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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, May 24, 2022

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• German Chancellor Scholz to visit Kosovo early June (media)
• Bislimi: Serbia leads with number of non-implemented agreements (Koha)
• Kosovo Police bust cannabis farm in the north (media)
• Mehaj attends meeting of Ukraine Defense Contact Group (RTK)
• Svecla talks to Johansson, calls for visa liberalization (RTK)
• Hague prosecutors to quiz intelligence chief on wartime whereabouts (BIRN)
• Local Serbs block Serbia-run administration offices in Istog (Koha/Klan)
• Kosovo welcomes two more Ukrainian journalists (Prishtina Insight)
• Crops and carcinogens: Kosovo’s market for unsafe, illegal pesticides (BIRN)
• Vucic and Hill: Efforts to focus on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (media)
• COVID-19: One new case (media)

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  • German Chancellor Scholz to visit Kosovo early June (media)
  • Bislimi: Serbia leads with number of non-implemented agreements (Koha)
  • Kosovo Police bust cannabis farm in the north (media)
  • Mehaj attends meeting of Ukraine Defense Contact Group (RTK)
  • Svecla talks to Johansson, calls for visa liberalization (RTK)
  • Hague prosecutors to quiz intelligence chief on wartime whereabouts (BIRN)
  • Local Serbs block Serbia-run administration offices in Istog (Koha/Klan)
  • Kosovo welcomes two more Ukrainian journalists (Prishtina Insight)
  • Crops and carcinogens: Kosovo’s market for unsafe, illegal pesticides (BIRN)
  • Vucic and Hill: Efforts to focus on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (media)
  • COVID-19: One new case (media)

German Chancellor Scholz to visit Kosovo early June (media)

Online media quote reports from Deutsche Welle in saying that as part of the visit to the Western Balkans, the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will visit Belgrade as well as Pristina around the 10th on next month. The visit is said to be part of Germany’s efforts to prepare for the Berlin Process summit. Scholz is also expected to make stops during his Balkans tour to Tirana and Skopje and perhaps Sarajevo too.

Bislimi: Serbia leads with number of non-implemented agreements (Koha)

Besnik Bislimi, Kosovo’s Deputy Prime Minister and chief negotiator, said to the members of the Assembly’s committee on foreign affairs that the agreement on the Association of Serb-majority municipalities is not of greater importance than other agreements signed in Brussels.

“The EU says all agreements should be implemented and at the same time says that the longer list of non-implemented agreements is with Serbia’s side. There are 33 agreements [reached] in Brussels, the ranking is on alphabetical order but not on the order of importance. The Association is one of the 33 agreements,” he said.

On the Council of Europe membership bid, Bislimi said it was important to keep this process separate from the dialogue. “For me it is very important that this is also the official position of Brussels,” he said.

Bislimi said that the Kosovo delegation in dialogue presented several options on license plates and energy but that there was no readiness on the Serbian side to move forward. “They asked for six more months, citing post-election developments. The request for us was not serious and not sincere.”

Kosovo Police bust cannabis farm in the north (media)

Kosovo Police, in cooperation with Customs, undertook an operation in the northern part of Kosovo yesterday and busted a lab used for growing cannabis with over 10,000 plants ready to be sold illegally. The operation took place in a location called Izvor, near the border crossing with Serbia. Interior Minister of Kosovo Xhelal Svecla said the police and customs officials were met with gunfire during the operation but that no one was injured. “This is the result of great determination in freeing our country from crime more every day. Well done to the Kosovo Police and Customs!” Svecla said.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti said after the police operation that law enforcement authorities are combating crime relentlessly. “Crime will be fought without interruption. In Izvor, a town in the north of Kosovo, our police found a marijuana grow lab with over 10.000 illegal plants. Shots were fired upon police and customs officers, but they are determined to continue their work. Thank you for your service,” Kurti wrote on Twitter.

The Serbian List has commended the police operation in the north yesterday. “The Serbian List welcomes the action of the police from the Region-North, which took place today to fight crime in the field of narcotics, which in the first place protects our youth and children from this plague that destroys every society,” the party said. It added that the operation showed that the members of the northern region of the police have the ability and capacity to fight crime. “We give full support to the Region-North police to continue such actions in not allowing individuals to criminalise the whole north through their criminal actions.”

Mehaj attends meeting of Ukraine Defense Contact Group (RTK)

Kosovo’s Minister of Defense Armend Mehaj participated on Monday in the meeting of the ministers of 44 countries of the world, chaired by the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, within the Contact Group for the Defense of Ukraine. The U.S. Embassy in Prishtina published a photo and introductory video of this meeting, in which Kosovo is participating as a new member. “Today, the Kosovar Minister of Defense, Armend Mehaj, virtually joined the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III, and colleagues from countries around the world, committed to helping Ukraine in its fight against the Russian occupiers. This is the second meeting of the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group,” the embassy said in a statement. “Kosovo continues to demonstrate its leadership and solidarity with the people of Ukraine – by strengthening U.S. and EU sanctions, and by providing humanitarian assistance to refugees and journalists. Also, condemning the unjust, unprovoked and murderous actions of Russia.”

Mehaj wrote after the meeting that Kosovo, as a country that has experienced injustice, like Ukraine, has not had a difficult time to stand by it and against Russian aggression. “We fully support the sanctions of the allied countries against Russia, and we are also ready to offer our support in coordination with NATO, the EU, shelter for refugees and journalists who are endangered every day by the Russian aggressor who does not want the world to understand the genocide that is happening,” Mehaj wrote on Facebook.

Svecla talks to Johansson, calls for visa liberalization (RTK)

Kosovo’s Minister of Internal Affairs Xhelal Svecla held a virtual meeting on Monday with the European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson. He informed her about the achievements of the ministry he leads. Svecla reiterated the immediate need for visa liberalization for the citizens of Kosovo, in order to have the right to free movement in European countries. “Johannson commended our commitment to fighting crime, corruption and illegal activities that threaten the security of our citizens and reconfirmed support for visa liberalization for our country. We agreed on further cooperation in providing security and stability in the country and in the region,” Svecla wrote on Facebook.

Hague prosecutors to quiz intelligence chief on wartime whereabouts (BIRN)

The Kosovo Intelligence Agency, AKI, announced on Monday that the Hague-based Specialist Prosecutor’s Office wants to interview its General Inspector, Burim Ramadani, over alleged wartime and post-war crimes by the former Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA.

“Ramadani has been ordered to appear as a witness for questioning on a specified date and has been asked to provide details of his physical and geographical location during the war and provide documents, including photos and other data, from January 1, 1998, until December 31, 2000,” the AKI press release said.

“Ramadani is fully aware of his obligations in such cases and believes that this is a technical error and as such will be clarified in due course,” the AKI added.

Asked by BIRN, the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment on the issue.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/39No7Qe

Local Serbs block Serbia-run administration offices in Istog (Koha/Klan)

A group of local Serb residents from Istog blocked the premises of the Serbia-run municipal administration in the village of Osojan, Koha and Klan reported.

The protesters demanded employment of one member of each family as they say was promised to them by the head of the Serbian Government’s Office for Kosovo, Petar Petkovic.

Klan writes that in all municipalities of Kosovo, Serbia for 23 years now maintains and finances institutions that are called temporary and which official Pristina considers parallel. It adds that the blockade in Osojan that was said to continue in the coming days is one of the rare cases of local Serbs expressing revolt against an institution held by Belgrade.

Kosovo welcomes two more Ukrainian journalists (Prishtina Insight)

Two more Ukrainian journalists have arrived in Kosovo as part of the Journalists in Kosovo Residence program, which offers sanctuary to media workers following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian journalists Serhii Shevchenko and Liudmyla Mekh arrived in Kosovo on Sunday as part of the “Journalists in Kosovo Residence” program.

The first Ukrainian journalist, Lyudmila Makey, arrived in Kosovo on April 17.

The President of the Association of Journalists of Kosovo, AGK, Xhemajl Rexha, said on Twitter that the journalists will work from Kosovo for their media outlets back home.

“Liudmyla now has two friends, Ukrainian journalists in Kosovo, after Serhii Shevchenko and Liudmyla Mekh arrived in Prishtina as part of the program … implemented by the AGK,” wrote Rexha.

The program was established by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom and is financed by the Kosovo government.

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

Crops and carcinogens: Kosovo’s market for unsafe, illegal pesticides (BIRN)

In 2019, the European Union struck from its list of approved pesticides a fungicide called chlorothalonil, marketed as Daconil, which farmers used to protect crops from blight, rot and other ailments.

The bloc’s Chemical Agency had classified the fungicide as a carcinogen, meaning it causes cancer, and ruled it unsafe for use.

Three years later, in Kosovo, seven euros will buy a farmer enough Daconil for 10 litres of irrigation water, according to the findings of a BIRN investigation, even though the country removed it from its list of approved pesticides.

Agricultural pharmacies approached by this reporter said they could provide Daconil within days, even sending photos via Facebook as proof.

Coupled with a lack of proper guidance for farmers on how to use pesticides safely and shortcomings in how authorities monitor them, experts say consumers are being put at risk. “Farmers in Kosovo need professional agricultural advice,” said Tahir Tahiri, chairman of the Kosovo Farmers’ Union Federation, “but unfortunately no one offers this advice, not from the local level nor from the level of the central institutions.”

Read more here: https://bit.ly/3wHas5W

Vucic and Hill: Efforts to focus on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (media)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Christopher Hill agreed that all efforts should focus on the EU-mediated dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, according to a statement issued by the Serbian Presidency after the meeting between Vucic and Hill on Monday.

“Talks are the only way to resolve open issues, as well as to reach a lasting agreement,” the Office of the Serbian President said in a statement. Ambassador Hill said the United States will continue its engagement with EU partners in continuing the dialogue, which will bring concrete results. He also reiterated U.S. support for the European integration of Serbia and other countries in the region and Washington’s position that the EU should expand.

COVID-19: One new case (media)

One new case of COVID-19 has been recorded in Kosovo in the last 24 hours. There are 157 active cases of COVID-19 in Kosovo.

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