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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, October 23, 2020

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• COVID-19: 159 new cases, no deaths (media)
• Kosovo-Serbia dialogue discussed at the Belgrade Security Forum (Koha)
• Belgrade-Pristina: No clear vision of the compromise (BSF)
• Kurti says Washington agreement is unimplementable (RTK)
• U.S. committed to ensure success of Washington agreement (Telegrafi)
• Kosovo PM Hoti to visit North Macedonia today (media)
• VV calls Hoti to report about abolishment of anti-corruption task force (media)
• UK concerned over dissolving of anti-corruption task force (Koha)
• New Testimony Emerging on Kosovo Activist’s Death, Dehari Lawyer Says (Balkan Insight)
• Serb police block right-wing disruption of event with Kosovo (AP)

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  • COVID-19: 159 new cases, no deaths (media)
  • Kosovo-Serbia dialogue discussed at the Belgrade Security Forum (Koha)
  • Belgrade-Pristina: No clear vision of the compromise (BSF)
  • Kurti says Washington agreement is unimplementable (RTK)
  • U.S. committed to ensure success of Washington agreement (Telegrafi)
  • Kosovo PM Hoti to visit North Macedonia today (media)
  • VV calls Hoti to report about abolishment of anti-corruption task force (media)
  • UK concerned over dissolving of anti-corruption task force (Koha)
  • New Testimony Emerging on Kosovo Activist’s Death, Dehari Lawyer Says (Balkan Insight)
  • Serb police block right-wing disruption of event with Kosovo (AP)

 

COVID-19: 159 new cases, no deaths (media)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health announced in its daily update that 159 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the last 24 hours of 1,245 samples tested for the virus.

At the same time, 58 recoveries and no deaths were recorded. The highest number of new infections is in Prishtina (54).

Minister of Health Armend Zemaj said that a new record has been set in the number of tests performed over a 24-hour period.

There are currently 2,130 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

Kosovo-Serbia dialogue discussed at the Belgrade Security Forum (Koha)

Diametrically opposite stances on the final legally binding agreement were presented by Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti and President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic during a session of the Belgrade Security Forum, Koha reports on the front page.

The key to stability of the Western Balkans is the continuation of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue although it seems that an agreement is not on the horizon, participants at the special panel titled “Balkans Dialogues Initiative: Belgrade-Pristina: No Trust, No Solution” heard. The panel included Hoti, Vucic, as well as the EU Special Representative for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue Miroslav Lajcak.

While Hoti insisted mutual recognition should be part of a final peace agreement, Vucic is reported to have said that he is not interested in reaching an agreement that includes mutual recognition. Vucic at the same time accused Kosovo of conditioning the establishment of Association of Serb-majority municipalities with something that has not been signed in Brussels.

Hoti said: “We are not discussing a trade agreement between two countries. If you discuss such agreement you can frame who loses who wins. We are working for a peace agreement for full normalisation of relations between the two countries.” Hoti added that despite the painful past and with more than a thousand people still missing, Kosovo has shown commitment to dialogue. He said his government has pledged to establish the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities but ruled out the possibility of reopening the issue for further discussion.

Lajcak on his part described the dialogue process as ‘difficult’ and ‘challenging’ but ‘extremely important’. “It is a process that requires compromises, there can be no victory for one side and defeat for the other. Dialogue should not be instrumentalised for daily politics and this is my constant message. The dialogue should be placed above daily politics and needs commitment from the parties.”

Belgrade-Pristina: No clear vision of the compromise (BSF)

The much anticipated Special Event of the “Balkans Dialogues Initiative: Belgrade-Pristina: No Trust, No Solution” showed us that the key of making Western Balkan region safe and in peace is the continuation of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and that real progress is yet to be made. Panel agreed that the continuation of the dialogue is of utmost importance, even though it seems that there was no common ground on its operation.

President Aleksandar Vučić, stated in his opening comment that the normalization between two sides is of most importance for keeping peace, stability and tranquility in the region, and that this needs to happen regardless of different opinions on both sides.

“We are far away from the normal situation between our two nations, but we will have to work and change that in time. I am not optimistic, but we are dedicated to work very hard on this.”

However, he continued to say that in this dialogue only one side was ready to make compromise, while other side didn’t want to do anything that had been agreed on.

“There is nothing compromising, they just want us to recognize Kosovo.”

Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti agreed that the peace and security of the region is the most important for everyone and stated that Kosovo was ready to work together with other partners for this to happen.

“We are concerned because we are far away from the regional peace and good neighboring relations if we do not recognize each other.”

Miroslav Lajčak, EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and other Western Balkan regional issues, pointed out that without trust there was indeed no peace in the region, and that both sides need to understand that there should be strong effort and hard work towards this. He said that the key is peace and reconciliation, learning from the past and finding the truth.

“EU is going to be with them in this process. EU is not a distant dream, but very real and immediate situation. And that will happen with hard work.”

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

Kurti says Washington agreement is unimplementable (RTK)

Albin Kurti, leader of the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) considers that Washington agreement between Kosovo and Serbia is unimplementable. He said during the discussion at virtual panel that never in his career has he seen an agreement with many issues in it. According to him, the agreement was not meant to be implemented even when it was reached.

“The predominant feature of the context of these agreements in Washington is the U.S. presidential election, both of those unilateral commitments were signed by the illegitimate Prime Minister of Kosovo who had only 59 votes instead of 61, and by the authoritarian president of Serbia, concern less Albanians in Kosovo and Serbs in Serbia and more Albanians in Michigan and Serbs in Ohio. And so, it’s very much about domestic affairs and the U.S. election campaign. To be honest, I have never seen an agreement with so many issues on it, it seems like while compiling the text halfway, the one who wrote it asked everyone in the room to mention what they forgot. And then they decided on all those things, like 5G, Hezbollah, the Serbian Orthodox Churches, the relocation of embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the recognition of Israel for the Republic of Kosovo, missing persons, displaced persons and refugees, highways, railways, the lake Ujman recently proposed to change its name to Trump, the suspension of seeking recognition and membership at international organizations from Kosovo, the recognition of diplomas which has already been signed in Brussels, the so-called mini-Schengen, the American Development Bank in Belgrade etc. So all these things in a text that is just a little over 500 words. I have never seen anything like this in my political experience and in any document that I have read. Therefore, my impression is that it does not seem that this agreement was intended to be implemented, and I think this is very important to note – it was not intended to be implemented,” he said.

“The moratorium that equated Serbia’s campaign for the de-recognition of Kosovo’s independence with Kosovo’s applications for membership in the international organization is very harmful. This hinders our sovereignty and subjectivity and the best way to get collective recognition is precisely by getting membership in international organizations, because there we are in the International Arena, the International Forum, where we can engage in multilateral institutions and take a few steps forward. And it is not just the EU, the UN and NATO, we know that there are so many other international organizations that we are now being deprived of even trying to join, for example, the Council of Europe, UNESCO, the World Health Organization, Interpol, European Court of Human Rights, Adriatic Charter, etc. So I think that the one-year moratorium is harmful for Kosovo and problematic in its character “, said Kurti.

U.S. committed to ensure success of Washington agreement (Telegrafi)

The U.S. Embassy in Serbia expressed the U.S commitment to implement for implementation of the Kosovo-Serbia reached agreement in Washington.

“The U.S. is committed to ensuring the success of the September 4 Washington agreements – we must not lose this opportunity to begin a new chapter of stability, cooperation and success for the Western Balkans!” Tweeted the Embassy.

This statement followed the meeting of the U.S. Energy delegation with the institutional representatives in Kosovo and Serbia. The Embassy informed that during their meetings, the delegation discussed a serious feasibility study of Ujman Lake.

Kosovo PM Hoti to visit North Macedonia today (media)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti will make an official visit to North Macedonia today where he will meet Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and other political leaders.

A statement issued by the Government of Kosovo says that a memorandum of understanding for the establishment of clean 5G networks will be signed in Skopje with U.S. government representatives.

VV calls Hoti to report about abolishment of anti-corruption task force (media)

The Vetevendosje Movement parliamentary group has invited Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti to report to the Assembly about the government’s decision to abolish Kosovo Police anti-corruption task force that was investigating high-profile cases.

VV said that the dissolving of the task force is ‘damaging’ but ‘encouraging’ to corrupt officials. It said that any effort to fight corruption should come from a legitimate government with a political will.

UK concerned over dissolving of anti-corruption task force (Koha)

The Embassy of the United Kingdom in Kosovo said it was concerned with the decision of the Kosovo Government to dissolve the anti-corruption task force.

“The Government of Kosovo has publicly pledged to fight corruption and undertake fundamental judicial reform. We are concerned with the decision to dissolve the task force and we expect the Government to have clear plans to create a strong anti-corruption bureau to replace it, as stipulated by the functional review of the rule of law sector,” the Embassy said in a reply to the news website.

New Testimony Emerging on Kosovo Activist’s Death, Dehari Lawyer Says (Balkan Insight)

The lawyer and family of the Vetevendosje activist Astrit Dehari – who died in disputed circumstances in detention in Prizren in 2016 – claim important new testimonies and evidence on the case has emerged from witnesses and experts at the Lausanne Institute of Forensic Medicine in Switzerland.

“One witness has come forward and given new testimony that conflicts with the prosecution claims,” Tome Gashi, the Dehari family lawyer, told BIRN on Thursday.

He said this new witness, described as a former prisoner alongside Dehari, came to Gashi because of the pressure he was feeling. “I heard him [Dehari] asking for help,” Gashi said the witness had told him.

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

Serb police block right-wing disruption of event with Kosovo (AP)

Serbian riot police on Thursday prevented dozens of right-wing extremists from disrupting a youth cultural event with Kosovo after similar groups in previous weeks broke into two exhibitions and threatened artists in a theatre play.

Riot police deployed around the venue in central Belgrade hosting the Miredita Dobar Dan festival that is organized annually by liberal youth groups from Serbia and Kosovo. One of the extremists managed to break through the cordons and reach the scene before he was taken away.

See more at: https://bit.ly/2Hxj9Ji

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