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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, December 6, 2021

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Albanian Language Media:

• Haradinaj calls for unity in political battle with Serbia (media)
• Kurti mentions meeting with Vucic; EU says we cannot speculate (Telegrafi)
• “Serb MPs didn’t honor Dole only because he was a friend of the Albanians” (Express)
• Jablanovic accuses SL of surveilling people through cameras in Leposavic (Kallxo)
• Croatian President to visit Kosovo on Christmas, will meet Osmani and Kurti (media)
• Kosovo sends over 30 samples for testing for Omicron to Germany (Express)
• COVID-19: Four new cases, no deaths (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Covid-19: 36 new cases registered in Serbian areas on Saturday (Radio KIM)
• Mts doo and ARKEP deny KosovaPress – that the number of illegal antennas in the North has increased (KoSSev)
• UNS: Memorial plaque dedicated to kidnapped Serb journalists demolished for eight time (Radio KIM)
• Office for KiM: Desecration of memorial plaque impermissible (Radio KIM)
• On the eve of Human Rights Day, the associations of missing appealed to Belgrade and Pristina to intensify their work (KiM radio, Kossev)
• Platform of NGOs asks decision on award to language non-compliant institutions be reconsidered (Radio KIM, media)
• Language Commissioner response to Gracanica-online open letter (Gracanica-online)
• Police invisible, Serbia’s roads blocked; Protest against Vucic in Kosovo north (N1)
• Protests across Serbia: “Serbia is not for sale! Marš sa Drine!” (KoSSev)

Opinion:

• Palokaj: Merkel will be missed by all (Koha)

International:

• Cocaine Comrades: The Balkan Ties of a Fallen Colombian Drug Trafficker (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• PM Kurti hosts meeting with heads of shelters for domestic violence victims (media)
• Government declares iron will in defense of human rights (Ekonomia Online)
• “Women, girls from minority communities not included in labour market” (Koha)
• BIRN to Hold Exhibition Commemorating Reporters Killed in Balkan Wars (BIRN)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Haradinaj calls for unity in political battle with Serbia (media)
  • Kurti mentions meeting with Vucic; EU says we cannot speculate (Telegrafi)
  • “Serb MPs didn’t honor Dole only because he was a friend of the Albanians” (Express) 
  • Jablanovic accuses SL of surveilling people through cameras in Leposavic (Kallxo)
  • Croatian President to visit Kosovo on Christmas, will meet Osmani and Kurti (media)
  • Kosovo sends over 30 samples for testing for Omicron to Germany (Express)
  • COVID-19: Four new cases, no deaths (media) 

Serbian Language Media:

  • Covid-19: 36 new cases registered in Serbian areas on Saturday (Radio KIM)
  • Mts doo and ARKEP deny KosovaPress – that the number of illegal antennas in the North has increased (KoSSev)
  • UNS: Memorial plaque dedicated to kidnapped Serb journalists demolished for eight time (Radio KIM)
  • Office for KiM: Desecration of memorial plaque impermissible (Radio KIM)
  • On the eve of Human Rights Day, the associations of missing appealed to Belgrade and Pristina to intensify their work (KiM radio, Kossev)
  • Platform of NGOs asks decision on award to language non-compliant institutions be reconsidered (Radio KIM, media)
  • Language Commissioner response to Gracanica-online open letter (Gracanica-online)
  • Police invisible, Serbia’s roads blocked; Protest against Vucic in Kosovo north (N1)
  • Protests across Serbia: “Serbia is not for sale! Marš sa Drine!” (KoSSev)

Opinion:

  • Palokaj: Merkel will be missed by all (Koha)

International:

  • Cocaine Comrades: The Balkan Ties of a Fallen Colombian Drug Trafficker (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • PM Kurti hosts meeting with heads of shelters for domestic violence victims (media)
  • Government declares iron will in defense of human rights (Ekonomia Online)
  • “Women, girls from minority communities not included in labour market” (Koha)
  • BIRN to Hold Exhibition Commemorating Reporters Killed in Balkan Wars (BIRN)

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

Haradinaj calls for unity in political battle with Serbia (media)

Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) leader Ramush Haradinaj said today that his party is willing at anytime and any situation to become an ally of the Kosovo Government and Prime Minister Albin Kurti “so that in the political battle with Serbia, we can protect our Constitution, integrity and sovereignty”. 

Haradinaj writes in a Facebook post that information about the security situation in the Balkans has never been more concerning in the last 20 years. “Kosovo is faced with major challenges related to its future. The biggest challenge is certainly the final agreement with Serbia which could enter into its final phase. The Government of Kosovo and its Prime Minister Albin Kurti have assumed the responsibility but also the trust of the electorate to address all issues related to the conclusion of Kosovo’s statehood. This Government and this Prime Minister have asked and received the support of the people, over 50 percent, to resolve capital issues and today they don’t have the luxury to even ponder an eventual withdrawal from this battle. Otherwise, this would be seen as deserting the state and national interests of Kosovo. Kosovo, today more than ever, needs political unity so that it can protect its interests in unison. We are willing to become at anytime and any situation allies of this government and prime minister, to protect the Constitution, sovereignty and integrity of the country in the political battle with Serbia. This by never threatening the rights of the Serb minority in Kosovo. Kosovo today does not have the luxury of debates for withdrawals, resignations or new elections. The majority government must assume the responsibility of resolving open issues.”

Kurti mentions meeting with Vucic; EU says we cannot speculate (Telegrafi)

Kosovo Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, said on Sunday that he is expected to meet Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Brussels in the second week of December but that this should be decided by EU High Representative Josep Borrell and Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak.

Asked to comment on Kurti’s remarks, EU representatives in Brussels said they could not comment on different scenarios. EU spokesman Peter Stano told the news website: “We cannot speculate on different scenarios, but if there will be a high-level meeting within the EU-facilitated dialogue between Prime Minister Kurti and President Vucic, we will inform you about this in due time.”

“Serb MPs didn’t honor Dole only because he was a friend of the Albanians” (Express) 

The news website reports that the plenary session of the Kosovo Assembly today started with a moment of silence in honor of former U.S. Senator Bob Dole who passed away on Sunday. Tinka Kurti, an MP from the ruling Vetevendosje Movement, took to Facebook to criticise Serb MPs for not standing in honor of the late U.S. senator. “Only because he was known as a friend of the Albanians, today they cannot be humane. They are taking revenge because of his positions, especially in the 1990s. So, they are still caught up in the politics of 20-30 years ago. Not even the slightest respect even when deaths unite humankind,” Kurti wrote in a Facebook post.

Jablanovic accuses SL of surveilling people through cameras in Leposavic (Kallxo)

The Party of Serbs in Kosovo, led by former government minister Aleksandar Jablanovic, claims that a new political party with ties to the Serbian List has placed illegal cameras in Leposavic. According to Jablanovic the cameras can make both video and audio recordings. In an interview with the news website, Jablanovic said there should be investigations into how a political party – the Serb Progressive Party – has such surveillance equipment. “I am telling you very openly, those cameras are very expensive, and if a political party has this kind of equipment, the Central Election Commission must be notified about this. They need to provide explanations where they were purchased and with what funds. Those cameras make audio and video recordings. You could be walking on the street and they can hear and record what you are saying,” he said.

Croatian President to visit Kosovo on Christmas, will meet Osmani and Kurti (media)

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic will pay an official visit to Kosovo on December 23-24. A press release issued by Milanovic’s office notes that he will visit Kosovo following an invitation by his Kosovo counterpart, Vjosa Osmani. Milanovic is scheduled to meet Osmani, Prime Minister Albin Kurti and will visit Croatian troops that serve as part of KFOR in Kosovo.

Kosovo sends over 30 samples for testing for Omicron to Germany (Express)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health has sent today 30 COVID-19 positive samples to Germany for more detailed analysis for the Omicron variant of the virus. The head of the microbiology department at the institute confirmed the information. “Yes, we have sent some samples to Germany today. I don’t know the exact numbers, but it is over 30. We regularly send samples for testing,” he said. The institute told the news website that they expect to get the test results in one or two weeks.

Several news websites report that Croatia has already confirmed its first two cases with Omicron.

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

Four new cases with COVID-19 have been confirmed in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. Eight persons recovered from the virus during this time. There are 318 active cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo.

 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Covid-19: 36 new cases registered in Serbian areas on Saturday (Radio KIM)

Out of 125 tested samples in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo, 36 were positive for Covid-19, Crisis Committee of Mitrovica North announced on Saturday, Radio KIM reports.

The new cases were registered as follows: 12 in Mitrovica North, ten in Zubin Potok, eight in Zvecan, two each in Strpce and Priluzje, and one each in Leposavic and Kamenica

Currently there are 493 active cases of Covid-19 in the Serbian areas in Kosovo. 

Mts doo and ARKEP deny KosovaPress – that the number of illegal antennas in the North has increased (KoSSev)

Mts doo denied today the allegations of the Pristina media – that “the number of illegal mobile phone antennas in the north and other parts of Kosovo has increased”, which was reported by KosovaPress yesterday, writes portal Kossev..

Carrying out a statement by ARKEP Chairman Nazim Rahimi, KosovaPress reported yesterday that the Electronic Communications and Postal Services Regulatory Agency (ARKEP) received “disturbing information that the number of antennas and unauthorized activities of mobile phone operators in the North and other parts of Kosovo has increased.”

They also stated that Rahimi said that a unit had been formed that would soon start checking these allegations, after which it would come out with an official position.

In the meantime, however, ARKEP announced that it denied the writing of KosovaPress “that the number of illegal mobile antennas in the north of Kosovo has increased”.

“In an interview given by the chairman of the Committee, Nazim Rahimi, to the media KosovaPress, it was said that because of some concerns we received in this regard, we are conducting field inspections and will continue in the coming days. However, we confirm that such irregularities have never been proven so far,” they said.

Today, the denial also comes from the mobile operator Mts doo, a subsidiary of Telekom Srbija. They told KoSSev that all their locations and mobile base stations were duly registered.

“Mobile operator Mts doo, in accordance with the Brussels Agreement and the license of the Regulatory Agency for Electronic Communications and Postal Services (ARKEP) has a limited number of locations with mobile base stations. All locations and mobile base stations are duly reported and approved by ARKEP. Moreover, the detailed technical characteristics of these mobile base stations have been updated and submitted to ARKEP as part of regular reporting activities, “said Mts doo.

They underlined that Mts doo does not have illegally installed mobile base stations, antennas, nor does it carry out any unauthorized activities.

They emphasized that so far, they have had correct and constructive cooperation with the Regulatory Agency on many issues.

“Mts doo realizes all its obligations related to the payment of licenses and the frequency range given to it on time and has no debts to ARKEP,” they said.

At the same time, they say that they hope that they will soon be in a situation to obtain a permanent, territorially unlimited license through a tender or auction.

KoSSev recalled that Mts doo operates based on the Brussels agreement, i.e., the telecommunications arrangement from September 2013 and the action plan that resulted from that arrangement, including the conclusions of the European Union mediators regarding telecommunications from November 13, 2016.

Until the announcement of the tender for the new operator, Mts doo is working with a temporary license for mobile services.

According to the telecommunications arrangement from September 2013, for the new company – “a dependent company of a Serbian company”, which is interpreted as MTS, it is planned to issue a full license for fixed telephony services, in accordance with the Kosovo regulatory framework.

When it comes to mobile telephony, as it is stated, the Kosovo authorities will issue a temporary authorization to the “new company”, in accordance with the Kosovo regulatory framework, for existing operations, limited to the existing infrastructure on the ground.

It is specified that the temporary authorization expires when the Kosovo authorities issue a new full, unlimited license for mobile telephony, which will be the result of a tender / auction.

UNS: Memorial plaque dedicated to kidnapped Serb journalists demolished for eight time (Radio KIM)

Memorial plaque dedicated to the kidnapped Radio Pristina journalists Djuro Slavuj and Ranko Perenic erected by Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) and its branch in Kosovo on a place of their abduction near Velika Hoca has been demolished again, UNS said in a statement, Radio KIM reports.

Over the last nine years this was the eight time that the plaque bearing inscription in Serbian and Albanian – Our colleagues Djuro Slavuj and Ranko Perenic were abducted here on August 21, 1998 – we are looking for them –  had been violently removed.

President of UNS Zivojin Rakocevic and President of UNS in Kosovo Budimir Nicic, member of UNS Management Goran Avramovic, journalists and members of the association Zorica Vorgucic and Katarina Marinkovic visited the place where memorial plaque was demolished and taken away.

“Late in the afternoon we learnt that the plaque dedicated to our colleagues has been demolished for the eight time. Honestly, we didn’t expect this could happen and it could last. However, we were in deception, this society is not capable to facing the crimes, this society is not capable to facing basic freedoms saying – let us find out what happened to Slavuj, let us find out what happen to Perenic, let us find out what happened with 17 colleagues Albanians, Serbs, foreigners, who died here doing their job”, Zivojin Rakocevic said on Friday.

“We will keep restoring (the plaque) as long as we can and as long as we exist, as it makes no point to kill people who only did their job for the second, eight or tenth time. This is a reoccurring abduction, a reoccurring attack, this is adding to the wounds of their families, a reoccurring humiliation of our profession. This is an abduction of our profession and we shall not allow memory and our pursuit be stopped by those who demolished this plaque eight times”, he added.

President of UNS in Kosovo Budimir Nicic recalled that the plaque was demolished last time three years ago. “Then the perpetrator was arrested and prosecuted, and we believed this would no longer happen. We do not consider this as a defeat, we will continue doing our job to restore and erect the plaque again, but this is a defeat of the Kosovo society. Before anything of the Kosovo leaders who until now, as it seems to me, have not publicly condemned demolishment of this plaque. This is a defeat of the international community in Kosovo as well, which midly reacts to the demolition of the plaque (…)”, Nicic said on Friday.

Radio Pristina media team left Pristina on August 21, 1998 intending to visit Monastery of Zociste, near Velika Hoca to do a reportage on the return of kidnapped monks. According to the information provided by their families they were last seen in Velika Hoca in the afternoon hours. By mistake they headed towards Orahovac, which was under KLA control at that time.

So far, Kosovo police only once found a perpetrator of recurring demolition of the plaque. Shaban Berisha was sentenced on probation for three months and a financial fine of EUR 200.

Although he admitted that he removed the plaque using construction machinery and that he was motivated by ethnic reasons, those circumstances were omitted in the verdict. UNS as the affected party was never invited by the court in Djakovica, nor did it have the possibility to see the list of files.

Office for KiM: Desecration of memorial plaque impermissible (Radio KIM)

Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija condemned the demolition of a memorial plaque dedicated to the abducted Serb journalists near Velika Hoca, Radio KIM reports.

“Reoccurring desecration of the memorial plaque dedicated to kidnapped journalists Djuro Slavuj and Ranko Perenic near Velika Hoca is impermissible. Instead of finding and most severely sanctioning perpetrators of the heinous crimes against Slavuj and Perenic, and also against other media professionals who died during years of conflict in Kosovo and Metohija, we are witnessing today a reoccurring attack against them, with one aim only to deface any mention on their names and deeds”, Office said in a statement.

It added it will inform “about this vandal act international representatives and request perpetrators be found ugrenly and sanctioned adequately”.

On the eve of Human Rights Day, the associations of missing appealed to Belgrade and Pristina to intensify their work (KiM radio, KoSSev)

On the eve of the International Human Rights Day, members of the Resource Center for Missing Persons in Pristina and the Association of Families of Missing Persons “Kosovo Sufferers” from Belgrade appealed to the competent authorities in Belgrade and Pristina to intensify their work to clarify the fate of missing persons, regardless of their nationality or religion, reported KiM radio on Friday.

Bajram Qerkinaj, in front of the Resource Center for Missing Persons, said that the process of clarifying the fate of the missing stopped because of politics, and that they demanded that the working groups of Belgrade and Pristina (for the missing) meet as soon as possible.

“I know that politics is slowing down here (the issue of missing people), although all family members are against politics stopping this process. However, they came across a deaf ear and blind eyes. At this press conference, we appeal once again to the domestic structures, the government, both in Pristina and Belgrade, and even in Brussels, to hold meetings of the Working Groups without delay,” he said.

Family members of the abducted and missing are still searching for 1,630 people, who went missing during and after the war.

Natasa Scepnovic from the Association “Kosovo Sufferers” from Belgrade said that the missing persons were deprived of their basic human right to life and freedom. On behalf of the families of the missing, she appealed to relevant domestic and international representatives and organizations.

“There is no true and real desire and will to find missing persons. It is your duty to help us because we have the right to it and because hiding information about forcibly abducted persons is a gross violation of human rights. Again, we wonder how long you will violate this and challenge it. There were crimes for which all perpetrators must be held accountable, in accordance with international norms and applicable domestic laws,” she said.

Scepanovic added that there must be political will so that their demands are not just a dead letter on paper, that families expect results and the process to speed up to find the missing. 

“We demand that all war crimes be prosecuted, that all archives be opened, because everyone has their own archives. We also have the right to ask for the formation of a special fund that would enable us to exercise the right to reparation for mental pain. We would like the status of people in the morgue in Pristina to be resolved and for families who buried their loved ones with the classic method immediately after the war to donate blood again, so that those families have real peace and tranquility, to know who they buried,” she said. 

Gordana Djukanovic, a journalist from Pristina and a member of the “Kosovo Sufferers” Association, said their common goal was to force those responsible to speed up the process of finding the missing.

“All these years, as much as families are looking for, they continue to drive us mad, and humiliate us by throwing dust to our eyes. When the cameras are turned off, they return to their positions, and their positions currently are the lack of the political will to work together to resolve as many cases of missing persons as possible. Only together can they do something, because neither Belgrade can be here, or Pristina can be there (in Belgrade), and that is why there are working groups that should start working as soon as possible,” said Djukanovic.

The coordinator of the Association of Families of Kidnapped and Missing Serbs from Kosovo, Negovan Mavric assessed that the resignation of Veljko Odalovic, which was requested by the representatives of Pristina in Brussels, is an attempt to stop the process of finding the missing.

“We are afraid that the problem has been pulled over, and that individual and mass graves have not been excavated in the last five months, and we know very well that there are some in Kosovo and Serbia. As a person who deals with this difficult issue, I wonder why the resignation of Veljko Odalovic was requested in Brussels and whether the issue of the missing is difficult to resolve, so something was looked for to stop it. If the negotiations continue in Brussels, where they are deciding vehicle plates and electricity, and no person from either side bothers, then the resignation of the person dealing with the humanitarian issue is being demanded,” Mavric concluded.

Members of the Resource Center for Missing Persons and the Association of Families of Missing Persons “Kosovo Sufferers” announced a joint press conference on Monday, December 6 in Belgrade, reported KiM radio.

Platform of NGOs asks decision on award to language non-compliant institutions be reconsidered (Radio KIM, media)

“We express strong opposition to the decision to present the awards “The Best Practices in Implementation of Law on Use of Languages” at the times where timely and linguistically correct information in Serbian language, in the most number of cases, is unreachable and when we bear witnesses to numerous examples on how public institutions violate the right to information in Serbian language”, members of Empirika NGOs platform said, Radio KIM reports.

By only one visit to the internet page of Kosovo Ministry of Internal Affairs in Serbian language one could notice that translation on the activities of the officials are rarely available, there are numerous mistakes in the Serbian translation, there is no translation of the call for vaccination, with noticeable lack of information in Serbian language on the social media profiles of this institution. The mentioned examples represent some of the burning problems of this institution when it comes to respecting the Law on Use of Languages. When translation in Serbian is available, it is often Albanized and prepared with a massive use of linguistic constructions uncommon to the Serbian language, Empirika said in a statement.

Empirika also pointed out that the Ministry of Internal Affairs rarely or almost not at all sends statements in the Serbian language. Also, official internet pages of other Kosovo institutions at all levels are full of grammar mistakes, or, what is more often, the translation or content in the Serbian language is not available at all.

Further in the statement Empirika pointed out that Kosovo Government doesn’t invest sufficient efforts to ensure timely and accurate translation of the information of public importance.

It also noted in a joint statement “it was inappropriate to award institutions which do not sufficiently respect the Law on Use of Languages (…)”.

“It is necessary that all institutions at local and central level, establish a sustainable mechanism aiming at respecting the Constitution and the law in order to have an unimpeded communication between institutions and citizens of Serbian and other non-majority communities”, Empirika said. It added it remains open to cooperation and offering support to all those ready to move towards resolving numerous, long time noticed and recurring problems in implementation of the Law on Use of Languages”.

“We call upon Office of Language Commissioner and OSCE Mission in Kosovo to reconsider their decision on presenting awards for “The Best Practices in Implementation of Law on Use of Languages” and thus send a clear message to the institutions that respect of the Law on Use of Languages is an institutional obligation, and not a privilege of one or fewl communities in Kosovo”, Empirika concluded in a statement.

Members of Empirika include: Aktiv, Advocacy Center for Democratic Culture (ASDC), Center for Rights of Minority Communities (CRMS), Center for Peace and Tolerance, Ecological Medical Expert Group, Forum for Development and Multiethnic Cooperation, Gracanica Online, Human Center Mitrovica, Communications for Social Development, Media Center, New Press, Radio kontakt plus, RTV KIM and RTV Mir.

Language Commissioner response to Gracanica-online open letter (Gracanica-online)

Gracanica-online portal reported that Kosovo Language Commissioner Slavisa Mladenovic responded to the open letter portal sent regarding the awards “The Best Practices in Implementing the Law on Use of Languages” being presented to language non-compliant institutions.

In his response Mladenovic outlined criteria being used to award the selected institutions, including the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The portal published the entire response, with the remark that the explanation why media were selectively invited to attend the event to present the awards was missing.

“(…) The Office of Language Commissioner diligently monitors all the cases of language rights violations within the institutions and regularly monitors their work. In all reports, recommendations and public appearances continuously and without reservation we express concern over the situation on implementation of the Law on Use of Languages”, Mladenovic said.

“OSCE as one of our most active partners from the international community in coordination with our office and based on reports and recommendations we sent to the institutions supported concrete activities to improve implementation of the Law on Use of Languages at structural level. While making selection of the recipients of this year’s award ceremony, Office of Language Commissioner and OSCE took into account openness and readiness of certain institutions to advance the current situation, which indeed requires additional commitments, as well as launching procedural reforms within these institutions”.

“By presenting the awards, OSCE and Office of Language Commissioner pointed out to the institutions demonstrating the highest readiness to advance the current situation. In order to really advance the situation of the language rights within these institutions, OSCE and Office of Language Commissioner oblige to additional advocacy and future cooperation in the interest of promoting the language rights”, the response reads.  

Police invisible, Serbia’s roads blocked; Protest against Vucic in Kosovo north (N1)

As announced, the environmentalists and their supporters in Serbia who oppose two laws they said were passed to pave the way for the Rio Tinto’s lithium mining blocked roads across the country at 2 pm on Saturday in substantially larger numbers than a week ago without visible police presence, while President Aleksandar Vucic suddenly appeared in the western Jadar area most affected by a potential mine and had lunch at a house of one villager, reported broadcaster N1 on Saturday.

N1 reporters across Serbia said many plainclothes police officers were present, and several drones were seen flying over the protesters in Belgrade.

Vucic first paid a brief visit to the western town of Sabac, where the most serious incident happened during last Saturday’s protest and arrived at the village of Gornje Nedeljice three hours before the start of the blockage.

In the meantime, the lawyers staged their protest outside Serbia’s Presidency building in Belgrade, saying they would join the others later.

See more at:https://bit.ly/3pwWW0c

Protests across Serbia: “Serbia is not for sale! Marš sa Drine!” (KoSSev)

Two-hour-long roadblocks (from 2 pm to 4 pm) were set on Saturday at 53 locations across Serbia. Activists, primarily environmentalists, as well as all citizens frustrated with the current situation in Serbia, demand the repeal of the Law on Expropriation and amendments to the Law on Referendum and People’s Initiative. The “Serbia is not for sale” protests were registered on Peticija.org, reported portal KoSSev.

Earlier this week, activists of the “Kreni-promeni” movement presented the terms under which they would suspend roadblocks to the President of Serbia. The petition “STOP the lithium mine! Rio Tinto – March from the Drina!” (Get lost) was signed by 285,558 people so far.

In protest against the two laws – on referendum and expropriation, thousands of citizens blocked the main roads at several locations in Serbia last Saturday. Protests against the changes in the law were previously held in front of the parliament in Belgrade. Several incidents were recorded at the time, including the one in Sabac, when at the end of the one-hour long blockade, the police withdrew and were replaced by a bulldozer, and a group of young men carrying batons and hammers, who attempted to clear out the road for SNS supporters traveling to Belgrade for a party congress.

At the center of the protest lies the movement against the company Rio Tinto, i.e., the plan to open a lithium mine in Podrinje.

“The support of the Jadar project by the EU at this moment is scandalous. We are not a colony. We will treat Rio Tinto or anyone else as an occupier and anyone who supports this project as a collaborator of the occupiers. See you tomorrow at 2 pm,” said Savo Manojlovic, the head of the Kreni-Promeni movement.

“Protests are open to everyone. Leftists who are bothered by rightists should make a blockade at another location. Believers who are bothered by atheists should do the same. Those with pro or anti-vaccination views – the same goes for them. There is no First and Second Serbia, on Saturday there will be only one – United and FREE Serbia. Afterward, you can divide yourselves” – reads one of the main messages of Sava Manojlovic in the past few days.

Several environmental associations, primarily led by “Kreni-promeni” and “Ekoloski Ustanak” organizations, announced that roads across the country will be blocked today. The previous roadblock lasted about an hour, while the one announced for today is set to last two.

The action was not cleared by the police, and the Serbian Minister of Police, Aleksandar Vulin, said that the police “will have to use violence”. On the eve of the protests, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced that he will travel to Brezjak, Gornje, Donje Nedeljice, Draginjac to “talk to the people”. The visit is set to take place almost simultaneously with the announced protest blockades throughout Serbia.

Late last night, Savo Manojlovic announced that the residents of these places – members of the movement ‘Ne damo Jadar’ (We don’t give Jadar) refused to meet with the president. Some media outlets then shared alleged details about the preparations made yesterday for today’s visit.

Pro-governmental media in Serbia either do not report on these events or primarily report about the position of the authorities, which are defending Rio Tinto, i.e., the opening of the lithium mine, while accusing protest organizers and participants of working against Serbia’s interests and describing them as “bums”, “hooligans” and “fascists”, reported KoSSev. 

See at: https://bit.ly/3IzZDH9

Church in Priluzje broken into (KoSSev)

KoSSev portal reported that an aggravated theft occurred during the night between Wednesday and Thursday last week in the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord in Priluzje village. KoSSev received confirmation from this church as well as the Kosovo police that the door of the church was broken and technical equipment taken away from it,.

Ecclesiarch Dragan Bojkovic told KoSSev portal he went to open the church on the morning of December 2, and noticed the board beening removed from the door. He added actually three doors were broken – the entrance doors, and inside the church the doors to the warehouse and the font.

He called the police and informed them about the case, and then the inspectors came from Vucitrn. The police established that damage in the amount of 500 euros was done, Bojkovic confirmed.

There was no money in the church, because they did the inventory the night before and took the money from the cash register, he added.

Bojkovic recalled this was not the first theft, and that an almost identical situation happened at the end of October 2019. He opined that these were the same perpetrators because, as he said, everything was done according to the same principle.

The archpriest, Milovan Kojic, also confirmed to KoSSev that the cameras inside the church recorded unknown perpetrators who broke the door of the office and broke the camera.

He said that all cables were disconnected in the room where the monitors and receivers were located, and where the cameras were connected. He also claimed that one receiver was taken away, and that was exactly the one that was connected to the cameras that record the churchyard.

Opinion

 

Palokaj: Merkel will be missed by all (Koha)

“With Angela Merkel leaving politics, the European Union has lost one of the persons known for finding a compromise even when that seemed impossible. There will hardly be a replacement for Merkel in this position. For Kosovo she will be remembered as the Chancellor during whose mandate Germany supported Kosovo’s independence, was strongly against Kosovo’s partition, for good bilateral relations, but also for the failure to secure visa liberalisation for Kosovo or a stronger support from the European Union,” Brussels-based correspondent and columnist, Augustin Palokaj, writes in an opinion piece.

Palokaj argues that the unity of the European Union will be often tested and “it is not known who will be there to reconcile and reach compromises as Merkel has done until now. She played a key role in saving the EU after the failure to ratify the European Constitution, an ambitious project which was rejected in referendums in France and Holland. She pushed forward a compromise through the Lisbon Treaty. She also played a key role in the adoption of three seven-year financial frameworks of the EU … Whoever has followed the policies of the EU, knows that there is nothing more difficult than reaching an agreement among all member states on how to fund and spend the common budget.”

“Given the power and influence of Germany, she could have done even more for Kosovo. But in a way the support expressed by Germany, as in the case of visa liberalisation, did not translate into concrete actions by its representatives in Brussels. The new government in Germany is expected to have continuity vis-à-vis the Balkans, including. And we hope it will make a step forward also in Kosovo’s relations with the European Union, from visa liberalisation and all the way to Kosovo being treated with greater respect by the structures of the European Union, which more abide to the needs of non-recognising countries than those that have recognised Kosovo,” Palokaj writes.

 

 

 

International 

 

Cocaine Comrades: The Balkan Ties of a Fallen Colombian Drug Trafficker (Balkan Insight)

From Marcos and Soldado to Tito and Chiquito, the drug trafficking ties between Colombia and the Balkans run deep.

President Ivan Duque called it “the most severe blow” to Colombian drug trafficking in this century, comparable only to the arrest of drug lord Pablo Escobar three decades ago. 

The excitement was understandable. Dairo Antonio Usuga, better known in Colombia as ‘Otoniel’, was the country’s most wanted drug trafficker, a former guerrilla turned leader of El Clan del Golfo, the biggest criminal gang in Colombia. 

He was arrested in late October, 500 soldiers and 22 helicopters descending on his rural hideout in northwestern Colombia.

The ripple-effect of Otoniel’s downfall, however, will be felt far wider than his South American homeland. Authorities say El Clan del Golfo had alliances with international drug cartels in Mexico, Italy and the Balkans.

See more at:https://bit.ly/3IsBhz0

 

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

PM Kurti hosts meeting with heads of shelters for domestic violence victims (media)

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti met today with heads of shelters for victims of domestic violence and discussed the provision of specialized supports for victims and the role of the shelters in the protection and rehabilitation of victims. Kurti praised the work of shelters as partners in combating domestic violence and for their direct involvement in the protection of women and children who are victims to domestic violence. 

A press release issued by Kurti’s office notes: “they discussed the initiatives undertaken by the Government for new legal infrastructure, the drafting of the new Law on Protection from Domestic Violence and the Strategy for Protection from Domestic Violence and Violence against Women 2022-2026. In the joint meeting with the Deputy Minister of Justice, Mrs. Nita Shala, who is also National Coordinator against domestic violence, and with the head of the Agency for Gender Equality in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mrs. Edi Gusia, the Prime Minister was informed by the heads of shelters about the commitment and challenges in their area of responsibility, in the stages of responding to cases of domestic violence, for the protection, rehabilitation and reintegration into society of victims of domestic violence. Further steps were discussed that will further strengthen the direct applicability of the Istanbul Convention to our legal framework, and the implementation of the requirements arising from this convention, which will further guide the work of the responsible institutions. This meeting was attended by the leaders of the shelters: Mrs. Zana Hamiti from the Center for the Protection of Women and Children in Prishtina, Mrs. Erblina Dinarama from the NGO “Safe House” in Gjakova, Mrs. Nazife Jonuzi from the Center for Protection and Rehabilitation of Women and Children “Liria” in Gjilan, Mrs. Vesna Stajic from the shelter “Zenski incluzivni centar” in Novo Brdo, Mrs. Sevdije Kasumi – Bunjaku from QMGF “Shtëpia ime” in Ferizaj, Mrs. Ardita Bala from the Center for Women’s Welfare in Peja, and Mrs. Fidane Hyseni from QMGF “Raba Voca” in Mitrovica.”

Government declares iron will in defense of human rights (Ekonomia Online)

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said today that human rights are more than guaranteed rights, referring to the adoption of the human rights program for 2021-2025. Kurti said that by adopting the program, Kosovo joins global efforts to contribute to the implementation of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 70/1. “Our program aims to achieve equality before the law and a sustainable institutional system. For the Kurti government, human rights are more than guaranteed rights. We believe in the universality of people,” Kurti said, adding that he pledges to help raise awareness with special emphasis on minority communities. He made these remarks during the conference “Institutional Responsibility for Human Rights” organised by the Youth Initiative for Human Rights Kosovo. 

YIHR Kosovo executive director Marigona Shabiu called on Kurti to pledge and focus on the rights of the LGBT community and also on the rights of the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians. “Same sex marriages should be adopted within the Civil Code,” she said. Shabiu also said they are willing to cooperate with the institutions and that they will continue their fight and activism for a fair and more equal society.

Minister of Justice, Albulena Haxhiu, said at the conference that people have lost faith in the judiciary because of numerous problems in the system. “I am deeply concerned. In our meetings with the citizens, they inform me about delays in legal proceedings,” she said. Haxhiu also said they are working to provide legal aid to victims of domestic and gender-based violence. “We have no time to lose. We cannot afford to have a situation where some people consider women as their property. I know we have a lot of problems, but we also have an iron will to address these problems,” she added.

“Women, girls from minority communities not included in labour market” (Koha)

Senat Ibishi from the non-governmental organization “The voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians” said in an interview with the TV station that women and girls from these communities are not included in the labour market and that one of the key reasons is their lack of education. He said the first challenge for women and girls is how to orient in professional areas.

Ibishi said the employment rates of youths from these communities is concerning. “Women and girls from these communities are not easily employed, and another challenge is the lack of experience … There is a large number of unemployed people in these communities. Meanwhile, private companies are coming to us and telling us they need workers. There is growing awareness and opportunities for employment among the communities,” he said.

Ibishi also said that scholarships for members of the communities from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology are very welcome.

BIRN to Hold Exhibition Commemorating Reporters Killed in Balkan Wars (Balkan Insight)

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network will hold an exhibition and publish a book that commemorates journalists and media workers who were killed during and immediately after the violent break-up of Yugoslavia.

BIRN’s exhibition, entitled Last Despatches, will open in Sarajevo on December 14 at a venue that will from next year host BIRN’s regional museum, the Reporters’ House, dedicated to journalists and media issues, the wars in the former Yugoslavia and challenges to contemporary journalism.

See more at: https://bit.ly/3lDgyi9

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