must be implemented (Kosovo-online)
Head of the EU Office in Pristina Tomas Szunyog told Kosovo-online portal “there are obligations from the previous rounds of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and existing agreements that must be implemented”.
“I think it is very important to implement existing agreements when it comes to the both sides and only this way we can move ahead”, Szunyog said, Kosovo-online portal reported.
The portal also said this was a response of an EU official to Kosovo Prime Minister Avduallah Hoti who said yesterday that “nothing from the dialogue would be implemented without reaching a final agreement with Belgrade”.
Vucic with Prince Albert II of Monaco: Serbia to join UN Alliance for Multilateralism (B92)
Prince Albert II of Monaco is on an official visit to Serbia today, being hosted by the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, B92 reports.
Vucic said after talks with Prince Albert II of Monaco that Serbia will soon join the Alliance for Multilateralism at the UN, an initiative launched by Germany and France.
“I told him that Serbia is working diligently to achieve its foreign policy goals, primarily to preserve peace and stability. Prince Albert said that the Principality of Monaco has become a member of the Alliance for Multilateralism at the UN, an initiative launched by the Germans and the French. We have not joined that Alliance yet, but Prince Albert’s advice was to join it”, Vucic told reporters.
He added they talked about the European integration of Serbia and he asked for additional support from the Principality of Monaco and a respectable noble family.
Vucic also presented the Medal with a ribbon of the Republic of Serbia to Prince Albert II of Monaco.
This is the first official visit of Prince Albert II of Monaco to Serbia. Serbia and Monaco established diplomatic relations in 2007.
Prince Albert II of Monaco expressed gratitude for the high state decoration of the Republic of Serbia.
“I am very happy to have accepted your invitation to visit Serbia in my very first official visit. It is taking place at a specific moment for the whole world,” he said in Belgrade.
He said that a new stage in diplomatic relations has been established, especially with the signing of the economic agreement.
See at: https://bit.ly/30J7i1h
Antonijevic: Vucic observed minute of silence for Kosovo Albanians (N1)
Open Society Foundation Executive Director Milan Antonijevic said on Tuesday that last weekend’s National Convent meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic paid respect to Kosovo Albanian war victims whose remains were found in a mass grave at a police training ground.
Antonijevic said that everyone, including President Vucic, observed a minute of silence for the victims. The remains of the Kosovo Albanians were brought to the police training grounds in the Batajnica suburb of Belgrade and buried in a mass grave which was discovered after the fall of the Milosevic regime.
In a post on his Twitter account, Antonijevic wrote that under Chatham House rules, none of the participants at the October 3 meeting of the National Convent on the EU can disclose what was said but he can confirm that everyone at the meeting, including the Serbian president, stood up an observed a minute of silence.
See at: https://bit.ly/36AusuC
On Saturday’s event at Our Lady of Ljevis: No crime took place and police does not comment on non-police activities (KoSSev)
What took place in front of Our Lady of Ljevis on Saturday? Did a couple from Podgorica marry and briefly display an old Montenegrin flag to take a photograph with it – while wearing a Montenegrin costume as per their customs, or did Serbs come to Prizren to harass and provoke Albanians, shouting “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia“, in front of the church, as some Kosovo media reported on Saturday, KoSSev portal writes.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that on Sunday, a group of Albanians shouted “Kosovo is the heart of Albania“, in front of the same church. The Pristina media reported that this arrived as a response to the “Serbian provocation“.
“In connection with the event you mention, consultations are underway with the competent prosecutor and there are no elements of a criminal act“, the Kosovo police said in a written answer for KoSSev following multiple inquiries the portal sent over the last couple of days on what exactly happened on Saturday in front of Our Lady of Ljevis church in Prizren.
“The police do not deal with comments or statements that do not relate to police activities“ – police added in their reply to KoSSev.
See at: https://bit.ly/3d4l97t
Kosovo’s Fragile Govt Aims to Lure PDK into Broader Coalition (Balkan Insight)
Kosovo’s weak coalition government hopes to shore up its position in parliament by temping the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, into its ranks – but for now the former ruling party is playing hard to get, and insisting it will remain in opposition.
The current partners in the Kosovo government plan to expand their unstable coalition by including the opposition Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK – despite its apparent determination to stay in opposition.
The former ruling party is awaiting a key decision of the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, SPO, regarding war crimes charges raised against its two main figures, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, and party leader Kadri Veseli.
PDK deputy leader Enver Hoxhaj told the public broadcaster, RTK, on Tuesday that his party would remain in opposition for now, reflecting on its 12 years spent in government.
See at: https://bit.ly/3lqtJjB
Albania, North Macedonia ‘Should Start EU Accession Talks This Year’ (Balkan Insight)
The European Union’s enlargement commissioner said he is “very hopeful” that Albania and North Macedonia will start accession talks in 2020 – but other Balkan states received more critical appraisals in the EU’s annual progress reports.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said that he expects Albania and Macedonia to formally start their EU accession talks before the end of the year as he presented the bloc’s annual progress reports at European Parliament.
Albania and North Macedonia got a green lights earlier this year to start their EU accession talks, and Varhelyi said that he is “very hopeful” that the first inter-governmental conferences, which would mark the start of the talks, could be convened within the framework of the current German EU presidency, meaning before the end of this year.
While encouraging Albania and North Macedonia, the 2020 progress reports are cautious about the situation in Montenegro amid its current political transition, and critical about Serbia’s lack of progress in its EU accession process.
The reports note positive signs towards addressing the need for reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but warn that Kosovo’s volatile political situation has caused an adverse effect on its progress. Turkey, meanwhile, is assessed as moving yet further away from EU values.
See at: https://bit.ly/2F6K4um