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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, January 15, 2021

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID – 19: 296 new cases, seven deaths (media)
  • Government decides to ease measures in the fight against coronavirus (media)
  • Hoti presents economic recovery program, promises pensions’ increase (media)
  • EU Ambassador signs three projects worth € 11.8 million (media)
  • Kosovo leaders pay homage to Recak victims (media)
  • Kosnett and Orlando remember Recak victims (Koha)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Nine infected with coronavirus in Serbian communities in Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio) 
  • At Thaci’s trial 71 witnesses of prosecution received protection measures (Kosovo-online, Tanjug)
  • Stano: Petkovic’s visit announced appropriately; respect the agreement (KiM Radio, Tanjug)
  • Petkovic: Aid dedicated to flood-endangered people in Kosovo arrived (Radio KIM)
  • Radonjic: By participating in the negative campaign and defamation of Oliver Ivanovic, they also participated in his murder (KoSSev, N1, NIN)
  • SDP: Third anniversary of Oliver Ivanovic’s death to be marked on Saturday (Radio KIM)
  • Kirby: The policy towards the Balkans will change; where a lot has been said and little has been done (Kosovo Online, Tanjug)
  • Serbian List submitted list of candidates for elections (Radio KIM)
  • Jevtic: Our response to the attacks and insults will be to win the elections on February 14 (Radio Mitrovica sever, Radio Gracanica, Kosovo Online)
  • Serbian President appoints new ambassadors to Vatican, UN (N1)

International:

  • Cover-Up Claims Shadow Unsolved Murder of Kosovo Serb Politician (Balkan Insight)
  • What to expect from the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue in 2021 (ecfr.eu)
  • Kosovo Laments ‘Delayed Justice’ as Village Massacre Commemorated (BalkanInsight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Kon: Current anti-epidemic measures in Serbia until end of January (N1)

 

 

Albanian Language Media 

 

COVID – 19: 296 new cases, seven deaths (media)

296 new cases of COVID – 19 and seven deaths from the virus were recorded in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. 526 persons recovered from the virus during this time. There are 5,164 active cases of COVID – 19 in Kosovo.

Government decides to ease measures in the fight against coronavirus (media)

At the proposal of the Ministry of Health, the government of Kosovo decided today to change the general and specific measures for protection against the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the proposal of the Ministry of Health, municipalities will continue to be categorized into three groups based on the risk of spreading the infection in low-risk municipalities, those who have up to 75 people infected with coronavirus per 100 thousand inhabitants within a week, those of medium risk with 76 to 150 infected per 100 thousand inhabitants within a week and high risk municipalities with over 150 infected per 100 thousand inhabitants within a week.

In municipalities with low and medium risk, economic operators will be allowed to work until 22:00, while after that, they will be offering only “take away” services. There will be no restriction on the movement of citizens.

The movement of citizens in the municipalities of high risk, or in the red zone, is allowed until 21:30, while movement will be restricted between 21:30 until 05:00. In these municipalities, economic operators will be allowed to work until 21:00. “Delivery orders” from restaurants can be made after these hours.

During the online meeting of the government held today, it was emphasized that foreign citizens entering Kosovo and coming from high risk countries, must have a negative PCR test for COVID-19 done in 72 last hours.

Individuals over the age of 65 are allowed to leave the house only during the hours 6:00 – 10:00 and 16:00 – 19:00.

Gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited.

The decision enters into force after its publication in the Official Gazette.

Hoti presents economic recovery program, promises pensions’ increase (media)

Acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti revealed at a press conference together with Minister of Finance Hykmete Bajrami, the economic recovery program for 2021.

He said on this occasion that they have decided to allocate hundreds of millions of Euros. He added that this program has 16 measures, including increase of pensions.

“We have voted an important decision with regards to the measures for implementation of the Law for economic recovery. Consulting with the key ministries on implementation of this Law took place.

“An amount of 6.5 million will be allocated for the small businesses, with speedy procedures. We have allocated five million Euros for the Ministry of Education and Science in order to organize lectures.”

“We support the Ministry of Culture with an amount of 2.5 million Euros. Women in business with one million Euro. 50 million Euros for healthcare. 11 million Euros for salary subsidies. For the Ministry of Agriculture, six million Euros. For the gastronomy section, three million Euros.

We have allocated 7.9 million Euros for the municipalities. We support public enterprises with 21 million Euros. One million Euros for entrepreneurs.

16 million Euros for the Ministry of Economy. For the Ministry for Regional Development, six Million Euros. The last measure, we will increase pensions which are below 100 Euros,” Hoti said.

Hoti also said that they are making maximal efforts to keep the distance during the gatherings.

He also spoke about the damages caused by the recent floods adding that there were no casualties.

“With the emergency fund, we will help the affected families and are not able to invest. We will proceed from the reserve fund.

Asked about the theft of two million euros, Hoti said that they do not deal with the matter, the Special Prosecution does.

Minister Hykmete Bajrami said these measures are not part of the election campaign, and added that all the measures were foreseen earlier.

EU Ambassador signs three projects worth € 11.8 million (media)

The EU Ambassador to Kosovo Tomas Sunjog signed today ️projects worth 11.8 million euros that provide social protection for vulnerable groups in Kosovo during the coronavirus pandemic. The projects will provide emergency support, social protection and rapid socio-economic recovery for the most vulnerable groups, especially children and women. These are part of a program that targets a population of 200,000 citizens. This includes an emergency assistance scheme to address the basic needs of 8,000 families living in poverty, including families belonging to minority groups or who are not officially registered. The aim is to improve the sustainability of social policies that address inequalities and promote social cohesion in the medium and long term.

The projects will be implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Save the Children, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Kosovo leaders pay homage to Recak victims (media)

Acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti visited today the memorial of the civilians killed in Recak in 1999.  

“these bodies will never rest in peace until those who committed these acts receive the punishment they deserve. I consider that justice is sometimes delayed, but I am convinced that it will be established,” Hoti said.

The leader of the Vetevendosje Movement, Albin Kurti, and the acting President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, said from Recak that without justice being done for Serbia’s crimes in Kosovo, there can be no lasting peace.

“The Recak massacre is one of the most authentic failures of Serbia’s crimes in Kosovo. It is the place where Serbia’s intention to exterminate the Albanian people was finally proven. Honoring all the fallen and martyrs, this truth must be said out loud, seeking justice for all those who were civilian victims and those who fell to enjoy our freedom. Evidence of the Serbian genocide can be found all over Kosovo, so it is never too late to talk about these crimes anywhere in the world so that the world turns its eyes to these crimes,” Osmani told reporters.

Meanwhile, Kurti added that the Recak massacre had served as an alarm for the international public to intervene in Kosovo.

“Not only the perpetrators, but also the executors are known by name in many cases, not only for the Recak massacre and it is the duty of our state and the international community to prosecute, judge and punish them. There can be no lasting peace as long as there is no justice that brings rehabilitation for the victims and punishment for the criminals,” Kurti said.

Acting leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) Enver Hoxhaj, said Recak tells the best about who should be indicted. “We are here without our leader Veseli without President Thaci, without Rexhep Selimi, Jakup Krasniqi, who are unfairly facing the court,” Hoxhaj said.

Leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) Ramush Haradinaj, Fatmir Limaj, leader of the Social-Democratic Initiative (NISMA), and other political leaders also visited the memorial.

Kosnett and Orlando remember Recak victims (Koha)

The U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo Philip Kosnett honored today the victims of the Recak massacre, 22 years after the event that shook the world.

“Today we stand with Kosovo in honoring the memory of the Recak Massacre victims and reaffirm our commitment to ensuring justice and closure for their families and loved ones.”  Kosnett wrote on Twitter.

Also, the Italian Ambassador to Kosovo, Nicola Orlando remembered the victims of the Recak massacre on the 22nd anniversary of the event.

“On the anniversary of the Recak massacre we remember the victims and affirm the imperative of justice and reconciliation in Kosovo and the region,” Orlando wrote. 

 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Nine infected with coronavirus in Serbian communities in Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio) 

According to the latest data, in Serbian areas in Kosovo nine new cases of infection were registered, while 25 people came out of isolation, announced this morning the North Mitrovica Crisis Staff. 

Out of 52 processed samples, positive cases were recorded in the municipalities: North Mitrovica (5), Zvecan (1), Leposavic (1), Zubin Potok (1) and Gracanica (1).

There are currently 315 active cases.

In Serbian areas south of the Ibar, a total of 1,043 cases of infection have been registered so far.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, a total of 12,952 people have been tested, of which 3,681 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

In the Serbian areas 94 people have died as a result of Covid-19.

At Thaci’s trial 71 witnesses of prosecution received protection measures (Kosovo-online, Tanjug)

A judge of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers based in The Hague has assigned protection measures for 71 witnesses of the prosecution who will testify in the process against Hashim Thaci and other KLA leaders accused of committing war crimes in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999, Tanjug news agency reports.

This decision was made as per proposal of the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office in December last year, while Thaci’s defense lawyers asked permission to appeal the decision to the court’s panel.

The pre-trial judge, however, rejected their request as ungrounded, as in line with the rules of the court “it does not represent a matter of appeal”, a statement published on the website of the court said.

Thaci’s defense protested over the fact that 71 witnesses of the prosecution would testify in the trial under protection measures and pseudonyms (numbers), although, according to the judge’s views they do not oppose protection measures.  

The judge deems protection measures for the witnesses as necessary and they would not impact the fairness of the trial.

Although the identity of the witnesses would remain unknown to the public, during the proceedings it would be known to defendants and their lawyers.  

Stano: Petkovic’s visit announced appropriately; respect the agreement (KiM Radio, Tanjug)

EU spokesman Peter Stano told Tanjug news agency that the visit of the director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic to Kosovo was announced “in an appropriate manner, in accordance with the modalities agreed by both sides”, emphasizing the obligation to respect the agreement reached in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue on official visits.

Stano said that the visits of both sides must take place in a spirit that contributes to the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina.

“We emphasize once again that the EU expects all agreements reached in the EU-mediated dialogue, including the one on official visits, to be respected and implemented. The parties have agreed on clear modalities for conducting the visit and the agreement should not be politicized,” stated Stano.

He called on both sides to resolve all disagreements.

“Including those around official visits, and to promote an atmosphere suitable for reconciliation, regional stability and cooperation, all for the benefit of the citizens,” Stano concluded.

Petkovic: Aid dedicated to flood-endangered people in Kosovo arrived (Radio KIM)

Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Petar Petkovic said today that the aid dedicated to the flood-endangered people in Kosovo has reached them, despite him being prevented from entering Kosovo, Radio KIM reports.

“The reason for my visit in Kosovo and Metohija was of humanitarian character, to take the humanitarian aid, pumping stations and all what was necessary to help the Serb areas endangered by the floods. However, Pristina which perceives everything as a political marketing disabled my entry in Kosovo and Metohija and thus demonstrated in fact that the lives and safety of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija are not important”, Petkovic said.

Petkovic also said more than 100 Serb households were endangered and the mostly affected are in Kosovo Pomoravlje and central Kosovo, Lepina, Gracanica, Babin Most, Plemetina and Kuzmin, since the rivers Lab, Sitnica and Binacka Morava flooded the areas.

Petkovic also thanked European Union for its stance since “it said it was about violating the agreement by Pristina, which misused the agreement and politicized the visit that was timely announced”.

“I had no intention of going there and dealing with the campaign and politics, but before everything to visit Serb households endangered by the floods”, Petkovic said. 

Radonjic: By participating in the negative campaign and defamation of Oliver Ivanovic, they also participated in his murder (KoSSev, N1, NIN)

People living in Kosovo must have a say when it comes to their lives. It is not right, nor moral, and I believe that it is also not political to impose someone’s will on anyone. Oliver was an authentic representative of the Kosovo Serbs and as such he was expelled from this society – NIN journalist and the author of the book „Oliver, amongst brothers,“ Milan Radonjic said on the “Novo jutro” show on N1 TV.

On the eve of the third anniversary of the assassination of the most famous leader of Kosovo Serbs, which has yet to be resolved, the latest issue of the NIN weekly comes with a book about the murder that greatly disturbed the public.

We live in a society in which the law of force and not the force of law still rules, the author of the book, Milan Radonjic said, adding:

“We must change that. One of the reasons why this book was written is because, in a way, one has no right to talk about Kosovo if that policy does not have a direct effect on his life.“

According to him, the motive that pervades the entire book is the question of whether “we are doomed to lies, of whether it is the only way in which this society can function.“

The Copernican turn in politics and the media tsunami

“According to all the parameters of what constitutes a state (…), new ID cards, area codes, now the energy system, the signing of the Brussels Agreement is a Copernican turn, a major policy change. This cannot be done without showing some honesty to the society this affects. So, that must be said. On the other hand, we had a media tsunami of stories about how everything is the same, how Kosovo is Serbia, and how we will never give up anything… And in that difference between the PR – that is, the same old story from the 1990s and 2000s, and those changes in the field – which the people of Mitrovica had to survive.

We have a situation in which the people who are part of that structure, who are part of Srpska Lista, accused people and political opponents of being ‘those who got Kosovo documents’, that’s an argument, and that is one of the things agreed within the Brussels Agreement. That hypocrisy of doing one thing and saying another thing – it has its price, especially for people who do not want to live in lies and fear – and Oliver was one of those people.“

Radonjic underlined that Oliver Ivanovic was never a war criminal, adding that one part of the media had to treat him as such while the trial was in progress.

Speaking about the trial Ivanovic went through in the years before the murder, Radonjic further noted that former Defense Minister Nebojsa Rodic should reveal as to why the VBA (the Serbian Military Security Agency) wrote in its February 2014 report for EULEX that, according to operational data, Oliver Ivanovic was a member of the police reserve programme.

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

SDP: Third anniversary of Oliver Ivanovic’s death to be marked on Saturday (Radio KIM)

Civic Initiative Freedom, Democracy, Justice (SDP) will mark third anniversary of Oliver Ivanovic’s death on the spot of his assassination, in front of the party premises in Mitrovica North, Radio KIM reports.

The SDP recalled three years have passed since the murder, but also expectations that, as they said, relevant international, and Pristina institutions would make efforts and professionalism “to finally resolve who the masterminds and perpetrators of the heinous murder of Oliver Ivanovic were”.

The SPD also said the investigation not only didn’t progress, but also, went one step backward.

“The reasons for that are obstruction and non-cooperation of investigative bodies of Pristina with Belgrade. All citizens, as well as SDP members expect to finally trace the perpetrators of this misdeed and the justice to finally prevails”, the statement said.

SDP appealed to the Serbian Government, international institutions, and institutions in Pristina “to finally dedicate themselves to the investigation and bring before the justice and law executioners of Oliver Ivanovic”, the statement concluded.

Kirby: The policy towards the Balkans will change; where a lot has been said and little has been done (Kosovo Online, Tanjug)

Former US diplomat and ambassador to Serbia Michael Kirby stated that there will be people in the administration of the new US President Joe Biden who, as he said, “know the Balkans for the better or for the worse”, and assessed that the policy where ‘ a lot has been said and done a little” will change, reported Tanjug. 

Asked whether it was realistic to expect the new administration to play a bigger role in the Balkans than the previous one, Kirby answered that he thinks that the future administration is aware that it is facing a million problems in the world and that the Balkans is one of them.

“They will say that they can be counted on in solving problems. But you need to be serious,” Kirby emphasized.

According to his assessment, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic “got too close” to the outgoing President of the USA, Donald Trump.

“Perhaps he was attracted by the mentioning of the scenario of changing the borders – which has not been a feature of American politics for a long time,” Kirby added.

He assessed that Serbia and all other countries are very important, but they need to understand that a choice needs to be made. 

“The United States will say that the European Union is important,” Kirby said, adding that the countries of the Western Balkans need to take that into account.

According to his position, it seems that Serbia has turned somewhat more towards Russia, and pointed out that its future is in Europe, and not Russia, and that it could not be China either, quoted portal Kosovo Online. 

Serbian List submitted list of candidates for elections (Radio KIM)

Serbian List representatives submitted a list of candidates for the forthcoming parliamentary elections to the Central Elections Commission in Pristina, Radio KIM reports.

“I am deeply convinced and I know that Serbian List this time as well will win all ten mandates”, President of the Serbian List Goran Rakic said.

There are 20 candidates from the majority of the Serb areas in Kosovo. Majority of the candidates represented Serbs in the Assembly during its last composition.

Rakic also said that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stands behind the Serbian List and Serbian people.

“This time as well, Serbian List has the best candidates and results stand behind the Serbian List. What is the most important is that President Aleksandar Vucic stands behind the Serbian List and the Serbian people. I am deeply convinced and I know that Serbian List this time as well will win all ten mandates”, Rakic underlined. 

Jevtic: Our response to the attacks and insults will be to win the elections on February 14 (Radio Mitrovica sever, Radio Gracanica, Kosovo Online)

The Minister for Communities and Returns in the Kosovo government Dalibor Jevtic stated that nothing new happened today in the center of Pristina – attacks and insults of young Albanians on the leadership of the Serbian List is a message in what kind of society we live in, reported Radio Mitrovica sever. 

“Our response to the attacks and insults will be victory in the elections on February 14 and the continuation of the democratic struggle for the life of Serbs in Kosovo,” Jevtic wrote on Twitter.

Jevtic tweeted, Serbian media reported, as a comment to today’s insulting words and curses that came from a group of younger Albanians during the president of the Serbian List Rakic’s statement to the press.

Serbian President appoints new ambassadors to Vatican, UN (N1)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic appointed Ambassadors to the Vatican and the United Nations in New York, Radio TV Vojvodina (RTV) reported on Thursday.

The report said that retired Belgrade University Professor and law school dean Sima Avramovic was named Ambassador to the Vatican by presidential decree on January 5.

The RTV added that Nemanja Stevanovic had been appointed to head Serbia’s permanent mission to the UN in New York under a presidential decree dated January 11.

According to the RTV, Tatjana Conic was named Ambassador to Mexico and non-residential ambassador to Panama.

See at: https://bit.ly/35I5bgQ

 

 

 

International

 

Cover-Up Claims Shadow Unsolved Murder of Kosovo Serb Politician (Balkan Insight)

Three years after the assassination of Kosovo Serb opposition party leader Oliver Ivanovic, the still-unsolved murder case is plagued by claims of political interference, obstruction of investigators, concealment of evidence and judicial incompetence.

Three years ago, on January 16, when unknown perpetrators fired six bullets into the body of Kosovo Serb opposition party leader Oliver Ivanovic in front of his office in the town of Mitrovica, people in Serbia and Kosovo were stunned, while Western diplomats feared that the murder of another politician in the Balkans could end the fragile dialogue to normalise relations between Belgrade and Pristina.

The murder of Ivanovic, the leader of the Freedom, Democracy, Justice party, who was known as a moderate Kosovo Serb politician, cast a dark shadow in Serbia, reminding many of the 2003 assassination of Zoran Djindjic, who was Serbia’s first prime minister after the overthrow of authoritarian leader Slobodan Milosevic.

The assassination appeared to be a professional hit and political leaders in Belgrade and Pristina promised to solve the case as soon as possible, while also using it as an opportunity to take rhetorical potshots at each other.

In July 2018, Kosovo’s then president, Hashim Thaci, promised “concrete results that will cause many headaches, both in Kosovo and in Belgrade”. A few days later, Thaci’s Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic claimed that Belgrade had “operational knowledge” about the case and even named several ethnic Albanians as potential suspects.

See more at: https://bit.ly/39D76US

What to expect from the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue in 2021 (ecfr.eu)

Kosovo and Serbia will likely make little progress this year in their long-running dialogue, due to a lack of honest leadership and genuine attempts to prepare the public for a compromise

The EU-sponsored dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina is a source of growing impatience in many European capitals. The talks, which have continued for close to a decade, are proceeding almost as quickly as the reforms Kosovo and Serbia have undertaken on the path to EU membership. These reforms are modest, technical, and often transactional, with the negotiating parties tending to carefully calculate what they will gain from various courses of action based on their short-term political interests. And maybe that is a good thing – given that Kosovo and Serbia currently lack any big ideas for reaching a final agreement that is democratic and sustainable, and that would commit them to a future within the European Union.

See more at:https://bit.ly/38Lg8jy

Kosovo Laments ‘Delayed Justice’ as Village Massacre Commemorated (BalkanInsight)

As the 22nd anniversary of a massacre of Kosovo Albanians in the village of Recak/Racak was commemorated, the country’s Justice Ministry took a step towards setting up a new War Crimes Research Institute.

Hundreds of family members of Kosovo Albanian civilians killed by Serbian forces on January 15, 1999 gathered on Friday in Recak/Racak, a village 20 kilometres south of Pristina, to commemorate the anniversary.

Forty-four people are confirmed to have been killed that day, and one woman remains missing.

Visiting the site, Acting Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said that the victims “will never rest in peace until those who have committed these deeds receive the punishment they deserve”.

“Justice is sometimes delayed but I am convinced it will be served once and for all,” Hoti added.

Two years ago, Kosovo’s Special Prosecution confirmed that investigations were ongoing into “the role of several individuals”. However, no one has yet been convicted under a final verdict of involvement in the massacre.

See more at: http://bit.ly/2LstDvT

 

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Kon: Current anti-epidemic measures in Serbia until end of January (N1)

Epidemiologist and a member of Serbia’s anti-epidemic Crisis Team Predrag Kon said on Friday the number of coronavirus cases in the country was still high and that the relaxation of the existing preventive measures was not expected soon, N1 reports.

He said that for the less restrictive measures “we should have double-figure in the number of infected, while we are still at the four-digit in total”.

On Thursday, 1881 people were reported infected in Serbia over the previous 24 hours.

“There are some 600 infected people in Belgrade daily, and the measures should not be changed”, Kon told the Kuris daily.

He added that the Crisis Team members would ‘fight’ against extending the working hours of some services, but that the issue was “out of the question for now”.

However, Kon predicted that the working hours would probably be extended for some services despite “the strong opposition by the medical part of the Crisis Team”.

See at: https://bit.ly/3bF7Knt

 

 

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