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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, July 28, 2021

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Albanian Language Media:

• UNDP poll finds significant increase in people’s satisfaction with Kosovo institutions (media)
• “Kosovo has investment potential but political instability and corruption hinder it” (Klan)
• Kosovo Assembly adopts budget review (media)
• Muja: For the first time in Kosovo, revenues exceed €2 billion (Kallxo)
• Bodies of bus crash victims arrive at Kosovo (media)
• COVID-19: 58 new cases, no deaths (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• OSCE report on assessment of community rights in Kosovo presented (KiM radio, RTV Puls, RTK2, N1)
• Fabrizi expects Serbia’s progress in talks with bloc before end of 2021 (N1)
• Dragica Gasic after robbery at her flat: I am staying in Djakovica (Radio KIM)
• “Absence of reactions and tendentious reporting on incidents constitute their silent approval” (Radio KIM)
• Petkovic to seek additional security for Dragica Gasic (Kosovo Online)
• Cadez: It is important that political leaders realize importance of “mini-Schengen” (Kosovo-online)
• BSN: New weapons strengthen operational capacities of Serbian Army (N1)

Opinion:

• Is the Decani Monastery really endangered? (Kosovo 2.0)

International:

• Balkan trio push ‘mini-Schengen’ as they hit out at EU membership delay (Financial Times)
• ‘Genocide’ Controversy Erupts over WWII Massacres in Montenegro (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • UNDP poll finds significant increase in people’s satisfaction with Kosovo institutions (media)
  • “Kosovo has investment potential but political instability and corruption hinder it” (Klan)
  • Kosovo Assembly adopts budget review (media)
  • Muja: For the first time in Kosovo, revenues exceed €2 billion (Kallxo)
  • Bodies of bus crash victims arrive at Kosovo (media)
  • COVID-19: 58 new cases, no deaths (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • OSCE report on assessment of community rights in Kosovo presented (KiM radio, RTV Puls, RTK2, N1)
  • Fabrizi expects Serbia’s progress in talks with bloc before end of 2021 (N1)
  • Dragica Gasic after robbery at her flat: I am staying in Djakovica (Radio KIM)
  • “Absence of reactions and tendentious reporting on incidents constitute their silent approval” (Radio KIM)
  • Petkovic to seek additional security for Dragica Gasic (Kosovo Online)
  • Cadez: It is important that political leaders realize importance of “mini-Schengen” (Kosovo-online)
  • BSN: New weapons strengthen operational capacities of Serbian Army (N1)

Opinion:

  • Is the Decani Monastery really endangered? (Kosovo 2.0)

International:

  • Balkan trio push ‘mini-Schengen’ as they hit out at EU membership delay (Financial Times)
  • ‘Genocide’ Controversy Erupts over WWII Massacres in Montenegro (Balkan Insight)

 

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

UNDP poll finds significant increase in people’s satisfaction with Kosovo institutions (media)

UNDP released the most recent edition of the Public Pulse brief which looks into people’s perceptions on Kosovo’s socio-economic situation, security, environment and other issues.

The findings of the Public Pulse, which covers the period between 12 to 25 May 2021 and includes 1,307 respondents from all ethnic communities in Kosovo, found a significant increase in people’s satisfaction with the performance of key executive, legislative and judicial institutions in Kosovo in comparison to the previous poll conducted in December 2020. 

The findings of the May 2021 Public Pulse poll show a substantial increase in satisfaction levels across all Kosovo institutions as compared to the opinion poll conducted in December 2020 which represents the highest rate of satisfaction with the performance of Kosovo central institutions ever recorded by Public Pulse.

“Satisfaction with the performance of the Executive cabinet is recorded at 59.1%, which is an increase of 37.8 percentage points from the December 2020 poll when it stood at 21.3%. Moreover, satisfaction level with the work of the Prime Minister is recorded at 59.5% (23% in December 2020), while that of the Kosovo Assembly Speaker has gone up from 46.7% in December 2020 to 59.2% in May 2021. The highest satisfaction level is recorded with the work of the President of Kosovo with 63.7% satisfaction rate, as compared to 33.9% recorded in December 2020.

The survey also found that a while the largest largest share of Kosovo Serbs (47.6%) are indifferent regarding political direction of Kosovo, 35.7% of Kosovo Albanians are dissatisfied with current political direction compared to 60.6% in December 2020, whereas 37.3% of members of other Kosovo communities are satisfied or very satisfied with the political direction of Kosovo.

According to respondents, the major issues Kosovo faces include unemployment (34.3%), poverty (19.3%) and corruption (9.3%), whereas unemployment, poverty and urban space problems were the top three in the previous edition of the poll.

See the Public Pulse Brief at: https://bit.ly/3f4iAEB

“Kosovo has investment potential but political instability and corruption hinder it” (Klan)

The U.S. State Department has published a report on the investment climate in Kosovo. 

“Kosovo has potential to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), but that potential is constrained by failure to address several serious structural issues, including limited regional and global economic integration; political instability and interference in the economy; corruption; an unreliable energy supply; a large informal sector; difficulty establishing property rights; and tenuous rule of law, including a glaring lack of contract enforcement. The country’s ability to sustain growth relies significantly on international financial support and remittances,” the report reads.

It further notes that Kosovo legislation and regulations are in line with international standards regarding the protection of investments and support but that enforcement of justice remains weak. ” In 2016, the government partnered with USAID and other international donors to launch the Kosovo Credit Guarantee Fund, which improves access to credit. With USAID assistance, the Government of Kosovo continued a series of business environment reforms which contributed to improving Kosovo’s ranking and score in the World Bank Doing Business Report over the years. In the 2020 Doing Business Report, Kosovo ranked 57 out of 190 economics surveyed and was recognized as one of the top 20 most improved economies in the world.”

The State Department noted that all legal, regulatory, and accounting systems in Kosovo are modeled on EU standards and international best practices and that publicly listed companies are required to comply with international accounting standards. 

The U.S. Department of State’s Investment Climate Statements provide information on the business climates of more than 170 economies and are prepared by economic officers stationed in embassies and posts around the world. 

See the report: https://bit.ly/3i5Wl34

Kosovo Assembly adopts budget review (media)

Kosovo legislators adopted today a review of the 2021 budget with 69 votes in favour, none against and no abstentions. 

The Ministry of Finance, Work and Transfers hailed the adoption of the budget saying a specific focus is dedicated to addressing the economic impact brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Koha reports. The Ministry also said at 2.5 billion euros, this is the highest budget Kosovo has ever adopted. 

Muja: For the first time in Kosovo, revenues exceed €2 billion (Kallxo)

Armend Muja, MP from the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV), said that for the first time Kosovo has recorded more than €2 billion in revenues and attributed this to the good economic performance but also to what he said was an increased trust of the civic change. 

In presenting the draft budget at the Assembly, Muja, who is also chairman of the budget committee, said that LVV would support the changes proposed to be made to the draft law. “Expenditures under budget allocation law for 2021, were estimated to be around 2.4 billion euros. In the meantime, based on the budget review, expenditures are expected to increase by 68 million euros, to fund economic recovery priorities as well as the priority for health funding,” he said. 

Bodies of bus crash victims arrive at Kosovo (media)

The bodies of the ten victims of the bus accident in Croatia arrived at Kosovo, media report. 

The convoy of vehicles transporting the bodies was met by numerous citizens who placed flowers on the coffins of the victims. The bodies will first be taken to a morgue and then handed over to families for funeral. 

COVID-19: 58 new cases, no deaths (media)

58 new cases of COVID-19 and no fatalities from the virus were recorded in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. Three persons have recovered from the virus during this time.

There are 250 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

To date, 388,073 vaccine doses have been administered in Kosovo.

The Ministry of Health today called on the people of Kosovo to get the COVID-19 vaccine, warning that the Delta variant of the virus is approaching and is more easily spread than other coronavirus variants. 

 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

OSCE report on assessment of community rights in Kosovo presented (KiM radio, RTV Puls, RTK2, N1)

“In particular, the intention is to bring Kosovo’s legal framework in line with international standards and for institutions to comply with laws protecting community rights,” said OSCE Ambassador to Kosovo Michael Davenport during the presentation of the fifth Community Rights Assessment Report in Pristina yesterday, reported KiM radio.

The report stated that “progress has been made from December 2015 to December 2019 in the field of judicial integration”, reminding that “a legally binding Decree on the Return of Displaced Persons” has been adopted, and that “the function of the Ombudsman Institution has been improved”.

However, the report concluded that “in other areas the situation has not changed”, and that “there are still problems with the application of the Law on the Use of Languages”. 

It is stated that education in the Serbian language was not represented in the Kosovo institutional framework and reminded that every year fewer displaced persons return.. 

It is pointed out that the unemployment rate among members of non-majority communities, especially Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians, was high. 

The report reminded that incidents affecting minority communities continued to occur, as well as that there were interethnic tensions.

Media content intended for non-majority communities was assessed as “scarce”.

“The aim of the report is to raise awareness of the challenges and problems that exist, in order to improve the rights of all non-majority communities in Kosovo, but also to build the capacity of Kosovo institutions to independently strive for stable interethnic relations between communities,” said Head of the Communities Section of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo,  Nadica Pavlovska.

A key component of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo was to monitor the implementation of human and community rights standards.

“In any democratic society, it is important that all communities can live in a safe environment, that they can use their language, that they can practice their culture and religion. I hope that all relevant institutions will seriously consider the recommendations and follow the appropriate measures, because improving the rights of non-majority communities is a cornerstone in building a stable society,” Davenport said, adding that the OSCE mission would continue to support all Kosovo institutions, both at the municipal and the governmental level in introducing the necessary changes to protect all communities.

The OSCE is important for stability in Kosovo, said Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister for Minority Issues, Human Rights and Communities, Emilia Rexhepi.

“The OSCE is one of the most important organizations for the security and safety of minority communities when it comes to their life, survival, functioning. The report that was made is very relevant,” said Rexhepi.

If we want minority communities to feel equal, as part of the system, they need to integrate into all currents of modern Kosovo society, she said.

“Every nation should preserve, nurture and protect its identity, culture and customs, but it is the obligation of the majority to respect and appreciate all differences. Minority nations are not guilty because they are in small numbers, which does not mean that someone who is in a larger number has greater rights,” Rexhepi concluded.

The OSCE Mission in Kosovo periodically publishes reports on the assessment of community rights to monitor the progress made by Kosovo institutions in implementing the recommendations of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The first such report was made in 2009.

Fabrizi expects Serbia’s progress in talks with bloc before end of 2021 (N1)

The European Union outgoing chief diplomat in Serbia Sem Fabrizi said he expected the bloc would open new clusters in accession negotiations with Belgrade before the end of the year, Serbian public broadcaster RTS reported Wednesday.

He will be replaced by Emanuele Giaufret, who currently heads the EU Delegation to Israel.

Fabrizi told RTS that “we saw a positive message at the conference in June. Reforms resume, Serbia empowers their dynamics, and new clusters should open by the end of the year. That’s a possibility, and the focus should be on it”.

Speaking about criticism related to the rule of law, media freedom and the fight against organized crime and corruption, Fabrizi reiterated those were priority areas.

“It’s the most difficult to accomplish and that needs time. The new methodology (in the accession talks) will speed them up and make it easier to follow progress through clusters”, Fabrizi said.

He added Serbia’s progress in the second half of 2021 and the first of 2022 would be concrete and noted in the following European Commission report.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3liu6Aj

Dragica Gasic after robbery at her flat: I am staying in Djakovica (Radio KIM)

Dragica Gasic, a Serb returnee in Djakovica, whose flat was broken into and ransacked, told Serbian public broadcaster RTS that at first she thought someone had moved into the apartment she lives in, adding it was not the only unpleasant issue that she faced there. Nevertheless, she will remain in Djakovica, Radio KIM reports.

Gasic said she returned yesterday from Klina and noticed her flat was broken into.

“It was unpleasant, I am carrying bags, bringing the food from Klina and the village, I am buying in Klina, because they do not allow me to buy the food here and once I saw the open door I was surprised”, she said.

At first, she added, she thought someone had moved into the apartment. She also said after entering the apartment she realized the camera was missing and the food was stolen.

Asked who is doing that, Dragica responded she doesn’t know and that she reported everything to the police.

“The police came, opened an investigation. There were about ten of them, the police commander was here, he said everything will settle down and calm down the situation (…)”, Gasic said.

She also noted this is not the only unpleasant situation she faced, there were banging on the door, stoning, posting photographs.

Talking about the security door the municipality confiscated from her earlier, she said the municipality returned the door to her, but is still not permitting her to install it.

“Absence of reactions and tendentious reporting on incidents constitute their silent approval” (Radio KIM)

“Attacks and robberies targeting returnees and their properties have been characterized for years in Kosovo as if committed out of economic motives. While it may be true in some cases, there is an absence in accepting a fact that despite of the motives such criminal acts have stronger influence on security perception of the vulnerable groups such are minority communities and returnees, than it have on the majority population in rural areas facing the same security challenges”, New Social Initiative (NSI) said in a statement, Radio KIM reports.

“Given the media hunt, reactions of the civil society in Djakovica and absence of condemnation of such reactions by Kosovo institutions’ leaders, the attack on the property of Dragica Gasic from Djakovica must be viewed through the prism of such worsened ethnic relations”, the NSI added in a statement.

Recalling the recent statement of the Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti in Brussels who said that “he feels very sorry because Mr.Petkovic (director of the Office for KiM) and Vucic misuse the elderly in Serbia and bring them to Kosovo for Saint Vitus Day (….) and that all those who have property in Kosovo, have apartment or a land, may return, if they have not sold that land or apartment, and if that was not given to them by (Slobodan) Milosevic and that is important (…)”, NSI said that “Kurti by such a statement not only suggested that Gasic was instrumentalized, thus additionally endangering her safety, but also directly got involved in the work of judicial and other responsible institutions that should make their decisions independently, as they evidently did in the case of Dragica Gasic, confirming her right to return and enabling her to do so”.   

The NSI also mentioned that Kosovo Property Verification and Comparison Agency confirmed the right of Dragica Gasic to use the apartment in Djakovica as well as Constitutional Court decision on 24 hectares of land belonging to Visoki Decani Monastery and urged Kosovo authorities to implement decisions that have immense importance for the multiethnicity in Kosovo.

At the end, NSI said that “by absence of condemnations of the frequented incidents targeting the Kosovo Serbs a message of their (silent) approval is being sent”.

Petkovic to seek additional security for Dragica Gasic (Kosovo Online)

The team of lawyers hired by the Office for Kosovo and Metohija will request additional security for the returnee Dragica Gasic and her apartment, with an urgency to start investigation as soon as possible, after her apartment was broken into, ransacked and robbed, reported portal Kosovo Online.

“What security do international missions provide to Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija and what is their role, when the municipality of Djakovica bans the replacement of the most ordinary doors we have procured? Dragica’s security is directly in your hands,” wrote on Twitter Petar Petkovic, Director of the Office for KiM, tagging UNMIK Kosovo, EULEX Kosovo, KFOR, Miroslav Lajcak and the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, reported the portal

He pointed out that recent events, including the burglary of the apartment, have directly endangered her life and safety in Djakovica. 

“As before, we will procure a new camera, new furniture, food, as well as the necessary insulin therapy for the brave Dragica,” Petkovic said on Twitter.

He warned that there is no door in her apartment that she can close, which makes her an easy target for all extremists.

Petkovic emphasized that Pristina has been silent for almost two months on Dragica’s case.

Cadez: It is important that political leaders realize importance of “mini-Schengen” (Kosovo-online)

Possibilities for better economic cooperation in the region would be discussed by businesspeople from Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania in Skopje today and tomorrow, President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce Marko Cadez said, Kosovo-online portal reports.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, North Macedonian and Albanian Prime Ministers Zoran Zaev and Edi Rama would give impetus to the cooperation and announce a new name of a regional initiative dubbed “mini-Schengen” so far and implying free movement of people, goods, capital and services in the Western Balkans.

Talking about the importance of the initiative, Cadez said it was important that political leaders in an entire region realize this process. According to him, this process is nothing else but practical intensification and new dynamics of the Berlin process, in which all governments in the region take part.

Cadez also spoke about the three agreements that would be signed and discussed in Skopje. Those include one relating to the trade that would ease export and import procedures, memorandum on working permits and a memorandum on mutual recognition of qualifications.

BSN: New weapons strengthen operational capacities of Serbian Army (N1)

In the past five years, Serbia has strengthened its air force, special units and artillery, the Balkan Security Network (BSN) website reported on Wednesday.

It said the Air Force had been reinforced with 14 new helicopters and ten MiG-29 fighters. The school aviation has improved, while the reconnaissance from the air has been restored with drones.

The process of serious procurement started at the end of 2016, and after that, five new Russian Mi-17 V5 transport helicopters, four Mi-35M combat helicopters and five Airbus X-145Ms were purchased.

All helicopters were also armoured, making them resistant to fire from light infantry weapons from the ground.

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

 

 

 

Opinion

 

Is the Decani Monastery really endangered? (Kosovo 2.0)

A look into the recent controversy surrounding the UNESCO World Heritage site.

Nestled in a forested valley in the foothills of the Accursed Mountains National Park is a 14th century Serbian Orthodox Church compound — the Visoki Dečani Monastery. 

Though seven centuries old, the structures and grounds of the compound are lovingly maintained, so trim and picturesque as to seem contemporary. And when the resident monks aren’t busy with their liturgical duties, they’re likely to be feeding the geese or tending the orchards on the many acres of active farmland.

Behind the walls of the monastery a feeling of calm and contemplation prevails. But outside, in the realm of public discourse, the monastery is at the center of contentious debate.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3l2Yj6b

 

 

 

International

 

Balkan trio push ‘mini-Schengen’ as they hit out at EU membership delay (Financial Times)

Serbia, Albania and N Macedonia to launch own border-free travel and business zone amid frustration with Brussels

The leaders of Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia have hit out at Brussels over the slow pace of EU enlargement, vowing to press ahead with their own border-free travel and business zone as they wait for the bloc to admit them. 

“We know there’s enlargement fatigue in the EU,” Alexander Vucic, Serbia’s president, said in an interview. “We need to see what we can do for ourselves [instead], what we can do for our people, how we can expand our markets.” 

Zoran Zaev, prime minister of North Macedonia, expressed frustration that “the EU does not deliver” on its promises, adding: “We need to accelerate practical benefits to our citizens.” 

Edi Rama, newly reelected premier of Albania, compared working with Brussels to Samuel Beckett’s existentialist play Waiting for Godot, in which two men engage in a series of often absurd conversations as they anticipate the arrival of someone who never comes.

See more at: https://on.ft.com/3iQCAvs

‘Genocide’ Controversy Erupts over WWII Massacres in Montenegro (Balkan Insight)

Proposed Montenegrin parliamentary resolutions to classify two World War II-era massacres of Serbs as genocide has sparked allegations that the victims of the killings are being used as pawns in contemporary political games.

Gojko Knezevic has spent most of his journalistic career investigating a massacre that happened long before he was even born. The killings over seven decades ago of people who lived, as Knezevic does now, in the village of Velika in northern Montenegro, have long haunted him.

According to historians, around Serb 550 villagers from Velika were massacred during a Nazi SS operation codenamed Draufgänger (Daredevil) against Yugoslav Partisan forces on July 28, 1944.

“Within just two hours, the SS divisions, supported by collaborators from nearby Bihor, the town of Plav and Kosovo, slaughtered almost half of Velika’s inhabitants in the cruelest way. Entire families suffered, and many were wiped out,” Knezevic told BIRN.

In a joint operation by the SS’s Prinz Eugen Division and its ethnic Albanian Skenderbeg Division, supported by local fighters from neighboring towns and villages, almost half of Velika’s inhabitants were killed, including 120 children. Some villagers managed to save themselves by escaping into nearby forests.

The massacre in Velika, alongside with another in 1944 in the western Montenegrin region of Piva, became a political issue on July 17 this year, when the Democratic Montenegro Party, which is part of the country’s ruling alliance, proposed a parliamentary resolution to classify both massacres as genocide.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3l5LMi8

 

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