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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, October 19, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, October 19, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 118 new cases, three deaths (media)
• Zemaj warns on stricter measures (media)
• Lajcak misinterpreted, constitutional changes apply to Belgrade as well (RFE)
• Horti: Government taking necessary steps to implement Washington Agreement (media)
• Kosovo marks the EU Anti-Trafficking Day (media)
• PDK MP writes public letter to Lajcak (media)
• Basha: Ahtisaari’s package is Kosovo’s compromise (T7, RTK)
• Thaci and Daka discuss election dates for Podujeva and North Mitrovica (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• 11 new cases of Covid-19 registered in Serb-areas in Kosovo on Saturday (Radio kontakt plus)
• “ZSO must be formed as it was agreed” (Radio KIM)
• Odalovic: Brussels has instruments to make Pristina establish ZSO (RTS)
• Lavrov to visit Serbia later this month (N1)
• Dmitrijevic to Serbian journalists’ associations: “Novosti” daily jeopardized safety of SOC clergy and Serbs in Kosovo (KoSSev)
• UNS: Could truthful reporting jeopardize Serbs in Kosovo? (Kosovo-online)

International:

• Kosovo Leaders Condemn Gun Attack on Journalist’s Car (Balkan Insight)
• ‘Easy Money’: Fake Forex and Fraudulent Balkan Call Centre (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Epidemiologist Kon: Situation unfavorable, especially in Belgrade (Prva TV, N1)
• The “corona generation” is coming and it will not be good (DW, B92)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 118 new cases, three deaths (media)
  • Zemaj warns on stricter measures (media)
  • Lajcak misinterpreted, constitutional changes apply to Belgrade as well (RFE)
  • Horti: Government taking necessary steps to implement Washington Agreement (media)
  • Kosovo marks the EU Anti-Trafficking Day (media)
  • PDK MP writes public letter to Lajcak (media)
  • Basha: Ahtisaari’s package is Kosovo’s compromise (T7, RTK)
  • Thaci and Daka discuss election dates for Podujeva and North Mitrovica (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • 11 new cases of Covid-19 registered in Serb-areas in Kosovo on Saturday (Radio kontakt plus)
  • “ZSO must be formed as it was agreed” (Radio KIM)
  • Odalovic: Brussels has instruments to make Pristina establish ZSO (RTS)
  • Lavrov to visit Serbia later this month (N1)
  • Dmitrijevic to Serbian journalists’ associations: “Novosti” daily jeopardized safety of SOC clergy and Serbs in Kosovo (KoSSev)
  • UNS: Could truthful reporting jeopardize Serbs in Kosovo? (Kosovo-online)

International:

  • Kosovo Leaders Condemn Gun Attack on Journalist’s Car (Balkan Insight)
  • ‘Easy Money’: Fake Forex and Fraudulent Balkan Call Centre (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Epidemiologist Kon: Situation unfavorable, especially in Belgrade (Prva TV, N1)
  • The “corona generation” is coming and it will not be good (DW, B92)

 

 

Albanian Language Media 

 

COVID-19: 118 new cases, three deaths (media)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health said today that 118 new cases of COVID-19 and three deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours.

50 persons have recovered from the virus during this time. The highest number of new cases is from the municipality of Prishtina (34).

There are currently 1,637 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

Zemaj warns on stricter measures (media)

Kosovo’s Minister of Health Armend Zemaj has warned of stricter measures after the increase of the number of cases with Covid-19. He said that these measures will apply during  two daily phases, and they will also be valid for the gastronomy sector, reports Ekonomia Online. 

Zemaj made these statements after visiting the Lipjan prison.

Minister Zemaj stressed that complete lockdown is the last option, therefore all citizens are obliged to respect the measures.

Lajcak misinterpreted, constitutional changes apply to Belgrade as well (RFE, media) 

Brussels considers that the statement of the EU Special Representative for the dialogue between Prishtina and Belgrade Miroslav Lajcak, was misquoted on his statement for constitutional changes. The EU’s Spokesman for foreign policy and security Peter STano told Radio Free Europe that a distinction must be made between what is “perception and misinformation, and the reality explained by Mr Lajcak.”

“In this case, something that is clear has been said, and Mr Lajcak has explained what happens if you are negotiating an international agreement. When reaching an international agreement, then the necessary legal arrangements by the government, including the constitutional level, must be considered in order to integrate it into the legal and constitutional order. And this applies to Kosovo and Serbia,” Stano said.

He added that the EU’s stance on the Association has not changed. Stano referred to the speech of the former EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini in the Kosovo Parliament in 2016, where she had rejected the possibility for the Association to be a separate power in Kosovo.

“This Association will not be a parallel government within Kosovo and will not have legislative powers. It will be formed within the legal and governing framework of Kosovo,” Mogherini had said on May 6, 2016 at the Assembly of Kosovo. According to Stano, this continues to be the official position of the EU.

Horti: Government taking necessary steps to implement Washington Agreement (media) 

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti met today with a delegation from the Department of Energy of the United States of America, to discuss the implementation of the agreed projects for the normalization of economic relations between Kosovo and Serbia, signed September 4 at the White House.

Hoti said that the government of Kosovo is taking the necessary steps towards the implementation of the White House economic normalization agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.

“Together with the Deputy Prime Minister Driton Selmanaj and the Minister of Economy and Environment, Blerim Kuci, we met a delegation from the Department of Energy of the United States of America, which was headed by Mr. Mattew Zais, Deputy Assistant Secretary General, U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo Philip Kosnett and USAID representatives, with whom we discussed the implementation of projects agreed in the agreement for the normalization of economic relations between the Republic of Kosovo and Serbia, signed September 4 at the White House,” Hoti wrote.

Kosovo marks the EU Anti-Trafficking Day (media)

On the occasion of the European Day Against Human Trafficking,  head of the European Office to Kosovo Tomas Szunyog called on improvement of implementation of the legislation for the victims of crime.

“Unfortunately, the current system in Kosovo does not provide continuous assistance to NGOs that need to offer protection to victims. We need to have available policies, assistance, and services to help victims. Kosovo’s legislation is harmonized with the EU, but implementation needs to be improved, especially in terms of identifying victims, providing assistance and support, and increasing investigations of perpetrators,” he said at a joint conference with Kosovo leaders.

Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci on the other hand said that as a new state, Kosovo has managed to create legal infrastructure to help combating trafficking as well as to rehabilitate victims. “We have to cooperate with neighboring countries but also with EU  to prevent use of Kosovo as a transit road for traffickers,” he said.  

Thaci said that cooperation with the EU is essential to defeat trafficking, and added that he is satisfied with Kosovo’s performance in the role of combating this phenomenon.

He called on all relevant institutions to be in charge and uncompromisingly fight the negative phenomena in the society. 

Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said that Kosovo’s capacities and expertise should be advanced to combat this phenomenon.

“The prevention of this specific crime must happen by all legal means, we must punish the perpetrators of this crime. Our capacity and expertise needs to be advanced. The recommendations we have received from international evaluation mechanisms have led to the drafting of work plans,” he said.

Kosovo’s Minister of Internal Affairs Agim Veliu said lack of understanding of this phenomenon by people remains a challenge, raising the need to increase capacities for the protection of victims of human trafficking.

“Referring to the statistics of recent years, there is a decrease in cases of human trafficking and this has come as a result of the work of Kosovo institutions. International recommendations for combating this phenomenon will be a work plan for us. Kosovo Police has managed to identify 11 victims of human trafficking and arrest 59 people,” Veliu said.

PDK MP writes public letter to Lajcak (media)

Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) MP Ferat Shala wrote a public letter today to European Union Special Representative for the Prishtina – Belgrade Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak. Shala argued that Serbia never assumed responsibility for the crimes it committed in Kosovo and other countries of the Balkans. “I don’t see any readiness in the international community to hold Serbia responsible. I don’t see any readiness from you either, although you may argue that this is not in your legal, diplomatic and political mandate,” he said.

Commenting on Lajcak’s remarks in Belgrade that Kosovo must change its Constitution, Shala writes: “ … we have accommodated many demands from the international community related to standards for the protection of minority communities, standards that cannot be found anywhere else in Europe … We are the last ones in Europe to be told that the constitution is not the Bible and that it can be changed”. Shala also highlighted two reasons why Kosovo should not change its Constitution to accommodate the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities: “First, the changing of the Constitution to establish the Association was not foreseen in any of the two agreements that Kosovo signed in Brussels. We will not and must not go beyond those agreements. Second, we don’t want and will not allow our constitutional arrangements – ascribed by the Ahtisaari Plan and based on which Kosovo was declared an independent state – to be ruined,” he writes.

Basha: Ahtisaari’s package is Kosovo’s compromise (T7, RTK)

Lulzim Basha, leader of Albanian’s Democratic Party, was asked about the recent statement of the EU’s Envoy for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue Miroslav Lajcak, who said Kosovo’s Constitution is not a bible and it should change in order to reach an agreement on Association of Serb-majority Municipalities.

“First of all, I am not here to teach the Kosovo government. I am not just the leader of the opposition, but also the next prime minister, I want to state this, that the axis of Tirana’s regional policy must be corrected quickly. Our policy will be in full support,” he said, when asked about Lajcak’s request.

“I have personally stated that the Ahtisaari package is a national compromise and it is the biggest compromise reached, other efforts do not help Kosovo and Serbia and their European integration. The first and most important step is mutual recognition, Prime Minister Hoti has my full support, every step that violates the integrity or sovereignty of Kosovo pushes the whole region back and destroys years of American investment in the Balkans,” Basha said.

Thaci and Daka discuss election dates for Podujeva and North Mitrovica (media)

The President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci met today the head of the Central Election Commission (CEC), Valdete Daka. They discussed the possibilities of organizing extraordinary elections for Mayor in the Municipality of Podujeva and in the Municipality of North Mitrovica.

“Pursuant to Article 6 of Law no. 03 / L-094 on the President of the Republic of Kosovo, Article 4 of Law no. 03 / L-072 on Local Elections in the Republic of Kosovo, as well as taking into account the request of the Central Election Commission, the President of the Republic of Kosovo has postponed the holding of extraordinary elections for Mayor in the Municipality of Podujeva and the Municipality of North Mitrovica, in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic,” reads the press release.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

11 new cases of Covid-19 registered in Serb-areas in Kosovo on Saturday (Radio kontakt plus)

11 new cases of Covid-19 infection were registered in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo, Crisis Committee of Mitrovica North announced on Saturday, Radio kontakt plus reports.

At the same time, six people have recovered.

Out of 51 tested samples, 11 came positive. Those include five cases in Mitrovica North, three in Kamenica, two in Gnjilane and one in Zvecan.

Out of six recovered people, three are in Mitrovica North, and one each in Zvecan, Gnjilane and Kamenica.

At the moment four persons are hospitalized at the Clinical Hospital Center in Mitrovica North, while 56 persons are staying in house isolation, bringing the total number of active cases at 60.

A total of 957 people have recovered, while 38 persons have passed away in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo due to Covid-19. 

“ZSO must be formed as it was agreed” (Radio KIM)

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said the issue of Kosovo and relations with Pristina remain one of the greatest challenges also in the reference to the security of the country, Radio KIM reports.

She underlined that Serbia has implemented everything agreed upon in Brussels adding that the Community of the Serb-majority Municipalities (ZSO), which is an obligation of Pristina, must be formed exactly as it was agreed, and not as a non-governmental organization.

Speaking for TV Pink, Brnabic noted there is no further dialogue on ZSO, and it was disappointing that the EU which is, as she stressed, a strategic aim of the new Serbian government, allowed ZSO not to be formed even seven years after it was agreed.

Brnabic also said it is a norm of civilization and a red line if you negotiate something about and sign it, then you should implement it.

Brnabic further noted that the Kosovo issue remains a “par excellence” issue for the security of Serbia, so it doesn’t  happen “that one day, somebody intentionally or accidentally, by chance creates a situation to have an armed conflict”, as it was the case in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“We can’t allow that”, Brnabic said, assessing that Serbian has much more to lose than Pristina.

“We are not the country as in 2014, but a country that would be a leader in Europe based on (its) growth, unemployment is only 7.3 percent, we were recognized as a leader in digitalization…..a country whose sector of small and medium enterprises is getting stronger, a country of strong partnerships and with new partnerships”, she said, adding that those achievements we must carefully preserve and balance them.

Pristina didn’t do much, Brnabic also said, adding the situation in Kosovo relating to unemployment, criminal and corruption is “disastrous”.

“That is why I am afraid when politicians who have no ideas particularly in this part of the Balkans, when they have no ideas how to create the quality of life, then they induce the tensions. That is what I am afraid of, and that is why it would be one of the greatest challenges in the mandate of the future government”, Brnabic concluded. 

Odalovic: Brussels has instruments to make Pristina establish ZSO (RTS)

Secretary General of the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Veljko Odalovic told RTS Serbs would never enter such engagement and establish municipalities (in line with Pristina’s system) if they didn’t trust the Brussels agreement. He added Brussels can make Pristina fulfill its obligations.

Speaking for RTS morning program Odalovic explained that the first six points of the Brussels agreement relate to the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities (ZSO) and it was planned to establish it following the Serb participation in elections in 2013, which Serbia supported.

“Serbs would never enter such engagement, established municipalities and be part of those institutions if they didn’t trust that the Brussels agreement would make a framework of a collective, joint functioning within the areas defined by this agreement. This is something Pristina interpreted the way it interpreted”, Odalovic noted.

Odalovic added that “a constitutional court of this quasi-state took the right to assess the principles agreed by Belgrade and Pristina based on which the ZSO should be formed and declared them anticonstitucional and it was not competent”.

Commenting on the upcoming visit of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Serbia, due on 28 and 29 October, Odalovic said it was a confirmation of continuation of the good relations and policy between the two states, and it would neutralize speculations voiced over the last couple of days relating to Serbian and Russian relations.

Commenting on the statement of US presidential candidate Joe Biden that Trump “has an unbalanced attitude towards Serbia and Kosovo”, Odalovic said that “Kosovo as a topic is present” at the both candidates for the US president.

“It is also important for us to know who Biden is, his plan for Kosovo is a plan of Clinton’s administration from the nineties and we know what they did, what scenario they invented, to create a quasi-state at the territory of Serbia. I have no dilemma at all, if he wins, that he would continue with it, and now assumptions if this article was accurate are irrelevant, Biden thinks that way”, Odalovic said.

Lavrov to visit Serbia later this month (N1)

Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov will pay a visit to Serbia on October 28-29, where he will meet President Aleksandar Vucic and the state leadership, President’s Secretary-General Nikola Selakovic confirmed, N1 reports.

Speaking for Prva TV, Selakovic denied allegations about disturbances in Belgrade-Moscow relations, stressing that this visit would not happen if those relations have deteriorated.

He also said Vucic talked to Russian President Vladimir Putin on two occasions but that Putin is not likely to pay a visit due to the health crisis caused by the coronavirus.

“I am convinced Putin will use the first opportunity to come”, Selakovic added.

Dmitrijevic to Serbian journalists’ associations: “Novosti” daily jeopardized safety of SOC clergy and Serbs in Kosovo (KoSSev)

The editor-in-chief of Radio Gorazdevac, Darko Dimitrijevic sent letters to both the Association Journalists of Serbia (UNS) and Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia (NUNS) warning them of recent media content produced by Belgrade based Večernje Novosti while reporting on a Serbian priest who allegedly removed an Albanian flag from the war-torn battlefield of Kosare in Kosovo while being filmed, KoSSev portal reports.

This paper revealed alleged exclusive recordings, while also claiming that a Serbian priest who came from the vicinity of Belgrade to Kosovo for the annual requiem service took down the Albanian flag at Kosare. The daily followed up the news with a report of an alleged revenge of Pristina under the headline – Albanian terrorists set up two Albanian flags at the same place yesterday, while the so-called Kosovo police announced that they will launch an investigation and file a lawsuit against the Serbian priest.“

The recording was published only a short while after another news story was revealed to the public – that Serbian representatives and members of the Kosovo Commission for Missing Persons stayed at Kosare, searching for the bodies of 7 killed Serb soldiers.

These texts led to a series of negative reports by the Kosovo media and a negative public reaction in Kosovo.

See at: https://bit.ly/3m1noM4

UNS: Could truthful reporting jeopardize Serbs in Kosovo? (Kosovo-online)

President of the Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) Vladimir Radomirovic responded today to a letter sent by Radio Gorazdevac Editor-in-Chief Darko Dimitrijevic regarding the reporting of Belgrade-based daily Vecernje Novosti by saying he does not see, how any media, including those in Belgrade, can jeopardize Serbs in Kosovo by truthful reporting, Kosovo-online portal reports.

Dimitrijevic reacted to the article published by Vecernje Novosti daily in which an unnamed priest from Belgrade took down the Albanian flag from Kosare. Dimitrijevic said that “because of such reporting, not only media workers, but also entire Serbian people living in Kosovo and Metohija as well as clergy of the Serbian Orthodox Church suffer”, and requested UNS to condemn the reporting of the daily.

In his response to Dimitrijevic, Radomirovic said that Vecernje Novosti journalist visited Kosare and wrote a reportage about it. This has inspired the priest and his friends to go there and on All Souls Day pay a requiem to the fallen soldiers of the Yugoslav Army. The priest upon return delivered the photos and video recording to the journalist, which she used in the article. Any journalist would do so, Radomirovic said.

He agreed with Dimitrijevic that the term “Albanian terrorists” was disputable and the term was used in the second article of the daily on the “revenge” for taking down the Albanian flag from Kosare.

He also said the daily reported on the event that took place and was important for the readers and the wider audience, using authentic material.

At the end, Radomirovic concluded that the UNS can’t condemn the journalists and editors who reported on something that took place and based on facts just because such an article could anger Albanians hardliners. 

 

 

International

 

Kosovo Leaders Condemn Gun Attack on Journalist’s Car (Balkan Insight)

Politicians, civil society activists, citizens and journalists have demanded a prompt investigation after the car of an investigative journalist was raked with bullets on Sunday night.

Kosovo civil society and politicians, including the Prime Minister and a former prime minister, have united in condemnation of an attack on a investigative journalist whose car was raked with gunfire on Sunday night just after he parked it.

Shkumbin Kajtazi, from the media outlet Reporteri, said his car “was shot with five or six bullets” at around midnight, after he had parked it in the centre of the northern divided town of Mitrovica, and when he heard shots fired.

“When I approached the place where I had parked, I saw that the car was badly damaged. At first I was convinced it had been hit by something strong, but then I spotted bullet holes and bullets everywhere: in the driver’s seat, on the roof and in the back,” Kajtazi wrote on his Facebook account.

Kajtazi said he had notified the police and attributed the violent attack to his work as an investigative journalist.

Civil society activists, the Association of Journalists of Kosovo, AJK, leading politicians and also citizens took to social media to condemn the attack.

See at: https://bit.ly/35eZNAv

‘Easy Money’: Fake Forex and Fraudulent Balkan Call Centre (Balkan Insight)

Call centres are popping up across the Balkans. One Israeli-run network was used to defraud tens of thousands of mainly elderly Europeans of an estimated 200 million euros.

In December 2018, a man called Alexander Ignjatovic called the offices of the federal police in the German town of Wiesbaden, near Frankfurt, and asked to be put through to the head of the Cybercrime Department.

Ignjatovic, who was born in Germany but was of Serbian origin, told police he had information on a multi million-euro fraud operation being run out of call centres in the capitals of Serbia and Bulgaria – Belgrade and Sofia – and that he was willing to tell all in exchange for protection for himself and his family.

Two months later, he entered the gates of the German embassy in Belgrade, and in July he gave a statement to police in Germany that, typed up, ran to almost 50 pages.

On February 11 this year, Ignjatovic was found dead in a hotel room in Sofia just months before he was due to take the stand as a key prosecution witness in the trial of the Israeli man charged with masterminding the scam and laundering the profits. Bulgarian authorities said Ignjatovic died of heart failure. He was 34 years old.

His testimony, however, helped blow the lid on a scam that investigators say defrauded tens of thousands of people across Western Europe of at least 200 million euros, deceiving them into handing over their savings in the mistaken belief they were trading in foreign currencies.

See at: https://bit.ly/34dggpU

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Epidemiologist Kon: Situation unfavorable, especially in Belgrade (Prva TV, N1)

Serbia’s healthcare system is not about to collapse, epidemiologist Predrag Kon said adding that everything is functioning properly at the moment but that it is necessary to think a year ahead, N1 reports.

Speaking for Prva TV, Kon said one cannot expect Serbia could avoid the situation from the rest of Europe, where the number of those infected with coronavirus is increasing.

“It won’t, it simply won’t,” he underlined.

He also assessed the situation as uncertain and unfavorable, especially in Belgrade.

Due to the rise in the number of newly infected patients, the Belgrade Arena hall will be prepared to accept Covid-19 patients as of Monday. Doctor Vlado Batnozic told RTS public broadcaster that the capacities of the hall have been expanded with 150 new beds, 510 in total. Thirty doctors and 30 nurses will be available per shift.

See at: https://bit.ly/3o6MBGA

The “corona generation” is coming and it will not be good (DW, B92)

What used to be normal for young people – parties, hanging out with friends, travelling, is no longer normal. “Corona generation” is maturing, with consequences.

In the Berlin Neukölln district, everything is full of young people on Friday nights. But the increase in the number of newly infected people already at half past nine in the evening shows the consequences. The bars are still as full as the rules of the distance allow, which means that they are half empty compared to the usual crowds on Fridays.

Guests sit quietly, wearing masks at pool tables and table football. There are no more people in front of the door as they were ten days ago.

Sporadic tourists are looking for remnants of nightlife. One passerby says that people in their thirties are more severely affected by restrictions than young people: “They may be looking for someone to start a family. This reduces the chances of meeting someone. “

See at: https://bit.ly/2ILnqt5

 

 

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