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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, August 15, 2022

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Albanian Language Media:

• Osmani, Kurti welcome Albania’s President Bajram Begaj (media)
• Osmani: All preparations are being made to implement institutions’ decisions on Brussels agreements (Telegrafi)
• Citaku: Power cuts in August, we can imagine what will happen in winter (Telegrafi)
• Tahiri: If we tolerate 2-hrs cuts now, we’ll have to tolerate 12-hrs cuts in winter! (media)
• Hoti: Power cuts are being reintroduced to cover up mismanagement (Indeksonline)
• PDK: Winter is coming, both with cuts and high tariffs (media)
• “Strike in educational system until law on wages is finalised” (Koha)

Serbian Language Media:

• Vucic: I am going to Brussels to try to maintain peace (Tanjug)
• Brnabic on Twitter reacted to EEAS statement (media)
• Office for KiM on EEAS statement (media)
• Kosovo Internal Affairs Minister says Serbs are citizens with equal rights (N1, KoSSev)
• Kommersant: Russia asking Serbia to decide (Beta, N1)

Opinion:

• Kosovo and electricity – authorities warn, citizens worried (N1, KoSSev)

International:

• Kosovo seeks western help to boost Nato and EU ambitions (Financial Time)
• Falling Stars: Europe’s Champions in Balkans Burn Out Fast (BIRN)
• Thousands March in Belgrade to Protest Against Euro Pride (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Osmani, Kurti welcome Albania’s President Bajram Begaj (media)
  • Osmani: All preparations are being made to implement institutions’ decisions on Brussels agreements (Telegrafi)
  • Citaku: Power cuts in August, we can imagine what will happen in winter (Telegrafi)
  • Tahiri: If we tolerate 2-hrs cuts now, we’ll have to tolerate 12-hrs cuts in winter! (media) 
  • Hoti: Power cuts are being reintroduced to cover up mismanagement (Indeksonline)
  • PDK: Winter is coming, both with cuts and high tariffs (media)
  • “Strike in educational system until law on wages is finalised” (Koha)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Vucic: I am going to Brussels to try to maintain peace (Tanjug)
  • Brnabic on Twitter reacted to EEAS statement (media) 
  • Office for KiM on EEAS statement (media)
  • Kosovo Internal Affairs Minister says Serbs are citizens with equal rights (N1, KoSSev)
  • Kommersant: Russia asking Serbia to decide (Beta, N1)

Opinion:

  • Kosovo and electricity – authorities warn, citizens worried (N1, KoSSev)

International:

  • Kosovo seeks western help to boost Nato and EU ambitions (Financial Time)
  • Falling Stars: Europe’s Champions in Balkans Burn Out Fast (BIRN)
  • Thousands March in Belgrade to Protest Against Euro Pride (Balkan Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media  

 

Osmani, Kurti welcome Albania’s President Bajram Begaj (media)

The President of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani Sadriu received today the President of Albania Bajram Begaj, with the highest state ceremonies for an official visit. After the meeting they addressed the media.

Osmani has said that they will work closely with President Bajram Begaj to advance the European journey of the two countries, ‘to strengthen our voice everywhere in the world and to stand together in the defense of democracy, peace and freedom.’

“This important visit continues the tradition of presidents from Albania, who start their mandate with a visit to Kosovo as a confirmation of unreserved support for the Republic of Kosovo, as well as mutual commitment to deepen our relations as sister states. Welcome to your home, Mr. President,” she said. 

Later on, the President of Albania was also received with ceremony by the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti.

After Kurti, Begaj met also with the Assembly President Glauk Konjufca. 

Osmani: All preparations are being made to implement institutions’ decisions on Brussels agreements (Telegrafi)

The President of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani, spoke at the press conference after meeting Albania’s President Bajram Begaj about the security situation in the north, as well as the government’s decisions on reciprocity with Serbia on license plates and identity cards.

“The institutions of Kosovo are committed to continue in full coordination with international partners, as we have coordinated until now. On the other hand, all the necessary preparations are being made to implement in practice the decisions of our institutions which ensure the implementation of the Brussels agreements, but above all, equal treatment of all citizens regardless of ethnicity,” Osmani said.

During the joint press conference, she also proposed a treaty between Kosovo and Albania for mutual protection in case their security is compromised. 

Citaku: Power cuts in August, we can imagine what will happen in winter (Telegrafi)

Deputy leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), Vlora Citaku, commented on reports about Kosovo-wide power cuts that are expected to start today. “6-2 power cuts in the middle of August when the level of consumption is low. We can imagine what winter will be like in Kosovo this year. Someone must be held accountable for the consequent sabotages of every project aimed at increasing the energy independence of Kosovo. Securing energy is a matter of national security. These are the real battles and not the imaginary wars in the head of the Prime Minister,” Citaku said.

Tahiri: If we tolerate 2-hrs cuts now, we’ll have to tolerate 12-hrs cuts in winter! (media) 

Head of the parliamentary group of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), Besnik Tahiri, said the decision to reintroduce power cuts is a psychological campaign by the Kurti-led government. “It is a call for us to prepare for a long winter. It is a test of patience, a test of manoeuvring and a test of deception. They are testing us to see if we tolerate 2 hours [cuts] in summer then we could tolerate 12 hours [cuts] in winter. We need to say stop to this now, otherwise it will be too late!” Tahiri said.

Hoti: Power cuts are being reintroduced to cover up mismanagement (Indeksonline)

Former Prime Minister of Kosovo and MP from the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), Avdullah Hoti, slammed the Kurti-led government today for reintroducing power cuts. “I am following with concern the developments of the last couple of weeks. It is irresponsible to lead the country in this way. We do not owe it to them to send us back in decades. Unfortunately, with the power cuts we are going back to the situation of the years before the liberation war in 1998-1999. Whereas to cover up this management they [the government] are opening the topic of headscarves in schools by sending the debate back to the years before World War II,” Hoti wrote in a Facebook post.

PDK: Winter is coming, both with cuts and high tariffs (media)

The Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) called today a press conference with regards to the energy situation created with power cuts. The PDK Secretary for International Relations Bernard Nikaj, demanded responsibility and accountability from the Kurti government in managing the energy crisis.

He called the situation of 6 hours with electricity and 2 without in the middle of August, a capital failure of Albin Kurti’s dead-end logic. Further he also assessed the current government as incompetent, depressed and irresponsible.

“In the fall of last year, we continuously warned about the challenges of energy supply during the winter. These warnings fell on deaf ears of the current government which did nothing but simply ignored the situation. This year again for more than two months, we warned of the deepening of the energy crisis and recommended what actions should be taken. Again, the government has done nothing, except that recently it has begun to confirm what we said earlier – that this winter will be even more severe than last winter,” Nikaj said.

“Strike in educational system until law on wages is finalised” (Koha)

Samir Shahini, chair of the Collegium for Education, said in an interview with KTV that the strike announced by the Union of Education, Science and Culture, will not end until the law on wages is finalised and that this could lead to delays in the start of the new school year. He said that they will wait until August 17 to see if the government agrees to the union’s demand and if not, the strike will begin on August 24 and last until the law is finalised. “The government is failing to understand the seriousness of the situation. We have time until August 17 to understand if the government has agreed to the demand for an additional €100 and if not, there will be an announcement that the general strike will start on August 24,” he said.

 

 

 

Serbian Language Media 

 

Vucic: I am going to Brussels to try to maintain peace (Tanjug)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Monday he would travel to Brussels for the upcoming round of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue to try to maintain peace and stability and added that this was his only objective, reported Tanjug agency.

Speaking to reporters after a display of new weapons and military equipment produced by the national defence industry for the Serbian Armed Forces, Vucic said Serbia was not threatening anyone, but merely wanted to ensure respect of international rules and international legal norms, from UN SC Resolution 1244 to the Brussels Agreement.

“Those are agreements that are valid and in effect and they must be respected and implemented,” Vucic noted.

When asked to comment on a recent EU press release equally blaming Belgrade and Pristina for an escalation of tensions and incendiary rhetoric in Kosovo, Vucic said he had no comment to make.

“That is for the best,” he added.

Brnabic on Twitter reacted to EEAS statement (media) 

Serbian PM, Ana Brnabic reacted on Sunday to the European External Affairs Service (EEAS) and opined that it was said the EU did not see its own fault and that it did not do anything regarding the constant provocations by Albin Kurti, reported RTS. 

“If the EU had done its part – ensured the implementation of the Brussels Agreement and guaranteed the fundamental human rights of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija – things would look much different today. So, please, stop the hypocrisy,” Brnabic wrote on Twitter. 

She added that “this statement is much more suited for April Fools’ Day than an ordinary mid-August Sunday. It has to be some kind of a joke.  For 175 straight days, Kurti has been provoking armed conflict with Serbs. In 2022, we mark the year when he banned the most basic human rights to Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija – he forbade them to vote. Apart from a futile written statement, the EU did nothing. On the other hand, President Vucic and Serbia’s motto is peace and stability. We are approaching ten (10!) years since the signing of the Brussels Agreement which the EU simply cannot implement. The EU itself is admitting that they cannot make Kurti establish the Community of Serb Municipalities – the backbone of the Brussels Agreement. Sad to see that the EU simply sees no fault of its own for where we are today. If the EU did what they were supposed to do – implement the Brussels Agreement and guarantee basic human rights to Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija – things today would have been different. So, please, just stop with the hypocrisy EEAS,” Brnabic wrote on Twitter, reported the media.   

Office for KiM on EEAS statement (media)

The Office for Kosovo and Metohija said in a statement to the media on Sunday that “the commitment of Belgrade and President Aleksandar Vucic to dialogue and solving the problems in Kosovo and Metohija through political and peaceful means has never been called into question, and that is why today’s communiqué of the European External Action Service (EEAS) was a complete miss, as well as a series of previous appeals by the Brussels administration to ‘both sides’,” reported Serbian media. 

“The fact that Albin Kurti and his extremist regime do what they want is, among other things, a consequence of the EU’s inaction in situations when harsh reactions and measures against the provisional institutions of self-government in Pristina were necessary. EEAS, unfortunately, prefers to opt for fruitless appeals to “both sides”, which are only adding fuel to the fire, encouraging Kurti, and spurring on his efforts to destabilize the situation in Kosovo and Metohija and in the entire region.

Just as “both sides” are not responsible for the fact that the First Brussels Agreement was not implemented for almost a decade, although EU was its guarantor, both Belgrade and Priština cannot be responsible for the series of provocations by Pristina and Kurti’s threats of force.

Instead of using empty rhetoric to divide the responsibility between the abuser and the victim, and Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija are unequivocally the victims of Priština’s aggressive and chauvinistic actions, EEAS should finally take a more decisive position and use punitive measures to prevent Kurti’s bellicose campaign, because in the end, if the situation gets out of control, the responsibility will not be borne by Belgrade, but by those who could have acted in a timely and preventive manner and did not.

Belgrade firmly remains on the path of peaceful cooperation with everyone in the region, even with the provisional institutions of self-government in Priština, and refuses to accept any responsibility for unprovoked violations of fundamental human rights and attacks on the security of Serbian people in our southern province,” reported Serbian media, citing the Office for KiM statement. 

Kosovo Internal Affairs Minister says Serbs are citizens with equal rights; the Ministry buys weapons and equipment (N1, KoSSev)

Kosovo Internal Affairs Minister Xhelal Svecla said on Monday that Serbs are equal citizens and enjoy the same rights as all other communities in Kosovo, reported N1.

The minister said in a Facebook post that he made sure he was at the disposal of every citizen of Kosovo, reported N1, citing KoSSev news portal. 

“We will be with them along with institutions, regardless of ethnic and political affiliation,” he said after Sunday’s visit to the north of Kosovo where the majority of the Serb community lives.

Svecla did not specify who he met with during his visit but said that he “stressed the importance of cooperation with our institutions” during the meeting. “I am calling you to cooperate with the bodies implementing the law and providing security,” he said.

The minister said that he also visited majority-Albanian villages in the north which he said got no support from the Kosovo authorities for 20 years. “Those people are determined to stay there and work hard to secure livelihoods for themselves and their children and we will surely be there for them,” he said.

The Minister said that he saw commitment and unprecedented discipline among the police personnel he met in the north.

Kosovo’s Interior Ministry buys weapons and equipment for nine million euros

Portal KoSSev reported on Sunday, citing Koha, that the Kosovo Ministry of Internal Affairs bought weapons worth 1,300,000 euros, long-barreled firearms for the border police worth 350,000 thousand euros, as well as armoured vehicles, water cannons and armoured limousines worth 7.13 million euros.

Koha reported that, according to the report of the state treasury, this ministry also bought specialized equipment for the border police at the value of 280,000 euros.

The ministry also invested 200,000 euros in cyber security and for other purposes.

Kommersant: Russia asking Serbia to decide (Beta, N1)

The statement of the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic that Serbia did not need anyone’s military bases sounded quite restrained and was perceived as his intention not to push the topic of the Russian military base on the one hand and not to spoil relations with Moscow on the other, the Moscow daily Kommersant assessed, reported N1. 

The daily added that Vucic thereby clarified a question that worried many in Serbia and abroad – whether Russia would build its own military base on the territory of Serbia. The existence of such plans in Serbia was discussed after the statement of the Russian ambassador in Belgrade, Alexander Bocan-Kharchenko, which he made at the beginning of last week, Kommersant recalled. 

The ambassador’s statement raised a lot of noise in Serbia, according to this daily and added that many in Serbian media and experts immediately blamed Russia for “deliberately undermining the interests of Serbia by spreading information about the Russian military base at a time when it is under great attention from the West in connection with the formation of a new government and the decision to join sanctions” against Russia, the daily added, reported N1. 

Kommersant’s sources in Belgrade, who, as reported, were familiar with the position of the Serbian authorities, explain the president’s cautious statements by the recent intensified military cooperation between Serbia and the USA, primarily at the Jug military base near Bujanovac in the south of the country.

It was interesting that the statement of the Russian ambassador, ”which raised so much noise in Serbia, followed only a week after the statement of the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, about the policy of the official Belgrade”, writes the newspaper and quoted Alexander Lukashenko’s statement that Serbia would like to sit on three chairs – the EU, USA, Russia, but that “it will no longer be possible”, reported N1.

“In Serbia, these words were almost unanimously evaluated as an invitation to Belgrade to take Moscow’s side in the current geopolitical confrontation, which it sent through its Belarusian ally,” wrote Kommersant, cited N1.

The paper cited the words of foreign policy expert, former ambassador to Belarus Srecko Djukic, that the Serbian authorities should have realized a long time ago that they cannot sit on three chairs for a long time and lead the ostrich’s policy of burying its head in the sand; because it will not work on either side, N1 reported.

“Nevertheless, Djukic believes that in the coming months it is unlikely that cardinal changes in such policy of Belgrade will be real – until the chairs start moving apart,” added Kommersant.

 

 

Opinion 

 

Kosovo and electricity – authorities warn, citizens worried (N1, KoSSev)

At the time when the announcements about the energy crisis in fall are arriving, Kosovo already faced another political crisis in the North – when the Kosovo government tried to establish reciprocity in relation to Serbian identity cards and started re-registration of vehicle plates issued by Serbia for cities in Kosovo, wrote N1. Pressured by both crises, the citizens believe that the Government in Kosovo should currently devote more attention to the issue of energy supply in autumn and winter, than to the dialogue with Serbia.

Nadire Shabani, who runs a cafe in the center of Pristina, said that after the experience of last year and the announcements for this year about the continuation of the energy crisis, they started thinking about alternatives that would allow them to continue working this winter.

“We thought about an alternative plan of how to produce energy that would cover the costs of the cafe. For example, let us buy a generator, even though it also consumes a lot of fuel, and we know that the price of fuel has gone up a lot, so I do not know how much it pays off. We are in a big dilemma,” said Shabani. 

Regarding the problems with Serbia, she says that the government should primarily solve the basic issues of its citizens, such as electricity.

“It is more important to solve the basic conditions for life, and then to continue the dialogue with Serbia. There are problems with the neighbours, but when you have problems inside the house, it would be better to solve them for once, and then continue with the negotiations,” adds Shabani.

Other citizens interviewed by N1 emphasize both topics as important, some say that it is difficult to separate them, but they agree that energy should come first:

“Energy is vitally important, but if an agreement is reached that is quite current, it would be good. This has been going on for quite a long time, 22 years, we need to find a solution”.

“We need to deal with the current energy crisis, last year we had big problems, we need to have some solution, and leave other issues like the agreement with Serbia aside,” said the citizens of Pristina.

A connoisseur of economic and political conditions, Safet Gerxhaliu, believes that the Government in Pristina, precisely because of its orientation towards dialogue, where agreements are reached that are not implemented, makes all other processes in Kosovo difficult and slow down.

“Now is the time when we have to work in parallel. I am afraid we are late, but I just think it is never too late to be happy and rich. Therefore, the Government must have an economic vision. It must present alternatives, in these difficult times, and dialogue is also of great importance, because if it is not resolved, there will certainly be no perspective when it comes to the image of Kosovo and when it comes to political stability,” Gerxhaliu believes.

In the meantime, the Kosovo Ministry of Economy is already urging citizens to save, to be ready for the harsh winter and the energy crisis.

“We should do our best, both at home and in institutions, to save energy. The agreement with Albania on energy will help us overcome the winter. However, this is a reality that we will face like other countries. We will do our best to get through this winter as easily as possible, but we need your help,” said the Minister of Economy, Artane Rizvanolli.

N1 recalled that last December, Kosovo declared a state of emergency in energy, when it consumed more electricity than it produced, and restrictions were introduced in the supply of electricity.

The production capacity is around 900 megawatts, and during the winter consumption reaches up to 1,400 megawatts.

 

 

International 

 

Kosovo seeks western help to boost Nato and EU ambitions (Financial Time)

Premier Albin Kurti urges allies to convince reluctant counterparts to recognise independence

Kosovo has urged western powers to help it achieve its ambition to join the EU and Nato by convincing reluctant governments to recognise the country’s independence and pressing Serbia to resolve decades-long tensions over its statehood.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Since then, more than 100 nations, including the US and most EU members, have recognised the country as an independent state. But several EU and Nato nations — Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Slovakia and Romania — have yet to do so.

“We need the help of our allies and partners — the UK, the US, Germany, France, Italy and others — to help us with non-recognisers,” Kosovo prime minister Albin Kurti told the Financial Times, speaking ahead of a summit with Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić in Brussels scheduled for this week.

Belgrade continues to view Kosovo, whose population is about 90 per cent ethnic Albanian and less than 10 per cent Serb, as a province of Serbia. It says Kosovo’s declaration of independence violated a peace agreement made at the end of the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, in which Nato intervened, bombing Belgrade in 1999. Tension between the countries regularly threatens to undermine stability in the Balkans.

Seemingly mundane issues have led to violent flare-ups, most recently last month, when Serbs clashed with police after Pristina said Serbian licence plates would no longer be legal for Kosovo citizens, including ethnic Serbs. Individuals entering Kosovo from Serbia were also required to use temporary IDs issued by Pristina.

Kurti has argued that the clashes bore the hallmarks of the Serbian government. Belgrade has denied involvement.

The EU on Sunday said that “both parties must immediately put an end to mutual hostilities and dangerous statements and act responsibly” ahead of talks in Brussels this week.

Kurti, who spoke to the FT before the EU called for an end to the use of inflammatory rhetoric, is scheduled to meet Vučić on Thursday, when they plan to discuss a road map to resolve the status of Kosovo and bilateral links. Kurti said any resolution must be centred on mutual recognition. “It will not be the only item . . . but the centrepiece,” he added.

Calling on Serbia to put nationalism aside, he said: “Here, I think is the problem with Belgrade. They simply keep on going with old dreams, which become nightmares for the neighbours of Serbia and for Serbian people as well.”

A “symmetry of minority rights” — the same rights for Serbs in Kosovo and Kosovars in Serbia — would best combat nationalism, he added.

Read more at: https://on.ft.com/3zWul9H

Falling Stars: Europe’s Champions in Balkans Burn Out Fast (BIRN)

As a result of their own political naivety, and the EU’s failure to truly support them, the political fortunes of the region’s pro-EU favourites have faded.

North Macedonia’s former PM Zoran Zaev, Bulgaria’s recently ousted PM Kiril Petkov, Montenegro’s freshly elected and already contested PM Dritan Abazovic, and one woman among them, Moldova’s pro-European President, Maia Sandu, have more than one thing in common.

They all toppled or replaced long-standing leaders prone to authoritarianism, populism and cleptocracy in their countries.

Riding on the wave of societal thirst for change, pro-European values, deeper democratisation and an end to corruption, they were all touted as leaders who can deliver.

Their enthusiastic dispositions and refreshing readiness to tackle some of the Balkans most complicated and emotionally charged problems broke the moulds established by their predecessors who often thrived on perpetuating these same problems.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3QoQy7p

Thousands March in Belgrade to Protest Against Euro Pride (Balkan Insight)

People gathered in the city centre on Sunday afternoon to protest against a pan-European international LGBT event, scheduled to be held on September 12-18 in Belgrade.

Thousands of people gathered in Belgrade city centre on Sunday to demonstrate against the international LGBT event Euro Pride that is scheduled to be held in Belgrade in September.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3JT8WTx

 

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