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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, July 29, 2022

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, July 29, 2022

Albanian Language Media:

• Serbian nationals to be issued entry-exit document for entering Kosovo (media)
• Kosovo on the brink of an energy crisis (RTK)
• U.S. Ambassador Hovenier visits Grand Mosque in Prishtina (media)
• Kosovo elected as member of IASIA management board (Kallxo)
• 1,480 new cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Dacic: Pristina main factor of instability (Kosovo Online)
• Office for KiM: New attack on a church near Prizren (Kosovo Online)
• Petkovic reacts to Kurti’s statements on dialogue (media)
• Milivojevic: Sanchez’s visit to Belgrade confirmation that Spain will not change stance on Kosovo (RTS)
• Dacic, Vulin met Chinese Ambassador (N1)
• Djuric meets Escobar (RTS)
• Detention of Nikola Nedeljkovic, arrested at Gazimestan, extended for two more months (Radio KIM)
• Stprce: House of Slavisa Vasiljevic searched (Radio KIM)

International:

• Is There a Future for the Kosovo War Truth Commission? (BIRN)
• ‘Communist Informer’ Controversy Hits Albanian Ex-President’s Comeback (BIRN)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Cruel games of living with dead ones (Radio KIM)
• More than 236.000 unresolved cases in Kosovo courts (Kosovo Online)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Serbian nationals to be issued entry-exit document for entering Kosovo (media)
  • Kosovo on the brink of an energy crisis (RTK)
  • S. Ambassador Hovenier visits Grand Mosque in Prishtina (media)
  • Kosovo elected as member of IASIA management board (Kallxo)
  • 1,480 new cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Dacic: Pristina main factor of instability (Kosovo Online)
  • Office for KiM: New attack on a church near Prizren (Kosovo Online)
  • Petkovic reacts to Kurti’s statements on dialogue (media)
  • Milivojevic: Sanchez’s visit to Belgrade confirmation that Spain will not change stance on Kosovo (RTS)
  • Dacic, Vulin met Chinese Ambassador (N1)
  • Djuric meets Escobar (RTS)
  • Detention of Nikola Nedeljkovic, arrested at Gazimestan, extended for two more months (Radio KIM)
  • Stprce: House of Slavisa Vasiljevic searched (Radio KIM)

International:

  • Is There a Future for the Kosovo War Truth Commission? (BIRN)
  • ‘Communist Informer’ Controversy Hits Albanian Ex-President’s Comeback (BIRN)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Cruel games of living with dead ones (Radio KIM)
  • More than 236.000 unresolved cases in Kosovo courts (Kosovo Online)        

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

Serbian nationals to be issued entry-exit document for entering Kosovo (media)

Most news websites cover a media release issued by the Kosovo Government which notes that starting from August 1, Serbian nationals that want to enter into Kosovo will be issued an “entry-exit document”, namely they won’t be able to cross the border with Serbian documents. “Based on the decision of the Government in its 85th meeting, we remind you that starting from August 1, 2022, every person that wants to cross the state border of the Republic of Kosovo with a personal identification document issued by Serbian authorities will be issued an entry-exit document,” the government notes.

Kosovo has decided to declare invalid within its territory documents issued by Serbian authorities, as a reciprocity measure toward Serbia for not recognising identification documents issued by Kosovo authorities.

Kosovo on the brink of an energy crisis (RTK)

The coming winter is expected to be a challenge for electricity supply in Kosovo, the news website reports. The Electricity Distribution Services in Kosovo (KEDS) confirmed this through a press release citing the deep energy crisis that has already engulfed Europe. KEDS spokesman Viktor Buzhala told the news website that prices in the electricity market have gone up significantly and that recently the price of a megawatt has gone from €250 to €735. “We have already entered a crisis, in summer. The crisis includes all of Europe. And this undoubtedly leads us to uncertain situations in the future. We don’t know what the coming winter will hold,” he added. “We are in summer and the prices are already five times higher compared to last summer.”

U.S. Ambassador Hovenier visits Grand Mosque in Prishtina (media)

United States Ambassador to Kosovo, Jeffrey Hovenier visited the Grand Mosque in Prishtina today together with Mufti Ternava, leader of the Islamic Community of Kosovo. “Respect for diverse religious and cultural heritage is a cherished ideal in every modern, multi-ethnic democracy. Today, I was honored to mark Islamic New Year with Mufti Ternava at the Grand Mosque and discuss ways to ensure every Kosovan can worship free from discrimination,” Hovenier tweeted after the visit.

Kosovo elected as member of IASIA management board (Kallxo)

Kosovo has been elected a member of the management board of the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration – IASIA, the largest network in the world for education and training in the field of public administration. Kosovo’s Deputy Minister of Interior Affairs, Bardhyl Dobra, attended the annual conference of IASIA. 

“The Republic of Kosovo was selected, through an anonymous election process, as a member of the management board of IASIA – the largest network in the world for education and training in the field of public administration,” the statement notes. It further says Deputy Minister Dobra, as a representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Kosovo Institute for Public Administration, was selected to represent the Republic of Kosovo on this board, as well as to commit to reform in public administration and international cooperation.

1,480 new cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo (media)

1,480 new cases with COVID-19 were recorded in the last 24 hours in Kosovo. The Ministry of Health said in a statement that there have been no deaths from the virus during this time. There are 10,684 active cases with COVID-19 in Kosovo.

 

 

Serbian Language Media 

 

Dacic: Pristina main factor of instability (Kosovo Online)

Outgoing Serbian Assembly Speaker and leader of Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), Ivica Dacic said Pristina does not adhere to anything agreed upon and represents the main factor of instability, Kosovo Online portal reports.

Dacic told Prva TV the moment Pristina sings something it immediately starts looking for the reasons not to implement it, and finds them in political instability.

“Kurti pretends as if Brussels and Washington agreements do not exist. The problem is that they do not adhere to anything we have agreed upon. It is clear to those who wish to see it who the main factor of instability in the dialogue is, and that is Pristina”, Dacic said, adding Pristina attempts to shift the blame on Belgrade for non implementation of the agreements.

Dacic opined that Pristina also attempts to falsify history.

“Those who have no their own history, appropriate that of the others and say that Decani Monastery is Albanian. That is so ridiculous. I am sorry that we do not use Turkish archives that much, they conducted the census of the population during the times of their rule, from the beginning of XV century until the beginning of XX century. There you can clearly see how many Albanians and how many Orthodox families were there (…)”, Dacic added. 

Office for KiM: New attack on a church near Prizren (Kosovo Online)

In Potkaljaja settlement in Prizren an iron gate at the entry to the yard of Holy Saviour Church was broken, Office for Kosovo and Metohija said, adding this is the 13th attack against objects of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo since beginning of this year.

It also demanded swift reaction of the police and punishment of the perpetrators. The Office for KiM added the same church was targeted by vandals several times already, including broken cross and stolen an entry gate.

The Office also recalled that this cultural monument of particular importance was set on fire and heavily damaged during the March riots in 2004. 

Meanwhile Serbian Ministry of Culture in the strongest terms condemned the vandal attack and demolishment of an entry gate to the yard of Holy Saviour Church in Prizren by saying that this is “yet another in a series of extremists outpouring of hatred towards cultural and religious heritage of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija”.

The Ministry also said in a statement that “decades of desecration, demolition, stoning and burning aiming to erasing traces of the existence of Serbian culture, tradition and people, demonstrates an astonishing extent of the absence of the real intention of Pristina to create conditions in which the cultural heritage would be safe and secure”.

“Such continuous state of severe threats to the cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija has been repeatedly recognized and confirmed with reason in the analysis and reports of international organisations, such as UNESCO and OSCE”, the Ministry said in a statement. 

Petkovic reacts to Kurti’s statements on dialogue (media)

Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Petar Petkovic said Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti uttered “a blatant lie” that it was Belgrade sabotaging the dialogue.

Petkovic said the reality is as such, that Belgrade is firmly and unequivocally committed to the dialogue and normalisation of relations with Pristina, that should be reached at the negotiation table.

Petkovic also said that Kurti works hard “to cause a new crisis and destabilisation of the situation in Kosovo and Metohija by resorting to unilateral, ungrounded and illegal actions”.

At the end, Petkovic concluded that Albin Kurti “could demonstrate his commitment to the dialogue by implementing the First Brussels Agreement and establishing the Community of Serb-majority Community in line with the six provisions of that agreement”. He termed other Kurti’s acts as nothing else “but futile and unsuccessful attempts to take responsibility for undermining the dialogue off his shoulders”. 

Milivojevic: Sanchez’s visit to Belgrade confirmation that Spain will not change stance on Kosovo (RTS)

Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchez commences his two-day official visit to Serbia today, RTS reports. Former high-ranking Serbian diplomat Zoran Millivojevic told RTS the visit of the Spanish PM speaks to the fact that Spain will not change its stance on the issue of Kosovo. He also opined that Sanchez’s visit to the Western Balkan indicates that Spain wants to get involved in the EU enlargement process.

Milivojevic added there are no open issues between Serbia and Spain and there is no reason whatsoever why those relations should not take an ascending track.

Commenting on the fact that Pedro Sanchez, one of the highest officials from one of the five non-recognizing EU member states is not visiting Pristina, Miliovijevic said it speaks to the fact that Spain will not change its stance on Kosovo.

“As far as it concerns us, I think this is one of the most important messages already at the beginning of the visit, and I would say even prior to it, a message not only to us, but also to all others. In particular at this moment, when speculations are flourishing that the five EU member states which do not recognize (Kosovo) are pressured to do so in the upcoming period. It is even mentioned in the last European Parliament resolution on the region”, Milivojevic said.

He also assessed the fact that Spain will not change the stance in a strategic and political scene is one of the most important messages, adding he thinks Sanchez will repeat that stance during his visit to Belgrade.  

Dacic, Vulin met Chinese Ambassador (N1)

Outgoing Serbian Parliament Speaker Ivica Dacic and outgoing Internal Affairs Minister Aleksandar Vulin met Thursday in Belgrade with Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo, N1 reports.

Dacic discussed with Chen Bo bilateral relations and the two countries’ strategic cooperation and underlined that, in addition to the intensive political dialogue at all levels, he was also very satisfied with China’s and Serbia’s parliamentary cooperation.

Dacic said he hopes that the new Parliament, which is to be constituted on August 1, will continue to work in the same spirit.

Ambassador Chen Bo said bilateral relations were at their historic peak and that China describes them as “timeless relations of a steel-strong friendship”. She added that there were no outstanding issues in political relations and that the two countries’ relationship is characterised by a high level of trust and mutual support.

The Chinese Ambassador presented to Minister Vulin a letter from Chinese Minister of Public Security Wang Xiaohong confirming the excellent cooperation in the field of internal affairs, Serbian Internal Affairs Ministry said in a press release.

“China’s position on Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in connection with the issue of so-called Kosovo is consistent”, the Ministry said, adding China will continue to strongly support Serbia.

Vulin repeated that the friendship between Serbia and China is steel-strong, just like the personal friendship between the two presidents, Aleksandar Vucic and Xi Jinping, the press release said.

Djuric meets Escobar (RTS)

Serbian Ambassador to US, Marko Djuric spoke in Washington with State Department Special Envoy for Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar on the most important topics on bilateral agenda, RTS reports.

The two interlocutors assessed current positive results and continuous progress in relations between two states, achieved by mutual commitment and efforts.

“Another cordial encounter with @StateEUR DAS Escobar in which we went through a myriad of topics on the bilateral agenda, expressing pleasure with the achievements and all the projects being currently conducted in many productive areas of our cooperation”, Djuric wrote on Twitter. 

Detention of Nikola Nedeljkovic, arrested at Gazimestan, extended for two more months (Radio KIM)

Court in Pristina has decided to extend detention of a young Serb man, Nikola Nedeljkovic from Belgrade arrested on Saint Vitus Day (June 28) at Gazimestan for two more months, his defence lawyer Jovana Filipovic said, Radio KIM reports.

She said detention to Nedeljkovic was extended as “a measure to ensure presence” of her client during the course of criminal proceedings, given that Criminal Code doesn’t allow trial in absentia, and Nedeljkovic has neither residence nor permanent address in Kosovo and Metohija.

Nedeljkovic is accused of chanting “Kill, kill Shiptar”, based on a statement of a single witness, a police officer who arrested him, Radio KIM recalled. 

On the day of his arrest police said in a statement Nedeljkovic was suspected of “inciting hatred and discord”, without providing further details.

Filipovic claimed there were no reasons to send Nedeljkovic to detention, given that only a police officer heard that Nikola allegedly said what he was charged with. 

Stprce: House of Slavisa Vasiljevic searched (Radio KIM)

Members of Kosovo special police units early this morning at around 6 a.m. stormed the house of Slavisa Vasiljevic, the only opposition municipal councilor in Strpce Municipal Assembly, Radio KIM reports. As he said, the police “carried out the search under the pretext of looking for the arms”.

“Of course, they have not found any weapon in my house. They did a complete ransack and then left. I see this as a sort of pressure against me and related to my opposition work in Strpce municipality”, he said. He added there were attempts to confiscate medicine he gets for his sick mother from central Serbia, but after he opposed it they gave up “that shameful confiscation”. 

 

 

International 

 

Is There a Future for the Kosovo War Truth Commission? (BIRN)

Former President Hashim Thaci started to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to establish the facts about the Kosovo conflict, but after he resigned to face war crimes charges, the initiative has faltered.

In September, the Kosovo’s Justice Ministry hopes to have the first draft of the country’s national transitional justice strategy ready to make public for debate.

But although officials are saying that the strategy will include a Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was originally initiated in 2017 by Kosovo’s president at the time, Hashim Thaci, it’s unclear whether the commission will get the political backing it needs to ever become a reality.

When Thaci launched the initiative to set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he described it as a “chance that some lingering uncertainties and injustices” could be addressed domestically.

But his opponents accused him of using the commission idea as a tool to improve his international reputation, at a point when it was suspected that he might be charged with crimes allegedly committed during the 1998-99 war while serving as the Kosovo Liberation Army’s political leader.

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

‘Communist Informer’ Controversy Hits Albanian Ex-President’s Comeback (BIRN)

Controversy has continued to simmer in Albania as pro-government media have published a series of allegations about former president Ilir Meta, claiming that he could have been a Communist-era secret police collaborator.

The allegations were published after Meta’s term in office ended and he announced his return to frontline politics earlier this week with the Socialist Movement for Integration, now rebranded as the Freedom Party.

The claims were made after the Authority for Information on Former State Security Documents said it received a request to verify information that a high-profile politician with the initials I.M. was named an informer in the files of the Sigurimi, the much-feared Communist-era secret police.

Media loyal to the government were quick to publish stories alleging that Meta was the informer.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3cPW4B7

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Cruel games of living with dead ones (Radio KIM)

An analysis “The Game of Numbers: Resolving the issue of the missing 20 years on”, prepared by Milica Radovanovic on behalf of the non-government organisation New Social Initiative (NSI) as part of the Open Initiative, systematically lists the reasons as to why certain number of persons who went missing during and after the conflict in Kosovo will never be found, Radio KIM reports.

It said that immediately after the conflict wrong identifications were made, more than 300 unidentified bodies kept at Pristina morgue do not match any of the previously collected DNA profiles, investigations and prosecutions for enforced disappearances were ineffective, archives (no longer) exist or are not open, and the Kosovo legal framework for solving the issue of missing persons contains shortcomings and even some discriminatory provisions.

That is why the author of this extensive document assesses that regardless of the statements such as “no final agreement between Kosovo and Serbia will be made until the last person missing in Kosovo is found” represent a mere deception of the public, because the aforementioned omissions have led to this very fact. Even if there is political will on both sides to fully resolve this issue, the whereabouts of a certain number of persons will never be clarified. The statement of Kosovo Humanitarian Law Centre Executive Director (FHPK), Bekim Bljakaj from February 2012 indicates the correctness of this conclusion.

“Unfortunately, it turned out this is also the experience of other countries in the world that were at war, a small part of the missing persons was never found”, Blakaj said back then.

Kosovo Mathematics of Tragedy

Radovanovic recalled that according to the data of the Humanitarian Law Centre during the conflict in Kosovo, 13.518 persons have been killed. Out of this number 10.794 were Albanians, 2.197 were Serbs and 527 were members of other ethnic groups which lived in Kosovo. Most of them were killed during 1999, and that number includes 11.999 murdered persons.

Following the withdrawal of the Serbian army and police from Kosovo, in the period from 15 June 1999 until the end of 2000, 1.257 persons were killed, kidnapped or went missing. Out of this number 717 were Serbs, 307 were Albanians, 233 were Roma and members of other ethnic groups.

Out of 1.696 registered cases of missing persons in the period between 1998 to 2000, 1.129 were Albanians, 417 were Serbs, 44 Roma, 31 Montenegrin, 24 Ashaki, 23 Bosniaks, 15 Egyptians, four Turks, three Macedonians, and one each Gorani, Croat, Hungarian, Slovenian and Yugoslavian.

The number of missing persons at the time of publishing this analysis (June 2022) according to the list of the International Red Cross Commission was 1.619, while Kosovo Missing Persons Commission has a list on its web portal that includes 1.617 names.

The fact that only 47(9) persons were removed from the missing persons lists since 2016, was termed as “devastating”.

On the other hand, according to the EULEX reports in the period from 2016 to 2020 in Kosovo, 59 searches on the ground and 41 exhumation were carried out, mortal remains of 66 persons have been found, and 32 missing persons identified.

During 2021, according to the Kosovo Missing Persons Commission excavation at nine locations were carried out and two bodies exhumed, while mortal remains of 25 persons (five of them Serbs) were handed over to their families. To this number one should add the mortal remains of persons that Serbia handed over to the families of murdered Kosovo Albanians and the tragic score would formally be even bigger and more inaccurate.

Radovanovic further lists detailed information on exhumations and number of mortal remains found in the period from 1999 to 2016 when mortal remains of 6.097 people were found, adding that identification of around 2.000 persons was done based on an unscientific, classical method of visual recognition.

Based on an analysis of 77 DNA cases conducted in Mitrovica region in 2010, previously identified using classical method, International Missing Persons Commission assessed that the rate of wrongful identification in the cases resolved without using DNA tests would be at least 17 percent, and that at least 340 cases could have possibly been wrongly identified.

Shortcomings and discriminatory provisions  

The legal framework regulating this issue in Kosovo doesn’t fully meet the needs of the missing persons family members. Moreover, some legal provisions have created unequal treatment of the both – missing persons and their family members, in particular when it comes to social aid that differs compared to other categories of the victims deriving from conflict in Kosovo.

Discrimination is evident in regard to the persons who went missing after June 20, 1999 and members of their families. The moment mortal remains of a person are found, this person ceases to be considered as a missing person and “becomes” a civil victim of the war. However, the timeline by which the person who died in the conflict in Kosovo is considered civil victim is limited to June 20, 1999 which leads that families of those missing persons are not able to exercise their right to social aid from the moment their missing family member is found and in case he went missing after this date (June 20, 1999) given that Kosovo legal framework doesn’t recognize them that right .

This legal provision in particular affects members of the non-majority communities, given that they make up the majority of those who went missing in Kosovo after June 20, 1999.

Read the full analysis at:  https://bit.ly/3S4t0Gd

More than 236.000 unresolved cases in Kosovo courts (Kosovo Online)

More than 236.000 various cases are pending their resolution in Kosovo courts, with the highest number of them being in Pristina and the smallest number in Zubin Potok, Kosovo Online portal reports citing Pristina-based Raporteri.

According to the Kosovo Judicial Council, in the period from January to June of this year, 236,329 pending cases were registered in the courts, while the courts completed 59,261 cases.

In the six-month report, the Council states that the Supreme Court, Special Chambers, Courts of Appeal and Basic Courts resolved over 295,000 cases, inherited over 222,000 and received 73,276 other cases.

“The judicial system of Kosovo was created 20 years ago, but there was never a sufficient number of judges, associates and other officials”, President of Kosovo Judicial Council Albert Zogaj said.

He added that the effect of the pandemic should also be taken into account, which in a period of almost two years to the great extent influenced the resolution of cases. Kosovo Judicial Council also said the cases are piling up because they are not resolved within the legal deadline. 

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