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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, June 2, 2021

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• COVID-19: 19 new cases, no deaths (media)
• Principal Deputy PM Bislimi meets Palmer and Lajcak (media)
• Parties encouraged in dialogue; compromises considered necessary (Koha)
• Lajcak briefs EU heads of missions on new dialogue meeting (media)
• Palmer calls for respect on court’s ruling on Decani Monastery Land (media)
• Serb minister says position of his superior, PM Kurti, is hypocritical (media)
• Involvement of Russia and China is impossible, civil society argues (Koha)
• Serwer skeptical about mutual recognition soon (media)
• President Osmani to meet political parties for date of local elections (media)
• Kosovo minister and Serbian official clash on Twitter (media)
• “Four trains from Serbia operating illegally in Kosovo” (Koha)
• Deprived of a childhood (Prishtina Insight)
• Balkan corruption risks derailing bid to join European Union (VOA)

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  • COVID-19: 19 new cases, no deaths (media)
  • Principal Deputy PM Bislimi meets Palmer and Lajcak (media)
  • Parties encouraged in dialogue; compromises considered necessary (Koha)
  • Lajcak briefs EU heads of missions on new dialogue meeting (media)
  • Palmer calls for respect on court’s ruling on Decani Monastery Land (media)
  • Serb minister says position of his superior, PM Kurti, is hypocritical (media)
  • Involvement of Russia and China is impossible, civil society argues (Koha)
  • Serwer skeptical about mutual recognition soon (media)
  • President Osmani to meet political parties for date of local elections (media)
  • Kosovo minister and Serbian official clash on Twitter (media)
  • “Four trains from Serbia operating illegally in Kosovo” (Koha)
  • Deprived of a childhood (Prishtina Insight)
  • Balkan corruption risks derailing bid to join European Union (VOA)

COVID-19: 19 new cases, no deaths (media)

Kosovo recorded five new cases of COVID-19 and no deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours. 177 persons recovered from the virus during this time. There are 2,043 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

Principal Deputy PM Bislimi meets Palmer and Lajcak (media)

Kosovo’s Principal Deputy Prime Minister, Besnik Bislimi, met on Tuesday with EU Special Representative for the Prishtina-Belgrade dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, and US Deputy Assistant Secretary and Special Representative for the Western Balkans, Matthew Palmer. The meeting focused on the future steps in the process of dialogue and the upcoming visit to Brussels.

“Deputy Prime Minister Bislimi expressed the readiness of the government to engage in a fair and principled dialogue in the service of the peoples and peace and overall security,” a press release said.

Bislimi also said that the engagement of the U.S. in support of the dialogue is a sign of the strong and continuous presence of the U.S. as a partner in the development of a promising future in Kosovo.

Parties encouraged in dialogue; compromises considered necessary (Koha)

The daily reports on its front page that EU Special Representative for the Prishtina-Belgrade Dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, and US Deputy Assistant Secretary, Matthew Palmer, confirmed there will be trans-Atlantic cooperation to help Kosovo and Serbia in reaching a final and comprehensive settlement. “For the US, the agreement implies mutual recognition, while for the EU the opening of the European perspective for the Balkans, including Kosovo. However, according to them, it is up to the parties identify the compromises,” the paper reports.

Lajcak briefs EU heads of missions on new dialogue meeting (media)

European Union Special Representative for the Prishtina-Belgrade Dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, met EU heads of missions in Kosovo on Tuesday to inform them about his two-day visit. “As a standard practice before leaving Kosovo, I debriefed EU heads of missions about the upcoming Dialogue meeting and my discussions over the last two days,” Lajcak said in a Twitter post.

Palmer calls for respect on court’s ruling on Decani Monastery Land (media)

The United States Embassy in Prishtina said in a statement on Tuesday that “US Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Palmer encouraged the Government of Kosovo and opposition leaders to play a constructive role while calling on all to respect and implement the constitutional court ruling on the registration of the Decani Monastery Land”.

“Good governance and rule of law are critical to Kosovo’s democratic and multiethnic future,” the statement notes.

Serb minister says position of his superior, PM Kurti, is hypocritical (media)

Serbian List leader Goran Rakic who is also Minister for Returns and Communities in the Kosovo government, said on Tuesday that the position of Albanian leaders about the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities is hypocritical and that proof of this is Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s latest statement that there will be no monoethnic association in Kosovo.

“The hypocritical position of the Albanian leaders about the dialogue and the peaceful resolution of outstanding issues between Belgrade and Prishtina is best illustrated by the latest statement of Albin Kurti who publicly said that Prishtina does not plan to form the Association of Serb Municipalities. With this, Kurti proved that his position on the dialogue is acting and a lie,” Rakic said.

Involvement of Russia and China is impossible, civil society argues (Koha)

Civil society representatives in Kosovo are arguing that Serbia’s call for Russia and China to become involved in the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia is impossible and an attempt by Belgrade to strengthen its position at the table of talks. These remarks follow a statement by Serbian Parliament Speaker Ivica Dacic who said during a visit to Moscow on Monday that any agreement between Serbia and Kosovo should be finally verified by members of the United Nations Security Council.

Serwer skeptical about mutual recognition soon (media)

Daniel Serwer, professor at John Hopkins University and an expert on the Balkans, said on Tuesday that although the Biden Administration is seriously engaged in the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, he does not expect an agreement on mutual recognition to happen soon. “It is best to ask Lajcak and Palmer. Some new agreements on issues like missing persons and finances are possible, but I am skeptical about an agreement on recognition,” Serwer said in an interview with TV Dukagjini.

President Osmani to meet political parties for date of local elections (media)

Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani will meet today with representatives of all political parties to discuss about the date of local elections, a media advisor for the President told Koha news agency on Tuesday. “Meetings with all political parties will be held tomorrow,” the advisor said.

Following consultations, Osmani is expected to announce a date for local elections scheduled for autumn this year.

Kosovo minister and Serbian official clash on Twitter (media)

Kosovo’s Minister of Culture, Hajrulla Ceku, said in a Twitter post on Tuesday that according to Kosovo Police data out of 57 incidents at religious sites during 2020, only eight occurred at Orthodox churches and 45 at Islamic sites. “Most of these incidents were cases of theft, while none of the 57 incidents were classified as religiously motivated. #WeProtectOurHeritage,” Ceku tweeted.

Petar Petkovic, head of the Serbian government’s office for Kosovo, however reacted to Ceku’s tweet, claiming that since 1999, more than 135 churches and monasteries of the Serb Orthodox Church were destroyed in Kosovo.

“Four trains from Serbia operating illegally in Kosovo” (Koha)

Shkumbin Hyseni, a member of the board of the Railway Regulatory Authority, said in a meeting of the Kosovo Assembly committee on infrastructure on Tuesday, that there are four trains from Serbia operating illegally in Kosovo on a daily basis. Hyseni said this has been going for a long time and that they have called on state institutions to react. Asked by committee members what they did to stop the illegal operation of these trains in the northern part of Kosovo, Hyseni said they can only act within their competencies and that it falls under the responsibility of law enforcement institutions to stop these illegal operations.

Deprived of a childhood (Prishtina Insight)

Every year, hundreds of children in Kosovo abandon their education in order to earn money and help make ends meet for their family.

On June 1, the day that Children’s Day is celebrated in Kosovo, 14-year-old Kujtim* will be wandering around the grounds of Prishtina International Airport collecting cans to sell for scrap metal.

Kujtim lives with his family of six in the village of Medvec, next to the airport, where he goes every day with his cousin to look for scrap metal. Before turning 15, he was forced to abandon school so he could provide for his family financially.

“I earn three euros a day from the cans I collect,” Kujtim says, sitting alongside his mother, Selime*.

There are four children in the family, only two of whom attend school. One of Kujtim’s sisters suffers from a heart disease and requires constant care. Providing for her is part of the reason Kujtim abandoned his schooling to try to earn money.

Selime says that the family receives social assistance payments of 130 euros per month, money which does not cover even the most basic needs. She adds that by collecting cans, Kujtim provides almost the same income for the family as the social assistance paid by the state.

The new government’s governing program envisions an additional payment of 20 euros per month for children under 2, and 10 euros per month for children under 16. However, it is not yet clear how and when this policy will be enacted.

Read full article here: https://bit.ly/3fDMjon

Balkan corruption risks derailing bid to join European Union (VOA)

European Union leaders are scheduled in the next few weeks to discuss once again advancing the long-stalled applications from Balkan states to join the bloc. But recent studies exploring the scale of money-laundering in the region are unlikely to assuage France and the Netherlands, which among other member states want to delay EU enlargement, say officials.

Albania, Serbia, North Macedonia and Montenegro are all EU candidates and have expressed frustration with their stalled applications. But opponents to EU enlargement are already seizing on a study suggesting that the real estate market in the Western Balkans is being used to launder proceeds from drugs trafficking and migrant smuggling, prompting soaring property prices in the region.

The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, an international non-governmental organization headquartered in Geneva says illegal money is flowing into the real estate markets and the construction industries of the Western Balkans. “The dirty money being made and laundered in the region is perpetuating an ecosystem of crime and corruption,” said Kristina Amerhauser, one of the authors of a report the NGO published last month.

The authors say in their report, “Spot Prices: Analyzing flows of people, drugs and money in the Western Balkans,” it is not possible “to put a concrete number on how much illicit money generated in the Western Balkans and abroad is actually laundered in the region,” but they estimate the range is between $2.2 billion and $5.6 billion.

Read full article here: https://bit.ly/3wRkVZQ

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