Albanian Language Media:
- COVID-19: 2,943 new cases, one death (media)
- Kosovo commemorates 16th anniversary of Ibrahim Rugova’s death (Express)
- S. Ambassador’s video address: Kosovo has achieved a lot for these 13 years (RTK)
- The Assembly approves five international agreements (KosovaPress)
- Kosovo Army soon will get its first helicopters, says Deputy Minister of Defence (Express)
- LDK does not exclude protests against increase of electricity price (media)
- Ambassadors Minzhozi and Hovenier talk about political developments in Kosovo (media)
- Heated debate between Murati and Hoti on a loan to finance social schemes (Ekonomia)
- New anti-COVID measures to enter into force tomorrow (media)
Serbian Language Media:
- Petkovic: International community without adequate reactions, election will be held on April 3 (Kosovo-online)
- Peoples’ Party: Carelessness of authorities for appropriation of Serbian property in Kosovo (Radio KIM)
- Petkovic: We have not handed over Brezovica, we continue fighting (Radio KIM)
- Kosovo-online says portal Siri endangers safety of their journalists by publishing ungrounded accusations (Kosovo-online)
- France, Germany support Serbia on path to EU (N1)
- First flurona case confirmed in Serbia (N1)
- Brnabic: Administrative acts related to Rio Tinto Company abolished (B92, Tanjug)
- Rio Tinto very concerned over Serbian PM’s statement (N1)
- Afghans Housed at Military Base in Kosovo Risk Being Denied Entry to U.S. for Alleged Terrorist Ties (Wall Street Journal)
- NATO Dismisses Russian Demand to Withdraw from Romania, Bulgaria (Balkan Insight)
- Erdogan’s Withdrawal from Istanbul Convention ‘Illegal’, Top Prosecutor Says (Balkan Insight)
Albanian Language Media
COVID-19: 2,943 new cases, one death (media)
Kosovo has recorded 2,943 new cases with COVID-19 and one death in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. 317 persons have recovered from the virus during this time. There are 12,396 active cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo.
Kosovo commemorates 16th anniversary of Ibrahim Rugova’s death (Express)
Kosovo is commemorating today first post-war president and founder of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), Ibrahim Rugova, who died on 21 January 2006.
President Vjosa Osmani commemorating Rugova said that he is the founding father who paved the way for establishing the state of Kosovo.
“16 years ago, Kosovo lost more than an incredible statesman. We lost the architect of our statehood, who brought the people of Kosovo together & led us to the irreversible path of freedom and independence. May we always honor President Rugova by fulfilling his vision,” Osmani wrote on Twitter.
Kosovo state officials and political leaders are paying tribute to Rugova who as leader of the LDK led Kosovo’s peaceful resistance in the 1990s, facing the regime of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic who abolished Kosovo’s autonomy and imposed a police regime in Kosovo.
After the war Rugova was elected the first president of Kosovo in 2022, and re-elected in 2005. Rugova lost his battle with lung cancer in January 2006 when he was serving his second term as president.
U.S. Ambassador’s video address: Kosovo has achieved a lot for these 13 years (RTK)
The U.S. Embassy in Kosovo has published on its website the address of the new ambassador to Kosovo, Jeff Hovenier, where he reveals information about his life and career, but also about his promises for Kosovo.
“I’m no stranger to Kosovo and its history. Over the past decades, I’ve had the honor in various capacities to represent U.S. interests along with my colleagues in defending Kosovo’s people, its sovereignty, and its independence. In many ways, I am a personification of the United States’ steadfast commitment over decades to you and your country.
In 1999, while working at the U.S. Mission to the OSCE, I served as a member of the U.S. delegation to the Rambouillet Process. I was also on the UN team in 2006 led by Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari that was responsible for status negotiations. Later in my career, at the White House National Security Council, I worked on U.S. policy for the Western Balkans, including Kosovo-Serbia normalization,” Hovenier said.
He added that Kosovo’s achievements over the past short 13 years are nothing short of remarkable – a vibrant democracy, a capable economy, and leadership Kosovo projects beyond its borders. However, he noted, there remains unfinished business.
“Here’s my promise to you – working with government leaders, civil society activists, and all people of Kosovo – my team and I will continue to advocate for our shared interests and vision:
- a Kosovo fully engaged and integrated into the region and European and Euro-Atlantic institutions, with improved, normalized relations with its neighbors;
- a Kosovo with resilient, reliable, and efficient public institutions that deliver services and justice to, and protect the rights and freedoms of, all citizens of Kosovo; and,
- a Kosovo with a sustainable, dynamic economy that attracts investment, protects the environment, and retains innovative talent,” Hovenier said.
Read more at: https://bit.ly/3tN5oMD
The Assembly approves five international agreements (KosovaPress)
The Assembly of Kosovo, with 80 votes in favor, has approved the amendment and the Draft Law on the ratification of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Embassy of the United States of America and the Ministry of Education for the Fulbright academic exchange program.
With 80 votes in favor, the Assembly approved the draft law on ratification of the agreement between Kosovo and the Republic of Northern Macedonia on the status of participation of the Kosovo Security Forces and the Army of Northern Macedonia during their temporary stay in the territory of the respective states.
The highest legislative body has approved the third international agreement with 87 votes for the draft law on ratification of the agreement between Kosovo and the International Development Association regarding the financing of the program, promotion and advancement of opportunities for water security.
Also, the MPs of the Assembly of Kosovo have approved an amendment and the draft law on ratification of the international agreement between the European Union and Kosovo on Kosovo’s participation in the Horizon Europe program, the framework of the research and innovation program.
After many discussions, the fifth international agreement for Kosovo’s participation in the EU program called “Creative Europe 2021-2027″was approved.
The Assembly will continue with a session at 14:30 for the election of two members of the Kosovo Judicial Council.
Kosovo Army soon will get its first helicopters, says Deputy Minister of Defence (Express)
Kosovo Deputy Minister of Defence Shemsi Syla said that Kosovo’s Army will soon get its first helicopters adding that the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) continues working in increasing its capacities by recruiting new members. Syla said that 820 new recruits will join the KSF this year.
Deputy Minister Syla during a debate organised by NGO FOL said the duty of all young men and women in Kosovo is to defend their country. He said that to respond to current security threats it is necessary for the military service to became mandatory. “Soon we will be equipped with helicopters. Last year, we have recruited 400 cadets and fulfilled ranks based on the capacities the KSF has. Whereas this year we will accept additional 820 recruits,” Syla said. He said the KSF cadets will be prepared for a professional army and its members have the possibility to undergo various courses organised locally and by armies of friendly countries.
He said the KSF with its current capacities has performed successfully in several operations inside and abroad. According to Syla the KSF helped sheltering of Afghan refugees who were fleeing Taliban and helped citizens of Kosovo living in remote areas get vaccinated.
LDK does not exclude protests against increase of electricity price (media)
The MP of the Democratic League of Kosovo Armend Zemaj has stated that they will use all democratic mechanisms to oppose the increase in electricity prices.
He said that in a poor country like Kosovo you have to be very ignorant to propose an increase in the price of energy.
Zemaj said that the situation is chaotic, both in the social and economic part, but also in public health. “The pandemic brings to the surface many certain problems, but this has been aggravated by the irresponsibility of this government,” he said speaking further about the enormous increase in basic prices in food and other basic things and now the tendency to increase the price of electricity.
He further announced at a press conference that they will use all mechanisms, including protests, to oppose the rise in electricity prices.
“We will consult with everyone, but also with the citizens who are directly affected by the incompetence of this government. We will see other forms of prevention, such as protests, as one of the democratic forms,” he said.
Currently, the Social Democratic Party has announced a protest on January 29, while another protest on social media has been invited for January 26. Both are against the rise in electricity prices.
Heated debate between Murati and Hoti on a loan to finance social schemes (Ekonomia)
The MP of the Democratic League of Kosovo, Avdullah Hoti, has clashed with the Minister of Finance, Labor and Transfers, Hekuran Murati, regarding the international loan agreement in the amount of 47 million euros for social schemes from the World Bank, reports Ekonomia Online.
Hoti in the session has said that in a normal situation, it has never happened to get a loan to finance social and pension schemes. He made this statement in the Assembly, after Minister Murati presented an international loan agreement from the World Bank worth 47 million euros for social schemes.
“We agree to review the schemes because there are citizens who meet the conditions and do not receive and vice versa. Getting a loan to pay for social schemes has never happened, probably since 2008, when the state of Kosovo took out a loan to pay social schemes or salaries. After all, what state are we in if we do not manage to pay the social and pension schemes with the income we have. Only Palestine or Western Sahara that have difficulty in consolidating institutions receive such loans,” Hoti said. He added that it is pointless to take the loan after the approved budget.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance, Hekuran Murati said that they have ensured that during the agreement with the World Bank most of the funds go to the pockets of citizens.
“We as the Ministry of Finance have signed the financing agreement for the project of reforming the social assistance system with the International Development Association which is within the World Bank. The total value amounts to 47 million euros and will enable the government of Kosovo to improve the efficiency of the social assistance system, where the poverty test will enable better targeting of the families in need, the government spending, and the advancement of integrated social systems in order to create the opportunity to expand the base of social assistance in relation to the needs of citizens in the future. We made certain during the negotiation to provide the best possible conditions so that as much money as possible goes into the pockets of the citizens,” Murati said.
Ambassadors Minzhozi and Hovenier talk about political developments in Kosovo (media)
Albania’s Ambassador to Kosovo Qemal Minxhozi met with the Ambassador of the United States of America Jeffrey Hovenier. They discussed the political situation in Kosovo, developments in the region and cooperation.
“In his role as Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Ambassador Minxhozi received in a meeting the newly arrived Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Kosovo, Sh.T.Z. Jeffrey Hovenier, during which they had the opportunity to talk about the political situation in Kosovo, the region and beyond, as well as aspects of bilateral cooperation,” it is said in the announcement of the Embassy of Albania in Kosovo.
New anti-COVID measures to enter into force tomorrow (media)
The government of Kosovo is expected to approve new anti-COVID measures today. The proposals of the Ministry of Health are expected to enter into force tomorrow. These measures include restricting movement from 22:00 to 05:00, while gastronomy activity will be allowed to take place until 21:00.
This was announced by the spokesman of the Ministry of Health, Faik Hoti, who said that these measures against COVID-19 aim to slow down the spread of the Omicron variant and to prevent overcrowding of clinics with patients.
Hoti stated that citizens entering Kosovo should have all three doses of anti-COVID vaccine, or at least two doses and a negative PCR test.
He said that they will be committed to have stricter implementation and supervision of these measures, especially in shopping malls.
“Regarding the education sector, there is a guide for temporary measures regarding COVID-19 which is implemented in the field of education and the decision whether a school will continue with the physical presence of students or with any of the scenarios that are in place belongs to school task forces in cooperation with the Municipal Directorates of Education and MEST,” Hoti said.
Serbian Language Media
Petkovic: International community without adequate reactions, election will be held on April 3 (Kosovo-online)
Fact there was no possibility to organize voting on the Serbian referendum in Kosovo, clearly indicates that the international community has not reacted adequately in this case, Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Petar Petkovic said, Kosovo-online portal reports.
He added it was the duty of the international community, Brussels, (EU Special Envoy) Miroslav Lajcak and US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Gabriel Escobar to exert necessary pressure upon Pristina in order to have Serbian elections called for April 3, organized in Kosovo.
Petkovic also said the right to vote is a fundamental human right, stressing the fact that Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti banned a referendum to be organized in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo and the rights of Serbian citizens in Kosovo to vote in that referendum.
Statements of EU and Quint states on this matter, Petkovic termed as good, given that, as he said, it confirms this was about violation of the fundamental rights of Serbs in Kosovo.
Asked what he expects from the upcoming visit of Lajcak and Escobar in Pristina, and then in Belgrade, Petkovic said it was good that they are coming and are interested in all issues in the Balkans, adding they will also talk about topics burdening our relations.
“It is exactly that on the topics sensitive for our people Kurti attempts to generate new crises, be it license plates, freedom of movement, and now he attempts to do so in the case of energy. We also saw that his statement that people in the north do not pay electricity was a lie. It is an idea to accuse the north as a ‘black hole’ or energy crisis in Kosovo and Metohija, aiming to try and shift the blame and responsibility for the crisis to Serbian people (…)”, Petkovic said.
Peoples’ Party: Carelessness of authorities for appropriation of Serbian property in Kosovo (Radio KIM)
Member of Serbian opposition Peoples’ Party (NS) Executive Board for Kosovo and Metohija, Zarko Ristic said yesterday that carelessness of the Belgrade authorities about the interests of Serbs in Kosovo and property of Serbia there is a daily occurrence, adding it became obvious that authorities in Belgrade will not even make a statement about it, Radio KIM reports.
He also said that the Kosovo Privatization Agency every day makes announcements saying it sold part of the company or some other enterprise, but no one mentions who created that property, who invested there and it now “takes place without any action from the Republic of Serbia”.
He noted the last example relates to Brezovica ski center. He recalled that Brezovica ski center until privatization was the ownership of Serbian Skiing Center and company “Inex Interexport” from Belgrade.
He added that on December 21, 2021, members of the Kosovo police arrested Serbs in Strpce, and this way, as he said, “intimidated Serbs and prepared grounds for a sale without obstruction”.
Petkovic: We have not handed over Brezovica, we continue fighting (Radio KIM)
Regarding decision of the Kosovo Privatization Agency (KPA) to establish a social enterprise Brezovica, Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Petar Petkovic said that this ski center “was not handed over to Kosovo”, adding that Serbia will continue “fighting for Brezovica and supporting management and workers there”, Radio KIM reports.
He told Tanjug TV that the decision of the KPA is yet another unilateral action of Albin Kurti, adding that all decisions of KAP were illegal, unilateral and made without the rightful owners.
“We have not handed over anything regarding Brezovica ski center and we continue supporting all our workers and management there. We will help the Brezovica ski center, as we did all those years (…)”, Petkovic said.
Radio KIM recalled that Kosovo Privatization Agency established social enterprise Brezovica, appointed a new board with Strpce municipality and activated it in the existing ski center, within the fiscalization process, and in line with the laws made by Pristina authorities. Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said that social enterprise Brezovica started operating.
Serbian Skiing Center and Holding Company Fond Inex Interexport, AD Belgrade, owner of this property have not made a statement yet regarding the situation with Brezovica ski center, nor did they reply to KIM Radio inquire on the topic it sent them via email.
RTS earlier reported that 130 workers are employed at Brezovica ski center. They told RTS, under condition of anonymity citing justified reasons, they heard they will be offered six-month contracts, however their main concern is what will happen with them after those contracts expire.
Kosovo-online says portal Siri endangers safety of their journalists by publishing ungrounded accusations (Kosovo-online)
Mitrovica North-based Kosovo-online portal said that media portal Siri, part of the agency with the same name based in Albania, in its special Kosovo edition, continues “brutal media campaign against Kosovo-online portal, which along with cyber-attacks against the portal is ongoing for months”.
Following the article, containing as the portal said utter fabrications, and published by Kosovo public broadcaster RTK and portal Balkani, Siri portal now published ‘a comprehensive analysis’ of the work of the Kosovo-online portal containing “ungrounded and ill-intended conclusions and remarks”.
Siri tried to prove the thesis about the intention of the Kosovo-online portal “to create possible unrest and spread disinformation” in Kosovo with ‘a series of evidence material’. The article included number of headlines published by Kosovo-online that Siri marked as “fake news” but those news in fact, as the Kosovo-online said included the comments of analysts, politicians both Serbian and Albanian, news published already by other media, and official statements of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija.
Siri also accused Kosovo-online portal of “having an important role in encouraging the protests, barricades, spreading the hatred and attacks against Kosovo police” during Kosovo police action in the north on October 13, 2021. It also said that the news on injured residents in Zvecan during the protests, published by Kosovo-online “was not substantiated by any facts”, despite the fact that Srecko Sofronijevic, resident of Zvecan, was shot in the back, during the police action and subsequently treated in Mitrovica North hospital and then transferred to Belgrade for further treatment.
Kosovo-online said it deems those attacks “as a brutal attempt to suffocate freedom of public speech and a direct threat to our journalists who carry out their duties across Kosovo”. It also urged relevant institutions, international organizations and professional associations to react and enable Kosovo-online portal to carry out its work in fair and normal conditions.
France, Germany support Serbia on path to EU (N1)
The embassies of Germany and France expressed their countries’ strong support on Serbia’s path to the European Union, a joint statement said on Thursday, N1 reports.
“Germany and France strongly support the process of Serbia joining the EU through political dialogue at high level, through EU funds (200-300 million Euro in grants) and bilateral support to ongoing reforms”, the statement said, adding that both countries are offering expertise in reforms of the public administration and rule of law among other things.
France, as chair of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2022, will organize an international conference on the Western Balkans to bring together leaders and other players from the EU and the region. The statement said that the French and German governments provide support in Serbia in promoting a green agenda, innovations, youth initiatives and reconciliation, regional cooperation and security challenges.
First flurona case confirmed in Serbia (N1)
The head of the Serbian Public Health Institute said that the first case of flurona has been registered in the country, N1 reports.
The combined flu-coronavirus ailment has been registered in Serbia for the first time, Public Health Institute CEO Verica Jovanovic told public broadcaster RTS. She said that the presence of both the SARS-CoV-2 and flu virus was detected in one person a week earlier.
“The symptoms are different from COVID and flu,” she said, adding the patient had a high fever, general weakness and all the symptoms of a respiratory infection. According to Jovanovic, the symptoms were over quickly just like the omicron strain.
Jovanovic said that the Torlak virology institute had detected the presence of both viruses in some samples it tested, adding that flurona would appear again.
Brnabic: Administrative acts related to Rio Tinto Company abolished (B92, Tanjug)
In her address following the Serbian Government session yesterday on Rio Tinto Company and excavation of jadarite mineral, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that the Jadar project spatial plan has been abolished and that all administrative acts related to the company Rio Tinto or Rio Sava Exploration have been annulled.
“We never had contracts, as we have said many times”, she added.
She recalled that protests had been held in Serbia over the recent months regarding the Jadar project and the Rio Tinto company, i.e. its daughter company in our country, which has been in Serbia since 2004, when, she said, it received the first decision allowing research actions.
Brnabic added that the Mining Law was amended in 2006, which introduced the principle of continuity, which means that the explorer has the exclusive right to exploit, and that in 2012 the company received a decision on the construction of large diameter wells.
“And so on, until today, until 2022. We have the requests of environmental organizations, which were submitted to the government on January 12, 2022”, Brnabic said and repeated all the requests, which the government adopted in a session late yesterday.
She also said that foreign organizations and foundations had flocked to Serbia over the past year and a half to finance local environmental organizations and get involved in their establishment and work and fund protests.
At a press conference, Brnabic said she could not find words “to describe the hypocrisy of foreign organizations, noting that the largest financiers of protests included the US, the Rockefeller Foundation, USAID, the Open Society Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, the UK’s Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the British Council, as well as some German organizations.
“It would not be a problem if they were interested in the environment and were it not for the hypocrisy where those who are funding the protests are criticizing companies from their own countries, while we are supposed to defend them and get weaker politically. Is that the game we are playing?”, Brnabic asked.
Rio Tinto very concerned over Serbian PM’s statement (N1)
Rio Tinto said on Thursday that it is very concerned by Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic’s statement that all administrative acts connected to its Jadar lithium mine project had been revoked, N1 reports.
“We always respected the laws of the Republic of Serbia during our work on the Jadar Project”, the company said in a statement following Brnabic’s news conference.
It said that Rio Tinto was looking into the legal grounds for the government’s decision and its implications on the company’s activities and staff in Serbia.
Afghans Housed at Military Base in Kosovo Risk Being Denied Entry to U.S. for Alleged Terrorist Ties (Wall Street Journal)
Afghan evacuees housed on a U.S. military base in Kosovo are at risk of being denied entry to the U.S. because of their alleged links to the Taliban and other terrorist groups, U.S. officials have said, potentially leaving them without a home country.
Fewer than 10 Afghans have been declared ineligible for entry after security officials found disqualifying information about them during an extensive vetting process, according to a person familiar with the issue. About 90 other individuals continue to be vetted at the Camp Bondsteel base in Kosovo, according to administration officials.
Few countries have agreed to take any individuals barred from the U.S., and sending them back to Afghanistan, where they could be harmed, could violate international law. That presents a legal, humanitarian and diplomatic conundrum for the Biden administration after a chaotic evacuation effort last summer. Thousands escaped Kabul airport with little, if any, vetting, while more than 60,000 former interpreters and other visa applicants were left behind.
Read more at: https://on.wsj.com/3nGdlPN
NATO Dismisses Russian Demand to Withdraw from Romania, Bulgaria (Balkan Insight)
Alliance says the Kremlin call for NATO to move troops and equipment out of Romania and Bulgaria in order to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis is ‘anachronistic’ and harks back to Cold War ‘spheres of influence’.
NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoana on Friday rejected Russia’s “anachronistic” demand for the Atlantic alliance to withdraw from Romania and Bulgaria, members since 2007.
Russian diplomats called on NATO to withdraw troops, weapons and military equipment from the two countries as part of ongoing negotiations with Russia on Ukraine, which Russia is threatening with major troop build ups on its border.
Russian chief of diplomacy, Sergey Lavrov said it was “about withdrawing foreign troops, equipment and weapons, as well as about other steps aimed at restoring the 1997 configuration of those countries who weren’t NATO members at that time, and that includes both Bulgaria and Romania”.
Read more at: https://bit.ly/3IoHfjl
Erdogan’s Withdrawal from Istanbul Convention ‘Illegal’, Top Prosecutor Says (Balkan Insight)
A prosecutor from the council that oversees the legality of administrative court decisions says President Erdogan had no lawful right to withdraw Turkey in 2021 from an international treaty – and the decision should therefore be annulled.
Turkish State Council Prosecutor Elmas Mucukgil said on January 20 that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s withdrawal of Turkey from the “Istanbul Convention”, a European treaty on women rights and domestic violence, was illegal.
“The presidential decision on the annulment of the treaty did not comply with the law,” Mucukgil said in a court case, the daily Cumhuriyet reported.
Mucukgil said only parliament could withdraw the country from an international treaty. “The decision should be annulled,” Mucukgil added.
Read more at: https://bit.ly/3KvqCUW