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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, October 21, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, October 21, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• Minister of Health: 124 new cases of COVID – 19, no deaths (media)
• Hoti: We have taken over the government at the worst situation (RTK)
• Hoti justifies dismissals of heads of Police, KTA and Customs (RTK)
• “Pausing from membership bids, so we don’t fail in the future” (media)
• Rohde reacts to disbanding of Anti-Corruption Task Force (media)
• NISMA and AKR with a joint parliamentary group (media)
• Tahiri invites the U.S. to open defense department office in Kosovo (RTK)
• Haxhiu: Vetevendosje members are being accused without facts (media)
• Kosovo’s Ambassador to France reacts amid threats (media)
• Budget committee doesn’t adopt economic recovery bill (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• 17 new cases of Covid-19 registered in Serb areas in Kosovo (KoSSev)
• Security Council today on the report of the UN Secretary General on Kosovo (media)
• Vucic: Elections latest by April 3, 2022, Dacic Assembly Speaker (RTS)
• Brnabic: Authorities face risk with early elections (BETA, N1)
• Reactions to Serbia’s early vote (N1)
• Djilas: Vucic admitted that boycott succeeded (Danas)
• BETA’s editor: Vucic starts campaign for early vote in Serbia he sets for 2022 (N1)
• Vucic and Medvedev on Moscow-Belgrade relations, coronavirus pandemic (N1)
• Djuric: Future government will deal with protection of state and national interests in Kosovo (Radio Mitrovica sever)
• Where is Biden’s plan for Serbia? (B92)
• Hoti: No ZSO with executive powers (KIM radio, RTV Puls)

Opinion:

• Vucic Announced New Elections Even Before New Government Constitution (Balkan Insight)

International:

• BSF: Western Balkans is influenced by strong anti-Western narratives (EWB)
• EU-Western Balkans: Time is of the essence (eureporter.co)

Humanitarian/Development:

• New UN gender study: Women ‘far from having an equal voice to men’ (news.un.org, N1)
• Andjelka Cup received award for reporting on poverty (Radio KIM)
• Kon: Face mask and physical distance – 99 pct protection (N1)
• Coronavirus second wave: Which countries in Europe are experiencing a fresh spike in COVID-19 cases? (euronews.com)
• For Kosovo’s Judo Stars, Medals Must Wait (Balkan Insight)
• EU commissioner advocates joint migration management with Western Balkans (N1, Hina)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Minister of Health: 124 new cases of COVID – 19, no deaths (media)
  • Hoti: We have taken over the government at the worst situation (RTK)
  • Hoti justifies dismissals of heads of Police, KTA and Customs (RTK)
  • “Pausing from membership bids, so we don’t fail in the future” (media)
  • Rohde reacts to disbanding of Anti-Corruption Task Force (media)
  • NISMA and AKR with a joint parliamentary group (media)
  • Tahiri invites the U.S. to open defense department office in Kosovo (RTK)
  • Haxhiu: Vetevendosje members are being accused without facts (media)
  • Kosovo’s Ambassador to France reacts amid threats (media)
  • Budget committee doesn’t adopt economic recovery bill (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • 17 new cases of Covid-19 registered in Serb areas in Kosovo (KoSSev)
  • Security Council today on the report of the UN Secretary General on Kosovo (media)
  • Vucic: Elections latest by April 3, 2022, Dacic Assembly Speaker (RTS)
  • Brnabic: Authorities face risk with early elections (BETA, N1)
  • Reactions to Serbia’s early vote (N1)
  • Djilas: Vucic admitted that boycott succeeded (Danas)
  • BETA’s editor: Vucic starts campaign for early vote in Serbia he sets for 2022 (N1)
  • Vucic and Medvedev on Moscow-Belgrade relations, coronavirus pandemic (N1)
  • Djuric: Future government will deal with protection of state and national interests in Kosovo (Radio Mitrovica sever)
  • Where is Biden’s plan for Serbia? (B92)
  • Hoti: No ZSO with executive powers (KIM radio, RTV Puls)

Opinion:

  • Vucic Announced New Elections Even Before New Government Constitution (Balkan Insight)

International:

  • BSF: Western Balkans is influenced by strong anti-Western narratives (EWB)
  • EU-Western Balkans: Time is of the essence (eureporter.co)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • New UN gender study: Women ‘far from having an equal voice to men’ (news.un.org, N1)
  • Andjelka Cup received award for reporting on poverty (Radio KIM)
  • Kon: Face mask and physical distance – 99 pct protection (N1)
  • Coronavirus second wave: Which countries in Europe are experiencing a fresh spike in COVID-19 cases? (euronews.com)
  • For Kosovo’s Judo Stars, Medals Must Wait (Balkan Insight)
  • EU commissioner advocates joint migration management with Western Balkans (N1, Hina)

 

 

Albanian Language Media 

 

Minister of Health: 124 new cases of COVID – 19, no deaths (media)

Kosovo’s Minister of Health Armend Zemaj said today that 124 new of COVID – 19 and no deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours. Zemaj said that the highest number of new cases in the municipality of Prishtina (72) is concerning. He called on municipalities, emergency headquarters, police and the inspectorates, to step up controls on the implementation of anti-coronavirus measures. Zemaj also said that before another decision is made for the municipality of Prishtina, “I appeal to the citizens to follow the recommendations of the National Institute for Public Health and the Ministry of Health”.

Hoti: We have taken over the government at the worst situation (RTK)

The Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti said at an extraordinary press conference held today that he has taken over the duty of the PM at the time when Kosovo was in the worst position ever since the end of the war. According to him, this situation was caused due to the pandemics, but also inadequate policy and national isolation.

“There are two violations of the Constitution for only 50 days, we had to work hard to remove isolation from Kosovo in a series of agreements that we have signed and are implementing. During this period we have managed well with the pandemic, Kosovo remains an example,”Hoti said adding that in his Government the abuse of the state budget has stopped.

“The abuse of the state budget has stopped, illegal single source  procurement has stopped, we have stopped any purchase of cars, and we also banned all workshops abroad in order to help gastronomy,” Hoti said.

Hoti reiterated his position that the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities is a closed topic and that Kosovo will not discuss it with Serbia in the EU-facilitated negotiations in Brussels.

“I don’t expect the Association to block the process of dialogue because there is an agreement of the mediator of the dialogue that the Association, the agreement on the Association, is a closed topic,” Hoti said. He added that if the dialogue is blocked this would not be Kosovo’s fault because his government has proved its commitment to the process. 

Asked about constitutional changes in Kosovo and Serbia mentioned by EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak, Hoti said: “the Constitution was touched in 2013 when this agreement [on the Association] was ratified. It is an international agreement ratified with 2/3 of votes of MPs”.

Hoti justifies dismissals of heads of Police, KTA and Customs (RTK) 

Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti justified today at a press conference the decisions for the  dismissal of the chiefs of three most significant institutions in Kosovo.

Speaking about the dismissal of the director of the Tax Administration of Kosovo (TAK) Ilir Lurtezaj, Hoti said that his decision was in accordance with the Law as former head of the TAK has proved to be incompetent and  has shown bad behavior. According to Hoti, Murtezi frequently moved staff and caused dissatisfaction.

Asked about the changes at Customs, Hoti said the Acting Director General applied for the permanent position and he was replaced as the competition for the position is ongoing.

With regards to the dismissal of the Kosovo Police Director Rashit Qalaj, Hoti said the decision was made due to his unsatisfactory performance in fulfilment of his duties. He added that another reason is bad management of the police action  in Karaceva.

Hoti added that during 2019-2020 a major number of Kosovo police officers were arrested, while no action to change the situation was undertaken. He also said that Qalaj changed the organisation chart of the institution without making it public. 

“Pausing from membership bids, so we don’t fail in the future” (media)

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said today that Kosovo’s pausing from applying for membership in international organisations does not mean that state institutions are not working in this respect. Hoti said the ongoing work is to make sure that Kosovo does not fail in its future membership bids.

“With regards to membership bids in international organisations, namely the one-year break not to apply in international organisations as we have agreed at the White House. Kosovo’s independence and international recognitions and memberships are a result of a close coordination with our partner, the United States. This was the only way for Kosovo to strengthen its international subjectivity and for its membership bids to be successful. The U.S. is at the top of the list of our partners that have supported and sponsored Kosovo’s membership bids,” he said.

Hoti also said: “We need the support of the United States and other countries … Regardless of the one-year pause, we are not stopping our work, we are preparing membership bids for organisations, in full coordination with the partners and the U.S. to make sure that our bids will not fail as was the case in the past”.

Hoxhaj: Mini – Schengen would isolate Kosovo in the region (media)

Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) MP Enver Hoxhaj said today that Kosovo’s non-application for membership in international organisations is a new Serbian hegemony toward Kosovo.

“In addition to non-application for membership in international organisations, Serbia is also engaged in penalising Kosovo in the organisations where we are already members,” he said.

Hoxhaj also said: “the Mini – Schengen is a second circle to isolate Kosovo in the region. There can be no equal regional cooperation without mutual recognition between Kosovo and Serbia”.

Rohde reacts to disbanding of Anti-Corruption Task Force (media)

The German Ambassador to Kosovo, Jorn Rohde, has reacted to the Kosovo government decision to disband  the special Anti-Corruption Department.

“Sadly the Government’s decision to disband the Anti-Corruption Task Force raises serious concerns about political will to tackle corruption issues effectively,” Rohde wrote on his Twitter account.

This post by Rode is preceded by another article in which he reveals some statistics, according to which Germany is the largest investor in Kosovo in the first half of this year.

“Germany once again is the biggest investor in Kosovo in the first half 2020.

Good news indeed! Could be much more if investor and business environment would see much needed improvement namely constraining widespread corruption,” he wrote

NISMA and AKR with a joint parliamentary group (media)

The Social Democratic Initiative (NISMA) and the Alliance for New Kosovo (AKR) have decided to be represented by the joint parliamentary group at the Assembly.

“I inform you  that based on Article 20 of the Assembly regulation, the NISMA-AKR parliamentary group with six MPs was created on 19 October,” said the Kosovo assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani. Endrit Shala was nominated head of the parliamentary group.

Tahiri invites the U.S. to open defense department office in Kosovo (RTK)

Former Minister for Dialogue, Edita Tahiri, has reacted regarding the opening of the representative office of the Russian Ministry of Defense in Serbia.

“Russia is landing in Serbia with its defense ministry office. Now the U.S. has to land in Kosovo with its defense department office. It is time for NATO to complete the integration of the Western Balkan countries, including Kosovo, in order to prevent Russia’s geopolitical ambitions in the Balkan region,” Tahiri wrote on her Facebook account. 

Haxhiu: Vetevendosje members are being accused without facts (media)

Member of the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) leadership Albulena Haxhiu spoke to the media today, prior to the court hearing of the members of LVV. 

“As you are aware, four years ago in 2016, six LVV activists, including Astrit Dehari, were arrested without any justification or alleged fact for the attack on the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo. At that time, as we said, there was a tendency to declare LVV an illegal organization, they did everything to link LVV with actions done by someone else, but they were attributed to LVV,” she said.

“Today is another session. They have been facing unjust accusations for four years. The prosecution would have to withdraw after that indictment. The Court of First Instance convicted the LVV activists but the Appeal returned it for retrial emphasizing numerous violations. LVV activists have nothing to do with the attack on the Assembly of Kosovo,” she said.

“Today I am here to give support to LVV activists, and of course to give support and seek justice for Astrit Dehari and of course to seek withdrawal of this indictment with bad tendencies towards LVV activists,” Haxhiu said.

Kosovo’s Ambassador to France reacts amid threats (media)

Kosovo’s Ambassador to France, Qendrim Gashi, reacted today following threats and demands for his dismissal after he shared on his Twitter account a post of a French reporter depicting a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad. Gashi said in his reaction that it was not his intention to insult anyone. He also said that anyone who believes that he has violated the law can challenge him in court in Kosovo or in France.

“My intention was not to insult anyone, and I felt very sorry when I saw that people might have been hurt because they did not know the details and the context of the article. Moreover, I would never insult a community from any official position for human reasons and not from fear of possible legal repercussions. Whoever suspects I have violated the law by sharing an article that gives the chronology of a terrorist act, can challenge me in court, in Kosovo or in France. This is how dilemmas must be resolved in our society, through the law, and not through threats and violence,” Gashi said.

Budget committee doesn’t adopt economic recovery bill (media)

Several news websites report that the Kosovo Assembly Committee for Budget and Transfers did not adopt in the second reading the economic recovery bill. The committee has decided to review and adopt eight amendments and the report on the bill next Wednesday. 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

17 new cases of Covid-19 registered in Serb areas in Kosovo (KoSSev)

17 new cases of Covid-19 infection were registered in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo, Crisis Committee of Mitrovica North announced, KoSSev portal reports. Results of eight samples are being awaited, while a total of 61 samples have been tested.

New cases were registered as follows: five in Mitrovica North, 2 in Zvecan, one in Gnjilane, six in Kamenica and three in Gracanica.

Meanwhile, seven people have recovered, including three in Zvecan, one each in Mitrovica and Leposavic and two in Strpce.

Total number of recovered people since the outbreak of the pandemic is 964.

At the moment there are 71 active cases in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo. One person is being treated at the Clinical Hospital in Mitrovica North, and 70 people stay in house isolation.

Until now a total of 1.072 people tested positive on Covid-19 out of 5.608 tested persons.

Security Council today on the report of the UN Secretary General on Kosovo (media)

The ambassadors of the Security Council will discuss today the new six-month report of the head of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, on the situation in Kosovo, reported Serbian media. 

Guterres assessed in the report that the coronavirus pandemic, the political crisis and the announcement of war crimes indictments against Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and the head of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, Kadri Veseli additionally agitated the already fragile political and security situation in Kosovo, reported Serbian media. 

The United Nations also stated that 189 people have returned to Kosovo in the past six months, most of them Serbs, and that slightly more than 28,000 people have returned since 1999.

In the report, the UN Secretary General welcomed the continuation of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, stating that a noticeable new energy was directed towards the normalization of relations.

The previous session of the Security Council, which discussed Kosovo, was held online on April 24, and the then report of UNMIK chief Zahir Tanin was presented.

Vucic: Elections latest by April 3, 2022, Dacic Assembly Speaker (RTS)

Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) leader and President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic said the new Serbian Government would be of limited duration, and that the presidential and new parliamentary elections would take place latest by April 3, 2022, RTS reports.

Vucic also said leader of Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and outgoing Foreign Affairs Minister Ivica Dacic would be the new Speaker of the Assembly of Serbia. The new government would be formed together with SPS and the “Spas” Movement of Aleksandar Sapic that would have one ministry. Concrete names of the ministers would be known on Sunday, following the new session of the SNS Presidency, while the Prime Minister-designate would deliver her exposé most probably on Wednesday morning, Vucic added.

The new government would have six priorities: fight against coronavirus, preservation of interests relating to Kosovo and Metohija, fight against mafia, preservation of independence and independent decision-making of Republic of Serbia, accelerated reforms and continuation of economic empowerment.

Speaking about the Kosovo issue, Vucic said that “a wide unity of people is needed and only if we were united we can preserve our interests and be ready for a compromise solution as well as enter the talks”.  

Brnabic: Authorities face risk with early elections (BETA, N1)

Prime Minister designate Ana Brnabic said on Tuesday that calling early elections for 2022 means that the authorities are taking the risk of having the public evaluate their performance in 2021, BETA news agency reported.

Speaking on a talk show for Serbian public broadcaster RTS Brnabic said that the decision to call those elections was very responsible, adding that if the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) does not have a good year in 2021, someone else will get an opportunity to come to power. Brnabic said that Serbia will face a number of challenges next year, primarily in terms of health care and the economy. 

She said that her new cabinet will have the capacity to take important decisions even though its term in office is limited. Brnabic said that minority parties have been offered places in the government. Asked if her cabinet would be a unity government of the kind formed by all parliamentary parties in times of crisis, Brnabic said that the world is in a crisis which demands unity.

See at: https://bit.ly/3ocCFeQ  

Reactions to Serbia’s early vote (N1)

In the first reaction to an early vote in 18 months, Serbian opposition agreed on Wednesday their boycott of the June 21 elections succeeded, N1 reports.

They added the current election conditions, which were their reason to abstain from taking part in the last vote, could only lead to another boycott in 2022.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced early vote late on Tuesday while informing the public about the composition of a new government following the general elections held on June 21. He said that all three parties that crossed the three percent threshold – his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and a patriotic bloc ‘Spas’ – would participate in the new government led by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic.

Journalists and analysts say Vucic’s decision to include the two parties in the new government and his announcement of the early elections in some 18 months, came after the main opposition parties boycotted the June vote saying the conditions were unfair and following a lot of criticism from abroad about the way the ballot was conducted.

Djordje Pavicevic, a professor at the Belgrade Faculty of Political Sciences (FPN) told N1 that the new government would probably “deal with some technical issues agreed on with SNS and that will formalize what has been going on for a while – formally legitimized the non-institutional rule. When I heard Vucic’s address last night, the first phrase that came to my mind was – expendable government”, Pavicevic said.

Djilas: Vucic admitted that boycott succeeded (Danas)

“By announcing extraordinary elections and shortening the mandate of the Government at one third, Vucic admitted that the boycott succeeded. It was the first step in our plan to oust this regime. I congratulate citizens for this success”, leader of Serbia opposition Freedom and Justice Party (SSP) Dragan Djilas said, Danas daily reports.

“We continue with our plan, and together with all our partners we will define clear demands for free and fair elections, and we will present them publicly once we conclude agreements with all opponents of the Vucic’s regime. Those demands would be a basis for negotiations under the EU auspices that would ensure free RTS (Serbian public broadcaster) and voting without blackmailing and pressure”, Djilas added.

At the end Djilas concluded “whatever Vucic says he can no longer hide that Serbia is in a political crisis, that the health of the population is endangered and we are facing an economic collapse. Only by joining forces in a fight against the madness sold as a normal life can we bring the state hijacked by this regime back to the people. And we shall do that”, he said.  

BETA’s editor: Vucic starts campaign for early vote in Serbia he sets for 2022 (N1)

BETA news agency Editor-in-Chief Dragan Janjic told N1 on Wednesday that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic launched a campaign for an early election he said would take place by spring 2022.

Vucic announced early vote late on Tuesday while informing the public about the composition of a new government following the general elections held on June 21.

He said that all three parties that crossed the three percent threshold – his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and a minor patriotic bloc ‘Spas’ – would participate in the new government again led by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic.

SNS won an absolute majority in the Parliament and could form the government on its own. Still, Vucic decided to include SPS as its loyal coalition partner and ‘Spas,’ a new political organisation led by one of the best water polo players in the world Aleksandar Sapic, a long-time head of Serbian most populated municipality of New Belgrade.

Journalists and analysts say Vucic’s decision to include the two parties in the new government and his announcement of the early elections in some 18 months, came after the main opposition parties boycotted the June vote saying the conditions were unfair and following a lot of criticism from abroad about the way the ballot was conducted.

Janjic said that “after four months of waiting for a new government, at the same time when it was announced it was said to have a limited term.”

“That is an obvious start of the election campaign,” he added.

On Tuesday, days before the Constitutional deadline of November 3 for forming a new cabinet, Vucic said the outgoing Foreign Minister and the SPS leader Ivica Dacic would be the Parliament Speaker.

See at: https://bit.ly/3obmMW2

Vucic and Medvedev on Moscow-Belgrade relations, coronavirus pandemic (N1)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia Dmitry Medvedev discussed on Wednesday the relationship between the two countries and the crisis caused by coronavirus pandemic, N1 reports.

Speaking via video link on the eve of the International Inter-Party Forum ‘SCO +’ on the topic ‘Economy for People,’ the two officials agreed that Moscow and Belgrade relationship was ‘very good’ in all fields, Vucic wrote on his Instagram account “buducnostsrbijeav”. Medvedev was quoted as welcoming Serbia’s independent policy and its friendly attitude toward Russia.

Vucic thanked Russia for its support during the coronavirus pandemic, adding a mass vaccination was the proper solution for the issue. The two officials also agreed they should meet and talk about all critical political and economic issues.

Djuric: Future government will deal with protection of state and national interests in Kosovo (Radio Mitrovica sever)

Vice President of Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) Marko Djuric said this morning that the Serbian people in Kosovo can count on the decisive and strong support of the state of Serbia and the continuation of the implementation of 349 support projects initiated by President Aleksandar Vucic, Radio Mitrovica sever reports.

He added that the future government would also deal with the protection of state and national goals in Kosovo.

“There is no doubt that a challenging year for dialogue is ahead of us, and when it comes to the one conducted under the auspices of the EU, and depending on the outcome of US elections, greater engagement of the United States and other countries is to be expected”, he said.

“One of the first tasks of the future government, in addition to looking after the health of the citizens, is a decisive blow to mafia, crime and corruption, and this is something that all citizens of Serbia could unite about in the coming period”, Djuric told TV Pink.

Speaking about the continuation of reforms, he said that this primarily referred to the rule of law, stronger judiciary, strengthening of other institutions and their harmonization with EU regulations, so that Serbia would be ready to become an EU member immediately because of itself.

He stated that the goal of the future Government of Serbia was to preserve the political independence of Serbia, i.e. prevent interference in internal affairs, and to maintain control by the citizens of Serbia over the political system of Serbia

“Never again should foreign ambassadors or various foreign interests decide on Serbian politics”, he noted.

As an economic priority, he said Serbia would be the first in terms of economic growth in the next two years, which, as he opined, was previously a goal he could only dream of. 

Where is Biden’s plan for Serbia? (B92)

Election headquarters of the Democratic candidate Joseph Biden allegedly announced the plans of his future administration regarding Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania, B92 reports.

In the document “Vision for relations with Albania and Kosovo”, Biden talks about his plans for future relations in the Balkans and states that as a senator he defended the interests of Kosovo when the focus of the world was elsewhere and supported its independence which he says is an irreversible process.

He pledged to work in partnership with the European Union to revitalize the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, and will insist that justice for war crimes be administered without fear and demand full and swift responsibility for the missing persons, including the Bytyqi brothers.

It should be reiterated that Biden recently stated that he did not know the details of the agreement between Belgrade and Pristina in Washington, but that he believed that the agreement would strengthen the independence of Kosovo, B92 recalled.

On the other hand, Joe Biden’s “Vision of American Relations with Bosnia-Herzegovina” states that he will “forever be against hatred, and that he will support the sovereignty, territorial integrity and multiethnic character of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

The introductory part of the document first lists what Biden has done for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) so far. It points out that when violence erupted in the Balkans in the 1990s, as a senator he “played a key role in the Senate’s efforts to stop the genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina” and that “despite widespread opposition to interventions in the region, he argued that the United States could not stand aside while innocent civilians were raped, killed and buried in mass graves”.

Dimitrije Milic from NGO “Novi treci put” sees the reason for publishing these documents in the complicated status of BiH and Kosovo.

“Plans for Kosovo and BiH have been announced, because both have complicated status. For that reason, Biden’s headquarters has published its views on these issues and what can be expected from the policy towards them when he comes to power,” he said.

When asked why the plans for Serbia and other countries in the region have not been published yet, Milic says that it is because Biden’s headquarters views that country as stable.

“They consider other countries in the region stable. Biden’s team believes that all those countries, including Serbia, should be part of the EU and NATO. According to them, that is the best way to reconcile the region,” Milic added.

B92 recalled that the magazine “Wall Street International” published an article about 750.000 American citizens of Serbian origin, who live in key and crucially important states for the upcoming elections in the USA. The article said that Serbs, who have not forgotten Biden’s support for the bombing of Yugoslavia, could be the decisive factor in the November presidential elections.

See at: https://bit.ly/3dOc6Ie

Hoti: No ZSO with executive powers (KIM radio, RTV Puls)

The Community of Serbian Municipalities with executive powers will not be formed, the Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti reiterated at today’s press conference, reported KIM radio. 

Hoti mentioned that Kosovo was in the process of dialogue with a clear platform, which he presented extensively in the Assembly of Kosovo, but also to citizens, media, civil society, and that “dialogue will be conducted only according to these principles.”

“Those principles are clear; the territorial integrity of the country is not touched. The agreement should be comprehensive, with recognition. Either we will reach such an agreement, or there will be no agreement at all, we will continue as two neighboring countries that do not recognize each other,” said Hoti and added:

“When the agreement was ratified in 2013, the constitution was threatened. This issue is no longer open, but the obligation of the state of Kosovo towards the Association of Serbian Municipalities has been created. If an agreement is reached with the principles I mentioned, it must be ratified in the Assembly of Kosovo, but it will not affect the unitary character of Kosovo and there will be no executive powers of the Association,” Hoti said.

When asked by journalists whether the Government of Kosovo will be endangered if it did not follow the recommendations of Miroslav Lajcak, Hoti answered:

“I do not answer to anyone, except the Constitution of Kosovo and the parliamentary majority. These are my constitutional obligations. We are in the process of dialogue with clear principles that have been recognized by international partners. We are conducting a dialogue based on those principles,” Hoti said.

 

 

Opinion

 

Vucic Announced New Elections Even Before New Government Constitution (Balkan Insight)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s announcement that Serbia will have a snap parliamentary elections in April 2022, although the new Government still has not been formed, experts see as his attempt to boost chipped legitimacy and his party chances on Belgrade’s elections the same year.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Tuesday announced that early parliamentary elections will be held in April 2022, even though a new government has still has not been formed following the June 2020 elections.

After a session of his ruling Serbian Progressive Party presidency, Vucic said the new government, which has yet to be formed, will be of limited duration, adding that new elections will be held on April 3, 2022 at the latest, jointly with regular presidential elections. Local elections in the capital Belgrade will also be held that year, presumably at the same time as the presidential and parliamentary elections.

A political scientist from Belgrade, Vujo Ilic, told BIRN that it looked like a tactical move to strengthen his democratic legitimacy in the country and abroad after it was shaken by an opposition boycott in the June elections.

“By calling early parliamentary elections the ruling party will control the agenda, and, by joining it with presidential polls and the politically uncertain Belgrade city elections, it will ensure itself an electoral advantage … after the boycotted elections, which were criticized for lack of legitimacy in Serbia and abroad,” Ilic told BIRN.

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

 

 

International

 

BSF: Western Balkans is influenced by strong anti-Western narratives (EWB)

BELGRADE – Despite the declared ambition of all Western Balkan countries to join the European Union and their integration and increasing cooperation with NATO, the region is influenced by strong anti-Western narratives that significantly shape the public discourse and influence citizens’ opinions, it was concluded during the panel „Anti-Western narratives in the Western Balkans: Threat to Euro-Atlantic integration? (In partnership with the European Western Balkans), on the 10th Belgrade Security Forum (BSF).

But while the EU and NATO were primarily concerned about external influences on Western Balkan media, it became increasingly evident that there are also important local sources of anti-Western narratives, including both government representatives and local media, panelists stressed.

This panel sought to provide answers to the questions of who produces these narratives, how are they shaped and what is their purpose.

See at: https://bit.ly/3jbO0Ik

EU-Western Balkans: Time is of the essence (eureporter.co)

Earlier this month the European Commission adopted its annual enlargement package, which includes a communication on EU enlargement policy assessing the current state of the Western Balkans integration within the EU and outlining priorities for future action. There are many reasons why both parties have an interest in advancing such a relationship, writes Vladimir Krulj, Fellow at the UK-based Institute of Economic Affairs.

First, the process of European integration is a source of political stability. This is especially important in a region where the memory of the tragic civil war is still very vivid in the minds of its people. Indeed, despite meaningful progress in many fields, the Western Balkans remain in a delicate and uncertain political situation. Populism is on the rise, corruption is rife, nationalism has revived and countries are suffering from democratic deficits.

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

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

New UN gender study: Women ‘far from having an equal voice to men’ (news.un.org, N1)

The COVID-19 pandemic is “interrupting efforts” to achieve gender equality and threatening to “reverse hard-won gains” over the past decades, a senior UN official said on Tuesday.

Introducing the 2020 edition of The World’s Women: Trends and Statistics, Liu Zhenmin, chief of the UN’s economic and social affairs department (DESA), said that over the last two decades, “attitudes of discrimination are slowly changing” and women’s lives have improved with regard to education, early marriage, childbearing and maternal mortality, all while progress has stagnated in other areas.

“Women are far from having an equal voice to men”, spelled out the DESA chief. “And, in every region of the world, women are still subjected to various forms of violence and harmful practices”. 

See at: https://bit.ly/37sRiEH

Andjelka Cup received award for reporting on poverty (Radio KIM)

Gracanica-online portal Editor-in-Chief Andjelka Cup received an award for a reportage about life at the times of coronavirus pandemic at Roma Mahala in Mitrovica South, Radio KIM reports.

The Association of Journalists of Kosovo in cooperation with UN agencies awarded her. Cup received the award for reporting on poverty for the second time.

“I am really proud and happy over the award, but at the same time I feel sad because we have been doing the same stories year after year. Unfortunately, the number of poor people increases every year, in particular those from marginalized communities. I wished next year we would deal with some other and nicer topics”, Cup told RTV KIM.  

She also appealed to her colleagues to deal with those topics more in the future.

“Same as coronavirus, poverty has no nation or religion. Colleagues should go to the field more to document those stories, not looking at who is poor or what community person comes from, in order to somehow apply pressure on decision makers to do something”, Cup said.

The UN agencies that supported the award include UNMIK, UNICEF, UNDP, IOM, UNFPA, UNHCR and UN Women, Radio KIM recalled.

Kon: Face mask and physical distance – 99 pct protection (N1)

Predrag Kon, an epidemiologist and a member of Serbian anti-coronavirus Crisis Team, said on Wednesday that wearing face masks and keeping physical distance provided a 99 percent protection from the coronavirus infection.

“If only one person wears a mask the protection for them is about 30 percent”, Kon wrote on his Facebook profile.

His message came after Prime Minister-designate Ana Brnabic said late on Tuesday that by 8 pm last night there were 400 people infected with the coronavirus after the regular official bulletin at 3 p.m. said that number was 326.

“In the beginning, the (World Health Organisation) WHO believed a mask was functional only if an infected person wore it to prevent the virus from spreading. The latest studies about their effectiveness show the pandemic is more successfully fought against in the countries where people massively wear them”, Kon wrote.

Coronavirus second wave: Which countries in Europe are experiencing a fresh spike in COVID-19 cases? (euronews.com)

Countries across Europe are seeing a resurgence in COVID-19 cases after successfully slowing outbreaks early in the year.

The vast majority of countries are declaring more cases each day now than they were during the first wave earlier this year.

See at: https://bit.ly/37qfUxU

For Kosovo’s Judo Stars, Medals Must Wait (Balkan Insight)

Kosovo has become a force to be reckoned with on the world judo stage. The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics has come as a bitter blow.

For Distria Krasniqi, the postponement of the 2020 Olympics isn’t merely a disappointment. It means another year of intense calorie-counting and sleepless nights.

“Sometimes I think people just don’t get it,” said Driton Kuka, selector of Kosovo’s national judo team, of which Krasniqi is a member.

“They don’t know what it takes to slim down to less than 48kg of body weight and then go out and fight the next day.”

“Her body structure, hormones, muscle mass, everything… we will have to endure one more year.”

See at:https://bit.ly/3obsRl7

EU commissioner advocates joint migration management with Western Balkans (N1, Hina)

The European Union (EU) has to manage migration together with its Western Balkan partners, notably in returning illegal migrants who should go back to their countries of origin and in fighting against human traffickers, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson has said.

Human traffickers are extremely well-organised in the Western Balkans and they should be fought together. Without close cooperation with those countries, we won’t be successful in the fight against traffickers, she told the press in Brussels ahead of an annual meeting between the EU and Western Balkan justice and interior ministers on Thursday.

Johansson said the meeting would discuss migration and the fight against human traffickers, terrorism and organised crime.

There are many illegal migrants in the Western Balkans who are not refugees and who must go back to their countries of origin, she said.

Both the EU and the Western Balkans should have a registration system for asylum seekers and adequate accommodation capacities for migrants as well as strengthen the asylum system, she said.

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

 

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