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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, October 22, 2021

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• Kosovo-Serbia working groups meet in Brussels to discuss licence plates (media)
• EEAS Western Balkans director visits Kosovo, meets President Osmani and PM Kurti (media)
• Escobar visits Kosovo’s Embassy in U.S. (media)
• ECAP cancels mayoral elections in Hani i Elezit (media)
• Abdixhiku: No vetting without U.S. and EU on board (Klan)
• March to be held in New York in support of victims of sexual violence in Kosovo (RFE)
• Kosovo Court confirms Serb ex-policeman’s war crimes conviction (BIRN)
• World Bank: Kosovo experiencing a much faster recovery than expected (Kallxo)
• World Bank revises up 2021 GDP forecast for Western Balkans to 5.9% (Reuters)
• COVID-19: 18 new cases, no deaths (media)

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  • Kosovo-Serbia working groups meet in Brussels to discuss licence plates (media)
  • EEAS Western Balkans director visits Kosovo, meets President Osmani and PM Kurti (media)
  • Escobar visits Kosovo’s Embassy in U.S. (media)
  • ECAP cancels mayoral elections in Hani i Elezit (media)
  • Abdixhiku: No vetting without U.S. and EU on board (Klan)
  • March to be held in New York in support of victims of sexual violence in Kosovo (RFE)
  • Kosovo Court confirms Serb ex-policeman’s war crimes conviction (BIRN)
  • World Bank: Kosovo experiencing a much faster recovery than expected (Kallxo)
  • World Bank revises up 2021 GDP forecast for Western Balkans to 5.9% (Reuters)
  • COVID-19: 18 new cases, no deaths (media)

Kosovo-Serbia working groups meet in Brussels to discuss licence plates (media)

The first meeting between working groups of Kosovo and Serbia on the issue of licence plates took place in Brussels yesterday.

According to a press release issued by the Government of Kosovo, the meeting focused on the plan to hold regular meetings between working groups and experts in the coming months in an effort to find a permanent solution to the issue “based on two basic principles: the solution should be based on standards and best practices of the European Union, and any potential change should be equally applicable to both sides.”

EEAS Western Balkans director visits Kosovo, meets President Osmani and PM Kurti (media)

Director for Western Balkans with the European External Action Service, Marko Makovec, and head of the EU Office in Kosovo Tomas Szunyog met separately in Pristina President of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani and Prime Minister Albin Kurti.

According to a press release issued by Kosovo’s presidency, Osmani said that judicial reforms and the rule of law are among Kosovo’s top priorities. “In this context, President Osmani received support for the implementation of the vetting process in accordance with European standards and practices from the senior EU official Makovec.”

Osmani reiterated that Kosovo has already met all the visa liberalisation criteria and that the EU must deliver on its promise.

At the same timem, Kurti underlined the need for increasing and strengthening of cooperation between Kosovo and the EU stating that “with our new government, with results achieved these months, we have already entered a new stage of reforms which will speed up Kosovo’s integration in the EU.”

Speaking about implementation of EU recommendations, Kurti expressed commitment to strengthen cooperation with the EU: “We may be critical towards the EU but Europe is our continent and the EU is our destiny,” he said.

Kurti also spoke about visa liberalisation emphasising that Kosovo has already met all the necessary conditions and that it has been three years now since the European Commission has recommended for the second time visa-free travel for Kosovo.

Escobar visits Kosovo’s Embassy in U.S. (media)

The U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, Gabriel Escobar, visited Kosovo’s Embassy in the United States and met Charge d’Affaires Valdet Sadiku.

“Our Chargé d’Affaires @valdet_s hosted DAS Escobar at our Embassy today. Thank you DAS Escobar for the visit and we look forward to our continued work and friendship,” Kosovo’s Embassy said on Twitter.

ECAP cancels mayoral elections in Hani i Elezit (media)

The Election Complaints and Appeals Panel has cancelled the voting process for mayor of Hani i Elezit, following a complaint by the independent candidate Rufki Suma who alleged that the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) intimidated voters in the municipality into voting for the party’s candidate Mehmet Ballazhi.

ECAP concluded that Suma’s allegations of vote buying and intimidation of voters at the polling centres are credible and instructed the Central Elections Commission to repeat the mayoral voting in the municipality.

PDK has announced it will appeal the ECAP ruling with the Supreme Court.

According to CEC’s preliminary results, the PDK’s Ballazhi is shown winning in the first round with 50.98% while Suma came in second with 42.47 percent.

Abdixhiku: No vetting without U.S. and EU on board (Klan)

Leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) Lumir Abdixhiku said his party would not support vetting in Kosovo if the United States and European Union are not involved in it although noted that such a project is ‘inevitable’.

“LDK will not support the issue without the U.S. and the EU. If the EU remains outside of the process it will make it fragile,” reiterated Abdixhiku.

LDK leader also expressed concern at Kosovo’s representation at the dialogue with Serbia, noting that chief negotiator Besnik Bislimi has “lack of basic knowledge” on issues pertaining to energy and security. He said if LDK was in power, it would have said yes to the U.S.-funded gas pipeline infrastructure project.

Abdixhiku did not spare criticism for Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani either, saying that she was wrong to hold a press conference to react to the findings of the European Commission report regarding the vetting process. “Our institutions should have official channels of communication with [EU] institutions even if it is to express discontent,” he said.

March to be held in New York in support of victims of sexual violence in Kosovo (RFE)

Vasfije Krasniqi-Goodman, survivor of sexual violence during conflict in Kosovo, has travelled to New York to take part in a march demanding justice for survivors and victims of war crimes in Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia.

The march, Rally for Her Justice, has been supported by Kosovo political figures and most recently by singer Dua Lipa who tweeted: “Join @VasfijeKrasniqi at the #RallyForHerJustice on 10/28 in NYC. Vasfije is a Survivor and Human Rights Activist who has been a mission to advocate for survivors in Kosova and around the world demanding justice for the unpunished crimes during the war in Kosova.”

Kosovo Court confirms Serb ex-policeman’s war crimes conviction (BIRN)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the verdict finding former Serb reservist policeman Nenad Arsic guilty of war crimes and confirmed his six-year prison sentence.

Arsic was found guilty of committing the crimes on May 21, 1999 during a police operation against Kosovo Albanian civilians in Pristina’s Emshir neighbourhood.

He was part of a uniformed group who went to the Shala family’s home and ordered them to leave the house. They then beat up two members of the family.

After the beating, Arsic forced Jakup Shala, who had serious health problems, to drink alcohol and sing a popular Serbian nationalist song called ‘Ko to kaze, ko to laze Srbija je mala?’ (‘Who is Saying This, Who is Lying That Serbia is Small?’).

During the police operation, Arsic also robbed ethnic Albanian residents in the neighbourhood. The indictment claimed that Serb police officers stole 3,200 litres of diesel oil, 120,000 German marks, five cars and one tractor.

Arsic was sentenced to six years in prison by Pristina Basic Court in December 2020. Kosovo’s Court of Appeals upheld the verdict in May 2021.

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

World Bank: Kosovo experiencing a much faster recovery than expected (Kallxo)

The most recent World Bank report on the Western Balkans states that Kosovo is experiencing a much faster recovery than previously expected.

According to the report, Kosovo’s economy is recovering rapidly from the COVID-19 pandemic, with output in 2021 expected to exceed 2019 levels by year-end while the economic activity in 2021 is expected to expand by 7.1 percent on the back of a stronger-than expected rebound in diaspora visits, restored consumer confidence, and higher consumer lending. “Public revenue is experiencing an unprecedented rebound due to higher economic activity, but also due to higher inflation and tax compliance measures. As a result, and against sluggish public investment execution, the fiscal deficit is expected to decrease in 2021,” the report states.

It underlined that the management of the fourth wave of the pandemic, including the acceleration of the vaccination process  remains a priority in the near term while in the medium term, Kosovo needs to transition to a more productivity-oriented growth model.

See the report: https://bit.ly/3GcnFGE

World Bank revises up 2021 GDP forecast for Western Balkans to 5.9% (Reuters)

The World Bank on Thursday revised up its forecast for the economic growth of six countries of the Western Balkans to 5.9% in 2021 after a 3.1% contraction in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but cautioned that recovery remains fragile.

In its regular six-month report on the region, the lender estimated that the economies of Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia could grow 4.1% in 2022 and 3.8% in 2023.

“A faster-than-expected recovery is really driven by two main factors: domestic re-opening triggered by various robust recovery in domestic consumption and tourism-related demand and then very strong external conditions,” said Richard Record, the lead country economist for the Western Balkans.

Read more at: https://reut.rs/3jlTC5S

COVID-19: 18 new cases, no deaths (media)

18 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. 23 persons recovered from the virus during this time.

There are 510 active cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo.

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