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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, January 4, 2022

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• Stoltenberg: Tensions increased in Kosovo and B&H; NATO promotes stability (Telegrafi)
• Kosovo declares UNMIK staff a “persona non grata” (media)
• UN: “Persona non grata” doctrine not applicable to UN personnel (media)
• Hasani: UNMIK personnel cannot be declared “persona non grata” (Koha)
• Kosovo has high expectations of Albania joining UN Security Council (Klan)
• Serwer: I do not expect a Kosovo-Serbia agreement this year (Kosovo Online, media)
• Kosovo Surveillance Build-up Raises Privacy Concerns (BIRN)
• Serbia praises another arms shipment from Russia (AP)
• World Athletics confident Kosovo will participate in Serbian event with no issues (Exit.al)
• COVID-19: 38 new cases, no deaths (media)
• New COVID-19 restrictions come into force in Kosovo (Exit.al)
• Pandemic forces 3,000 firms out of business, additional relief packages needed (euronews.al)

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  • Stoltenberg: Tensions increased in Kosovo and B&H; NATO promotes stability (Telegrafi)
  • Kosovo declares UNMIK staff a “persona non grata” (media)
  • UN: “Persona non grata” doctrine not applicable to UN personnel (media)
  • Hasani: UNMIK personnel cannot be declared “persona non grata” (Koha)
  • Kosovo has high expectations of Albania joining UN Security Council (Klan)
  • Serwer: I do not expect a Kosovo-Serbia agreement this year (Kosovo Online, media)
  • Kosovo Surveillance Build-up Raises Privacy Concerns (BIRN)
  • Serbia praises another arms shipment from Russia (AP)
  • World Athletics confident Kosovo will participate in Serbian event with no issues (Exit.al)
  • COVID-19: 38 new cases, no deaths (media)
  • New COVID-19 restrictions come into force in Kosovo (Exit.al)
  • Pandemic forces 3,000 firms out of business, additional relief packages needed (euronews.al)

 

 

Stoltenberg: Tensions increased in Kosovo and B&H; NATO promotes stability (Telegrafi)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke to Montenegro-based paper Pobjeda about the situation in the Western Balkans and noted that there has been an increase of tensions in Kosovo and in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“The Western Balkans has come a long way since the wars of the 1990s, but we have recently seen rising tensions in Kosovo as well as in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with aggressive rhetoric – stalled reforms and foreign actors working for hinder the progress made. NATO will continue to promote stability, security and cooperation in the region, including the day-to-day work of the KFOR mission in Kosovo and our offices in Sarajevo and Belgrade,” he said.

Kosovo declares UNMIK staff a “persona non grata” (media)

Kosovo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Donika Gervalla, issued a decision on 31 December declaring a Russian national working for the UN Mission in Kosovo a “persona non grata”. She said the decision was taken on the request of Prime Minister Albin Kurti and that the person in question was involved in “harmful activity which has violated the national security of the Republic of Kosovo”.

“The institutions of the Republic of Kosovo remain committed to the battle against the malignant influence of the Russian Federation and its satellite representatives in the region, which aim to undermine the achievements of Kosovo and our partners, primarily the US, NATO and the EU. The Republic of Kosovo will continue to cooperate even more closely with its international allies, especially with the Americans, Europeans and NATO, to thwart any destabilizing efforts of the Russian Federation in our region. The determination and the path of the Republic of Kosovo towards membership in NATO, the EU and then in the UN are irreversible,” Gervalla wrote on Facebook.

UN: “Persona non grata” doctrine not applicable to UN personnel (media)

The United Nations issued a statement following the decision of Kosovo authorities to declare one of its staff, accused of harmful activity undermining Kosovo’s national security, a ‘persona non grata’.

The statement, issued by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General notes: “We have been made aware of the Kosovo authorities’ declaration as “persona non grata” of a staff member of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, UNMIK. No official communication has been received by the Mission from the Kosovo authorities with respect to this announcement. The doctrine of “persona non grata” is not applicable to United Nations personnel and is not contemplated under UNMIK regulation 2000/47 (on the status, privileges and immunities of KFOR and UNMIK and their personnel in Kosovo). Any concerns regarding a member of UNMIK personnel should be addressed to the mission leadership so that UNMIK can address the matter in line with the status, privileges and immunities of UNMIK and its personnel. UNMIK and UN headquarters are taking appropriate measures to ensure the safety of the staff member concerned and following up with relevant authorities on this matter.

Hasani: UNMIK personnel cannot be declared “persona non grata” (Koha)

Enver Hasani, former president of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo, said that any time a sovereign country declares a diplomat a “persona non grata”, the country or the international organisation this diplomat represents should be notified. He said that organisations where Kosovo is not a member of operate through a different set of rules, namely KFOR, UNMIK, and OSCE work under the UN Security Council resolution 1244.

Hasani said that UNMIK’s reaction to the decision of Kosovo authorities to declare one of its staff members a “persona non grata” is justified because first, the mission should have been duly informed and second, “declaring a ‘persona non grata’ is ineffective because it operates under Resolution 1244. Presence of KFOR and UNMIK is 100 percent on this basis. This decision puts Kosovo in a bad light internationally for not being familiar with basic rules of diplomatic communication.”

Kosovo has high expectations of Albania joining UN Security Council (Klan)

With Albania taking on the position of a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for a period of two years, expectations in Kosovo run high as Albania’s Foreign Minister Olta Xhacka said this momentum will be used to advance the Kosovo issue, “the recognition process and membership in international organisations”.

Kosovo’s former ambassador to the U.S. and now deputy leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) Vlora Citaku said she expects Albania would play a role in having the UNMIK reporting on Kosovo to the Security Council be reduced during its term. “The first thing Albania should do is to, alongside permanent members of the Security Council that are allies of Kosovo, request reduction of UNMIK’s frequency in reporting on Kosovo,” she said. Citaku also said Albania should also call for the closing of UNMIK.

Serwer: I do not expect a Kosovo-Serbia agreement this year (Kosovo Online, media)

Johns Hopkins University professor Daniel Server said in a New Year’s interview for Kosovo Online that 2021 was an unsuccessful year when it comes to the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, that it is unlikely that there will be a new meeting between Kurti and Vucic before the elections in Serbia and that he hopes for visa liberalisation for Kosovo in 2022.

He also points out that, in addition to Belgrade, Pristina also has a responsibility in the search for missing persons. He does not expect progress in the dialogue, at least until the Serbian elections in 2022.

Asked if after the appointment of the British special envoy, along with two U.S. envoys for the Western Balkans, Washington and London would take the lead in the dialogue, Serwer said the United States still wants the EU to lead, “but I think that both the United Kingdom and the United States will be more willing to work in tandem with the EU than it has been the case in the past.”

Serwer also said he expects more names on the U.S. sanctions list.

He said that Pristina should also be held accountable for any information on the missing persons and that his should include any victims of the KLA or other Albanian armed groups.

Asked if he sees a possibility for an agreement and a new meeting between Kurti and Vucic during 2022, Serwer said there is always a possibility, but that he doubts that it will happen before the Serbian elections.

Serwer said it would be foolish to expect visa liberalisation for Kosovo in 2022, but he added that he hopes it will happen. “The French and the Dutch should tell Pristina why they are hesitant and give Pristina a chance to please them,” Serwer said.

Asked if he expects a bigger role of the USA in the Western Balkans during 2022 when it comes to dialogue, but also BiH Serwer said that “The United States is already more focused on Bosnia and Herzegovina than in the past and will probably continue its diplomatic efforts there in 2022. But to be clear – the right direction for the United States should be more respect for individual rights there. Nothing the United States is doing should strengthen the hold of ethnic nationalist political parties in power. They are the problem, not the solution. A civil state would be a more functional state in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

Kosovo Surveillance Build-up Raises Privacy Concerns (BIRN)

As the government increases its capacities for surveillance in the interest of national security, experts are concerned that people’s right to privacy risks being violated.

As it builds up its national surveillance system, Kosovo should be alert to concerns about the risk to people’s privacy, cyber security experts warn.

The country adopted a law on the interception of electronic communications in 2015, to regulate the procedures and conditions for surveillance of electronic communications carried out for criminal procedures and security needs.

The law determines the rules for Network Operators and Service Providers in relation to processing of data as well as the obligations of state institutions to respect human rights and freedoms in terms of lawful surveillance.

Institutions lawfully permitted to perform surveillance in Kosovo include the police and the intelligence agency, acting on requests from the prosecution office.

Institutions allowed to propose such requests to the State Prosecution are the police, the Police Inspectorate,  customs office and tax administration.

A court warrant is needed before surveillance of a person in Kosovo can be conducted.

But Nuredin Ibishi, a security expert in Kosovo, told BIRN that human rights are routinely violated when it comes to surveillance of persons suspected of being a national security threat, or of committing terrorism, for example – especially if no cases has been initiated by the prosecution, or the suspect has been acquitted by the court.

The prosecution and-or court “provide the content of the surveillance to the lawyer [of the suspect] who often publishes it in the media, violating their privacy”, Ibishi told BIRN, referring to several wiretaps leaked to the public that went viral over the years.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3eKtw9F

Serbia praises another arms shipment from Russia (AP)

Serbia’s president on Monday praised another shipment of arms from Russia despite fears in the Balkans that the country’s recent military buildup could lead to more tensions in the war-scarred European region.

President Aleksandar Vucic attended a training exercise at a military base near Belgrade that included recently purchased anti-tank Kornet guided missiles.

“I am pleased that our soldiers are happy about the purchase of Kornets from Russia,” Vucic said. “It is one of probably the best anti-tank weapons in the world.”

“The Kornet is an important defensive tool to deter anyone from potential aggression against our country, ” Vucic said.

Serbia has frequently been accused of saber-rattling and working with Slavic ally Russia to destabilize neighboring Bosnia, Montenegro and Kosovo, a former Serbian province which declared independence in 2008.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3pNFdD0

World Athletics confident Kosovo will participate in Serbian event with no issues (Exit.al)

The World Athletics organisation has said it does not “anticipate any issues” at the upcoming World Indoor Championships in Belgrade, regarding the participation of Kosovo, which Serbia does not recognise as an independent country.

The Serbian capital of Belgrade is set to host the World Athletics Indoor Championships between 18 and 20 March. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had previously warned Serbia that it must not prevent athletes from certain countries from taking part in the event.

World Athletics who is organising the event, was asked by insidethegames whether it had received assurances that Kosovo would be allowed to participate. They stated they were confident there would be no issues.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3Hxu2Er

COVID-19: 38 new cases, no deaths (media)

38 new cases with COVID-19 were confirmed in the last 24 hours in Kosovo, the Ministry of Health said in a statement. Seven persons recovered from the virus during this time.

There are 540 active cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo.

New COVID-19 restrictions come into force in Kosovo (Exit.al)

From Monday (3 January) anyone wishing to enter Kosovo must provide evidence of full vaccination comprising of two anti-COVID-19 vaccines.

The decision was taken by the Kosovo government on 1 December.

“From January 3, 2022, for all persons entering the Republic of Kosovo will be valid only evidence of full vaccination (in two doses) against COVID-19”, said the decision.

It also states that citizens and residents of Kosovo who do not meet the entry criteria have the opportunity to take a vaccine at border crossing points and the airport.

Exemptions include those who will enter and then exit Kosovo within three hours, those working as professional drivers (as long as they comply with international transport protocol for protection against COVID-19), foreign diplomats accredited in Kosovo, those under 12, those with proven and valid health exemptions (they must still provide a negative PCR), and foreigners visiting the country for under five hours.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/31lTfCi

Pandemic forces 3,000 firms out of business, additional relief packages needed (euronews.al)

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced around 3.000 businesses in Kosovo to shut down in the last 2 years.

The most affected sectors were retail and wholesale companies, followed by hospitality, accommodations and the processing industry.

Construction firms were also identified in the list of businesses going bankrupt.

The head of the borad for Kosovo’s Chamber of Doing Business (CDBK), Skender Krasniqi, has declared that due to a weak economic performance in the country, there is a growing need for relief packages which should be provided by the state budget, which should also include additional funding to help with the current energy crisis.

According to the former minister of trade and industry, Ismet Mulaj, the number of businesses that have gone bankrupt is higher than is being reported by the current administration.

According to Mulaj, the true number is closer to tens of thousands of businesses that have been forced to shut down due to various issues including the pandemic, the energy crisis as well as the poor state of the economy.

According to official data from the Ministry of Industry, Entrepreneurship and Trade, in the past 2 years, a total of 19.863 new businesses have been registered. Of them, 9802 in 2020 and 10.061 in 2021.

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