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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, November 24, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 609 new cases, 13 deaths (media)
• Hoti: Name of the new president or election date to be known soon (RTK)
• Mustafa: Meeting on election of president, next week (media)
• Chief Prosecutor: Trial against Thaci and others not to start later than September 2021 (Koha)
• Hoti committed to implement Washington Agreement (Express)
• Veliu to be invited for a motion about EC Security Report (media)
• Zemaj calls the situation with the pandemic in Kosovo alarming (Koha)

Serbian Language Media:

• Two persons died, 67 new cases of Covid-19 in Serbian communities in Kosovo (KoSSev)
• Dacic: No extreme changes in Washington’s attitude towards dialogue with Pristina (FoNet, N1)
• Rakic and Bjørnstad about more frequent attacks on Serbian population (TV Most)
• Vesic to file a lawsuit in Strasbourg (B92, Tanjug)
• Bilčík: EU should be Balkans’ goal, not political playground (DW, N1)
• Reforms leading to EU membership are Serbia’s priorities (FoNet, N1)

Opinion:

• Crimes, victims could easily be revealed with honest willingness in Serbia (Koha)
• A wound that needs healing, not opening (Koha)
• Petar Ristanovic: Leaders of the ”KLA” – Untold biographies (KoSSev)

International:

• A special Kosovo war crimes court will try its ex-president. So how do ‘hybrid’ courts work? (Washington Post)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 609 new cases, 13 deaths (media)
  • Hoti: Name of the new president or election date to be known soon (RTK)
  • Mustafa: Meeting on election of president, next week (media)
  • Chief Prosecutor: Trial against Thaci and others not to start later than September 2021 (Koha)
  • Hoti committed to implement Washington Agreement (Express)
  • Veliu to be invited for a motion about EC Security Report (media)
  • Zemaj calls the situation with the pandemic in Kosovo alarming (Koha)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Two persons died, 67 new cases of Covid-19 in Serbian communities in Kosovo (KoSSev)
  • Dacic: No extreme changes in Washington’s attitude towards dialogue with Pristina (FoNet, N1)
  • Rakic and Bjørnstad about more frequent attacks on Serbian population (TV Most)
  • Vesic to file a lawsuit in Strasbourg (B92, Tanjug)
  • Bilčík: EU should be Balkans’ goal, not political playground (DW, N1)
  • Reforms leading to EU membership are Serbia’s priorities (FoNet, N1)

Opinion:

  • Crimes, victims could easily be revealed with honest willingness in Serbia (Koha)
  • A wound that needs healing, not opening (Koha)
  • Petar Ristanovic: Leaders of the ”KLA”  – Untold biographies (KoSSev)

International:

  • A special Kosovo war crimes court will try its ex-president. So how do ‘hybrid’ courts work? (Washington Post)

 

 

 

Albanian Language Media 

 

COVID-19: 609 new cases, 13 deaths (media)

609 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 deaths from the virus have been recorded in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. The highest number of new cases is from the municipality of Prishtina (276). 350 patients have recovered from the virus during this time.

There are 12,864 active cases of coronavirus in Kosovo.

Hoti: Name of the new president or election date to be known soon (RTK)

The Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti said that there are two options for the election of the new president of Kosovo: a joint name in accordance with the political parties, or new elections.

“It is more than clear that the country does not have a president and based on the Constitution, we have to elect the new president. At least 80 votes of the Assembly are required, the votes that this coalition certainly does not have, which means the need for us to sit with the opposition parliamentary political parties to see if there is a consent on election of the president, which I hope will happen soon. If there is such an agreement, then of course we will have to agree on the date of election, certainly a suitable date for the citizens. These are the two constitutional ways that will be pursued in the following weeks and months.

I believe that the first gathering of the entities where these issues will be discussed will be organized soon. I am also being engaged in this direction. If there is a will for election of the president, for concrete names, towards a joint name, and if there is not, we discuss the date of elections. There is no other option,” he said.

Mustafa: Meeting on election of president, next week (media)

Chairman of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), Isa Mustafa, said that political parties will convene next week to discuss election of new president after Hashim Thaci resigned from this position following confirmation of the war crime charges by the Hague-based special court.

Mustafa said the new president should be elected without holding early elections. He said that at the beginning of December he will convene the chairmanship of the LDK to discuss this issue adding that the LDK as leader in the ruling coalition has not proposed any candidate for president. We have not discussed this issue, but we believe the president should be elected as soon as possible, and not go to new elections,” Mustafa told the media on Tuesday.

Regarding the candidacy of Ramush Haradinaj, he adds that he does not know if the leader of AAK has withdrawn from the candidacy for president of the country.

Chief Prosecutor: Trial against Thaci and others not to start later than September 2021 (Koha)

According to the Office of the Specialized Prosecutor at the Specialist Chambers, September of 2021 is the latest deadline to start the trial of the former leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

The web page of the Specialist Chambers published on Tuesday submissions of the chief prosecutor Jack Smith on the start of the trial against Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli, Jakup Krasniqi and Rexhep Selimi, which notes that the trial should commence in summer or no later than September 2021.

“The Defence must have a fair opportunity to prepare for trial but given what has been and will be provided to and what is already known by the Defence, this should take months, not years,” the Prosecutor wrote.

At the initial status session the Defence of the accused objected to this position, claiming they need more time to prepare for the case. Some of them mentioned 2022 as ideal for the start of the trial.

Hoti committed to implement Washington Agreement (Express)

The Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti stated that the projects included in the Washington 4 September Agreement, mediated by President Donald Trump, will start implementing in the following months. 

Hoti made this statement during the meeting with national advisors for economy and investments. 

During the meeting, he said that there is a long list of infrastructural and energy projects where the business community and chambers of commerce should help on their implementation. 

“Finally, what I wanted to bring in the focus is a list of developments on the economic and political agreements that are related to Kosovo, and for which I believe the community should be prepared for these developments in the following months.

We might have discussed the Washington Agreement earlier. It is quite a long list of major infrastructure and energy projects, for which the business community and chambers of commerce should help us and be prepared to be part of the implementation of these agreements, part of the procedures,” Hoti said. 

“Especially for the railway and motorway, but also gas supply to Prishtina, as well as railway to Durres, which are major projects which require quite a wide cross-sectoral involvement of businesses,” Hoti said. 

Veliu to be invited for a motion about EC Security Report (media)

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Agim Veliu will be invited for a motion at the Assembly of Kosovo. The MPs will seek from him an answer about the report of the European Commission, in the field of security in Kosovo. This was announced at the meeting of the Committee on Security and Defense Affairs, which decided to invite the Minister of Defense and the acting director of the Kosovo Police to report to the committee.

The chairwoman of the committee, Fatmire Kollcaku said that they will seek answers from the Minister of Interior, regarding the remarks addressed in the European Commission Report on Security.

“We had problems to have the minister here and that was exactly the reason, since we are not a permanent committee, we are a functional committee, that we invite the minister to interpellation, however we managed to collect six signatures of the MPs of this committee to invite the Minister of Internal Affairs to interpellation,” she said.

The MP from the Democratic Party of Kosovo, Ganimete Musliu requested for the acting director of the Kosovo Police to be present in the next meeting.

“We have made several attempts to invite the Minister of Order, Agim Veliu, and it is impossible to have him in the commission. I consider that all the conditions have already matured for us to have the acting director of the Kosovo Police in the commission. We have reports for many findings all over Kosovo, for many violations of the Kosovo Police, and it is good for him to report directly, in order for us to be informed first hand and not by the media about everything that is happening with the Kosovo Police,” she said.

On the proposal of MP Beke Berisha, the commission also agreed to visit the Kosovo Security Academy in Vushtrri.

It was also decided that the Minister of Defense, Anton Quni should be invited to report to the committee on security and defense issues in the Assembly of Kosovo.

This decision was made by the commission after receiving the remarks addressed by the auditor’s report for the Ministry of Defense for 2019.

MP Elmi Recica said that the ministry should implement the auditor’s recommendations.

“We have nothing to discuss about the issue of the auditor, we can only ask the relevant ministry to implement them. It is an independent institution and we should normally treat it as such and at the same time monitor how they are implementing those recommendations,” he said.

MP Mefail Bajqinovci said that the auditor’s report speaks of serious problems in the Ministry of Defense and the KSF, mentioning the lack of civil servants at work.

At today’s meeting, the committee voted to proceed in session with the draft law on supplementing and amending the law on identity cards.

Zemaj calls the situation with the pandemic in Kosovo alarming (Koha)

The Minister of Health, Armend Zemaj, paid a visit today to the municipality of Gjilan. He was received by the mayor of this municipality, Lutfi Haziri, and announced that the hospital of Gjilan will be the beneficiary of a donation. He said that the visit is about mobilizing capacities to cope with the pandemic situation.

Zemaj called alarming the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Kosovo.

“The municipality of Gjilan is among the municipalities in the red zone. The numbers for me as Minister of Health are alarming,” he said.

Haziri said that he informed Zemaj about the situation with the pandemic in Gjilan.

“We are one of the municipalities which performed close to 7 thousand tests, there are around 500 active cases with COVID-19. The city hospital and other institutions are in service for 24 hours ,” said Haziri in a joint press conference after the meeting.

 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Two persons died, 67 new cases of Covid-19 in Serbian communities in Kosovo (KoSSev)

The North Mitrovica Crisis Staff announced today that  in the Serbian majority municipalities in Kosovo two people have died since the last update of the situation, 67 cases of Covid-19 were registered out of a total of 180 tested samples whose results arrived yesterday, and over 70 patients were hospitalized, reported portal KoSSev. 

Two people died, one from North Mitrovica and one from Leposavic. 

Of the total number of new cases, 62 are from the North, while the rest are from central Kosovo.

The newly infected by municipalities: North Mitrovica – 31, Leposavic – 12, Zvecan – 11, Zubin Potok – 8, Priluzje – 2, and one person each from Kamenica, Strpce and Gnjilane. 

19 people cured: 6 from North Mitrovica and 6 from Zubin Potok, 3 from Gnjilane, 2 from Leposavic, and one person each from Zvecan and Strpce.

Dacic: No extreme changes in Washington’s attitude towards dialogue with Pristina (FoNet, N1)

The President of the Assembly of Serbia Ivica Dacic stated that he did not expect extreme changes in the attitude of Washington towards the dialogue on the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has shown greater flexibility regarding the need to reach a compromise, and change may occur so that the administration of newly elected US President Joseph Biden is not too willing to seek a new compromise, said Dacic.

He assessed that a long-term solution for Kosovo cannot be reached without the consent of Serbia, because “the situation on the ground is not the same.”

Kosovo no longer has majority support in any international body, Dacic said at the 20th Belgrade Economic Forum, reported FoNet agency.

Rakic and Bjørnstad about more frequent attacks on Serbian population (TV Most)

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Local Government Goran Rakic and Director of the Office for Communities Ivan Milojevic on Monday met with Norwegian Special Rapporteur for the Western Balkans Arne Sannes Bjørnstad, accompanied by Norwegian Ambassador to Pristina Jens Erik Grøndahl, reported Zvecan based TV Most. 

Rakic informed Bjørnstad about the security situation, expressing concern about the frequent attacks on the Serbian population and properties. They also discussed the importance of implementation of the reached agreements, with a special emphasis on the establishment of the Association/Community of Serbian Municipalities, the upcoming local elections in North Mitrovica and Podujevo, as well as projects to improve the quality of life of all citizens.  

Vesic to file a lawsuit in Strasbourg (B92, Tanjug)

Belgrade Deputy Mayor Goran Vesic announced a lawsuit to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg against Prictina for banning him from entering Kosovo, reported portal B92. 

Vesic stated that he expects the court to say whether it is allowed to ban the movement of people in Europe.

He reiterated for TV Pink that the reason for the ban on his entry into Kosovo on Monday was stated to be “a danger to security” and assessed that it was a “formal” reason, and that the real reason was, as he says, his scheduled activities in North Mitrovica, that is, signing a Charter on the twinning of that city with Belgrade.

Vesic said that he should have visited the works on the residential building in Kosovska Mitrovica, to accommodate 20 refugee families who have lived in collective accommodation for more than 10 years, as well as on the construction of a park and playground financed by the City of Belgrade.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3l060X7

Bilčík: EU should be Balkans’ goal, not political playground (DW, N1)

The European Union needs progress in this decade, and at least one country from the Western Balkans should be ready to join the European Union by 2024, Vladimír Bilčík, The European Parliament (EP) rapporteur for Serbia, said on Monday.

“My first message is that the fact that Serbia has a new government and parliament is good news. These will be key institutions that will determine Serbia’s progress towards the EU, and it is good that Prime Minister Brnabic has said Europe and reforms will remain the country’s priority. 

He added that “the EU must not be a part of the political game in the Balkans, but its goal.”

“The commitment, accompanied by concrete moves, should reflect on progress in accession negotiations and the opening of new chapters, which I very clearly call for in my report, “Bilčík told Deutsche Welle, DW, in an interview.

However, he cautioned that the political situation in Serbia should improve.

“We have the recommendations of the OSCE Election Observation Mission and open issues from the first part of the Inter-Party Dialogue. We are ready to engage with the country’s Parliament, and the EP is ready to continue mediation to improve conditions for the political competition ahead of the upcoming elections in 2022,” Bilčík added.

He said he paid special attention to the reconciliation and resolving the historical heritage, in his draft Report on Serbia, as well as to the results of the EU-mediated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, together with progress in the rule of law reforms, adding all that would determine Serbia’s progress in accession negotiations.

“If there is no tangible progress, it’s hard to talk about opening new chapters,” he said.

The EU also needs to show goodwill to continue this process, Bilčík suggests, adding both the bloc and the region have high expectations after the adoption of strategic enlargement decision.

He said the EU should “end this year with positive messages about the enlargement, the Western Balkans and Serbia.

See at: https://bit.ly/372ccc5

Reforms leading to EU membership are Serbia’s priorities (FoNet, N1)

Serbia’s new Government defined reforms necessary for the country’s accession to the European Union as those among the most critical goals, Jadranka Joksimovic, Minister of European Integrations told Sem Fabrizi, the head of the EU Delegation in Belgrade.

“This is a reform government, committed to improving the rule of law in line with the EU recommendations, economic growth, infrastructure, to create more jobs and the EU’s help is crucial for that,” Joksimovic said.

Fabrizi presented the Minister with a joint congratulatory letter by Josep Borrell, the EU’S High Representative and Olivér Várhelyi, the European Union Commissioner for Enlargement, in which the two stressed the need for the continuation of the reforms in the rule of law.

The letter said that “along with the normalisation of relations with Pristina, the rule of law defines a general pace of the accession negotiations.

“It’s time for going forward and decisively speeds up reforms from the EU agenda,” Fabrizi said.

See at:https://bit.ly/3m3TGXg

 

 

 

Opinion

 

Crimes, victims could easily be revealed with honest willingness in Serbia (Koha)

Brussels-based reporter Augustin Palokaj writes in an opinion piece that the killing and transport of bodies of Kosovo Albanians to mass graves in Serbia was not done by individuals but in systematic fashion by members of the Serbian army. “The same soldiers served after the war too and many of them know very well where the bodies of victims might have been dumped to conceal the crimes. If it wanted to, Serbia could easily reveal them,” he writes.

“The European Commission has said it several times in the progress reports that Serbia is not meeting its obligations to work on war crimes cases.” 

“The regime in Serbia tolerates and glorifies war criminals, including those that were convicted for these crimes by international courts. War criminals, who among other things are also responsible for transporting with refrigerator trucks the bodies of Albanian civilians from Kosovo to Serbia to conceal the traces, teach in military and police academics in Serbia and are part of the political life. The President of Serbia and the President of Parliament both continue to think and say that ‘Slobodan Milosevic was a great leader’. Serbia does not deliver to The Hague even those indicted for witness intimidation. Trials in Serbia are often not held because ‘the defendants do not come to court’. So, the approach to war crimes trials is similar to traffic offenses.”

Palokaj further argues that many people in Serbia know where the live hostages or bodies of victims from Vukovar or Sarajevo or from the villages of Kosovo, are. “But one cannot trust a country that it will be honest and will reveal the truth, when one of its leading politicians threatens on TV those that reveal the locations of graves of Albanians or Croats. And back then the same politician was no more or less than the spokesperson of Slobodan Milosevic’s party and maybe he himself could have more information that would help reveal the truth. The international community too must wake up and stop playing Serbia’s game.”

Palokaj suggests that the Specialist Chambers could investigate and file indictments on these cases too. “They happened in Kosovo in the period covered by its mandate; there is sufficient evidence; there are also threats against those that come out and there is also a clear lack of readiness in Serbia to work on these cases in Serbia,” he concludes.

A wound that needs healing, not opening (Koha)

Publicist Enver Robelli writes in an opinion piece that the issue of missing persons must be treated with maximal care in order not to hurt the survivors and all of society, and that Kosovo’s politicians must be careful in their choice of words when talking about the issue. 

Robelli argues that missing persons, victims and survivors of the Serbia state terror, must not be part of campaigns of parties to score political points nor for the emotional ranting of party hardliners. “The victims must be respected without any differences. This includes everyone, including politicians – no matter if they are in power or in the opposition! Do not lie to the public saying that when another government comes to power it will do the unthinkable to find missing persons. The governments so far have done little. Could they have done more? It is complicated. Several years ago, a former Deputy Prime Minister, who attended meetings with the Serbian side to resolve the fate of missing victims, described the situation to me as follows: “We go and talk to the Serbian side. They tell us: tell us where the missing Serbs are, and you can freely search for the locations of Albanian victims in Serbia. This may sound cynical as we see that Serbia is playing politics with Albanian victims. But this should not come as a surprise. They are trapping the door by insisting that the issue of the missing Serbs must be explained too. This is where we don’t have an answer.”

Robelli further argues that “the issue of missing persons must be treated as a humanitarian matter and not as ‘a trade exchange’, because this very idea is macabre. However, this is exactly what happened in the talks between ‘Prishtina and Belgrade’. The agreements were hailed as ‘historic’, but in reality many problems have remained unsolved or were postponed for later. Because the Kosovo side lacked a strategy and its readiness to discuss the issue without any conditions, the door was opened for Serbia to present itself before the international community as a party in the conflict and not as the aggressor that it was in reality”.

Petar Ristanovic: Leaders of the ”KLA”  – Untold biographies (KoSSev)

KoSSev: ‘’Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi and Jakup Krasniqi were arrested in early November on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999. Part of the public has been expecting these indictments since 2008, when the book of the former chief prosecutor of the Hague Tribunal, Carla del Ponte, entitled „Hunting. Me and war criminals!” was published, which contained the first public allegations that there is evidence KLA members were involved in the abduction of civilians in Kosovo and human organ trafficking.

Del Ponte’s allegations were later investigated by two prosecutors – Swiss Dick Marty, whose report „Investigation of allegations of inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo“ was adopted in the form of a Council of Europe resolution in 2011, and later by American Clint Williamson.

After the end of the investigation of Williamson’s Special Investigative Task Force, he announced that enough evidence had been collected to file an indictment, but that a competent court must first be formed.

That court was formed in 2015, and the first indictments were confirmed in the summer, i.e. autumn of 2020.

The indictment issued against Thaci and others triggered an avalanche of reactions, and the Kosovo presidency was left without a leader when Thaci resigned.

KoSSev will publish two texts – one penned by Petar Ristanovic, who holds a Ph.D. in history, and the other by Anna di Lellio, a professor of international relations and security at the New York University, on the historical context leading up to the events described in the indictment.

BIRN, Ana di Lelio: Kosovo Wartime Leaders’ Indictment is Inaccurate and Biased’’

Op Ed By: Petar Ristanovic

The long-heralded indictment against former KLA leader Hashim Thaci has finally been filed. In addition to Thaci, Kadri Veseli, Jakup Krasniqi and Rexhep Selimi were indicted before the Special Court in The Hague under six counts of crimes against humanity and four counts of war crimes.

The indictment covers the period of the intensification of the KLA armed uprising – from March 1998 to September 1999. The prosecution alleges that the accused carried out a „widespread or systematic attack against the civilian population“ during a „joint criminal enterprise“ aimed at “gaining and exercising control over all of Kosovo by means including unlawfully intimidating, mistreating, committing violence against, and removing those deemed to be opponents.”

Indictments, trials, and verdicts will have far-reaching consequences on the development of the Kosovo issue. The first, direct consequence was the resignation of the President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, which, in all likelihood, announced new elections in Kosovo and the start of a period of deep uncertainty. Thaci’s resignation and voluntary departure to The Hague were greeted by many (not only in Pristina and the West but also in Belgrade) with loud praise, and described as a „moral“, „democratic“ and „statelike“ move, which is quite hypocritical, bearing in mind that Thaci and the other indictees have been disrupting the work of the Special Court in all possible ways and trying to abolish it for years.

See more at: https://bit.ly/35XwxA4

 

 

 

International

 

A special Kosovo war crimes court will try its ex-president. So how do ‘hybrid’ courts work? (Washington Post)

The KSC & SPO belongs to a distinct category of international criminal justice mechanisms called “hybrid courts.” By combining domestic and international elements, these courts have the flexibility to overcome some of the legitimacy problems that have plagued the International Criminal Court (ICC) and other international tribunals when they have tried to hold war criminals accountable.

But no international criminal justice mechanism will ever be perfect. After all, these courts deal with humanity’s worst crimes. They operate in extremely complex environments, facing political, legal and moral challenges. In the right circumstances, hybrid institutional arrangements can provide opportunities to address some of these challenges.

See more at:https://wapo.st/3m6obMg

 

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