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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, May 28, 2021

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• COVID-19: 23 new cases, one death (media)
• Kosovo receives 100,620 doses of Pfizer vaccines (Koha)
• Kurti vows to dissolve PAK, Assembly dismisses agency’s board (media)
• Kurti: This is first step toward dissolution of PAK (media)
• Orthodox Church responds to Kurti’s request to visit Decan Monastery (media)
• Sources: Palmer, Lajcak to visit Prishtina on Monday (Klan Kosova)
• Haziri: Presevo Valley to be part of Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (Zeri)
• Osmani, Kurti to visit KSF soldiers taking part in “Defender Europe 21” (media)
• Rama: Kosovo kept hostage to visa liberalisation (Koha/Klan)
• Mimoza Kusari-Lila could run again for Gjakova Mayor (T7)
• Life imprisonment for man accused of Donjeta Pajazitaj’s murder (BIRN)
• “Brussels must revive its weakened ‘power currency’ in Balkans” (BIRN)
• Simmons wants to testify to Kosovo Assembly “how EU perverted justice” (media)
• New status conference in Haradinaj and Gucati case to be held today (media)

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  • COVID-19: 23 new cases, one death (media)
  • Kosovo receives 100,620 doses of Pfizer vaccines (Koha)
  • Kurti vows to dissolve PAK, Assembly dismisses agency’s board (media)
  • Kurti: This is first step toward dissolution of PAK (media)
  • Orthodox Church responds to Kurti’s request to visit Decan Monastery (media)
  • Sources: Palmer, Lajcak to visit Prishtina on Monday (Klan Kosova)
  • Haziri: Presevo Valley to be part of Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (Zeri)
  • Osmani, Kurti to visit KSF soldiers taking part in “Defender Europe 21” (media)
  • Rama: Kosovo kept hostage to visa liberalisation (Koha/Klan)
  • Mimoza Kusari-Lila could run again for Gjakova Mayor (T7)
  • Life imprisonment for man accused of Donjeta Pajazitaj’s murder (BIRN)
  • “Brussels must revive its weakened ‘power currency’ in Balkans” (BIRN)
  • Simmons wants to testify to Kosovo Assembly “how EU perverted justice” (media)
  • New status conference in Haradinaj and Gucati case to be held today (media)

COVID-19: 23 new cases, one death (media)

Kosovo has recorded 23 new cases of COVID-19 and one death in the last 24 hours. 230 recoveries have been confirmed over the same time period. There are 2,987 active cases of coronavirus in Kosovo.

Kosovo receives 100,620 doses of Pfizer vaccines (Koha)

Another 100,620 doses of Pfizer vaccines have arrived in Kosovo through the COVAX alliance on Thursday. 60,000 people have been vaccinated against the coronavirus in Kosovo so far. Health Minister, Arben Vitia, said recently that mass vaccination will start on June 15. Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani said in a Facebook post on Thursday evening: “Tonight Kosovo sleeps with 100,620 more threads of hope, thus increasing the confidence that day by day we are coming out victorious in this battle with COVID-19. Grateful and thankful to COVAX for the vaccines. Meanwhile, continue to be careful. We have the best days ahead of us.”

Kurti vows to dissolve PAK, Assembly dismisses agency’s board (media)

Members of the Kosovo Assembly voted yesterday in favour of dismissing the board of the Privatisation Agency of Kosovo on the proposal of the parliamentary committee on economy, industry, entrepreneurship and trade. The committee has also recommended the Government of Kosovo to propose candidates for the board.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Albin Kurti vowed that the agency will be dissolved as the party promised during its election campaign. “We have said PAK will be dissolved and it will be,” he said, accusing the PAK board of abusing privatisation funds. “Two decades after the war are decades of appropriation through privatisation and this needs to end.”

The now dismissed head of the PAK board, Bajram Zejnullahu, responded to Kurti’s allegations calling saying they make no sense. “In the years I’ve been there, there was not a single scandal. I understand political dismissal and that is fine but to label people this way, that I don’t understand,” Zejnullahu told Radio Free Europe.

Kurti: This is first step toward dissolution of PAK (media)

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said on Thursday that the Kosovo Assembly decision to dismiss the board of the Privatisation Agency of Kosovo (PAK) is the first step toward the dissolution of PAK and that it paves to the formation of the Sovereign Fund. “Good things take time, but bad things must be stopped fast. Today, the Kosovo Assembly voted in favor of dismissing the PAK board in order to stop theft and extortion. This is only the first step toward the dissolution of this institution, and it paves the way to the formation of the Sovereign Fund. As the government, we were authorised today to propose a new board to the Assembly. This board will have a new mandate in line with the development strategy of our government,” Kurti wrote in a Facebook post.

Orthodox Church responds to Kurti’s request to visit Decan Monastery (media)

The Raska-Prizren Diocese has responded to the letter of Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, to Sava Janjic, Abbot at the Decan Monastery, expressing the commitment of the Government of Kosovo to protect the cultural heritage of all communities in Kosovo and his desire to visit the Monastery in the near future and “discuss issues of common interest”.

“With regards to the letter Mr. Albin Kurti sent to the Serb Orthodox Monastery of Decan, the Raska-Prizren Diocese remains in its position clearly declared before that if Albanian institutions of Kosovo wish to show the minimum of good will for the respect of the rights of the Serb Orthodox Church in Kosovo, they will have to fully implement the decision of Kosovo’s Constitutional Court from 2016 recognising monastery’s property.”

Sources: Palmer, Lajcak to visit Prishtina on Monday (Klan Kosova)

Citing unnamed sources, the news website reports that EU Special Representative for the Prishtina-Belgrade Dialogue and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer will visit Prishtina on Monday. They are expected to meet Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani and Prime Minister Albin Kurti.

Haziri: Presevo Valley to be part of Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (Zeri)

Deputy leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) Lutfi Haziri said that the municipalities in the Presevo Valley need to be included in the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia so that the Albanian population living there can be assured of support.

“It is a cause I believe in. Presevo, Bujanovc and Medvegja need to definitely be involved in the resolution of the problem within the dialogue and need to be included within their own republic. With Albanians having two states, the residents of Presevo have remained uncared for and they are only 20 minutes ride from Gjilan. Unlike my party, I believe that a new border is a good opportunity to resolve problems between Serbs and Albanians,” Haziri said for a Tirana-based news channel.

Osmani, Kurti to visit KSF soldiers taking part in “Defender Europe 21” (media)

Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani, Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Defense Minister Armend Mehaj and Kosovo Security Force (KSF) Commander Rrahman Rama will visit today KSF soldiers taking part in the “Defender Europe 21” exercise. After the end of the exercise, Osmani and Kurti are expected to address the soldiers. The two leaders will also hold a press conference.

Rama: Kosovo kept hostage to visa liberalisation (Koha/Klan)

Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, said that it was shameful that the citizens of Kosovo are still not able to travel to the EU freely.

Speaking to reporters following a meeting with Germany’s Minister for Europe, Michael Roth, Rama said that the EU is keeping Kosovo hostage to the visa liberalisation issue and that this is only because of one country that is refusing to support a positive decision.

Mimoza Kusari-Lila could run again for Gjakova Mayor (T7)

Mimoza Kusari-Lila, acting head of the Vetevendosje parliamentary group, said on Thursday that she is open to running again for the post of mayor of Gjakova municipality. Kusari-Lila was mayor of Gjakova from 2013 to 2017 when she was a member of the New Kosovo Alliance (AKR). She said she would discuss her eventual candidacy for the post with Vetevendosje leader and Prime Minister Albin Kurti.

Life imprisonment for man accused of Donjeta Pajazitaj’s murder (BIRN)

The Basic Court of Ferizaj has sentenced Naser Pajazitaj to life imprisonment for the aggravated murder of his cousin Donjeta Pajazitaj, who was 24 when she died in 2015.

According to the indictment filed by the prosecution, on November 11, 2015, Donjeta Pajazitaj was on her way to work when Naser Pajazitaj picked her up in a car, before driving to a place known as Kroni i Lajthise in the mountains west of the village of Strellc near Decan, and shooting her twice in the head.

The indictment also accuses Naser Pajazitaj of concealing evidence of his crime by covering the body. Donjeta was found dead by passersby on December 27, 2015, six weeks after her family reported her missing. The prosecution sought the maximum sentence in the case.

In the final session of the trial, prosecutor Valbona Dishaj-Haxhosaj stated that the accused committed the criminal offense of aggravated murder in a cruel or deceitful way, adding that she remained close to the indictment on all counts.

Following the announcement of the verdict on Thursday, Ahmet Tahiri, a defense lawyer for Pajazitaj, described the decision as scandalous. “We will file a complaint and use every extraordinary legal route in order to clarify the truth in this case,” he said outside the courtroom.

Thursday’s decision by the Basic Court of Ferizaj is the third verdict on the case by a basic court in Kosovo. In March 2018, Naser Pajazitaj was sentenced to two years and four months imprisonment for an unlicensed gun charge, but acquitted for murder at the Basic Court of Peja, with the presiding judge citing insufficient evidence presented by the prosecution.

A year later, in March 2019, following a successful appeal for a retrial by the prosecution, the Peja court sentenced Pajazitaj to life imprisonment for the murder. The decision was then upheld by the Court of Appeals in July 2019.

However, in September 2019, the Supreme Court overturned both decisions by the Basic Court of Peja and remanded the case for retrial. At the decision of the Court of Appeals, the second retrial was held at the Basic Court of Ferizaj, in order to remove any suspicion against the justice system.

Tahiri claimed that Thursday’s decision did not address any of the issues raised by the supreme court.

Over the years, the case has been the subject of a number of public protests. In December 2015, residents of Decan participated in a peaceful march to express their anger over two murders, including that of Pajazitaj, while in September 2018 Kosovo Women’s Network organised a protest outside the first appeal trial.

Women’s advocacy groups welcomed the Basic Court of Ferizaj/Urosevac ruling on Thursday sentencing Naser Pajazitaj to life imprisonment for the aggravated murder of his cousin, Donjeta Pajazitaj, who was 24 when she died in 2015.

In a statement issued after the verdict was issued, the Kosovo Women’s Network, KWN, representing 158 country-wide organisations, said the sentence was a step forward.

“Having in consideration the numerous cases of physical and sexual violence against women, such verdicts bring a glimpse of hope that violence and murder of women will be sentenced without any compromise,” KWN said.

“Brussels must revive its weakened ‘power currency’ in Balkans” (BIRN)

Opinion piece by Vesko Garcevic

The EU’s chief tool in the Western Balkans is the offer and hope of EU membership – so if it doesn’t reboot the stalled enlargement process, its ability to shape events in the region will suffer.

In their 2018 book, Power in Interpersonal Conflict, Joyce Hocker and William Wilmont argue that “power depends on controlling currencies that other people need”.

So, if a country controls a currency that you need, it possesses power over you. Jacob Mardell, an analyst at the Mercator Institute for Chinese Studies, a German think tank, confirms how this model works.

Taking the motorway project in Montenegro, for example, Mordell explains: “Montenegro wanted the job done, and China was the only one willing to fund it” – as the Podgorica government did not have any European backers, owing to feasibility studies that highlighted the project’s high costs and likely low returns.

Since the EU-Western Balkans’ Summit in Thessaloniki, the prospect and offer of EU membership has remained Brussels’ most powerful “currency”. In the first decade after Thessaloniki, reinforced by the EU’s “big bang expansion” in 2004, the EU perspective served as a catalyst for democratic transformation.

However, the context has changed since. In 2003, few expected that, by 2021, most countries from the region would have not been in the EU, or on the verge of joining.

Today, the non-members’ prospects of membership look as distant as they were 18 years ago. Several factors lie behind the enlargement setback, and insufficient democratic reform in prospective member states is just one. At Thessaloniki, all sides took responsibility for the project’s success. If potential members are expected to deliver reforms, the EU should create an encouraging ambient for the democratic transformation to take place.

This process has not been working well lately, and is nearing a dead-end. The EU’s traditional “power currencies” have been seriously compromised. After the rough experience of the last waves of EU enlargement, the migrant crisis, Brexit, and issues with some of the newer members, the so-called “old EU members” have grown increasingly cautious about enlargement and demanding.

The EU’s inability to support the COVID vaccination rollout in the region has further diminished its reputation during a critical time in the Western Balkans. It was China and Russia that provided vaccines to the countries of the region instead of the EU.

Read full piece at: https://bit.ly/3i0GZxc

Simmons wants to testify to Kosovo Assembly “how EU perverted justice” (media)

Malcolm Simmons, former international judge and President of EU International Judges in Kosovo said in a Twitter post on Thursday that he wants to testify at the Kosovo Assembly “about the way the EU has perverted justice in Kosovo”. He also tagged Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti and President Vjosa Osmani in his tweet. “It is my intention to give evidence to the Kosovo Parliament about the way the EU has perverted justice in Kosovo. The decision whether or not to hear my evidence will be an important test for this Parliament and for rule of law in Kosovo. @albinkurti @VjosaOsmaniPRKS,” Simmons tweeted.

New status conference in Haradinaj and Gucati case to be held today (media)

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) said in a statement that the fifth conference in the case against Hysni Gucati and Nasim Haradinaj will be held today at 11:00 in The Hague. Gucati and Haradinaj were arrested in September last year for obstructing justice.

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