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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, August 16, 2021

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, August 16, 2021

Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 740 new cases, two deaths (media)
• Recommendations how to increase vaccination rates (Koha)
• Foreign Ministry working to evacuate three Kosovars from Afghanistan (media)
• “Frequent changes of government delayed issue of missing persons” (EO)
• VV, LDK and AAK to run with single list in Gracanica (Kallxo)
• €2.6 million for environmental protection and diaspora investments (media)
• Protest in front of Albanian PM office against Open Balkan (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Ten cases of Covid-19 registered in Serbian areas in Kosovo on Saturday (Radio KIM)
• UNS and its branch in Kosovo: Serbian List to invite journalists without selection to events of public significance (Radio KIM)
• Serbian List submitted list of candidates for mayors (Radio KIM)
• Vucina Jankovic new head of North Mitrovica administrative district (KoSSev)
• Citizens’ associations and Serbian media in Kosovo – Pandemic of security incidents (Danas)
• Serbian minister says third vaccine dose as of this week (N1)
• One more “KLA” graffiti inscribed in Gracanica (Radio KIM)
• “Wherever Americans were, they left eventually, Pristina must think about that” (B92, RTS)

International:

• Balkan states scramble to evacuate stranded citizens From Afghanistan (BIRN)
• Balkan countries offer refuge to Afghans after Taliban takeover (BIRN)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Wasted Water: Leaking Pipelines Threaten to Let Balkans Run Dry (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 740 new cases, two deaths (media)
  • Recommendations how to increase vaccination rates (Koha)
  • Foreign Ministry working to evacuate three Kosovars from Afghanistan (media)
  • “Frequent changes of government delayed issue of missing persons” (EO)
  • VV, LDK and AAK to run with single list in Gracanica (Kallxo)
  • €2.6 million for environmental protection and diaspora investments (media)
  • Protest in front of Albanian PM office against Open Balkan (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Ten cases of Covid-19 registered in Serbian areas in Kosovo on Saturday (Radio KIM)
  • UNS and its branch in Kosovo: Serbian List to invite journalists without selection to events of public significance (Radio KIM)
  • Serbian List submitted list of candidates for mayors (Radio KIM)
  • Vucina Jankovic new head of North Mitrovica administrative district (KoSSev)
  • Citizens’ associations and Serbian media in Kosovo – Pandemic of security incidents (Danas)
  • Serbian minister says third vaccine dose as of this week (N1)
  • One more “KLA” graffiti inscribed in Gracanica (Radio KIM)
  • “Wherever Americans were, they left eventually, Pristina must think about that” (B92, RTS)

International:

  • Balkan states scramble to evacuate stranded citizens From Afghanistan (BIRN)
  • Balkan countries offer refuge to Afghans after Taliban takeover (BIRN)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Wasted Water: Leaking Pipelines Threaten to Let Balkans Run Dry (Balkan Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

COVID-19: 740 new cases, two deaths (media)

Kosovo has recorded 740 new cases with COVID-19 and two deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours. 48 persons recovered from the virus during this time. There are 8,544 active cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo.

Recommendations how to increase vaccination rates (Koha)

Kosovo Chamber of Commerce chairman, Berat Rukiqi, and CiviKos Platform Executive Director, Donika Emini, at a joint press conference today in Prishtina gave recommendations on the management of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and ways how to increase vaccination against the virus. The recommendations were drafted after consultations with business representatives and partners from civil society. 

At the press conference it was said that the spike in new cases and the slow pace of vaccination has raised concerns for a new lockdown which would have a grave impact on the private sector and families depending on incomes from this sector.

The recommendations include eliminating bureaucracy in making vaccination appointments to secure an easier and simpler access for the citizens, the possibility of vaccination at the closest center regardless of the official place of residence, vaccination for business through mobile teams, mobile vaccination teams in rural and more remote areas, reorganising resources among healthcare staff in order to have vaccination over the weekend, vaccination in squares and main centers, and cooperation with other countries to ensure that Kosovo’s vaccination passport is recognised.

Foreign Ministry working to evacuate three Kosovars from Afghanistan (media)

Kosovo’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement today that it is in direct contact with three Kosovars in Afghanistan and that it is working on their evacuation. The three Kosovo nationals are not in danger. 

“Frequent changes of government delayed issue of missing persons” (EO)

Frequent changes of government in Kosovo has caused delays in resolving the fates of missing persons, say families of missing persons from the war in Kosovo. Bajrami Qerkini, representative of the families of missing persons, said in an interview with the news website, that he is pessimistic about any eventual progress, because he argued that the latest excavations in Kizevak and in other locations have turned into a political game. “It is a sin to play games with this location. Work was done there for five years and the point where they [bodies of missing persons] are was known. There were also witnesses and satellite images. A political game is being played and it is tearing our hearts,” he said.

Qerkini also said that no one should expect that Serbia will open its military archives without strong international pressure. “If Serbia does not open its archives, only the internationals can help us, and they can do so through satellite images so that the process is not left in Serbia’s hands,” he said.

VV, LDK and AAK to run with single list in Gracanica (Kallxo)

Three Albanian political parties – the Vetevendosje Movement (VV), Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) – have decided to join forces and run with a single election list in the mainly Serb-inhabited municipality of Gracanica in the upcoming October local elections. The three parties have set aside their rivalries at the central level and formed the list called the Albanian Alliance for Gracanica. An LDK representative in Gracanica said the Alliance aims to combat the corrupt governance of the Serbian List and in no way the Serb people. 

€2.6 million for environmental protection and diaspora investments (media)

Kosovo’s Ministry for Regional Development signed a cooperation agreement with Caritas today, amounting to €2.6 million destined for environmental protection, municipal reintegration and the diaspora. Minister Fitim Damka said the agreement will contribute to regional and socio-economic development. “The agreement involves two projects: a project for the environmental impact of the youth and a project for municipal reintegration and the diaspora. Caritas Director for Kosovo, Gerhard Schaumberger, said “the projects arrive in good time and address many important topics including climate changes and reintegration”. “As Caritas we have been in Kosovo for 20 years now and we give priority to projects in the municipalities. With the project for migration and the diaspora we want to attract diaspora investments,” he said.

Protest in front of Albanian PM office against Open Balkan (media)

Members of the Movement for Democracy held a protest in front of the office of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in Tirana today, in opposition to the Open Balkan initiative. The activists displayed photos showing Rama shaking hands with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, photos of Vucic alongside Slobodan Milosevic and also images from the Serbian genocide against the Albanian population in Kosovo. “We expressed our dissatisfaction with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, his ties with Serbian criminal Vucic, who committed massacres in Kosovo, and we also presented all the facts about Vucic’s ties with Milosevic, and we opposed Rama’s initiative for a Balkans Mini-Schengen,” an activist said.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Ten cases of Covid-19 registered in Serbian areas in Kosovo on Saturday (Radio KIM)

Out of 42 tested samples in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo, ten were positive for Covid-19, Crisis Committee of Mitrovica North announced on Saturday, Radio KIM reports.

The new cases were registered as follows: five in Mitrovica North, two each in Zvecan and Leposavic and one in Gracanica.

Currently there are 37 active cases of Covid-19 in the Serbian areas in Kosovo.

A total of 20.956 have been tested since the outbreak of the pandemic and out of this number 6.074 persons were positive for Covid-19.

Also, a total of 149 persons have died in the Serbian areas in Kosovo since the outbreak of the pandemic. 

UNS and its branch in Kosovo: Serbian List to invite journalists without selection to events of public significance (Radio KIM)

Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) and its branch in Kosovo protested over, as they said, selective invitation of the journalists during submission of Serbian List’s list of candidates to the Central Election Commission in Pristina for upcoming local elections, Radio KIM reports.

Serbian List submitted a list of candidates on August 14, and didn’t invite the majority of the media outlets, including the both, local media and correspondents based in Kosovo.

UNS and its branch in Kosovo recalled it was not the first time that the Serbian List applied a selective approach while inviting media to the events, and it also makes selection to which media its representatives would give statements.

UNS and UNS in Kosovo requested representatives of the Serbian List and persons responsible for contacts with the media to treat journalists equally and that apart from statements they send, invite all reporters to the events and respond to media calls. 

Serbian List submitted list of candidates for mayors (Radio KIM)

Representatives of the Serbian List headed by Goran Rakic submitted to the Central Election Commission in Pristina a list of candidates for mayors in 11 municipalities and municipal councilors in 22 municipalities, Radio KIM reports.

Three current mayors in the northern municipalities are also on the mayoral candidates list for upcoming elections, Milan Radojevic in Mitrovica North, Zoran Todic in Leposavic and Srdjan Vulovic in Zubin Potok. The novelty is that instead of Vucina Jankovic, current mayor of Zvecan, a new candidate is Dragisa Milovic, former the longtime president of Zvecan municipality, who at the last elections in 2017 was a candidate of a “broader civic coalition” but lost to Vucina Jankovic.

There are two women among mayoral candidates on the list, Ljiljana Subaric in Gracanica and Katarina Ristic-Ilic in Raniliug.  

Others include Goran Dancetovic in Obilic municipality, Sasa Milosevic in Novo Brdo, Bozidar Dejanovic in Klokot, Dalibor Jevtic in Strpce and Dragan Petkovic in Partes.

Serbian List also has more than 400 candidates for municipal councilors in 22 municipalities, including Gnjilane, Istok, Kamenica, Klina, Kosovo Polje, Lipljan, Orahovac, Pec, Pristina, Vucitrn and Srbica.

Petkovic: Only Serbian List has support of Belgrade

“Our Serbian List has submitted the list of candidates for 11 mayors and councilors”, Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Petar Petkovic wrote on Facebook.

“Among them there are even six new candidates, because we want to offer citizens fresh energy and ideas, along with an already proven team. It is the Serbian List only that bravely and truly fights for the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija, it is the Serbian List only that has support of the official Belgrade and together we are a defense and a barrier against all those troubled by Serbian unity”, Petkovic said.

Vucina Jankovic new head of North Mitrovica administrative district (KoSSev)

The current mayor of Zvecan within the Kosovo system, Vucina Jankovic, has been appointed head of the North Mitrovica administrative district within the system of the Republic of Serbia, KoSSev portal reports.

Jankovic was appointed by a decision of the Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabic, on July 29th this year, the administrative district announced on its official website today.

Vucina Jankovic holds a master’s degree in law. Born in 1982 in North Mitrovica, Jankovic is married and has three children.

Previously, this post was held by another member of the Serbian List, Slavko Simic, from the municipality of Leposavic. Simic was appointed at a session of the Government of Serbia held on November 28th, 2019, and after the dismissal of Vaso Jelic, at his personal request.

The news of the appointment of Jankovic comes just two days after SL announced that the party’s new candidate for mayor in the upcoming local elections in Kosovo will be the former longtime mayor of this municipality, Dragisa Milovic.

See at: https://bit.ly/3smTEh1

Citizens’ associations and Serbian media in Kosovo – Pandemic of security incidents (Danas)

A group of civil society associations and media in the Serbian language active in Kosovo said today “the lack of public reactions by the crucial holders of authorities but also within political elites in Kosovo to numerous, recorded incidents and physical attacks, as well as harsh rhetoric were concerning”, Danas daily reports.

In a joint statement, 15 associations and media outlets, members of Empirica platform said “it was impossible to find any justification for 48 different incidents, reported by the field coordinators of the Rapid Action Working Group, including a significant number of cases involving damages of the Serbian Orthodox Church properties”.

“Instead of recommendations that are almost never or rather rarely adopted, by this statement we request from responsible bodies to undertake thorough investigations of all unresolved cases”, they said. 

They also called upon Kosovo “prime minister, president and central institutions to publicly condiment all incidents and advocate for efficient investigation that would remove possible public speculations on motives and perpetrators of some criminal acts”.

They also urged the Serbian List that “as a part of the Kosovo Government insist on institutional protection of the Serbian community”.

Serbian minister says third vaccine dose as of this week (N1)

Serbian Minister of Labor, Social and Veterans Affairs Darija Kisic-Tepavcevic said health care facilities would start administering a third coronavirus vaccine shot on Tuesday for people who received their second shot at least six months earlier, N1 reports.

Kisic-Tepavcevic told RTS the third dose is not mandatory but is recommended for people with immunity issues. “People who have undergone transplantation, on dialysis, anyone on immunosuppressive therapy, or over the age of 70 and in social care facilities as well as international travellers”, she said.

Kisic-Tepavcevic, who is also in the government pandemic response team as a medical expert, said the third dose is also recommended for health care staff.

One more “KLA” graffiti inscribed in Gracanica (Radio KIM)

“KLA” graffiti was sprayed on a wall of the Serbian house in Gracanica, Radio KIM reported Friday, adding this was the second such case in 24 hours.

Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Petar Petkovic informed the public about it. He wrote on Twitter that graffiti was inscribed on a wall of a family house, where Slavica Aleksic lives with three small children.

“I expect KFOR to increase its presence in the Serbian areas in Kosovo. Since the beginning of the year we have had more accidents than during the previous year alone. Serbs feel distressed over these threats”, Petkovic wrote on Twitter.

He added the threats took place on a day when Serbs commemorate the eighteenth anniversary of the crime in Gorazdevac village, in which two Serb boys were killed and three more and a girl wounded.

Previously, “KLA” graffiti was inscribed in the center of Gracanica. 

“Wherever Americans were, they left eventually, Pristina must think about that” (B92, RTS)

Serbian Assembly Secretary General Veljko Odalovic said that “since the Americans withdrew from Afghanistan, it means that the Taliban won”, B92 reports.

Wherever the Americans were, they left that place eventually, and Pristina must think about that, Odalovic said.

Taliban insurgents, who control nearly two-thirds of Afghanistan, entered the capital, Kabul, on Sunday and occupied the presidential palace. They announce that they will declare the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, but they promise not to take revenge on anyone. The President of Afghanistan has left the country.

Odalovic told RTS morning program that the Taliban are someone who “inherits” sharia, which has been put on hold even in many Muslim countries.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3AJE6XA

 

 

International 

 

Balkan states scramble to evacuate stranded citizens From Afghanistan (BIRN)

Governments in the Balkans are closely monitoring the unfolding situation in Kabul and making plans to ensure the safe evacuation of remaining nationals from the aiport, which Turkish troops are helping to guard.

Balkan governments say they are ready to help evacuate their remaining citizens from Afghanistan after Taliban forces seized control of Kabul over the weekend and as the United States pulls out its remaining forces. Most Balkan nationals still in the country are presumed safe.

North Macedonia said it is working to ensure the return of some 100 nationals from Afghanistan, mostly employees in private companies, adding that it believes all these people are safe for now.

It said that while several relatives of these people had called the government, no one has yet asked for its help with evacuation, which suggests that most of them will get out on flights organised by their companies.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani talked to his Turkish Counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, after which he said Turkey was ready to help with evacuations if need be. Turkish troops are guarding Kabul airport.

Turkey itself has the highest number of foreigners in the country after the US and is also one of the few countries that has not closed its embassy.

On Monday, Turkish Airlines said a plane was on its way to Kabul to evacuate 324 Turkish citizens. Turkey has meanwhile sent 600 soldiers to protect the airport. There are also Turkish police and gendarmerie in Kabul.

The Turkish foreign ministry last night asked all remaining civilians in the country to communicate with the embassy on evacuation plans.

The charge d’affaires of Serbia’s embassy in India, which also covers Afghanistan, Sinisa Pavic, on Sunday said no Serbian citizens had asked for evacuation from Afghanistan, though on Monday he said three of them now want to flee the country.

“As of this morning, we have information about three of our citizens who are in Afghanistan. We are in permanent contact with them and are working on their emergency evacuation, given the dramatic situation in Kabul,” Pavic told Tanjug news agency.

Two Serbian citizens told N1 television that they are in contact with the Serbian embassy in India and that there is one other female citizen in Kabul.

Serbia’s Foreign Ministry did not respond to BIRN’s query about the total number of Serbian citizens in Kabul or about the plans about their evacuation.

Kosovo’s Foreign Ministry said it had set up a helpline number (+38345492316) where citizens can be informed about evacuation guidelines. It has not said how many Kosovo citizens are in Afghanistan.

“The Kosovo government is working … on the identification of Kosovo citizens who are there [in Afghanistan] and providing help for evacuation,” the ministry said, adding: “Together with our international partners, we are using all ways and means to enable a safe evacuation for everyone.”

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Sunday said about 20 to 30 Croatian nationals remained in Afghanistan but that their employers had organised their return.

Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić-Radman on Monday said that, “the evascuation of our people is under way”, while media reported that seven Croat nationals had arrived in Doha.

Some reportedly managed to get out on a Ukrainian plane on Monday.

“Ukrainian aircraft stationed in Afghanistan took citizens of Ukraine, the Netherlands, Croatia, Belarus, Afghanistan out of Kabul. They’re safe now,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, wrote on Twitter on Monday.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has said that its embassy in Pakistan, which also covers Afghanistan, has received information about five citizens in Afghanistan.

According to its information, they are all in the vicinity of Kabul airport and for now their lives are not in danger. Bosnia’s Foreign Ministry said these citizens had been promised evacuation by their firms.

Romania’s government urged all remaining nationals to return home last Friday. Some 60 Romanians are believed to be still in the country. The government has not issued any update since then, or disclosed any plans for their safe return.

Moldova’s Foreign Ministry told BIRN that some nationals had requested help with evacuation from Afganistan. It would be “fully involved in evacuating Moldovan citizens by ensuring coordinated communication through diplomatic channels with partner countries that have a diplomatic representation in Kabul”, the press office said.

Moldovan diplomats are reportedly in contact with counterparts from Romania and Ukraine, if need be, to assist Moldovan citizens. The last Moldovan aircraft operating in Afghanistan left the country on Sunday after the Taliban took control. According to the Moldovan Civil Aviation Authority, only one Moldovan aircraft contracted by the UN is still at the airport in Kabul.

Montenegro’s Foreign Ministry on Monday said no Montenegrins citizen had asked for evacuation assistance from Afghanistan. It said anyone in need of help should contact the Serbian embassy in Delhi. Bulgaria and Albania have not issued any information on possible evacuation of remaining citizens from Afghanistan.

The Taliban took over Afghanistan’s capital on Sunday and declared the long civil war over. The US-backed government has collapsed. Many countries, led by the United States are evacuating people from Kabul airport.

Balkan countries offer refuge to Afghans after Taliban takeover (BIRN)

After Taliban forces swept to power in Afghanistan, governments in Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia have accepted a US request to offer temporary refuge to some political refugees who are fleeing the country in fear of retaliation.

Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia have expressed readiness to temporarily host an undefined number of Afghans fleeing their country after Taliban forces seized control over the weekend as the United States pulled out.

“It is true that in recent days, US government has asked Albania to assess if we could serve as a transit country for a certain number of Afghan political migrants, which have US as the final destination. And undoubtedly we will not say no, not only because our allies are asking this, but because we are Albania,” Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said in a statement on Facebook on Sunday.

The final destination for the refugees, who fear retaliation from the Taliban because they cooperated with NATO forces in Afghanistan, is the US. Their number is so far unknown.

Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani also confirmed that her country agreed to the request to give temporary safe haven refugees “without any hesitation”.

“Kosovo respects the international right and obligation to not close the door to refugees,” Osmani said.

The Kosovo government said that discussions with the US government over hosting the refugees started in mid-July.

Luan Dalipi, chief of staff of Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti, told BIRN that since then, the government has been in “constant communication and cooperation” with the US authorities.

“There are many logistical, technical, security and social issues we are carefully addressing. The US is our main ally and our strategic partner,” Dalipi said.

North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told media on Sunday that his country will accept civilians from Afghanistan who need evacuation and that they will be allowed to stay in the country until a more permanent solution is found for them.

“With the aim of saving the lives of the local population [in Afghanistan], we have informed the US that we are ready to accept civilians from Afghanistan who over the past 20 years have been working for peace in that country, who were the local support for the allied NATO troops, including our forces, including activists from the humanitarian and human rights organisations,” Zaev said.

He said that North Macedonia could accommodate the refugees in hotels and resorts, and that the financial cost for this accommodation, until a more permanent solution is found, will be covered by the US.

“We are a country of solidarity. Our people and our society have always given support and help, the same way we have been receiving help during major catastrophes,” Zaev said.

Washington wants to evacuate thousands of people from Afghanistan and has been seeking other countries to host them temporarily while their papers for entering the US are finalised.

Adrian Shtuni, a Washington-based foreign policy and security specialist, told BIRN that Tirana and Pristina’s move to shelter Afghans was “as much a sign of moral leadership and humanitarian compassion as it is a confirmation that Albanians are reliable partners of the United States”.

“The main concerns associated with refugee relocations are often related to potential security risks and financial costs. From a security perspective, there’s no reason to believe the contingent of Afghan refugees would present a risk. These are interpreters and contractors (as well as family members) employed by the US Military, waiting to be issued Special Immigration Visas by the US State Department. They are not former fighters or militants,” Shtuni said.

Adrian Shtuni said that both Albania and Kosovo will not be burdened by hosting the Afghans because “the refugee contingent will be a few hundred people and neither Albania nor Kosovo are intended as their final destination the financial costs will be contained”.

The chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez, welcomed Albania’s decision to give temporary safe haven to the Afghans.

“The people of Albania are once again showing the world what ‘BESA’ [‘word of honour’ in Albanian] means. You have our respect and thanks,” Menendez wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

 

 

Humanitarian/Development 

 

Wasted Water: Leaking Pipelines Threaten to Let Balkans Run Dry (Balkan Insight)

As climate change becomes more evident and droughts worsen, Balkan cities need to reduce the huge amount of water leaking each year from pipelines.

Every day a woman went to a deep well in the middle of a vast meadow to fill her pots with water. The well had a lid which had to be covered to stop the water from overflowing. So, every day, the woman opened and closed the lid, until one day she forgot to cover the well.

The next morning, the meadow was deep in water and turning into a marsh. The water kept pouring out and getting higher and higher. Nobody could get down the well and put the lid on again, so they left the water to flow. That’s how Lake Ohrid came to be, according to a Macedonian myth.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/2VUaoA0

 

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