Albanian Language Media:
- COVID-19: Five new cases, no deaths (media)
- Palmer arrives in Pristina, meets Kosnett (media)
- Palmer meets Kosovo opposition leaders (media)
- Palmer or Montgomery expected to replace Grenell’s role in dialogue (Klan/RTK)
- Sources: Spain expected to open liaison office in Kosovo (Demokracia)
- Kusari-Lila says more on Kosovo’s position on dialogue will be known soon (media)
- United States plans to allocate USD 200 million for Kosovo (Koha)
Serbian Language Media:
- One new case of Covid-19 registered in Serbian areas on Saturday (Radio KIM)
- Vucic says he won’t recognize Kosovo; talks about dialogue, non papers (KoSSev)
- SOC to the Serbian Ministry of Culture: Postpone the adoption of the Law on Cultural Heritage (media)
- Dacic in Moscow: Serbia will never join sanctions against Russia (RTS)
- Selakovic: Firm relations between Serbia and China reflected in all areas (N1)
- Zivojin Rakocevic elected president of the Association of Serbia’s Journalists (UNS) (B92, N1)
- Zecevic: European values important, but one cannot escape national interests (RTS)
- Djuric: Biden administration fully accepts Washington Agreement (N1)
- The road sign to Draganac damaged again; the KiM office recorded it as the 13th incident since the beginning of the year (KoSSev)
- US SFAB unit in military exercise in Balkans to curb Russian, Chinese influence (N1)
- Parliamentary party SPAS joins ruling SNS in Serbia (N1)
- Serbia donates more than 100.000 Pfizer vaccines to Czech Republic (Kosovo-online, Tanjug)
- Balkan Investors Join Crypto Trading Craze (Balkan Insight)
Albanian Language Media
COVID-19: Five new cases, no deaths (media)
Kosovo has recorded five new cases of coronavirus and no deaths in the last 24 hours, the National Institute for Public Health announced. Meanwhile, 184 recoveries were confirmed during this period.
There are currently 2,201 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo, the Institute said.
Palmer arrives in Pristina, meets Kosnett (media)
The U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Matthew Palmer, began his three-day visit to Kosovo by meeting the U.S. Ambassador Philip Kosnett.
“Ambassador Kosnett welcomed this morning @USEmbPristina Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Palmer for a three-day visit to Kosovo to discuss with Kosovo officials the challenges, opportunities, and pressing issues Kosovo is facing,” the U.S. Embassy said in a Twitter post.
The EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and other Western Balkan regional issues, Miroslav Lajcak, will also visit Kosovo on 31 May and 1 June and together with Palmer they are expected to hold a press conference on Tuesday.
Palmer meets Kosovo opposition leaders (media)
In his first day of visit to Kosovo, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary and Special Representative for the Western Balkans envoy Matthew Palmer had separate meetings with leaders of main opposition parties in Kosovo.
In the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), Palmer and Ambassador Philip Kosnett met acting leader Enver Hoxhaj, accompanied by Uran Ismaili and Blerta Deliu Kodra.
“The future of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue was discussed in the meeting, PDK’s expectations from the process which should conclude in mutual recognition, the party’s opposition role in the political life of the country and other topics of interest for the country,” a statement issued by the PDK says.
Hoxhaj, added the statement, explained PDK’s position on political developments and called for a greater role of the United States in the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.
Lumir Abdixhiku, leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) accompanied by Lutfi Haziri and Abdullah Hoti, also met the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary and Special Representative for the Western Balkans envoy Matthew Palmer and Ambassador Philip Kosnett.
Abdixhiku is said to have thanked Palmer for the continuous support the United States have provided to Kosovo and underlined that the country remains Kosovo’s most powerful partner, a press release issued by LDK states. It adds that Abdixhiku also spoke about LDK’s position on the current political situation in Kosovo and on the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.
Head of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) parliamentary group Besnik Tahiri meanwhile announced that the party leadership would also be meeting the U.S. Deputy Assistant Palmer as well as the EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak. “We don’t know the topics but we do know that dialogue will more or less be one,” he said, adding that the AAK has clearly requested Prime Minister Kurti to ensure a regular reporting process in the Assembly.
Palmer or Montgomery expected to replace Grenell’s role in dialogue (Klan/RTK)
Mathew Palmer and Molly Montgomery are candidates tipped to replace Richard Grenell as the U.S. Special Envoy for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Klan Kosova and RTK report quoting Belgrade-based media.
Palmer currently holds the position of the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary and Special Representative for the Western Balkans while Montgomery has recently been appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasia.
Sources said that the new U.S. envoy is expected to be appointed soon.
Sources: Spain expected to open liaison office in Kosovo (Demokracia)
The news website reports quoting what it describes as well-informed sources in Brussels that Spain is expected to soon open liaison office in Kosovo and that the decision has been facilitated by the EU High Representative Josep Borrell.
“Former Spanish foreign minister, Josep Borrell, now in charge of the EU foreign policy, has played a decisive role in this step,” Demokracia quotes the source as saying. It adds that Spain’s liaison office “will be opened in UNMIK but that Kosovo institutions will also be informed about its existence.”
“Sources said Borrell is guaranteeing the opening of the Spain’s office in exchange for Prime Minister Kurti’s constructiveness and as a sign that five non-recognising states in the EU could recognise Kosovo if an agreement with Serbia is signed.”
The news outlet goes on to say that most recently, there have been reports about a French plan which foresees greater rights for the Serbs in the north, implementation of all agreements reached in Brussels and additional rights for the Serb Orthodox Church in Kosovo, in exchange for visa liberalisation and recognition from five EU states. “Inside this agreement, being discussed within diplomatic circles, will not be Kosovo’s recognition from Serbia or its membership in the UN.”
Advisor to the Kosovo negotiating team led by Deputy Prime Minister Besnik Bislimi, Veton Surroi, is reported to have said that Kosovo’s membership in the UN is not a priority and that it is important for Kosovo to secure recognition from five EU countries.
Kusari-Lila says more on Kosovo’s position on dialogue will be known soon (media)
Mimoza Kusari-Lila, head of the Vetevendosje Movement (VV) parliamentary group, said that more information on Kosovo’s preparation for dialogue with Serbia will be available soon. “The prime minister has only just begun meetings with leaders of opposition parties and in the coming days we will have new announcements,” she told reporters today.
Speaking about the petition to pardon all fines for violation of COVID-19 rules, proposed by the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), Kusari-Lila said the fines are part of the law on the pandemic which was voted by the same party which is now proposing the motion to pardon fines. “It is a discouraging proposal for those that adhered to the law,” she said.
United States plans to allocate USD 200 million for Kosovo (Koha)
United States President Joe Biden has presented his budget plan to the Congress which also includes financial assistance to Kosovo in the amount of USD 200 million.
A report published by the Millenium Challenge Corporation states that the approved request for allocation of the funds are mainly focused on energy programmes. “Over the past two years, MCC has worked with the Government and other stakeholders to develop a program focused on Kosovo’s energy sector. MCC and the Government completed prefeasibility studies in 2020 to assess three proposed projects: the development of Kosovo’s natural gas sector, creation of energy reserves for power system balancing, and improvement of electricity distribution. After review of the studies’ results, the Government requested to move forward with gas sector development and energy reserves creation with the intent to facilitate renewables integration, relieve Kosovo’s dependence on coal, and achieve decarbonization goals,” the report states.
MCC stated that it is engaging with the new government to confirm Kosovo’s continued commitment to the two proposed projects and further technical progress in program design to enable compact finalization in late 2021.
Serbian Language Media
One new case of Covid-19 registered in Serbian areas on Saturday (Radio KIM)
One new case of Covid-19 has been registered in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo on Saturday, Crisis Committee of Mitrovica North announced, Radio KIM reports.
Out of 44 tested samples one was positive for Covid-19. The case was registered in Mitrovica North.
Currently there are 66 active cases in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo.
A total of 148 persons have died in the Serbian areas in Kosovo since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Vucic says he won’t recognize Kosovo; talks about dialogue, non-papers (KoSSev)
“Although I will be denounced and labeled everywhere, let me tell you right now, I will not sign the recognition of independent Kosovo“, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Saturday, speaking at the Main Board session of Serbian Progressive Party (SNS).
“No foreigner, no ambassador, no world leader will make decisions on behalf of Serbia, only you, the citizens of Serbia, will do so“, he added.
In his ten-minute introductory speech Vucic, who is also the head of SNS, spoke about the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and the meeting in Brussels scheduled to take place in June.
Vucic reiterated that Serbia would face “severe pressures, numerous problems, and troubles“.
Pristina does not want to fulfill anything, but Serbia will be blamed if it quits dialogue
He underlined that the situation for Serbia is difficult now, noting that the current government “fought and struggled“ for documents that represent a “problem for Albanians“ – i.e. obligations that Pristina does not want to fulfill.
Pristina does not want to fulfill anything, he underlined.
“And that is why they did not fulfill anything about the Community of Serb Municipalities, they were not interested. Do you think that some of those from the West who signed it get bothered by it?“ he asked.
Vucic also alleged that if Serbia were to quit the dialogue, it would be the one blamed – even though Pristina has not yet formed the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities nor fulfilled a single obligation from the Brussels agreement.
Read more at: https://bit.ly/3ySwvpk
SOC to the Serbian Ministry of Culture: Postpone the adoption of the Law on Cultural Heritage; Ministry: Suggestions accepted (media)
The Serbian Patriarch Porfirije sent a letter to the Serbian Minister of Culture Maja Gojkovic, requesting the postponement of the adoption of the Law on Cultural Heritage, reported KiM radio.
In the letter, Porfirije stated that the Serbian Orthodox Church was the largest individual owner of the spiritual, movable and immovable cultural heritage in Serbia, but that it was not involved in the process of drafting that law.
The letter stated that the Law on Cultural Heritage also interfered with the internal functioning of the Serbian Orthodox Church and pointed to the shortcomings of certain articles of the Draft.
Among other things, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church pointed out that six articles of the draft law mentioned AP (Autonomous Province) Vojvodina, and none of the articles mentioned AP Kosovo and Metohija, where cultural heritage was most endangered and exposed to attacks and devastation almost every day.
The SOC statement said that the patriarch “pointed out the possibility of ill-intentioned conclusions that by omitting the southern Serbian province from the text of this umbrella law, the province was excluded from the state care system, which is certainly not the case and may diminish the state’s enormous efforts to protect Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija”, quoted KiM radio.
Minister Gojkovic: Suggestions of the SOC regarding the Law on Cultural Heritage accepted
Soon after the news on the letter sent by Patriarch Porfirije to the Serbian Minister of Culture and Information requesting the postponing of the Law on Cultural Heritage, a reply arrived from the ministry.
Minister Gojkovic informed Serbian Patriarch Porfirije that the working meeting accepted suggestions and proposals sent by the Serbian Orthodox Church to the Draft Law on Cultural Heritage, in order to improve and advance the text of the Draft Law, reported agency Tanjug.
In the letter to the patriarch, Gojkovic emphasized that the text, to which suggestions and remarks were submitted, was not in the bill phase, and thus neither in the procedure of adoption before the Government of Serbia, nor before the National Assembly.
The Deputy Prime Minister pointed out that the Working Group within the Ministry of Culture and Information was only now, after holding four panel discussions within the public debate from 6 to 28 May, in the phase of considering numerous proposals by the general public, in order to improve the text of the future proposal of the law.
The Minister stated that ”the common goal was the preservation of cultural heritage, and that special attention and joint work, and commitment were focused on the protection of cultural heritage located on the territory of our Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, which was exposed to attacks and destruction on a daily basis”, quoted Kosovo Online.
Dacic in Moscow: Serbia will never join sanctions against Russia (RTS)
Serbian Assembly delegation lead by the Speaker Ivica Dacic is visiting Moscow and discussing not only advancement of the relations between two states but also legal specifications of all other previous agreements and unified action in international bodies, RTS reports.
This is the first official visit of Ivica Dacic, eight months after he resumed the post of Assembly Speaker.
He commenced the visit by laying a wreath at the Monument of Unknown Soldier while the meeting of both chambers of the Russian Duma will follow.
“I want to thank Russia for the great support providing to us in defense of territorial integrity of Serbia regarding the problem of Kosovo and Metohija. Likewise, Serbia shall never join sanctions that any international body or individual country bilaterally implements and makes decisions against the Russian Federation”, Dacic said.
It is also planned that Dacic meets Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the topics of discussion will include foreign policy challenges, situation in the region, Russian support, situation in Kosovo and Metohija but also situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
At the end, RTS said it is also planned that Dacic address deputies in the Russian Duma.
Selakovic: Firm relations between Serbia and China reflected in all areas (N1)
Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic said the firm relations between Serbia and China are reflected in all areas, adding the cooperation between two states has been significantly strengthen with joint fight against the Covid-19.
“Serbia was the first European country to use Chinese vaccines. The two states are just now making an agreement to start production of Chinese vaccines in Serbia”, Selakovic told Chinese agency Xinhua.
Selakovic, who is on an official visit to China, also said he opposes vaccines being treated as a geopolitical issue. “On the contrary, this is a matter of entire humankind and a topic relating to saving the lives”, he added.
He also said Chinese help was not limited to the vaccines only, noting that Chinese medical experts visited Serbia to help, while China donated medical equipment to Serbian hospitals and health professionals.
He expressed gratitude of Serbian people and President Aleksandar Vucic to China for its lasting and decisive help.
At the end Selakovic highly assessed the positive impact that the “Road and Belt” Initiative as well as mechanisms of cooperation between China and Central and Eastern Europe countries have on development of Serbia and the region.
Zivojin Rakocevic elected president of the Association of Serbia’s Journalists (UNS) (B92, N1)
The Assembly of the Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) elected Zivojin Rakocevic, a journalist from Gracanica, as the new president of that association.
In addition to the President, the Board of Directors, the Supervisory Board and the Court of Honor of the UNS were elected at the Assembly. Members of the Supervisory Board and the Court of Honor were elected, and when it comes to the election of members of the Management Board, it was decided to repeat the voting today.
The reason for that stands in the fact that there are two more ballots in the box for the election of the members of the Management Board than those who voted, which is why the votes were not even gathered.
This year, a significantly larger number of candidates has been registered for all bodies of the Administration, and the delegates, of whom 592 have been registered, are choosing between two candidates for president, the Election Commission of the UNS announced.
The UNS candidacy commission proposed the current president Vladimir Radomirovic as a candidate, and the Electoral Assembly adopted a proposal that Zivojin Rakocevic, based on the complaints submitted to the Assembly, be the second candidate. According to the report of RTV KiM from late Saturday night, Rakočević was elected president of UNS by a majority of votes.
He received 263 votes, the former president Vladimir Radomirović – 241, and five votes were invalid. 510 members out of 599 who had the right to vote, had voted.
Radomirovic was not present at the announcement of the results.
See more at: https://bit.ly/3vDIO7c
Zecevic: European values important, but one cannot escape national interests (RTS)
EU and US negotiators are visiting Pristina first because of hard attitude of the politicians there who demand Belgrade to recognize Kosovo and UNESCO and other institutions “to declare monuments of the Serbian culture and civilization as Kosovo ones”, Institute for European Studies Associate Slobodan Zecevic told RTS.
The EU Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina talks Miroslav Lajcak and Washington Special Envoy for the Western Balkans Mathew Palmer met two days ago in Brussels ahead of their visits in Pristina and Belgrade, RTS recalled.
“This is about return to the concept that the US and Europe are working in coordination. Unlike Trump’s administration that sought individual solutions such as the Washington Agreement, now the initiative was given to the EU”, Zecevic said.
According to him, Lajcak and Palmer are visiting Pristina first because of hard attitude of the politicians there, who demand Belgrade to recognize Kosovo and UNESCO “to declare monuments of the Serbian culture as monuments of the Kosovo culture”.
Commenting on the non-papers on Kosovo circulating in the media lately, he said he finds the first one the most interesting, adding he expects the US policy to go in that direction.
“The US would demand that Kurti accept the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities with the promise that we will in some way recognize Kosovo. However, assumptions are one thing, and reality something else and we should wait to hear what proposals are”, he added.
Belgrade-Pristina dialogue continuation at the highest level is expected in June, while on June 22 an inter-governmental conference and eventual opening of the new chapters in Serbia’s accession negotiations are expected.
“No chapters opened last year. I think European values are very important to us, but any nation has its own national interests and one cannot escape that, so our maneuvering space has been narrowed”, Zecevic concluded.
Djuric: Biden administration fully accepts Washington Agreement (N1)
Serbian Ambassador to the United States Marko Djuric said that the administration of US President Joseph Biden accepts all obligations from the Washington Agreement, which was reached during the time of former President Donald Trump, N1 reports.
Djuric told Belgrade-based Politika daily that he spoke with representatives of the US State Department, the National Security Council and people from the new administration in recent weeks and that he heard encouraging messages regarding the attitude towards the Washington Agreement.
As for the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Djuric said that Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti “in recent weeks has shown a tendency towards spite and not an overly constructive approach, even in relation to the suggestions of top representatives of the American administration“.
“From the talks we had in previous weeks, it follows that the United States will support the efforts of the European Union as the main responsible facilitator of the dialogue based on the mandate it got from the United Nations Security Council in 2011”, he stressed.
See at: https://bit.ly/34AR8IZ
The road sign to Draganac damaged again; the KiM office recorded it as the 13th incident since the beginning of the year (KoSSev)
“Unknown perpetrators once again destroyed the board with the sign of the Draganac monastery. The act of vandalism has become a regular occurrence in the last couple of years, for which no one has been held accountable so far,” the Draganac monastery announced yesterday, along with photos of the board, which was damaged several times so far.
The Office for KiM recorded this as another incident against Orthodox buildings. They say the 13th since the beginning of the year.
“It is hypocritical that the Albanian authorities in Kosovo and Metohija are trying to present their policy as a policy of peace, solidarity, religious and national tolerance in the eyes of the world public, and real life on the ground denies them every day… The facts show that the Serbian people and Orthodox churches in Kosmet are exposed to constant violence, injustice and pressure,” portal KoSSev quoted the statement of the office for KiM.
Police have not yet responded, reported KoSSev yesterday.
US SFAB unit in military exercise in Balkans to curb Russian, Chinese influence (N1)
The US military Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFAB), also known as ‘brown berets,’ formed to cooperate with armies around the world in Washington’s attempt to curb Moscow and Beijing influence in the regions critical for the US, took part in the “Defender Europe 21” military exercise in the Balkans.
According to the Balkanska bezbednosna mreza (the Balkan Security Network) website, the unit is made of instructors’ teams with the task to support the allies. The company was not much reported on but was part of the ”Immediate Response 21” exercise held at the training grounds at Manjaca in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Babaj Boks in Kosovo and Krivolak and Biza in Albania.
Three SFAB teams were sent to North Macedonia and Albania, while one to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo each. Their job is to support the allies’ combat units, police, customs, and other services’ security structures.
”SFAB teams are important for the Balkans to increase the potential significance of the advisory role. In the new global environment, they could be seen as a part of the US policy of limiting the Russian and Chinese influence,” the website wrote.
See at: https://bit.ly/3vE1LXc
Parliamentary party SPAS joins ruling SNS in Serbia (N1)
The Serbian Patriotic Alliance (SPAS), led by former water polo player Aleksandar Sapic, has officially joined the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) of President Aleksandar Vucic and was elected vice president of the SNS Main Board on Saturday, N1 reports.
SPAS won 3.83 percent of votes and 11 seats in the Assembly of Serbia in the 2020 elections, but one MP withdrew from his parliamentary group, so it still has 10 representatives.
The move reduces the number of opposition MPs to only a few, as part of the opposition boycotted the elections in 2020, while even many of those few who did enter the race for parliament failed to pass the 3 percent threshold.
Sapic has been the mayor of Belgrade’s largest municipality, New Belgrade, since 2012 and is currently in his third term. Media speculate he could be a future candidate for mayor of the capital representing the ruling (SNS) party in the elections in 2022.
He was also previously a member of the Democratic Party (DS) while it was in power and he served as assistant to the mayor of Belgrade between 2009 and 2012.
Serbia donates more than 100.000 Pfizer vaccines to Czech Republic (Kosovo-online, Tanjug)
A plane carrying 100.602 Pfizer-Biontech vaccines against coronavirus that Serbia donated to Czech Republic took off from the Belgrade’s airport today, Kosovo-online portal reports.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnbic and Czech Ambassador to Serbia Tomas Kuchta were at the airport to escort the plane.
In a session that took place on May 20, the Serbian Government decided to donate 100.000 Pfizer vaccines to Czech Republic as a sign of solidarity with the citizens of this country in fight against Covid-19.
Balkan Investors Join Crypto Trading Craze (Balkan Insight)
Many people in the Balkans see cryptocurrency trading as a means to make money fast. Others are hooked on philosophy.
Stefan Angelovski starts his day with a cup of coffee and a browse online at which cryptocurrencies to buy and which to sell.
The 33-year-old former fitness trainer in Skopje, capital of North Macedonia, has been trading in cryptocurrency since 2017. Recently, he went full-time.
“I start and end most of my days following the crypto market trends and the daily transactions I make,” said Angelovski. “While I’ve been in this for a while, I’m now finally beginning to be satisfied with what I’ve achieved.”
See more at: https://bit.ly/3c57NZs