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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, December 29, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, December 29, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 109 new cases, eight deaths (media)
• Osmani: Anti-COVID vaccines, only after April (Radio Free Europe)
• NISMA in coalition talks with PDK (media)
• Abrashi: We paid special attention to implementation of Washington agreement (KP/Klan)
• Weber: Thaci’s departure from politics to be seen as collapse of post-war political elite (Koha)
• Following resignation, Cakaj denies joining election race in Kosovo (Indeksonline)

Serbian Language Media:

• In Serbian communities in Kosovo 30 new cases of Covid-19, one death (Kontakt plus radio)
• European Commission aid package to help Western Balkans with vaccination (N1)
• Serbian government pandemic Crisis Staff bans New Year celebrations (N1, FoNet)
• Jevtic: Repanovic family house in Osojane robbed for the seventh time (Kosovo-online)
• Vucic on Serwer: I do not play with meaningless statements (Kosovo-online)

Opinion:

• COVID-19 only exacerbated Kosovo education’s preexisting conditions (Prishtina Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Strong magnitude 6.3 earthquake hits Croatia (aljazeera.com)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 109 new cases, eight deaths (media)
  • Osmani: Anti-COVID vaccines, only after April (Radio Free Europe)
  • NISMA in coalition talks with PDK (media)
  • Abrashi: We paid special attention to implementation of Washington agreement (KP/Klan)
  • Weber: Thaci’s departure from politics to be seen as collapse of post-war political elite (Koha)
  • Following resignation, Cakaj denies joining election race in Kosovo (Indeksonline)

Serbian Language Media:

  • In Serbian communities in Kosovo 30 new cases of Covid-19, one death (Kontakt plus radio)
  • European Commission aid package to help Western Balkans with vaccination (N1)
  • Serbian government pandemic Crisis Staff bans New Year celebrations (N1, FoNet)
  • Jevtic: Repanovic family house in Osojane robbed for the seventh time (Kosovo-online)
  • Vucic on Serwer: I do not play with meaningless statements (Kosovo-online)

Opinion:

  • COVID-19 only exacerbated Kosovo education’s preexisting conditions (Prishtina Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Strong magnitude 6.3 earthquake hits Croatia (aljazeera.com)

 

 

Albanian Language Media 

 

COVID-19: 109 new cases, eight deaths (media)

109 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the last 24 hours in Kosovo of 744 samples tested.  At the same time, eight deaths and 454 recoveries were also reported during this time. 

There are currently 9,980 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

Osmani: Anti-COVID vaccines, only after April (Radio Free Europe)

Acting President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, said today that the government must not be excused for delays in getting supplies of vaccines against COVID – 19. She said that in addition to vaccines from the WHO’s COVAX program, Kosovo must secure vaccines from several member states of the European Union. 

“I think there are delays that should not be excused. Other countries in the region are ahead of us, therefore we need to hold the government accountable for the fact that we are not prepared and that vaccines will most probably arrive only after April,” she said. “This however doesn’t mean that there are no maximal efforts underway to get aid from several EU member states, especially those that have ordered more vaccines than the number of their populations”.

Asked to comment on the entrance of vaccines from Serbia in the northern Kosovo municipalities, Osmani said this constitutes a violation of agreements reached in the EU-facilitated talks between Kosovo and Serbia. “This is a flagrant violation of agreements that Kosovo and Serbia have signed in Brussels. It also goes to show that Serbia never honors the pledges made in the process,” she added.

According to Osmani, Serbia is trying to destabilise Kosovo by sending vaccines in the northern municipalities.

NISMA in coalition talks with PDK (media)

Leader of the Social Democratic Initiative (NISMA) Fatmir Limaj said they are in talks with the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) for a pre-election coalition. 

“We don’t have an offer but it is up to the PDK to decide,” Limaj said after a meeting with representatives of KLA War Veterans’s Organisations.  

Abrashi: We paid special attention to implementation of Washington agreement (KP/Klan)

Kosovo’s Minister of Infrastructure Arban Abrashi said at the end-of-year conference that the ministry paid a special importance to implementation of the commitments stemming from the Washington agreement with Serbia, mentioning in this respect the work on the construction of the Besi-Merdare highway and the application for funding the project with the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

Abrashi said the construction of the highway is expected to begin next year. “We hope to announce the procedures next year and begin with the construction stage,” he said.

Weber: Thaci’s departure from politics to be seen as collapse of post-war political elite (Koha)

Bodo Weber, Balkans expert from the Democratization Policy Council, said Kosovo needs a constitutional reform of the political system and that what has happened in recent years in Kosovo, particularly in 2020, is an indicator that the political system has deeply collapsed. He also said that the departure of former president Hashim Thaci and former leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo Kadri Veseli from the political scene should be viewed as the beginning of destruction of the post-war political elite.  

Weber argued that Thaci had ‘privatised’ the process of dialogue with Serbia for his personal interest and was even ready to trade off a part of Kosovo’s territory. He said Kosovo needs a unifying figure to become the new president. “A president oriented towards future, ideally someone who knows how to represent Kosovo on the world stage and who knows something ideal for international negotiations – who can help parliamentary parties find the necessary unity in the future repositioning of Kosovo in negotiations with Serbia.”

Weber commented on the management of the COVID-19 pandemic saying it was politicised from the outset. “We saw earlier this year that a large part of the political elite was willing to abuse Kosovo’s traditional relations with the United States to resolve internal political issues, namely to overthrow a government. And we saw the same elites misusing the issue of declaring a state of emergency, necessary throughout the country after the situation with Covid-19, for the same purpose, only to make that issue be overshadowed the moment the government changed,” he said.

“The process of integration of Kosovo and Serbia into the European Union is endangered by the EU and by the United States of America which has allowed the negotiations to go completely off plan. This will not affect the sad issue of visa liberalization, where Kosovo has become a totally unacceptable collateral damage to the EU’s disunity related to ‘common’ asylum and migration policies,” continued Weber. 

He said he expects the upcoming elections to result in a change of the political generation. “At the same time, I have serious concerns that the new parliament will be blocked in not being able to reach agreement on the president.”

Following resignation, Cakaj denies joining election race in Kosovo (Indeksonline)

Gent Cakaj has presented his resignation from the post of Albania’s Foreign Minister to Prime Minister Edi Rama, online media report. 

Indeksonline reports about comments on social media linking Cakaj’s move to the possibility of him joining a political party in Kosovo ahead of parliamentary elections. The news website says that the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) is being seen as the most viable option for Cakaj, originally from Kosovo, to join.

Cakaj however has denied any such possibility. “Speculations that I am about to join any political parties in Kosovo are not true. This is what I can say at present,” he told Indeksonline. 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

In Serbian communities in Kosovo 30 new cases of Covid-19, one death (Kontakt plus radio)

The North Mitrovica Crisis Staff announced today that in Serbian areas in Kosovo one person died as a result of the coronavirus, 30 new cases of infection were registered, while 66 people came out of isolation, reported Kontakt plus radio. 

The deceased is from Leposavic.

Out of 127 processed samples, positive cases were recorded in the municipalities: North Mitrovica (7), Zubin Potok (7), Leposavic (6), Zvecan (5), Gnjilane (3), Gracanica (1), Kosovska Kamenica (1).

There are currently 655 active cases.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 86 people have died in the Serb areas of Kosovo as a result of Covid-19.

European Commission aid package to help Western Balkans with vaccination (N1)

The European Commission adopted a 70 million Euro aid package to help the countries of the Western Balkans gain access to the COVID-19 vaccines that the European Union member states have secured, Radio Free Europe said on Monday.

European Commission Oliver Varhelyi said that the EU has treated the region as a privileged partner during the coronavirus pandemic. RFE quoted him as saying that the EU will extend that practice to the vaccines by taking steps which will allow those countries to quickly start vaccinating critical personnel and the most vulnerable groups.  

The funds will come in the form of grants which will help cover the cost of the vaccines for priority groups, the European Commission said in a press release, adding that this will allow the countries of the Western Balkans to buy certain amounts of vaccine contracted by the EU with six vaccine makers which will allow those countries to start vaccination at the same time as EU member states.  

See at: https://bit.ly/2L6MKL2

Serbian government pandemic Crisis Staff bans New Year celebrations (N1, FoNet)

The Serbian government pandemic Crisis Staff on Monday banned all organized New Year’s Eve celebrations, media report.

A statement said that restaurants and cafes would close at 6:00 pm on December 31 and January 1 but that food retail outlets can stay open till 8:00 pm on those days. Reporters were told of the decisions after a meeting of the Crisis Staff by staff from the Prime Minister’s cabinet. 

They said that restaurants and cafes can stay open till 8:00 pm after January 1, adding that the details of the Crisis Staff decisions would be released on Tuesday after a government meeting.

Media also reported later during the day that the Serbian Government confirmed the measures proposed by the pandemic Crisis Staff. 

Jevtic: Repanovic family house in Osojane robbed for the seventh time (Kosovo-online)

Minister for Communities and Returns, Dalibor Jevtic said that the Repanovic family house in Osojane village, Istok municipality, has been broken into and burglarized for the seventh time, Kosovo-online portal reports.

“For the seventh time because no one has been prosecuted in the previous six cases. Nothing would unhinge Dragan to stay and live in his Osojane despite all the attacks. The question for the authorities: When will you finally protect the returnees?” Jevtic wrote on Twitter.

Earlier two houses of Repanovic returnees’ families were burglarized on June 2, this year. 

Vucic on Serwer: I do not play with meaningless statements (Kosovo-online)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said today he doesn’t play with meaningless statements, and that he has nothing to add or remove from his previous statements there will be no recognition of Kosovo as long as he is the president of Serbia, Kosovo-online portal reports.

Vucic made these remarks in a response to the statement of Daniel Serwer, Professor at John Hopkins University and Balkan expert that Vucic’s stance on recognition confirms that “he has decided the only prize which would convince him to recognize Kosovo is Serbia’s EU membership, which is certainly not happen during his current mandate”.

“We know what we went through in Brussels, what we go through every day and I am happy that today some accuse us of sending the vaccines and medicines, and not tanks”, Vucic said. He added Belgrade wants cooperation with Pristina through the medicines as well.  

“We want politics of peace and stability, by preserving our national interests at the same time”, Vucic concluded.

 

 

Opinion

 

COVID-19 only exacerbated Kosovo education’s preexisting conditions (Prishtina Insight)

2020 was another difficult year in education with more misgovernance, political interference and poor test scores, while attempts to provide schooling during the pandemic often fell short, writes Adea Kondirolli.

Education systems across the world experienced a shock in 2020, with the spread of the novel coronavirus disrupting schooling on a global scale. According to a policy brief by the UN, around 1.6 billion students worldwide were affected by school closures during the pandemic.

Following the first confirmed cases in Kosovo in March, the government swiftly closed educational institutions at all levels, from kindergartens to universities, with around 420,000 pupils and students affected.

Around 10 days after the shutdown, the Ministry of Education started producing educational content for primary school (grades 1-5) pupils that were transmitted via the public broadcaster daily. Soon, there was a Zoom boom, and learners of all ages were holding classes on various video-call platforms, including university students. 

This transition wasn’t as smooth as anyone would have liked. Despite having an internet penetration rate of 96.4 percent in households, there were reports of children not having any type of device that could support the video-calls required for classes, or to do their homework online. 

There were also reports that children with special needs were not being offered the proper support because of a lack of curricula that would have enabled distance learning. Another challenge was pupils from Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities having issues accessing online learning, with up to 51 percent reportedly not attending any online lessons. 

See more at: https://bit.ly/2WQDayP

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Strong magnitude 6.3 earthquake hits Croatia (aljazeera.com)

Buildings in central Croatia collapse as earthquake is felt throughout the country and in neighbouring Serbia, Bosnia.

A strong earthquake has hit central Croatia, with injuries reported as well as considerable damage to buildings in Petrinja, a town southeast of the capital.

The earthquake was felt throughout the country on Tuesday, as well as in neighbouring Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and as far away as Graz in southern Austria.

Buildings collapsed in Petrinja, some 60km (37 miles) from Zagreb.

An Al Jazeera reporter in the town witnessed a boy and his father being pulled from a car buried in the rubble.

The European Mediterranean Seismological Center said the 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit 46km (17 miles) southeast of Zagreb. The same area was struck by a 5.2 quake on Monday.

See more at: https://bit.ly/34Qdy9q

 

 

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