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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, December 6, 2021

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• Kurti and Vucic might meet in the second week of December (media)
• Kurti for Montenegrin daily Pobjeda: Serbia is copying Russia (media)
• Kosovo PM Kurti has telephone conversation with U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary Escobar (media)
• Haradinaj calls Kurti a “communist” (Koha)
• Hoxhaj: Dangerous to believe that UN membership is not important (Zeri)
• Petkovic: Kurti will not get a U.S. visa while he attacks Belgrade (Express)
• Outrage over the language of a Kosovo court ruling (media)
• Kosovo Arrests 31 for Fraudulent Use of Agriculture Subsidies (BIRN)
• Vucic reacts to massive cross-country protests over lithium mine (euronews.al)
• COVID-19: Three new cases, one death (media)
• Kosovo introduces additional measures in effort to prevent new wave of COVID-19 infections (media)

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  • Kurti and Vucic might meet in the second week of December (media)
  • Kurti for Montenegrin daily Pobjeda: Serbia is copying Russia (media)
  • Kosovo PM Kurti has telephone conversation with U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary Escobar (media)
  • Haradinaj calls Kurti a “communist” (Koha)
  • Hoxhaj: Dangerous to believe that UN membership is not important (Zeri)
  • Petkovic: Kurti will not get a U.S. visa while he attacks Belgrade (Express)
  • Outrage over the language of a Kosovo court ruling (media)
  • Kosovo Arrests 31 for Fraudulent Use of Agriculture Subsidies (BIRN)
  • Vucic reacts to massive cross-country protests over lithium mine (euronews.al)
  • COVID-19: Three new cases, one death (media)
  • Kosovo introduces additional measures in effort to prevent new wave of COVID-19 infections (media)

 

Kurti and Vucic might meet in the second week of December (media)

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti stated at a press conference on Sunday that the possibility of a meeting between him and the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic, in the second week of December, was discussed.

“The possibility of an eventual meeting in the second week of December in Brussels with the President of Serbia has been discussed. I have no information that there are any conditions from anyone, except for the assessment of whether such a meeting should be held or not, belongs to the mediator, facilitators as they call themselves, Josep Borrell and his envoy Lajcak. They are the ones who evaluate whether they will send us the invitations or not,” Kurti said.

He also announced that the prime minister’s chief of staff is preparing his first visit to the United States early next year.

Kurti for Montenegrin daily Pobjeda: Serbia is copying Russia (media)

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti, in an interview with the Montenegrin newspaper Pobjeda, stressed what he said was the destructive role of Serbia in the region, which he assessed as Kosovo’s biggest problem. “Relations between Kosovo and Serbia are the same: they are neither better nor worse,” said Kurti.

“We are dealing with a state that does not recognize Kosovo, which is autocratic and pro-Moscow. On the other hand, Kosovo is an independent and sovereign state, it has its own territorial integrity, but also many problems. Our biggest problem is Serbia, which can neither imagine nor accept Kosovo as an equal neighbouring state,” Kurti said.

He added that Serbia is behaving similarly to Russia in relation to its neighbours in the Western Balkans. “Serbia is behaving like Russia in its neighbourhood in the Western Balkans: it is trying to return Republika Srpska to Belarus and Montenegro to Ukraine. In essence, Serbia does not recognize the citizenship of countries outside the EU – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, and even northern Macedonia. On the contrary: it considers these states temporary and commits all its capacities to destroy their statehood,” he said.

Kurti also commented on the Association of Serb-majority municipalities which he said was in violation to article 23 of the Constitution of Kosovo. “We have such a creature in Bosnia and Herzegovina: it is called Republika Srpska, was built in Dayton and serves Belgrade not Serbs. Belgrade wants to have the same creature in Kosovo too.”

On the “Open Balkan” initiative, Kurti reiterated the view against such a project. “The ‘Open Balkan’ resembles more a Balkan that is open to influence from the East, especially from the Russian Federation and China, open to autocracy, corruption, war crimes… Anything that goes against European values of democracy and rule of law.”

Kosovo PM Kurti has telephone conversation with U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary Escobar (media)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti had a telephone conversation with the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and special envoy for the Western Balkan countries Gabriel Escobar.

According to a press release issued by the Government of Kosovo on Friday, the conversation focused on developments in the Western Balkans and the importance of peace and stability in the region. Prime Minister Kurti said that the full integration of the Western Balkans into the European Union and NATO is crucial for guaranteeing peace and stability within the region and the continent of Europe wihle Escobar noted that the United States supports Kosovo and its goals towards European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

“In this telephone conversation, the two discussed the talks between Kosovo and Serbia facilitated by the European Union. In this regard, Prime Minister Kurti said that Kosovo is committed to a principled dialogue, towards a legally binding agreement at the centre of which is mutual recognition. Meanwhile, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Escobar said that the United States supports the process and is committed to making progress toward its ultimate goal.”

Haradinaj calls Kurti a “communist” (Koha)

The leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) Ramush Haradinaj has called the Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti, a “communist”.

While posting on his Facebook profile a picture of some American congressmen having dinner with Serbian Ambassador to Washington Marko Djuric, he said that “our communist prime minister is proud to have reduced the cost of lunches and dinners.”

“14 American congressmen from the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Military Committee and the Security Committee in the House of Representatives, at the dinner at the Serbian ambassador in Washington, and our communist prime minister is proud to have reduced the expenses for lunches and dinners. What will happen to the dialogue and the Association with this communist approach of our prime minister?” he wrote.

Hoxhaj: Dangerous to believe that UN membership is not important (Zeri)

Enver Hoxhaj, Kosovo’s foreign minister and now deputy Assembly speaker from the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), accused the Government of Kosovo for, as he said, creating an illusion that Kosovo’s membership in the UN is not an important matter and this, he warned, is dangerous.

“In the long term this will harm Kosovo as for Kosovo it would be a favourable international situation while Joe Biden is in the White House and while many leaders and political elites are those who identify with Kosovo’s independence, to use this situation to conclude the state building of Kosovo by having it join the UN. It seems that the Government of Kosovo has created an illusion this is not an important issue, and I am surprised by the public opinion in Kosovo that Kosovo’s non-membership in the UN is not seen as a serious problem, as it was seen 3-4 years ago. I fear that if this issue drags on indefinitely, it will be more difficult to achieve it in 2025 and 2030,” Hoxhaj said in an interview with Albania’s MCN TV.

Petkovic: Kurti will not get a U.S. visa while he attacks Belgrade (Express)

The director of the office for Kosovo in the Serbian government Petar Petkovic said on Sunday that the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, “will not get a visa to the U.S. as long as he attacks official Belgrade and President Aleksandar Vucic about cooperation with Russia.”

Speaking about the policy of the Serbian president, Petkovic said that it could not be shaken by the interviews of Prime Minister Kurti. “Only in the parallel reality in which Albin Kurti lives, is it possible to accuse Belgrade of exporting instability to the region, because it is he who with his unilateral and violent actions violates the peace achieved with difficulty in Kosovo,” Petkovic said.

Outrage over the language of a Kosovo court ruling (media)

Civil society organisation “QIKA” and Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti condemned the language used in a 2012 ruling of the basic court in Gjilan regarding a rape case as being sexist.

Kurti said that he will visit the Kosovo Police department that deals with cases of violence against women and girls alongside the Minister of Justice Albulena Haxhiu and Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla. “The Gjilan case shows how deep the justice reform must be. Unfortunately, women and girls continue to be victims of discriminatory norms, which are found in the unlikeliest places, in the justice system itself. The language of such a court ruling is unacceptable. I am shocked at the kind of language that has been used,” he said.

Women’s rights organisation, QIKA, also reacted to the court decision saying it is gender-based and unprofessional and not the first time that victims of sexual violence are prejudiced by the judicial institutions. “We request the Kosovo Judicial Council immediately take disciplinary measures against the trial body of this case. Sexists have no room in the Court.”

Betimi per Drejtesi website published the court ruling dating to 2012 where five men accused of raping a 19-year-old girl were acquitted with the court blaming the victim for agreeing to share a taxi and living space with the men. “Being in a living space with young people, in itself means that this injured party has agreed to enter sexual adventures with them,” the court said. The ruling further deemed the victim as having “bad habits especially in the moral aspect.”

Kosovo Arrests 31 for Fraudulent Use of Agriculture Subsidies (BIRN)

The Kosovo prosecution has added 31 more persons to a long list of those suspected of misusing agricultural funds, as authorities on Friday carried out a third wave of arrests, which started in March this year.

On Friday, the prosecution announced that it had arrested 31 more persons for bribery, misuse of office and fraud in agriculture subsidies.

The operation was conducted in the municipalities of Prishtine/Pristina, Istog/Istok, Ferizaj/Urosevac, Lipjan/Ljipljane, Peje/Pec, Kllokot/Klokot, Vushtrri/Vucitrn and Podujeve/Podujevo.

It also said that 19 beneficiaries of state subsidies had been interviewed for fraud.

“Within due time, the prosecution will request detention for those who were arrested in today’s operation,” a prosecution press release said.

Friday’s operation continues arrests that started in March, when 10 officials of the Agency for Development of Agriculture, which operates within the Ministry of Agriculture, and two other citizens were detained on suspicion of involvement in bribery and misuse of state cash.

BIRN learned that during this operation, money was found in two separate bags, one in the toilet of a house of one of suspects and another in the courtyard of another suspect.

In June, the prosecution announced seven more arrests in the same case.

In its latest annual Progress Report on Kosovo, in 2021, the European Commission noted that “corruption is widespread and remains an issue of serious concern” in the country.

The global watchdog Transparency International, TI, in its report for 2020, published early this year, ranked Kosovo in 104th place out of 179 countries in its corruption perceptions index – a decline of three places compared to 101st place the previous year.

Vucic reacts to massive cross-country protests over lithium mine (euronews.al)

Thousands barricaded streets in an anti-government protest dispersed across Serbia rejecting two bills adopted by the government, which environmentalists have warned that will allow foreign companies to extort the country’s natural resources.

The Serbian government offered mineral sources to several companies, including here Zijin copper mine to China and the Rio Tinto Group. Green activists say that the project will pollute the earth and the water of the entire Balkan peninsula.

Rio Tinto promised to respect local and EU environmental standards, but activists remain skeptical, as they argue that the €2.4 billion lithium mine will bring “irreversible damages to drinking water in the area”.

Vucic’s party, the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), claims that the protests are politically motivated, ahead of the parliamentary and presidential elections.

President Vucic posted a picture of Gornje Nedeljice, where Rio Tinto is buying off land to begin working on the lithium mine.

Vucic said that as soon as the environmental impact assessment is complete, he will call for a national referendum to let the people decide if they want the project.

“Everything we are building today, we are inheriting it to our children”, wrote Vucic.

COVID-19: Three new cases, one death (media)

Three new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Kosovo in the last 24 hours. Four persons recovered during this time.

There are 322 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

Kosovo introduces additional measures in effort to prevent new wave of COVID-19 infections (media)

In a press conference, Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti and Minister of Health Rifat Latifi introduced additional measures aimed at preventing a new wave of COVID-19 infections in Kosovo.

Kurti warned that as the holiday season approaches and members of the Kosovo diaspora come to visit, there is a danger of a new wave of infections at a time when Kosovo has one of the most stable epidemiological situation in Europe. He also said the new variant, Omicron, presents an additional concern.  “As Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, I have no more important task than to protect the life and health of our citizens, with all the means at the disposal of the Government,” Kurti said, adding that this was the only reason behind the decision to take tougher measures. He said the measures would be relaxed as soon as the situation allows it.

Minister Latifi meanwhile announced that the new measures, entering into force today, will require all persons entering Kosovo to be in possession of a full vaccination certificate; in cases when a person is vaccinated with a single dose, a negative RT-PCR test or evidence that the person has passed Covid-19 will be required; as of 03 January 2022, entry into Kosovo will be possible only through proof of full vaccination. Latifi said that in order to avoid the closure of schools and businesses,  the employees in public and private institutions, public transport passengers, students, malls, or restaurant businesses,  a certificate proving full or partial vaccination will be required.

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