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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, October 15, 2021

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Albanian Language Media:

• President Osmani to address UN Security Council session at 16:00 (media)
• Borrell, Blinken call for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue to continue (RFE)
• “Der Standard”: Belgrade seems to be writing Borrell’s Twitter posts (Koha)
• Kosovo offers to U.S.opportunity to build permanent military base media)
• 30 days of detention for suspects arrested in police operation in north (media)
• New COMKFOR: We remain committed to peace and stability (Klan Kosova)
• 3,500 police officers, 35 judges and 80 prosecutors for election security (media)
• MacShane: Hope Hill puts map of independent Kosovo in his office (Express)
• COVID-19: 20 new cases, no deaths (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Vucic to Borrell: Serbia wants peace, stability, ready for talks with Pristina (N1)
• Rada Trajkovic on police action in northern Kosovo, responds to British Embassy (Kosovo-online)
• Marko Jaksic points out the demands to boycott the institutions in Pristina (Danas, FoNet)
• House of Rumena Ljubic in center of Pec stoned for second time (RTS)
• The last day of the election campaign, Serb candidates for president in 11 municipalities (Kosovo Online, RTS)
• Vucic with Putin on November 25 (Vecernje Novosti)
• UNS: To investigate who was behind hacker attack on Kosovo-online portal (Radio KIM)
• Petkovic: Kurti generates crisis for handful of votes (Radio KIM)

Opinion:

• Bieber: Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia unsurprising considering the state of EU policy (EWB)

International:

• US Names Wartime Serbia-Kosovo Negotiator as Belgrade Ambassador (BIRN)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • President Osmani to address UN Security Council session at 16:00 (media)
  • Borrell, Blinken call for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue to continue (RFE)
  • “Der Standard”: Belgrade seems to be writing Borrell’s Twitter posts (Koha)
  • Kosovo offers to U.S.opportunity to build permanent military base media)
  • 30 days of detention for suspects arrested in police operation in north (media)
  • New COMKFOR: We remain committed to peace and stability (Klan Kosova)
  • 3,500 police officers, 35 judges and 80 prosecutors for election security (media)
  • MacShane: Hope Hill puts map of independent Kosovo in his office (Express)
  • COVID-19: 20 new cases, no deaths (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Vucic to Borrell: Serbia wants peace, stability, ready for talks with Pristina (N1)
  • Rada Trajkovic on police action in northern Kosovo, responds to British Embassy (Kosovo-online)
  • Marko Jaksic points out the demands to boycott the institutions in Pristina (Danas, FoNet)
  • House of Rumena Ljubic in center of Pec stoned for second time (RTS)
  • The last day of the election campaign, Serb candidates for president in 11 municipalities (Kosovo Online, RTS)
  • Vucic with Putin on November 25 (Vecernje Novosti)
  • UNS: To investigate who was behind hacker attack on Kosovo-online portal (Radio KIM)
  • Petkovic: Kurti generates crisis for handful of votes (Radio KIM)

Opinion:

  • Bieber: Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia unsurprising considering the state of EU policy (EWB)

International:

  • US Names Wartime Serbia-Kosovo Negotiator as Belgrade Ambassador (BIRN)

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

President Osmani to address UN Security Council session at 16:00 (media)

Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani will address the session of the United Nations Security Council on Kosovo at 16:00. The SC session will discuss the report of the SRSG on developments in Kosovo.

Borrell, Blinken call for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue to continue (RFE)

EU High Representative Josep Borrell and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken agreed in their meeting that steps are needed to reduce tensions in Kosovo north and for the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia to resume as soon as possible, an EU spokesperson said today.

“Der Standard”: Belgrade seems to be writing Borrell’s Twitter posts (Koha)

The Austrian newspaper Der Standard writes in a comment on recent developments in the Balkans that “when Kosovo Police carried out an operation against criminals this week, only one of the arrested was a Serb”. “Kosovo Serbs however attacked the police and Belgrade acted as if Serbs in Kosovo were being persecuted. Vucic talked gibberish about the alleged violence of Kosovo authorities,” the paper noted.

Der Standard also wrote that Belgrade was dictating the Twitter posts of European Union High Representative Josep Borrell. “Despite these coordinated efforts for instability, the EU did not react with clear remarks but made the situation even worse. EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell did not support the Kosovo rule of law, but criticised the Kosovo police for alleged ‘uncoordinated measures’. It seems that Belgrade is dictating his Twitter posts and he believes he is competent to protect criminals,” the paper added.

Kosovo offers to United States opportunity to build permanent military base media)

Kosovo has offered to the United States of America to build a permanent military base in Kosovo. The proposal was made on behalf of the Kosovo Government by Kosovo’s Minister of Defense Armend Mehaj in his meeting at the Pentagon with the US UnderSecretary of Defense Colin Kahl. Mehaj said the creation of such a base would “contribute to regional peace and stability in the Balkans”.

A press release issued by Kosovo’s Ministry of Defense said Under Secretary Kahl reconfirmed the US support for Kosovo towards Euro-Atlantic integration, “emphasising that the vision of US President Joe Biden for the integration of the Western Balkans into the EU remains on the priority agenda”.

Mehaj and Kahl also talked about the Kosovo Security Force, and Kahl promised that the US would provide continuous support to the KSF. 

30 days of detention for suspects arrested in police operation in north (media)

The Special Department of the Basic Court in Prishtina has ordered 30-days detention for the five suspects arrested during the Kosovo Police anti-smuggling operation in the north. The suspects are charged with participating or organising an organised criminal group and smuggling of goods.

New COMKFOR: We remain committed to peace and stability (Klan Kosova)

Hungarian General Ferenc Kajari, the new commander of KFOR peacekeeping troops, said today that he will do his best during his one-year mandate at the helm of the force. “I pledge to follow in the path that my predecessors have paved before me. I consider it a duty for KFOR to maintain credibility in implementing its mission and to remain committed to peace and stability in Kosovo,” Kajari said.

3,500 police officers, 35 judges and 80 prosecutors for election security (media)

Kosovo Central Election Commission (CEC) President Kreshnik Radoniqi said today they have prepared for four months for the municipal elections this Sunday. He said they have asked the government to temporarily lift the curfew for the next 48 hours, but that they have not received any response yet.

Laura Pula, from the State Prosecution, said they have made all preparations to ensure a smooth election process on Sunday. “Our mission is to protect the vote of the people. We have 38 prosecutors on standby in 38 municipalities of Kosovo. If there is an abuse of votes, the prosecution and the police will detain those responsible,” she said.

Kosovo Police Director, Samedin Mehmeti, said police have prepared a Kosovo-wide operational plan to maintain order and peace at polling stations and for the distribution of sensitive material. Mehmeti said over 3,500 police officers will be on duty on election day.

MacShane: Hope Hill puts map of independent Kosovo in his office (Express)

UK’s former Minister of Europe, Denis MacShane, said today he hopes the new US Ambassador to Serbia, Christopher Hill, will put a map of Kosovo as an independent nation in his office. “Hope he puts up a good clear map of Kosovo as an independent nation in his office. After the disaster of the EU Western Balkans event last week, might Biden get interested in finding a way forward?” MacShane wrote in a post on Twitter.

COVID-19: 20 new cases, no deaths (media)

20 new cases with COVID-19 were recorded in Kosovo in the last 24 hours. 158 persons recovered from the virus during this time. There are 786 active cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Vucic to Borrell: Serbia wants peace, stability, ready for talks with Pristina (N1)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told Thursday the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell that Belgrade wanted peace and stability and was ready to continue the dialogue with Pristina on normalisation of relations under the EU auspices, N1 reports.

The two discussed the latest crisis in northern Kosovo over the phone and agreed it was necessary to calm tensions and solve problems, Vucic’s office said in a statement.

Vucic reiterated Serbia’s stand regarding the crisis, informed Borrell of facts and accepted his appeal for preventing things from getting out of control, the statement said.

Earlier, Vucic warned about a possible Serbia’s answer to any new violence against the Serbs in Kosovo.

Later in the day, Tanjug news agency reported that EU’s Spokesperson Peter Stano said Josep Borrell during the visit to US over the phone talked to and invited Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Albin Kurti to continue talks in Brussels in order to make progress in the dialogue and avoid the situation recently seen in northern Kosovo. He added all the EU efforts are directed at organizing a new Belgrade-Pristina meeting, first at the level of chief negotiators, then at the level of the two leaders. 

Rada Trajkovic on police action in northern Kosovo, responds to British Embassy (Kosovo-online)

President of the Serb European Movement from Kosovo and politician Rada Trajkovic reacting to police action that took place in northern Kosovo Wednesday said “it was odd way to build the trust of Kosovo Serbs towards institutions”, arguing was it really necessary to carry out such actions only four days prior to the elections and few weeks after the tensions related to vehicle licence plates, Kosovo-online portal reports. 

“But was this the best time to conduct a raid in the north to confiscate some SRB-origin fizzy drinks & a few boxes of biscuits? 4 days before the elections & just weeks after the dangerous escalation re: the license plates? Odd way to build KS Serbs’ trust in the institutions”, Trajkovic wrote.  

She also responded to the British Embassy in Kosovo saying that the problem with police action in the north was not upholding the law but excessive and insensitive use of force by the police.

“Ironic that a nation that has pioneered the concept of “policing by consent” is making excuses for brute force used by @Kosovo_Police in yesterday’s raid @UKinKosovo @nickabbottfcdo”, Trajkovic wrote.

The British Embassy in Kosovo in an earlier post on Twitter said that “Acting against organised crime is in the interests of all citizens of Kosovo and we support the Kosovan Government in upholding the rule of law throughout Kosovo”. 

Marko Jaksic points out the demands to boycott the institutions in Pristina (Danas, FoNet)

Former high-ranking official of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) and one of the leaders of Serbs from the north of Kosovo, Marko Jaksic assessed that Serbs reacted violently, because “anger has been gathering for 10 years due to the installation of another Albanian state in the Balkans”, but also that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic found himself in an awkward situation during a conversation at a meeting in Raska, reported Danas daily.

According to Jaksic, Kurti “achieved victory” regarding the license plates, “because he forced Aleksandar Vucic to remove Serbian symbols from the area of Kosovo and Metohija”.

“On the wings of that victory, he set out to establish the rule of law in the north of Kosovo on other issues as well, especially when it comes to the activities of the tax and financial police,” Jaksic explained.

However, he thinks that it was bad that Kurti, “for no reason, started to seize medicines in pharmacies, food, sugar and oil, which is in a way the most painful point of all people”

Medicines have become a problem for Serbs in northern Kosovo, Jaksic pointed out, because there are not enough of them in hospitals, so the sick are supplied in pharmacies, especially now during the pandemic and many infected people.

The Serbs reacted quite violently, angrily, “protecting above all their property and their freedom”, he repeated and stated that Kurti did not need this, especially before the local elections.

Asked about the meeting of the president of Serbia, the military and police leadership in Raska and the message to the Serbs from the north of Kosovo that “we will win in the end”, Jaksic answered that “the president tried to do marketing”.

To stage the direction and present things as a victory, “considering the defeat he suffered on the occasion of the license plates”.

Jaksic, however, thinks that the meeting had an unwanted epilogue, having in mind that ”all speakers demanded that Serbs boycott the local elections”.

As he specified, “all speakers demanded that Serbs leave the institutions of the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo, but that does not go in favor of the president, because in that way he will resent the EU and America”.

He simply could not avoid those requests and that is why he started talking about the fact that Serbia must respect international agreements, Jaksic pointed out

According to his interpretation, “the president found himself in an awkward situation as soon as he abruptly interrupted the meeting and hurried to Kraljevo”.

“I want to say that, after so many years of Vucic’s flexibility and cooperation, the Serbian people are sick of it here,” Jaksic emphasized.

As he assessed, that is the reason why Vucic reacted so violently, because in his time “the institutions of the Serbian state are disappearing more and more, which the Serbs defended under much stronger pressure”.

Jaksic also thinks that the Serbian List “in a way has never been a true representative of the Serbian people” but draws attention to the fact that it “itself admitted that they no longer want to be part of the institutions of the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo”.

House of Rumena Ljubic in center of Pec stoned for second time (RTS)

House of retired Serbian language professor 90-year old Rumena Ljubic, the only Serb woman living in the center of Pec, was stoned for the second time over the last 24 hours, RTS reported Thursday. The windows on her house have been demolished in the attack.

President of the Pec Interim Municipal Authority Milos Dimitrijevic told Radio Gorazdevac the case of house stoning has been reported to the police.

Rumena Ljubic, along with a family of the Serbian Orthodox Church priest, is the only Serb woman living in the center of the town. The priest who lives near her house and Serbs from Gorazdevac village visit her occasionally. According to her words, nothing is as difficult for her as solitude.

Dimitrijevic said the Office for Kosovo and Metohija and Interim Authority will cover the damages made on her house. 

The last day of the election campaign, Serb candidates for president in 11 municipalities (Kosovo Online, RTS)

Today is the last day of the pre-election campaign for the local Kosovo’s elections, which will be held on Sunday, October 17. 

There is a total of 26 candidates for mayors in ten Serb-majority municipalities. Out of that, 18 are Serbs, the other eight are representatives of Albanian parties, reported RTS.

In the upcoming local elections in Kosovo, Serbs also have a candidate for mayor of Obilic, although they do not have a majority in that area.

Serb-majority municipalities are Gracanica, Strpce, Ranilug, Partes, Klokot, Novo Brdo, North Mitrovica, Zvecan, Zubin Potok and Leposavic.

The Serbian List has candidates for presidents in all ten municipalities, as well as in Obilic. Four candidates have the newly formed civic initiatives and four candidates will run independently.

There were almost no pre-election activities in the past 30 days of the campaign. The candidates went to the field, but without much contact with the voters, both because of the epidemic situation and because of the events in Jarinje and Brnjak, as well as in Mitrovica and Zvecan.

There were no mass public gatherings among Albanians either. They ran the campaign mainly through appearances on television and through social networks. The largest parties – Self-Determination, the Democratic Party and the Democratic Alliance – invested the most energy for their candidates to win in Pristina, Prizren and Mitrovica

Analysts do not expect the results from the parliamentary elections in Kosovo, which were won by the Albin Kurti Self-Determination movement, to spill over into the local elections.

The Central Election Commission registered a total of 32 political parties, 34 civic initiatives, one coalition and 23 independent candidates for mayors. 1,885,000 citizens have the right to vote in local elections, and a vaccine certificate is not required or a negative test. Voting by mail ends tonight at midnight, when the election campaign ends.

Voter staff and election observers will be required to provide evidence that they have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the vaccine or that they are negative for coronavirus.

Vucic with Putin on November 25 (Vecernje Novosti)

The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic will meet with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin on November 25 in Moscow, it was confirmed to Belgrade based daily Vecernje Novosti.

The two presidents will discuss the problems in Kosovo and Metohija, the price of gas, as well as the current gas crisis in Europe, wrote the daily.

UNS: To investigate who was behind hacker attack on Kosovo-online portal (Radio KIM)

The Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) and its branch in Kosovo requested police and the Prosecutor’s Office for High-Tech Crime to urgently determine who was behind the hacker attacks on the Kosovo- online site, Radio KIM reports.

The UNS said it is particularly concerned that the attacks took place at a time when Kosovo police were conducting operations in North Mitrovica and Zvecan.

As the statement further reads, the site of Kosovo-online was unavailable on Wednesday, from 3 to 5 p.m., its work was stabilized during the evening, and the site became available again only at 9 of the same evening.

“The attacks started in the morning, there were delays in our work. We have never had such a serious blow before. At around 3 pm, we could no longer cope with the attacks. Our technicians have located where the attacks are coming from and we have no dilemma about that. We will leave it to the investigative bodies to confirm that”, Milos Garic, the Editor-in-Chief of Kosovo- online portal told UNS, adding that the attack was a signal that someone wanted to hinder their work.

Garic also said these were DDOS attacks that no site can withstand. However, he emphasized they will continue doing their job, as before. He added they are currently collecting technical documentation and will report the attack to the police.

The UNS and its branch in Kosovo pointed out that these attacks harmed the editorial office of Kosovo- online portal, visitors to their website and represented a gross attack on the freedom of journalist work.

Petkovic: Kurti generates crisis for handful of votes (Radio KIM)

Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director, Petar Petkovic told RTS Albin Kurti stormed north of Kosovo two days ago in order to have something to offer to his voters ahead of local elections, since he had nothing else to offer them, Radio KIM reports.

He also said Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic will present the facts of what Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija face, at today’s UN Security Council session on Kosovo in New York.  

“I expect nothing special given that the West supports Kurti and Pristina whatever crises they provoke. They are their babies, and we need to know that well in our struggle for Kosovo and Metohija”, Petkovic said.

He pointed out that in the press statements of some embassies in Pristina following the action and intrusion of the Kosovo police to the north, one could see that they supported the terror and violence.

“They say an action against smuggling took place, they made no remarks that Srecko Sofronijevic was shot at, that a woman at whose yard lots of tear gas was thrown passed away”, he said.  

Petkovic further noted Kurti didn’t go to the north to fight smuggling as it was stated afterwards.

“Narcotics trade and everything else takes place in the south, he wanted to enter the north ahead of elections, to clean his face before the public, to justify why he had to withdraw once the sticker regime was established. Kurti generates the crisis for a handful of votes, he has nothing else to offer to his voters, and also a good recipe is to attack Vucic, Serbs, storm the north”,  Petkovic said.

He added it was important that Serbs take part in local elections in Kosovo, and that Serbian List candidates win.

 

 

 

Opinion

 

Bieber: Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia unsurprising considering the state of EU policy (EWB)

GRAZ – The escalation of tensions between Kosovo and Serbia suggests that the negotiations by the EU have little restraining effect, which is unsurprising considering the state of EU policy towards the region, assesses Florian Bieber, Professor of Southeast European History and Politics at the University of Graz for European Western Balkans.

“This means that such tensions are more likely. It is a way to create attention in Brussels and Washington”, says Bieber, also a coordinator of the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG), commenting on the anti-smuggler police raids in Kosovo on Wednesday which caused protests in the Serb-populated north. Multiple citizens and policemen were injured, while one Kosovo Serb was shot and underwent a surgery.

Serbian authorities vocally condemned the action, while President Aleksandar Vučić met with the representatives of Kosovo Serbs in Raška municipality in southwestern Serbia on the same day.

The event came less than two weeks after a temporary agreement was reached on the dispute over licence plates, which saw barricades on the crossings of Jarinje and Brnjak, as well as the aircrafts of the Serbian Armed Forces flying over the area. Together with the events on 13 October, they represent the most serious deterioration of stability in Kosovo-Serbia relations in years.

Florian Bieber says, furthermore, that the Government of Albin Kurti has shown that it is more willing to challenge Serbia and not accept the Serbian positions to the degree some of its predecessors did.

“The main challenge is walking the tightrope between asserting sovereignty in Kosovo, and also overacting and thus contributing to an escalation. Excessive reliance on strong displays of forces might go down well with Kosovo Albanian voters but might create more instability and push some Kosovo Serbs back into Vučić’s arms”, Bieber says.

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

 

 

 

International 

 

US Names Wartime Serbia-Kosovo Negotiator as Belgrade Ambassador (BIRN)

President Joe Biden nominated Christopher Hill, who had a prominent role in peace negotiations between Serbia and the Kosovo Liberation Army in the late 1990s, as the next US ambassador to Belgrade.

US President Joe Biden has nominated retired diplomat Christopher Hill, a veteran of American involvement in the Balkans in the 1990s war years, as his country’s new ambassador to Belgrade, the White House announced on Friday.

See more at:https://bit.ly/3j2K4w8

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