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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, October 21, 2020

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• COVID-19: 130 new cases, one death (media)
• SPO: Thaci trying to abolish Specialist Chambers (media)
• U.S. officials: Economic agreements don’t replace political talks (media)
• Mustafa: Association is a closed topic (RTK)
• “If we don’t have agreement on President, we’ll go to new elections” (media)
• Haradinaj: Easier to replace Lajcak than change the constitution (media)
• Caplan: Association may destabilise Kosovo (media)
• Ceku: President’s decision on elections in Podujevo, strange (KTV)
• EU: We are studying decision to dissolve anti-corruption task force (Koha)
• Hearing session for Salih Mustafa confirmed for October 28 (media)
• Foreign Ministry to declare on Ambassador’s case today (Klan Kosova)
• Serbia mulls Russian Defense Ministry presence (AP)

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  • COVID-19: 130 new cases, one death (media)
  • SPO: Thaci trying to abolish Specialist Chambers (media)
  • U.S. officials: Economic agreements don’t replace political talks (media)
  • Mustafa: Association is a closed topic (RTK)
  • “If we don’t have agreement on President, we’ll go to new elections” (media)
  • Haradinaj: Easier to replace Lajcak than change the constitution (media)
  • Caplan: Association may destabilise Kosovo (media)
  • Ceku: President’s decision on elections in Podujevo, strange (KTV)
  • EU: We are studying decision to dissolve anti-corruption task force (Koha)
  • Hearing session for Salih Mustafa confirmed for October 28 (media)
  • Foreign Ministry to declare on Ambassador’s case today (Klan Kosova)
  • Serbia mulls Russian Defense Ministry presence (AP)

 

COVID-19: 130 new cases, one death (media)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health said on Tuesday that 130 new cases of COVID-19 and one death were recorded in the last 24 hours.

71 persons have meanwhile recovered from the virus during this time. The highest number of new cases is from the municipality of Prishtina (52).

There are currently 1,944 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

SPO: Thaci trying to abolish Specialist Chambers (media)

Several news websites reported on Tuesday that the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) has said in an opinion that Kosovo President Hashim Thaci is trying to abolish the Specialist Chambers.

The SPO said its mandate is defined by the Constitution of Kosovo and that any other interpretation can damage ongoing legal proceedings. The SPO also notes: “The Proposed Amendments purport to restate or reframe that mandate. At this time of making these submissions no official drafting history is available. Nonetheless, the fact that the amendment is proposed by the President who is the subject of an indictment submitted by the SPO relating to war crimes and crimes against humanity warrants assessing them with particular scrutiny. Mr. Thaci is not a disinterested party and there is good reason to believe that the proposed Amendment are part of a larger strategy to undercut the court. Indeed, essential context to understanding and interpreting the proposed amendments is provided by Mr. Thaci’s public statements, on 24 August 2020, the day on which he put forward the proposed amendments.”

The news websites note that the Constitutional Court of the Specialist Chambers asked the EULEX Head of Mission, the Ombudsperson, the Prime Minister and President of Kosovo to submit their opinions regarding the amendment that Thaci had proposed on October 19.

The opinion that the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office submitted to the court includes 22 points explaining how Thaci is attempting to abolish the Specialist Chambers.

U.S. officials: Economic agreements don’t replace political talks (media)

Senior officials of the U.S. administration stayed for a two-day visit in Kosovo with the aim of implementing the economic normalisation agreement reached between Kosovo and Serbia at the White House in Washington on September 4.

The delegation focused on the feasibility study for the Ujman [Gazivoda] Lake and to create better connections in the energy market in the Western Balkans.

Matthew Zais, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of International Affairs at the Energy Department, and John Jovanovic, Managing Director of the regional office of the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) in Belgrade, said the implementation of the economic normalisation agreement is a priority for the U.S. administration.

“Absolutely and this is one of the reasons why we are here. One, to begin the feasibility study for the lake and two to work with Kosovo and its neighbors in the region in creating better connections in the energy market. There is a series of opportunities. We have a strategy for natural gas in the Balkans.

There is no other way for Kosovo than to use all its opportunities to be connected with its neighbors and this will help Kosovo’s economy,” Zais said.

Jovanovic said he is optimistic about the framework of the economic normalisation agreement. “We hope this will help both sides to establish confidence building measures to work together on economic normalisation … We will also have the opportunity to strengthen the private sector, so that the private international capital can come here, create more job opportunities and have a long-lasting impact on both economies,” he said.

Jovanovic also said that agreements on economic normalisation offer great opportunities but that they don’t replace the political talks in Brussels.

Mustafa: Association is a closed topic (RTK)

Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Isa Mustafa said in an interview for the TV station on Tuesday that the United States must be involved in concluding a final settlement between Kosovo and Serbia. “I cannot set an address where the final agreement will be concluded. The dialogue process must continue in Brussels. Whether it will be concluded in Brussels or in Washington, this is another matter, but it cannot be concluded without the involvement of the United States in the process,” he said.

Mustafa said he agrees with Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti that the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities is a closed topic because it was addressed in the dialogue in 2013 and in 2015. “We have said that the Association must be formed in line with Kosovo’s laws and that the statute of the Association must be sent to the Constitutional Court,” he added.

“If we don’t have agreement on President, we’ll go to new elections” (media)

Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Isa Mustafa said on Tuesday that if the parties fail to reach an agreement on the post of Kosovo President, then the country will go to new elections. “There is no other solution. If we have an agreement on the President it must be an agreement of trust and also related to the government,” he said.

Mustafa said the LDK has not discussed AAK leader Ramush Haradinaj’s candidacy for the post of President. “Haradinaj has expressed his readiness; his party has done the same. We haven’t discussed this proposal in our party because there is still a President in office,” he added.

Haradinaj: Easier to replace Lajcak than change the constitution (media)

Most news websites reported on Tuesday that Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) parliamentary group chief Daut Haradinaj said that it is easier to replace EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak than the Constitution of Kosovo.

“We had remarks about the Kurti-led government because of Borrell and Lajcak, the first coming from Spain and the second from a country that have not recognised Kosovo. Our requests for the United States are directly related to the envoy for the dialogue,” Haradinaj said. “We are friend with the Europeans, but we trust the United States … It is easier to replace Lajcak than to change the Constitution of Kosovo”.

Caplan: Association may destabilise Kosovo (media)

Richard Caplan, professor of international relations at the University of Oxford, told TV Dukagjini on Tuesday that the establishment of the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities, as one of the key issues in the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, may destabilise the state of Kosovo.

Caplan argued that uncertainties from the European Union are undermining the process of dialogue. He criticised both Prishtina and Belgrade for failing to respect the agreements reached so far. “Throughout the process of dialogue, the European Union has not been clear what normalisation implies,” he said.

He said the Association may destabilise Kosovo but that failing to respect the agreements reached can also hamper Kosovo’s progress in the future. “It is important to know what competencies the Association is going to have,” he said.

Ceku: President’s decision on elections in Podujevo, strange (KTV)

Vetevendosje MP Hajrulla Ceku said in an interview with the TV station on Tuesday that Kosovo President Hashim Thaci’s decision to announce municipal elections in Podujevo on November 29 is strange. He recalled that the President had postponed the elections, initially scheduled to take place in March, because of the coronavirus pandemic, and that he is now decreeing the elections amidst the second wave of the pandemic.

EU: We are studying decision to dissolve anti-corruption task force (Koha)

Spokesperson for the EU Office in Kosovo, Dinka Zivalj, said the EU was studying the Kosovo Government’s decision to dissolve the anti-corruption task force that operated as part of the Kosovo Police and investigated high-profile cases. She said Kosovo needs to demonstrate strong political will to effectively fight high-level corruption.

EULEX has meanwhile said the Government’s decision raises serious concerns. “The Government needs to clarify its position as soon as possible,” the mission said in a reply to Koha. It added that the task force played a crucial role in the fight against corruption field.

Koha additionaly reports that Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Minister of Finance Hykmete Bajrami had been interviewed by the anti-corruption task force last year as witnesses in a case involving a former minister from their party, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK).

Hearing session for Salih Mustafa confirmed for October 28 (media)

Most news websites report that the Specialist Chambers and the Office of the Specialist Prosecutor have confirmed on their website that a hearing session will be held for the defendant Salih Mustafa on October 28. Mustafa was arrested in Prishtina on September 24 and transferred to the Hague. The indictment confirmed on June 12 this year charges Mustafa with having committed crimes of arbitrary detention, cruel treatment and torture.

Foreign Ministry to declare on Ambassador’s case today (Klan Kosova)

Kosovo’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Ministers, Bekim Brestovci, said in an interview with the TV station on Tuesday that the ministry would comment today on the case of Kosovo’s Ambassador to France, Qendrim Gashi, and his sharing of a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

“He shouldn’t have done that if it were clear to him that this would trigger reactions from Muslim believers. The statements of senior officials and diplomats should be very mature. We have yet to hear from him on the issue. I believe the Ministry will take a stand on the issue tomorrow,” he added.

Serbia mulls Russian Defense Ministry presence (AP)

Serbia is thinking of allowing a Russian Defense Ministry presence in the Balkan country, something that could further strain its relations with the West.

Serbia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that “legal proceedings” have been launched that would allow an agreement between the two governments on the opening of a Russian Defense Ministry mission in Belgrade.

It said that the agreement would further strengthen military cooperation between the two countries.

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

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