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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, April 22, 2021

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Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 408 new cases, five deaths (media)
• Maas: Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia hinder their progress (Klan)
• Osmani thanks Szunyog for EU-donated vaccines (media)
• Opposition slams government’s decision affecting pensions (media)
• KFOR: No significant security incident was recorded in the last 10 years against Decan Monastery (Express)

Serbian Language Media:

• Covid-19 in Serbian communities: 26 new cases (KoSSev)
• EP’s Fajon: Ideas about new borders extremely dangerous, especially for Bosnia (NIN, N1)
• Patriarch Porfirije: I appreciate the efforts of Bishop Teodosije, who is falsely accused by those who want to bring unrest (KoSSev)
• Aliferi: Greece doesn’t recognize Kosovo; its stance remains unchanged (Radio KIM)
• Dejan Dimitrijevic from Gracanica fined with EU 2300 over protest gathering (Vecernje Novosti)
• Serbian minister says intergovernmental conference with EU in June (N1)

Opinion:

• Can Kurti use the moment to start genuine inter-ethnic cooperation? (K2.0)

International:

• Disputed Non-Paper is Stirring Dangerous Dreams in the Balkans (Balkan Insight)
• EU action awaited as phantom paper further unhinges Western Balkans (euractive.com)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Vucic discusses new arrangement with IMF (N1)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 408 new cases, five deaths (media)
  • Maas: Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia hinder their progress (Klan)
  • Osmani thanks Szunyog for EU-donated vaccines (media)
  • Opposition slams government’s decision affecting pensions (media)
  • KFOR: No significant security incident was recorded in the last 10 years against Decan Monastery (Express)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Covid-19 in Serbian communities: 26 new cases (KoSSev)
  • EP’s Fajon: Ideas about new borders extremely dangerous, especially for Bosnia (NIN, N1)
  • Patriarch Porfirije: I appreciate the efforts of Bishop Teodosije, who is falsely accused by those who want to bring unrest (KoSSev)
  • Aliferi: Greece doesn’t recognize Kosovo; its stance remains unchanged (Radio KIM)
  • Dejan Dimitrijevic from Gracanica fined with EU 2300 over protest gathering (Vecernje Novosti) 
  • Serbian minister says intergovernmental conference with EU in June (N1)

Opinion:

  • Can Kurti use the moment to start genuine inter-ethnic cooperation? (K2.0)

International:

  • Disputed Non-Paper is Stirring Dangerous Dreams in the Balkans (Balkan Insight)
  • EU action awaited as phantom paper further unhinges Western Balkans (euractive.com)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Vucic discusses new arrangement with IMF (N1)

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

COVID-19: 408 new cases, five deaths (media)

Kosovo has recorded 408 new COVID-19 infections and five deaths in the 24-hour period. 628 persons have meanwhile recovered during this period. 

There are currently 12,044 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

Coordinator of the vaccination centre in Pristina, Niman Bardhi, said that so far Kosovo has vaccinated around 21,000 citizens. 

Maas: Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia hinder their progress (Klan)

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, said ahead of his visit to Kosovo and Serbia that the unresolved relations between Kosovo and Serbia are slowing down their respective progress and also that of the region and with that, European Union integration.

“Therefore I would like to explore first hand how we can support the dialogue of normalisation between the two countries which the EU facilitates. The new government in place in Pristina is a good moment to do this. At the same time, with the opening of our new embassy in Belgrade, we are making visible investments in our relations with Serbia. This also underlines our engagement: the future of the Western Balkans countries is in the EU,” Maas is quoted.

Osmani thanks Szunyog for EU-donated vaccines (media)

President of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani met head of the EU Office Tomas Szunyog whom she thanked for the EU’s decision to send 95,000 doses of the Covid vaccine to Kosovo.

“Securing vaccines is the immediate priority for the country’s institutions, therefore we are very grateful for securing 95,000 vaccines from the EU for our citizens. It is very important to seriously understand the difficult situation with the pandemic and clearly communicate it so that this gets reflected in criteria for distribution of vaccines through initiatives like this from the EU and that of COVAX,” Osmani said.

Opposition slams government’s decision affecting pensions (media)

Opposition parties – the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) – have criticised the recent government decision which they claim cuts down pensions by 20 euros.

Acting leader of PDK, Enver Hoxhaj, called the decision ‘scandalous’ and ‘unacceptable’. “This government left our grandparents without vaccines and is now cutting down even that little support needed for medicaments,” he said.

AAK MP Time Kadrijaj meanwhile posted on her Facebook account a picture of Prime Minister Albin Kurti and an elderly man which she captioned: “Sir, I just took 20 euros away from you.”

Finance Minister Hekuran Murati meanwhile said that the funds that the opposition is referring to were part of an allowance approved by the previous government led by Avdullah Hoti and was set to last for three months only, ending in March. 

Murati said that the new stimulus package approved by the government yesterday, foresees 8.5 million euro in support of pension schemes and families on social welfare assistance.

KFOR: No significant security incident was recorded in the last 10 years against Decan Monastery (Express)

KFOR told Gazeta Express that they have not registered any serious incident against the Decan Monastery although Europa Nostra, organisation that protects cultural heritage, listed the monastery in the the group of most endangered sites in Europe. It also said that the Decan Monastery is “the only monument in Europe under such robust international military protection for a continuous period of 20 years.”

“We have not recorded any significant security incidents in the last 10 years against Deçan Monastery. KFOR will continue to operate in order to guarantee a peaceful coexistence in the area. All religious and cultural heritage sites across Kosovo must be respected and preserved,” KFOR said in a reply to the news website. 

Europa Nostra’s decision to include the Decan Monastery drew criticism by Kosovo institutions and civil society organizations. A group of around 40 NGOs from Kosovo issued a joint statement claiming that the inclusion is based on false and unverified data.

“The NATO-led KFOR mission remains focused on the daily implementation of its mandate derived from the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999, to ensure a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for the benefit of all communities living in Kosovo. Within this framework we maintain our presence in the area of the Deçan Monastery. The security situation is stable across Kosovo and in the area around the Monastery,” KFOR said.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Covid-19 in Serbian communities: 26 new cases (KoSSev)

Out of a total of 110 tested samples in Serbian communities in Kosovo, in the last 24 hours, 26 people tested positive for coronavirus, the Crisis Staff of the Municipality of Kosovska Mitrovica announced.

The number of active cases is currently 487, and as many as 121 people have come out of the fourteen-day isolation.

The new patients are from Zvecan – 7, North Mitrovica – 6, Gracanica – 4, Leposavic – 3, Gnjilane and Priluzje 2 each, and from Zubin Potok and Strpce one each.

There have been no deaths in the past 24 hours, and the total number of deaths since the beginning of the epidemic is now 138.

EP’s Fajon: Ideas about new borders extremely dangerous, especially for Bosnia (NIN, N1)

Tanja Fajon, a member of the European Parliament (EP), said on Thursday that ”any idea about creating new borders is hazardous” and “that particularly goes for Bosnia and Herzegovina, which paid the highest price of the breakdown of former Yugoslavia.”.

”The war left a deep abyss which only cooperation, tolerance and an active role by the international community could bridge,” Fajon, also an EP mediator in the inter-party dialogue in Serbia, told the Belgrade NIN weekly.

She recalled that the Dayton peace agreement made Bosnia’s structure after the 1992-1995 war.

”What role should Slovenia play? As a country soon to take over the EU Presidency and, historically and geographically close to the Western Balkans, it should facilitate the state’s path to the EU, not make it more difficult,” Fajon, a native of Slovenia, said.

She added that Janez Jansa, Slovenian prime minister, should explain the EU enlargement, especially about Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Media reports about Jansa’s alleged non-paper suggesting border changes in the Western Balkans caused concern across the region and in the EU.

”We still don’t know where and how the document was made, but I wouldn’t be surprised that some of the nationalistic ideas come from the Slovenian Prime Minister’s circle,” Fajon said in an article about how ”some European leaders decide to promote ideas on the division of states”.

”I think that the EU and its institutions, like other international players, could learn a lot from the mistakes made in the past. The countries must show the wish for the clear European perspective, and we must help them,” Fajon said.

See at: https://bit.ly/2QKeckW

Patriarch Porfirije: I appreciate the efforts of Bishop Teodosije, who is falsely accused by those who want to bring unrest (KoSSev)

The Serbian Orthodox Church is always ready to talk about solving problems that are an obstacle to peace and cooperation in the region, is the message of the Serbian Patriarch Porfirije.

The Serbian Patriarch recently met with the head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia, Jan Braathu, at the Patriarchal Palace in Belgrade. During the meeting, he emphasized the importance of interfaith dialogue as a way to achieve and preserve peaceful and harmonious coexistence.

Porfirije said that he highly appreciates the efforts of the Bishop of Raska and Prizren, Teodosije, the clergy and monastics in Kosovo

According to the Patriarch, „certain individuals and organizations tried to falsely and unjustly accuse them with an obvious desire to bring unrest and endanger the survival of the monastics and the remaining Serbian population in Kosovo and Metohija.“

The Head of the OSCE Mission informed the Serbian Patriarch about the activities of that international organization, emphasizing that he respects the patriarch’s efforts to build peace and stability and that in that sense he can expect his full support, because, as he added, one of his priorities is to help develop religious tolerance in society.

See at: https://bit.ly/3dCJd3c

Aliferi: Greece doesn’t recognize Kosovo; its stance remains unchanged (Radio KIM)

Athens will not change its stance on Kosovo, despite economic cooperation that has improved, Radio KIM reports citing Pristina-based Ekonomia-online.

“As you know, Greece doesn’t recognize Kosovo and its stance remains unchanged. At the same time, it is also known that Greece pursued a constructive approach towards Pristina, welcoming Kosovo Office for Trade and Economy in Athens, and working with Kosovo to advance cooperation in several areas”, Head of the Greek Liaison Office in Pristina Chryssoula   Aliferi said. 

Dejan Dimitrijevic from Gracanica fined with EU 2300 over protest gathering (Vecernje Novosti) 

Dejan Dimitrijevic, father of Luka who was beaten up some ten days ago by three Albanians in Gracanica, was fined three times by Kosovo police and the sanitary inspection“, Belgrade-based Vecernje Novosti reported on Wednesday. 

He was accused of allegedly organizing the protests of citizens and thus violating epidemiological measures, and they are asking him to pay EUR 2,300, the daily added. 

Dimitrijevic said that the first fine was allegedly a warning, and the other two obliged him to pay high amounts. He claims that he was not the organizer of the rallies, but that the people in Gracanica gathered spontaneously, after the beating of his son.

“My son was beaten, and on top of that I was fined. Because, the ninth day has passed since the citizens and representatives of the non-governmental sector did not accept the beating of my son, but also the qualification of the crime, that it was a participation in a fight, and that my son suffered minor bodily injuries”, Dimitrijevic pointed out. 

He emphasized that the essence of the citizens’ protest was to point out that the security situation in Gracanica was not good. 

After several days of protests by citizens in front of the police station in Gracanica, representatives of the civil sector staged performances in the centre of Gracanica for the last two days.  On the first day, they placed a box for collecting “donations for the tribute”, while on Wednesday they gave support to the beaten young man by poetry readings. Representatives of NGOs announced protests in the coming days, with respect to epidemiological measures. 

Serbian minister says intergovernmental conference with EU in June (N1)

Serbian European Integration Minister and chief negotiator with the European Union, Jadranka Joksimovic said Wednesday she expects an inter-governmental conference to be held by the end of June to reach an agreement on the new methodology of accession to the EU, N1 reports.

She told the government Coordination Body for EU accession that the inter-governmental conference would be held at the highest level, a press release said. Joksimovic also said Serbia completed the review of action plans for chapters 23 and 24 in the pre-accession negotiation process in consultation with the EU and civil society. The minister presented the upgraded and amended negotiation structure in line with the new methodology.

The Coordination Body meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, focused on preparations to open clusters 3 and 4 and activities aimed at speeding up reforms. The meeting agreed to appoint cluster coordinators for the negotiation groups which operated independently of each other under the old methodology.

 

 

 

Opinion

 

Can Kurti use the moment to start genuine inter-ethnic cooperation? (K2.0)

The international community’s engineering of democratic institutions in Kosovo has in many ways been “groundbreaking. But it has nonetheless laid the foundations for some of the most critical obstacles to the country’s de-facto exercise of authority over its citizens. 

Perhaps the most important aspect of this undertaking has been the safeguarding of ethnic minorities in Kosovo and their inalienable and constitutionally guaranteed right to participate and shape the trajectories of the country’s institutions. 

Rightful credit must be given both to the general framework of the Ahtisaari Plan — which formed the basis of Kosovo’s Constitution and is enshrined within it — and to a large extent OSCE-led endeavors on the ground to set up the practical legal framework that ensures these rights. This task of course, could hardly have been more ambitious and complex. 

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

 

 

 

International

 

Disputed Non-Paper is Stirring Dangerous Dreams in the Balkans (Balkan Insight)

Relentless political crises in the Balkans, and the virtual demise of the region’s EU perspective, are encouraging domestic and foreign actors to ponder potentially disastrous alternatives.

The latest discussions about territorial reorganization in the Balkans have shaken the region, once again underlining its deep ethnic and political divisions and unresolved tensions.

In these debates – triggered by last week’s publication of a non-paper, allegedly produced and/or distributed by the Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa – regional leaders and their affiliated media and intellectuals have focused on trading blame, and on quarrelling about whether such changes could be achieved peacefully or not.

Some have used the opportunity to blame EU capitals for allowing what seems to be the final disappearance of the region’s enlargement perspective.

Most, however, have ignored the fact that it is the Balkans’ deepening crisis, as well as the hypocrisy and corruption of local politicians across the region, that have weakened local societies and undermined their institutions, mechanisms and perspectives.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3et7h7Y

EU action awaited as phantom paper further unhinges Western Balkans (euractive.com)

A firmer stance from Brussels – noticeably missing last week – against a controversial document proposing border changes in the Western Balkans would help calm the growing anxieties in the region, analysts said. At the same time, regional and international actors contacted by EURACTIV firmly rejected ideas from the phantom non-paper.

Last week a Ljubljana-based outlet published what it said was a ‘non-paper’ allegedly authored by Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, or someone from his inner circle, proposing possible border changes to address lingering malaise in the former Yugoslavia.

Janša has denied writing the document. Asked by EURACTIV, European Council President’s Charles Michel’s office could not deny receiving the paper or provide any further comment.

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

 

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Vucic discusses new arrangement with IMF (N1)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic discussed a new advisory arrangement with International Monetary Fund (IMF) Mission Chief Jan Kees Martijn, a press release said on Wednesday, N1 reports.

“Bearing in mind the great progress Serbia achieved in the past eight years, the priority goal of this arrangement will be preserving those results and securing support for further structural reforms to achieve faster, stronger and more sustainable growth”, Vucic is quoted as saying during the meeting by video link.

He added that Serbia counts on the professional and expert help of the IMF and Martijn’s personal engagement.

Vucic said that special attention will be devoted to reforming state-owned companies with a priority given to infrastructure investments, creating a better investment climate, more investments in the environment, science and capital projects which, he is quoted as saying, will contribute to stable financial growth in coming years.

See at: https://bit.ly/3sN0ew0

 

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