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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, June 11, 2021

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• COVID-19: 12 new cases, one death (media)
• Coronavirus cases continue to drop in Kosovo (Prishtina Insight)
• PM Kurti to report to Assembly today before the dialogue in Brussels (Express)
• Culture Minister: Police were not informed about liturgy (media)
• Prishtina University says it will undertake legal actions after liturgy (media)
• CDHRF: Orthodox Church liturgy is a provocation on eve of dialogue (media)
• Hoxhaj: Liturgy was held with the permission of the Kosovo government (media)
• Two activities today in front of the church on university campus (RTK)
• Kurti, Brnabic clash over Kosovo independence at Western Balkans Summit (Exit News)
• Western Balkan leaders pleased with EU investment plan (AP)

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  • COVID-19: 12 new cases, one death (media)
  • Coronavirus cases continue to drop in Kosovo (Prishtina Insight)
  • PM Kurti to report to Assembly today before the dialogue in Brussels (Express)
  • Culture Minister: Police were not informed about liturgy (media)
  • Prishtina University says it will undertake legal actions after liturgy (media)
  • CDHRF: Orthodox Church liturgy is a provocation on eve of dialogue (media)
  • Hoxhaj: Liturgy was held with the permission of the Kosovo government (media)
  • Two activities today in front of the church on university campus (RTK)
  • Kurti, Brnabic clash over Kosovo independence at Western Balkans Summit (Exit News)
  • Western Balkan leaders pleased with EU investment plan (AP)

COVID-19: 12 new cases, one death (media)

Kosovo has recorded 12 new cases of COVID-19 and one death from the virus in the last 24 hours. 109 persons have recovered from the virus during this time. There are 756 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

Coronavirus cases continue to drop in Kosovo (Prishtina Insight)

The number of active coronavirus cases in Kosovo fell to 733 on Thursday, its lowest level since June 2020.

Kosovo’s Ministry of Health announced on Thursday that the number of active coronavirus cases in the country has fallen to 733. According to data from the Johns Hopkins University, this is the lowest number of recorded active cases in Kosovo since June 24, 2020.

The ministry reported that a total of 2,660 tests have been conducted over the past 24 hours, with just 11 returning positive results. Meanwhile 109 citizens are reported to have recovered in this period, while one citizen that tested positive for the virus has died.

The majority of active cases are in Prishtina with 221 cases recorded by the National Institute of Public Health. The municipalities of Ferizaj, Prizren and Mitrovice have the next highest totals of active cases, all with around 50 each.

The number of patients receiving treatment for COVID-19 in Kosovo’s public hospitals is also decreasing.

The University Hospital and Clinical Service of Kosovo, ShSKUK, announced on Thursday that currently no COVID-19 patients were being treated at the regional hospitals in Ferizaj and Gjakova.

According to ShSKUK, 114 patients receiving treatment in Kosovo’s public hospitals are suspected to have COVID-19, of which 35 are confirmed cases. The majority are receiving treatment at the University Clinical Centre of Kosovo in Prishtina, while just 36 suspected COVID-19 patients are now being treated at Kosovo’s regional hospitals.

The rollout of vaccinations against COVID-19 is also continuing, with the Ministry of Health reporting on Thursday that the total number of doses administered is now just over 90,000.

Up until now, Kosovo has received around 100,000 doses of vaccines against COVID-19 from the COVAX programme and around 15,000 from the European Union, while it was reported on Thursday that another 10,000 doses donated from Croatia had arrived in Kosovo.

On May 28, the Ministry of Health announced that an agreement had been reached with Pfizer to provide over 1.2 million doses of its vaccine against COVID-19. However, no shipment has arrived in Kosovo as of yet.

PM Kurti to report to Assembly today before the dialogue in Brussels (Express)

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti will report to the Kosovo Assembly about the dialogue with Serbia in a plenary session today. The session is scheduled to begin at 10:00.

Culture Minister: Police were not informed about liturgy (media)

Kosovo’s Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Hajrulla Ceku, said on Thursday that Kosovo Police were not informed beforehand about the liturgy by the Serb Orthodox Church in the campus of Prishtina University and that this constitutes a violation of public security rules.

“During the day, we received information about an activity by the Serb Orthodox Church in Kosovo held at the unfinished structure which was built on the property of Prishtina University during the Serbian repressive regime over Kosovo. Kosovo Police were not informed beforehand about this activity and this constitutes a violation of public security rules in Kosovo,” Ceku said.

Ceku said that “the property where the unfinished structure is located is currently in a contested procedure and that Prishtina University ‘Hasan Prishtina’ is the plaintiff. For this reason, none of the parties that are involved in the court procedure must apply pressure on the courts. We call for such situations not to be repeated and for the interest parties in this court case to refrain from applying direct or indirect pressure on the judicial institutions”.

Ceku also said: “the freedom of religious activities is guaranteed with the Constitution and laws of Kosovo and it is protected by all institutional mechanisms. Religious activity, however, must not be used for political purposes or threaten order, law and justice. We have paid a costly price for the freedom we enjoy today, therefore, Kosovo’s institutions will not tolerate actions that threaten public security, that interfere in the independence of the judiciary and that provoke conflicts by threatening the coexistence between the communities”.

Prishtina University says it will undertake legal actions after liturgy (media)

Prishtina University “Hasan Prishtina” said in a statement on Thursday that it was deeply concerned about the religious ceremony organised by the Serb Orthodox Church in the building constructed illegally by the former Serbian regime on the university campus.

The University said the process and location of the building are in a contested procedure at the Prishtina Basic Court and that the liturgy was an attempt to influence the court proceedings. “Prishtina University will undertake all legal actions to free the university campus from all buildings constructed without permits, including the building where the ceremony was organised,” the statement notes. “Prishtina University at the same time calls on all actors involved in the processes, to contribute to clarifying the situation in line with legal norms. Prishtina University reiterates that the university campus is dedicated only for students and academic activities, and that it condemns any behavior that constitutes a provocation against the students, staff and citizens of the country,” the statement concluded.

CDHRF: Orthodox Church liturgy is a provocation on eve of dialogue (media)

The Prishtina-based Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms (CDHRF) reacted against the liturgy by the Serb Orthodox Church on the university campus in Prishtina on Thursday, saying that it is a political provocation on the eve of the resumption of the Kosovo – Serbia dialogue.

“Aware that no one will intervene because of the sensitivity of the political situation in Kosovo, the Serb Orthodox Church has misused a spiritual and religious activity for political purposes. Such activities must not be allowed in the future, especially knowing that in Prishtina and its surroundings there are many areas to conduct religious activities,” the statement notes.

CDHRF also warned that such provocative actions by the Serb Orthodox Church could trigger reactions by students of Prishtina University with unimaginable consequences. “Kosovo’s institutions must react in preventing the situation from escalating otherwise they will be held responsible for possible consequences,” the statement added.

Hoxhaj: Liturgy was held with the permission of the Kosovo government (media)

Enver Hoxhaj, acting leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), argued on Thursday that the liturgy of the Serb Orthodox Church on the university campus in Prishtina was held with the permission and knowledge of the Kosovo government.

“Bishop Teodosije and Serb pilgrims could never visit without security and political support given by the government. Therefore, today, the character of the state of Kosovo was threatened and new topics in the dialogue with Serbia were opened and this will be confirmed at the June 15 meeting between Kurti and Vucic,” Hoxhaj wrote in a Facebook post. “This liturgy is the least religious. Everything about it is political and is aimed at distorting history and the truth and wants to justify a genocidal regime like the one led by Milosevic … 22 years after the war, when the wounds of pain from the war are still open, a deeply political liturgy is organised with the full permission of the Kurti government, and this is painful and unacceptable.”

Two activities today in front of the church on university campus (RTK)

The news website reports that the Student Parliament of Prishtina University and the Social Democratic Party will hold two activities in front of the Serb Orthodox Church on the university campus in Prishtina, as response to the religious ceremony held there on Thursday.

Kurti, Brnabic clash over Kosovo independence at Western Balkans Summit (Exit News)

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti and his Serbian counterpart, Ana Brnabic, clashed over Kosovo’s independence during the Western Balkans Summit that took place in Tirana this Thursday.

Kurti told media that the debate arose after Brnabic refused to accept the fact that Kosovo is an independent country.

“There was a sort of debate, because she [Brnabic] did not want to accept that Kosovo is an independent and sovereign state. I stressed that Serbia needs to distance itself from the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, as there is no other solution apart from recognizing the independence of the Republic of Kosovo,” he said.

He added that recognizing the country’s independence would be a good thing not only for Kosovo, but also valuable to Serbia which, according to him, is keeping itself “hostage”.

“I’ve said this 13 years ago, Kosovo has declared independence from Serbia, it is now time that Serbia declares independence from Kosovo,” Kurti commented.

Kurti stated that Serbia’s denial to recognize Kosovo’s independence is hampering regional initiatives.

“Kosovo is the most pro-European state in Europe, and we are committed to our reforms. Regional initiatives are stalling as Kosovo’s recognition from Serbia is missing,” Kurti said.

Kurti added that while Kosovo is a pro-European country, the “European Union is not Europe without becoming complete[d] [by] the six Western Balkan countries.”

Western Balkan leaders pleased with EU investment plan (AP)

Western Balkan leaders meeting in the Albanian capital Tirana Thursday voiced satisfaction with a large investment plan announced for the region by the European Union — which they all hope to join some day.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama described the investment plan as the EU’s “greatest historic move toward the Western Balkans.” He said it would lead to “a fundamental improvement of the road, railway and port infrastructure, inter-connectivity, energy sector and digitalization.”

Thursday’s talks in Tirana brought together the leaders of Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, North Macedonia and Montenegro.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said the project would mobilize 9 billion euros ($11 billion) and potentially raise investment of up to 20 billion euros ($24 billion) in 2021-27 for the region, which has a combined population of about 18 million.

It’s intended to spur long-term recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic and to better connect regional economies with each other and with the EU.

As a first success, Varhelyi announced the free roaming use of cellphones in the region.

But Varhelyi warned that the plan “will give its results only if the region itself works for its regional market,” urging closer cooperation in a part of the Balkans that was ravaged by war during the bloody break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Western Balkan countries are at different stages of integration with the bloc.

Montenegro and Serbia have already started full membership negotiations while Albania and North Macedonia are expecting to launch them. Kosovo and Bosnia have signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement, which is the first step in the long process.

The bloc is also pressing for the normalization of ties between former foes Serbia and Kosovo. Their next talks are planned to resume next week in Brussels.

“We should acknowledge that the EU, the European Commission have done their job so far,” said Rama. “Now we should do ours.”

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