Albanian Language Media:
- COVID-19: 158 new cases, 3 deaths (media)
- Croatia offers 10,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to people of Kosovo (euronews.al)
- Gervalla to PDK MPs: Special Court did not fall from the sky (media)
- Kurti defends Gervalla: She defends and promotes our liberation war (media)
- Croatian Foreign Minister: We are against border changes (media)
- G-7 urges Kosovo and Serbia for reconstructive dialogue (Klan)
- Haxhiu: One of most important processes of justice, vetting, starts today (Koha)
- River devastation at the centre of BIRN debate (BIRN)
Serbian Language Media:
- Eight new cases of Covid-19, one death registered in Serbian areas in Kosovo (Radio KIM)
- Vucic: Those announcing genocide lawsuit do not care about dialogue (KoSSev)
- Petkovic: Nothing will come of Pristina’s pressures on Belgrade (Kosovo-online)
- Bourita: Morocco considers Kosovo part of Serbia (Tanjug)
- Godfrey: US displeased over procrastination of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (Tanjug)
- Ursula von der Leyen wrote to Vucic (B92)
- Office for KiM: Miroslav Lukic assaulted in Velika Hoca (Radio KIM)
- Bieber: Kosovo genocide lawsuit against Serbia cannot be successful (N1)
- Serbian Torlak Institute gets 104.000 Pfizer vaccines (N1)
- Kosovo Pledges to Solve Electricity Billing Problem in Serb North (Balkan Insight)
- Serbia’s President: Unvaccinated Public Workers Won’t Get Sick Pay (Balkan Insight)
- ‘Invisible’ Balkan Freelancers Fight for Fair Taxation in a Digital Age (Balkan Insight)
Albanian Language Media
COVID-19: 158 new cases, 3 deaths (media)
Kosovo recorded 158 new cases of COVID-19 and three deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours. 346 persons recovered from the virus during this time. There are 7,156 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.
Croatia is offering 10,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to the people of Kosovo (euronews.al)
Croatian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gordan Grlic Radman, confirmed the offer of 10,000 COVID-19 vaccines to the people of Kosovo, after meeting Kosovo’s diplomacy chief Donika Gervalla-Schwarz.
“It is with great pleasure that I informed Minister Gervalla-Schwarz for the allocation of 10,000 vaccine doses for the Republic of Kosovo,” he said.
Gervalla to PDK MPs: Special Court did not fall from the sky (media)
Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Donika Gervalla said in today’s session of the Kosovo Assembly that corruption in Kosovo was installed by the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK). “I am addressing you, the PDK MPs. Corruption is not our invention nor is it a narrative by Serbia, but a bitter reality faced by the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo. Our government has been elected to fight the crime and corruption installed mostly by you, the PDK. You are responsible for installing corruption and it is our duty to fight corruption,” she said.
Gervalla, who came under a lot of criticism for a statement she made in 2015 saying she would help the Specialist Chambers when they are formed, said: “The Special Court was not installed by Serbia, it was installed by you. Because you not only failed to fight but you also did nothing to punish and try the post-war crimes, you tried to avoid this, and you enabled the formation of the Special Court and voted in favor. The Special Court did not fall from the sky, and now you feel the need to explain why you did this. You are responsible for your leaders being in the Hague today. By denying the truth you will not find a solution.”
Gervalla also said that as government minister she has pledged to best represent Kosovo’s interests on the international arena.
Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) parliamentary group chief, Abelard Tahiri, reacted to Gervalla’s remarks saying that she is the shame of Kosovo’s diplomacy. “Minister, you proved today that the Republic of Serbia no longer needs to deal with the Republic of Kosovo because you are their representative. You are the shame of diplomacy. It is the biggest shame to say today that the Special Court was not established by Serbia,” he said. Tahiri said Gervalla must apologise to the citizens of Kosovo because the Specialist Chambers were formed with false facts from the Serbian government.
Kurti defends Gervalla: She defends and promotes our liberation war (media)
Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti came to the aid of Foreign Minister Donika Gervalla after criticism that she is not defending the fight of the Kosovo Liberation Army and that she will give files to the Specialist Chambers. Kurti said in a Facebook post: “Yesterday there seems to have started a campaign against my deputy and Foreign Minister, Donika Gervalla, claiming that she does not respect the KLA. It is interesting that this campaign did not start when Gervalla joined our election list or when she was appointed minister, but now that she has returned from a successful visit to Brussels. Gervalla defends and promotes our liberation war and the KLA. In meetings with internationals, she explains better than most people Serbia’s aggression and crimes during the war in Kosovo.”
Croatian Foreign Minister: We are against border changes (media)
Croatia’s chief diplomat Gordan Grlic-Radman said during his visit to Prishtina today that Croatia is against any border changes in the region. “We support the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, and we hope a solution will be found. Croatia is against any border changes in eastern Europe. We hope that talks will resume. Let’s work on other countries that haven’t recognised Kosovo’s independence, to do so. The Republic of Croatia fully supports visa liberalisation for Kosovo,” he said.
Grlic-Radman also said: “We must not forget the fact that Croatia was among the first countries to recognise the independence of the Republic of Kosovo. We gave a lot of support to Kosovo’s membership in regional and international organisations”.
After his meeting with the Croatian Foreign Minister, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti took to Twitter to write “Pleasure to host the FM of Croatia, @ grlicradman . Croatia & Kosova share a common past of fighting for freedom & independence. I thanked FM Radman & PM @ AndrejPlenkovic for their decision to donate 10K vaccines for Kosovo showing our healthy bilateral relations & strong alliance.”
G-7 urges Kosovo and Serbia for reconstructive dialogue (Klan)
During today’s meeting, the G-7 Foreign Ministers called on Kosovo and Serbia to engage constructively in dialogue.
“We urge on Kosovo and Serbia to engage constructively in negotiations in the framework of the EU-facilitated dialogue to normalize fully their relations through a comprehensive and legally binding agreement that would contribute to regional stability,” the statement said. their common.
The communiqué states that countries in the region are called upon to expand their domestic political space and improve the environment for civil society and independent media.
“Unjustified speculation about border changes along ethnic lines is not a solution to the challenges facing the region. Such changes will pose a threat to regional security”, it is further stated.
Haxhiu: One of the most important processes of justice, vetting, is starting today (Koha)
Kosovo’s Minister of Justice, Albulena Haxhiu, said today officially begins one of the most important processes in justice, that of vetting.
The first meeting of the Working Group for drafting the concept-document for the vetting process was held today. Members of the Working Group, as well as representatives of justice institutions – the Judicial Council, the Prosecutorial Council, other institutions, civil society organizations and independent experts who have previously expressed their willingness to contribute in this matter, were present at this meeting.
“Unfortunately, the public trust in the judicial and prosecutorial system has not been proven to be at the level of expectations. This burdens not only the judicial and prosecutorial system, but also the Government of the Republic of Kosovo, which is committed, with all its power, to the full realization of the rights of citizens, as guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of Republic of Kosovo “, Haxhiu said.
She described this meeting as a symbol of launching positive changes within the justice system, and encouraged all the people of Kosovo to commit themselves with all capacities to leave a proper legacy to the future generations, as well as to restore the trust of the citizens in the system of justice.
Lulzim Beqiri, Chairman of the Working Group, presented further the content structure of the concept paper and also the initial work plan was made by, which is expected to be completed within 4 months.
On the other hand, the participants in the meeting, representatives of institutions and civil society, expressed their willingness to cooperate and contribute to this important reform process in the justice system.
At the end of the meeting, the members of the Working Group agreed on the work plan and the format on the basis of which this Concept Paper will be prepared and the stages through which it will go until its approval by the Government.
River devastation at the centre of BIRN debate (BIRN)
BIRN brought together activists, experts and officials from across Kosovo to discuss the environmental damage caused by gravel extraction, wastewater and hydropower plants.
In a BIRN-hosted debate supported by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo and broadcast on Wednesday, activists from across Kosovo highlighted some of the country’s biggest causes of environmental damage, including gravel extraction, wastewater and hydropower operations.
According to the activists, previous governments have been a contributing factor to the damage caused, having aligned with powerful businessmen rather than protecting natural resources.
Svetozar Aleksic, an environmentalist from Ranilug in eastern Kosovo, highlighted the failure to protect the Krivareka river, which has caused severe repercussions. “There is gravel extraction without any filtration,” he said. “Fish are dying, and we are losing the flora and fauna there.”
Former Chief Inspector at the Independent Commission for Mines and Mineral, Fatmir Gerguri, agreed with Aleksic about the state of affairs at the Krivareka.
“There is so much degradation of the river from Kamenica towards Ranilug due to illegal exploitation,” he said. “The situation looks irreparable.”
Gerguri added that while the extraction of gravel was unavoidable due to its regular use in construction, the process should be conducted through the proper channels and sites should be subsequently rehabilitated.
Illegal gravel extraction is a nationwide problem. According to a 2019 investigation by BIRN, a total of 1,200 hectares has been damaged by the process affecting river beds across the country, including the Lumbardhi i Pejes, the Erenik, the Desivojca, the Morava e Binqes and the Ibri.
Aleksic stated that he still has fresh memories of when the Krivareka river was teeming with life. “As a kid, I remember there were oysters,” he said. “There are no more now.”
The activist added that it is “illogical” that local inspectors are doing nothing to protect waters and ecosystems in the region of Gjilan.
Alongside gravel extraction, the Krivareka is also endangered by wastewater poured into it, as are all rivers in Kosovo. According to BIRN research, 98 percent of wastewater is not treated and ends up in Kosovo’s rivers and lakes.
Naser Korca, the Head of Public Services at the Municipality of Gjilan stated that a huge wastewater project is being built in the region, which should have a positive impact on pollution level.
“We have a 26 million euro wastewater treatment system which will be a solution for sewage problems in the region,” he said.
BIRN highlighted the success story of another wastewater treatment system constructed on the shores of Lake Badovc for a cost of two million euros.
Local residents confirmed to BIRN that many fish had previously been contaminated by sewage. However, after the installation of the wastewater system, fish and other fauna returned to the lake, demonstrating the power of well-focused investment.
Operation of hydropower plants
It is not just extracting gravel and sewage that are polluting Kosovo’s rivers. Across the country, the construction and operation of hydropower plants has impacted the lives of residents from southern to western Kosovo.
Austrian company KelKos has built and operates several hydropower plants in the Decan valley, which is part of the Bjeshket e Nemuna National Park and protected by the Law on National Parks.
Shpresa Loshaj, a renowned environmentalist who had a defamation lawsuit filed against her by Kelkos earlier this year, stated in the debate that rivers in the valley were beginning to resemble a “desert.”
“We cannot wait any longer,” she said. “Our rivers are remaining without water, especially the Zalli i Rupes where I grew up.”
Loshaj hopes that the recent change of government will improve the situation, following a meeting with new environment minister Liburn Aliu. “We were promised that this will be their key issue and that KELKOS’ licenses will be withdrawn,” she said.
The activist also drew attention to the protection of the environment in the nearby Rugova valley, and the proliferation of holiday homes and villas being built in the region. She pointed out that the boom in construction was short-sighted, stating that building too many villas will prevent the very tourism it is aiming to generate.
Fatos Lajci of the Environmentally Responsible Action Group NGO, ERA, concurred with Loshaj, stating that local and central governments were often contradictory in their aims. “Developing tourism and destroying nature cannot go together,” he said.
Lajci also pointed to statements by central institutions claiming to prioritise agriculture being contrary to decisions to allow rivers to be piped for use in hydropower. “How can agriculture work when you have no water?” he asked rhetorically.
Serbian Language Media
Eight new cases of Covid-19, one death registered in Serbian areas in Kosovo (Radio KIM)
According to the latest information, eight new cases of Covid-19 and one death were registered in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo, Crisis Committee of Mitrovica North announced, Radio KIM reports.
At the same time, 69 persons have completed the mandatory two-week isolation period.
Deceased person was from Zubin Potok.
A total of 55 samples were tested and eight were positive for Covid-19. The eight new cases were registered as follows: four in Leposavic and one each in Mitrovica North, Zubin Potok, Priluzje and Kamenica.
Currently there are 168 active cases of Covid-19 in the Serbian areas in Kosovo.
Vucic: Those announcing genocide lawsuit do not care about dialogue (KoSSev)
Time is not Serbia’s ally in resolving the Kosovo issue. Neither Germany, nor France, nor America, nor a great power, will change their position on the status of Kosovo, President Aleksandar Vucic said last night, KoSSev portal reports.
“They are too great for us to teach them how to behave“, he added, following a session of the presidency of his party – Serbian Progressive Party (SNS).
The Serbs have an unrealistic approach, he underlined, pointing out that he has been trying to get by and fight for nine years.
If they file a genocide lawsuit, we will defeat them in every sense
Vucic once again addressed Pristina’s announcements on the lawsuit against Serbia for genocide.
“I am afraid that those who are announcing lawsuits for genocide, who are announcing demands for war reparations, that they are thus clearly saying that they do not care about dialogue“, he stressed.
He reiterated he would be responding to various international actors every day who “would not like to talk about the ZSO (Community of Serb-majority Municipalities)“, and say that “borders must not be changed“. The president argued that the only borders they would like to change are Serbia’s borders – but that they refuse to openly say so.
Vucic revealed when he is told that the former Yugoslavia, that is, Serbia, was attacked in order to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo, he will say:
“Well, wait, I heard from you that there is a greater humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan and Syria, Iraq, and you did not change the borders in any of those countries, you only changed the borders of Serbia.“
There is no answer to that and there will be no answers, he added, while remarking that Serbs must come to terms with the double and different standards.
See more at: https://bit.ly/3hbwEhz
Petkovic: Nothing will come of Pristina’s pressures on Belgrade (Kosovo-online)
“The imposed solutions and ultimatums coming from Pristina today are another confirmation in a row that Albanian politicians do not want a true dialogue, but are trying to sabotage it in all possible ways”, Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Petar Petkovic said Wednesday, Kosovo-online reports.
He added not a day goes by without having politicians in Pristina trampling, in the most ruthless way possible, on the dialogue in Brussels and all the agreements reached thus far.
“If someone in Pristina thinks that he can conduct negotiations with Belgrade by giving us his wish list, then that someone lives in a parallel reality in which there is not much contact with reality. And the reality is the fulfillment of all previously reached agreements, including the formation of the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities”, Petkovic stressed.
He added that if Albin Kurti “thinks that he will come to Brussels with such a list of demands in front of President Aleksandar Vucic, then he obviously did not understand anything, or he just pretends not to understand, because nothing will come out of the pressure on Belgrade”.
Bourita: Morocco considers Kosovo part of Serbia (Tanjug)
Morocco is an honest friend to Serbia and would always oppose endangerment of the territorial integrity of states, which is the case regarding Kosovo which Morocco considers part of Serbia, Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Expatriates Nasser Bourita said, Tanjug news agency reports.
Speaking in a joint press conference with his Serbian counterpart Nikola Selakovic in Moroccan capital, Bourita also said political relations between two states were good, however economic potential has not been used to its full extent, and needs an additional impetus.
“I am pleased to welcome you to our country. Relations between the two states are relations of friendship, trust, mutual respect and solidarity. These are decades-long relations that have always been good, fostered by good wishes of our leaders, as is the case today by our King Mohammed and President of Serbia”, Bourita added.
He voiced a clear stance of Morocco regarding Serbia’s territorial integrity and its opposition to the attempts to jeopardize territorial integrity of the states.
Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Nikola Selakovic welcomed support of Morocco that resisted pressure to recognize Kosovo, and its respect to the territorial integrity of Serbia as well as the talks being held within Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, under the EU’s auspices.
Godfrey: US displeased over procrastination of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (Tanjug)
Speaking about Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, US Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey said his country is displeased over current procrastination of the dialogue, adding he was pleased that authorities in Belgrade realize importance of resolving this issue and the fact that procrastination only goes to the detriment of the people in the region, Tanjug news agency reports.
“We support the efforts of (EU mediator) Miroslav Lajcak and we look forward to the planned launching of the dialogue in the upcoming weeks”, Ambassador Godfrey told Belgrade-based media outlet Kurir.
Asked if there are chances that US President Joe Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris or State Secretary Antony Blinken visit Serbia, Godfrey said those visits were late already, but he would fight to make them happen.
“The United States recognizes the importance of the role that Serbia plays in Europe, and we are committed to advancing our partnership and contributing to the strengthening of a free, united and secure Europe”, Godfrey said.
Godfrey also mentioned that Serbia, with its fight against coronavirus, serves as an example not only to the Western Balkans but also to the world, and that he has only words of praise and admiration for the way it is fighting against pandemic.
He also said it is now on the citizens to get vaccinated in order to stop the virus and return to normalcy.
Ursula von der Leyen wrote to Vucic (B92)
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen sent a letter to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, thanking him for the “productive meeting in Brussels on April 26”, B92 reports.
In the letter she emphasized she is especially looking forward to cooperation on a large project of modernization of the Belgrade-Nis-Presevo railway on the border of Serbia with North Macedonia.
As stated in the letter that “Blic” had insight into, Ursula von der Leyen pointed out that the mentioned project is a “huge step forward and an important milestone in our future relations”, adding she was “happy that this project is in the Economic and Investment Plan for The Western Balkans, which was adopted by the European Commission last fall”.
The President of the European Commission also said “the Commission is already working hard on the realization of the project.”
At the end of the letter Ursula von der Leyen insisted on a faster and closer cooperation with Vucic, all in order to make the railway modernization project as efficient as possible.
See at: https://bit.ly/3vKHcbf
Office for KiM: Miroslav Lukic assaulted in Velika Hoca (Radio KIM)
“Inhabitant of Velika Hoca, Miroslav Lukic was assaulted last night at around 9.00 p.m. by three Albanians, who first verbally insulted him and then physically attacked him. He sustained a fracture of his nose and is staying at hospital for observation. Police were informed about the case, and the attacker was arrested”, Office for Kosovo and Metohija said, Radio KIM reports.
As the Office further said “inhabitants of Velika Hoca have been targeted by local Albanians for months, who let their cattle graze on Serb properties, thus damaging their agricultural plantations”.
“Lukic pointed out this problem to the police on several occasions, however it was reoccurring. Instead of the problem being resolved, it escalated into an even bigger incident and Lukic was assaulted just because he reported the problem”, the statement added.
The Office also said it expects an adequate punishment for physical assault against Miroslav Lukic but also an urgent reaction of the police to protect the properties of the Serb families, whose only source of income is agriculture.
Bieber: Kosovo genocide lawsuit against Serbia cannot be successful (N1)
Kosovo announced genocide lawsuit against Serbia serve to pressure Belgrade in the dialogue with Pristina on the normalisation of relations and has no chance of success, Florian Bieber of Graz University has told N1 on Wednesday.
“I don’t see how that could be successful,“ he said, adding the purpose of the charges was to draw attention to war crimes Serbia’s forces committed in Kosovo during the 1998-1999 war there.
It is, he says, focused on the past and the reasons why Kosovo is independent today.
According to Bieber, Pristina’s problem is that Serbia can “live with the status quo“, while Kosovo cannot.
He says that 13 years after Kosovo declaration of independence, it “inclines more to defending its position and rights than to rely only on the European Union and the US positions.“
“To what extent is (PM Albin) Kurti ready for a compromise and agreement remains to be seen since he lacks experience in conducting diplomatic negotiations“, Bieber said.
In Biber’s opinion Belgrade was a major problem in the dialogue, as well as, as he said, lack of its readiness to accept a compromise leading to “some kind of the recognition of Kosovo“.
Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic’s messages are not encouraging in that sense, while the EU doesn’t have anything attractive enough to offer Belgrade to accept Kosovo as an independent state, Bieber opined.
Serbian Torlak Institute gets 104.000 Pfizer vaccines (N1)
Serbian Torlak Virology Institute received another shipment of more than 100,000 doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, local media reported on Wednesday.
According to some sources, shipments of the Pfizer vaccine have been coming to Serbia regularly for the past few months. The latest shipment was 104,000 doses of the vaccine.
A total of 3,661,516 doses of various coronavirus vaccines have been administered in Serbia to date, with 1,604,760 people getting two shots.
Kosovo Pledges to Solve Electricity Billing Problem in Serb North (Balkan Insight)
The government has come up with a temporary solution to the problem of unpaid electricity bills in the Serb-majority north – but a long-term solution is not yet in sight.
Albin Kurti’s government in Kosovo has decided to cover another six months of electricity bills run up by customers in the mainly Serbian north of Kosovo while pushing for a final resolution of a problem which has cost Kosovo tax payers tens of millions of euros.
According to the plan, the public transmission enterprise, KOSTT, will be obliged to cover the unpaid bills in the north for six more months.
Considering that the government could not allocate another 11 million euros requested by KOSTT to cover the electricity spent in the Serb-majority north, the parliamentary commission for the economy instead told KOSTT to cover the debts for another six months from its own revenues.
See more at: https://bit.ly/3xTNwiv
Serbia’s President: Unvaccinated Public Workers Won’t Get Sick Pay (Balkan Insight)
President Vucic has warned civil servants not to expect paid sick leave if they catch the virus and have not received a COVID-19 vaccination.
Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic has warned that public sector workers who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 will not get paid leave if they catch the virus and fall ill.
“If you have been infected – and have received two vaccines … you have the right, if you are in a state body, the army or similar, to [paid] sick leave. But if you are not vaccinated, you will not have paid sick leave,” Vucic told Pink television on Wednesday.
Vucic said this decision has yet to be confirmed by the government and added that the state will cover the costs of treatment for the unvaccinated if possible, but they will not get paid leave for COVID-19.
Most sick leave employees receive part of their salary when off work. If the sick leave lasts up to 30 days, the employer pays the part-wage, and if the sick leave is longer than 30 days, the state covers the salary. This applies only to people with working contracts.
See more at: https://bit.ly/2Rt6vQv
‘Invisible’ Balkan Freelancers Fight for Fair Taxation in a Digital Age (Balkan Insight)
Well-educated but relatively cheap, Balkan freelancers are in high demand among foreign firms. But they complain of heavy-handed efforts by governments to regulate the sector and levy taxes.
When the Serbian government and the Association of Internet Workers struck a taxation deal last month, association president Miran Pogacar said a battle had been won, but not yet the war.
The agreement followed months of performances, cyber-attacks and tent protests by Serbian freelancers appalled by an announcement in August last year by the Serbian Tax Office that it would heavily and retroactively tax residents who received payments from abroad in the last five years.
The announcement marked an attempt to top up state coffers depleted by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to get to grips with a grey economy that has grown up around tens of thousands of freelancers and digital workers hired – but not formally employed – by foreign firms in search of remote, educated and cheap labour.
They include language teachers, digital workers on freelancing platforms such as Upwork, journalists, web designers, music or video editors, translators and a host of other professions suited to remote working in the digital age.
See more at: https://bit.ly/3enRgRR