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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, May 4, 2021

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Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 75 new cases, 4 (media)
• EC denies Kocijancic drafted non-paper, “ridiculous speculation” (Lajmi)
• Freedom of speech under threat (Koha Ditore/Radio Free Europe)
• AAK ready to join the dialogue with Serbia (media)
• Dutch PM: Netherlands supports Kosovo efforts to fight corruption (media)
• Kosovo Security Force to take part in NATO exercises in Albania (Telegrafi)
• Haradinaj welcomes KSF participation in NATO exercise (media)
• Croatia denies reports it offered guarantees for Thaci’s interim release (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• EU’s Várhelyi in Belgrade: Bloc sends 651,000 vaccines to region (FoNet, Beta, N1)
• Djuric: We have no non-papers, but our own ”yes-paper” (Tanjug, Blic)
• Kosovo to file genocide charges against Serbia next year; Office for KiM: “Kosovo cannot sue its own state” (KiM radio, KoSSev)
• Biggest problem of media reporting is the lack of cooperation with the institutions (KiM radio, Slobodno Srpski)
• Security, freedom and work of journalists in Kosovo endangered (Kontakt plus radio, KiM radio, KoSSev)
• US State Department on Kosovo: Pressure on media, hampered restitution (media)
• BIRODI: Media in Serbia becoming industry of populism (Beta, N1)
• Vucic receives Russian ambassador (Tanjug, N1, Blic)
• SPC Patriarch: Cohabitation between Serbs & Albanians possible (media)

Opinion:

• The ‘non-paper’ carving up Balkans and undermining Europe (euobserver.com)
• Slovenia’s ‘Non-Paper’ is no Stunt but a Worrying Omen (Balkan Insight)

International:

• In Serbia, fake news is spread by state-backed media (euracticve.com)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Already Isolated, COVID-19 Takes Heavy Toll on Kosovo’s Disabled (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 75 new cases, 4 (media)
  • EC denies Kocijancic drafted non-paper, “ridiculous speculation” (Lajmi)
  • Freedom of speech under threat (Koha Ditore/Radio Free Europe)
  • AAK ready to join the dialogue with Serbia (media)
  • Dutch PM: Netherlands supports Kosovo efforts to fight corruption (media)
  • Kosovo Security Force to take part in NATO exercises in Albania (Telegrafi)
  • Haradinaj welcomes KSF participation in NATO exercise (media)
  • Croatia denies reports it offered guarantees for Thaci’s interim release (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • EU’s Várhelyi in Belgrade: Bloc sends 651,000 vaccines to region (FoNet, Beta, N1)
  • Djuric: We have no non-papers, but our own ”yes-paper” (Tanjug, Blic)
  • Kosovo to file genocide charges against Serbia next year; Office for KiM:  “Kosovo cannot sue its own state” (KiM radio, KoSSev)
  • Biggest problem of media reporting is the lack of cooperation with the institutions (KiM radio, Slobodno Srpski)
  • Security, freedom and work of journalists in Kosovo endangered (Kontakt plus radio, KiM radio, KoSSev)
  • US State Department on Kosovo: Pressure on media, hampered restitution (media)
  • BIRODI: Media in Serbia becoming industry of populism (Beta, N1)
  • Vucic receives Russian ambassador (Tanjug, N1, Blic)
  • SPC Patriarch: Cohabitation between Serbs & Albanians possible (media)

Opinion:

  • The ‘non-paper’ carving up Balkans and undermining Europe (euobserver.com)
  • Slovenia’s ‘Non-Paper’ is no Stunt but a Worrying Omen (Balkan Insight)

International:

  • In Serbia, fake news is spread by state-backed media (euracticve.com)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Already Isolated, COVID-19 Takes Heavy Toll on Kosovo’s Disabled (Balkan Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

COVID-19: 75 new cases, 4 (media)

Kosovo recorded 75 new cases of COVID-19 and four deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours. 546 persons recovered from the virus during this time. There are 7,994 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo. 

EC denies Kocijancic drafted non-paper, calls reports “ridiculous speculation” (Lajmi)

The European Commission denied today reports that Maja Kocijancic, communication advisor to EU commissioner Oliver Varhelyi, could be the author of a recent non-paper for a final settlement between Kosovo and Serbia. “The Commission denies the ridiculous speculation that one of its officials stands behind this so-called non-paper. The commission has no comment on the so-called non-paper which it neither produced nor received,” the statement notes. “We can only recall and repeat the continued and clear support of the European Union for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Western Balkans”.

Freedom of speech under threat (Koha Ditore/Radio Free Europe)

In several events marking the World Press Freedom Day in Prishtina on Monday it was said that there are continuous threats and pressure against reporters in Kosovo and that the institutions are negligent in addressing the cases of reporters.

Based on data from Reporters without Borders on the freedom of the media in 2020, Kosovo is ranked 70th and stands somewhat better compared to other countries in the region.

Meanwhile, according to data from the Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AJK), in 2020, there have been four assaults and 17 reported cases of threats against reporters. The main obstacle are delays in court proceedings about the cases of reporters.

AJK President Gentiana Begolli said: “we know that every year there is an increasing number of reporters notifying us that they are insulted and threatened. We have also witnessed cases when our colleagues are attacked on broad daylight … Meanwhile the judiciary repeats the well-known statement that investigations are ongoing and that they are on a good path of resolving the cases but in most cases, nothing is really done.”

AJK also called on state institutions to resolve the cases of 15 reporters that were killed or went missing during and after the war in Kosovo.

OSCE Head of Mission in Kosovo, Michael Davenport, said alongside promoting the freedom of media, there should also be efforts to fight fake news. “Kosovo is several steps ahead of the region in terms of press. Kosovo has dropped for eight positions since last year and has thus ended a five-year stretch of progress in this respect. We support your community to promote press media. 2020 meanwhile has shown a big growing trend of fake news, especially related to the pandemic. Misinformation pollutes the area of information. We rely on media professionals to promote professional ethics,” he said.

UN Development Coordinator Ulrika Richardson said that Kosovo dropping for eight positions in the World Press Freedom Index is an alarm to have increased protection for reporters so that they can do their job without fear. “Unfortunately, we have seen continued and increased violence against reporters. It is also very important to make sure that the institutional conditions are in place,” she added.

EULEX chief Lars Gunnar Wigemark said that Kosovo has a good legal framework but that there are continued threats and risks in the work of reporters.

Radio Free Europe quotes media lawyer expert Flutura Kusari as saying that World Press Freedom Day finds Kosovo with a deteriorating state of media freedom, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, financial difficulties and assaults against reporters that go unpunished.

At an event in downtown Prishtina, during which a documentary was also shown, it was said that in 2020 there have been six death threats against reporters, 11 other threats, four assaults and three attacks against media organisations.

AAK ready to join the dialogue with Serbia (media)

Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) senior member and Decan Mayor, Bashkim Ramosaj, said today that this party is ready to join Kosovo’s dialogue with Serbia. He said that in conversations with AAK leader Ramush Haradinaj, the latter expressed readiness to contribute to topics that are important for the country. Ramosaj said that if Haradinaj is asked he will take part in the process.

Dutch PM: Netherlands supports Kosovo efforts to fight corruption (media)

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti received a congratulatory letter from his Dutch counterpart, Mark Rutte. In his letter, Rutte congratulated Kurti on his new position and wished him success in the important duties awaiting him.

Our countries, like the rest of Europe, are facing an indescribable challenge such as that of COVID-19, the letter writes. Prime Minister Rutte expressed satisfaction that the European Union has had the opportunity to assist Kosovo through the Western Balkans Assistance Package and the COVAX mechanism for providing safe vaccines against COVID-19. Similarly, the Netherlands came to the aid of Kosovo last year through a bilateral donation of personal protective equipment for the University Clinical Center of Kosovo.

Rutte assured Kurti that the Netherlands wholeheartedly supports Kosovo in its efforts to fight corruption and strengthen the rule of law. Regarding this, he says, you as Prime Minister have received a strong mandate from the people of Kosovo, which together with the development of good neighbourly relations constitute the main elements of Kosovo towards Europe and European integration. The congratulation letter of the Prime Minister of Netherlands, Mark Rutte further writes that Netherlands is committed to Kosovo’s path towards European integration.

Kosovo Security Force to take part in NATO exercises in Albania (Telegrafi)

The Kosovo Security Force will take part in NATO exercises in Durres, Albania, a spokesman for the Kosovo Ministry of Defense told the news website today. “Yes I can confirm that the KSF will take part in the ‘Defender Europe 2021’ exercises which will be held in 12 countries, including Kosovo. We will inform you more extensively about these activities in the coming days,” the spokesman said.

Haradinaj welcomes KSF participation in NATO exercise (media)

Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) leader Ramush Haradinaj welcomed today the participation of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) in NATO’s exercise in Albania. “There are many reasons to be proud today. The biggest reason is the first participation of our Army in an operation of these proportions. The KSF unit that is taking part in the exercise will be certified for operational capacities,” Haradinaj said.

Croatia denies reports it offered guarantees for Thaci’s interim release (media)

An Albanian MP in the Croatian Parliament said today that there is no official information that Croatia will offer guarantees for the interim release of former Kosovo President Hashim Thaci from the Hague. “I have never said that the Croatian authorities are working on this. Serbian media have misinterpreted my statement on purpose or unintentionally,” MP Ermina Lekaj-Perlaskaj said.

A former Kosovo Liberation Army commander in Prishtina, Hysen Berisha, even said that after Slovenia and Austria, Croatia too has offered guarantees for the defendants of the Specialist Chambers, adding that Croatian President Zoran Milanovic has offered to give guarantees for the interim release of Thaci and the other defendants. Perlsakaj however denied the information. “I don’t know where Berisha got this information. Hashim Thaci is not a national of Croatia and as a lawyer I am not familiar with any legal model based on which Croatia could give guarantees for a person that is not its national,” she said.

 

 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

EU’s Várhelyi in Belgrade: Bloc sends 651,000 vaccines to region (FoNet, Beta, N1)

The European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Várhelyi said in Belgrade on Monday that the bloc was donating 651,000 doses of anti-coronavirus vaccines to the West Balkans region.

Visiting the Public Health Institute ‘Batut,’ he added that now the key question for people was ‘when can I get a vaccine.’

“I apologise for disturbing you during the national holiday (Serbia moved May 1 two-day holiday to Monday and Tuesday since it fell during the weekend), but the fight against the coronavirus cannot wait. I thought it was the most important to bring the vaccines starting from here in Serbia, the most successful country in immunisation in the region,” Várhelyi said.

He is touring the Western Balkans and after Belgrade, he will visit Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia on Tuesday, and Albania and Kosovo on Wednesday.

He recalled the EU was helping Serbia during the pandemic by donating triage containers and vaccine storage refrigerators.

The 651,000 doses, as initiated by Austria, come on top of those provided through the COVAX system which will secure a total of about a million shots for the Western Balkans.

“We all have to vaccinate because without that, the pandemic won’t stop,” Várhelyi said.

Serbia’s Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimovic said Belgrade accepted a smaller quantity of vaccines since others in the region needed them more.

She said Serbia relied on its capacities and was ready for the immunisations.

“Serbia showed solidarity and humanity towards the region and Italy to which it sent medical equipment in April last year,” Joksimovic said.

She thanked the EU for 36,000 Pfizer vaccines that should arrive by the end of August.

Joksimovic also thanked Várhelyi for, as she said, his honest and objective information about Serbia’s solidarity with the region and for allowing the reallocation of unspent funds from IPA projects for the purchase of ventilators and other medical equipment.

See at: https://bit.ly/3b0PZxU

Djuric: We have no non-papers, but our own ”yes-paper” (Tanjug, Blic)

Serbian Ambassador to the US Marko Djuric has said his message to the international community was that Serbia had no non-papers, but its own “yes-paper” – the Serbia 2025 plan of President Aleksandar Vucic, reported Tanjug agency.

This includes a desire to work on higher living standards, on the average monthly wage and pension reaching 900 euros and around 500 euros, respectively, on keeping Serbia’s young people in the country, on attracting the most foreign investments to Serbia, on preserving friendships in the East and the West and on being a country that is open to sincere cooperation with everyone, Djuric said in a statement to Vesti TV, reported the agency.

“That is the Serbian ‘yes-paper’, that is a ‘yes’ to cooperation in the region, a ‘yes’ to reconciliation in the region, but also a ‘yes’ to a strong, developed Serbia,” he said.

He said non-papers on the Kosovo issue were designed to “distract from what the Pristina authorities are doing and from attempts to create a Greater Albania and lessen the rights of Serbs elsewhere in the region”.

“We do not do such things; we have a development plan for our country and a plan to create bridges of cooperation in the region. But we should be under no illusion, because Serbia is still facing various pressures, but Serbia acts with growing self-confidence,” Djuric explained.

Kosovo to file genocide charges against Serbia next year; Office for KiM: “Kosovo cannot sue its own state” (KiM radio, KoSSev)

A spokesperson for Kosovo Government Rozafa Kelmendi said late on Monday the genocide charges against Serbia would be filed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) before the end of 2022, adding such a move needed thorough preparation.

”We don’t have a precise date for the finalisation of the process of drafting it nor the date of filing it, but we are sure that cannot be done before the end of the next year,” she told Pristina Koha daily, quoted portal KoSSev.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti announced the move in his inaugural speech to the Parliament a month ago.

”We believe a genocide was committed in Kosovo, and we’ll try to prove it,” Kelmendi said, adding the process was complex.

”The lawsuit against Serbia for genocide is long, complex and very sensitive, and time is needed for that,” she added.

“The possibility of a lawsuit for alleged genocide, which politicians in Pristina are threatening Serbia with again, exists only in their heated heads. In the legal sense, such an option does not even exist in theory,” said Igor Popovic, assistant director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, reported KiM radio. 

He pointed out that was not recorded in the history of international law for one territory to sue its own state.

“The provocation, that at the end of next year the so-called Kosovo will file a lawsuit against its own state, is just an unsuccessful time buying, because even in Pristina they know that such a science fiction scenario is impossible and legally null and void. The so called Kosovo, as a territory under international community protectorate, according to UNSCR 1244, is not, nor can it be a subject of international law, and the sooner Pristina accepts reality, the more certain the possibility of continuing the dialogue and finding a compromise will be,” Popovic said.

He pointed out that politicians from Pristina show that they did not have a clear and realistic policy, nor the will to build a policy of peace, but only work on inflaming separatist and extremist passions.

“The power of arguments and international law is on Belgrade’s side, and it is in vain that Pristina is fighting lost battles in advance. There is certainly a more useful way to spend money, such as buying vaccines and immunizing the population, instead of quasi-legal battles doomed to ruin,” Popovic pointed out.

Biggest problem of media reporting is the lack of cooperation with the institutions (KiM radio, Slobodno srpski)

Journalist and editor of Radio Television KIM, Zorica Vorgucic said in the Slobodno Srpski TV Show (Free in Serbian) that the report of Reporters Without Borders, according to which Kosovo fell by eight places according to the index of media freedoms, was no surprise, as there were numerous attacks on both Serbian and Albanian journalists in Kosovo. 

She also agreed with the RWB report, which states that ”access to certain information is often limited to a certain ethnic group, and the media mainly focus on issues that affect their community and cover them exclusively from their own angle ”.  

In connection to the challenges that Serbian journalists face, she said that one of the problems was the non-cooperation of central and local institutions with the media. 

”We continue to rarely receive, or we don’t receive at all the invitations from representatives of local institutions for some events. We occasionally do receive, while the Serbian List and all representatives in the ministries, those who were and those who are there now, do not invite us to events. Nowadays they don’t even send communiqués anymore. For example, we (RTV KIM) from the Ministry of Communities and Returns have not received any announcements since Goran Rakic is the head of that ministry,” she said. 

Vorgucic stated that one of the biggest problems of journalists during the coronavirus pandemic was non-compliance with the Law on the Use of Languages. 

”We have repeatedly faced violations of the Law on the Use of Languages. At the beginning of the pandemic, we could not get information in Serbian about the number of infected people. There were no translations at the press conferences of the representatives of the Ministry of Health. Since Arben Vitia became the head of the Ministry of Health, the situation has changed. At the beginning, there were no translations, so we reacted and addressed the Language Commissioner and Ombudsperson. They reacted and that has improved. However, when Armend Zemaj was the head of the ministry, that was missing.” 

She also pointed out that lately, more and more politicians were using terms that were not in line with the facts. 

”Lately, we have a lot of statements from the President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, which, it seems to me, are not very favorable for the Serbian community, and I am afraid that they may provoke some intolerance of the majority community towards Serbs. President of Kosovo frequently talks about the genocide that Serbia allegedly committed in Kosovo. I think these statements are unfounded and very dangerous. Glauk Konjufca also spoke about it at the celebration of the National Missing Person’s Day, saying that Serbia committed genocide. However, no international or domestic court has confirmed that Serbia committed genocide in Kosovo. I think that attention should be paid to that, especially by the international community, which has a great influence, to perhaps warn the Kosovo representatives that this is not very good.”

Speaking about the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Vorgucic was not an optimist that a final agreement would be reached soon. 

”Vucic will have a tougher interlocutor, because Albin Kurti made it clear even before he took office as Prime Minister, that dialogue is not high on his list of priorities. He repeated that even after he came to that position, that is, after he returned. Kurti deals more with internal problems, his priority is the fight against the pandemic, the procurement of vaccines, the fight against corruption and crime.”

Vorgucic, a journalist since 2003, opined that it was good that there were more women among journalists in the Serbian media in Kosovo, and that this was a good example for other organizations and institutions as well. 

”…Judging by the statistics in Kosovo, women dominate journalism, in their number. I think there are more female journalists than male journalists. There are also a lot of women in management positions, at least when it comes to the Serbian community. There are directors, editors and I think that women are not endangered in that respect,” she concluded.  

Security, freedom and work of journalists in Kosovo endangered (Kontakt plus radio, KiM radio, KoSSev)

Serbian language media journalists and members of the Association of Journalists of Kosovo and Metohija warned yesterday in Gracanica of endangering media freedom.

They once again pointed to the unresolved fate of killed and missing journalists in Kosovo.

In front of the MISSING installation in Gracanica, journalists of Serbian newsrooms in Kosovo traditionally gather on the World Press Freedom Day, among whom are most members of the Association of Journalists of Kosovo and Metohija, i.e. the Association of Journalists of Serbia.

They pointed out the bad position of the media and the various pressures they face.

Acting President of the Association of Journalists of Kosovo and Metohija and Vice President of UNS, Budimir Nicic reiterated the demands from the Resolution adopted by the European Federation of Journalists in 2018, which refers to the investigation of the murders of journalists in Kosovo.

Nicic stated that if the killers and kidnappers of journalists are at large, Kosovo will not be a safe place for journalists to work.

“That is why it is very important and very necessary for these cases to be resolved, processed, and we expect the Special Court based in The Hague to finally shed light on these cases after more than 20 years,” Nicic said.

He reminded of numerous attacks on journalists and media workers during the previous year, as well as the constant violation of the Law on the Use of Languages.

“Many of our media have been on the brink of extinction for a long time, and especially now during the coronavirus pandemic, where many donors have focused their programs and attention on something else, and left the media aside,” Nicic concluded.

RTV Puls journalist from Silovo, Jovan Simic reminded of last year’s attack on the director of this house, Nenad Milenkovic, who was attacked by four masked persons in front of the entrance to the building of the Provisional Authority of the Municipality of Kosovska Mitrovica.

“Even today, we do not know who is behind that attack. The so-called police, if they were the police in the true sense, would have some information, because the fact is that these people came out of the municipal building. He was in the official vehicle of RTV Puls,” stated Simic.

Freedom of speech as one of the basic human rights was endangered, which was confirmed by the latest report of Reporters Without Borders, which ranked Kosovo 78th on the list for media freedom, reminded the editor-in-chief of Radio Gorazdevac, Darko Dimitrijevic.

“Certainly, we are witnessing all this with our work. For a long time now, less and less the life of an ordinary person is in the focus of cameras, and certainly in that sense we should focus on the lives of ordinary people and push political and some other topics out of that foreground,” Dimitrijevic said.

The biggest problem is fake news

Zulfija Jakupi, the editor-in-chief of Radio Kosovo 2, believes that the media in Kosovo have been facing a lot of false information lately, which, as she states, is the biggest problem for them.

“News that have not been verified reaches the audience and readers, which are often completely inaccurate information, then a false image of what is happening in society is created among the citizens,” said Jakupi.

She points out that there is a great diversity in the work of the media in Kosovo, and that several television stations have been opened recently.

“It has enriched the media scene in Kosovo, with the fact that now there is a possibility for the citizens to choose who to watch, what to listen to, and to judge for themselves where the truth is,” said Jakupi.

When it comes to the relationship between electronic and print media, the editor-in-chief of Radio Kosovo 2, believes that the electronic media are in the lead, as well as that the print media in Kosovo are currently dying out.

“It is probably a consequence of the breakthrough of the Internet, social networks, information reaches citizens at high speed, one smartphone is enough and everything can be read, but the speed brought by the Internet and social networks contributes to placing unverified information and can lead to confusion among citizens. The biggest problem is the deliberate placement of fake news, which are not always intentionally published, there is a rush for clicks, bombastic headlines, and then there is nothing in the text. Of course, this does not refer only to Kosovo, but it is the global problem present everywhere in the world,” concluded Jakupi.

US State Department on Kosovo: Pressure on media, hampered restitution (media)

In its 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in Kosovo, the US State Department highlighted the pressure on media, impunity for public opposition to the Specialist Chambers for Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) war crimes, return of property confiscated after the 1998-1999 war and attacks on minority groups among other examples of human rights violations.

“As of September, the Association of Journalists of Kosovo and media outlets reported 18 instances of government officials, business interests, community groups, or religious groups violating press freedom by physically assaulting or verbally threatening journalists,” the report said.

Besides, it added that “a complex mix of laws, regulations, administrative instructions, and court practices, as well as the illegal reoccupation of properties and multiple claims for the same property, continued to hamper resolution of property restitution cases arising from the war and its aftermath. More than 96 percent of these claims were filed by ethnic Serbs. Private citizens and religious communities were largely unsuccessful in petitioning for the return of properties seized or confiscated during the Yugoslav era.”

The report also looked into the process of return to Kosovo, saying that “in some areas of the country (it) continued to be marked by security incidents and local communities’ reluctance to accept the return of, or visits by, Kosovo Serbs.”

The full report available at : https://bit.ly/2RrPy8I

BIRODI: Media in Serbia becoming industry of populism (Beta, N1)

World Press Freedom Day, May 3, journalists in Serbia mark amid unfavourable working conditions, exposed to pressure on their independence and physical attacks, Bureau for Social Investigation (BIRODI) said on Monday.

It added that the media in the country became „an industry of populism, promotional, propaganda and revenge tool for personal power, based on nine-year-long research in line with the international recognised Memo98 methodology, BIRODI said TV channels with national frequency became the tool for media promotion, propaganda and that the retribution, while professional outlets have been marginalised.“

The organisation said its study ‘Industry of Populism’ showed that every fifth citizen in Serbia was happy with the information and added people in the country were denied a Constitutional right to trustworthy, complete and timely information about the issues of public importance.

Serbia’s ombudsman Zoran Pasalic congratulated the country’s journalists on World Press Freedom Day and said that solidarity among them was the primary condition to improve their situation and lessen all pressures and attacks on them.

“Dangerous situations in the media creates self-censorship among people since a half of them believe it is not smart to speak out what they think,” BIRODI said.

It added that “the Belgrade Pink TV took the lead in 2016 by extensively and always positively reporting on President Aleksandar Vucic and distinctively negative on the opposition. The same reporting model was applied on TV Prva and TV 92 after the ownership changed. The public broadcaster, which, together with the Regulatory Body for Electronic Media (REM), should be the guardian of public interests, abounded their role. At the same time, journalists gave up professional ethics”.

See more at: https://bit.ly/33r6M9n

Vucic receives Russian ambassador (Tanjug, N1, Blic)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met on Monday with Russian Ambassador to Belgrade Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, to whom he handed his Easter messages for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

Vucic once again thanked Russia for its support to Serbia during the coronavirus pandemic and said production of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine in Serbia would help to ensure continued immunisation of the population in the period to come.

The parties said they were pleased with the progress of Serbia-Russia economic cooperation and noted that joint infrastructure projects, as well as projects in the energy sector, were proceeding at the set pace and that their completion would greatly contribute to Serbia’s economic progress as well as to the citizens’ quality of life, the presidential press service said in a statement.

Commemorations of WWII Victory Day were also among the topics of the meeting.

Vucic and Botsan-Kharchenko also discussed the situation in Kosovo and regional issues and agreed that the policy of peace, cooperation and preserving stability were of the greatest significance for further development of the Western Balkans, the statement also said.

SPC Patriarch: Cohabitation between Serbs & Albanians possible (media)

Patriarch Porfirije, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC), said on Monday it was possible to sooner or later find a solution for the cohabitation between the Kosovo Serbs and Albanians.

”We don’t have to live like siblings, but we could be good neighbours,” he told the state Radio Belgrade.

Porfirije added that if Kosovo was looked at only as a territory or a myth, it could be spoken about the short-time or eternal losers or winners. But, he said, if Kosovo was looked at through its perspective, it would be seen as a pledge and identity and that its vow was linked to the New Testimony.

”Right now, it’s difficult for our people and monks in Kosovo, but I’m deeply convinced that sooner or later, a possibility for the cohabitation between the Serbs and Albanians will be found,” Patriarch said.

He added that common Serbs and Albanians had been living together for centuries.

Speaking about the coronavirus pandemic, Porfirije said it was the best example of how people jeopardised the laws of nature and that ”people reap what they sow”.

”We’re all responsible for everything, especially for the planet. It’s given to a man to be a priest in it, to cultivate it, to take what is needed for life, but to return it by cultivating it,” Porfirije said.

He added that people became exploiters who ”do not respect nature but violate its laws and that nature was now taking its revenge for what humans did to it”.

Patriarch said that ”men have become each other’s foes, not brothers, and that there are many differences among them, but much more the same”.

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

 

 

 

Opinion

 

The ‘non-paper’ carving up Balkans and undermining Europe (euobserver.com)

By Vesna Pusic and Sonja Biserko

There is a spectre haunting Europe, the spectre of partition, as authoritarian populists in the region and in the European Union itself have sought to expand the realm of the possible to include a final regional carve-up that would not only be detrimental to the region, but would demonstrate that the EU itself is on a downward trajectory, moving far away from the goals of a continent that is whole, free and at peace.

In spite of all the denials and disclaimers, it seems clear that the non-paper “Western Balkans – a way forward” – a document that explicitly proposes the redrawing of borders in the region according to ethno-national/territorial groupings – exists, though its origins and intent remain in doubt.

It was billed as having been promulgated by Slovenian prime minister Janez Janša; Albanian prime minister Edi Rama confirmed he was consulted about it.

In addition, the confirmation and later denial of having received the document by the office of the president of the European Council points in the same direction, indicating that the EU institutions were in fact presented with it.

See more at:https://bit.ly/3tl7zmy

Slovenia’s ‘Non-Paper’ is no Stunt but a Worrying Omen (Balkan Insight)

The fact that territorial changes in the Balkan region are becoming a reoccurring debate suggest that these dangerous ideas are gaining traction, even within the EU.

Much has already been said about the now infamous “non-paper” apparently composed by Slovenia’s Prime Minister, Janez Jansa, which mulls the possible partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina between Serbia and Croatia on top of a broader process of regional territorial re-organization.

As has been established previously in the earlier debates about partitions and “land swaps” in the Western Balkans, all such ideas are blueprints for new rounds of inter and intra-state violence, and almost certainly genocide.

But the fact that this has now become a reoccurring debate is perhaps the most alarming aspect of the entire phenomenon.

See more at:https://bit.ly/33fOnMm

 

 

 

 

International

 

In Serbia, fake news is spread by state-backed media (euracticve.com)

Two recent reports focusing on democracy and media freedom by the international NGOs Reporters Without Borders and Freedom House went almost unnoticed in Belgrade. On World Press Freedom Day (3 May), EURACTIV Bulgaria looked at their Serbian neighbour, an EU candidate since 2012.

According to the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) report, Serbia is a country “with weak institutions that is prey to fake news spread by government-backed sensational media, a country where journalists are subjected to almost daily attacks that increasingly come from the ruling elite and pro-government media”.

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Humanitarian/Development

 

Already Isolated, COVID-19 Takes Heavy Toll on Kosovo’s Disabled (Balkan Insight)

The coronavirus pandemic has come as a heavy blow to people with disabilities in Kosovo, already isolated by stigma and a lack of government action to involve them in society.

Physically, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed little for Edon Gashi [not his real name]. Emotionally, he admits to being scared.

“Courtyard fences, blue sky and a little sunshine was all I saw for three months straight,” said 38 year-old Gashi, who has cerebral palsy and asked that his real name not be published.

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

 

 

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