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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, October 29, 2020

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• COVID – 19 report: Four deaths, 281 new cases (media)
• Kosovo Chamber of Commerce chairman warns of collapse (media)
• Thaci meets leaders of political parties (media)
• Osmani: LDK always tried to include PDK in government (Telegrafi)
• Gashi: Anti-corruption task force produced no exceptional results (media)
• Maas: Dialogue and comprehensive agreement have no alternative (media)
• EU Special Representative Tomas Szunyog interview to KTV
• Grenell calls on Albanian Americans to help reelect Donald Trump (media)
• Trump Takes Credit For Ending Kosovo War, Which Ended In 1999 (Forbes)
• Konjufca: Vetevendosje, 40% of votes according to another party’s poll (media)
• First Defendant at Hague-Based Kosovo War Court Pleads Not Guilty (Balkan Insight)
• PDK’s political activist ‘misled authorities’ to get media commission job (Prishtina Insight)

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  • COVID – 19 report: Four deaths, 281 new cases (media)
  • Kosovo Chamber of Commerce chairman warns of collapse (media)
  • Thaci meets leaders of political parties (media)
  • Osmani: LDK always tried to include PDK in government (Telegrafi)
  • Gashi: Anti-corruption task force produced no exceptional results (media)
  • Maas: Dialogue and comprehensive agreement have no alternative (media)
  • EU Special Representative Tomas Szunyog interview to KTV
  • Grenell calls on Albanian Americans to help reelect Donald Trump (media)
  • Trump Takes Credit For Ending Kosovo War, Which Ended In 1999 (Forbes)
  • Konjufca: Vetevendosje, 40% of votes according to another party’s poll (media)
  • First Defendant at Hague-Based Kosovo War Court Pleads Not Guilty (Balkan Insight)
  • PDK’s political activist ‘misled authorities’ to get media commission job (Prishtina Insight)

COVID-19 report: Four deaths, 281 new cases (media)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health said in a statement on Wednesday that four deaths and a record-setting 281 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the last 24 hours.

97 patients have recovered from the virus during this time. The highest number of new cases is from the municipality of Prishtina (150).

Media also reported on Wednesday that the leader of the Vetevendosje Movement and former Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, has tested positive for COVID-19. Kurti said via social media that he was experiencing mild symptoms and would self-isolate during a two-week period.

Radio Free Europe reports that over 1,200 Kosovars have asked for psychiatric help during the coronavirus pandemic. A doctor with the mental health center in Prishtina said among the biggest problems they have identified with people during the pandemic were sleep disorder, anxiety, depression and lack of medicaments.

There are currently 2,931 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

Kosovo Chamber of Commerce chairman warns of collapse (media)

Kosovo Chamber of Commerce chairman Berat Rukiqi said on Wednesday that if the government decides to introduce new restrictive measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic without implementing the economic recovery package, some sectors of the economy will collapse.

“Countries that are going on lockdown again (partially or fully) have secured funds and budgets to support sectors of the economy that are being hit by the anti-COVID 19 measures,” Rukiqi said. “We have yet to adopt a basic recovery law, we are failing to do this for weeks now. Any plan for new restrictive measures (if the need arises) must be accompanied with the urgent implementation of the Recovery Law and with additional funds to support the most vulnerable sectors”.

Thaci meets leaders of political parties (media)

President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci met yesterday leaders of political parties to discuss preparations for upcoming mayoral elections in Podujeve and Mitrovica North as well as the general political situation in Kosovo.

Telegrafi however points out that the meeting did not include any representatives from the Vetevendosje Movement whose spokesperson Perparim Kryeziu said they received no invitation.

At the same time, leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) Ramush Haradinaj spoke to reporters after the meeting and said that its focus was coordination on national issues. He however ruled out that they discussed the post of president or the Specialist Chambers. 

Osmani: LDK always tried to include PDK in government (Telegrafi)

Kosovo Assembly President Vjosa Osmani said in an interview with the news website on Wednesday that the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) always aimed to be in coalition with the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK).

“I am certainly not part of such meetings because I was not even part of calculations that brought the current government in power. These were dishonest calculations and sooner or later they will receive the merited answer from the people of Kosovo. They cannot escape the people’s verdict regardless of when elections will be held,” she said.

“Regardless of developments related to the Specialist Chambers, the current people in the LDK had always aimed to be in coalition with the PDK. So, regardless if there is an indictment or not, this was their objective. They are only using the issue of the Specialist Chambers as an excuse. Their main objective was to have a coalition between the LDK and PAN immediately after the LDK – VV government was brought down,” Osmani said.

Osmani also said that some people in the LDK are against a coalition with the PDK, but that decision-makers in this party are in favor of such a coalition. “It is only a matter of time before they invite the PDK to join the government,” she added.

Gashi: Anti-corruption task force produced no exceptional results (media)

Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) parliamentary group chief, Arben Gashi, said in a debate on Dukagjini TV on Wednesday that the now-disbanded anti-corruption task force produced no exceptional results in ten years. He also argued that the task force lacked a legal basis and that international partners could have been surprised by the government’s decision because they were not informed.

“If we look at the work of the task force in the last ten years, it did not produce any exceptional results. The way it was established it poses the threat of being used against groups or individuals”.

Gashi further argued that the task force was an instrument in the hands of the Prime Minister. “Prime Minister Hoti could have replaced them [members of the task force] with people close to him and this would have this organisation even more dangerous,” he said.

Gashi said another anti-corruption task force should be established but with a legal basis “and not as an instrument in the hands of the Prime Minister”.

Asked to comment on possible candidates for the post of Kosovo President, Gashi said LDK leader Isa Mustafa is the candidate with the best chances of being elected to the post.

EU Special Representative Tomas Szunyog interview to KTV

EU Special Representative and EU Head of Office in Kosovo, Tomas Szunyog, said in an interview with KTV on Wednesday that the European Council has to decide on visa liberalisation for Kosovo. “Unfortunately, this is not in my hands. But I would say that there is some kind of connection between organised crime, corruption, between immigration activities and visa liberalisation,” he said. “What I can say is to repeat the facts and these are that the European Commission has already recommended visa liberalisation for Kosovo in July 2018 in the Progress Report. We have called on the Council again to take a decision as an urgent matter … so it is up to the Council, which consists of member states, to decide.”

Szunyog said he asked for explanations from Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti about the decision to disband the anti-corruption task force. He said he was surprised by Hoti’s decision because neither his office nor EULEX were consulted on the matter. “Secondly, we were concerned because the decision was made without realizing what would replace this unit of the task force, what is the bigger plan for reforms in rule of law agencies, including the police? So, we were surprised, and we asked the Prime Minister for explanations and specifics into what the plan is.”

Szunyog said that in a meeting with some foreign ambassadors and Prime Minister Hoti, the latter explained the decision to disband the task force and presented several steps that he plans to take in the coming weeks and months. “He also stressed that the objective is law enforcement and especially, to make the fight against corruption more effective and efficient … and that he is entirely committed to working together with the international community to develop a better system.”

Szunyog said that the time has come for a final settlement between Kosovo and Serbia and that this is a matter of months. “There are two issues. First, this has been continuing since 2010 and now the time has come to conclude the process with a final settlement. The second issue, which was quite positive, is the good results of these negotiations. There have been several meetings where both sides have managed to relatively quickly negotiate on two chapters of the future agreement.

I don’t see any reason why not to continue with a similar pace and a similar proactive way of negotiations. If it continues the way it started in July, I don’t see any reason why it should last more than several months.”

Asked if issues related to the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities require constitutional amendments, Szunyog said it depends on what the parties agree. “We are not talking only about changing the Constitution of Kosovo, but for legal and constitutional changes both in Kosovo and Serbia. But this depends on the substance of the agreement which has yet to be reached,” he said. Szunyog also said that it is up to the Kosovo Government to propose how to move forward with the issue of the Association.

Maas: Dialogue and comprehensive agreement have no alternative (media)

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Wednesday that for Kosovo and Serbia have no other alternative except for the dialogue and a comprehensive agreement. During a video conference with representatives of countries of the Western Balkans, including Kosovo, Mass said he appreciates the approach of EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak toward both parties to resume the talks. “This especially goes for Kosovo and Serbia. The solution is running late. Therefore, I am thankful that Miroslav Lajcak resumed the EU-facilitated dialogue in July. I share his opinion that there is no other alternative to a comprehensive, sustainable and binding agreement,” he said.

Maas said a final settlement between Kosovo and Serbia requires strong political leadership. “I have faith that leaders in Belgrade and Prishtina will prove this – through constructive engagement and by paving the way to a new era,” he said. “The sooner you start the better it will be for the stability of the whole region and it will unblock Kosovo and Serbia’s prospects for EU membership.”

Grenell calls on Albanian Americans to help reelect Donald Trump (media)

All news websites reported on Wednesday evening that U.S. Presidential Envoy for the Kosovo – Serbia, Richard Grenell, called on Albanian Americans to vote for Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential election.

“I just want to take a couple of minutes to give a shout out to my Albanian American friends and really encourage you all that Donald Trump has worked very hard for peace in the Balkans and for economic normalisation. He has paid attention to an area where you know Barack Obama and Joe Biden have not paid attention to. We hope that our Albanian American friends will do everything they can to help reelect Donald Trump. He has worked hard for your vote and understands that the region needs normalcy when it comes to economic progress. And I hope you recognise the work that has been put in and vote to reelect Donald Trump,” Grenell said in the video message.

Trump Takes Credit For Ending Kosovo War, Which Ended In 1999 (Forbes)

President Donald Trump added a new line to his foreign policy resume this week, repeatedly insisting he brokered an end to the violent conflict between Serbia and Kosovo, even though the Kosovo War ended more than two decades ago — a bizarre and inaccurate claim as the president looks to tout his dealmaking skills in the final week of the campaign.

During a Nebraska rally on Tuesday, Trump claimed Serbia and Kosovo had been fighting for centuries, but this bloody conflict supposedly ended after Trump told the two countries’ leaders he was unwilling to make any trade deals unless they agreed to stop killing each other, a successful maneuver the president predicted will “save a lot of lives.”

See more at: https://bit.ly/37Sq2zY

Konjufca: Vetevendosje, 40% of votes according to another party’s poll (media)

Vetevendosje Movement (VV) deputy leader Glauk Konjufca said on Wednesday that a poll by another political party indicated that Vetevendosje would win over 40 percent of votes in eventual general elections and around 50 MPs. According to Konjufca, the poll showed that a good government would consist of VV, Vjosa Osmani and minority communities.

First Defendant at Hague-Based Kosovo War Court Pleads Not Guilty (Balkan Insight)

Salih Mustafa, who was a Kosovo Liberation Army commander in north-east Kosovo during wartime, entered a not guilty plea at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers on Thursday.

Mustafa is accused of the arbitrary detention, cruel treatment, torture and murder of civilian prisoners who were held at a compound in the village of Zllash/Zlas in April 1999 during the Kosovo war.

The prosecution alleges that he was part of a joint criminal enterprise with “certain other KLA soldiers, police, and guards”, which had a “shared common purpose to interrogate and mistreat detainees”.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3mqSv3I

PDK’s political activist ‘misled authorities’ to get media commission job (Prishtina Insight)

Authorities have been urged to remove a recently-elected member of the Independent Media Commission after it emerged that he had been working with the Democratic Party of Kosovo contrary to regulations on political involvement.

Granit Musliu, who was elected as a member of the Independent Media Commission by MPs in the Kosovo Assembly on Monday, was recently active in the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, contrary to regulations prohibiting recent political involvement, BIRN has learned.

See more at: https://bit.ly/35IpQR9

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