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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, October 19, 2021

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Albanian Language Media:

• Local elections proved Kosovo is a true democracy (media)
• Kurti, Haradinaj clash over operations in the north (Telegrafi)
• Heated debate at the Assembly between ruling and opposition parties on the issue of gas (Kallxo)
• LDK leader: A great comeback (media)
• Visoka Weller says she was not allowed to speak about Decan Monastery at conference (Kallxo)
• Kosovo: More than 50 percent of adult population vaccinated against COVID-19 (Koha)
• COVID-19: One death, 17 new cases (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• 37 new Covid-19 cases in Serb areas in Kosovo (Kosovo Online)
• Vucic: Pristina suffered political defeat; new police actions possible (RTV)
• Elek: Sofronijevic transferred to Belgrade for further treatment (Radio KIM)
• Switzerland condemns threats to Embassy and Serbian leadership (RTS)
• Serbian Journalists Association calls Serbian List to invite all media in Kosovo to conferences (KoSSev, N1, KiM radio)
• Serbian List has monopolised the lives of Serbs in Kosovo (RTK2, KoSSev, KiM radio)

International:

• Kosovo Ruling Party Loses Ground in Municipal Elections (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• ‘Someone’s Daughters’: Unpunished Revenge Porn’s Terrifying Toll in the Balkans (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Local elections proved Kosovo is a true democracy (media)
  • Kurti, Haradinaj clash over operations in the north (Telegrafi)
  • Heated debate at the Assembly between ruling and opposition parties on the issue of gas (Kallxo)
  • LDK leader: A great comeback (media)
  • Visoka Weller says she was not allowed to speak about Decan Monastery at conference (Kallxo)
  • Kosovo: More than 50 percent of adult population vaccinated against COVID-19 (Koha)
  • COVID-19: One death, 17 new cases (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • 37 new Covid-19 cases in Serb areas in Kosovo (Kosovo Online)
  • Vucic: Pristina suffered political defeat; new police actions possible (RTV) 
  • Elek: Sofronijevic transferred to Belgrade for further treatment (Radio KIM)
  • Switzerland condemns threats to Embassy and Serbian leadership (RTS)
  • Serbian Journalists Association calls Serbian List to invite all media in Kosovo to conferences (KoSSev, N1, KiM radio)
  • Serbian List has monopolised the lives of Serbs in Kosovo (RTK2, KoSSev, KiM radio)

International:

  • Kosovo Ruling Party Loses Ground in Municipal Elections (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • ‘Someone’s Daughters’: Unpunished Revenge Porn’s Terrifying Toll in the Balkans (Balkan Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

Local elections proved Kosovo is a true democracy (media)

The EU Election Observation Mission presented in Pristina today the preliminary statement on local elections held on 17 October. 

Chief observer Lukas Mandl said that the elections were organised in a good manner and without major issues. “In the north the competition has been limited. Campaign funding has not been transparent. EU observers visited around 400 polling stations. Several cases of assisted voting and problems with the deadline for documents have been recorded. Election administration is seen as being independent and credible,” he said.

“We have seen that the Serbian List has monopolized the political life of Kosovo Serbs. There have been cases of intimidation and pressure from Serb List candidates,” Mandl continued.

He also said that there has been underrepresentation of women in these elections.

At the same time, head of the European Parliament Election Observation Delegation MEP Viola von Cramon commended the citizens of Kosovo on a peaceful and orderly election process, adding that despite challenges relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CEC has managed to efficiently implement procedures, Koha reports.

“I congratulate the citizens of Kosovo for the elections, the campaign has been peaceful and without incidents. Municipal elections have proven that Kosovo is a true democracy. Today more than ever Kosovo is an example for the region,” von Cramon is quoted by Kallxo.

Asked to comment on the statement of the Serbian List leader Goran Rakic that if the party did not win nine municipalities and if the Association of Serb-municipalities is formed, they would leave Kosovo institutions, von Cramon said: “There is a great intimidation to the voters and to the candidates who do not come from the Serbian List. This is what we heard from the interlocutors in the north. As for the general environment in the north, this is outside my mandate.”

Kurti, Haradinaj clash over operations in the north (Telegrafi)

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) leader Ramush Haradinaj polemicized in today’s session of Kosovo Assembly over the police operations in the north. 

Haradinaj argued in his remarks that the police operations there are being carried out with the intention of giving away the north, while Kurti responded saying that the rule of law in the north is now greater than ever. “There are no barricades in the north. The north was under threat when Haradinaj hosted meetings with Milan Radojicic, a criminal. The police do not pose a threat for the north, but criminals and their cooperation with politicians do,” Kurti said. “Mr. Haradinaj, your attacks are in vain. The morale of the police is very high, and it is untouchable. Their morale was never stronger”.

Haradinaj said he has trust in the Kosovo Police, “but my fear has to do with you Prime Minister; you intentionally carried out two actions to give away the north”. Kurti responded saying that “the criminals and the illegal structures in the north were never more scared than they are now. You don’t have to fear me; the north will not be given away.”

Heated debate at the Assembly between ruling and opposition parties on the issue of gas (Kallxo)

There has been a heated debate at Kosovo Assembly session today between representatives of the ruling and opposition parties on the issue of the gas pipeline project which the opposition accuses the Government of having rejected the U.S. offer of assistance on the matter.

Driton Selmanaj, MP from the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), said the gas pipeline project is vital for Kosovo and its refusal will have serious consequences for Kosovo. “If the Government of Kosovo does not urgently reconsider its wrong decision, Kosovo could end up as the only state in the region without access to gas and in an extremely difficult position on its way to strengthening international subjectivity,” he warned. 

Leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) Ramush Haradinaj said the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) funds have been oriented elsewhere to which Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti reacted by saying that the funds have not been lost. 

“The grant has not been lost nor was it in danger of ever being lost. We have clarified that the grant of USD200 million has not been specifically allocated for the gas infrastructure and that the whole option was being studied,” Kurti said.

LDK leader: A great comeback (media)

Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Lumir Abdixhiku said in a Facebook post today that the results in the October 17 municipal elections have marked a great comeback for the LDK. “The LDK will remember October 17 with pride, the same way we will remember February 14 as a lesson learned. The people of Kosovo appreciate us when we are right, the same way they distance themselves when we are not – this is the biggest value of democracy. I want to thank our activists for the results we have achieved. It is truly a great comeback. There is no room for celebration and race. The support given to us is not aimed against others. This is why we need to work for the new round; remain humble but also proud in front of our citizens. We need to watch over the trust they have given us, both in government and in opposition. We need to see politics only as a responsibility,” Abdixhiku said.

Visoka Weller says she was not allowed to speak about Decan Monastery at conference (Kallxo)

Nora Visoka Weller, a scholar on atrocities heritage and cultural heritage protection, based at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, said in a Facebook post that the organisers of a conference on cultural heritage in Peja did not allow her to speak about the Orthodox Monastery in Decan.

Visoka Weller said the Illucidare Project and University of Leuven, Belgium whose main partner in the EuropeNostra organisation prevented her from speaking about the Monastery of Decan. 

She wrote on Facebook: “Today in Peja a conference on cultural heritage is underway. Any comments and conversations about the Decan Monastery are forbidden by the organizers which are: Ilucidare Project and the University of Leuven with some other European partners, but their main partner is EuropaNostra. Imagine how deep the control has gone! I was invited to talk about the politicization of cultural heritage but I am asked to talk about other examples within my work, never to mention the Decan Monastery! This is unacceptable censorship on me and in the end the lecture was canceled. Ironically at this moment there is a LIVE discussion on what Kosovars are doing to mediate differences with Serbia when it comes to cultural heritage!! There can be no debate about culture and the development of interethnic debate on the basis of heritage if the basic right of freedom of expression. What a form of oppression this is, unacceptable!”

Kosovo: More than 50 percent of adult population vaccinated against COVID-19 (Koha)

Kosovo’s Ministry of Health announced that more than half of the adult population has already been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Ministry said that so far, more than 1.5 million doses of the vaccine have been administered, adding: “For as long as new cases of COVID-19 continue to be recorded, the change will not come unless we all work together to vaccinate all target groups. Vaccination is the best protection available.”

COVID-19: One death, 17 new cases (media)

One death from COVID-19 and 17 new cases with the virus were recorded in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. 86 persons recovered from the virus during this time.

There are 562 active cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

37 new Covid-19 cases in Serb areas in Kosovo (Kosovo Online)

The Crisis Staff of the municipality of Kosovska Mitrovica announced today that 37 new cases of coronavirus have been registered in Serbian communities in Kosovo, reports Kosovo Online.

According to the statement, 121 citizens were tested, due to suspicion of the presence of the virus.

New cases by municipalities: Leposavic – 11, Zvecan – 8, North Mitrovica – 5, Strpce – 4, Gracanica – 3, and two in Zubin Potok, Gnjilane and Kosovska Kamenica each. 

There are currently 196 active cases of coronavirus in Serb areas in Kosovo.

Vucic: Pristina suffered political defeat; new police actions possible (RTV) 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he was satisfied with the turnout in the Serb-populated areas in local elections in Kosovo and over responsible decisions of the Serbian List. He added, Pristina suffered a political defeat and that new Kosovo police actions were possible.

Vucic also said that every election process in Kosovo and Metohija actualizes narrative of Serbian state forcing Serbs to go to the polls, adding that the Serbian state had never forced anyone to go to the polls.

“We didn’t force anyone, except that I thought it was better to go to the polls than not to go. I didn’t hide it, and I said it publicly. We attack Pristina for not fulfilling the Brussels Agreement, and then we would be the ones not to fulfill it. How could we then go in front of anyone and ask for the formation of the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities”, Vucic said.

He pointed out that people in Serb-populated areas went to the polls in incomparably larger numbers on average 60 percent, while in Albanian-majority places the turnout was 40 percent.

“It speaks about the motivation of the people, and about who were the most motivated ones”, he said.

He also warned that new actions of the Kosovo police were possible, considering the political defeat Pristina suffered, adding Serbia will be ready for that.

“I hope that reason and a rational approach will prevail in the work of people in Pristina, although it is difficult to count on that after this political defeat they experienced, and I am afraid that they will look for a way out of their uncomfortable situation again”, Vucic said.

He added Belgrade must be ready for that and expect it, because those in Pristina have repeated several times that they have no intention to fulfill the obligations from the Brussels Agreement and establish a Community of Serbian Municipalities.

“We will wait to see what Europe will say. I am fed up, as are the citizens of Serbia, with all kinds of hypocrisy, both from outside and from Pristina, I do not know what could be added to all that”, he said.

Elek: Sofronijevic transferred to Belgrade for further treatment (Radio KIM)

Srecko Sofronijevic, wounded by the Kosovo special police units, in Zvecan last week has been transferred to the Intensive Care Center in Belgrade, Radio KIM reports.

Mitrovica North Hospital Clinical Center Director Zlatan Elek said Sofronijevic was transferred because of possible post-surgery complications.

Sofronijevic was admitted to Mitrovica North hospital on October 13, with a severe gunshot wound in his back, broken rib and shoulder blade, while the bullet passed by vital blood vessels in his neck. He underwent the surgery upon admission and was staying at hospital intensive care in Mitrovica North, Radio KIM recalled.

Elek explained his condition was currently stable, however due to possible complications Sofronijevic was transferred to Belgrade for further medical observation. RTS reported that the Serbian Minister of Health visited Sofronijevic in Belgrade. 

Elek added all other people injured in the same incident are feeling well and staying at home treatment.  

Switzerland condemns threats to Embassy and Serbian leadership (RTS)

The Swiss Ministry of Internal Affairs has condemned the threats against the Serbian Embassy in this country. Media earlier reported that the Serbian Embassy in Bern received a threatening message on one of its official email addresses. The message threatens diplomatic personnel in the embassy but also Serbian leadership, RTS reports.

Bern authorities said immediately, upon receiving information about the threat, they informed competent security authorities in order to undertake necessary protection measures of the Serbian diplomatic and consular representation offices and personnel in Bern, Geneva and Zurich if deemed necessary.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland condemns the threats against the Embassy of Serbia in Switzerland”, the Ministry said.

The Serbian Embassy in Bern received a threatening message in poor German with numerous grammatical errors threatening that a bomb-letter will be sent to kill each of the diplomatic personnel and also their superiors in Belgrade. The email address from which a threat was sent reportedly belonged to Denis Krasniqi and was related to the events at Jarinje administrative crossing point.  

Serbian Journalists Association calls Serbian List to invite all media in Kosovo to conferences (KoSSev, N1, KiM radio)

The Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS), with its branch in Kosovo, seeks from the Serbian List ro invite all newsrooms that report daily from Kosovo to press conferences and events it organizes, reported portal KoSSev.

The Serbian List held a press conference the day before Kosovo’s local elections. However, the invitation to cover the event in the media did not reach KoSSev’s portal, or TV N1.

“Journalists from two newsrooms, KoSSev portal and TV N1, have publicly stated that they were not invited to an important conference held on Saturday, October 16, at which the Serbian List announced its decision to run in Kosovo’s local elections held yesterday, October 17,” said from this this association yesterday.

KoSSev editor Tatjana Lazarevic, however, attended the conference.

She publicly stated that her editorial office did not receive an invitation this time either, and asked the representatives of the Serbian List when they would stop selectively inviting the media and start informing the KoSSev portal about the events, recalled the Association of Journalists of Serbia, branch in Kosovo and Metohija.

The association also recalled the answer given by the SL president, Goran Rakic.  

”The president of the Serbian List and the minister in the Kosovo government, Goran Rakic replied that he “expected a more concrete question”, as “it is not the time to talk about it”, but also said: “ask yourself why they are not informing you”, and added that “everyone gets according to their merits.”

TV N1 journalist Sanja Sovrlic also reported that the media she was reporting for was not informed about the conference organized by the Serbian List on Saturday.

“UNS and UNS in Kosovo consider such a practice inadmissible and call on the representatives of the Serbian List, leaders in local communities from the ranks of that list, to inform the newsrooms about the events planned for media reporting without selection,” they said.

Serbian List has monopolised the lives of Serbs in Kosovo (RTK2, KoSSev, KiM radio)

The EU Monitoring Mission, in a press conference held today in Pristina, opined that Kosovo has become an example of democracy for the entire region, but that there has been criticism of the Serbian List, which is said to have monopolized the lives of Serbs in Kosovo, and even endangered voters. 

The EU Monitoring Mission also said that the election process was well organized with some shortcomings previously identified, such as the legal framework, including the financing of political parties. 

Head of the EU Election Observation Mission Lukas Mandl said that EU observers visited almost 400 polling places on Election Day and that the voting was peaceful and orderly. 

He said that there were several cases of assisted voting and rules for accepting expired ID cards, adding that the counting of ballots also received a slightly lower rating/marks due to some inconsistencies in the way the procedures were followed. 

”The counting process is still ongoing. The October 17 elections were well organized, unfortunately women were underrepresented. The media have contributed to voter information. The transparent election administration caused the procedures to be conducted within the election deadlines. The legal framework provided the basis, but some shortcomings have not yet been corrected. Moreover, the candidate registration process … ” he said. 

Head of the delegation of European Parliament MPs, Viola von Cramon Taubadel, said that Kosovo was an example for the region in terms of democracy, and criticized the Serbian List, which she said narrowed the space and put pressure during the campaign. 

She emphasized that there were accusations against the Serbian List- that they forced Serbs to vote for this political entity. 

” Our teams are stationed in the region of Pristina, Prizren and some municipalities in northern Kosovo. The election campaign was competitive and without major incidents. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, CEC managed to conduct election procedures effectively. Local democracy is the foundation of democracy. These elections have proven that Kosovo is a real democracy. Despite the election competition, political parties, with some exceptions, respected each other. Today, Kosovo is more than ever an example of democracy for the region, but, unfortunately, some systemic shortcomings have not yet been avoided. One of them is the narrowing of the political space for Serbs, ” she said. 

When asked about the liberalization of the visa regime, she said that it no longer depends on the European Parliament, but, she added, that they were trying to adopt it as soon as possible. 

 

 

 

 

International 

 

Kosovo Ruling Party Loses Ground in Municipal Elections (Balkan Insight)

The ruling Vetevendosje party had a disappointing night on Sunday, as it became clear it had not won control of any of Kosovo’s 38 municipalities in the first round.

In a blow after its meteoric rise eight months ago, Kosovo’s ruling Vetevendosje party will have to wait for the second round of local elections to see whether it has won control of any of the country’s 38 municipalities.

As the count in Sunday’s elections came to a close, Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s party had not won any municipality outright in the first round, and will go to a run-off in four of the seven big municipalities – the capital, Prishtine/Pristina, Prizren, Gjakove/Djakovica and Gjilan/Gnjilane.

In total, 21 out of 38 municipalities will hold a second round of voting to elect mayors.

A Vetevendosje MP, Fitore Pacolli, predicted more gains in round two and applauded the calm election, which ran smoothly and saw only minor incidents reported during the day.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3AV84re

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

‘Someone’s Daughters’: Unpunished Revenge Porn’s Terrifying Toll in the Balkans (Balkan Insight)

Victims of revenge porn in the Balkans face an uphill fight against legislative gaps, institutional prejudice, widespread victim-blaming and unethical media coverage. No wonder so few seek justice.

Natasa was still in a relationship with her former boyfriend when he shared with friends the sexually explicit video he had of her on his mobile phone.

That was the summer of 2020. It was only in the autumn that the 37-year-old school teacher, a single mother, discovered that the video had been widely watched by residents of the small town in Serbia where she lived.

Natasa [not her real name] doesn’t live there anymore. Abandoned by friends and turned on by neighbours, she almost lost her job and finally had to move out. Her son changed school.

The video, however, likely still lurks in the darkest corners of the Internet. And her former boyfriend has never been punished.

“The condemnation was based exclusively on the fact that I am a woman, a single mother and a teacher,” she said. “Women laughed at and belittled me, while men reveled in it and sent me obscene offers on a daily basis, offensive content on social networks and the like. I encountered sporadic understanding and support, but that was not the rule.”        

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

 

 

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