Albanian Language Media:
- Official confirmation: Visa liberalisation on EU agenda on Oct 13 (Koha)
- Decision on strike suspension will be made today, announced on Saturday (Koha)
- UNICEF expresses concern over delayed start of the school year (media)
- Parents Council: If classes don’t start on Oct 3, mass deregistration (Indeksonline)
- Kurti: Kosovo and Germany have special friendship (media)
- Osmani receives credentials of new French Ambassador Guerot (media)
- Osmani meets FIFA President Gianni Infantino (media)
- Haxhiu: Info that cameras in Dehari case were taken by order of former minister (Kallxo)
- LDK leader: Government is strangling businesses, failing to support them (Koha)
- Mustafi wants Presevo Valley to be included in Kosovo-Serbia agreement (RTK)
Serbian Language Media:
- Vucic: Serbia to remain on European path, as independent and sovereign state (N1)
- Vucic, Sarrazin discuss Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, situation in region (Tanjug)
- Bo: Serbia, China example of mutual respect, cooperation (Tanjug)
- RFE: The EU’s latest package of sanctions foresees an exemption for the Western Balkans (Kontakt plus radio, Danas)
- The Management Team, the only one responsible for drafting the ZSO statute, completed the work in August 2018 (Kosovo Online)
- Vulin: Serbia is not a reserve, we make our own decisions (N1)
- Gracanica Mayor statement on the municipality decision to exchange land (Kosovo Online)
- A text the author will never read – on the mad race between the government and the unions over the teachers’ strike (KoSSev)
- Coffee Festival Helps Bridge Divide in City of Mitrovica (Prishtina Insight)
- Serbia’s Minorities Hope for Better Results in 2022 Census (BIRN)
- Montenegro Launches Probe Into Suspected Russian Spies (BIRN)
- North Macedonia Opposition Stalls ‘Open Balkan’ Free Flow of Workers (Balkan Insight)
- PriFilm Fest’s Controversial Prizes Spark Gender Debate (Prishtina Insight)
- Serbian Government allows some higher food prices (N1)
- Former SFRY New York mansion sold for $50 million (N1)
Albanian Language Media
Official confirmation: Visa liberalisation on EU agenda on Oct 13 (Koha)
The Czech EU Presidency has confirmed that visa liberalisation for Kosovo will be on the agenda of the working group on visas at the EU Council on October 13. The news website notes that this will be the first time that the EU Council will hold official discussions on visa liberalisation for Kosovo ever since the Commission gave a positive but conditioned opinion about the fulfilment of criteria by Kosovo authorities.
Decision on strike suspension will be made today, announced on Saturday (Koha)
The Strike Council of the Union of Education, Science and Culture (SBASHK) will meet today at 18:00 with the leaders at the local level to discuss an eventual decision to suspend the strike in education. Strike Council leader, Reshit Kukaj, confirmed to the news website that the decision will be made today and announced on Saturday. “We meet everyday at 18:00 and hold our discussions. We will meet today too and see what the strikers have decided. Then the union will meet, and a decision will be made. The decision will be announced tomorrow,” Kukaj said.
UNICEF expresses concern over delayed start of the school year (media)
All news websites cover a press release issued by UNICEF in Kosovo today expressing concern over the delayed start of the school year.
“Primary and secondary schoolchildren in Kosovo are now completing their fourth week without access to education. UNICEF is deeply concerned with this delayed start of the school year, especially at a time when all efforts should be focused on making up for learning losses experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“We are in a global learning crisis, with nearly two-thirds of 10-year-olds worldwide unable to read and understand a simple text, and continued deprivation of the right to education can have serious consequences on children’s educational attainment, mental health and wellbeing.”
“We must put the best interests of children first and ensure they can return to education as soon as possible.”
Parents Council: If classes don’t start on Oct 3, mass deregistration (Indeksonline)
Kosovo’s Parents Council issued a harsh reaction on Thursday about the ongoing strike in the education sector. The council said that if school classes don’t start on October 3, they will call for mass deregistration. “If classes all over Kosovo don’t start on October 3, we will call for a mass deregistration from schools and the educational system will collapse. There will no longer be a need for schools, teachers, or educational institutions! It is easy to ruin and to block; the strike in education is unjust,” the statement notes.
Kurti: Kosovo and Germany have special friendship (media)
Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, said on Thursday on the Day of the German Reunification, that Kosovo and Germany have a special friendship. “It is not solely based on strategic, political or economic interests: It is much more –we do share the same understanding of basic human rights and liberaland social values. We have this bond that is strong, this bond that is in large part carried by our diaspora living in Germany,who are also deeply involved here in Kosova, withtheir hearts and minds and savings. If I envy Germany for anything (besides bringing about the most famous thinkers and music composers) – is that it is home to those hardworking people. You owe us big time. But Germany gave us so much back in the last decades that we are thankful for:
– We are thankful that you welcomed and gave shelter to Kosova’s refugees during the last decade of 19th century,
– Thankful for 1999 when you firmly stood with NATO and with our people to stop genocide,
– Thankful for over one billion EUR development aid,
– Thankful for steady political support on the international stage.”
Read full speech at: https://bit.ly/3SriTuQ
Osmani receives credentials of new French Ambassador Guerot (media)
President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, received the credentials of the new ambassador of the French Republic to Kosovo Olivier Guérot, to whom she bid a warm welcome, a press release by Osmani’s office notes.
“President Osmani thanked the state of France that, following close cooperation with the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo, came to the position of supporting the visa liberalisation process for the citizens of Kosovo. Osmani has highly appreciated the intensification of bilateral relations between Kosovo and France and she expressed her confidence that they will continue to deepen during the tenure of Ambassador Guérot.”
“The current political developments in the country, region and beyond were also discussed at the meeting. Madam President emphasised that Kosovo continues to be on the same line with the foreign and security policy of the European Union, stating that our institutions continue to be fully committed to the Euro-Atlantic path.”
“Furthermore, President Osmani emphasised the importance of Kosovo’s membership in the Council of Europe as an important step in strengthening and advancing human rights, adding that our country is the embodiment of the values that this institution represents.”
“President Osmani and Ambassador Guérot also discussed further expansion of relations in various spheres, including trade, education, and culture.”
Osmani meets FIFA President Gianni Infantino (media)
President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, met today with the President of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, thanking him for “his commitment to helping Kosovo become an international success story”. “In his visit to Kosovo, we discussed the unifying power of football, further improving sports infrastructure and continuing to empower our remarkable talents,” Osmani wrote on Twitter.
LDK leader: Government is strangling businesses, failing to support them (Koha)
Leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), Lumir Abdixhiku, said today that this party has a 10-point plan to overcome the energy crisis. “Businesses in Kosovo need support and not bureaucracy. The LDK will reduce the bureaucracy for businesses so that they can develop without any obstacles from the state. Our programme foresees aiding those companies that need to meet certain quality standards for export. The current government is strangling businesses and is failing to offer them support,” Abdixhiku argued.
Haxhiu: Info that cameras in Dehari case were taken by order of former minister (Kallxo)
Kosovo’s Minister of Justice, Albulena Haxhiu, said on Thursday that the key finding of a report she requested in the Astrit Dehari case was that the camera footage was taken before the police got to them. Dehari, a Vetevendosje activist, was found dead in his prison cell in November 2016. According to Haxhiu, she has information that the order to take the footage was given by former Minister of Justice, Dhurata Hoxha. “The key finding [of the report] was that the cameras were taken before the police. This is a criminal violation. The footage could have been watched after the police and not be taken away. According to information I received from officials of the Ministry of Justice, that was done following an order by Dhurata Hoxha, former Minister of Justice,” she said.
Haxhiu also said that the officials who were suspended after the findings of the report will have to tell the Special Prosecution why the cameras were taken away and who gave the order. “The people that were suspended by the investigation committee now need to tell the Special Prosecution why they took the cameras and who ordered them, and if it is true that the order came from former minister Hoxha,” she said.
Mustafi wants Presevo Valley to be included in Kosovo-Serbia agreement (RTK)
Leader of the Albanian National Council in Presevo Valley, Ragmi Mustafa, said in an interview with the news website today that the issue of Albanians living in Presevo Valley should be included in the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels. Mustafi argued that there can be no normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia if the position of Albanians in that region is not addressed. He also claimed that Albanians in Presevo Valley are faced with systematic discrimination by Serbia.
Serbian Language Media
Vucic: Serbia to remain on European path, as independent and sovereign state (N1)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met European Parliament Rapporteur for Serbia, Vladimir Bilcik and a member of the Delegation of the European Parliament Committee for Stabilization and Accession to the European Union, Matjaz Nemec, N1 reports.
Vucic wrote on his official Instagram account that he had open and honest talks with EP representatives.
“European MPs informed me about the sentiment in Brussels concerning the politics of our country. I reiterated well known positions of Serbia regarding numerous challenges faced not only by our country but also by an entire region and European Union, and on the global political arena. Serbia remains on its EU path, as an independent and sovereign state which makes decisions on its own as far as its state and national interests are concerned”, Vucic wrote.
Bo: Serbia, China example of mutual respect, cooperation (Tanjug)
Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo said on Thursday China was ready to make joint efforts with its Serbian friends towards continuous strengthening of the steely friendship between the two countries, reported Tanjug agency.
To the whole world, China and Serbia can and will yet be an example of mutual respect and cooperation, Bo said at a reception hosted by the Chinese embassy in Belgrade to mark the National Day of the People’s Republic of China.
Despite the complex international situation, and thanks to the leadership of the two countries and the efforts of their presidents, Sino-Serbian relations have maintained a high level of development, she said.
“The two sides support each other firmly in the maintenance of national sovereignty and territorial integrity and are working together on protection of the international system within the UN, based on international law,” she said.
Economic cooperation, which is constantly growing, is also of great significance, Bo said.
China has become one of the most significant foreign investors in Serbia and Chinese companies are Serbia’s top exporters, employing over 20,000 Serbians, she also said.
Vucic, Sarrazin discuss Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, situation in region (Tanjug)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met with the German government’s special envoy for the Western Balkans Manuel Sarrazin on Friday to discuss a continuation of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and the current situation in the region, Tanjug news agency reports.
Vucic reiterated Serbia’s stance and position regarding all issues in the Western Balkans, noting that Serbia was advocating further advancement of connectivity and economic cooperation in the region. He also noted that Serbia was continuing a policy of a responsible approach to all regional issues as the best way of maintaining stability and progress across the region.
The parties devoted particular attention to a continuation of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, as well as to preparation of documents and the significance of the meeting as part of the Berlin Process, as well as to exercise four freedoms – free movement of people, movement of goods, movement of services and movement of capital.
Vucic reiterated Serbia was committed to political dialogue as the primary way of tackling all challenges in the Balkans but would continue to protect its territorial integrity and sovereignty and also advocate respect of international law in a consistent manner.
RFE: The EU’s latest package of sanctions foresees an exemption for the Western Balkans (Kontakt plus radio, Danas)
As part of the new package of sanctions, the European Union (EU) energy ministers will probably also approve the measure by which the countries of the Western Balkans will be exempted from restrictions related to Russian crude oil. This measure aims to avoid the possible circumvention of sanctions, reported Serbian media, citing Radio Free Europe (RFE).
“In order to protect the energy security of the Western Balkans, it is necessary to foresee a derogation that would enable the transit of Russian crude oil through the pipeline through Croatia, provided that such transit remains within the limits of the average transit levels from previous years in order to avoid circumvention (of sanctions)”, reads the text of the proposal for new measures that the EU intends to introduce against Russia, and which Radio Free Europe (RSE) had access to.
This provision applies to those countries of the region, which do not have access to the sea, and which import crude oil through Croatia.
The ministers of energy will discuss and decide on these measures and the new package of sanctions at an extraordinary meeting to be held on September 30.
The measures concern mainly the determination of oil price limits, and it will be decided to ban the transportation of oil which price exceeds the agreed one that the Union is expected to set.
During the adoption of the fifth package of sanctions against Russia, in April of this year, the EU similarly exempted Serbia, which made possible to continue the uninterrupted supply of oil to the domestic market via the Adriatic Pipeline (JANAF).
During the discussion, the EU energy ministers will also decide on precautionary measures related to unexpected profits of energy companies. At the same meeting, the limitation of the gas price will be discussed.
The bloc of 27 member states is negotiating measures proposed by Brussels last week to try to curb a spike in energy prices that is fueling record high inflation and threatening a recession.
The deal would see all EU countries impose a tax on excess fossil fuel company profits made in 2022 or 2023 and return revenues that low-cost power producers get from huge electricity costs.
The management team, the only one responsible for drafting the ZSO statute, completed the work in August 2018 (Kosovo Online)
The Management Team for the formation of the ZSO told yesterday portal Kosovo Online that in April 2018, by the EU mandate, started work on the drafting of the ZSO Statute, which was supposed to be completed within a stipulated time of four months. The Management Team said that this was done within the time set, and in August of that year they officially informed the EU about it.
According to the Management Team, in April of this year, Brussels was again asked to convene a high-level meeting at which the Draft Statute of the ZSO would be presented, but there has been no response to date, reported the portal.
According to Article 21 of the General Principles, after the submission of the Draft Statute, the next step in the implementation of the Agreement on the ZSO should have been for the EU to convene a high-level dialogue at which the Management Team would present the Draft Statute that it had prepared. Four years later, the EU has not convened that meeting until today.
According to the agreements reached and according to the strictly foreseen procedure, only the Management Team is competent to draft the ZSO Statute, reported the portal.
Vulin: Serbia is not a reserve, we make our own decisions (N1)
The US State Department’s criticism of Serbia over the signing of a consultations plan with Russia “is, to use the language of the State Department, surprising and a step in the wrong direction”, said Serbian Minister of Internal Affairs Aleksandar Vulin, reported N1.
“Serbia has done nothing against international law, and especially nothing that is against the interests of its citizens, which is the measure of all things for us here in Serbia,” said Vulin.
The USA is sitting with the Russian Federation in the United Nations Security Council yet it expects Serbia to become part of the “anti-Russian hysteria”, said the Minister.
“As in the example of disrespecting the territorial integrity of Serbia, and demanding that Ukraine be inviolable, the USA confirms that hypocrisy and double standards are the only constants of the policy of the great powers, especially of those that bombed Serbia,” said Vulin.
“We are a small people, but we are a free people and as long as we are led by (Serbian President) Aleksandar Vucic, we will remain free and decide for ourselves who our friends are and with whom and how we cooperate,” said Vulin, adding: “Serbia is not a big country, but it is not a reserve either, we make our own decisions”, reported N1.
Gracanica Mayor statement on the municipality decision to exchange land (Kosovo Online)
The president of the municipality of Gracanica, Ljiljana Subaric, in a statement released yesterday, said that ”the interpretations that the municipality of Gracanica exchanged 17 hectares of municipal land for 18 acres of private land are incorrect and arbitrary”, reported Kosovo Online.
According to the statement, ”the Municipality of Gracanica is fighting long-term and strategically to protect the interest of the Serbian people in Gracanica”.
“Unfortunately, the public was disturbed by superficial and inaccurate interpretations, while the truth remained in the background. By the decision of the Municipal Assembly of Gracanica dated September 28, the municipality received 18 acres of land in the category of road infrastructure, on which there is an important strategic local road within residential zones. As compensation, the owner of that infrastructural land was offered a proportional part of the municipal land on the outskirts of Gracanica, and not 17 hectares as it is wrongly said in the media. Only when the competent institutions – the Ministry of Local Self-Government, the Ministry of Agriculture, and after all the Ministry of Finance carry out an assessment value of both lands, it will be determined which part of the 17 hectares on the outskirts of Gracanica will be exchanged, and expert services’ estimates are that it will not be more than 1/6 of the mentioned plot – the stone quarry,” she explains.
Subaric said that the mentioned land was categorized as land of the third category and that “in reality it is represented as a stone quarry without electricity, water or any supporting infrastructure”.
”It is not possible to build any settlements or other objects that would change the ethnic structure of Gracanica or the surrounding settlements, as individuals maliciously claim,” she said among other things adding that ”those who put politics before the interests of residents neither want nor can see and understand such a thing, and when accusing others, they start from themselves and all the abuses they have committed themselves”.
She concluded that the municipality would continue to fight and represent only “the interests of the Serbian people, and never give up such a policy”, reported Kosovo Online.
A text the author will never read – on the mad race between the government and the unions over the teachers’ strike (KoSSev)
By Ismet Hajdari
“I cannot focus,” Belul told me when I asked him why he didn’t write as, in addition to his ability to deliver an exceptional academic debate, it was the thing he did best despite the serious illness he had been struggling with for the last few years.
Towards the end, when he became bedridden, he was upset over the fact that the deadline for the article he wrote once a month for the section “Pristinska veza” was approaching without him writing a single word. He planned to write a text about the teachers’ strike that completely blocked the new school year.
“You know what, my fellow professor (how we privately addressed each other),” I suggested to him while he was in the hospital, “give me the main theses or the outline of what you want to say. I will put it into text. I’ll have it done in no time,” I told him. He didn’t promise me anything. I thought he wouldn’t be able to do this and that he would give up. I decided not to bother him anymore. Two days later, only one day before he sadly passed away, Belul sent what I suggested to him via Viber.
The Union of Independent Trade Unions of Kosovo (BSPK) announced a strike of educators demanding a wage increase ahead of the start of the new school year. The new wage law, which is in the process of being adopted, stipulates that teachers in elementary schools will have a monthly salary of around 670 euros, while their colleagues in secondary schools will have around 700 euros. Due to the complicated adoption procedure, in the best case scenario, the law on wages could come into force only in the middle of the next year, the unions then demanded that the government pay all educators 100 euros per month until that time. The government rejected this proposal and, haggling like at some bazaar, offered 50 euros, which the unions refused.
The tragic side of the strike
“Successful politics is an activity that finds practical answers to practical questions” – reads Belul’s main thesis for the article about the irrational war waged by educators and the Government of Kosovo for almost a month. Each of the sides of the conflict claimed that the other was to blame for the children being out of school for so long and even the most ideal agreement between the warring parties, even if it were to be reached as you read this, would never succeed in making up for what was lost – a whole month of education of the schoolchildren. And there lies the biggest tragedy of the educators’ strike. It is growing and will keep growing, becoming more destructive as the strike drags on.
Read more at: https://bit.ly/3BZf5tC
Coffee Festival Helps Bridge Divide in City of Mitrovica (Prishtina Insight)
A coffee drinking festival is helping to bring together alienated communities in the divided city of Mitrovica.
On Thursday, at the Ibar Bridge, which divides the city of Mitrovica into northern Serbian and southern Albanian parts, locals from both sides have come together to enjoy the city’s Coffee Festival.
To get things going, some 100 coffee coupons were distributed for free from 10 a.m. from small wooden huts dotted throughout the area, where the participants received their drinks.
Read more at: https://bit.ly/3SN8TvQ
Serbia’s Minorities Hope for Better Results in 2022 Census (BIRN)
After some communities boycotted the 2011 census – skewing the results – the hope is that this year’s headcount will produce a more accurate picture of the country’s demography.
Read more at: https://bit.ly/3UPyUMH
Montenegro Launches Probe Into Suspected Russian Spies (BIRN)
Montenegro’s outgoing Prime Minister, Dritan Abazovic, said on Thursday that the Special State Prosecution had launched an investigation into an unspecified number of people on charges of espionage and creating a criminal organisation.
Media reported that police had already detained six Russian diplomats, 30 Russians with temporary residence permits and two Montenegrins, on suspicion of working for Russian intelligence.
Abazovic told the media that action was being organised with Western partners, and refused to say if it related to his official visit to the US last week.
“Searches are carried out at several locations and the action is international in nature. We are ready to protect the national interests of Montenegro,” Abazovic told the media.
Read more at: https://bit.ly/3E5y5cx
North Macedonia Opposition Stalls ‘Open Balkan’ Free Flow of Workers (Balkan Insight)
An agreement on the free flow of workers within the three countries of the ‘Open Balkan’ initiative, is stuck in North Macedonia’s parliament, where the opposition is stalling adoption.
The main North Macedonia opposition VMRO DPMNE party says it is not convinced of the benefits of the free flow of workers between Albania, Serbia and North Macedonia, envisioned as part of the “Open Balkan” regional initiative. The move now awaits ratification in the parliament in Skopje.
Read more at: https://bit.ly/3CltHVz
PriFilm Fest’s Controversial Prizes Spark Gender Debate (Prishtina Insight)
Rina Krasniqi’s award as both best actor and best actress at the Film Festival in Prishtina has sparked a debate about sexual and gender deconstruction in Kosovar society.
The 14th edition of the PriFilm Festival finished on September 25. But the festival, dedicated this year to the late director and PriFest founder Vjosa Berisha, has caused much controversy among critics.
This is because actress Rina Krasniqi, who played Luana and then Jack – the same character but with different genders – in the movie The Albanian Virgin, was awarded both “Best Actress” and “Best Actor” awards.
The unusual awarding of the main prizes at the Film Festival has sparked a debate about gender in Kosovo. The jury of the festival said the decision was difficult but reasonable given the professional acting of Krasniqi.
Read more at: https://bit.ly/3dVq7Ik
Serbian Government allows some higher food prices (N1)
The Serbian Government decided to allow retailers to raise the prices of some foodstuffs and keep the lower duties on fuel in place, N1 reports.
A government press release said that limits on fuel prices would remain in place because the market is deemed to be unstable with the lower duties remaining for another 30 days.
Sugar prices were raised because of higher production costs along with the prices of chicken meat.The government also extended the ban on exports of milk and milk products for another 30 days to help deal with the milk shortage.
The Serbian Government has limited food and fuel prices over the past few months following Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
Former SFRY New York mansion sold for $50 million (N1)
The American real estate agency Douglas Elliman completed the sale of a mansion on New York’s Fifth Avenue which was owned by the successor states of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), N1 reports.
The mansion, located right next to Central Park, was sold to a London-based buyer for 50 million US Dollars.
The Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed for the Tanjug agency that the real estate of the former SFRY Mission to the United Nations in New York has been sold.
In accordance with Annex B of the Agreement on Succession Issues (Vienna, 2001), Serbia is entitled to 20 million Dollars, said the Ministry.
The New York mansion, which was property of former Yugoslavia, was sold after being on and off the market for several years. It is located on the elite Fifth Avenue, right next to Central Park, and is one of the oldest mansions in New York.
Listing agent Tristan Harper said the sale of 854 Fifth Avenue opens up a new chapter in the glorious history of this estate which was once owned by Emily Vanderbilt White, a granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and later by communist leader Josip “Tito” Broz. The new owner just purchased an important part of New York’s history, he said.