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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, October 28, 2020

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• COVID-19 report: Three deaths, 197 new cases (media)
• Health Minister: There will be increased controls (media)
• The next Kosovo-Serbia meeting at level of experts, on Thursday (media)
• EU: Association will not have executive competencies (media)
• U.S. Ambassador Kosnett’s interview with Dukagjini TV (media)
• Hoti pledges to restore lawfulness in Kosovo (media)
• Mustafa: Hoti has courage to fight corruption, can’t be blackmailed (media)
• U.S. elections, “determinant” for continuation of Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (RFE)
• Government: We are waiting for invitation for Mini-Schengen (Express)
• Haradinaj: Decisions in the coalition to be made in partnership (media)
• MPs see no Kosovo statehood signs at Merdare crossing point (Koha)
• Kosovo Spends €2.5 Million Paying Non-Working Serb Employees (Balkan Insight)

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  • COVID-19 report: Three deaths, 197 new cases (media)
  • Health Minister: There will be increased controls (media)
  • The next Kosovo-Serbia meeting at level of experts, on Thursday (media)
  • EU: Association will not have executive competencies (media)
  • U.S. Ambassador Kosnett’s interview with Dukagjini TV (media)
  • Hoti pledges to restore lawfulness in Kosovo (media)
  • Mustafa: Hoti has courage to fight corruption, can’t be blackmailed (media)
  • U.S. elections, “determinant” for continuation of Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (RFE)
  • Government: We are waiting for invitation for Mini-Schengen (Express)
  • Haradinaj: Decisions in the coalition to be made in partnership (media)
  • MPs see no Kosovo statehood signs at Merdare crossing point (Koha)
  • Kosovo Spends €2.5 Million Paying Non-Working Serb Employees (Balkan Insight)

 

COVID-19 report: Three deaths, 197 new cases (media)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health said in a statement on Tuesday that three deaths and 197 new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the last 24 hours.

48 patients have recovered from the virus during this time. The highest number of new cases is from the municipality of Prishtina (92).

There are currently 2,751 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

Health Minister: There will be increased controls (media)

Kosovo’s Minister of Health Armend Zemaj told a press conference in Prishtina on Tuesday that there will be increased controls as part of efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

“We met today with the sanitary inspection, the Association of Municipalities and the Kosovo Police. Our engagement will be permanent, well-coordinated, and we are also working on some other plans. There will be increased controls in many directions, not focused only on the gastronomy … We will have to see if we are going to need additional measures and restrictions. The situation is not going in our favour. We are expecting the new contingent of 400 police officers to start work. We are focused on prevention and the moment that we will have an increase in cases in hospitals we are going to have to introduce measures,” Zemaj said.

The next Kosovo-Serbia meeting at level of experts, on Thursday (media)

After more than a month, the delegations of Kosovo and Serbia are expected to meet in Brussels at the level of experts on Thursday within the framework of the dialogue facilitated by the European Union, diplomatic sources in Brussels told Radio Free Europe.

This meeting was originally scheduled to take place at the end of September, but was postponed due to preventive measures against the coronavirus pandemic as well as due to the obstacles presented around the topics in the dialogue, which the parties did not agree on.

According to sources in Brussels, the parties are expected to discuss financial issues and property claims of the parties, topics that were discussed in previous meetings.

EU: Association will not have executive competencies (media)

A spokesman for the European Union said on Tuesday that the EU’s position is that the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities will not be a parallel government and that it will not adopt own laws, as was made clear by former EU High Representative Federica Mogherini during her address to the Kosovo Assembly in May 2016.

Asked if EU High Representative Josep Borrell and EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak maintain the position that the Association/Community will not have executive powers, EU spokesman Peter Stano said: “We would like to refer you to the statement made by former head of European diplomacy, Mogherini, at the Kosovo Assembly, on May 6, 2016, in which she explained clearly the position of the EU”. 

U.S. Ambassador Kosnett’s interview with Dukagjini TV (media)

Most news websites cover an interview that the United States Ambassador to Kosovo, Philip Kosnett, had with Dukagjini TV on Tuesday.

Kosnett said there are many scenarios with regards to elections or government reshuffling but leaders of political parties in Kosovo must respect the Constitution. “If the Constitution allows for changes in the coalition, we will respect that. But if Kosovo goes towards elections, we will respect that option too. I have heard people saying that the United States will not allow elections or that we won’t accept certain results, this is not true,” he said.

Kosnett said there is no chance that the U.S. will bring the name of the new President of Kosovo in an envelope. “I don’t think any of my colleagues are interested in doing this. We are in 2020 and I don’t believe that such instructions from the outside can function,” he said.

Kosnett said the government’s decision to disband the anti-corruption task force was wrong.

“I think the Prime Minister was wrong in this case. The task force was a very efficient organisation. The government should have done a better job in explaining its objectives. I am not saying that the government cannot make changes, but it needs to do a better job in explaining its decisions,” he said.

Kosnett said Kosovo is part of Europe and that it must maintain good relations with Brussels. “When I came to Kosovo, I met the political leaders and they would often tell me: “We don’t need the Europeans, because we have special relations with the U.S.’. I told them: ‘Yes you have special relations with the United States and I would like for the democrats and republicans in the U.S. to agree on other issues the way they agree on relations with Kosovo, but look at the map, Kosovo is not part of the United States, it is in Europe,” he said.

Kosnett said the five non-recognising EU member states will change their position if there is progress in relations between Kosovo and Serbia. “Who would have thought that North Macedonia and Greece would reach an agreement on the name, but it did happen. People thought it was impossible for the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain or Sudan to have relations with Israel, but it did happen,” he added. 

Hoti pledges to restore lawfulness in Kosovo (media)

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said in a video conference with EU Special Representative Tomas Szunyog and Quint ambassadors that his government is committed to restoring lawfulness and addressing all challenges in the fight against organised crime and corruption. Hoti also said he will further cooperation with the Quint countries in the rule of law area.

Koha notes that Hoti’s government was criticised by the Quint countries and the European Union for disbanding the anti – corruption task force.

Mustafa: Hoti has courage to fight corruption, can’t be blackmailed (media)

Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Isa Mustafa said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti is the right person to fight crime and corruption in the country.

“Prime Minister Hoti is proving that he has the courage and determination to fight crime and corruption,” he said. “Hoti is skilled and uncorrupted, therefore he is independent and cannot be blackmailed when making tough decisions. Some people might not like referring to constitutional and legal mechanisms to combat crime, but I am confident that this is the only way for a clean person like Prime Minister Hoti”.

Gazeta Express notes that Mustafa’s support comes after Hoti clashed with AAK leader Ramush Haradinaj and received criticism from international officials for disbanding the anti-corruption task force.

U.S. elections, “determinant” for continuation of Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (RFE)

The news website reported on Tuesday that the EU-facilitated dialogue for the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia has been blocked again with parties failing to agree on the topic of the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities. The last meeting at the level of leaders in Brussels was held on September 7, three days after the signing of the agreement at the White House. The winner of the U.S. presidential elections on November 3 is expected to determine the continuation of the Kosovo – Serbia dialogue.

Engjellushe Morina, expert with the Berlin-based European Council for Foreign Relations (ECFR), said the dialogue will not continue until the winner of the U.S. presidential election is announced. “I don’t believe there will be any movement in the process before mid-November,” she said. “This depends largely on the outcome of the U.S. election and this result will have its role on the pace of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. We have seen that the U.S. launched the initiative for economic normalisation”.

Jeta Krasniqi, from the Prishtina-based Kosovo Democratic Institute (KDI), said she doesn’t expect the continuation of dialogue to depend fully on the U.S. election. She said however that full coordination between the U.S. and the European Union is needed to reach a final agreement.

“The Kosovo – Serbia dialogue is on the table of the EU now and it must be seen how the process can be unblocked and move forward. A final agreement however needs the backing of the U.S. too … without the participation of the U.S. there can be no agreement that will result in mutual recognition, in Kosovo’s membership of the United Nations and other results that we expect from the process,” she said.

Government: We are waiting for invitation for Mini-Schengen (Express)

The Kosovo Government has not yet received an invitation to take part in the upcoming Mini-Schengen meeting.

“The Office of the Prime Minister of Kosovo is waiting for an invitation to the meeting. As soon as we receive the invitation, we will announce our decision to the media and the public,” the Office of Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti told the news website on Tuesday.

Express notes that the upcoming meeting of leaders of the Western Balkans, known as the Balkans Mini-Schengen, is expected to draw a lot of attention as Kosovo could take part for the first time.

Haradinaj: Decisions in the coalition to be made in partnership (media)

Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) MP Daut Haradinaj said that remarks from this party, which is the main partner in the LDK-led ruling coalition, are public and that the LDK should reflect on them. “We might have different opinions in decision-making processes but as long as we are part of the coalition this means that we don’t have any serious problems. We certainly have our remarks, they are public, and they must not be seen as blows against the government … they are messages to reflect and to make decisions in greater partnership because we are partners in the ruling coalition,” Haradinaj said.

MPs see no Kosovo statehood signs at Merdare crossing point (Koha)

Members of the Kosovo Assembly’s committee on security and defence issues visited yesterday the Merdare crossing point and concluded that there is no implementation of agreements signed between Kosovo and Serbia. They said they saw no signs at the crossing point that indicates statehood of Kosovo.

Chairperson of the committee, Fatmire Kollcaku from the Vetevendosje Movement, said the Kosovo side sees the crossing point as a genuine border while the Serbian side does not. “What we can conclude is that not only is the recent Washington agreement not visible, apart from physical approximation… but there is also no good will on the other part to implement agreements from 2011-2012 on IBM,” she said. Kollcaku noted that there is no cooperation or exchange of information between the Kosovo and Serbian sides at the crossing point.

Kosovo Spends €2.5 Million Paying Non-Working Serb Employees (Balkan Insight)

According to Kosovo’s National Audit Office, the country’s ministries have paid out at least 2.5 million euros in salaries to former members of the Serbian Civil Protection Corps, CPC who have not been turning up for work as part of an attempt to integrate them into state institutions.

The full number of employees who have been failing to fulfil their duties is unknown. However, according to National Audit Office data, from 2017 to 2019, nine of Kosovo’s ministries have paid employees who did no work.

One Kosovo Serb, who wanted to be identified only by the initials M.M, was contracted on January 5, 2016 as a higher education official at Kosovo’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, but told BIRN that although he has been regularly paid for nearly five years now, he has never actually worked.

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

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