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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, October 19, 2021

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• Who won the most votes in local elections? (RFE)
• Kurti: Kosovo excelled in its electoral organization (euronews.al)
• Osmani meets EU observers, relays concern over Serbia’s influence (media)
• ENEMO presents preliminary findings on Kosovo local elections (media)
• OSCE commends organisation of municipal elections (media)
• Haradinaj: Vetevendosje suffered a debacle in local elections (Klan Kosova)
• Kurti and new COMKFOR coordinate efforts for closer cooperation (media)
• After 7 years, rare trial for EU-funded Kosovo war crimes court (euronews)
• Anatomy of new Serbia-Kosovo crisis: the politics of license plates (TRTWorld)
• Borrell to Kurti and Vucic: EU-facilitated dialogue is the only way (media)
• European Commission report on Kosovo to be published today (media)
• COVID-19: No deaths, 1 new case (media)

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  • Who won the most votes in local elections? (RFE)
  • Kurti: Kosovo excelled in its electoral organization (euronews.al)
  • Osmani meets EU observers, relays concern over Serbia’s influence (media)
  • ENEMO presents preliminary findings on Kosovo local elections (media)
  • OSCE commends organisation of municipal elections (media)
  • Haradinaj: Vetevendosje suffered a debacle in local elections (Klan Kosova)
  • Kurti and new COMKFOR coordinate efforts for closer cooperation (media)
  • After 7 years, rare trial for EU-funded Kosovo war crimes court (euronews)
  • Anatomy of new Serbia-Kosovo crisis: the politics of license plates (TRTWorld)
  • Borrell to Kurti and Vucic: EU-facilitated dialogue is the only way (media)
  • European Commission report on Kosovo to be published today (media)
  • COVID-19: No deaths, 1 new case (media)

Who won the most votes in local elections? (RFE)

Although it did not manage to win any municipality in the first round, the Vetevendosje Movement is the party that has won the most votes for municipal assemblies in 17 October local elections, Radio Free Europe reports.

According to preliminary results, the Vetevendosje Movement has secured 20.56% of representation in the assemblies of municipalities across Kosovo, followed closely by the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) with 20.41%, and the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) with 19.96%. The fourth is the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo whose representatives won 12.18%.

Kurti: Kosovo excelled in its electoral organization (euronews.al)

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti made his first public appearance on Monday after Kosovo went to municipal elections on Sunday. He praised the organisation of the electoral process.

He called the comparisons being drawn between LVV’s victory on February 14’s general elections and the results of the local elections, irrelevant, because according to him, the lists of municipal candidates cannot be compared to the lists during the parliamentary elections, which were led by names such as the current president, Vjosa Osmani or even Kurti, who would go on to become Kosovo’s prime minister.

In addition, Kurti added that even though the Self-Determination Movement (LVV) was expecting to score much higher in these elections, the results according to the prime minister, have been satisfactory.

“10 years ago, we came in third. Today, we ranked first,” – said Kurti, while expressing his conviction that LVV’s candidate for mayor in Prishtina, Arben Vitia, will come out victorious after the runoffs.

Osmani meets EU observers, relays concern over Serbia’s influence (media)

President of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani met a delegation of the EU Election Observation Mission led by MEP Lukas Mandl, chief observer, and rapporteur for Kosovo, MEP Viola von Cramon.

In commending Sunday’s local elections as a confirmation of the “standard built by the Republic of Kosovo on holding of free and democratic elections”, Osmani also noted that based on the information received by Kosovo institutions the election race in the Serb-majority municipalities was influenced by Serbia’s illegal structures which she said also affected the vote outcome.

“Thanking them for their presence and readiness to stand by Kosovo in every step of consolidation of the democracy in the country, President Osmani expressed her gratitude for the positive response received by the European Parliament and praised the presence of this delegation in observing the elections,” a press release issued by the Kosovo’s presidency notes.

ENEMO presents preliminary findings on Kosovo local elections (media)

The European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO) concluded that the 2021 local elections in Kosovo were generally held in a calm environment, despite tension in the North and uncertainties regarding possible postponement of elections due to COVID-19.

“However, continuous delays in conducting an electoral reform have led to unclear and conflicting regulations affecting legal certainty. The election administration is highly centralized, with considerable responsibility, burden and power vested in the CEC. Effective oversight mechanisms, especially regarding voter registration and campaign finance, remain to be implemented,” said Pierre Peytier, head of Mission to Kosovo.

The organisations noted that the work of the Central Election Commission (CEC) was mostly transparent, and its sessions were open to observers. “However, the election administration system is highly centralized and most activities and decisions with regards to elections are made by the CEC.”

Speaking about Kosovo’s media landscape, Maja Milikic, media analyst, said that it is quite diverse despite the lack of transparency regarding media ownership. “Politicians are largely using social media in political communication, especially Facebook, the most used social network in Kosovo. All ENEMO media interlocutors raised concerns about spreading of disinformation and propaganda in social media and the lack of oversight over social and online media in Kosovo,” she said.

See the full statement at: https://bit.ly/3BV49fx

OSCE commends organisation of municipal elections (media)

The OSCE Mission in Kosovo said in a statement on Monday that it commends the Central Election Commission and the Municipal Election Commissions on their effective management of municipal elections yesterday. “We also applaud voters’ commitment in exercising their democratic right to vote, under difficult circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic. The OSCE wishes all concerned an equally smooth run-off next month and looks forward to deepening co-operation with all elected mayors and municipal officials,” the statement notes.

Haradinaj: Vetevendosje suffered a debacle in local elections (Klan Kosova)

Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) leader Ramush Haradinaj said in an interview with the TV station on Monday that the Kurti-led Vetevendosje Movement (VV) suffered a debacle in Sunday’s municipal elections. Haradinaj argued that in six months Kurti’s party went from a 50 percent popular support to 23 percent.

“This is 30 percent less. A political party went from 50.2 to 23 percent. I don’t think it has only to do with the list or with municipal problems. This rather has to do with the approach of Prime Minister Kurti and Vetevendosje; an approach that is disappointing for many citizens,” Haradinaj said. “The responsibility falls on the party leader, Kurti.”

Kurti and new COMKFOR coordinate efforts for closer cooperation (media)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti met yesterday the new KFOR Commander, Major General Ferenc Kajari whom he wished success in the new post and expressed appreciation for the role and importance of KFOR in maintaining peace and security in Kosovo.

According to a statement issued by the Government of Kosovo, Kurti and Kajari discussed continuing close inter-institutional cooperation and coordination of actions between Kosovo institutions and KFOR in the service of peace, stability and security for all citizens. “Close communication and inter-institutional coordination was assessed to be a necessity for guaranteeing security in the country, which is a common goal and priority of the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo and KFOR,” the statement adds.

After 7 years, rare trial for EU-funded Kosovo war crimes court (euronews)

On the scale of the charges levelled by Kosovo’s war crimes court against former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Hysni Gucati and Nasim Haradinaj’s alleged crimes appear to be minor.

Gucati and Haradinaj, the chairman and deputy chairman of the KLA Veterans Association in Pristina, are accused of leaking confidential documents during press conferences in Pristina in 2020. The men were indicted by the same court that recently indicted former president Hashim Thaci for war crimes.

Between 7 and 25 September 2020, Gucati and Haradinaj held a series of press conferences after claiming to have received confidential documents belonging to the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, the Netherlands-based war crimes court and its investigatory arm, the Special Prosecutor’s Office.

They are accused of giving the documents, which included names, addresses, and statements by witnesses in ongoing cases, to the press as well as branding ethnic-Albanian Kosovars who have cooperated with the court as “traitors”, “collaborators” and “spies”.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3BWJ0Bv

Anatomy of new Serbia-Kosovo crisis: the politics of license plates (TRTWorld)

The dispute over registration numbers is just the tip of the iceberg as Serbia continues to dance to the tune of its foreign backers and refuse to recognise Kosovo as an independent nation.

In “The Light That Failed,” Rudyard Kipling says, “Talking of war; there will be trouble in the Balkans in the spring.” A century later, the region is still rife with conflicts. The most recent Serbia-Kosovo tensions are reminiscent of this reality.

On 27 September, Belgrade sent tanks to its borders with Kosovo while Serbian fighter jets flew over the region. Such an escalation came after a week of Serbia-Kosovo border tensions and a lacklustre reaction from the international community.

Just two days ago on October 16, the Special Representative and head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Zahir Tanin, said relations between the two sides have deteriorated to the point that may contribute to unravelling “steady but fragile progress made in rebuilding trust among communities” in Kosovo and Serbia.

On September 20, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti promulgated a new regulation, stating that drivers from Serbia are obligated to hide or remove their registration details. This dispute has been the most serious since 2011, when Pristina introduced an embargo on products from Serbia. Now, Serbian cars must buy a new temporary plate, which costs 5 euros and has 60 days of validation. Given Kurti’s reciprocity agenda toward Serbia, such a decision was expected.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3DTDb8q

Borrell to Kurti and Vucic: EU-facilitated dialogue is the only way (media)

European Union High Representative Josep Borrell called on Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to return to a situation that enables the dialogue in Brussels to continue.

“We had a difficult situation at the border between Kosovo and Serbia. I talked to both Vucic and Kurti. The recent cases and the agreement (on the plates) show that the EU-facilitated dialogue is the only way. I call on both of them to return to a situation where the dialogue can continue,” Borrell said.

European Commission report on Kosovo to be published today (media)

The European Commission will publish its report on Kosovo today. The European Commission has announced that it will publish the annual enlargement package, including country reports, including Kosovo. The presentation of the report to Prime Minister Albin Kurti will take place at 18:30, by the Head of the EU Office in Kosovo Tomas Szunyog, where they will then hold a joint press conference.

Radio Free Europe, which claims to have seen a copy of the report, notes that it is expected to say that after a period of lack of political stability, after general elections a government with an unprecedented majority was formed. The report however will also note that circumstances created from the political instability and the pandemic resulted in limited progress in the implementation of the European reforms agenda.

COVID-19: No deaths, 1 new case (media)

No deaths from COVID-19 and 1 new case with the virus were recorded in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. 42 persons recovered from the virus during this time.

There are 632 active cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo.

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