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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, May 3, 2022

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Albanian Language Media:

• Osmani: A great example of our devotion to democracy (media)
• Kurti received the Head of the Greek Liaison Office in Kosovo, Heleni Vakali (media)
• Journalists Association: Government to respect work of reporters (media)
• EU in Kosovo: Media must enjoy safety and unwavering freedom of expression (media)
• Zelensky addresses Albanian Parliament (media)
• Additional charges against former KLA leaders (media)
• COVID-19: 4 new cases (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Memorial to missing Kosovo Serb journalists restored (N1, Beta)
• Vucic: I do not expect too much from Berlin discussions (Tanjug)
• US Ambassador says Serbia should think again about Russia (VoA, N1)
• Serbia ranked lowest in region on World Press Freedom Index (N1)
• Five Minutes of Thundering Silence for World Press Freedom Day (N1)
• V.Decani monks paid a visit to the Islamic Community in Pec on Eid al-Fitr (KoSSev)
• KP says that at Gracanica Lake a police officer was shot at (KiM radio)

International:

• Balkan leaders meet to support gas project rivaling Russia (ABC, AP)
• Media Freedom Remains Major Concern in Balkans, Watchdog Says (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Osmani: A great example of our devotion to democracy (media)
  • Kurti received the Head of the Greek Liaison Office in Kosovo, Heleni Vakali (media)
  • Journalists Association: Government to respect work of reporters (media)
  • EU in Kosovo: Media must enjoy safety and unwavering freedom of expression (media)
  • Zelensky addresses Albanian Parliament (media)
  • Additional charges against former KLA leaders (media)
  • COVID-19: 4 new cases (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Memorial to missing Kosovo Serb journalists restored (N1, Beta)
  • Vucic: I do not expect too much from Berlin discussions (Tanjug)
  • US Ambassador says Serbia should think again about Russia (VoA, N1)
  • Serbia ranked lowest in region on World Press Freedom Index (N1)
  • Five Minutes of Thundering Silence for World Press Freedom Day (N1) 
  • V.Decani monks paid a visit to the Islamic Community in Pec on Eid al-Fitr (KoSSev)
  • KP says that at Gracanica Lake a police officer was shot at (KiM radio)

International:

  • Balkan leaders meet to support gas project rivaling Russia (ABC, AP)
  • Media Freedom Remains Major Concern in Balkans, Watchdog Says (Balkan Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

Osmani: A great example of our devotion to democracy (media)

Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani said today that Kosovo’s progress in the press freedom index is an example of devotion to democracy. “On #WorldPressFreedomDay we recognize brave journalists who gave voice to our suffering during the war, and those who continue to stand up for truth and freedom today. Kosovo’s progress in Reporters without Borders inter press freedom index is a great example of our devotion to democracy,” Osmani wrote on a Twitter post.

Kurti received the Head of the Greek Liaison Office in Kosovo, Heleni Vakali (media)

The Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti received in an introductory meeting the Head of the Greek Liaison Office in Kosovo, Mrs. Heleni Vakali.

As he welcomed Mrs. Vakali, Kurti stressed the very good relations between the two countries and the opportunities for their deepening through increased trade exchanges and increased economic cooperation and investment.

Prime Minister Kurti demanded that Greece join most European Union countries and recognize Kosovo’s independence.

Ambassador Vakali said that she is honored for the task she has taken, and that Greece is a sincere and strong friend of Kosovo. Although it still does not recognize the independence of Kosovo, Greece has managed to develop bilateral relations without any problems, Mrs. Vakali was quoted as saying.

 Journalists Association: Government to respect work of reporters (media)

The Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AJK) is marking today the World Freedom Press Day with the motto “the media are not the enemy”. AJK chairman Xhemajl Rexha told reporters in Prishtina that it happens very rarely that politicians are satisfied with the work of the media and said that the people in government must respect the work of reporters. 

“What reporters expect from people in power is to acknowledge the role and profession of reporters and to respect it,” Rexha said. “Instead of inciting hatred toward the reporters, people in government must use their political power to improve the environment of reporting and to address all the criticism mentioned in credible international reports”.

The AJK said in a statement that politicians must immediately stop boycotting the media, to be accountable, to respect the legislation for access to public documents and to stop attacking or inciting hatred against reporters. 

EU in Kosovo: Media must enjoy the safety and unwavering freedom of expression (media)

“To provide reliable and balanced reporting, media, as the fourth pillar of democracy, must be free, pluralistic and professional, and must enjoy the safety and unwavering freedom of expression,” said today the EU Ambassador in Kosovo, Tomas Szunyog.

On the World Press Freedom Day, he reiterated that the EU’s Kosovo Report 2021 recognises that Kosovo benefits from a pluralistic and lively media environment but that concerns remain regarding public smear campaigns, threats and physical attacks on journalists.

“Any attack on journalists, be it online, verbal, or physical, is deplorable and should be condemned,” said Szunyog.

He called on responsible institutions to improve responses to attacks and other forms of pressure on the media and commended the Association of Journalists in Kosovo for its role in protecting journalists and freedom of expression.

Referring to the disinformation campaign stemming from Russian aggression against Ukraine, Ambassador Szunyog highlighted the high level of professionalism of most Kosovo media in reporting about the war in Ukraine and applauded the readiness of Kosovo to host Ukrainian journalists in these difficult times.

He noted with concern that the lack of financial self-sustainability of media in Kosovo was further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving it vulnerable to political and business interests, while a sustainable solution for the funding of the public broadcaster is yet to be found.

Ambassador Szunyog welcomed the recent adoption by the Assembly of Kosovo of the Law on Free Legal Aid that will, for the first time, also serve media professionals.

“The adoption of the Law on Free Legal Aid by the Assembly was a step in the right direction in securing media freedom in Kosovo, and the EU, for its part, will continue working on, funding and supporting initiatives that contribute to further professionalization and the resilience of the media,” said Szunyog.

The EU’s ongoing assistance to the media sector in Kosovo amounts to EUR 2 million, while an additional EUR 13.5 million is earmarked to support media freedom in the Western Balkans region over the 2021-2023 period.

Zelensky addresses Albanian Parliament (media)

Media widely report today about the session of the Albanian Parliament, during which the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the MPs of Albania via video link.

“You are definitely on the side of the truth. Thank you for the concrete steps for Ukraine, against Russia, for the care you take for our children and our people. Your attitude towards the people of Ukraine, towards the children of Ukraine, reminds me of the Albanian Mother Teresa, who has become a symbol of humanism around the world,” Zelensky said.

“I ask you to restrict the gates for Russian ships and restrict the arrival of tourists, maybe Bucha or Irpin killers are coming. Let us do something principled and stop using UN funds for Russia,” he added further. 

Rama on the other hand said that ‘Our recent history where half a million Albanians were displaced by the violence of ethnic cleansing from their lands in Kosovo and found refuge in Albania, helps us to feel the pain of Ukraine from afar.’

He added that Albania and other countries where there are Albanians, mentioning here in particular Kosovo, are aligned with Ukraine with heart and mind.

Additional charges against former KLA leaders (media)

Four hearings are scheduled for the leaders of the Liberation Army in The Hague.

The hearings will be held separately with each of the four senior leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli, Jakup Krasniqi and Rexhep Selimi. New charges referring to crimes allegedly committed in the villages Semetishte of Budakovo of Suhareka and in the dormitory of Gjilan, are expected to be raised. 

The annexes to the indictment, according to the official website of the Kosovo Specialized Chambers, were submitted by the Specialized Prosecution Office headed by Jack Smith. 

The Court of Appeals will now need additional time to review the materials provided along with the indictment amendments, large parts of which have been edited for the public, reports Klan Kosova.

COVID-19: 4 new cases (media)

Four new cases with COVID-19 were confirmed in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. 18 persons recovered from the virus during this time. There are 414 active cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Memorial to missing Kosovo Serb journalists restored (N1, Beta)

A memorial to two Serbian journalists who went missing during the war in Kosovo has been restored for the 9th time.

Radio TV Pristina journalists Ranko Perenic and Djuro Slavuj disappeared between the village of Velika Hoca and the Zociste monastery on August 21, 1998. They were reported to have gone into an area controlled by the Kosovo Liberation Army and have never been found. They were the first Serbian journalists to go missing during the conflict. The memorial was destroyed and restored multiple times.

Monday’s gathering at the site where they were last seen was attended by some 40 journalists from Serbia and Serbian-language media in Kosovo, Kosovo-online.com reported.

Serbian Journalists’ Association (UNS) President Zivojin Rakocevic said that 17 journalists are still missing in Kosovo. “We were offered to move the memorial to a Serb community, but we refused and will continue restoring it with the words: Looking for Them,” he said.

Vucic: I do not expect too much from Berlin discussions (Tanjug)

Commenting on an upcoming meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said at the weekend he expected to hear objections to Serbia’s actions as well as to have an opportunity to present Serbia’s views, reported agency Tanjug.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Vucic said there was nothing good to expect from the Berlin meeting – attended also by the Kosovo PM, Albin Kurti, and EU special envoy Miroslav Lajcak – and that he did not expect too much.

“A good opportunity for us to get some time to present our views, but we will not change Germany’s positions on Kosovo-Metohija or sanctions (on Russia),” Vucic said.

He said he was concerned not only over Kurti’s irresponsibility and lack of seriousness, but also over the fact that many in the West supported such a policy.

The situation in Kosovo is dramatic and the Serbs there are under strong pressure because there are many who want to use the situation in Ukraine to make the Serbs agree to something, Vucic said.

“We have nothing good to expect from the discussions on Kosovo-Metohija because we are not even in discussions – not by our own wish but by the wish of those who do not even want to implement what they signed up to nine years ago. No one is even trying to make them do so, while we are the ones who are being forced to implement everything – from licence plates to everything else that is marginal in the Brussels Agreement. They do not even mention what is important or give an explanation that it will be discussed sometime,” Vucic said.

He said this was an attempt to “finish the job” – to expel Kosovo Serbs or make them accept an independence of the province, and to make Serbia recognise it as independent.

“We cannot comply with that. I am very skeptical although I support real dialogue. Today, with Kurti, that dialogue is non-existent,” Vucic said, reported Tanjug.

US Ambassador says Serbia should think again about Russia (VoA, N1)

US Ambassador Christopher Hill told the Voice of America that Serbia should think again if it believes that Russia will help resolve the Kosovo issue, reported N1.

The ambassador said that he would be very careful about claims that Serbia benefits from what Russia does.

Hill said that Belgrade and Pristina will decide whether to continue their dialogue. He said that Serbia should decide what to do on its own and added that American diplomats should not be telling the Serbians what to do. According to the ambassador, Serbia should decide what kind of relations it wants with its neighbors. I do not think that Serbia should look to Russia in relation to Kosovo or vice versa but should look at every situation separately, he said, adding that Russia has moved far away from Western values.

I know that the European Union is trying hard to put different ideas on the table, topics to discuss, keep up the momentum…. The negotiations are very difficult, and I know that the EU is doing the best it can. Serbia and Kosovo should bear that in mind, he said. The ambassador said that the issues are not easy and called for understanding but warned that “We should not be held hostage” by them but look forward.

See at:https://bit.ly/3KxAqg8

Serbia ranked lowest in region on World Press Freedom Index  (N1)

Serbia has progressed on the World Press Freedom Index, but was categorized as problematic in 79th place among the 180 countries listed by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranking lowest among the countries of the Western Balkans.

According to the 2022 World Press Freedom Index rankings, Serbia has advanced 14 places, but its average grade was lower – 61.51 compared to 67.97 in 2021.

Serbia ranked lower than the other countries of the region (all of which are in the problematic category) on this year’s index except for Albania which was ranked 103rd – Slovenia 54th, North Macedonia 57th, Kosovo 61st, Montenegro 63rd, Bosnia-Herzegovina 67th.

The World Press Freedom Index ranks the 180 countries it monitored in one of five categories – good, satisfactory, problematic, difficult, and very serious.

2022 World Press Freedom Index available at: https://bit.ly/38KTaM2

Five Minutes of Thundering Silence for World Press Freedom Day (N1) 

N1 TV fell silent for five minutes at 11:55 am on Tuesday as part of the Five Minutes of Thundering Silence observed annually on World Press Freedom Day.

Serbian media organizations warned that the country is still in what they called media darkness and called the authorities to deal with the threats to journalists. They called journalists and media to join in the traditional Five Minutes of Thundering Silence and called on the public to protect their own rights by supporting free media.

The Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS) released a short video to draw attention to the increasingly frequent threats made against Serbian journalists. The video features journalists who received death threats saying that they would not stop doing their jobs and adding that they all must show solidarity. Their slogan this year is #nistesami (#youarenotalone). NUNS warned that the public scene in Serbia was dominated by false news and propaganda created by people in positions of political power with hate speech becoming normal in politics.

The Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) called prosecutors and police to efficiently investigate all the threats against journalists and media and inform the public of their findings. It also called journalists to report any pressure immediately.

It said that the Serb community in Kosovo still has no independent TV channel covering all of Kosovo.

The Nezavisnost Union’s culture, arts and media branch and the Coalition for Free Media warned that the voices of the people who cannot enjoy their rights and others suffering pressure and repression will not be heard without free media and independent journalism. They added that all human rights are in danger in media darkness with no one being able to feel safe.

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

V.Decani monks paid a visit to the Islamic Community in Pec on Eid al-Fitr (KoSSev)

The monks of Visoki Decani, headed by Abbot Sava Janjic, visited the Islamic Community in Pec today on the Eid al-Fitr, joined by the local commander of KFOR, Marco Javarone, and two Catholic priests from Pec.

“Today with the KFOR RC Commander Colonel Javarone, his officers and two Catholic priests from Peć/Peja, we visited the Islamic Community in Peć to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holidays. Me Fat Fitër Bajrami, Bajram Šerif Mubarek Olsun, Ramazan Bayramınız Mubarek Olsun!” – the Visoki Decani monastery tweeted.

Representatives of the Catholic, Islamic and Jewish communities from Pec and Prizren, along with Italian KFOR Commander Colonel Marco Javarone and his officers, visited Visoki Decani during Orthodox Easter last week.

Yesterday was Eid al-Fitr, one of the most important Islamic holidays celebrated by Muslims worldwide.

KP says that at Gracanica Lake a police officer was shot at  (KiM radio)

Kosovo police said that two men were suspected of shooting from a firearm on the lake near Gracanica, and that the target of the attack was a police officer, reported KiM radio.

”It was reported that two suspects, Kosovo men, have shot at a male victim (a police officer). The police officer reacted by shooting, as a result, two suspects were injured and referred for medical assistance. Fifteen shell casings were found on the spot, while in the village of Mramor, a motorcycle and a “zoraki” type weapon without bullets were found near the suspects. The case is being investigated,” a regular police report said two days after the incident, reported KiM radio.

A dozen Serbian girls and boys were gathered at the place of the shooting on the lake, on the 1st of May holiday.

A young man from the group, told RTS that the attack happened on Monday afternoon, when two unknown persons on motorcycles approached them.

“They stopped a few meters away from us. A friend who was with us, a Gorani by nationality, works in the police and speaks Albanian. He approached them and asked them to leave the place because the situation was unpleasant. They moved from that place and stopped not far from our cars, and one of them started shooting at us with a gun, ” stated a young man from Laplje Selo.

He added that they lay down when they heard the shooting, and that they were protected from bullets by parked cars.

“A plainclothes policeman who was with us in the group retaliated by shooting, and the attackers fled towards the village of Mramor,” specified the young man and added that they reported the incident to the police.

On Monday, Office for KiM and Serbian list condemned the shooting, SL in a press release called “the international community to react most urgently and publicly condemn this ethnically motivated attack, which has caused great unrest among all Serbs, especially in central Kosovo.” Recalling “horrible memories when Serbian children were killed near the Bistrica River while bathing, and who were shot by attackers who have not been punished for their crimes to this day”.

The Office for KiM stated that “Serbs in Gracanica are rightly embittered and scared for the safety of their children”, which is why they “demand that the attack on them be treated with the utmost care”.

According to the Office, “their only sin was that they were on a picnic and hung out by the lake, as well as that only by sheer luck none of the Serbian young men and women were injured”.

“The Office for Kosovo and Metohija persistently warns of an increasing number of ethnically motivated attacks on Serbs in the province, and it is high time that such warnings were taken most seriously. Those international organizations whose mandate and responsibility is to guarantee security for Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija have to treat this attack on Serbian youth with the utmost care and by no means it can go unpunished,” the statement read. 

 

International 

 

Balkan leaders meet to support gas project rivaling Russia (ABC, AP)

A top European Union official is joining the leaders of four Balkan countries on a tour of liquefied natural gas facilities being built in northern Greece to challenge Russia’s energy dominance in the region

A top European Union official is joining the leaders of four Balkan countries on a tour Tuesday of liquefied natural gas facilities being built in northern Greece to challenge Russia’s energy dominance in the region.

Read more at:  https://abcn.ws/3yaBh3B

Media Freedom Remains Major Concern in Balkans, Watchdog Says (Balkan Insight)

Media freedom remains a problem in many Balkan states, with journalists working in highly polarised political environments and encountering threats from criminal groups, says Reporters Without Borders’ 2022 World Press Freedom Index.

Reporters Without Borders’ 2022 World Press Freedom Index, published on Tuesday, says that over the past year there has been a large increase in “polarisation amplified by information chaos” – a phenomenon that has also affected the troubled media environment in the Balkans.

The international watchdog organisation says the information chaos is a result of “a globalised and unregulated online information space that encourages fake news and propaganda”.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3MHc0C8

 

 

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