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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, May 18, 2021

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• COVID-19: 25 new cases, one death (media)
• Vitia: Up to 350,000 persons to be vaccinated in a month (Klan)
• Osmani: Kosovo as a sovereign and independent country is a permanent project (media)
• Kosovo, Serbia clash over Balkan border issues at summit (AP)
• Osmani meets regional leaders at the sideline of Brdo-Brijuni summit (media)
• Brdo-Brijuni Declaration: “EU is able to absorb the WB”, Serbia’s phrasing of the point on regional borders rejected (EWB)
• Kurti, Merkel agree mutual recognition should be end-result of dialogue (media)
• Lajcak meets Vucic in Brussels (media)
• NATO attempts to appease Serbian concerns over Croatian troops in Kosovo (Reuters)
• Kosovo Foreign Policy Experts Welcome Govt’s Support for Israel (BIRN)
• Kosovo Police seize 400kg of cocaine in Lipjan warehouse (media)
• Government plans to phase out PAK by next year (Koha)
• Government building lighted up in rainbow colours, in nod to LGBTIQ+ community (media)

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  • COVID-19: 25 new cases, one death (media)
  • Vitia: Up to 350,000 persons to be vaccinated in a month (Klan)
  • Osmani: Kosovo as a sovereign and independent country is a permanent project (media)
  • Kosovo, Serbia clash over Balkan border issues at summit (AP)
  • Osmani meets regional leaders at the sideline of Brdo-Brijuni summit (media)
  • Brdo-Brijuni Declaration: “EU is able to absorb the WB”, Serbia’s phrasing of the point on regional borders rejected (EWB)
  • Kurti, Merkel agree mutual recognition should be end-result of dialogue (media)
  • Lajcak meets Vucic in Brussels (media)
  • NATO attempts to appease Serbian concerns over Croatian troops in Kosovo (Reuters)
  • Kosovo Foreign Policy Experts Welcome Govt’s Support for Israel (BIRN)
  • Kosovo Police seize 400kg of cocaine in Lipjan warehouse (media)
  • Government plans to phase out PAK by next year (Koha)
  • Government building lighted up in rainbow colours, in nod to LGBTIQ+ community (media)

 

COVID-19: 25 new cases, one death (media)

Kosovo has recorded 25 new cases of COVID-19 and one death in the last 24 hours. At the same time, 196 recoveries have been confirmed over the same time period.

There are 5,268 active cases of coronavirus in Kosovo.

Vitia: Up to 350,000 persons to be vaccinated in a month (Klan)

Kosovo’s Health Minister Arben Vitia is quoted to have said at the Assembly session yesterday that Kosovo will be able to vaccinated up to 350,000 persons against COVID-19 within one month.

Vitia said the figures are part of the new vaccination plan which the Government of Kosovo will begin implementing by mid-June.

Osmani: Kosovo as a sovereign and independent country is a permanent project (media)

President of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani said in her remarks at the Brdo-Brijuni Process that the tenth anniversary of the summit should be used as motivation to increase regional cooperation and remove obstacles on the way. “We must work hard to embrace and implement EU rule based models of regional cooperation which promote enhanced trading relations and address shortcomings related to the rule of law and unemployment, and work to intensify cultural, educational and sports exchanges, develop better infrastructure, as well as, look at how we use technology and digitalization to enhance overall welfare,” she noted.

Osmani said that Kosovo is committed to advancing EU values and regional economic and political cooperation in the spirit of the Brdo-Brijuni Process and that the question the region should be asking is not ‘If the European Union?’ but rather ‘When’.

“It must be made clear to everyone questioning the membership of the region that their resistance will only contribute to one thing – and that is it will spur instability and create opportunities for malign actors to exert influence in our region, which in turn could destabilize the whole continent,” Osmani said, adding that the European Union has in turn also to deliver on its promises and in the case of Kosovo, grant its citizens visa liberalisation.

Osmani further noted that independence of Kosovo is a permanent project and “there is nothing and no one that can reverse this reality”. “Dangerous adventures on border changes should be resolutely rejected by all of us, if we truly desire peace and stability in our region.”

Speaking about trade barriers Kosovo faces from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Osmani said that Kosovo businesses “are systematically penalized and blocked from entering and competing in their markets.”

Calling for progress in determining the fate of missing persons and regional reconciliation, Osmani said: “Beyond my duty as the President of the people of Kosova, it is a moral and human duty to speak the truth of what took place in our country. To call the crimes committed by the Milosevic regime by their name: War crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. And, more importantly to ask our Northern neighbor, Serbia, to bring before justice the perpetrators of these horrendous crimes against innocent civilians.”

She concluded that historical revisionism is not what the region needs right now but instead, “a responsible and courageous leadership requires determined rejection of such vile action.”

Addressing reports about a spat she had with President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic at the summit, Osmani told the public broadcaster RTK that Vucic had insisted that the change of borders of the Western Balkan countries be left only to the member states that are part of the UN.

Osmani said the disagreement happened when she and Sefik Dzaferovic, a member of the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, talked about the crimes that Serbia has committed in Kosovo and Bosnia. “When we talked about these crimes, there was Vucic’s opposition. We spoke clearly about the crimes committed in both Bosnia and Kosovo, and this disturbed Vucic.”

She further said that opposing crimes should not be Serbia’s approach. “I was clear that Serbia will move forward only when it recognizes the state of Kosovo and only when it puts criminals behind bars. Vucic had a different approach, and this is unfortunate.”

Kosovo, Serbia clash over Balkan border issues at summit (AP)

Serbia and Kosovo clashed Monday at a summit of Western Balkan nations over state border changes, a thorny issue in a region that is still recuperating from bloody civil wars in the 1990s.

The largely ceremonial annual gathering in Slovenia of the presidents of two EU-member states, Slovenia and Croatia, with leaders of six Balkan nations that formally seek membership in the bloc was to adopt a resolution that calls for unchangeability of the existing borders in the region.

However, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic rejected such a wording in the resolution because it would indirectly mean that Serbia recognizes the borders of its former breakaway province of Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence in 2008.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/2SYtMKN

Osmani meets regional leaders at the sideline of Brdo-Brijuni summit (media)

President of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani held bilateral meetings with Western Balkans leaders at the sidelines of the Brdo-Brijuni Process. Yesterday, Osmani met Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic and North Macedonia’s Stevo Pendarovski.

The leaders of the two countries Osmani met opposed the idea of changing of the borders in the region, pointing out that region needs stability. President Osmani and her counterpart Djukanovic  also expressed concern over Russia’s growing influence in the region.

Brdo-Brijuni Declaration: “EU is able to absorb the WB”, Serbia’s phrasing of the point on regional borders rejected (EWB)

At the summit in Brdo near Kranj in Slovenia, the leaders of the Brdo-Brijuni Process, which gathers Western Balkan states, Croatia and Slovenia, adopted a Declaration confirming their commitment to the enlargement of the European Union, following the joint meeting.

The Declaration stated that the absorption capacity of the EU was sufficient enough to accept Western Balkans as new members and that the leaders advocated the acceleration of the enlargement process, including the opening of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia as soon as possible.

The leaders also welcome Slovenia’s intention to hold an EU-Western Balkans Summit during its Presidency of the Council.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3uRy5pf

Kurti, Merkel agree mutual recognition should be end-result of dialogue (media)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti had a video conference call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and thanked her for the continuous support Germany provides to Kosovo.

A press release issued by the Government of Kosovo states that Chancellor Merkel congratulated Kurti on victory and expressed support for the government’s programme focusing on justice and employment. Merkel also commended Kurti for the way the government is handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With regards to dialogue with Serbia, prime minister Kurti reaffirmed that it should be a dialogue between two equal parties, resolve disputes between the two countries and normalise their relations. The prime minister and the chancellor agreed that the process of dialogue needs to be fair, built on trust and that the end-result should be mutual recognition.” Kurti added: “Independence of Kosovo and its territorial integrity cannot become topic of talks and we cannot go back to the time prior to 2008.”

Kurti also spoke about visa liberalisation and urged Germany to push the process forward.

Lajcak meets Vucic in Brussels (media)

The EU High Representative for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajcak met in Brussels yesterday President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic

“I  appreciated the opportunity to discuss with @predsednikrs @avucic the latest developments on the Dialogue and the EU-Western Balkans relations between the his two visits to NATO and the Czech Republic today,” Lajcak tweeted.

NATO attempts to appease Serbian concerns over Croatian troops in Kosovo (Reuters)

NATO sought on Monday to assuage Serbian concerns over the deployment of Croatian troops to Kosovo, stressing they were bound by exactly the same rules as all other troops of the alliance’s KFOR peacekeeping force in the Balkan country.

“All troops provided by NATO allies and partner countries to our operation in Kosovo operate under … a well established framework, which is set out by the UN resolution 1244,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters after meeting Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Brussels.

Read more at: https://reut.rs/3we1sSR

Kosovo Foreign Policy Experts Welcome Govt’s Support for Israel (BIRN)

Despite drawing a mixed reaction on social media, strategic experts says the Kosovo government’s support for Israel and condemnation of Hamas is in line with Kosovo’s own diplomatic interests.

“Like every state, Israel has the right and obligation to defend its people against 2000+ rockets fired at civilians only by Hamas, which is holding Palestinian civilians hostage in its war,” the Foreign Ministry said on Twitter on Sunday.

“We mourn all the victims. We urge [all sides] to refrain, stop the violence & seek peaceful solutions,” the statement continued.

While many citizens in mainly Muslim Kosovo compare Israel’s treatment of Gaza and Palestine to Serbia’s harsh rule over, and aggression to Kosovo in the 1990s, some say Palestine does not deserve their support, as the Palestinian Authority does not recognise Kosovo, while Israel does.

This division was also reflected in the reactions the ministry’s statement drew on social media.

However, most foreign policy experts say the government has made the right choice.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3wkgsyR

Kosovo Police seize 400kg of cocaine in Lipjan warehouse (media)

Kosovo Police have confiscated 400kg of cocaine estimated to be worth 20 million euros in a food warehouse in Lipjan. They also made seven arrests in connection to the case and in search of several other suspects.

In a press conference, police and prosecution representatives said the operation was a result of cooperation with Italian and Albanian authorities and that narcotics original departing place was Brazil and that the shipment reached Durres port several days ago from where it travelled to Kosovo.

Government plans to phase out PAK by next year (Koha)

Koha reports that despite insisting on freezing the activity of the Privatisation Agency of Kosovo (PAK), the Kurti-led Government does not plan to completely phase out the agency before next year.

The Government plans to establish the Sovereign Fund by next year and move PAK into an office within the government that will be responsible of maintaining assets managed by it.

Head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo, Arian Zeka, said it would not make sense to cease the activity of the privatisation agency for as long as such a high number of assets remain unprivatised.

Government building lighted up in rainbow colours, in nod to LGBTIQ+ community (media)

The Kosovo Government building has been lighted up in rainbow colors to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti called on everyone to stand up against all kinds of prejudices. “On #IDAHOT, as a sign of solidarity, our government building was lit up in [rainbow colours]. Discrimination separates and divides us. We may differ in terms of our orientations and beliefs, but we are all equal,” he wrote on Twitter.

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