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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, October 12, 2021

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• Osmani: Serbia continues undermining the state of Kosovo (media)
• KSC judge asks Kosovo Police to declare whether it can enforce interim release conditions (media)
• Miftaraj: Pre-trial judge’s request is unreasonable (Koha)
• Pressure for Association increases (Koha)
• Kosovo Court Annuls Decision on Energy Bills in Serb-Dominated North (BIRN)
• Abdixhiku: International community to be convinced to be on Kosovo’s side (Kanal 10)
• Kosovo mayoral candidates unveil plans to fight extremism (BIRN)
• Voters not to be requested vaccination certificates on election day (Telegrafi)
• COVID-19: Two deaths, 14 new cases (media)

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  • Osmani: Serbia continues undermining the state of Kosovo (media)
  • KSC judge asks Kosovo Police to declare whether it can enforce interim release conditions (media)
  • Miftaraj: Pre-trial judge’s request is unreasonable (Koha)
  • Pressure for Association increases (Koha)
  • Kosovo Court Annuls Decision on Energy Bills in Serb-Dominated North (BIRN)
  • Abdixhiku: International community to be convinced to be on Kosovo’s side (Kanal 10)
  • Kosovo mayoral candidates unveil plans to fight extremism (BIRN)
  • Voters not to be requested vaccination certificates on election day (Telegrafi)
  • COVID-19: Two deaths, 14 new cases (media)

 

Osmani: Serbia continues undermining the state of Kosovo (media)

President of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani reacted to the Non-Aligned Movement conference in Belgrade saying that “Serbia is continuing its efforts to undermine the state of Kosovo with forged arguments and narratives.”

Osmani accused Serbia of causing the violent disintegration of Yugoslavia, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, and of violating NAM principles. “As a colonizing state with destabilizing policies, denying the genocide committed against innocent civilians and with actions that are day in and day out in conflict with the efforts for peace and stability in our region, Serbia thus proves that it is in contravention of the values upon which the NAM is built.”

She added: “Kosovo’s independence has been recognized by a considerable number of NAM member states. The International Court of Justice in 2010 confirmed that Kosovo’s declaration of independence does not violate international law. Therefore, I call on all NAM states which have not as yet recognized Kosovo to be guided by this interpretation of the ICJ and not by the Serbian propaganda, deeply rooted in the Milosevician mindset.

“In order to contribute to good neighborly relations between the two countries, Serbia must give up its efforts to undermine Kosovo’s international position, through lobbying against Kosovo’s membership in international organizations and by campaigning against the recognition of Kosovo’s independence by other countries.”

Osmani concluded by saying she hoped that the NAM participating countries would “clearly reject Serbia’s efforts to misuse the conference to pursue its destabilizing political agendas against the Republic of Kosovo and against other countries of our region.”

KSC judge asks Kosovo Police to declare whether it can enforce interim release conditions (media)

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers pre-trial judge in the case against Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi, and Jakup Krasniqi has ordered the Kosovo Police to declare whether it can enforce the conditions attached to the possible interim release of the accused.

“Having regard to the conditions proposed by the Accused in relation to their applications for interim release and without prejudice to any determination to be made by the Pre-Trial Judge in relation to the decisions remanded by the Court of Appeals, the Pre-Trial Judge orders the Kosovo Police to, as further specified in the Annex to the present Order, provide information regarding: (i) the authority and capability of the Kosovo Police to restrict the movements of individuals subject to conditional release, monitor and restrict such individuals’ communications, administer house arrest, and the enforceability of conditions attaching to interim release; and (ii) previous instances of enforcing conditions attaching to the interim release or detention of persons accused of severe crimes. In addition, the Kosovo Police may provide any additional information that is considered to be relevant in relation to the enforcement of conditional release,” the order reads.

The Kosovo Police is further requested to provide the above information within two weeks of having received the Albanian translation of the judge’s order.

Miftaraj: Pre-trial judge’s request is unreasonable (Koha)

Reporting on the request made by the Kosovo Specialist Chambers pre-trial judge to the Kosovo Police to declare whether it can enforce the conditions attached to the possible interim release of the former KLA leaders who are awaiting trial at The Hague on war crimes charges, Koha quotes Ehat Miftaraj from the Kosovo Law Institute saying that there is reason to believe that the defendants – Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi and Jakup Krasniqi – could soon be released on bail.

Miftaraj said however that the pre-trial judge’s order to the Kosovo Police is unreasonable. “To me, such a request makes no sense because the Law on Specialist Chambers clearly stipulates that any decision taken by the Specialist Court has to be fully implemented by all institutions. The failure to implement such decisions constitutes a criminal act, that of obstruction of administration of justice,” he said.

“The detainees will soon mark one year in a detention facility and I am convinced that the court will be forced to take some decision in the favour of the accused for the fact that the judicial proceedings against them have not yet started and based on what we as KLI have observed during the monitoring, September of next year could be the earliest possible scenario to commence,” Miftaraj added.

Pressure for Association increases (Koha)

Koha reports on the front page that there is a mounting pressure on the Government of Kosovo on the issue of the Association of Serb-majority municipalities based on the statements from the EU officials following the agreement on license plates.

“No doubt the formation of the Association will be the topic of the next dialogue meeting,” said Demush Shasha from the Pristina-based Epik Institute. He said the Kosovo institutions should insist on two principles in face of the growing pressure: “The first principle is that any discussion on the establishment o the Association should be done in the backdrop of the United States request and President Biden as well as the European Union regarding the achievement of the final agreement on normalisation of relations. In other words, the Kosovo side should be ready to discuss the formation of the Association but only as part of a broader final agreement on normalisation of relations where the Association would be one of the elements of the deal.”

The second principle, Shasha continued, relates to the model of the Association. “Any type of model discussed for the establishment of an association should be a successful European model, namely any arrangement of this association should be fully in line with a successful experience implemented in one of the EU countries.”

Kosovo Court Annuls Decision on Energy Bills in Serb-Dominated North (BIRN)

Pristina Basic Court on Monday said it has annulled a decision of Kosovo’s Energy Regulation Office, ERO, on the payment of electricity bills for consumers from four northern Serb-dominated municipalities – Mitrovica North, Leposavic, Zvecan and Zubin Potok.

It ordered ERO to “get the Energy Distribution Company, KEDS, to return the billed amount, namely compensate the damage to consumers who have been billed for the energy spent in four Kosovo northern municipalities from 06.02 2012 to 20.10.2017 to the amount of 40,855,480.00 euros,” the court said.

The verdict, which can be challenged in the Court of Appeals, comes five years after the Basic Court put ERO’s decision under an interim measure following a complaint filed by the Ombudsperson.

Since then, electricity bills for consumers from the four municipalities have been paid by the Kosovo government.

In 2012, Ombudsperson launched an investigation into illegal billing of energy spent in the northern municipalities and found that consumers from the rest of Kosovo had been billed for around 8 million euros spent in these municipalities.

KEDS declined to comment to BIRN on the verdict. “We are a regulated company. This issue has to do with ERO and all decisions belong to this institution,” KEDS said.

In May this year, the government agreed to cover another six months of electricity bills run up in the mainly Serbian north of Kosovo, while pushing for a final resolution of a problem, which has cost Kosovo tax payers tens of millions of euros.

According to the plan, the public transmission enterprise, KOSTT, will be obliged to cover the unpaid bills in the north for six more months.

Serbs in the four northern municipalities have not paid for their electricity since the end of the Kosovo war in 1999. Since Kosovo declared independence in 2008, this situation has continued.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3BxGx0h

Abdixhiku: International community to be convinced to be on Kosovo’s side (Kanal 10)

Leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) Lumir Abdixhiku said Kosovo needs to, as he said, convince the international community to support it against Serbia. He noted that he never opposed the dialogue as a tool but that he has often objected to the content of the process.

“The constitutional order cannot be undermined, it needs to be upheld. Exchange of territories [is] a cause I always rejected. The dialogue needs to take on a conclusion, we need not avoid it.”

Abdixhiku also spoke about the gas pipeline project saying he was invited by PM Albin Kurti for a meeting on the issue but that he did not attend. “We received an invitation from Kurti on the gas issue, to tell us why he is refusing it but I did not go because I cannot be the one leading the works of the government. If he needs to free his seat, then this would be another matter.” He added however that it is an “unforgivable mistake” for Kosovo to refuse a project from the U.S.

Kosovo mayoral candidates unveil plans to fight extremism (BIRN)

Back in the 2017 local elections, a candidate for a mayoral post in Kosovo responded only briefly, when asked about his plans to prevent violent extremism.

“This is a matter for the police,” the candidate told a TV debate, Jeta ne Komune – Life in the Municipality.

Back then, hundreds of Kosovo youngsters had gone to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside Islamist terrorist organisations like ISIS and Al-Nusra, many of them taking wives and children, leaving behind worried family members and a damaged image of their country.

According to Kosovo’s Ministry of Interior, some 74 of their children were returned to the country in 2019, 26 of them of preschool age.

From being a taboo issue, Islamist extremism – and how to counter it – has now become a normal discussion point for the same mayoral candidates who shied away from it in the past.

Mayors have become aware that the social services offered in each town and the education systems run by towns and cities can play a key role in preventing violent extremism in its early stages, by detecting it as early as possible.

Through a program called the Resilient Community Programme, RCP, formed of four NGOs, Kosovo civil society has been working with local authorities to prevent violent extremism and to encourage the resocialization of returnee fighters from Syria and Iraq and their families.

Municipalities in Kosovo are responsible for public safety and social working centres. They can also appoint a certain number of social workers and psychologists, depending on the needs of each city and public school.

As a part of RCP, BIRN has been asking mayoral candidates in the current local election campaign how they would increase capacities to deal with violent extremism in their municipalities, if they become mayor.

Considering that some mayoral candidates still consider the central government responsible for dealing with extremism, BIRN has sent a letter to all mayoral candidates, reminding them of the responsibilities of local authorities in dealing with this matter.

There are over 12 obligations that mayors have, according to the National Strategy Against Terrorism and Violent Extremism that runs in Kosovo from 2021 to 2025.

In the 25 BIRN-run DebatPernime (Real Debates) held so far, the answers of local would-be mayors varied.

Four years ago, local authorities largely claimed that it was “up to the police to deal with this”.

Now, candidates understand that violent extremism is a social matter and that they have to offer solutions, and boost the municipal services available, assisting communities in dealing with violent individuals.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3oSw5Ne

Voters not to be requested vaccination certificates on election day (Telegrafi)

The voters heading to the polls this Sunday will not be requested to present vaccination certificates, Telegrafi reports quoting spokesperson for the Central Election Commission (CEC) Valmir Elezi.

“The Central Election Commission will not require the voters to present evidence of vaccination or negative test results for COVID-19,” Elezi said, adding that the CEC asks the voters to adhere to already known measures against COVID-19 as announced by relevant health authorities. “The voters need to wear masks at all times, with the exception of when they need to be identified by the members of the polling centre council.”

COVID-19: Two deaths, 14 new cases (media)

Two deaths from COVID-19 and 14 new cases with the virus were recorded in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. 74 persons recovered from the virus during this time.

There are 1,095 active cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo.

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