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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, July 30, 2021

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Albanian Language Media:

• President Biden to be awarded Kosovo medal on behalf of late son, Beau (media)
• Gervalla says ‘Open Balkans’ is a dangerous initiative (Kosovapress)
• Abdixhiku: Economic integration of the region to be preceded by political recognition (media)
• Haradinaj accuses Kurti of ‘selling’ patriotism while protecting Serbia’s products (media)
• Vitia: The pandemic is far from over, our only weapon is vaccination (media)
• COVID-19: 70 new cases, one death (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• EC on the Open Balkans Initiative: We support the leaders’ commitment to regional cooperation (Kosovo Online, Danas)
• Belgrade expects constructive Berlin’s support in dialogue with Pristina (N1)
• “Open Balkan” criticized in Pristina and Tirana (KoSSev)
• Vucic: Kurti mistaken in thinking he’ll win with chauvinistic messages and closing Pristina (KoSSev)
• Petkovic: We have delivered food and insulin to Dragica Gasic (Radio KIM)

International:

• Balkan ‘Mini-Schengen’ Leaders Eye Open Borders by 2023 (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• US State Department again lists BIRN as a resource for fighting corruption (Prishtina Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • President Biden to be awarded Kosovo medal on behalf of  late son, Beau (media)
  • Gervalla says ‘Open Balkans’ is a dangerous initiative (Kosovapress)
  • Abdixhiku: Economic integration of the region to be preceded by political recognition (media)
  • Haradinaj accuses Kurti of ‘selling’ patriotism while protecting Serbia’s products (media)
  • Vitia: The pandemic is far from over, our only weapon is vaccination (media)
  • COVID-19: 70 new cases, one death (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • EC on the Open Balkans Initiative: We support the leaders’ commitment to regional cooperation (Kosovo Online, Danas)
  • Belgrade expects constructive Berlin’s support in dialogue with Pristina (N1)
  • “Open Balkan” criticized in Pristina and Tirana (KoSSev)
  • Vucic: Kurti mistaken in thinking he’ll win with chauvinistic messages and closing Pristina (KoSSev)
  • Petkovic: We have delivered food and insulin to Dragica Gasic (Radio KIM)

International:

  • Balkan ‘Mini-Schengen’ Leaders Eye Open Borders by 2023 (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • US State Department again lists BIRN as a resource for fighting corruption (Prishtina Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

President Biden to be awarded Kosovo medal on behalf of  late son, Beau (media)

The U.S. President Joe Biden will accept one of Kosovo’s highest honors on behalf of his late son, saying the fledgling Balkan nation “is in the hearts of the entire Biden family,” Kosovo online media report quoting NBC news.

At a ceremony this weekend, Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani will present a posthumous Presidential Medal on the Rule of Law to Beau Biden, who traveled to Kosovo in 2001 to help establish the country’s judicial institutions and the rule of law as it was establishing its independence from Yugoslavia.

“Beau’s work in Kosovo was heartfelt. He fell in love with the country,” Biden said in a video message that will air during the presentation Sunday. “At the time, Kosovo still bore the fresh wounds of war and a justice system hollowed out by decades of totalitarian rule. But Beau could see what you could do, Beau could see even then the future that was possible for your proud country.”

It’s the second time Kosovo has offered a major tribute to Beau Biden, who served as Delaware’s attorney general and was readying a campaign for governor when he lost his battle with brain cancer in 2015. A year later, during his last year as vice president, Biden visited the country with members of his family for the dedication of a roadway near Camp Bondsteel in Beau Biden’s name. 

The president’s brand of diplomacy has always been grounded in personal connections. And because Kosovo’s independence is not universally recognized, it has worked to maintain its close ties with Washington. Kosovo’s capital city also includes major routes named for former Presidents Bush and Clinton. 

In his remarks, Biden said his son was “just one of many” people dedicated to Kosovo’s independence, and said he accepted the honor on behalf of all who helped build its institutions over the past two decades. He also said he was pleased to ensure that Kosovo would be receiving American doses of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine “within weeks.”

The U.S. ambassador to Kosovo will receive the medal at Sunday’s ceremony, which also includes a popular Kosovo singer performing songs from one of Beau Biden’s favorite bands, Coldplay.

Gervalla says ‘Open Balkans’ is a dangerous initiative (Kosovapress)

Kosovo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Donika Gervalla, said the regional initiative recently named ‘Open Balkans’ is dangerous and creates the impression that there is an alternative to European Union path.

In a joint press conference with North Macedonian Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani during a visit to Skopje today, Gervalla said there is no need for such regional initiatives while the countries are already part of the Berlin Process.

“As the Republic of Kosovo, we consider the initiative of Novi Sad, in the meantime titled mini Schengen and now since yesterday the Open Balkans, to be dangerous,” she said, adding that implying that there is an alternative to the European integration is more dangerous than the delays that may occur in the meantime during the integration process.

“We have a joint regional process where all countries of the region take part and this is called the Berlin Process. For several years there we have been trying to push forward agreements that affect all our citizens. In this initiative the Republic of Kosovo is an equal partner with five other Balkans states and we consider that launching parallel initiatives which in essence don’t represent anything new is dangerous to how we see ourselves in the region and how we are seen by the EU,” she underlined. 

Gervalla is on her first official visit to North Macedonia and is meeting President Stevo Pendarovski, Parliament Speaker Musa Xhaferi, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, First Deputy Prime Minister Artan Grubi and Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani.

Abdixhiku: Economic integration of the region to be preceded by political recognition (media)

Leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) Lumir Abdixhiku commented on the Open Balkans initiative, formally launched yesterday by Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama, President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev. Abdixhiku said the Balkans economic integration makes sense only when it is preceded by a political recognition of the parties and that Kosovo should be part of regional initiatives only as an equal party, “a sovereign state, recognised by all, recognising to all.”

“Serbia does not recognise Kosovo. Therefore, borders take on more meaning. They automatically become stronger. Therefore, they cannot be removed by either the ‘Mini Schengen’ or the ‘Open Balkans’. Recognition before cooperation without borders. This is my position as well as that of the LDK,” he wrote on Facebook. “Before being an economic project, the ‘Open Balkans’ is a political project. Economic gains become irrelevant in face of Serbia’s political denial – and this should be realised by all involved, especially by our colleagues in Albania,” he added.

Abdixhiku noted that the Government of Kosovo should definitely talk with the Government of Albania. “The tensioning of our relations – mainly due to rash electoral interferences early this year by our Prime Minister – has led to our paths with Albania being separate for the first time in the plus 30 years’ history. And this in itself is a misfortune. Kosovo and Albania should have one thought and one position.”

Haradinaj accuses Kurti of ‘selling’ patriotism while protecting Serbia’s products (media)

Leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) accused Prime Minister Albin Kurti for, as he said, selling patriotism on one hand and on the other removing all barriers that protect Kosovo producers from Seebia’s products.

“Apart from not applying reciprocity as promised, [he] even annuls protective anti-dumping measures for Serbia’s bricks through which the state of Serbia has financed its producers in order to damage Kosovo’s local producers,” Haradinaj wrote on Facebook in reference to a Government of Kosovo decision cancelling a previous one from 2016 on taking anti-dumping measures in the construction industry.

Vitia: The pandemic is far from over, our only weapon is vaccination (media)

Kosovo’s Minister of Health Arben Vitia said at a press conference today that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from being over and urged the people to get vaccinated, as the only way to successfully beat the virus. 

“We are here to express concern over the danger of coronavirus spread as the Delta variant is spreading quickly in Kosovo as in other world countries,” Vitia said. “We have made sure to take all measures during the months with a calmer situation in order to be prepared for a new wave.” 

“We are still far from the end of the pandemic and this should be understood by all. Hesitation to get vaccinated will only make the situation more difficult,” Vitia stressed as the number of new coronavirus cases are increasing in Kosovo following a relatively quiet period. 

COVID-19: 70 new cases, one death (media)

70 new cases of COVID-19 and one death were recorded in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. Eight persons have recovered from the virus during this time.

There are 366 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

To date, 413,078 vaccine doses have been administered in Kosovo.

 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

EC on the Open Balkans Initiative: We support the leaders’ commitment to regional cooperation (Kosovo Online, Danas)

European Commission spokeswoman Ana Pisonero Hernandez said that the EC supports the leaders ‘commitment to European cooperation, which is an essential element of the Western Balkans’ perspective, portal Kosovo Online reported, citing Danas daily.

When asked by Danas, how the EC views the results of the latest gathering of Vucic, Zaev and Rama, she answered that the EC supports it

“We support the leaders ‘commitment to regional cooperation, which is an essential element of the Western Balkans’ European perspective and an integral part of the Stabilization and Association Process.”

Pisonero Hernandez says it is important for the entire region to make progress towards establishing a common market.

“We understand the desire to move forward, at the same time, a process that includes the entire Western Balkans is essential. In this context, it is significant that the entire region is making progress towards establishing a Common Regional Market, a political commitment made by the region’s six leaders at a summit in Sofia last autumn. We bring important investment opportunities to this region, through the Economic-Investment Plan. It is now up to the region to use them properly, by employing all its economic potential and establishing a Common Regional Market, based on EU rules,” Pisonero Hernandez pointed out.

At yesterday’s summit in Skopje, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, and the Prime Ministers of Northern Macedonia and Albania, Zoran Zaev and Edi Rama, renamed the regional initiative “Mini Schengen” to “Open Balkans” and signed three agreements on improving economic ties, recalled the daily.

Belgrade expects constructive Berlin’s support in dialogue with Pristina (N1)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Friday his country expected Germany’s “constructive support to the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations and a compromise that would satisfy both sides and enable lasting stability in the region”, N1 reports.

Vucic made these remarks in a meeting with German State Secretary at the Federal Foreign Office Miguel Berger, adding that “full membership to the European Union remains Serbia’s ultimate foreign policy goal and its strategic commitment,” as well as that the German support was crucial on that road.

Vucic and Berger also discussed bilateral relations and economic cooperation, the President’s office said in a statement. “Germany is one of Serbia’s most significant economic partners and one of the largest investors in the country,” Vucic said, noting that Serbia was interested to further increase cooperation.

Speaking about relations in the region, Vucic said “Serbia was one of the main driving forces in connecting countries of the region through numerous projects and initiatives, of which” Open Balkans ” will be one of the backbones of future cooperation that will bring people, companies and investors together to raise the quality of life of all citizens in this region”.

He added that this initiative is compatible and complementary to the Berlin Process as a very good forum for strengthening regional cooperation and development. 

“Open Balkan” criticized in Pristina and Tirana (KoSSev)

Kosovo did not approve this initiative Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s office told Pristina-based Koha, commenting on the “Mini-Schengen” initiative, i.e. newly named “Open Balkan“. In addition to renaming the initiative, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the Prime Ministers of North Macedonia and Albania, Zoran Zaev and Edi Rama also signed three new agreements in Skopje yesterday. Negative reactions to the initiative keep coming from Pristina and Tirana, KoSSev portal reports.

Kurti’s office also alleged that Kosovo “was not officially“ invited to this meeting. They reiterated Kurti’s well-known position that his government proposed the SEFTA agreement as a form of regional cooperation, in the place of the current CEFTA ­- as per which Kosovo does not have equal status when compared to other signatories to this regional agreement.

For Kosovo, this initiative “does not have a vision for the region“.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3iWa6QQ

Vucic: Kurti mistaken in thinking he’ll win with chauvinistic messages and closing Pristina (KoSSev)

“We had a good laugh when we heard that, but the fact that they have such a high opinion of themselves is a good thing“, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said, commenting on the Kosovo Government’s decision to reject the initiative known as “mini-Schengen” and renamed to “Open Balkans” following yesterday’s regional economic forum of Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia in Skopje, KoSSev portal reports.

The initiative of the three countries known as “mini-Schengen was officially presented as the “Open Balkan” initiative, with the goal of opening the borders between the Western Balkan countries by 2023 – with no wait time at the borders.

This idea was presented to the public in Ohrid two years ago by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama and Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who signed a joint declaration on regional cooperation to “remove all obstacles to the free movement of people, goods, services and capital“.

During  the summit, as well as at the follow-up media conferences, numerous messages were sent in support of the three leaders to cooperation and economic development, as well as the future – which these leaders turned to, as opposed to those who remain stuck in the past.

In a special address to the Serb media, Aleksandar Vucic reiterated from Skopje that he feels sorry for those who did not support the Open Balkan idea and remained stuck in the 1990s.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/2WsT9pE

Petkovic: We have delivered food and insulin to Dragica Gasic (Radio KIM)

“We have delivered to Dragica Gasic insulin supply for the upcoming month and all necessary medications that were stolen when her flat was burglarized”, Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Petar Petkovic wrote on Facebook, Radio KIM reports.

Petkovic also added that Gasic underwent a medical examination by doctor Mirjana and is feeling well, despite the stress she experienced.

“We have also delivered to her basic necessities that were stolen, a new door instead of a broken one arrived, and the rest of the furniture should arrive tomorrow”, Petkovic announced yesterday.

“We will do our utmost to help Dragica, who is determined to stay and survive in Kosovo”, he added. 

 

 

 

International

 

Balkan ‘Mini-Schengen’ Leaders Eye Open Borders by 2023 (Balkan Insight)

Meeting in Skopje, the three ‘Open Balkan’ countries of North Macedonia, Serbia and Albania pledged to scrap most of the obstacles impeding travel and business on their borders by 2023.

Macedonia, Serbia and Albania aim to practically scrap all border obstacles for their citizens and businesses by 2023, eliminating long and tedious waits for travellers and complicated paperwork for companies.

This is what North Macedonia’s Prime Minister, Zoran Zaev, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama announced on Thursday in Skopje, following their two-day meeting, which was part of a regional cooperation initiative.

“By 2023, between our three countries, we will have zero waiting on the borders. Whoever wishes to join us is welcome to do so,” Albania’s Prime Minister Rama said.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3i8Q46B

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

US State Department again lists BIRN as a resource for fighting corruption (Prishtina Insight)

For the second year in a row, the US State Department’s Investment Climate Statement has identified BIRN Kosovo and its executive director Jeta Xharra as a resource for reporting corruption.

BIRN Kosovo’s Executive Director Jeta Xharra and its anti-corruption platform KALLXO.com has been cited by the US State Department as a useful resource to report corruption in the country in the 2021 Investment Climate Statement on Kosovo.

This is the second year in a row that BIRN and KALLXO.com have been identified as a place to report corruption by the State Department as part of its overview on the global investment climate.

KALLXO.com was established in 2012 by BIRN Kosovo and Internews Kosova, to create a platform for citizens to report corruption and other irregularities in the provision of public services. This year alone, KALLXO.com has received over 2,500 reports from citizens, which have led to over 100 arrests.

In its statement on Kosovo, the State Department addresses the current situation regarding corruption in the country, describing it as widespread.

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

 

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