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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, February 26, 2021

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• COVID-19: 437 new cases, five deaths (media)
• Osmani reacts to Lajcak: Kosovo will always be independent, indivisible (media)
• Lajcak: It is an official EU map; line separating Kosovo from Serbia (media)
• EU tries to roll up Kosovo map flap (politico.eu)
• Lajcak to visit Kosovo on Tuesday, sources say (arbresh.info)
• Vjosa Osmani expects votes from LDK too to be elected president (media)
• Kosovo journalist Visar Duriqi physically assaulted (media)
• UNMIK chief calls for ensuring safe environment for journalists (media)
• Five years ago, Hashim Thaci was elected President of Kosovo (media)
• Kosovo’s Ambassador Ines Demiri arrives in Israel (media)
• Former KLA member Gani Koci summoned by Specialist Chambers (media)

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  • COVID-19: 437 new cases, five deaths (media)
  • Osmani reacts to Lajcak: Kosovo will always be independent, indivisible (media)
  • Lajcak: It is an official EU map; line separating Kosovo from Serbia (media)
  • EU tries to roll up Kosovo map flap (politico.eu)
  • Lajcak to visit Kosovo on Tuesday, sources say (arbresh.info)
  • Vjosa Osmani expects votes from LDK too to be elected president (media)
  • Kosovo journalist Visar Duriqi physically assaulted (media)
  • UNMIK chief calls for ensuring safe environment for journalists (media)
  • Five years ago, Hashim Thaci was elected President of Kosovo (media)
  • Kosovo’s Ambassador Ines Demiri arrives in Israel (media)
  • Former KLA member Gani Koci summoned by Specialist Chambers (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.

Kosovo’s Acting President Vjosa Osmani said in an interview on Thursday that Kosovo is expected to get the first shipment of anti-COVID vaccines in the first week of March. She also said that the second contingent is expected to arrive in June, while the rest in September.

Osmani reacts to Lajcak: Kosovo will always be independent, indivisible (media)

Kosovo’s Acting President Vjosa Osmani reacted on Thursday after EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak appeared in an interview while sitting in a front of map depicting Kosovo as part of Serbia. Osmani wrote in a Twitter post: “The Republic of Kosovo is and always will be an independent, indivisible and sovereign country. Our borders were marked with the loss of thousands of children, women & men, whose innocent lives were taken by Serbia’s genocidal regime. There cannot be neutrality towards this truth.”

Lajcak: It is an official EU map; line separating Kosovo from Serbia (media)

European Union Special Representative for the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, Miroslav Lajcak, took to Twitter on Thursday to comment on reactions after he gave an interview and behind was a map depicting Kosovo as part of Serbia. Lajcak tweeted: “As the map in my office in the blurred screenshot of my interview has caused some misperceptions today, I am sharing an actual close-up photo of it. It is an official EU map of the Western Balkans. Kosovo is there and so is the line separating Kosovo from Serbia.”

Lajcak wrote in another Twitter post: “And today is an example why the Dialogue to normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia is so important. So that similar issues will no longer cause misunderstandings.”

EU tries to roll up Kosovo map flap (politico.eu)

Even if you don’t know much about the Balkans, you might know that borders and maps are a rather sensitive issue there.

But Miroslav Lajcak, the EU’s top official for the region, seemed caught by surprise when a map in his office sparked a storm of criticism from Kosovo and further afield.

Lajcak ended up having to tweet out close-up photos of the map on Thursday to try to prove that it’s not meant to define Kosovo as part of Serbia.

The trouble began after Lajcak tweeted a picture earlier this month of him taking part in a videoconference, in front of a map that appeared to place Kosovo inside Serbia’s international borders. Lajcak, the EU’s special representative for dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo and the Western Balkans, apparently used the same backdrop for an interview with a think tank a couple of weeks later.

Observers branded the use of the map an insensitive gaffe.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a decade after a war that killed thousands and effectively ended Serb control of the territory. It has been recognized as an independent state by around 100 countries, including 22 of the EU’s 27 members.

But Serbia regards Kosovo as a rebel province and, with the support of Russia and China, has blocked its path to U.N. membership. As its members are split on the issue, the EU as a whole does not take a position on Kosovo’s status — but the map behind Lajcak was interpreted by Kosovans as a reflection of Belgrade’s stance.

“Maps matter!” Kosovo’s foreign minister, Meliza Haradinaj, tweeted at Lajcak, adding she had sent him an “accurate map” by diplomatic courier. She said working with “zombie maps” was “utterly unprofessional.”

A spokesman for the EU’s diplomatic service initially tried to play down the issue, claiming the map was “status neutral” and telling people “to focus on real issues that help to advance the Dialogue … instead of trying to make up false stories.”

But that only whipped up the storm and Lajcak later tweeted out the close-ups to try to calm it down — not entirely successfully.

Critics pointed out that the line between Kosovo and Serbia appeared to be thinner than the one used for international borders.

The episode surprised analysts as Lajcak, a former foreign minister of Slovakia, has deep experience with the Balkans. Some observers also thought he might have been more alive to the issue as his country only regained its own place on the map in recent decades.

“Nice map you got there. Is Slovakia still under Chekoslovakia? [sic]” one Twitter user asked.

Lajcak to visit Kosovo on Tuesday, sources say (arbresh.info)

Citing diplomatic sources, the news website reported on Thursday that the EU Special Representative for the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, Miroslav Lajcak, will visit Kosovo next Tuesday to discuss the process of dialogue. Lajcak is scheduled to meet Caretaker Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti, Acting President Vjosa Osmani and Vetevendosje Movement leader Albin Kurti.

Vjosa Osmani expects votes from LDK too to be elected president (media)

Kosovo’s Acting President Vjosa Osmani said in an interview in Kallxo Pernime on Thursday that she was confident that there are people even in the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) who believe that she is the best choice for the post of Kosovo President. “I am confident that there are many people who are today mayors of municipalities, or people in the LDK, who believe that this choice (Vjosa for president) would be the best for our country,” she said. “This is in the will of the MPs, those from LDK too. I think all MPs must be responsible and then vote according to their will.”

Asked if MPs will stay in the Assembly to make the necessary quorum, Osmani said: “I don’t have any information what the positions of other parties will be; I know I will have the full support of my partner. I will enter the process of election of president. I am obliged to do so by the will of the people too. I will run and then it will be up to the MPs to decide.”

“We haven’t talked to any specific party, but we cooperate with all parties in the Assembly to defend the institutions. We call on everyone to contribute for the sake of institutional stability. It is up to them to decide on their votes. Every MP knows that Vjosa Osmani as President has never and will never damage her country, on the contrary, I will move it forward in cooperation with the others. We expect every MPs to rationally decide in the interest of the Republic, because there is no other choice anyway. The other option is going to elections,” she said.

Osmani highlighted her three top priorities if she is elected president. “Kosovo has suffered a lot in its international image especially since 2010. This will be my primary focus. I will work for Kosovo’s image to be that of our brilliant youth. I will also engage in the vetting process and I will work for marginalised groups and also in security. I will work for the Kosovo Security Force to have a sufficient budget and for membership in NATO,” she said.

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 on Wednesday 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.

Vetevendosje Movement (VV) leader Albin Kurti condemned the attack against Duriqi and also slammed the caretaker government for “adding to problems related to public order to its bad records”. Kurti said that the people of Kosovo will not tolerate the beating of family members of politicians because of their political positions nor the beatings of reporters for their work and positions.

“The incoming government considers as a mission to safeguard democracy and the freedom of speech, the conviction of political activity, according to law. Those who think they can stop democracy with gangsterism, must know that their time is up. We can ‘defeat’ one another only with facts, arguments, logic and democratic means. I call on law enforcement mechanisms to apprehend the perpetrators as soon as possible,” Kurti said.

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.

UNMIK chief calls for ensuring safe environment for journalists (media)

Most news websites cover a press release issued by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) on Thursday citing SRSG Zahir Tanin as highlighting the importance of ensuring a safe and conducive environment that enables journalists from all communities to effectively investigate and report on issues affecting Kosovo, as befits a pluralistic and democratic society.

Tanin deplored attacks and intimidation against journalists as well as the restriction of their freedom of movement. Such incidents create an environment of fear and self-censorship that deprives people in Kosovo of their right to know. “Journalism plays a critical function by fostering accountability and access to information in the fight against crime and corruption. SRSG Tanin, therefore, calls on Kosovo authorities to promptly investigate attacks and threats against journalists and encourages them to renew their efforts to ensure the unrestricted exercise of the freedom of the media and of the right to information,” the press release notes.

Five years ago, Hashim Thaci was elected President of Kosovo (media)

All news websites report that five years ago, on this day, Hashim Thaci was elected President of Kosovo. Reports note that Thaci was elected in the third round of voting amid great tensions political tensions. He won with 71 votes in the third round while his election was strongly rejected by opposition parties which interrupted the session twice by activating teargas canisters. The reports include Thaci’s political biography and at the end note that he resigned the post of President in November last year to face to travel to The Hague to face allegations of war crimes.

Kosovo’s Ambassador Ines Demiri arrives in Israel (media)

Most news websites report that Kosovo’s Ambassador Ines Demiri arrived in Israel on Thursday. The news was announced by Dan Oryan, Head of the Balkans Office in the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Welcome to Israel Ines Demiri,” Oryan wrote in a picture with Kosovo’s Ambassador.

Former KLA member Gani Koci summoned by Specialist Chambers (media)

Several news websites report that Gani Koci, former member of the KLA and former PDK MP, has been summoned by the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague. Koci confirmed the news in a Facebook post saying that he has been summoned as a witness.

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