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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, January 22, 2021

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, January 22, 2021

Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 289 new cases, 14 deaths (media)
• Hundreds of Kosovo citizens travel to Bujanovac to get Covid vaccine (Koha/Klan)
• Daka says she does not intend to resign from CEC post (Kallxo)
• France expects credible, inclusive and transparent elections (media)
• Ahead of elections, government pledges stimulus package for teachers (media)
• Osmani: Prosecutors to impartially exercise their duties (media)
• Szunyog: Asset confiscation, crucial in fighting economic crime (media)
• Kosnett to prosecutors: Do not fear accountability – embrace it (media)
• Selimi: Specialist Chambers took political actions and showed bias (Telegrafi)

Serbian Language Media:

• Dacic: Serbian List guarantor of preserving interests of Serbian people in Kosovo (Kosovo-online)
• Godfrey: New administration will continue improving relations with Serbia (N1)
• EC comments of Haradinaj’s statement on unification with Albania (media)
• “Biden has bigger problems, he will not embark on adventures in Balkans” (Sputnik, Kosovo-online)
• Central Election Commission introduces new procedure – Todosijevic’s candidacy under question mark (Radio Mitrovica sever, Vecernje Novosti)
• Dimkic: No ecological disaster, news of Leposavic tailings spill exaggerated by media and malicious individuals (KoSSev)
• Preparatory hearing in Oliver Ivanovic’s murder case continues on February 5 (Radio KIM)
• Albania’s citizens may enter Serbia with IDs only (KoSSev, N1)
• Fmr Dean: Sarajevo Performing Arts Academy formed sexual harassment commission (N1 BiH)
• Moscow: Expulsion of Russian diplomat from Tirana shall not remain without response (Kosovo-online)
• Hoti announces investments, with an aim to make Serbian property an international ski resort (Vecernje Novosti)
• Detention of Bacevic extended for two more months (Radio KIM)

International:

• Vaccines Turn Into Geopolitics in Europe’s Most Volatile Region (Bloomberg)
• Kosovo Commemorates 15th Anniversary of First President’s Death (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• The EU to secure vaccine for Western Balkans, says Von der Leyen (Beta, N1)
• Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines’ reduction in supplies causes dissatisfaction within EU (Tanjug, B92)
• Albania expels Russian diplomat, citing lockdown breaches (AP)
• North Macedonia’s Naivety About Vaccine Procurement Costs Country Dear (Balkan Insight)
• EU proposes dark red areas for Europe’s epidemiological map (N1, Hina, B92)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 289 new cases, 14 deaths (media)
  • Hundreds of Kosovo citizens travel to Bujanovac to get Covid vaccine (Koha/Klan)
  • Daka says she does not intend to resign from CEC post (Kallxo)
  • France expects credible, inclusive and transparent elections (media)
  • Ahead of elections, government pledges stimulus package for teachers (media)
  • Osmani: Prosecutors to impartially exercise their duties (media)
  • Szunyog: Asset confiscation, crucial in fighting economic crime (media)
  • Kosnett to prosecutors: Do not fear accountability – embrace it (media)
  • Selimi: Specialist Chambers took political actions and showed bias (Telegrafi)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Dacic: Serbian List guarantor of preserving interests of Serbian people in Kosovo (Kosovo-online)
  • Godfrey: New administration will continue improving relations with Serbia (N1)
  • EC comments of Haradinaj’s statement on unification with Albania (media)
  • “Biden has bigger problems, he will not embark on adventures in Balkans” (Sputnik, Kosovo-online)
  • Central Election Commission introduces new procedure – Todosijevic’s candidacy under question mark (Radio Mitrovica sever, Vecernje Novosti)
  • Dimkic: No ecological disaster, news of Leposavic tailings spill exaggerated by media and malicious individuals (KoSSev)
  • Preparatory hearing in Oliver Ivanovic’s murder case continues on February 5 (Radio KIM)
  • Albania’s citizens may enter Serbia with IDs only (KoSSev, N1)
  • Fmr Dean: Sarajevo Performing Arts Academy formed sexual harassment commission (N1 BiH)
  • Moscow: Expulsion of Russian diplomat from Tirana shall not remain without response (Kosovo-online)
  • Hoti announces investments, with an aim to make Serbian property an international ski resort (Vecernje Novosti)
  • Detention of Bacevic extended for two more months (Radio KIM)

International:

  • Vaccines Turn Into Geopolitics in Europe’s Most Volatile Region (Bloomberg)
  • Kosovo Commemorates 15th Anniversary of First President’s Death (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • The EU to secure vaccine for Western Balkans, says Von der Leyen (Beta, N1)
  • Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines’ reduction in supplies causes dissatisfaction within EU (Tanjug, B92)
  • Albania expels Russian diplomat, citing lockdown breaches (AP)
  • North Macedonia’s Naivety About Vaccine Procurement Costs Country Dear (Balkan Insight)
  • EU proposes dark red areas for Europe’s epidemiological map (N1, Hina, B92)

 

 

Albanian Language Media 

 

COVID-19: 289 new cases, 14 deaths (media)

289 new cases of COVID-19 and 14 deaths from the virus were recorded in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. 

303 persons have recovered from the virus during this time. 

Hundreds of Kosovo citizens travel to Bujanovac to get Covid vaccine (Koha/Klan)

Hundreds of citizens from Kosovo have travelled to Bujanovac to get vaccinated against Covid-19 by Serbian health authorities, Koha and Klan Kosova report quoting a local media outlet in Serbia.

The majority of the people travelling to Serbia for the vaccine are said to be from the municipalities of Gjilan, Ranillug, Kamenica and the surrounding areas.

Director of the Healthcare Centre in Bujanovac said that they will vaccinate citizens of Kosovo only through an order issued by the Serbia’s Health Ministry.

Daka says she does not intend to resign from CEC post (Kallxo)

Valdete Daka, head of the Central Election Commission, said she does not plan to step down despite the call from the Vetevendosje candidate Haki Abazi.

“I do not intend to resign. I will not succumb to the pressure from Haki Abazi,” Daka told T7.

Abazi argued that Daka should step down for being inconsistent as in the 2019 elections VV leader Albin Kurti was certified to run for election adding that the law has not in the meantime changed. “She should resign for the past decisions of allowing all the candidates to run in 2019 elections,” Abazi said. “She should come out and explain what has changed in the Constitution, the Law on Elections,” he continued.

France expects credible, inclusive and transparent elections (media)

The French Embassy in Kosovo said it expects respective institutions to ensure organisation of credible, inclusive and transparent elections in line with international standards.

“Pre-electoral procedures, including on the certification of candidates, are still ongoing. These procedures are defined by law and include possibilities for appeal. It is important that independent institutions and the relevant judicial bodies are able to conduct their work without interference,” the Embassy said in a statement posted on social media.

Ahead of elections, government pledges stimulus package for teachers (media)

The outgoing Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti said after meeting representatives of education trade unions that they agreed on all issues of the Collective Agreement and that they also agreed that the teaching staff in the pre-university level will receive a thirteenth salary starting from 2023, based on their performance. 

Hoti said the signing of the Collective Agreement is expected today.

Koha meanwhile reports that several trade unions, including that of firefighters, the private sector and healthcare, have expressed discontent with the government’s decision to only support the teachers. 

Jusuf Azemi, head of the private sector union, said the decision was political and part of the election campaign while head of the healthcare unionists Blerim Syla called the government’s move ‘shameful’. Firefighters have meanwhile warned they will protest against the measures next week.

Osmani: Prosecutors to impartially exercise their duties (media)

Acting President of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani said that the impartiality of prosecutors is the foundation for their exercise of duties and that apart from this quality, it is extremely important for the prosecutors to enjoy the trust of the citizens and the public as being independent, unbiased, and fair.

“Despite the efforts and good results, international reports continue to offer recommendations to improve the performance and work output of judicial institutions, including the prosecution,” Osmani said in her remarks at the Annual Prosecutors’ Conference.

“The success of the prosecution is a success for the whole of our state therefore all of us, be it representatives of institutions or citizens of the country, need to offer our utmost contribution to ensure independent, credible and professional institutions that fight crime and corruption, preserve institutional integrity and above all make our Republic a desirable place to bring up our children,” she said. 

Szunyog: Asset confiscation, crucial in fighting economic crime (media)

Head of the EU Office in Kosovo and Special Representative, Tomas Szunyog, said that the prosecution is one of the main pillars of the rule of law and that an efficient, independent and accountable prosecution is a difficult and ongoing process. 

Speaking at the Annual Prosecutors’ Conference, Szunyog noted that despite challenges, “We continue to believe in the possibility of achieving good results, especially in the fight against corruption and organised crime.”

He said the prosecutor’s work begins with the opening of an investigation but does not end once an indictment is raised. “The victory in the fight against crime comes when final court decisions are reached.” Furthermore, added Szunyog, asset confiscation is crucial in fighting economic crime. 

Kosnett to prosecutors: Do not fear accountability – embrace it (media)

The U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo Philip Kosnett said in his remarks at the Annual Prosecutors’ Conference that the recent events in Washington served as a stark reminder of democracy’s fragility, the importance of rule of law, and the dangers of lies and misinformation but that despite the violence, the U.S. institutions persevered. “I am confident America will emerge stronger than ever from this critical period, but there is a lot of work and a lot of heartache ahead.”

“One common thread throughout history, true in my country and yours, is that dangerous times demand extraordinary acts from ordinary people,” he said in reference to the work of the late anthropologist Anton Cetta to preserve Kosovo’s cultural heritage and history.  ”At great personal risk to himself and his family, Mr. Cetta worked tirelessly to broker peace between families and end generations of blood feuds.  Mr. Cetta knew for Kosovo’s democratic institutions to succeed, the public could not and should not play the role of judge, juror, and executioner.  His work strengthened Kosovo’s respect for rule of law and empowered all of you to become the arbiters of justice,” Kosnett added.

He urged the prosecutors, victim advocates, and support staff to remember that the public entrusts you to be the champions of the rule of law.   “Do not fear accountability – embrace it.  Hold yourselves, your colleagues, and your leaders to the highest legal and ethical standards.  Vigorously defend the rights of victims and ensure the human dignity of the accused.  Seek equal justice for all of Kosovo’s citizens, regardless of their position in society.”

Selimi: Specialist Chambers took political actions and showed bias (Telegrafi)

Kosovo’s outgoing Minister of Justice Selim Selimi said that the actions of the Specialist Chambers have gone beyond the legal context and produced political effects. 

“First and foremost, we need to believe in justice because it is on our side. However, one thing needs to be clear, the issuing of statements by the Prosecution was and remains a purely political act. That statement is not part of a judicial practice because it contained political elements. In addition, the use of force was disproportional. EULEX Police used disproportionate force which was not well received by the society because not so long ago we went through such a situation which for us draws parallels from the recent past. There was an excessive use of force. Therefore, this makes me personally believe that the Specialist Chambers have taken political actions and showed bias,” Selimi said in an online discussion on the Kosovo Specialist Chambers hosted by Kosovo 2.0 media platform.

Selimi also spoke about financial legal assistance for those indicted by the Specialist Chambers. “The relevant department within the Ministry of Justice, as well as the Commission, will review requests for financial support for the accused as well as close family members of the accused regarding travel expenses when court proceedings take place outside Kosovo and will provide the necessary financial support in this respect in line with the applicable legislation.”

Other panelists in the discussion included Natasa Kandic, founder of the Humanitarian Law Center, and Donika Emini, Executive Director of the CiviKos Platform.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Dacic: Serbian List guarantor of preserving interests of Serbian people in Kosovo (Kosovo-online)

Leader of Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) Ivica Dacic met today with Serbian List candidates for MPs, and discussed with them forthcoming Kosovo elections due on February 14, Kosovo-online portal reports.  

As a statement published on the official SPS webpage said during the meeting it was emphasized that by taking part in these elections Serbian List would reaffirm the determination of the Serbian people in Kosovo that together with the state leadership of the Republic of Serbia continue to fight for survival and remain in Kosovo and Metohija.

“Victory of the Serbian List again will reaffirm our already clear message to the so-called Pristina authorities that they can’t intimidate Serbian people in Kosovo in a fight for their centuries-old hearthstones (…)”, Dacic said.

He added that socialists from Kosovo take part in the elections with the Serbian List and by joining forces they can be stronger in preservation of national interests, in achieving peace and safety as well as better lives for our citizens in Kosovo.

Godfrey: New administration will continue improving relations with Serbia (N1)

Following the inauguration of Joseph Biden as 46th US President, Antony Godfrey the US Ambassador to Serbia said Thursday that the new Washington administration would continue to upgrade relations with Belgrade, N1 reports.

“I can say that the US will further improve relations with Serbia. We see Serbia as a partner and support its goal to join the European Union“, Godfrey said after the signing of the Inter-state Agreement on Investments Encouragement.

Godfrey also said the US was facing several crises at the same time, but that he saw “strength, unity and determination“.

“Not everything is easy and smooth in democracy, but that is the best form of ruling. The people expressed their will, and we have the new President (Joseph) Biden“, he said.

EC comments of Haradinaj’s statement on unification with Albania (media)

“Political leaders in the region should give an example in promoting mutual trust, nourishing good neighborly relations and cooperation, the European Union’s principles and values”, the European Commission (EC) said in a response to Tanjug’s inquiry on Ramush Haradinaj’s statement about unification with Albania.

Haradinaj, leader of Alliance for Future of Kosovo (AAK) said Monday the EU treatment of Kosovo may push it into amalgamation with neighboring Albania and that a referendum on the issue was not excluded. He said that while presenting his party’s program ahead of Kosovo early elections due on February 14.

Tanjug also reported European diplomatic sources said they do not wish to comment on “similar statements” and thus “attach significance” to those using them for political purposes.  

“Biden has bigger problems, he will not embark on adventures in Balkans” (Sputnik, Kosovo-online)

We can breathe a sigh of relief, the new American administration of President Joseph Biden would have on the agenda much bigger problems, and that is why they won’t embark on adventures here, political analyst  Obrad Kesic said.

Kesic told Sputnik portal that circumstances in the world would not allow them to embark on any adventures, even if Biden’s administration has an ambition to demonstrate its power in the areas such as the Balkans that are not directly linked to the vital US interests.

Kesic also said weeks prior to the inauguration, representatives of the Serbian community had contacts with the people from Biden’s team responsible for foreign policy and the messages they received “were encouraging”.

“They were told Serbia is perceived as a serious partner in the Balkans, and that the DFC Office also termed Serbia as a country in the region that has greater importance to the US administration”, Kesic said.

He also recalled that at recent round-tables organized in Washington to discuss directions of Biden’s foreign policy one could hear there would be no sudden changes concerning policy on open issues in the Balkans. It is truth, the US still requests mutual recognitions between Belgrade and Pristina, and also functional state in Bosnia and Herzegovina, however, it has neither plan nor ambition to impose any solution to these issues, and that is why we can breathe a sigh of relief”, Kesic said.  

Central Election Commission introduces new procedure – Todosijevic’s candidacy under question mark (Radio Mitrovica sever, Vecernje Novosti)

Unlike previous years, the Central Election Commission in Pristina has introduced a new procedure for the upcoming snap parliamentary elections, according to which it is being checked whether candidates for MPs have been convicted in the last three years, Radio Mitrovica sever reports.

If they are, it is an obstacle for them to be on one of the candidate lists. According to unofficial information Belgrade-based daily Novosti has, one of the ‘unsuitable’ candidates according to this criterion is Ivan Todosijevic from Serbian List, who was sentenced by the first instance to two years in prison for a “verbal offense”.

The daily added Todosijevic, who was the Minister of Local Government Administration, was convicted by the Basic Court in Pristina in December 2019 for allegedly inciting national, racial, religious hatred and intolerance because he said that the reason for the NATO aggression on the FRY was the fabricated Racak case.

The rule of certification of candidates i.e. check of MPs was introduced after the recent decision of the Kosovo Constitutional Court on the unconstitutionality of the outgoing Kosovo government, as it was supported by the vote of MP Etem Arifi, who was sentenced to prison for corruption. After receiving the candidates’ lists for the elections on February 14, the Judicial Council determined that 47 out of 1,080 registered candidates for MPs, had committed a crime in the last three years. That would mean that every 22nd candidate is in conflict with the law, the daily recalled.

Dimkic: No ecological disaster, news of Leposavic tailings spill exaggerated by media and malicious individuals (KoSSev)

The recent Leposavic tailings spill did not cause any environmental catastrophe or any pollution in the watercourse of the Ibar River. The quality of the Ibar has not been jeopardized and it did not decrease. The disturbed and worried public can now heave a sigh of relief and rely on the reports of expert teams – not on malicious individuals and the media who exaggerated the spill, presenting it as an ecological disaster, which fortunately did not and should not happen – the general director of Trepca, Jovan Dimkic told media in Leposavic yesterday, KoSSev portal reports.

Dimkic presented several reports confirming the situation is regular after the recent tailing spill into the Ibar River: Trepca’s environmental service, the reports of the Institute for Public Health in North Mitrovica, the findings of the Kosovo Independent Commission for Mines and Minerals and the reports of experts from Bor Mine, who inspected the area where the tailings spilled.

He added that the Ibar watercourse was inspected over several days in ten places – from North Mitrovica to Raska.

Although Trepca was permitted to continue flotation yesterday, its management decided not to start the operation until the experts from their plant strengthened the rampart.

See at: https://bit.ly/3sI6Mx7

Preparatory hearing in Oliver Ivanovic’s murder case continues on February 5 (Radio KIM)

Jovana Filipovic, a defense attorney of Silvana Arsovic one of the defendants in the case of Oliver Ivanovic’s murder, told RTV KIM that preparatory hearing is scheduled to take place on February 5, at 9:30.

Attorney Predrag Miljkovic, representing another defendant in this case Nedeljko Spasojevic, said that following a complaint the court scheduled a hearing within a month.

“We submitted the request for a new hearing in December last year, and the judge scheduled the first hearing within a month. I would like to commend the court for its engagement and I do hope that we will schedule other hearings in this case within the short deadline as well”, Miljkovic told RTV KIM.

RTV KIM recalled that by decision of the Appelate Court in Pristina the trial in the case of Ivanovic’s murder has returned to the beginning. The complaints of defendants had been accepted, and prosecution had to edit the indictment.  

Albania’s citizens may enter Serbia with IDs only (KoSSev, N1)

As of Wednesday, citizens of Albania need only IDs to enter Serbia, the media reported on Thursday.

The decision followed an agreement between Belgrade and Tirana, as a part of the “mini-Schengen” initiative for the Western Balkans to create conditions for further development of the economies, economic, scientific, educational, sporting and cultural cooperation.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, North Macedonian and Albanian prime ministers Zoran Zaev and Edi Rama respectively, launched the initiative by signing the joint declaration on regional cooperation.

The representatives of Montenegro, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina have not attended the meetings on the initiative so far.

Fmr Dean: Sarajevo Performing Arts Academy formed sexual harassment commission (N1 BiH)

BiH actors and actresses spoke openly about their own experiences of sexual harassment. The confessions opened Pandora’s box of traumas caused by methods that acting professors use to “liberate the actor.” Where is the line between art, censorship and immorality? Deans of four generations at the Academy of Performing Arts in Sarajevo spoke for N1 on this topic: Admir Glamocak, Zijad Mehic, Pjer Zalica and Srdjan Vuletic.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3p8tFYg

Moscow: Expulsion of Russian diplomat from Tirana shall not remain without response (Kosovo-online)

Official Moscow reacted to the decision of Tirana authorities to expel a Russian diplomat from Albania, adding that such an act shall not remain without answer and terming it “as obvious provocation”, Kosovo-online portal reports.

“It is with great regret that Moscow received news on the decision of the Albanian authorities to expel a Russian diplomat from the country. It is an obvious provocation, aimed at deteriorating Russian-Albanian relations and of course such a hostile act shall not remain without answer”, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said.

Albania earlier decided to expel the Russian diplomat, over, as the media said, his non-compliance with Covid-19 epidemiological measures.  

Hoti announces investments, with an aim to make Serbian property an international ski resort (Vecernje Novosti)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti stated that the ski centre Brezovica “will become an international centre”, announcing investments during this year “within the framework of the Washington agreement and the obligations undertaken by Kosovo”, recalled Belgrade based daily Vecernje Novosti in today’s edition. 

The daily reported that Minister of Infrastructure Arban Abrashi said a detailed investment project for Brezovica was presented in Washington, and that the agreement envisions an investment of around 600,000 euros. 

The daily reported that in 16 points of the Washington Agreement on the normalization of economic relations between Belgrade and Pristina, Brezovica was not explicitly mentioned. The item ‘additional projects’, under which the Ski Centre could be included, exists within the point which envisages cooperation between the two sides with the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation and the Export–Import Bank of the United States. 

According to Vecernje Novosti, the question was whether the investment announced by Hoti was intended for a ski centre owned by a Serbian company or someone else? According to the papers in possession of the official Belgrade, the Ski Centre “Brezovica” is owned by the Fund “Inex Interexport a.d” with a share of 82.33 percent and public company “Ski Resorts of Serbia” with a share of 17.67 percent. 

The daily recalled that in 2015, the Pristina authorities announced the expropriation of land in Brezovica with the intention to lease it to a foreign investor for a period of 99 years. At that time, the “Inex Interexport” Fund filed an appeal with the Supreme Court in Pristina, demanding that the decision on the expropriation of real estate owned by “Inex” in Brezovica be revoked. 

The Government of Serbia warned potential investors that the Ski Centre “Brezovica” on the territory of AP KiM was ownership of the Republic of Serbia, as well as that the expropriation of this complex was illegal. Two years later, the government in Pristina revoked the decision to expropriate the real estate, explaining that the “project failed”. 

Detention of Bacevic extended for two more months (Radio KIM)

Special department of the Basic Court in Pristina judge has extended detention of Svetomir Bacevic from Gornji Milanovac (central Serbia) for two more months, his defense lawyer Dejan A. Vasic told Radio KIM.

“During the investigation so far, the prosecutor has not taken any investigative action in a month, he has not even questioned the suspect which he is obliged to do in accordance with the principle of urgency”, Vasic said.

Bacevic is accused of taking part in kidnapping and mistreating H.K. following the report of Sami Ceku, relative of a former Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku, Radio KIM said.

Svetomir Bacevic was arrested on December 22, last year in Pec. 

 

 

International

 

Vaccines Turn Into Geopolitics in Europe’s Most Volatile Region (Bloomberg)

The coronavirus exposed lingering divisions in the Balkans, and now Europe’s most volatile region is once again cleaving along geopolitical and ethnic lines over efforts to get people vaccinated.

The European Union has pledged to give six prospective members 70 million euros ($85 million) to buy Covid shots, but deliveries are facing delays. That’s empowered Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to leverage his links with China and traditional ally Russia into pledging vaccine donations to North Macedonia and to the ethnic Serbs in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The 18 million people who live in the western Balkans have been severely hit by coronavirus, with parts of former Yugoslavia recording among the world’s highest per-capita death rates. The fallout is threatening efforts to resolve lingering border disputes and risks pushing the region further away from the EU’s orbit as Russia and China extend their reach.

See more at: https://bloom.bg/395bAEM

Kosovo Commemorates 15th Anniversary of First President’s Death (Balkan Insight)

Acting President Vjosa Osmani paid tribute at Ibrahim Rugova’s memorial in Pristina, saying that the path that he paved “remains a permanent guideline” for Kosovo.

Dubbed the pacifist father of Kosovo’s independence, Rugova lost his battle with lung cancer in January 2006 when he was serving his second term as president. At that point, he was taking part in UN-led negotiations with Serbia about Kosovo’s future status, which led to its declaration of independence in February 2008.

“He was a person who brought [Kosovo] Albanians together around the idea of freedom and independence and knew how to create strong friendship bridges with states which still back us,” Osmani said.

The head of the Vetevendosje (Self-Determination) political party, Albin Kurti, also paid homage to Rugova’s pacifist methods in the troubled 1990s.

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

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

The EU to secure vaccine for Western Balkans, says Von der Leyen (Beta, N1) 

The European Union will secure coronavirus vaccines for the countries of the Western Balkans and other neighbors as soon as possible, the Beta news agency reported quoting European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

It quoted Von der Leyen as telling reporters after EU leaders met by video conference that the procedure to supply vaccines through the COVAX mechanism to poor countries and countries outside the EU is complex, adding that a decision was taken to use a separate mechanism to supply the Western Balkans with vaccine from EU member states.

Von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel said that the Union is increasingly concerned over the spread of the new strain of the coronavirus. They said that all measures will be taken to speed up the mass vaccination of the population of the EU, Beta said. It quoted them as saying that the goal is to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the population by the summer.

See at: https://bit.ly/3p3OOTk

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines’ reduction in supplies causes dissatisfaction within EU (Tanjug, B92)

This week, Pfizer is delivering twice less vaccines against COVID-19 to some EU member states than it was agreed

This fact contributed to a growing dissatisfaction within the European Union.

Romania will thus receive 50 percent of the planned quantities this week, and deliveries will increase gradually, so that Bucharest will receive the agreed quantities only at the end of March, Deputy Health Minister Andrej Baciu told Reuters.

The situation is similar in Poland, which received 176.000 doses on Monday, or 50 percent less than expected.

The Czech government is also slowing down the vaccination campaign due to procurement problems.

“We must expect that there will be a reduction in the number of vaccinations in the next three weeks,” Health Minister Jan Blatný told reporters.

The delivery of the Pfizer vaccine will be lower by 15% this week, and by 30% next week.

Pfizer pharmaceutical company told Bulgaria and Poland that it would make up for the missing doses.

However, the Danish Serum Institute announced that 50 percent less doses this week will lead to a 10 percent reduction in the first quarter.

Officials in these countries say the reduction in supplies undermines their efforts to implement mass vaccination.

Italy threatened to submit a lawsuit to Pfizer on Wednesday. Today, Hungary issued a preliminary approval for the use of AstraZeneca vaccines against the coronavirus and the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, and from Budapest they call on Brussels to exert pressure on Pfizer to adhere to the delivery plan.

“We would be pleased if the European Commission took steps to ensure that Pfizer and other manufacturers change the quantity of deliveries as soon as possible,” said Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Gergely Gulyas pointed out.

Canada and Switzerland have also experienced problems due to reduced deliveries of Pfizer vaccines.

See at: https://bit.ly/3613riE

Albania expels Russian diplomat, citing lockdown breaches (AP)

Albania on Thursday expelled a Russian diplomat for allegedly not respecting the country’s virus lockdown rules.

An Albanian foreign ministry statement declared Alexey Krivosheev “person non grata,” asking him to leave the country within 72 hours.

The ministry said that since April last year there were continuous violations from the diplomat. It said Albanian authorities first contacted the ambassador but the diplomat still persisted in breaking pandemic restrictions.

More at: https://bit.ly/3c0Ajft

North Macedonia’s Naivety About Vaccine Procurement Costs Country Dear (Balkan Insight)

As  countries across the world rush to procure COVID-19 vaccines, North Macedonia and other Balkan countries which are not part of the EU have learned yet another tough lesson in “realpolitik”.

The lesson is that the principles of equality and fair access to health protection operate only during conferences, in empty declarations and in sweetened diplomatic statements.

In reality, power, selfish interests, and resourcefulness, like in Serbia’s case, prevail.

Judging by the latest official announcements in North Macedonia, vaccination should start come February.

Meanwhile, Britain, the first country from the Western hemisphere to start immunisation, has already vaccinated 4.5 million people, according to One World In Data.

Germany and Italy have vaccinated 1.1 million people each, while North Macedonia’s EU neighbours, Greece and Bulgaria, have vaccinated 85,000 and 18,000 people respectively.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3p37m6d

EU proposes dark red areas for Europe’s epidemiological map (N1, Hina, B92)

EC President Ursula von der Leyen has announced the introduction of dark red zones to denote new coronavirus hot spots in Europe and travelers from those areas will be required to take a test before departure and undergo quarantine upon arrival at their destination.

“A dark red zone would show that in this zone, the virus is circulating at a very high level,” von der Leyen said on Friday, at a briefing after a video summit between EU leaders focusing on ways to harmonise measures to fight the pandemic.

The labelling of epidemiological areas does not depend on national borders.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3iA46Nc

 

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