- COVID – 19: 181 new cases, 8 deaths (media)
- Government doesn’t want Serbia’s help for anti-COVID vaccine (Lajmi)
- Serb doctors in the north refused vaccines from Serbia (Kallxo)
- Vaccines with a political dose in the north (Radio Free Europe)
- Kosovo Assembly adopts 2021 draft budget in first reading (media)
- PDK MP: We voted in favor of 2021 budget, although it’s not the best (media)
- “Kurti 2 government in February, we will have majority in parliament” (media)
- Hoti: LDK candidates for PM not chosen in TV studios (media)
- Osmani aims President, Assembly President posts from coalition with VV (Koha)
- LDK, VV clash over diaspora voters in CEC meeting (Express)
- COVID – 19 vaccination kicks off in Central, Eastern Europe (Balkan Insight)
- Engel: Kosovo, Albania will always have a special place in my heart (media)
COVID – 19: 181 new cases, 8 deaths (media)
181 new cases of COVID – 19 and eight deaths from the virus were recorded in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. 407 persons have recovered from the virus during this time. There are 10,370 active cases of COVID – 19.
Government doesn’t want Serbia’s help for anti-COVID vaccine (Lajmi)
The news website reported on Monday evening that Serbia has sent anti-COVID vaccines for Serbs living in the northern part of Kosovo without notifying Kosovo’s authorities. The Basic Prosecution in Mitrovica has launched investigations about the way the vaccines entered Kosovo. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Monday that they are wiling to send vaccines for Kosovo Albanians too.
The news website asked the Kosovo Government if it would accept Serbia’s assistance, but a spokeswoman for the government in her reply only referred to Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti’s online conversation with EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi. “Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti had a telephone conversation with the EU’s Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi. He discussed the political situation in Kosovo as well as the situation with COVID-19 pandemics. During their conversation, he also raised concern about the illegal smuggling of the anti-COVID vaccines in Kosovo, without regular import procedures or donation for medical products, the origin of which is unknown. “This behavior of the Republic of Serbia was considered unacceptable and Kosovo institutions have initiated required legal actions towards the individuals involved,” Hoti said. As far as anti-COVID vaccine is concerned, Varhelyi assured Hoti that a certain amount of vaccines will arrive in Kosovo at the same time as to the other Western Balkans countries. Hoti on the other hand said that all citizens of Kosovo, without distinction, are included on the vaccination plan. He also assured Varhelyi that Kosovo will continue institutional and fiscal stability and treat management of COVID-19 pandemics with priority, and it will also fulfill all the obligations for the EU integration process,” the reply notes.
Serb doctors in the north refused vaccines from Serbia (Kallxo)
The news website reported on Monday evening that law enforcement authorities are collecting information for an investigation into the way that vaccines against COVID – 19 from Serbia entered the northern part of Kosovo.
Kallxo learns that last week, on December 24, 55 vaccines entered the north and were destined for the healthcare staff there. But the latter reportedly were reserved about the quality of the vaccines and refused to take them.
The same sources said that even after the healthcare staff refused to take them, the vaccines were given to elderly persons in the north.
The news website reported that three vehicles filled with vaccines against the virus entered the northern part of Kosovo from Serbia on Sunday evening through illegal routes. However, upon learning that Kosovo authorities are investigating the case, the three trucks returned to Serbia with the vaccines.
Vaccines with a political dose in the north (Radio Free Europe)
Sretko Radenkovic, a 77-year-old from the village of Serboc in the municipality of Zvecan, is among those that got the Pfizer vaccine on December 26 at the Healthcare Center in Zvecan. He told the news website that a neighbor told him about the vaccination on Friday evening. He said it was then that he decided to see if he can get the vaccine, hoping that someone from the list would drop out. “That’s what happened. At least three people withdrew. Fortunately, there were more vaccines than foreseen in the list. 50 vaccines were planned, and 60 of them arrived, so there was no problem … A doctor told me to wait because there would be enough vaccines. I got the vaccine without any hesitation,” Radenkovic said.
Healthcare institutions in Serbia were not available for comment if they would continue to vaccinate people in the northern part of Kosovo.
According to unofficial information, around 50 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines arrived in the four northern municipalities, and a revaccination has been scheduled for three weeks. People over 65 with chronic illnesses and those called by the doctors were vaccinated first.
There is an ongoing survey with citizens in Gracanica, a Serb-majority municipality near Prishtina, to see if they want to get vaccinated. Based on the results, the Serbian Ministry of Health will then send the vaccines. The information was confirmed by Mirjana Dimitrijevic, Director at the Healthcare Center in Gracanica. She did not say when the vaccines would arrive in Gracanica and how many but said that many people have expressed readiness to get vaccinated.
Kosovo Assembly adopts 2021 draft budget in first reading (media)
All media reported on Monday evening that the Kosovo Assembly adopted in the first reading the draft budget for 2021. 64 MPs voted in favor of the bill. The MPs will meet again today to vote for the bill in the second reading. Minister of Finance Hikmete Bajrami said that by voting in favor of the bill in the first reading, the MPs avoided an unnecessary budget crisis and called on them to vote in favor in the second reading too.
PDK MP: We voted in favor of 2021 budget, although it’s not the best (media)
Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) MP Ganimete Musliu said on Tuesday that PDK MPs voted in favor of the 2021 budget although it is not the best budget. “But we decided to vote in favor, because Kosovo is faced with the current situation and there is a threat that all public sector employees could be left without salaries at the end of March next year,” she said. “We also previously voted in favor of the economic recovery package. We voted in favor of ten international agreements in the Assembly this mandate. We have done this for the sake of the country.”
“Kurti 2 government in February, we will have majority in parliament” (media)
Vetevendosje Movement (VV) MP Mefail Bajqinovci said in an interview with Klan Kosova on Monday that after the parliamentary elections in February next year, Kosovo will have another government led by VV leader Albin Kurti.
“There is no sense in supporting a budget that gives more importance to asphalt than to the public health,” he said. “In principle, it is unethical for an incoming government to have a budget from the previous government”.
Bajqinovci also argued that the 2021 draft budget, which was passed in the first reading on Monday, will damage the citizens of Kosovo, “because we are seeing that even in a pandemic, their only concerns are tenders and the asphalt”.
Hoti: LDK candidates for PM not chosen in TV studios (media)
Kosovo’s outgoing Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said on Monday that the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) does not select candidates for the post of Prime Minister in TV studios and that this party is “a school of political thought”. “The LDK is not only a party, but also a school of political thought that maintains the course of the democratic development and the Euro-integration of Kosovo,” he said.
Hoti also said: “the LDK has survived the time of Serbian repression, by organising the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo. The LDK survived a wild political race in the postwar period, when some of its officials were killed, but it maintained the course of Kosovo’s democratic development”.
Osmani aims President, Assembly President posts from coalition with VV (Koha)
Koha reported on Monday evening that Vjosa Osmani, Acting President of Kosovo and President of the Assembly, aims the post of Kosovo President or the post of Assembly President from an eventual cooperation with the Kurti-led Vetevendosje Movement (VV).
The TV station learns that the division of posts was addressed in informal discussions. Vetevendosje representatives neither denied nor confirmed the discussions. A spokesman for the party said: “cooperating with Osmani is an added value and we believe that together with her, we will form the next majority in parliament. We are in contact with Osmani and whenever the final form of cooperation is agreed upon, we will announce it along with other details. It is important that there is readiness”. Osmani’s office meanwhile was not available for comment.
LDK, VV clash over diaspora voters application in CEC meeting (Express)
The news website reported that representatives of the Vetevendosje Movement (VV) and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) in the Central Election Commission (CEC) clashed on Monday over an application to registers voters from the diaspora for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Vetevendosje’s Sami Kurteshi asked the Commission to create the electronic application to registers the voters from the diaspora arguing that this would make the work of the institution a lot easier and that the application would automatically control the data of the voters.
LDK’s Hamiti however said that the issue was being discussed in the committees of the Kosovo Assembly and that the application cannot be developed for these elections.
COVID – 19 vaccination kicks off in Central, Eastern Europe (Balkan Insight)
Within days of the arrival of the first batches of anti-COVID vaccines, EU member states in Central and Eastern Europe at the weekend started to administer the first doses acquired by the European Commission, prioritizing the elderly and medical professionals who are taking care of the sick.
As in the rest of the EU, health workers, politicians and civil society leaders trying to dispel popular distrust of vaccines were chosen to take the first jabs in symbolic ceremonies designed to kickstart national vaccination campaigns across the region.
Vaccination in Croatia started on Sunday with 81-year-old Branka Anicic. “I’m very happy that this home for the elderly was chosen for the start of the vaccination [campaign], and because we will finally be able to lead a more normal life,” Anicic said, referring to the Zagreb nursing home where she lives.
The first consignment of vaccines reached the country of 4.5 million on Saturday. Some 270,000 doses are expected to arrive in weekly lots until March. The country expects to receive 5.7 million doses in total.
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Engel: Kosovo, Albania will always have a special place in my heart (media)
Albania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gent Cakaj, said in a Facebook post that U.S. Congressmen Elliot Engel assured him in an online conversation on Monday that he would work closely with the Biden Administration to give the required attention to Kosovo, Albania and Albanians. “Kosovo and Albania will always have a special place in my heart,” Engel said.