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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, June 22, 2021

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, June 22, 2021

Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 18 new cases, one death (media)
• US administration says Washington agreement must be respected (Klan Kosova)
• Kosovo President: Mutual recognition with Serbia, the only solution (media)
• Parliamentary committee initiates sacking of RTK board (Prishtina Insight)
• PDK’s Hoxhaj reacts against decision to dismiss RTK board (media)
• Croatian Foreign Minister: Kosovo must get visa liberalisation ASAP (media)
• Murati: Kurti is not interested in an agreement with Serbia (Epoka)

Serbian Language Media:

• No new cases or Covid-19 related deaths registered in Serbian areas in Kosovo (KoSSev)
• Vucic presents report on Kosovo to the Serbian Assembly (B92)
• Anniversary of the kidnapping of the Belacevac miners (KiM radio)
• Dacic: Difficult to reach a consensus on the issue of Kosovo (Tanjug, Kosovo Online)
• Opposition leader: Extremely constructive, serious talks with Vucic on Kosovo (Beta, N1)
• Surlic: Vucic’s presentation expected, departure of Serbs from Kosovo unstoppable process (N1)
• Vucic and Kamberi exchanged arguments related to crimes at Assembly session (B92)
• “Serbia can count on Italy’s support” (B92)
• Botsan-Kharchenko: I am deeply grateful to Serbia for its consistent position (B92, Vecernje Novosti)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 18 new cases, one death (media)
  • US administration says Washington agreement must be respected (Klan Kosova)
  • Kosovo President: Mutual recognition with Serbia, the only solution (media) 
  • Parliamentary committee initiates sacking of RTK board (Prishtina Insight)
  • PDK’s Hoxhaj reacts against decision to dismiss RTK board (media)
  • Croatian Foreign Minister: Kosovo must get visa liberalisation ASAP (media)
  • Murati: Kurti is not interested in an agreement with Serbia (Epoka)

Serbian Language Media:

  • No new cases or Covid-19 related deaths registered in Serbian areas in Kosovo (KoSSev)
  • Vucic presents report on Kosovo to the Serbian Assembly (B92)
  • Anniversary of the kidnapping of the Belacevac miners (KiM radio)
  • Dacic: Difficult to reach a consensus on the issue of Kosovo (Tanjug, Kosovo Online)
  • Opposition leader: Extremely constructive, serious talks with Vucic on Kosovo (Beta, N1)
  • Surlic: Vucic’s presentation expected, departure of Serbs from Kosovo unstoppable process (N1)
  • Vucic and Kamberi exchanged arguments related to crimes at Assembly session (B92)
  • “Serbia can count on Italy’s support” (B92)
  • Botsan-Kharchenko: I am deeply grateful to Serbia for its consistent position (B92, Vecernje Novosti)    

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

COVID-19: 18 new cases, one death (media)

Kosovo has recorded 18 new cases of COVID-19 and one death from the virus in the last 24 hours. 14 persons recovered from the virus during this time. There are 172 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

US administration says Washington agreement must be respected (Klan Kosova)

The Washington agreement reached at the White House last year is a pledge that must be respected, the United States administration said in a statement to the TV station. 

“Ambassador Kosnett said in his interview with Radio Kontakt Plus last week: ‘we believe that the countries are obliged to respect the agreements and pledges. The Biden administration carefully studied the Washington agreements that Vucic and Hoti reached at the White House and concluded that these are issues that we want to see the parties pushing forward – growing trade, more investments, increased efforts to combat terrorism etc.”

Ambassador Kosnett, Deputy Assistant Secretary Palmer and other US officials were clear about the approach of the Biden administration toward the pledges made in Washington.

“The Biden administration recently did a full review of its policies in the Western Balkans. It decided that the many of the efforts of the previous administration, including the pledges in Washington, are worth keeping and building on. Kosovo is now already benefiting from these pledges, such as the full diplomatic relations between Kosovo and Israel. We believe that official relations will lead to increased trade and investments, as well as professional and educational exchanges.”

Kosovo President: Mutual recognition with Serbia, the only solution (media) 

Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani said during her stay in Austria today that mutual recognition between Kosovo and Serbia is the only solution that would bring sustainable peace to the region. Osmani said that Serbia committed atrocities during the war in Kosovo and never apologised for the crimes. “I call on Serbian President Vucic to at least lay a flower in Batajnica. History has proved that whenever there was war, justice needs to be served before peace can be achieved. We insist on justice, we want the remains of our loved ones to be returned … The EU must be clear with Serbia and tell it that it needs to choose between Europe and Russia. A solution will be found when the EU is clear with Serbia, also with regards to eliminating the Russian influence and recognising Kosovo,” Osmani said after meeting her Austrian counterpart, Alexander Van der Bellen.

Parliamentary committee initiates sacking of RTK board (Prishtina Insight)

The dismissal of the board at public broadcaster Radio Television Kosovo has been initiated and will be sent to the Kosovo Assembly for approval.

Attempts to dismiss the board of public broadcaster Radio Television Kosovo, RTK, progressed on Tuesday, following a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Administration, Local Government, Media and Regional Development.

The committee voted to initiate the dismissal of the board following a recommendation from the Parliamentary Committee on Budget, Labour and Transfers. However, only six committee members cast their vote, with representatives from LDK and PDK refusing to take part.

Doarsa Kicaj, the head of the media committee, read out some of the recommendations from the budget committee, which listed a number of issues with the board.

Kicaj highlighted the budget committee’s finding that RTK’s management had continually refused to be audited, something which has seen no response from the board. She also highlighted the failure to comply with procurement procedures and compile the legally required long-term strategy.

“If all these issues are not important to you, it’s painful,” Kicaj said, adding that the public broadcaster receives 12-13 million euros of taxpayer money per year.

However, one of PDK’s representatives on the committee, Mergim Lushtaku, stated that the findings of the budget committee were not evidence enough to initiate the dismissal of the RTK board. 

Lushtaku conceded that RTK was not in the best shape, but stated that the board should not be dismissed for what he described as political reasons. LDK’s representative on the committee, Agim Veliu, went further, claiming that sacking the board was a political act, and an attempt to capture a public media that should be independent.

Their objections were not enough to dissuade the committee from initiating the dismissal, with the five Vetevendosje representatives and Fidan Jilta from the Turkish Democratic Party of Kosovo voting in favour of the motion.

Valon Ramadani, one of Vetevendosje’s representatives on the committee, said that the dismissal was only the first step. 

“The Board of RTK will be sacked and this should be just the beginning,” he wrote on Facebook. “There was so much [financial] misuse and abuse that sacking is the minimum. Some of the leading [figures] should not just be sacked but also should go to jail! RTK should be reformed, but as we have said in the past – it first needs to be freed.”

The vote to initiate dismissal of the board comes after controversy last week involving committee head Kicaj and the deputy director of RTK, Mentor Shala. 

Shala stated on social media that “the beauty” Kicaj’s mind “was only on him” and invited Kicaj “to lunch or dinner” after the parliamentary committee head made a reference to him during a televised debate in which she criticised RTK. 

The comments were condemned for their “shameful and immoral” language by the Independent Trade Union of RTK, who called for the dismissal of Shala. Women’s rights NGO Kosovo Women’s Network also called for an end to sexist and misogynist language following Shala’s statement. 

A vote on the recommendation to dismiss the board will now be scheduled at the Kosovo Assembly, where a majority of deputies present will be enough to approve the committee’s proposal.

PDK’s Hoxhaj reacts against decision to dismiss RTK board (media)

Enver Hoxhaj, acting leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), slammed the Kurti-led government today arguing that it has authoritarian tendencies to control political will, media and public opinion. “Unfortunately, the Kurti II government is implementing this manual. Even though it came from a democratic election process that was a model for the region, Albin Kurti’s first move was to initiate the dismissal of the Central Election Commission head Valdete Daka. Today he dismissed the RTK board, by delivering another blow to free media and the freedom of speech in the country. What the PDK has warned about is now actually happening; two things will characterize this government: political deceptions in the absence of a genuine government program and authoritarianism as the only method they know,” Hoxhaj said.

Croatian Foreign Minister: Kosovo must get visa liberalisation ASAP (media)

Most online media report that Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman said during his stay in Luxembourg that Kosovo must get visa liberalisation as soon as possible and that Croatia strongly supports this. 

Murati: Kurti is not interested in an agreement with Serbia (Epoka)

Valon Murati, leader of the Movement for Unification, said in an interview with the daily that he does not expect a swift agreement between Kosovo and Serbia. He argued that Prime Minister Albin Kurti is more interested in maintaining the status quo because the solutions from the process of dialogue are not populist. According to Murati, Kurti never showed readiness to approach the talks with Serbia with the seriousness they deserve.

Murti argued that the redefinition of borders between the two countries is the only way for a functioning state. He also said that only the US administration can speed up the pace of the Brussels dialogue.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

No new cases or Covid-19 related deaths registered in Serbian areas in Kosovo (KoSSev)

Out of 29 tested samples no new cases of Covid-19 were registered in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo, Crisis Committee of Mitrovica North announced today, KoSSev portal reports.

A total of 6.065 positive cases have been registered up to date in the Serbian areas in Kosovo.

At the same time 148 people have died due to Covid-19 related complications in the Serbian areas in Kosovo since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Vucic presents report on Kosovo to the Serbian Assembly (B92)

The 5th special session took place in the Assembly of Serbia, at which President Aleksandar Vucic informed MPs on the course of Belgrade-Pristina negotiations, B92 reports.

Vucic said that not an easy task is before Serbia adding it was not the time for excessive expectations or expectations that are not in line with the reality around us.

“We will have to continue to address it responsibly with a strategic view of the future and awareness of how we want to leave the country to our descendants”, he said.

The West will not change its mind

“It is a question that is in the subtext of almost every one of our political topics, every one of our state-building efforts, but much deeper in essence, identity, economics, and every other issue”, he said. Vucic also pointed out that we used to have to postpone the issue of Kosovo, but we did not solve it. He noted that we are obliged towards the citizens of Serbia to solve this issue.

As Vucic further said “it is a debt to every member of our people in the country and abroad. The future of our children and our state depends on how our generation will solve the issue of Kosovo and Metohija”.

He referred to the exodus of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija, especially at the time of the arrival of international forces in Kosovo and Metohija. “There are no more than 95.000 Serbs, and no more than a million Albanians,” Vucic said, adding that the ratio of Albanians to Serbs is 1:15.

According to him “this speaks enough about the weight that our people and our country are facing… We have done a lot to be proud of. On average, we have given about EUR 500 million for our people a year”, he said, adding that the outflow (of the population) was smaller, although the trend has continued for people to go to central Serbia for a better life.

Read more at:  https://bit.ly/3xHSL4c

Anniversary of the kidnapping of the Belacevac miners (KiM radio)

“Today is 23 years since the abduction of Serbian miners, who were forcibly taken by Albanian terrorists from the factory circle of the coal mine Belacevac of the Thermal Power Plant Obilic in Kosovo and Metohija,” the Office for Kosovo and Metohija said in a statement, reported KiM radio. 

The statement recalled that on this day, 23 years ago, in the early morning hours, the following people were abducted: Dusan Adjancic, Pera Adjancic, Zoran Adjancic, Mirko Buha, Dragan Vukmirovic, Filip Gojkovic, Miroslav Trifunovic, Srboljub Savic and Bozidar Lempic, who were never found. 

“The abduction of the Belavac miners marked the beginning of the mass suffering of the Serb civilian population in Kosovo and Metohija. The perpetrators of this crime were not found and brought to justice, and none of the representatives of international organizations and institutions in Pristina offered answers about the fate of Serbian miners and many other compatriots,” the Office said in a statement.

By preserving the memory and clarifying the crimes and the fate of the missing persons, the way is opened for the process of reconciliation in the region, it is concluded in the statement submitted to the media.

Dacic: Difficult to reach a consensus on the issue of Kosovo (Tanjug, Kosovo Online)

The President of the Assembly of Serbia, Ivica Dacic stated today, before the special session of the Serbian Parliament dedicated to Kosovo, that nothing has changed in the dialogue on Kosovo regarding the gravity of the situation and that it was difficult to reach a consensus. 

“The challenges have remained the same, maybe even stronger, the pressures are getting heavier, we are being asked for everything, and we are offered almost nothing,” said Dacic, adding that it was why President Aleksandar Vucic asked him to address the deputies and convey how much the situation was hard.

Dacic expressed his belief that Vucic would not succumb to pressure, that he would never recognize ”the self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo, and he would invest everything to preserve peace and to reach some compromise”.

He also stated that there were political parties that could not understand that there could be divisions on many issues, but that on the most important ones, such as Kosovo, there must be state unity and political stability.

Dacic reminded that a meeting was held yesterday with non-parliamentary parties without the mediation of foreigners, at the request of President Vucic and those parties.

He assessed that they were patriotic parties, which have the position that there should be no differences regarding national issues.

Opposition leader: Extremely constructive, serious talks with Vucic on Kosovo (Beta, N1)

Bosko Obradovic, one of the sharpest critics of Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic, and the leader of the nationalist Dveri Movement, said on Monday, he had “extremely constructive, serious talks with Vucic on Kosovo”.

Vucic and Parliament Speaker Ivica Dacic, hold separate talks with the opposition parties, which did not want the European Parliament members mediation in an inter-party dialogue on elections conditions in Serbia ahead of the 2022 vote.

Obradovic said Vucic briefed them about the so-far result of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations, adding those were details which they, as not MPs, because of their election boycott last year, did not know and now got a chance to learn about them.

”We had an opportunity to present our views, and we expect the authorities to take them into account in the next period,” said Obradovic after the meeting behind closed doors, whom Vucic often branded as ‘a fascist’, reported N1.

He added Dveri was ”a fierce opposition to this regime, but not to Serbia” and that whenever Belgrade defended Kosovo as a part of Serbia, it would always have Dveri’s support, as any regime, including the current one, would meet opposition if tried to recognize ”the false Kosovo state”.

Dacic said Vucic talked about all dilemmas and problems regarding Kosovo, the dialogue and pressures on Serbia, and added that all parties present at the meeting agreed on the need to put in all efforts to ”protect and defend our state and national interests”.

Vucic will brief the Parliament about the same issue on Tuesday.

See at: https://bit.ly/3gMjjvf

Surlic: Vucic’s presentation expected, departure of Serbs from Kosovo unstoppable process (N1)

Stefan Surlic from the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade told N1 Studio Live broadcast it was expected Vucic would start his presentation in the Serbian Assembly with a detailed list of what has been allocated in the budget for state investments same as he started his earlier reports with how much the state takes care of Serbs in Kosovo, N1 reports.

“Since there is no real dialogue, it was expected in this case that the only tangible topic would be how much money from the budget has been allocated to the Serb community in Kosovo and how they are encouraged by additional means to stay and continue living there. However, the departure of Serbs from Kosovo is an unstoppable process that continues regardless of increased social aid. I think they live too long in undefined status”, he said.

He also added it was mainly about the population living in rural areas, with exception of Mitrovica North, and regardless of state investments the younger generations see their perspective in Serbia.

As the only success in the dialogue so far he considers “two or three topics from earlier Vucic and Hoti talks”.   

“Here we have topics such as missing persons, economic issues and many other topics that haven’t been discussed. However, a blockade of the missing persons issue already took place, as the Serbian side said it remains fully open regarding any location Pristina points out at, while in fact it was the Albanian side stalling the process in discovering locations and their verification (…)”, Surlic said.

Commenting on the Brussels dialogue, Surlic said the problem remains “that what has been agreed in the previous dialogue has not been implemented on the ground, while often political statements and current political environment leave aside everything that was assumed to be resolved and makes life on the ground easier”.

Comparing the course of the dialogue while Hashim Thaci was heading Pristina delegation and now when the helm was taken over by Albin Kurti, Surlic assessed perhaps it was more difficult to conduct negotiations now.

He also assed that Thaci and Vucic had “minimal consensus” while with Kurti a complete change of the discourse in Kosovo happened.

“Kurti did win a majority, but he has significant opposition as well, which is different from the situation in Serbia, and that is why international actors exert stronger pressure on Vucic, thinking he is in a much more convenient situation (…)”, Surlic said.

Surlic sees the failure of the Pristina side to establish the Community of Serb-majority Municipality as the strongest Vucic’s argument in the dialogue with Pristina.

He also argued that Vucic’s report today was just a confirmation of what we already knew and it is that the dialogue would continue “at low level and intensity”

Vucic and Kamberi exchanged arguments related to crimes at Assembly session (B92)

Shaip Kamberi, an Albanian MP said at the session of Serbian Assembly today that he sees the future in cooperation with Serbia, but (Serbian) negotiating team should know how to talk to people whose children were killed by the Serbs, B92 reports.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic responded to his statement and said that he could not believe that Kamberi did not want to admit that Albanians also committed crimes, and only talk about Serbian ones.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3d2C6jN

“Serbia can count on Italy’s support” (B92)

Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Luigi di Maio said in Belgrade today that negotiations for Serbia’s accession to the European Union should be accelerated, B92 reports.

“The goal that needs to be achieved is to speed up the negotiations for Serbia’s accession. We really claim with full conviction that there is a necessity to work in that direction”, Di Maio said after the meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, Nikola Selakovic.

He added that he also talked with Selakovic about the progress of reforms in order for Serbia to get closer to Europe.

“This is a difficult process for Serbia, but it has all the potential to succeed and knows that it can count on the support of Italy”, he said.

For Italy, EU enlargement is a strategic priority, Di Maio concluded.

Botsan-Kharchenko: I am deeply grateful to Serbia for its consistent position (B92, Vecernje Novosti)

“We are deeply grateful to the leadership of Serbia and Serbian people for the consistent position on preserving the historical truth,” Russian Ambassador Alexander Botan-Kharchenko said in an op-ed for Belgrade-based daily Vecernje Novosti.

Botsan-Kharchenko wrote that Russia is committed to maintaining international peace and security and strict respect for the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, so that a tragedy similar to the Second World War would not happen again.

In an op-ed  written on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s attack on the then USSR, Botsan-Kharchenko pointed out that Russia would continue to promote impartial assessments of World War II and its results and would resolutely prevent attempts to revise history and justifications of the Nazis and their helpers.

“We are deeply grateful to the Serbian leadership and the Serbian people for their consistent stance on preserving the historical truth and memory of our brotherhood in arms in World War II, for their continued care for military memorials and cemeteries, and for understanding the high importance of archival and research work, including in the field”, he pointed out.

Ambassador added that the good tradition of the participation of Serbian friends in the manifestation “Immortal Regiment” on May 9 and the campaign “Candle of Memories” on June 22 is precious.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/2Uti7V1

 

 

 

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