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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, October 30, 2020

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• COVID-19 report: One death, 305 new cases (media)
• Zemaj: We are prepared for second wave of COVID-19 (Klan Kosova)
• Lajcak: Another step towards comprehensive normalisation agreement (media)
• Serbia wants Association with executive competencies (RFE)
• Government loses parliamentary support from minority MPs (Prishtina Insight)
• PM Hoti: No one can blackmail the government (Klan Kosova)
• Court comments on media reports about government vote (media)
• “Reporting judge asked for government to be brought down” (Express)
• Vetevendosje Movement slams Prime Minister Hoti (media)
• Assembly President Osmani condemns terror attack in France (media)
• Haradinaj: Extremism and terrorism cannot challenge France (media)
• Legal aid division chief for potential defendants of special court resigns (media)

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  • COVID-19 report: One death, 305 new cases (media)
  • Zemaj: We are prepared for second wave of COVID-19 (Klan Kosova)
  • Lajcak: Another step towards comprehensive normalisation agreement (media)
  • Serbia wants Association with executive competencies (RFE)
  • Government loses parliamentary support from minority MPs (Prishtina Insight)
  • PM Hoti: No one can blackmail the government (Klan Kosova)
  • Court comments on media reports about government vote (media)
  • “Reporting judge asked for government to be brought down” (Express)
  • Vetevendosje Movement slams Prime Minister Hoti (media)
  • Assembly President Osmani condemns terror attack in France (media)
  • Haradinaj: Extremism and terrorism cannot challenge France (media)
  • Legal aid division chief for potential defendants of special court resigns (media)

 

COVID-19 report: One death, 305 new cases (media)

305 new cases of COVID-19 and one death were confirmed in the last 24 hours in Kosovo.

82 patients have recovered from the virus during this time. The highest number of new cases is from the municipality of Prishtina (117).

There are currently 3,153 active cases of coronavirus in Kosovo.

Zemaj: We are prepared for second wave of COVID-19 (Klan Kosova)

Kosovo’s Minister for Health, Armend Zemaj, said in a debate on Klan Kosova on Thursday that Kosovo institutions are well-prepared for the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. He said the priority of the Hoti-led government was to build further human capacities to better manage the pandemic. “We are way more prepared compared to the previous months,” he added.

Zemaj further argued that the healthcare system now stands better with infrastructure, doctors, nurses and equipment. “We have made all preparations which I believe will make it easier for us to manage the situation,” he said.

Lajcak: Another step towards comprehensive normalisation agreement (media)

The European Union Special Representative for the Belgrade – Prishtina Dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, took to Twitter to comment on yesterday’s meeting between the two delegations in Brussels. “Today we made another step towards a comprehensive normalization agreement by holding a second round of talks on financial claims and property. And it was the first time the new Serbian chief negotiator Petar Petkovic joined our discussions. To be continued soon,” Lajcak tweeted.

Serbia wants Association with executive competencies (RFE)

The new round of talks in the EU-facilitated dialogue in Brussels was held on Thursday, the news website reported. The Kosovo Government issued a press release after the meeting saying that the two delegations discussed financial claims and property issues. “There were talks about pensions and the cadaster. Despite lengthy discussions on these topics, there is still no tangible rapprochement of positions. However, an agreement was reached to discuss this element of the general agreement – financial claims and property issues – at the next meeting,” the press release noted.

Petar Petkovic, head of the Serbian Government’s Office for Kosovo, who represented the Serbian side in the talks, told reporters in Brussels that he raised the issue of the formation of the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities and that they insisted on the implementation of the Brussels. “This is necessary to continue the dialogue and also to build the needed trust between the two sides,” he said. “Without the formation of the Association, we cannot progress in the dialogue. We will see how Prishtina will act on this issue. Prishtina talks about the possibility of formation as provided by the Constitutional Court, but this is unacceptable for us, because we haven’t agreed on this in Brussels, this was not part of the principles we agreed upon in 2015. We don’t need something that can be called an NGO; we need a serious institution, an Association of Serb-majority municipalities with executive competencies.”

“We discussed about properties and financial claims; we have different opinions on these issues, but both parties presented their own positions.”

Petkovic also said the further normalisation of relations requires discussions “on many other issues that imply compromise”. “A compromise means that both parties will win or lose equally. So, we must meet halfway. It is unacceptable for us for one party to win everything and the other party to lose everything,” he added.

Government loses parliamentary support from minority MPs (Prishtina Insight)

The 6+ parliamentary group has withdrawn its support for the government unless Kosovo Ambassador to France Qendrim Gashi is dismissed.

Deputy Speaker of the Kosovo Assembly Fikrim Damka has announced that the 6+ parliamentary group will not support any legislation, outside of the economic recovery package and Law on COVID-19, until Kosovo’s Ambassador to France Qendrim Gashi is dismissed.

Gashi sparked controversy earlier this month after sharing an article from Le Figaro which included cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Damka, a member of the Turkish Justice Party, stated during Wednesday’s Assembly session that Gashi had put “himself and Kosovo in a very difficult position.”

“The ambassador of a Muslim-majority country spread a disrespectful and anti-Islamic message, disregarding the Constitution and fundamental values ​​of the Republic of Kosovo, which emphasizes the importance of inter-religious and unitary tolerance,” Damka said.

He added that the group had submitted an official letter to Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and President Hashim Thaci requesting the immediate dismissal of Gashi, but that no concrete steps had been taken.

Earlier this month, the Islamic Community of Kosovo condemned Gashi’s decision to share the Le Figaro article, describing it as “unacceptable” and an act “that only increases intolerance, hatred and mistrust among people.”

In a response on social media, Ambassador Gashi defended his decision. “Of course it was not my intention to offend anyone, and I am very sorry to see people who may have been hurt because they did not know the details and context of the journalistic article,” he said.

The withdrawal of support by the 6+ parliamentary group is another headache for the coalition government, who have relied on the group’s backing to achieve a parliamentary majority.

Agnesa Haxhiu, a researcher at the Kosovo Democratic Institute that monitors the Assembly, told Prishtina Insight that the decision will make the work of the Assembly “extremely difficult,” with the government no longer guaranteed the 61 votes required to reach quorum.

“Since its election, the Hoti Government has consistently lacked votes, even for issues that require a simple majority,” she said. “This is due to problems between the coalition partners themselves, the absence of MPs from sessions and the extreme polarization of attitudes with the opposition.”

Haxhiu predicted that with the decision of the 6+, the government would continue to struggle to implement its governing plan.

“So far, the government has failed to pass any law other than the one on the budget and a few international agreements,” she said. “There are now five bills left over from previous sessions, including three other international agreements. If this trend continues, the government will find it impossible to implement its governing program.”

PM Hoti: No one can blackmail government (Klan Kosova)

“No one can blackmail the government in which I am Prime Minister,” Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said on Thursday when asked to comment on a statement by a Turkish MP who said that the 6+ parliamentary group will not vote in favor of any draft law until Kosovo’s Ambassador to France, Qendrim Gashi, is dismissed from duty. Gashi had earlier shared a Le Figaro article that included cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Hoti also said his government would respect every decision made by the Constitutional Court, when asked about Vetevendosje Movement’s claims that the parliamentary vote for his government was illegitimate as MP Ethem Arifi, who voted in favor of the Hoti government, was already found guilty for a criminal offense.

Court comments on media reports about government vote (media)

Some news websites reported on Wednesday that the Constitutional Court of Kosovo could soon bring down the Hoti-led government by ruling in favor of the Vetevendosje Movement (VV) about its complaint that the government was voted in an unconstitutional fashion. The VV had namely said in its complaint that the participation of MP Ethem Arifi, rendered the parliamentary vote that approved the Hoti-led government as invalid, because Arifi had been sentenced to a year and three months in prison for a criminal offense.

The Constitutional Court said in a statement on Thursday: “Yesterday’s media reports about the case are inaccurate and they do not stand … The Court has yet to make a decision on the request and the case is being reviewed … As in every case so far, the moment the Court makes a decision, all involved parties and the public will be informed in time”.

“Reporting judge asked for government to be brought down” (Express)

While the Constitutional Court of Kosovo said in a statement that it has yet to decide on the legitimacy of the parliamentary vote on the Hoti-led government, the news website claims that the case has been reviewed and that the reporting judge has asked for the government to be brought down. Bekim Sejdiu, the reporting judge, has reportedly ruled that the vote of MP Ethem Arifi was anti-constitutional because the court had found him guilty for a criminal offense.

Citing the same sources, the news website reports that the Constitutional Court is waiting for the right time to announce its decision because some of the other judges too agree with Sejdiu’s conclusion.

Vetevendosje Movement slams Prime Minister Hoti (media)

Most news websites reported on Thursday that the Vetevendosje Movement (VV) has criticised Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti for his five months in office.

“In his first days as an illegitimate prime minister, Mr. Hoti said that ‘normality and security in the country would be restored’. In these five months, in the foreign plan, we have seen reciprocity with Serbia lifted, the withdrawal from membership in international organisations and recognitions and also backing down from seeking recognition from Serbia. In the domestic plan, news like these in the video material which summarise the 20-year experience of the old political club which has furthered the extortion of the country. These sequences which present the everyday life in Kosovo as fragmented have a single source and this is the useless government. Last October we didn’t have this kind of news because we have a legitimate government – the Kurti government – which will come back soon,” the video says.

Assembly President Osmani condemns terror attack in France (media)

Kosovo Assembly President Vjosa Osmani took to Twitter on Thursday to condemn the terror attack in France. “Freedom of expression and religious tolerance are values that we cherish, cultivate and want to see thriving around the world. The outrageous crimes in #France go against these uncompromisable values & we must all condemn them. Terrorism fails when we all stand united against it,” Osmani tweeted.

Haradinaj: Extremism and terrorism cannot challenge France (media)

Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) leader Ramush Haradinaj condemned the terror attack in France on Thursday. “Shocked by the terror attacks in France. The people of the Republic of Kosovo stand by the French people in these difficult times. France gave endless contribution to civilisation and liberty, therefore, extremism and terrorism cannot challenge France or the values it represents,” Haradinaj said.

Legal aid division chief for potential defendants of special court resigns (media)

Citing unnamed sources, Koha and Gazeta NewBorn news websites reported on Thursday that Driton Lajci, head of the Division for Legal Aid and Financial Support for potential defendants of the specialist chambers has resigned. Lajci was earlier interviewed by prosecutors of the specialist chambers. The reasons behind his resignation are not known yet. Gazeta NewBorn tried to contact Lajci but he was not available for comment.

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