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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, October 26, 2021

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, October 26, 2021

Albanian Language Media:

• Kurti meets a European Council on Foreign Relations delegation (media)
• “Preventing Kosovo boxers from competing, example of closed not open Balkans” (media)
• AAK demands parliamentary debate on gas, PDK supports it (Kallxo)
• Szunyog: Very few women were involved in the negotiating teams (media)
• Final local elections results expected to be announced on Wednesday (Koha)
• COVID-19: 20 new cases, no deaths (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Covid-19 in Serbian areas: 54 new cases, one death (KiM radio)
• Serbian List: Agreements from Brussels must be implemented (Radio KIM)
• Petkovic: Brussels dialogue hostage of Pristina’s unreadiness (Radio KIM)
• PM Brnabic thanks OSCE Sec-Gen Schmid for supporting Serbia’s reforms (N1)
• Jelena Milic on von Cramon statements, Gazivode and Valac (Kosovo-online)
• Simic recalls bans Pristina imposed on Serbian sports’ teams to enter Kosovo (Kosovo-online)

Opinion:

• Crisis, then the next crisis… but who cares about the real dialogue? (KoSSev)
• What will trigger the next Balkan conflict? (transconflict.com)

International:

• Censorship Accusation Mars Heritage Conference in Peja (Prishtina Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Search for missing Bosko Mladenovic continues (Radio KIM)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Kurti meets a European Council on Foreign Relations delegation (media)
  • “Preventing Kosovo boxers from competing, example of closed not open Balkans” (media)
  • AAK demands parliamentary debate on gas, PDK supports it (Kallxo)
  • Szunyog: Very few women were involved in the negotiating teams (media)
  • Final local elections results expected to be announced on Wednesday (Koha)
  • COVID-19: 20 new cases, no deaths (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Covid-19 in Serbian areas: 54 new cases, one death (KiM radio)
  • Serbian List: Agreements from Brussels must be implemented (Radio KIM)
  • Petkovic: Brussels dialogue hostage of Pristina’s unreadiness (Radio KIM)
  • PM Brnabic thanks OSCE Sec-Gen Schmid for supporting Serbia’s reforms (N1)
  • Jelena Milic on von Cramon statements, Gazivode and Valac (Kosovo-online)
  • Simic recalls bans Pristina imposed on Serbian sports’ teams to enter Kosovo (Kosovo-online)

Opinion:

  • Crisis, then the next crisis… but who cares about the real dialogue? (KoSSev)
  • What will trigger the next Balkan conflict? (transconflict.com)

International:

  • Censorship Accusation Mars Heritage Conference in Peja (Prishtina Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Search for missing Bosko Mladenovic continues (Radio KIM)

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

Kurti meets a European Council on Foreign Relations delegation (media)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti met today a delegation from the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) headed by Vessela Tcherneva, deputy director of ECFR and head of the Sofia office.

PM Kurti expressed the commitment of the Government of Kosovo towards fighting corruption and opening new jobs and underlined the goals to create a favourable environment to attract foreing investors. “The Prime Minister stressed that democratic elections and the victory, based on the overwhelming support of citizens have brought about positive results in all areas. He emphasised the rapid growth of the economy, which according to the World Bank is 9.9%. Due to the increase of citizens’ trust in the government, budget revenues, foreign investments and remittances from the diaspora have also increased. All these factors have affected the health and growth of the economy,” Kurti is quoted in a press release issued by the Government of Kosovo. 

Speaking about regional cooperation, Kurti said that Kosovo supports integration initiatives within the framework of the European agenda. “Talks with Serbia are about the status of relations between Kosovo and Serbia where unresolved issues like the debts, war damage and reparation are resolved and which results in mutual recognition,” he added.

“Preventing Kosovo boxers from competing, example of closed not open Balkans” (media)

The German Ambassador to Kosovo Jorn Rohde commented on Twitter to Kosovo boxers not being allowed entry to Serbia to take part in the world championships. 

“As an EU-spokesperson said yesterday “lasting reconciliation between societies begins with intellectual, cultural, sporting and artistic exchanges. Such exchanges are essential to building mutual understanding,” Rohde wrote, adding in a subsequent post: “Politicising sports is never a good idea. Preventing Kosovo’s boxers from participating in the @AIBA_Boxing championships goes in the opposite direction. This is sadly an example of closed not open Balkans.”

AAK demands parliamentary debate on gas, PDK supports it (Kallxo)

The parliamentary group of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) has demanded a parliamentary debate take place on the issue of the gas pipeline project. The motion is also being supported by the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK). 

Head of the AAK parliamentary group, Besnik Tahiri, said the issue calls for an urgent debate. He argued that the debate would have to result in a resolution passed by the Assembly of Kosovo calling on the Government to approve the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) project. 

Abelard Tahiri, head of the PDK group, said the party considers such a debate to be welcomed at the Assembly. “I believe the Government of the Republic of Kosovo has made a strategic mistake in relation to the gas pipeline which was a project planned to be supported by the U.S.,” he said. 

Szunyog: Very few women were involved in the negotiating teams (media)

The Head of the EU Office in Kosovo and Special Representative, Tomas Szunyog, said it was disappointing to not see a large number of women running for mayors in the last local elections in Kosovo. He said Kosovo has made some progress in the process of involving women in the decision-making process but also noted that there have been very few women part of the negotiating teams. 

Speaking at the launch of the “Inclusion of Women at the Negotiating Table in Kosovo” report, part of the EU support for The Women Peace and Security Agenda, Szunyog noted: “I encourage all those in Kosovo who have the power to appoint women to decision-making positions to do so, to include women at high level of negotiations which is important to Kosovo. This should be seen as an opportunity as it has been statistically proven that negotiating processes involving women are more likely to be implementable or sustainable.”

Kosovo’s Deputy Prime Minister Emilija Redzepi also underscored the importance of women being represented at the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue. “The government of which I am a part of dedicates a lot of space to female representatives, not only in most ministries but also in the civil staff during employment, and it is very important that we have the support of the Prime Minister. I personally represent the position that in this government a woman should be on the negotiating team.”

Final local elections results expected to be announced on Wednesday (Koha)

The Central Election Commission announced that the counting of conditional ballots of 17 October local elections is set to begin today.

CEC spokesperson Valmir Elezi said over 15,000 ballots are expected to be counted today, of which almost 13,000 are conditional and the rest are those completed by persons with disabilities.

Koha reports that the final local election results are most likely going to be announced tomorrow, Wednesday. 

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

20 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. 31 persons recovered from the virus during this time. 

There are 427 active cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Covid-19 in Serbian areas: 54 new cases, one death (KiM radio)

According to the latest data, 54 new cases of Covid-19 were registered, one person died, announced today the Crisis Staff of the municipality of Kosovska Mitrovica. 

New cases by municipalities: Leposavic – 21, North Mitrovica -14, Zubin Potok- 8, Gracanica -4, Kosovska Kamenica – 3, Zvecan – 2, Gnjilane -1, and Priluzje – 1.

Gracanica: 18 new cases

The Crisis Staff on the territory of the municipality of Gracanica announced this morning that 18 positive cases of coronavirus have been registered.

Serbian List: Agreements from Brussels must be implemented (Radio KIM)

Serbian List representatives Goran Rakic, Igor Simic and Mitrovica North mayor Milan Radojevic met yesterday with the members of European Council on Foreign Relations delegation and said it should be made clear to Pristina it has to implement agreements it signed, in particular the one on establishing Community of Serb-majority Municipalities, Radio KIM reports.

“Agreements from Brussels must be implemented, because they were signed, binding to all and this is the only way to make better living conditions and build mutual trust, very much needed today. The Serbs, particularly those in the north, joined Kosovo institutions because the Brussels agreement guaranteed establishment of the Community of Serbian Municipalities as an umbrella institution of the Serbian people that would protect their collective and individual rights”, Goran Rakic said.

Serbian List also said in a meeting that unilateral actions by the ROSU police units directed against the Serbian population were dangerous, impermissible and counterproductive, adding that instilling fear and distress among the population could additionally jeopardize the security situation.

It was also stressed that Serbian List supports the dialogue as the only way to resolve the problems and all open issues, as the dialogue is the only way and place where those issues could be resolved, adding they demand from all, in particular from the European Union to do its utmost so the dialogue can continue and agreements made thus far be implemented.

Petkovic: Brussels dialogue hostage of Pristina’s unreadiness (Radio KIM)

“Belgrade will not give up insisting on immediate establishment of the Community of  Serb-majority Municipalities with all the competencies that belong to it in accordance with the Brussels agreements, and already in a next meeting in Brussels, it will demand concrete steps in that direction, something that the EU clearly reitratied”, Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Petar Petkovic said in a meeting with the Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko in a conversation with the Russian ambassador to Serbia, Aleksandar Botsan-Kharchenko, Radio KIM reports.

Petkovic added Belgrade remains committed to the dialogue, as the only possible way to resolve disputes and create preconditions for lasting security stabilization in the Western Balkans.

However, as he said, “the Brussels dialogue at this moment is a hostage of Pristina’s unreadiness to implement agreements reached so far, foremost undertaken obligation to establish a Community of Serb-majority Municipalities”.

Petkovic also thanked the Russian Ambassador for consistent support of Moscow to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia, adding that Serbian-Russian relations will continue to strengthen in the spirit of the friendship of the two states and two peoples.

The two interlocutors also discussed the security and political situation in Kosovo in light of recent local elections and latest incidents there.

PM Brnabic thanks OSCE Sec-Gen Schmid for supporting Serbia’s reforms (N1)

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic thanked on Monday the OSCE Secretary-General Helga Schmid for the organisation’s support of Serbia’s reforms, especially in the rule of law, media freedom and protection of journalists, N1 reports.

The topics included regional cooperation and global problems also facing the Western Balkans.

The two also discussed the possibilities of broadening Belgrade – OSCE cooperation, particularly regarding regional issues like organised crime and trafficking. They talked about climate changes too.

Schmid was quoted as saying the OSCE would continue to provide expert aid and cooperation in all areas Serbia thought were important.

See at: https://bit.ly/3pCZMlL

Jelena Milic on von Cramon statements, Gazivode and Valac (Kosovo-online)

Centre for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS) founder Jelena Milic opined Tuesday that European Parliament Rapporteur for Kosovo, Viola von Cramon has not been impartial on reporting about the situation in Kosovo for a long time.

Milic told Kosovo-online portal the role of the European Parliament’s Rapporteur is not insignificant and reminded that the Greens, the party which von Cramon belongs to, are negotiating to form a new coalition in Germany, and that they will probably play an important role in forming German foreign policy and policies towards the Balkans.

According to Milic the work of the Rapporteur of the European Parliament cannot be minimized, but it also depends on the eloquence of a specific person, as well as the country and the strength of the party which the Rapporteur belongs to. In the case of Von Cramon, it is about Germany, and this country, according to Milic, is obviously keenly interested in resolving the issue of Kosovo within the EU framework.

In her opinion, von Cramon’s statement regarding the action of the Kosovo police in the north, in which one Serb was seriously wounded, was inappropriate in many ways, for which Von Cramon said “it cannot be said that there was disproportionate use of force because it was directed against Albanian citizens as well”.

“Whether excessive force was used against demonstrators of one or more different ethnic communities does not mean anything in terms of whether force was excessive or not. Because it’s even worse if it was used excessively and against someone of Albanian nationality. It means it was directed against one person more. This argument of hers is completely inappropriate. To justify the excessive use of force to legitimize a possible attack on Gazivode (lake) and Valac (power station), and given the energy crisis, it is not impossible for Kurti to try to do so. Serbia has to request every step of the way that the situation on the ground cannot be changed by the threat to use force or the use of force”, Milic warned.

She recalled an answer von Cramon made some time ago “that she does not know the Albanian language”, when journalists asked her if she had heard of incidents, provocations and insults against the Serbs.

“It seems to me that the fact that she doesn’t know Serbian language never prevented her to make exaggerated and biased negative assessments of the situation in Kosovo, for which she criticizes Serbs and Serbian List and, above all, official Belgrade, in what I perceive is a rather one-sided way”, Milic pointed out.

At the same time, she pointed out, attention should be paid to the fact that the European Commission’s Progress Report on Kosovo also addresses Kosovo’s alleged lack of the rule of law and the increased level of crime in the north.

“In our public as well, parts of the analytical community and the opposition, as well as most commentators in the West, target the crime in Kosovo as a major security problem, which then allegedly justifies the Kosovo side to change the situation on the ground with violence or threats of violence (…)’, she said.  

Figuratively speaking, she added that “the elephant in the room that is missing” is Kosovo irresponsibility and refusal to form the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities, a key element of the Brussels Agreement, and according to which, the entire Western community is very unusually lenient.

“And then, for eight years, you have the stories about the scandalous criminalization of the north of Kosovo. That is hypocrisy par excellence, and under the pretext of ‘we don’t want another Republika Srpska’”, Milic said.

Asked how to stand in the way of spreading the distorted image from Kosovo, Milic responded she was not in favour of “fighting with emotional, noisy and personal responses on social media”.

“I would engage Von Cramon in debates and conferences where she would be confronted with the inaccuracies she utters, including this gem about establishing inspection control of smuggling with ROSU, which is de facto a military formation. There she should be shown that excessive force does not depend on whether it was used against an ethnic Serb or an Albanian, but whether you’re shooting someone in the back”, Milic concluded.

Simic recalls bans Pristina imposed on Serbian sports’ teams to enter Kosovo (Kosovo-online)

Serbian List Vice President Igor Simic reacted to the statement of German Ambassador in Pristina Jorn Rohde who wrote on Twitter that “politicizing sports is never a good idea”  and International Boxing Federation by recalling number of occasions on which Serbian sports teams from central Serbia were banned from entering Kosovo, Kosovo-online portal reports.

In a response to Ambassador Rohde’s post, Simic wrote “You think on this action” and included a number of links containing the news on entry bans to the Serbian sports teams not allowed taking part in different competitions in Kosovo, as well as banned visits of other Serbian sportsmen.

 

 

Opinion

 

Crisis, then the next crisis… but who cares about the real dialogue? (KoSSev)

By Igor Novakovic

The license plate crisis has only shown the direction things could go. Although it was probably an estimation of the ruling majority in Pristina that such a move could lead to a better result of their candidates in the local elections, and confirm the strength of the Self-Determination party, i.e. that they are there to stay, I don’t rule out ideological or principled reasons.

Showing a “firm hand” is unquestionably popular among some voters (although the election results showed that this is only a perception), but is it also necessary for the overall agenda of negotiations between the two sides? Could it lead to a change in the situation on the ground, or does it show Pristina’s essential incapability to integrate Serbs, and ultimately reach a comprehensive agreement with Serbia in the way they envisioned?

Why was the use of force required at the very beginning of the establishment of “reciprocity in freedom of movement”? Couldn’t have this been done without the deployment of special police units?

Namely, the deployment of the armed forces sent a clear message that Pristina authorities perceive the north as a “rebellious” part of Kosovo, which requires a firm approach. On the other hand, only one incident would have been enough for the whole situation to escalate, fortunately, it did not come to be. The incident could have happened without some kind of “organized intention” on the Serbian side.

Read  more at: https://bit.ly/3jDAosu

What will trigger the next Balkan conflict? (transconflict.com)

By David B. Kanin

The current security cap imposed on southeastern Europe is no more durable than predecessors that have come and gone along with their great power overlords since 1878.  However, this does not mean that the latest public squabbles in Bosnia and Kosovo are immediate existential threats. Since it became clear that Western policies there were not working well, officials and public intellectuals periodically have issued jeremiads about new conflicts and issued demands for the outsiders to club local miscreants into submission.  The prevailing dogma is that approved transatlantic institutions, norms, and behaviors constitute the only possible path forward and that Western “help” is necessary because the ill-intentioned nationalists and benighted populations inhabiting the region cannot do “it” (the bundled Western fantasies of democracy promotion and nation-building) by themselves.   The botched Butmir initiative of 2009 that capped serial failures to force constitutional reform on Bosnia was one notable example of this diplomatic and rhetorical pathology.

So, once again, Milorad Dodik’s ritual secession threats antinomian tantrums and a kerfuffle over license plates and sovereignty in Kosovo have tripped liberal institutionalist alarm bells.  Calls once again issue forth for someone to take a hammer to Dodik.  One pundit demands that the EU and NATO take out Aleksandar Vucic for the sake of Democracy in Serbia and regional security [1] – even though there exists zero evidence Vucic and his party have not been the genuine choice of most Serbian voters in every election since 2012.  Vucic is engaged in a level of support for his country’s perceived regional interests typical of any state leadership. Once again, current events are proving not to lead to outbreaks of major violence even as they do remind everyone that the status quo does not enable stability, does spur demographic outflow, and, eventually, will implode.

It is time to break the pattern of rhetorical hyperbole, diplomatic and academic hectoring, and convening of endless meetings in support of the phantom “European perspective” supposedly existing for Balkan EU supplicants.  These rituals of banality have deepened a dangerous regional sense of being numb.  It is becoming increasingly likely that everyone is getting so used to this inertia that in the event some provocation actually does lead to renewed fighting locals and international overseers will be caught by surprise – as in 1914 and 1991. 

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

 

 

International 

 

Censorship Accusation Mars Heritage Conference in Peja (Prishtina Insight)

A Cambridge cultural specialist’s claim that she was barred from discussing the monastery at Decan at an international conference in Peja has caused a heated debate about free speech.

A Cultural Heritage scholar at Cambridge University in the UK, Nora Visoka Weller, has accused a conference in Peja of censorship, claiming the organizers of the conference, “Heritage-led regional and international relations: building blocks or slippery slope?”, part of the ILUCIDARE research project, told her not to speak about the Serbian Orthodox monastery at Decan/Decani.

The organizers of the conference in Peja have denied the allegations.

According to Visoka Weller, who specializes on heritage and conflicts and international policies on heritage protection,  the prohibition was unacceptable and heritage issues cannot be debated properly where the right to freedom of expression is not allowed.

“I was invited to talk about the politicization of cultural heritage, but was asked to talk about other examples within my work, never to mention the Monastery of Decan,” she wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.

“This is unacceptable censorship on my part and in the end the lecture was cancelled. Culture and the development of inter-ethnic heritage-based debate cannot be debated unless the basic right to freedom of expression is recognized. What kind of oppression is this?” Visoka Weller wrote on her Facebook page.

The local project partners and the Brussels and Hague-based pan-European heritage foundation Europa Nostra deny the claims.

Koenraad Van Balen, project coordinator and chairman of the Steering Committee of the ILUCIDARE research project, told BIRN that no topics were censored at the conference.

According to him, the topic of the monastery was mentioned by the host partner but did not enter the final agenda of the conference because the consortium did not have enough time to prepare a scientific discussion on it.

“Nora Weller had preliminary contacts with the host partner of our meeting in Kosovo, but as the proposed workshop was not retained on the final program, she was not invited to speak at our meeting. Therefore, her claims of censorship are surprising and inaccurate,” Van Balen of Europa Nostra said.

He added that the topic of Decan monastery would require full preparation by all participants in the discussion.

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

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Search for missing Bosko Mladenovic continues (Radio KIM)

Kosovo police are still searching for missing 90-year old Bosko Mladenovic from the village of Straza, however there are no concrete results, Gnjilane regional police spokesperson Ismet Hashati told RTV KIM.

Bosko Mladenovic went missing on October 9, this year.

After his missing was reported to the police, around hundred people from Straza and neighboring areas, but also police, organized a search for him, but have not found him. The search continues for the 16th day in a row.

“We still have no concrete results of the investigation. I took part personally in the search with Kosovo police. We were looking for him in a diameter of five kilometers around the house. The police continue the search and we also urge citizens to inform authorities if they know something”, Hashani said.

Bosko lives with his son in a container as their house burned down six years ago. The last information about him was that he left the container around 3 a.m. on October 9. 

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