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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, June 30, 2021

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, June 30, 2021

Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: Nine new cases, no deaths (media)
• EU to remove Kosovo from red travel list (RFE)
• Government stands by SEFTA proposal, as alternative for Balkans mini-Schengen (Koha)
• Gervalla: Luxembourg continues to support visa-free travel for Kosovo citizens (media)
• LDK criticises Kurti-led government’s performance in first 100 days (media)
• Kurti and Osmani sack intelligence deputy director (media)
• Anti-corruption agency rejects claims of errors in asset declaration forms (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Rada Trajkovic: Expertise on the circumstances of the murder of Oliver Ivanovic arrived from Germany (Novi Magazin, Beta, Danas, N1)
• Vucic: Serbia’s position – Kosovo will never get a seat in the UN (KiM radio, Tanjug, Euronews TV)
• Detention of Risto Jovanovic expires tomorrow (Radio KIM)
• Rakic: The latest events in Djakovica a bad message to the displaced persons (Kontakt plus radio)
• Office for KiM: Inspectors confiscated security door of Dragica Gasic (Radio KIM)
• Jevtic: Will anyone react to the torture of the Kosovo Police in Djakovica? (Kosovo Online)
• SOC flag at Gracanica Monastery entry gate taken away (Kosovo-online)
• 30 days detention for Risto Jovanovic (Kosovo Online)

International:

• Albania and Kosovo: Unification through the back door? (Emerging Europe)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Majlinda Kelmendi: Judo superstar who unites Kosovo (AFP/France 24)
• New plays from the Balkans (Kosovo 2.0)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: Nine new cases, no deaths (media)
  • EU to remove Kosovo from red travel list (RFE)
  • Government stands by SEFTA proposal, as alternative for Balkans mini-Schengen (Koha)
  • Gervalla: Luxembourg continues to support visa-free travel for Kosovo citizens (media)
  • LDK criticises Kurti-led government’s performance in first 100 days (media)
  • Kurti and Osmani sack intelligence deputy director (media)
  • Anti-corruption agency rejects claims of errors in asset declaration forms (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Rada Trajkovic: Expertise on the circumstances of the murder of Oliver Ivanovic arrived from Germany (Novi Magazin, Beta, Danas, N1)
  • Vucic: Serbia’s position – Kosovo will never get a seat in the UN (KiM radio, Tanjug, Euronews TV)
  • Detention of Risto Jovanovic expires tomorrow (Radio KIM)
  • Rakic: The latest events in Djakovica a bad message to the displaced persons (Kontakt plus radio)
  • Office for KiM: Inspectors confiscated security door of Dragica Gasic (Radio KIM)
  • Jevtic: Will anyone react to the torture of the Kosovo Police in Djakovica? (Kosovo Online)
  • SOC flag at Gracanica Monastery entry gate taken away (Kosovo-online)
  • 30 days detention for Risto Jovanovic (Kosovo Online)

International:

  • Albania and Kosovo: Unification through the back door? (Emerging Europe)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Majlinda Kelmendi: Judo superstar who unites Kosovo (AFP/France 24)
  • New plays from the Balkans (Kosovo 2.0)

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

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

Kosovo has recorded nine new cases of COVID-19 and zero deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours. Eight persons recovered from the virus during this time.

The total number of active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo is 168.

7,361 vaccines have meanwhile been administered in the last 24 hours.

To date, a total of 179,029 vaccines have been administered in Kosovo while 41,573 persons have received the second dose.

EU to remove Kosovo from red travel list (RFE)

EU member states agreed to the Portuguese presidency proposal to remove nationals of Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro from the red list of travel due to the favourable epidemiological situation with COVID-19, Radio Free Europe reports. 

The decision means the citizens of Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, including those that have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus, will be able to travel to EU countries even for non-essential purposes.

Government stands by SEFTA proposal, as alternative for Balkans mini-Schengen (Koha)

As leaders of Albania, Serbia, and North Macedonia – Edi Rama, Aleksandar Vucic, Zoran Zaev – continue to insist on the implementation of a Balkans mini-Schengen, the Government of Kosovo said it remains by its proposal to establish South East European Free Trade Agreement (SEFTA) as an alternative. 

“The position of the Government of the Republic of Kosovo on the Nis initiative is already known,” said Rozafa Kelmendi, spokesperson. “Most recently, Prime Minister Kurti has proposed a new framework for regional and economic cooperation called SEFTA which responds to the needs of all Western Balkans countries and their objectives for integration into European Union.”

Kelmendi added that SEFTA would be based on equality and reciprocity through implementing mechanisms led by the EU.

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti is expected to reintroduce the proposal during the upcoming summit of Western Balkans leaders scheduled to take place in Berlin on 5 July.

Gervalla: Luxembourg continues to support visa-free travel for Kosovo citizens (media)

Kosovo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Donika Gervalla, met in Luxembourg the Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn and discussed bilateral cooperation and Kosovo’s European integration path.

Gervalla said after the meeting she was grateful for Luxembourg’s continuous support to Kosovo. “Luxembourg continues to support visa-free travel for the citizens of Kosovo in the Schengen area. Luxembourg clearly considers relations with Kosovo as a genuine partnership,” she said.

LDK criticises Kurti-led government’s performance in first 100 days (media)

The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) called a press conference today and addressed a series of accusations towards the Government of Kosovo as it marked its first 100 days in office.

Shqipe Mjekiqi, deputy leader, said that dialogue with Serbia turned out to be the top priority of the government led by Albin Kurti although it was identified at the outset as being seventh on the list of priorities. “Dialogue has been reduced to technical issues. The Government tried to avoid obligations stemming from the Washington Agreement. During the 100 days, we were witness to reckless statements. There was also approval of international agreements that discriminate against Kosovo.”

Mjekiqi added that the Government of Kosovo needs to demonstrate it is working closely with the U.S.

Speaking about the pandemic, Izet Sadiku said three months since the Kurti-led government took office, only 2 percent of citizens of Kosovo have been vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Kurti and Osmani sack intelligence deputy director (media)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti and President Vjosa Osmani have signed a decision dismissing Vlora Hyseni from the post of deputy director of the Kosovo Intelligence Agency. 

The decision, dated 30 June, states that Hyseni is obliged to hand over all materials she was in charge of and keep confidential information during performance of her duties. 

Anti-corruption agency rejects claims of errors in asset declaration forms (media)

The Anti-Corruption Agency of Kosovo has issued a statement denying allegations of having made technical errors in the asset declaration forms of senior public officials. 

The statement comes after former president of the Constitutional Court, Arta Hajrizi-Rama, was reported to have declared possession of €6 million in cash which she rebutted saying her bank savings were €6,000 instead and that the agency made a technical error in filling out the forms. 

MP from the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) Xhavit Haliti also reacted to the publication of assets by the anti-corruption agency saying that his asset declaration form was mixed up with another person’s. 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Rada Trajkovic: Expertise on the circumstances of the murder of Oliver Ivanovic arrived from Germany (Novi Magazin, Beta, Danas, N1)

The president of the European Movement of Serbs from Kosovo, Rada Trajkovic stated that ten days ago she learned “that expertise came from Germany in order to establish the circumstances and shed light on the murder of Oliver Ivanovic”.

Trajkovic stated for today’s edition of Danas daily that she learned it from ”international circles”, concerning the clarification of the circumstances of the murder of the Kosovo politician Oliver Ivanovic, reported Serbian media.  

Regarding the news, which appeared in the Serbian public seven days later, that Oliver Ivanovic’s unmarried wife, Milena Popovic, a member of the Serbian Progressive Party, left the parliamentary session at which Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic spoke, due to the presence of Milan Radoicic (suspected of Ivanovic’s murder), Trajkovic said that she was “in shock” but that “somehow she knew this was going to happen”.

Yesterday, Milena Popovic told the Beta agency that there are reasons that she does not want to comment and explain, and because of which she does not want to sit in the same room with Radoicic, recalled the media. 

“The investigation of my husband’s murder is a very complicated process. I know that our investigative bodies are working on solving the case, and I absolutely believe that the orderers, organizers and perpetrators of Oliver Ivanovic’s murder will be discovered eventually,” Popovic said

Ivanovic was killed with several shots on January 16, 2018 in the northern part of Mitrovica, in front of the premises of his party “Freedom, Democracy, Justice”.

Vucic: Serbia’s position – Kosovo will never get a seat in the UN (KiM radio, Tanjug, Euronews TV)

The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic said that Serbia would never recognize the independence of Kosovo nor to get a seat on the Security Council, reported KiM radio citing Euronews. 

Vucic told Euronews Television in Belgrade that he recently saw Albin Kurti in Brussels for the second time in his life, who was then surprised by the answer he received – that Serbia would never recognize Kosovo, Serbian media cited.

“He thought that he could provoke and that he had the right to accuse Serbia of everything that came to his mind. The last time we saw each other (in Brussels) when we entered the room, he started by saying that we were only there because of one question, and he asked, Vucic, would you recognize Kosovo or not. I am silent, he asks again, and so ten times and then I told him – never,” said Vucic. 

Vucic said that getting a seat in the UN for Kosovo did not depend only on Serbia because, as he said, some others could decide differently in 10, 20 or 30 years, but that as far as Serbia was concerned, Kosovo would never get the UN membership. 

Serbia would not replace Veljko Odalovic from the head of the commission for missing persons in Kosovo and Metohija, even if the USA asked, and not Pristina, because no one has the right to condition a sovereign country in that way, said Serbian President.

“Only compromise is the solution for Kosovo and Metohija, people to decide”

The President of Serbia pointed out that a rational, pragmatic approach was needed to resolve the Kosovo issue, as well as a willingness to talk, in order to find a compromise solution.

“A pragmatic approach is needed, an open door for talks to find a solution, trust is needed, which takes time, as well as the determination of the international community to support Belgrade and Pristina in various ways to reach a solution,” Vucic said.

When asked what the Kosovo myth was, Vucic said that it was a myth – ”if we do not see that reality changes every day and that we are not in an ideal position, as we often want to present ourselves, but yes, on the other hand there was another part of the Kosovo epic, without which one cannot be, and that is the value of everything that our ancestors did”.

When asked whether it was a myth that Serbia claimed the right to Kosovo, but no one else, Vucic said that the solution was somewhere in between

“The myth is that everything is easy and simple and that we just need to tell the world – get out of here, it’s just ours and we shouldn’t talk about anything. It’s not easy to connect it with reality. But it’s also a myth that the Serbian people do not claim any right to Kosovo and Metohija. And, somewhere in between, a rational and compromise solution needs to be found,” Vucic said.

“Serbia is ready for a compromise, to discuss a compromise, and the people are the ones who will decide,” Vucic said.

When asked what a compromise was, Vucic said that even if he knew, he would not say, because a compromise solution should be reached in a way that both sides give in.

Asked to comment on the message of Patriarch Porfirije in Gazimestan that the Kosovo Covenant (pledge) was the foundation of freedom and creation of the Serbian people, and that every visit to Kosovo was a return to the fatherland, he reminded that not only the current but also the previous Patriarch Irinej said it on several occasions.

“He spoke about spiritual values, the Kosovo Covenant (pledge) concerning our state of mind and what we should do in the future. Without going into what he wanted, and I know he is committed to preserving Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia, he meant whether we will be able to provide our children in Kosovo and Metohija with safety and security, better salaries and pensions for all people,” Vucic explained

He pointed out that we must reckon that without a compromise solution to the Kosovo knot, someone can sometimes unfreeze that conflict.

“Thawing, although it seems attractive for many to freeze the conflict, leads to a catastrophe of unrest, conflicts, which no one needs, especially Serbia, which is moving forward the fastest,” Vucic concluded.

Detention of Risto Jovanovic expires tomorrow (Radio KIM)

Risto Jovanovic, from Podgorica, arrested on June 28, at Gazimestan was sent to 48-hour detention. He is charged with committing a criminal act of “inciting religious and national hatred and intolerance”, lawyer Jovana  Filipovic told RTV KIM.

Filipovic added Jovanovic had a hearing at the Basic Prosecution in Pristina today and his detention expires tomorrow at noon.

During the hearing Jovanovic pleaded not guilty. He said “the words written in the indictments are not true”, adding that he has not said it. “I am not guilty and I didn’t come to spread hatred”, Jovanovic said.  

New hearing has been scheduled at the Pristina Basic Court tomorrow at 10.00, and the lawyer expects he would be released to defend in freedom.

“Until today the prosecutor didn’t file a request to extend detention, and we hope there would  be no such request tomorrow as well”, she said. 

Montenegrin Ambassador in Pristina Mirsad Babovic attended the hearing. 

Rakic: The latest events in Djakovica a bad message to the displaced persons (Kontakt plus radio)

The Minister for Communities and Returns, Goran Rakic met yesterday the Ambassador of Sweden to Kosovo, Karin Hernmarck, with whom he discussed the political as well as the security situation in returnee communities in Kosovo, reported Kontakt plus radio.

Rakic expressed special concern over the recent events in Djakovica, the request for the expulsion of the only returnee in this city, Dragica Gasic, the Ministry of Communities and Returns announced.

He pointed out that the recent events in Djakovica were a bad message to all displaced persons and said that representatives of international institutions and organizations in Kosovo must urgently get involved in resolving this problem.

As it is stated, Rakic asked the Swedish ambassador to help overcome this situation within her possibilities, reported Kontakt plus radio.

Office for KiM: Inspectors confiscated security door of Dragica Gasic (Radio KIM)

Following several days of open maltreatment and direct threats against Dragica Gasic, the only returnee in Djakovica, she is now facing a new form of pressure and problems, Office for Kosovo and Metohija said, adding that security door the Office provided for her have been confiscated, Radio KIM reports.

“Although we provided to her a new security door and a handyman to replace it, local police didn’t allow today the replacement of the dilapidated and damaged entry door to Dragica’s apartment, but requested permission from the municipality to install it. After Dragica filed a request to the municipality, the local labor inspectors came and confiscated her new door. Now they ask prior to the work to submit to the municipality evidence of some sort of attest, as well as prove that the producer has paid taxes and many other documents”, the Office said in a statement.   

The Office added “this was an unseen scandal and direct torture, as well as a new, the most open pressure to expel Dragica from her apartment, as everybody in Pristina and Djakovica knew well her intention to replace the old door and install new one in order to feel more secure and be able to sleep in her apparment”, the Office said. 

Jevtic: Will anyone react to the torture of the Kosovo Police in Djakovica? (Kosovo Online)

Portal Kosovo Online reported that the leader of the Serbian List, Dalibor Jevtic condemned today’s event in Djakovica, where members of the Kosovo Police, as reported by media, first banned the installation, and then seized the armored door at the apartment of the only Serbian returnee in this city, Dragica Gasic.

Jevtic said on Twitter in an ironic tone that this act showed “multiethnicity, democracy, freedom” and asked if anyone would react to such torture, expecting a reaction from the European Union in Kosovo, the American embassy, and the State Department.

” ‘Multiethnicity’, ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ in a practical way. Europe, 21st century. Will anyone react?”Jevtic wrote, reported the portal.

SOC flag at Gracanica Monastery entry gate taken away (Kosovo-online)

Unknown perpetrators in the night between 28 and 29 June have broken down and taken away Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) flag that was placed at an entry gate of Gracanica Monastery, Kosovo-online portal reports.

The case has been reported to the police and the investigation is underway.

In the meantime a photo depicting a masked man stepping over the allegedly stolen SOC flag and holding the flag of Albania appeared on social networks. 

The Office for Kosovo and Metohija reacting to the incident said that “we bore witness to the latest incident in Kosovo and Metohija at a full peak of anti-Serbian hysteria by Albanian extremists”, Kosovo-online portal reports.   

The Office added “this act was a direct attack on religion and threatening message to the Serbian Orthodox Church believers, as well as an unequivocal indicator of unstable and dangerous security situation in the Serbian areas in Kosovo and Metohija (…)”. 

30 days detention for Risto Jovanovic (Kosovo Online)

Podgorica resident Risto Jovanovic was ordered today 30 days of detention, reported Kosovo Online. Jovanovic was arrested in Gazimestan, on St. Vitus Day (Vidovdan) on 28 June and accused before the Basic Court in Pristina with the criminal offense of “inciting national and religious hatred and intolerance”, with the right to appeal. 

The portal reported that at today’s hearing, the judge read the indictment charging Jovanovic with the mentioned act, after which he pleaded not guilty. 

The prosecutor requested court custody due to the danger of escape and stated that the punishment, according to the valid laws in Kosovo, was up to 5 years in prison for such acts.

Jovanovic’s defense attorney, lawyer Jovana Filipovic requested a release pending trial for her client and pointed out to the unfounded claims that Jovanovic had publicly endangered the safety of the citizens of Kosovo.

The trial was also attended by the charge d’affaires at the Montenegrin Embassy in Kosovo, Mirsad Bibovic.

 

 

International

 

Albania and Kosovo: Unification through the back door? (Emerging Europe)

Albanians no longer need residence permits to live and work in Kosovo. Analysts say the move brings Kosovo closer to joining the so-called Western Balkans Mini-Schengen initiative.

Albanians, should they wish to do so, are now free to live, study and work in Kosovo after the Prishtina government approved a deal struck earlier this month with the administration in Tirana.

Kosovars can likewise live and study in Albania, although those looking to work in the country will still need permits.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3AfhTB5

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Majlinda Kelmendi: Judo superstar who unites Kosovo (AFP/France 24)

When Majlinda Kelmendi’s hometown unveiled a bronze statue of her last year, they were honouring not only an Olympic judo champion but also a broader symbol of hope for Kosovo.

The 30-year-old fighter, in the latter stages of her career, won gold at the Rio Games and is hoping to repeat the trick this summer in Tokyo.

But she faces more pressure than most athletes — she is the only Olympic medallist in Kosovo’s history and is idolised by her compatriots, from the president down.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3x1YSjL

New plays from the Balkans (Kosovo 2.0)

Though the pandemic has been nearly fatal for live theater, it has been boom times for podcasts and audio drama. A new British podcast project, “Out of the Woods: New Plays from the Balkans,” featuring two young Kosovar playwrights, hopes to take advantage of changing trends in how we consume art and help bring Balkan stories to a wider audience.

“Out of the Woods” is the brainchild of British playwright Fin Kennedy, the former artistic director of Tamasha, a UK theater company dedicated to producing work by marginalised voices. Kennedy first became familiar with Kosovo through collaboration with British musician PJ Harvey, who had traveled to post-conflict countries while making her 2016 album “The Hope Six Demolition Project.”

A number of the album’s songs are about Harvey’s experiences in Kosovo. Kennedy fell in love with them. “I was struck by the immense mournfulness that she tapped into in those songs,” he said. “They were full of striking poetic images.”

Kennedy decided Harvey’s tracks would make a good accompaniment for a radio drama. Using the songs as the foundation, he created a series of five 15-minute plays called “On Kosovo Field” for the BBC. The series follows two young refugees who return to Kosovo for the first time as adults in order to discover the fate of their parents.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3qxYVBu

 

 

 

 

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