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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, March 1, 2021

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• COVID-19: 453 new cases, 4 deaths (media)
• Kurti on diaspora votes: There are tendencies to diminish our victory (media)
• Szunyog: It’s positive that Kurti lists dialogue as fourth priority (media)
• Lajcak starts three-day visit to Kosovo today (media)
• Israeli PM Netanyahu writes letter to Kurti (media)
• Kosovo – Serbia agreement not likely before 2023 (Koha)
• Kosovo Ministry reacts to statement by Russian Foreign Ministry (media)
• Protest in Prishtina on Tuesday over representation of communities (media)
• “Time for Kosovo to tell EU we are tired of games you’re playing” (media)
• Arrest warrant for Milan Radojicic revoked (media)
• Cleaning other people’s houses (Prishtina Insight)
• Growth of online shopping in Kosovo brings dangers for consumers (BIRN)

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  • COVID-19: 453 new cases, 4 deaths (media)
  • Kurti on diaspora votes: There are tendencies to diminish our victory (media)
  • Szunyog: It’s positive that Kurti lists dialogue as fourth priority (media)
  • Lajcak starts three-day visit to Kosovo today (media)
  • Israeli PM Netanyahu writes letter to Kurti (media)
  • Kosovo – Serbia agreement not likely before 2023 (Koha)
  • Kosovo Ministry reacts to statement by Russian Foreign Ministry (media)
  • Protest in Prishtina on Tuesday over representation of communities (media)
  • “Time for Kosovo to tell EU we are tired of games you’re playing” (media)
  • Arrest warrant for Milan Radojicic revoked (media)
  • Cleaning other people’s houses (Prishtina Insight)
  • Growth of online shopping in Kosovo brings dangers for consumers (BIRN)

COVID-19: 453 new cases, 4 deaths (media)

453 new cases of COVID-19 and four deaths from the virus were recorded in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. 206 persons recovered from the virus during this time. There are 8,470 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

Kurti on diaspora votes: There are tendencies to diminish our victory (media)

Vetevendosje Movement (VV) leader Albin Kurti said in an interview with Besa on Sunday that they are closely following the counting of the diaspora votes for the February 14 parliamentary elections.

“We are closely following the process and there are clear tendencies to somewhat diminish our plebiscitary victory. There are delays and minor injustices which at first sight appear technical but in reality they are not. They won’t be able to stop the great victory that Vetevendosje has achieved in the last elections,” Kurti said.

Szunyog: It’s positive that Kurti lists dialogue as fourth priority (media)

Tomas Szunyog, head of the European Union Office in Kosovo, said in an interview with Ekonomia Online that it is positive that Vetevendosje Movement (VV) leader Albin Kurti is now listing the dialogue with Serbia as the fourth priority of a new government of Kosovo.

“I understand there is positive development in those statements, from not being a priority at all, to being priority number six, now it is the fourth priority, so I think we are seeing good signs, because the dialogue is not important only for Kosovo but for the whole region,” he said.

Lajcak starts three-day visit to Kosovo today (media)

European Union Special Representative for the Belgrade – Prishtina Dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak will start his three-day visit to Kosovo today as part of his tour in the Western Balkans. Vetevendosje Movement (VV) leader Albin Kurti confirmed on Sunday that he will be meeting Lajcak. After his stay in Kosovo, Lajcak will visit Serbia and Montenegro.

Israeli PM Netanyahu writes letter to Kurti (media)

Most news websites covered during the weekend a letter that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent to Vetevendosje Movement (VV) leader Albin Kurti congratulating him on winning the parliamentary elections. “I wish you much success as you once again assume the premiership. I very much welcome the agreement our two countries signed earlier this month to establish diplomatic relations and I hope we can use the new momentum in our ties to significantly upgrade the cooperation between us. Your commitment to addressing Jewish issues, including that of property restitution, is greatly appreciated. I attach much importance to Kosovo’s decision to open its embassy in Jerusalem and I look forward to hosting you in Israel for its inauguration,” Netanyahu said in his letter.

Kosovo – Serbia agreement not likely before 2023 (Koha)

Citing political commentators, the paper reports on its front page that a final agreement between Kosovo and Serbia is not likely without comprehensive diplomatic negotiations between the two countries, and with mediation from the European Union and support from the United States of America.

German analyst on the Western Balkans, Bodo Weber, said in an interview with the paper that the process of the dialogue needs to be reestablished so that substantial issues can be discussed. “Given that negotiations for a comprehensive agreement in the last four years have in general gone in the wrong direction and have further complicated relations between Brussels, Washington and Prishtina, the dialogue needs to be reestablished. Closer Trans—Atlantic cooperation is needed to make sure that basic principles are set and where Kosovo’s status is non-negotiable. In other words, for all to understand that this a dialogue for Serbia to move toward recognising the state of Kosovo and to achieve full integration of Serbs in Kosovo’s institutions,” he said.

Weber said that EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak’s visit to Kosovo before the formation of new institutions is proof of the EU’s urgency and reaction to the new coalition about the engagements in the process of dialogue.

Demush Shasha from the Prishtina-based European Policy Institute of Kosovo (EPIK) said Lajcak’s visit will have an informative character in two aspects. “First, Mr. Lajcak will be informed by the whole political spectrum about their positions on the election process and the prospects of forming the new institutions. And second, Mr. Lajcak will inform the parties about his opinions for the pace and core of the dialogue for the normalisation of relations. So I believe this will be a good opportunity for parties to exchange opinions about the prospect of the dialogue,” he said.

The paper notes that Germany and France, through their ambassadors in Prishtina, have confirmed their readiness to support the continuation of the dialogue.

Vetevendosje Movement (VV) leader Albin Kurti, who is expected to become the new Prime Minister of Kosovo, has said on several occassions that the dialogue will be the fourth priority of his government, after employment, justice and the COVID-19 pandemic. Kurti has also talked about the need for a dialogue first with the Kosovo Serbs. “This is something that has been lacking for years.

Kosovo Ministry reacts to statement by Russian Foreign Ministry (media)

Kosovo’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted on Sunday to a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry which referred to Kosovo Albanian political parties as being nationalistic.

“Statements coming from the Russian Foreign Ministry against Kosovo are not surprising. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora considers that all Albanian political parties in Kosovo have a clear pro-Western and Euro-Atlantic orientation,” the Ministry said in a statement

The Ministry also recalled that although Russia was involved in the process of resolving Kosovo’s status together with the other five countries of the Contact Group, in the end it ruined the consensus and threatened to veto any resolution at the UN Security Council that would enable the formation of the state of Kosovo. “In 2010, Russia went against the ruling of the International Court of Justice on the legality of Kosovo’s independence, although Serbia, with backing from Russia, had insisted on an opinion by the ICJ at the UN General Assembly,” the statement notes.

The Ministry further argued that ever since the start of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, Russia always tried to obstruct an agreement. “The construction of a ‘humanitarian’ base in Nis, close to the border with Kosovo, the Russian-backed train that tried to forcefully enter into Kosovo, organising incidents in the northern part of the country by Russian members of the UN in Kosovo, Russian sponsored ‘fake news’ in Kosovo and the region, the serious engagements of Russian diplomacy to condition states and certain leaders to ‘revoke the recognitions of Kosovo’, as well as many other public and non-public actions in different international forums, clearly show Russia’s tendency to undermine the process of reconciliation and to ruin peace in the region,” the statement adds.

Protest in Prishtina on Tuesday over representation of communities (media)

Most news websites report that a protest will be held on Tuesday in front of the Kosovo Assembly in Prishtina over the suspected vote manipulation for non-Serb communities in the February 14 parliamentary elections. Civil society activist Rron Gjinovci announced the information and called on citizens and members of civil society to take part in the protest.

“Through this protest march we aim to express our dissatisfaction as non-majority communities and to protect the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. We will also call on local and international institutions to react and undertake the necessary actions to launch investigations into the suspicions that we have been raised,” Gjinovci said in a Facebook post.

“Time for Kosovo to tell EU we are tired of games you’re playing” (media)

Most news websites cover a Twitter post by former EULEX judges Malcolm Simmons who wrote: “Is it not time that Kosovo said to the EU: “We are tired of the games you are playing. There will be no further cooperation with you unless and until we see some progress from the EU side”?”

Arrest warrant for Milan Radojicic revoked (media)

Several news websites report that the Basic Court in Prishtina has approved the request of the Special Prosecutor’s Office to revoke the arrest warrant against Milan Radojicic who was suspected of “participation or organisation of an organised criminal group”.

Cleaning other people’s houses (Prishtina Insight)

Underpaid, working without contracts and lacking state protection, many women employed informally as cleaners rely on the mercy of those who hire them.

For the last three years Lume* has been cleaning houses and occasionally a fitness centre in the Gjilan region. She earns between 150 and 200 euros per month, depending on how many times she is hired.

All the money Lume makes is spent on paying back a loan she and her husband took out to help build their home. “As soon as I receive the money, I take it straight to the bank,” she tells Prishtina Insight.

Lume and her family are not alone in surrendering much of their income to repayments on loans. According to a 2018 report by the Kosovo Statistics Agency, around 61 percent of households in the country find paying back loans “a heavy burden.”

Although Lume relies on money earned from her cleaning work to make the repayments, her income is not guaranteed. The 41-year-old is among the more than 50 percent of workers in Kosovo who work without employment contracts according to statistics from the Independent Trade Union of Private Sector Workers. Payments she does receive are all based on verbal agreements.

Lume and other interviewees that Prishtina Insight spoke to said that they are paid between 10-20 euros per day. Most earned less than the minimum wage in Kosovo of 170 euros per month, and none were contracted for the services they provide.

“The salary is not enough. I just want to be paid through the bank, because one day I will be old,” Lume says, adding that she has nothing saved in the Kosovo Pension Saving Trust due to a lack of formal employment.

The lack of pension savings is not the only disadvantage of working in the so-called grey economy. Lume tells Prishtina Insight she is often mistreated, detailing a case of one homeowner who asked her to do heavy manual labour.

“I was struggling because I was cleaning carpets for three days in a row,” she says. “Even at night I couldn’t sleep because of the pain in my feet.”

Lume adds that she was then paid 40 euros less than the agreed fee, with the homeowner arguing that it was because she did not work at weekends. She quit immediately.

Jusuf Azemi, the head of the Independent Trade Union of Private Sector Workers says that cleaners working informally such as Lume do not register complaints with the union.

However, Azemi believes their rights are being continually violated, adding that privately hired cleaners are often expected to perform numerous other tasks. “They look after children, the elderly, maintain the entire premises and whatever else the homeowners demand,” he tells Prishtina Insight.

Economic researcher Dita Dobranja states that there has been an absence of research into the grey economy in Kosovo, making it difficult to estimate the scale of rights violations cleaners working informally face.

However, she tells Prishtina Insight that people employed in the informal economy are often exposed to far more violations of their rights but that “the high rate of unemployment and the lack of job opportunities make it very difficult to report cases.”

According to a 2020 report by the Kosovo Statistics Agency, only 14.1 percent of working age women are employed in the formal economy.

Read full article at: https://bit.ly/300AT5O

Growth of online shopping in Kosovo brings dangers for consumers (BIRN)

E-commerce has taken off in Kosovo with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. But consumers are frequently left unprotected.

When Besiana Kaja began ordering online some seven years ago, e-commerce in Kosovo was still in its infancy and she found herself having to explain to those firms she was buying from how it all worked. Even now, when she is sent the wrong product or a faulty one, trying to seek redress from the seller or the police can be mission impossible, so “I give the product to someone else,” Kaja told BIRN.

Today, in the era of COVID-19, e-commerce in Kosovo is booming, aided by widespread Internet access in Europe’s youngest country.

“E-commerce is among the sectors with the highest growth rates since the outbreak of the pandemic,” said Kujtim Dobruna, managing partner at EICKS, a consultancy that helps small and medium-sized enterprises with their digital growth.

Read full article at: https://bit.ly/3uH8Hmn

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