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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, October 22, 2020

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• Minister of Health: 124 new cases of COVID-19, no deaths (media)
• Media coverage of United Nations Security Council session on Kosovo
• Hoti and Vucic to meet virtually on Thursday (Klan Kosova)
• Hoti pledges not to allow constitutional order to be threatened (media)
• Osmani: Agreement of 2013 and 2015 is neither the Bible nor Quran (media)
• “Constitution neither Bible nor Quran, let’s change it for uniting with Albania”
• EU concerned over abolishment of anti-corruption task force (media)
• Finance Ministry official arrested over €2 million transaction (Prishtina Insight)
• Minister Bajrami defiant in face of calls for her resignation (media)

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  • Minister of Health: 124 new cases of COVID-19, no deaths (media)
  • Media coverage of United Nations Security Council session on Kosovo
  • Hoti and Vucic to meet virtually on Thursday (Klan Kosova)
  • Hoti pledges not to allow constitutional order to be threatened (media)
  • Osmani: Agreement of 2013 and 2015 is neither the Bible nor Quran (media)
  • “Constitution neither Bible nor Quran, let’s change it for uniting with Albania”
  • EU concerned over abolishment of anti-corruption task force (media)
  • Finance Ministry official arrested over €2 million transaction (Prishtina Insight)
  • Minister Bajrami defiant in face of calls for her resignation (media)

 

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

Kosovo’s Minister of Health Armend Zemaj said on Wednesday 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”.

There are currently 2,029 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

Media coverage of United Nations Security Council session on Kosovo

Members of the UN Security Council discussed yesterday the quarterly report of the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the situation in Kosovo.

Radio Free Europe and Koha report in its coverage that in presenting the report, UNMIK chief Zahir Tanin called on Kosovo and Serbia to engage in constructive dialogue. The UN mission chief welcomed the resumption of the Kosovo – Serbia dialogue in Brussels and called on both parties to use constructive talks to resolve all pending issues.

Under the headline, “UNMIK chief urges Kosovo and Serbia to engage in constructive dialogue”, Koha further quotes Tanin as saying that meetings of Kosovo and Serbia representatives in Washington have demonstrated the potential for progress “in moving difficult issues forward”.

Kosovapress news agency highlights in its headline the SRSG’s quote that the need for global security was never clearer in UN history. “Political unity, strong commitment and good will among leaders in Pristina and Belgrade were a prerequisite for negotiations to succeed, he said, expressing hope both sides would overcome disputed issues and find common ground to reach a comprehensive agreement,” the SRSG is quoted as saying.

Recognising another important anniversary, SRSG Tanin noted this year marked 20 years since the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security. The importance of women’s meaningful participation in the peace process at all levels, particularly in the ongoing dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, was “central to achieving results and helps to ensure that they correspond to the real needs of people,” he said.

SRSG Tanin concluded his remarks by reiterating UNMIK’s unqualified commitment to supporting the EU-facilitated dialogue and the efforts of leaders on both sides to move decisively towards a comprehensive agreement and long-term peace and reconciliation.

Zeri reports in its coverage that ambassadors of Security Council member states welcomed the resumption of dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia that the United States and the United Kingdom have called for UNMIK’s role in Kosovo to be reviewed.

Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia said Moscow considers UNMIK as the main international mission in Kosovo. The Chinese Deputy Ambassador Geng Shuang too said China supports a continued mandate for UNMIK.

Indeksonline reports in its coverage that before Kosovo Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla commenced her speech, the Russian Presidency did not want to allow her to speak with the flag of the Republic of Kosovo, asking her to remove it. Haradinaj-Stublla refused saying “we are here on the basis of the principle of equality and we will not accept to remove the symbols of statehood. If the Russian presidency does not allow us to take part in the debate, it is setting a dangerous precedent”.

Haradinaj-Stublla said Kosovo is an independent and sovereign state and that “the decision of the International Court of Justice confirmed this”. She also mentioned the crimes committed by Serbia in the last war in Kosovo and that the bodies of missing persons must be returned immediately.

Telegrafi reports that the UK at the UN tweeted that the UK stands ready to support a comprehensive and sustainable normalisation agreement between Kosovo and Serbia, that benefits people of both countries. “We will welcome the resumption of EU-facilitated dialogue, led by Miroslav Lajcak,” the tweet says. “We cannot allow impunity for war crimes committed at the time of the 1999 conflict. The United Kingdom supports efforts to see justice is done & regrets continuing slow progress in prosecutions. We urge Serbia and Kosovo authorities to work together in dealing with these historic crimes.”

The same news website also reports that the that members of the Security Council disagreed over the future of UNMIK with the U.S. representative calling for a transition plan for the mission to be prepared.

Most news websites highlighted the remarks of German Ambassador, Christoph Heusgen, and his remarks to Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic that his speech is a copy of previous texts. “Serbian representatives talk a lot about the crimes of Albanians and they do not talk about crimes committed against Albanians in 1998 and 1999, and the ethnic cleansing and mass expulsion,” he said.

Heusgen said he was surprised by Serbia’s policy of trying to retract recognitions of Kosovo’s independence. “Our Serbian friends are shooting themselves on the foot, because if they want to join the European Union, they need to work on recognition and recognise Kosovo,” he said.

Lajmi too reports that “Germany and the United Kingdom slammed Dacic” by mentioning to him Serbia’s crimes in Kosovo.

At the same time, representatives of Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway and UK issued a joint statement on Kosovo.

“We, European Union Member States of the Security Council, Estonia, Belgium, France, Germany, joined today by the United Kingdom, Ireland and Norway strongly support the efforts of the EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajčák.  We welcome the decision to resume the dialogue process taken on 10 July which effectively resumed on 12 July and are encouraged by the substantial work done since then under the auspices of the High Representative Josep Borrell and the EUSR Lajčák. The EU-facilitated Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina is the only viable option for reaching a comprehensive and sustainable normalization agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.”

The countries called on political actors in Kosovo and Serbia to work together and build political consensus towards the common goal. This will also require determined reform efforts from both countries to strengthen the rule of law, in particular the fight against corruption and organised crime, and to promote socio-economic development. We hereby highlight the importance of the strong cooperation with EULEX.  We also stress that respect of and cooperation with the Specialist Chambers is an international obligation for Kosovo.

Hoti and Vucic to meet virtually on Thursday (Klan Kosova)

The news website reports that Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar will meet virtually at the Belgrade Security Summit on Thursday. Klan Kosova learns that Hoti and Vucic were invited as panelists in an episode of discussions on the future of relations between Kosovo and Serbia. Attending the discussions will also be European Union Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak and a senior member of the German government.

Hoti pledges not to allow constitutional order to be threatened (media)

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said on Wednesday that he is confident that the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities will not be opened in the EU-facilitated dialogue with Serbia in Brussels. During a session of the Kosovo Assembly, he said he would not allow Kosovo’s constitutional order to come under threat.

“Our position is very clear. This topic will not be opened in the dialogue with Serbia, because there is an agreement that was signed and ratified in the Assembly in 2013. In addition to this, there is an agreement of principles on the Association in 2015 and the decision of the Constitutional Court on the matter. Every action on this matter will be done in compliance with them,” he said.

“We will not allow any interventions or threats to the constitutional order in Kosovo. We will not agree on anything unless we agree on everything. First of all, mutual recognition,” Hoti added.

Osmani: Agreement of 2013 and 2015 is neither the Bible nor Quran (media)

Kosovo Assembly President Vjosa Osmani said in response to recent remarks by European Union Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak about constitutional changes, that the agreement on the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities in 2013 and 2015 is neither the Bible nor the Quran. She said the Constitution of Kosovo was a painful compromise.

“The concessions that were made [in 2013 and 2015] and which are trying to be implemented now go against every principle of the European Union … They go against the principle of multiethnicity and against every European charter … I want to say to everyone, including Lajcak who said that the Constitution of Kosovo is neither the Bible nor the Quran. The Constitution is our painful compromise. The agreement in 2013 and especially the agreement in 2015 is neither the Bible nor the Qoran. They should know that the Assembly of Kosovo will stop this dangerous project and it is saying no to it,” she added. 

“Constitution neither Bible nor Quran, let’s change it for uniting with Albania” (media)

Vetevendosje Movement (VV) MP Rexhep Selimi said in the Kosovo Assembly session on Wednesday that if the Constitution of Kosovo is not the Bible, in reference to recent remarks by EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak, then it should be changed to allow for the unification of Kosovo and Albania. “If we have to change it then let’s change Article 1.3 on the right for Kosovo’s unification with Albania and let us not cripple our republic,” he said.

EU concerned over abolishment of anti-corruption task force (media)

A spokeswoman for the European Commission said on Wednesday that the Kosovo government’s decision to abolish a special anti-corruption task force which operated within the Kosovo Police, raises serious concerns over Kosovo’s commitment to combat corruption.

“This office plays a key role in the fight against corruption, as highlighted in the Progress Report and the report on the monitoring of justice by the EU rule of law mission (EULEX). The government must explain its position as soon as possible,” the spokeswoman said.

Finance Ministry official arrested over €2 million transaction (Prishtina Insight)

Finance Minister Hykmete Bajrami has revealed that more than two million euros from the Kosovo budget were illegally transferred to a private business earlier this month. One official has been arrested and two more suspended.

“So far two officials have been suspended and one has been arrested,” Bajrami said, adding that attempts were being made to discover the beneficiary of the transaction and return the funds to the Kosovo budget.

“The money was withdrawn from the Ministry of Infrastructure and transferred to an economic operator on October 9,” the minister said.

In regards to the Ministry of Finance official responsible, Bajrami stated that the transfer was an abuse of official duty and an abuse of legal authorizations that the official had.

Earlier on Wednesday, Kosovo Police issued a report stating that one person was taken into custody on Tuesday night on suspicion of abuse of official position, after transferring over 2,077,995.90 euros from the state treasury.

Read full article at: https://bit.ly/3macT9f

Minister Bajrami defiant in face of calls for her resignation (media)

Kosovo’s Finance Minister Hykmete Bajrami has insisted she will not resign her post after two million euros from the Kosovo treasury were illegally transferred to a privately-owned company. She said the persons responsible for the crime will be brought to justice.

Leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) Isa Mustafa said he fully supports Bajrami in what he said was “her battle against criminals that stole over two million euros.”

“I see some would like to see her resign. But they should realise that Minister Bajrami is not there to surrender to thieves by creating a gap for hiding of evidences of public money theft but to fight crime and thieves, as she is rightfully doing,” Mustafa said.

The Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) have called on Bajrami to resign and said that the suspects in the case are affiliated to the ruling coalition parties. Vetevendosje representatives have called for the entire Hoti-led government to resign and linked the case at hand with government’s ‘lack of legitimacy.”

Meanwhile, media report that Deputy Prime Minister from the Social Democratic Initiative (NISMA), Albulena Balaj-Halimaj, dismissed her advisor whose father is one of the suspects in the case. Balaj-Halimaj said she was aware that no one should be held accountable for the actions of their family members, but “because we are dealing with a very serious crime, I see her dismissal from the post as a necessity.”

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