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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, December 5

By   /  05/12/2020  /  Comments Off on UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, December 5

• COVID – 19: 478 new cases, 11 deaths (media)
• Hoti: We are not going to Brussels to do favors to Serbia (Oranews, media)
• Palmer: The U.S. will continue to support Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (VoA, media)
• Economic recovery package passes at Kosovo Assembly (Prishtina Insight)
• Nasim Haradinaj’s and Hysni Gucati’s indictments, to be confirmed on 11 December (media)
• Kosovo’s government missing persons commission visits mass grave site in Serbia (Express)
• Serbia unearths mass grave from Kosovo war (Reuters)
• Serbian Mine Gives up Dark Secret of Kosovo War (Balkan Insight)

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  • COVID – 19: 478 new cases, 11 deaths (media)
  • Hoti: We are not going to Brussels to do favors to Serbia (Oranews, media)
  • Palmer: The U.S. will continue to support Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (VoA, media)
  • Economic recovery package passes at Kosovo Assembly (Prishtina Insight)
  • Nasim Haradinaj’s and Hysni Gucati’s indictments, to be confirmed on 11 December (media)
  • Kosovo’s government missing persons commission visits mass grave site in Serbia (Express)
  • Serbia unearths mass grave from Kosovo war (Reuters)
  • Serbian Mine Gives up Dark Secret of Kosovo War (Balkan Insight)

COVID – 19: 478 new cases, 11 deaths (media)

478 new cases of COVID – 19 and 11 deaths from the virus were recorded in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. 690 patients have recovered from the virus during this time. There are 13,561 active cases of COVID – 19 in Kosovo.

Hoti: We are not going to Brussels to do favors to Serbia (Oranews, media)

Meetings between Kosovo’s and Serbia’s chiefs of the delegations for the dialogue mediated by the European Union, will resume on 10 December. The Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti, said Prishtina’s delegation does not go to Brussels to do favors to Serbia.

“We have started the dialogue in Brussels in July, with what I belive to be complete clarity, at the Paris Summit, organized by French President and German Chancellor. And there, at the Summit, with our insistence, we presented and sought consent on two issues. And there is consent first of all that the agreement should conclude with mutual recognition and complete normalization of the relations, and, that the dialogue should be limited in time. And this means to be a matter of months. The dialogue process and changes that occurred at specialized zones, are separate matters, because we do not go to Brussels to do favors to Serbia. We go to Brussels to defend interest of the state of Kosovo and this interest is for this agreement to conclude as soon as possible with mutual recognition,” Hoti said.

Speaking about the agreement between Kosovo and Serbia signed in Washington in presence of the U.S. President Donald Trump, Hoti said ‘we signed a list of pledges to the U.S., and with their political and financial support on normalization of the economic relations with Serbia; This is what we signed.”

“Our demand and wish remains signing an agreement for complete normalization of relations and mutual recognition, as soon as possible.  In this manner, we move together towards the EU integration. What was requested from us in Washington is to proceed with a list of commitments for the two countries. We made these commitments in separate documents in presence of the U.S. President, for the fact that we will work together, with political, and especially financial support of the United States of America,” Hoti added.

He explained that discussions at respective ministries on parts of this agreement, especially on motorways, railways, gas pipelines and other business projects, are ongoing.

Palmer: The U.S. will continue to support Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (VoA, media)

The U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary at Department of State – Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Methew Plamer told Voice of America in Albanian that the U.S. will support the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. He said that the U.S. are committed to partnership with the countries of Western Balkans.

“We continuously do this, at different levels, including in September here in Washington at the most senior level of the U.S. government. This engagement for the partnership with Serbia, partnership with Kosovo and European perspective of the two countries, will not change; And we will work with Belgrade and Prishtina to support normalization of their relations and respective European integration for each of the countries,” Palmer said.

“The U.S approach towards the region has been sustainable from one administration to the other, because our iterests are sustainable from one administration to the other. Our vision for Western Balkans is a group of countries in peace with each other, with their neighbors, sustainable states, prospered and integrated in the European and Euro-Atlantic institutions. I mean especially in NATO and the European Union,” Palmer further said.

“We will remain a reliable partner of the Western Balkans countries and we will be committed to stability, prosperity and peace of the entire region,” Palmer concluded.

Economic recovery package passes at Kosovo Assembly (Prishtina Insight)

Over four months after its proposal by the Kosovo Government, the Law on Economic Recovery COVID-19 passed a second reading after amendments tabled by PDK were accepted.

The Law on Economic Recovery COVID-19 passed its second reading at the Kosovo Assembly on Friday at an extraordinary parliamentary session called by opposition party, PDK. There were 93 deputies present at the start of the session, with 72 eventually voting in favour of the law, with no votes against or abstentions.

The law aims to provide economic relief for businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis and includes a proposal to allow citizens to withdraw 10 percent of funds from their account with the Kosovo Pension Savings Fund.

However, it had failed to find parliamentary support following its proposal by the government on July 22, with the first reading failing to pass at the Kosovo Assembly until October 12, after six previous failed attempts.

After multiple attempts to hold a second reading failed due to a lack of quorum, amendments to the law proposed by PDK were eventually accepted by the government.

The amendments include a package of 200 million euros for businesses affected by the crisis, as well as proposals for the state to pay wages to employees that lost their jobs, the removal of VAT on all raw materials, and the reimbursement of withdrawals made by pension holders with less 10,000 euros in savings, beginning in 2023.

PDK MP Bedri Hamza stated in Friday’s parliamentary session that all citizens and businesses in Kosovo would now benefit from the recovery package. “We are the opposition but we cannot stay indefinitely against the interests of the state,” he said.

Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti publicly thanked PDK for supporting the law, stating that the package was the biggest in the region based on GDP. The prime minister added that allowing withdrawals from the pension fund could provide up to 200 million euros in financial assistance.

Vetevendosje continued to oppose the law during Friday’s session, with MP Hekuran Murati claiming that the package will benefit the wealthy rather than citizens that require financial support the most.

“Ultimately small businesses will remain with nothing, while big businesses will gain millions,” Murati said. “This is not for citizens. This is not an economic recovery. The money that is being used will go to millionaires, while poor taxpayers will have to pay for it.”

The Law on Economic Recovery COVID-19 must now be decreed by the president in order to enter into force, while the Kosovo Pension Savings Fund have stated that details regarding online applications to withdraw funds will be announced in the media following this decree.

Indictment of Nasim Haradinaj and Hysni Gucati, to be confirmed on 11 December (media)

The acting chairman of the Organization of War Veterans of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Faton Klinaku, announced through a Facebook post, that the same charges for the indictment of Nasim Haradinaj and Hysni Gucati, will be confirmed on December 11th.

Klinaku said that he received this information from the legal representative of the two suspects for “obstruction of the administration of justice, intimidation of witnesses, revenge and violation of the secrecy of the procedure”.

“According to Nasim Haradinaj’s lawyer, Bas Martens, the indictment is the same for the second time and on December 11, 2020 it will be confirmed to the leaders of the KLA War Veterans Organisation, the chairman Hysni Gucati and the deputy chairman Nasim Haradinaj,” he wrote.

He said that both Haradinaj and Gucati will appear in court at the Hague Tribunal on December 15 this year.

Kosovo’s government missing persons commission visits mass grave site in Serbia (Express)

Representatives of Kosovo’s government Commission on Missing Persons visited Friday the location in Kizevak, Serbia, where a mass grave with bodies suspected to be of Albanians killed during the war in 1999 was found last month. The excavation work on an abandoned open cast mine is ongoing.

Authorities believe that bodies of at least 17 persons who were killed in Kosovo are in this mass grave, but their bodies were transported in Serbia by Serbian police and military forces as part of a coverup operation to hide war crime traces.

Kosovo delegation is led by the state coordinator on the issue of missing persons, Ibrahim Makolli who held a joint press conference with Veljko Odalovic, head of Serbia’s government Commission on missing persons.

Director of Kosovo’s Institute on Forensic Medicine, Arsim Gerxhaliu, confirmed to Gazeta Express that they have discovered five graves at the site. “Yes we have discovered five graves. We found human remains and we will continue working as long as weather conditions allow us,” Gerxhalliu said.

EULEX in a press release issued on 20 November described how their experts identified the exact location where the human remains were discovered in a large quarry site in Serbia. EULEX experts have been carrying out excavations in Kizevak since 2015. After several unsuccessful excavation seasons in Kizevak, a breakthrough happened in 2020 thanks to the use of aerial images. “The problem was that these are large quarry sites and the landscape kept changing over time due to the fact that the quarry was still in use for a number of years,” said Javier Santana, EULEX’s forensic archeologist. The process of identifying the exact location of the human remains was further complicated due to the fact that there are four to five levels in the mine with an approximate height of 13 meters each.

After EULEX’s request to receive aerial images from 1999, the International Committee of the Red Cross made the aerial images available to the Kosovo government Commission on Missing Persons and the Serbian government Commission on Missing Persons at the end of 2019. After identifying the location, experts from EULEX, the Kosovo Institute of Forensic Medicine, and the Serbian government Commission on Missing Persons carried out field work in Kizevak, which led to the discovery of the human remains. 21 years after the end of the war in Kosovo there are more than 1,600 people who are considered as missing.

Serbia unearths mass grave from Kosovo war (Reuters)

Human remains believed to be the bodies of over a dozen ethnic Albanians killed during the 1998-99 war in Kosovo have been found just inside Serbia, a Serbian official said on Friday.

More than two decades after the conflict in Kosovo ended, the search for the victims remains a major obstacle to the improvement of relations between Belgrade and Pristina.

The investigators used satellite imagery to find the mass grave in a remote open-cast mine at Kizevak in Serbia’s south.

Their findings suggested that there could be up to 17 bodies, Veljko Odalovic, the head of Serbia’s Commission for Missing Persons, told reporters.

See more at: https://reut.rs/3mFfAQK

Serbian Mine Gives up Dark Secret of Kosovo War (Balkan Insight)

Some 250 kilometers south of Belgrade, not far from the border between Serbia and its former Kosovo province, is an open-pit mine called Kizevak, part of the Suva Ruda mine.

There are no road signs pointing to the mine, which is surrounded by forests and fields. Nor are there many houses on the way. But Kizevak is currently a hive of activity.

More than two decades since the 1998-99 Kosovo war, the mine last month gave up another gruesome secret of the conflict when investigators uncovered the remains of what are almost certainly Kosovo Albanians killed by Serbian forces and tossed into a mass grave to hide evidence of war crimes. Now, police secure the site and local and foreign experts inspect the ground.

It is the fifth mass grave found in Serbia since the fall of strongman Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, a little over a year after NATO bombs forced him to withdraw from Kosovo following a brutal counter-insurgency war. The remains of more than 900 Kosovo Albanians have been found so far, yet no one in Serbia has been held responsible for what was a systematic effort to conceal evidence of war crimes.

The process of exhuming the remains began on November 30, marking the climax of five years of painstaking research based on witness accounts and aerial images.

Representatives of Serbia, Kosovo and a number of international bodies visited the site on Friday. “Some 240 cubic meters of stone has been dug up at this location,” said Veljko Odalovic, head of the Serbian Commission for Missing Persons.

“In the coming weeks, following the joint hard work of the forensic team, more families will be able to close a very dark chapter in their lives,” said Fabien Bourdier, president of the Working Group on Missing Persons at the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3lLVq6p

 

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