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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, February 25, 2021

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, February 25, 2021

Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 437 new cases, five deaths (media)
• EU downplays Lajcak’s interview backdrop map with Kosovo as part of Serbia (Express)
• Montgomery: US committed to working with EU on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (VoA, media)
• Kosovo journalist Visar Duriqi physically assaulted (media)
• Daka leaves the CEC meeting following LVV’s request for community votes (Koha)
• Hague Court extends detention for Kosovo war veteran leaders (Express)
• Emigrant votes are holding Kosovo’s electoral result ‘hostage’ (Euronews.al)
• LDK chairmanship to meet today at 16:30 (Express)
• Mustafa meets with Rhode, discuss latest developments in Kosovo (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• 95 new cases of Covid-19 registered in Serbian areas in Kosovo (KoSSev)
• One-month detention assigned to seven persons suspected of involvement in Laplje Selo fight (KoSSev)
• Gracanica: Students protest over decision to detain youngsters involved in Laplje Selo fight (Radio kontakt plus)
• Father Sava: It was not a lynch, but a fight of two politically opposed groups of young men (media, social media)
• Gracanica police station commander: Fight in Laplje Selo arranged in advance (KoSSev)
• Rasic: My son certainly didn’t know the fight was organized, school worked on Monday (KoSSev)
• Selakovic condemns EP call to five EU states to recognize Kosovo (B92)
• Vucic met SOC Patriarch, discussed Kosovo issue (B92)

International:

• Attack on Kosovo Investigative Journalist Condemned (Balkan Insight)
• Former intelligence chief indicted in ‘Gulenist’ case (Prishtina Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 437 new cases, five deaths (media)
  • EU downplays Lajcak’s interview backdrop map with Kosovo as part of Serbia (Express)
  • Montgomery: US committed to working with EU on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (VoA, media)
  • Kosovo journalist Visar Duriqi physically assaulted (media)
  • Daka leaves the CEC meeting following LVV’s request for community votes (Koha)
  • Hague Court extends detention for Kosovo war veteran leaders (Express)
  • Emigrant votes are holding Kosovo’s electoral result ‘hostage’ (Euronews.al)
  • LDK chairmanship to meet today at 16:30 (Express)
  • Mustafa meets with Rhode, discuss latest developments in Kosovo (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • 95 new cases of Covid-19 registered in Serbian areas in Kosovo (KoSSev)
  • One-month detention assigned to seven persons suspected of involvement in Laplje Selo fight (KoSSev)
  • Gracanica: Students protest over decision to detain youngsters involved in Laplje Selo fight (Radio kontakt plus)
  • Father Sava: It was not a lynch, but a fight of two politically opposed groups of young men (media, social media)
  • Gracanica police station commander: Fight in Laplje Selo arranged in advance (KoSSev)
  • Rasic: My son certainly didn’t know the fight was organized, school worked on Monday (KoSSev)
  • Selakovic condemns EP call to five EU states to recognize Kosovo (B92)
  • Vucic met SOC Patriarch, discussed Kosovo issue (B92)

International:

  • Attack on Kosovo Investigative Journalist Condemned (Balkan Insight)
  • Former intelligence chief indicted in ‘Gulenist’ case (Prishtina Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

COVID-19: 437 new cases, five deaths (media)

Kosovo has recorded 437 new cases of COVID-19 and five deaths in the last 24 hours. 255 persons have recovered from the virus during this time, while the number of active cases is 7,145.

EU downplays Lajcak’s interview backdrop map with Kosovo as part of Serbia (Express)

Peter Stano, lead spokesperson for EU’s Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has replied a Tweet of a Kosovo journalist Adriatik Kelmendi who said that EU’s Special Representative on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue Miroslav Lajcak should apologize for giving interview while sitting in front of a map depicting Kosovo as part of Serbia. 

Stano said this official EU map is in line with the EU’s position – status neutral towards Kosovo. “The claim about the map is totally misplaced and false. This official EU map is – in line with the EU position – status neutral,” Stano wrote on Twitter.

 “I would recommend everyone to focus on real issues that help to advance the Dialogue on normalization, instead of trying to make up false stories,” Stano wrote.

However, media report that the director of the Center for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz, Florian Bieber, reacted to the map that appeared behind the back of the EU Special Envoy for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, with Kosovo within the territory of Serbia.

“Yes, having such a map in your office with such a job description is a major gaffe,” Bieber wrote on Twitter.

Former chief negotiator, Edita Tahiri, also reacted to the EU’s spokesman’s statement that the EU is neutral to Kosovo’s status.

“The vast majority of EU member states have recognized the independent state of Kosovo. 22 have recognized it and, only 5 have not recognized it yet. What kind of ‘status neutrality’ are some EU officials talking about?” she wrote.

Montgomery: US committed to working with EU on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (VoA, media)

U.S. State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Molly Montgomery, told VoA on Tuesday that the United States is committed to working with the European Union, which facilitates the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo.  

Her comments come as Kosovo’s Vetevendosje party leader Albin Kurti is set to become prime minister after the February 14 elections. Kurti has said that forming a negotiating team for dialogue with Serbia would not be a priority for his government. 

When asked about the possibility of a U.S.-brokered dialogue, Montgomery told VOA: “We certainly continue to support the EU-facilitated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, and to look toward a comprehensive agreement, a normalization agreement that would lead to mutual recognition, or on the basis of mutual recognition.” 

Asked by the VoA whether the new administration envisions a U.S.-brokered Serbia-Kosovo dialogue, independent of a parallel EU effort, Montgomery said: “We’re really committed to working with the EU, which facilitates the dialogue, and with our partners in tandem. This is, I think, a very important principle for our engagement in the Western Balkans. We know that we have been most successful there when we have worked hand in glove, or shoulder to shoulder with our European allies and partners, and so that’s going to be our approach.”

Kosovo journalist Visar Duriqi physically assaulted (media)

Kosovo journalist Visar Duriqi, author of the investigative TV program “Indoks” produced by investigative website Insajderi.org was beaten last night in Pristina.

Duriqi was attacked by three unknown people who waited for him in front of his apartment and physically assaulted once he was walking out of the car. Duriqi was returning home after attending a live TV debate in Kanal10 TV.

Duriqi suffered severe injuries and was rushed to hospital late on Wednesday. The Police say that they have launched an investigation related to this case.

The acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti has reacted after the physical attack against the journalist Visar Duriqi, calling it unacceptable and an attack on free speech.

Hoti in a post on the social network Facebook writes that violence and the tendency to intimidate journalists is an attempt to restrict freedom of expression and undermine democracy.

“I call on the law enforcement agencies to shed light on this cowardly act as soon as possible, while I wish the journalist Duriqi recovery and return as soon as possible to the performance of his duty,” Hoti wrote.

Acting leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) Enver Hoxhaj wrote in his reaction that last night’s attack on the journalist Visar Duriqi is unacceptable, cowardly and that directly hits the freedom and democracy of Kosovo, which was built with great effort.

The Association of Journalists of Kosovo, through a press release, asks the judiciary to investigate the motives of the attack as soon as possible and to clarify this case, which fundamentally damages the freedom of expression and the media.

“AJK will inform all national and international actors about this case and at the same time we call on all our fellow journalists to report threats and attacks against them. “Every attack on journalists is an attack on free speech and democracy in the country.”

Kosovo’s Acting Minister of Justice Selim Selimi, Kosovo President’s media adviser Bekim Kupina, Council For The Defence Of Human Rights And Freedoms, and the Social Democratic Initiative (NISMA) also condemned the attack on the journalist. 

The EU Office in Kosovo also reacted to the attack on Visar Duriqi. “Deeply disturbed by the attack on the investigative journalist Visar Duriqi. Journalists must be able to work in a free and safe environment. Call on the authorities to swiftly investigate the incident and bring perpetrator(s) to justice,” the EU tweet reads. 

German Ambassador to Kosovo Jorn rohde, also condemned the attack. “Very concerned about the attack against journalist Visar Duriqi whom I recently met. Perpetrators need to be brought to justice. Attacks against journalists are totally unacceptable. Media Freedom is the foundation of democracy. I wish Mr. Duriqi a speedy recovery!’ he wrote.

Daka leaves the CEC meeting following LVV’s request for community votes (Koha)

The representative of the Vetevendosje Movement in the CEC, Sami Kurteshi has requested in today’s meeting from the CEC to make a decision regarding the issue of community votes.

The chairwoman of the Central Election Commission (CEC) Valdete Daka said that the CEC is an institution that deals only with the organization of elections and that they are not an Assembly to make political decisions. According to Daka, the CEC cannot decide on the representation of communities.

After Daka’s statement, the representatives of the communities and those of the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) have continued their speeches on this issue while Daka has left the meeting declaring it closed and saying that she cannot allow the meetings where political statements are made to continue. According to her, these issues should be raised in the Assembly of Kosovo.

“Enough with this political circus. Please raise political issues in Parliament. This is not Parliament. The CEC organizes elections. The meeting is over, you continue,” Daka reportedly said.

Daka’s departure came after CEC member Rifat Krasniqi drew parallels from the Serbian List’s assistance to the two entities with a visit by Albin Kurti and Vjosa Osmani to Mamusha, which he said led to a lack of Turkish representatives.

Meanwhile, Sami Kurteshi from LVV said that they are for changes but not to the detriment of communities.

Hague Court extends detention for Kosovo war veteran leaders (Express)

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers based at the Hague, which was set up to prosecute and try alleged crimes of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), ruled Wednesday to extend detention on remand for leaders of the Association of the KLA Veterans, Hysni Gucati and Nasim Haradinaj.

The pre-trial judge of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, Nicolas Guillou, said that the two accused may commit further offences by threatening, intimidating, or putting at risk (potential) witnesses through the disclosure or dissemination of confidential and non-public information and ordered their detention to be extended. Also, the judge ordered Gucati to file submissions on the next review of detention by Thursday, 1 April 2021. Additionally, judge Guillou orders Haradinaj to file submissions on the next review of detention by Thursday, 1 April 2021; and orders the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) to submit any statement(s) of the arresting officer(s) or any other material such as video footage, if available, regarding Haradinaj’s arrest by Friday, 12 March 2021.

On 11 December 2020, a Pre-Trial Judge of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers confirmed the indictment filed on 30 October 2020 by the Specialist Prosecutor against Hysni Gucati  and Nasim Haradinaj for offences against the administration of justice, namely obstruction of official persons in performing official duties, intimidation of witnesses, retaliation and violation of secrecy of proceedings.

The charges contained in the confirmed indictment relate to suspicion that, between at least 7 and 25 September 2020, on the occasion of three press conferences and other broadcasted events, as well as through further dissemination, including by social media statements, Gucati and Haradinaj revealed, without authorisation, information protected under the law of the Specialist Chambers, including the identifying details of certain (potential) witnesses. Gucati and Haradinaj were arrested as suspects by the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office on 25 September 2020, with the support of EULEX and the Kosovo Police and transferred to the Detention Facilities of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague. 

Emigrant votes are holding Kosovo’s electoral result ‘hostage’ (Euronews.al)

Next week is when everyone is expecting a publication of the final results for the February 14 elections that took place in Kosovo. This is when the recounting process for 494 balloting stations is expected to end.

Until now, 15% or 76 out of 494 have been recounted. However, there could be more recounting in case of possible official complaints by PZAP or the Supreme Court. At the same time, the verification process of 43 thousand 500 hundred packages of the diaspora vote is still on the go.

Until now, 29 thousand 87 envelopes have been approved, and 11 thousand 840 have been declined.

In Kosovo’s snap parliamentary elections of February 14th, based on the preliminary results, Albin Kurti’s LVV (Self-Determination Movement) won by a landslide, acquiring 48% of the votes, followed by PDK with 17% and LDK with 13%. The certification of the final electoral result will lead the way for the establishment of new governmental institutions.

LDK chairmanship to meet today at 16:30 (Express)

The chairmanship of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) will meet today at 16:30. This was confirmed for Gazeta Express by the leadership of this party, which in the 14 February general parliamentary elections got the worst result since it was established.

They are expected to discuss the possible date for holding the Convention to elect the new chairman. The resigned chairman of the LDK, Isa Mustafa, told Gazeta Express yesterday that by the end of this week, a date would be set for holding the LDK Convention. A day after the 14 February election, Mustafa resigned from the position of LDK chairman, taking part of the responsibility for the election result.

Mustafa meets with Rhode, discuss latest developments in Kosovo (media)

The acting Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development, Besian Mustafa, received today the German Ambassador to Kosovo, Jorn Rohde, with whom he discussed mainly the latest developments in Kosovo.

Mustafa expressed appreciation to Ambassador Rohde for the support so far and for the readiness for further support of the German state towards Kosovo, emphasizing that the cooperation will continue to deepen.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

95 new cases of Covid-19 registered in Serbian areas in Kosovo (KoSSev)

Out of 200 tested samples over the last 24 hours, 95 cases were positive on Covid-19 in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo, the Crisis Committee of Mitrovica North announced today, KoSSev portal reports.

Out of 95 new cases, 70 were registered in northern Kosovo and 25 in central Kosovo.

The breakdown of the cases is as follows: 38 in Mitrovica North, 15 in Zvecan, 11 each in Leposavic and Gnjilane, six each in Zubin Potok and Kamenica, five in Priluzje and three in Strpce.

At the same time 13 people have completed a two-week isolation period, making the total number of active cases in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo at 498.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic a total of 107 persons have died in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo due to Covid-19 complications. 

Following the latest number of infected people, Mitrovica North mayor Milan Radojevic appealed to the citizens to maximally adhere to all recommended measures aiming to curb spread of coronavirus pandemic.

“I appeal to citizens to use the possibility of inoculation and adhere to all recommended measures in order to help one another and get out of this fight, all together as winners”, Radojevic said. 

One-month detention assigned to seven persons suspected of involvement in Laplje Selo fight (KoSSev)

The Basic Court in Pristina, branch in Gracanica assigned yesterday one-month detention to the seven young men, suspected of involvement in a massive fight in Laplje Selo this Monday, in which son of Nenad Rasic and one more person were injured, KoSSev portal reports.

As Pristina-based Gazeta Express reported citing the court’s statement, suspects M.R., C.Z., L.K., B.Z., D.N., M.J., and D.T., prior to the fight were standing near the school in Laplje Selo, while as the court said, the victim N.R. was in a bus with his friends.

“After he got out of the bus, suspects swore at and insulted the victim, after which a fight between the two groups occurred, and N.R. sustained severe bodily injuries”, the court said.

The KoSSev portal also said that Nenad Rasic told the portal four young men defending his son were arrested as well. The court, however, treats all the seven persons detained as attackers on Rasic’s son.  

Defense lawyers of the two arrested young men, M.R. and L.K told RTV KIM today they will file an appeal to the Appellate Court regarding decisions, adding the court should respond to the appeal within 48 hours.

They termed the measure of 30-day detention as ungrounded given it was about less serious criminal act, that was not based on solid evidence.

Following the court’s decision, parents, co-citizens and schoolmates of the arrested persons staged a protest in front of a police station in Gracanica.

As Radio Gracanica reported some of the parents expected their children would be set free, some know their children would be transferred to Mitrovica. They also said the event “went too far and is politically misused”. They also announced a protest for today in an attempt to set their children free.

The spokesperson of Pristina prosecution Laureta Ulaj told Kallxo portal that a measure of detention was requested for seven persons, out of eight arrested on Monday, adding the last one, a juvenile, was kept for medical treatment due to injuries he sustained. 

Gracanica: Students protest over decision to detain youngsters involved in Laplje Selo fight (Radio kontakt plus)

More than 50 students gathered today in front of a police station in Gracanica to, as the media reported, extend support to the young men arrested over the fight in Laplje Selo, Radio kontakt plus reports.

They chanted slogans “We want justice” and “Give us our brothers back”. In addition to the students, there were parents, professors but also numerous citizens. The Kosovo police observed the gathering, while police station commander and professors present there didn’t want to comment on the gathering.  

Father Sava: It was not a lynch, but a fight of two politically opposed groups of young men (media, social media)

Abbot of Visoki Decani Monastery, Father Sava Janjic who on Monday strongly condemned the attack on Nenad Rasic’s son terming it as a “lynching” in a series of posts on Twitter yesterday, said he learnt “from verified information of the Kosovo police and well informed international sources, that it was not a lynching but rather a fight between the two groups of politically opposed young men. Previously they had fights on Thursday and Friday, and in addition to the son of Nenad Rasic, others were injured as well, and those arrested come from both sides.”

He also wrote that “Nenad Rasic immediately after the incident, which was announced on social media, according to verified information agreed with the Kosovo Albanians to do a spin on alleged lynching out of political reasons and thus deceived the public. It was not the first time that children suffered due to political mistakes of parents”.

Father Sava added that “this explains a weird fact that Nenad Rasic didn’t give a statement to the Serbian media, but rather to the Albanian ones that with pleasure reported the lie that Serbian List allegedly lynches children out of political reasons”.

At the end, Father Sava stressed he didn’t post these statements in order to support one or another group, since the Church doesn’t divide but brings the Serbs together. Father Sava also said the entire story doesn’t diminish the horror of a fight between the young people, in which the most severe injuries sustained son of Nenad Rasic, nor it justifies insults uttered or the violence. 

Gracanica police station commander: Fight in Laplje Selo arranged in advance (KoSSev)

Gracanica police station commander Bratislav Trajkovic said the police have information that a fight which took place on Monday in Laplje Selo was arranged in advance, KoSSev portal reported.

“We had the information that the fight was arranged at least two or three days earlier. The two groups got into a fight”, he said, according to the KoSSev portal.  

Rasic: My son certainly didn’t know the fight was organized, school worked on Monday (KoSSev)

More allegations surfaced lately that the fight which took place on Monday between the two groups of young men in Laplje Selo was arranged in advance, KoSSev portal reports. Bratislav Trajkovic, police station commander in Gracanica also said the fight was arranged in advance.

On the other hand, Kosovo Serb politician Nenad Rasic, whose son sustained severe bodily injuries in a fight, said he is confident his son didn’t know the fight will happen, adding “the two groups can’t be compared”, one made of “barehanded students leaving the school” and the other one made of “young men who completed the school many years ago and waited for them armed with cold weapons”.

He also refuted allegations of the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic who said the school was closed on Monday, by saying the school was open.

Rasic also said his son was not aware that the fight could be organized, and understood posts and photos on Facebook regarding the fight as “a joke”.  

Asked several times by KoSSev journalist to comment on allegations Father Sava Janjic made on Twitter yesterday in which he said it was not about the lynching but a fight between the two groups of politically opposed young men, Rasic refused to comment on it, expressing doubts these are the words of Father Sava.

However, as the portal added, after reading the statement of Father Sava in the media, Rasic briefly said that “If this was true, although I doubt it, I can only say it is regrettable something like that could come on mind, that I would work on a spin, by using my own son as a victim. I expected much, much more from such a spiritual man, that is all I have to say”, Rasic said.

See more at:  https://bit.ly/2MmnjWW 

Selakovic condemns EP call to five EU states to recognize Kosovo (B92)

Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Nikola Selakovic condemned EP urging five states to recognize Kosovo as a flagrant deviation from the former political practice of Brussels, B92 reports.   

“The Draft Report of the European Parliament adopted by its Committee on Foreign Affairs, in an inadmissible and inappropriate way, calls on EU states that have not recognized the unilaterally declared independence of our southern province to change their opinion”, Selakovic said in a statement.

“The European Union, although most of its members recognize the self-proclaimed Kosovo, has been trying for years, as the umbrella political entity, to at least formally maintain its position of status neutrality, and the call of the European Parliament Rapporteur Viola von Cramon on a group of five states to recognize the self-proclaimed Kosovo is a flagrant deviation from the previous political practice of Brussels”, the statement added.

“I remind you that the EU-facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina is carried out respecting the principle of status neutrality, and that this is a precondition for reaching any lasting and sustainable solutions”.

“I believe that, to put it mildly, it is undiplomatic and unhelpful for the negotiation process between Belgrade and Pristina, that the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament allowed the personal lobbying initiative of Ms. Viola von Cramon to turn into something that should be an official document of an EU institution”.

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

Vucic met SOC Patriarch, discussed Kosovo issue (B92)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met yesterday the newly elected Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) Patriarch Porfirije, B92 reports.

Addressing the media after the meeting Vucic said he informed the Patriarch Porfirije about the situation in Kosovo and Metohija. They discussed how to preserve peace and stability, as well as how to help the people of Kosovo, especially in an economic aspect. “I think there is understanding on that issue. I am grateful that he had the patience to listen”, Vucic said.

He adds that the position of our people and the Church in the region was discussed. “The state, as much as it helps other religious communities, will help even more and more strongly to rebuild temples and shrines wherever the SOC operates, both in the country and in the diaspora, especially in the environment where temples are endangered by war”, Vucic noted.

“When the state and the Church strive for the same goal, when they set common goals and work and fight together – Serbia will be the first in Europe”, he stressed. He believes that cooperation will be in the interest of the entire Serbian people, and he announced that their meetings will be common in the future.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3bA1OuA

 

 

International

 

Attack on Kosovo Investigative Journalist Condemned (Balkan Insight)

International and Kosovo media associations have condemned the brutal Wednesday night attack on Kosovo investigative journalist Visar Duriqi, with some warning that ‘violence against journalists in Kosovo is on the rise’.

International and local Kosovo press associations have condemned the attack against an investigative journalist who was brutally beaten near his house in Fushe Kosove/Kosovo Polje, at around midnight on Wednesday.

Visar Duriqi, a journalist of the local Kosovo online news portal Insajderi as well as the author and producer of local show INDOKS, was assaulted by three unidentified individuals at around midnight after a TV debate.

“Three people had been waiting for the journalist Duriqi, in front of the entrance of his apartment. He was attacked as soon as he got out of his car,” Insajderi reported on Thursday.

Duriqi has authored several episodes on crime and corruption on Insajderi’s show, INDOKS.

See more at: https://bit.ly/37M7AYQ

Former intelligence chief indicted in ‘Gulenist’ case (Prishtina Insight)

BIRN has learned that the Special Prosecution has indicted three people over the arrest and extradition of six Turkish citizens in March 2018, including former head of the Kosovo Intelligence Agency Driton Gashi.

The Special Prosecution has confirmed to BIRN that an indictment has been filed against three individuals in connection with the deportation of six Turkish nationals from Kosovo to Turkey on March 29, 2018.

BIRN has learned that the three individuals in question are Driton Gashi, the former head of the Kosovo Intelligence Agency, Valon Krasniqi, the director of the Department of Citizenship and Migration at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and Rrahman Sylejmani, the head of the Directorate of Migration and Foreigners within the Kosovo Border Police.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3bCMCN1

 

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