The Working Group for Chapter 35 of the National Convention on the European Union from Belgrade called on the competent authorities of Belgrade and Pristina to establish direct and effective cooperation in combating the spread of the COVID-19. They also urged them to establish procedures for cooperation between medical facilities and medical teams, as well as procedures for mutual assistance in the hospital treatment of patients infected with coronavirus and to open channels of communication.
The coronavirus pandemic represents a great danger everywhere in the world and the health systems are increasingly becoming burdened with the number of infected patients. The pandemic has shown that the spread of the disease goes beyond borders, national and ethnic origin or religion of the affected, and can only be combatted through joint action, cooperation and solidarity – the Working Group for Chapter 35 of the National Convention on the European Union wrote in a statement.
“Cooperation is necessary primarily for the sake of humanity and responsibility for human lives in these difficult times,” they added.
The Working Group for the Chapter 35 called for the establishment of communication channels between crisis committees to combat coronavirus in Serbia and Kosovo, which would allow the exchange of information on the scale of the pandemic on a daily basis.
They also called on the competent authorities of both Belgrade and Pristina to establish procedures for cooperation between medical facilities and medical teams, as well as procedures for mutual assistance in the hospital treatment of patients infected with the virus.
In Kosovo, two health systems – operating within the Republic of Serbia and Kosovo – are currently combating the spread of COVID-19. They, however, operate independently and without visible cooperation.
For example, samples collected from Serb-majority communities are sent for testing to the Torlak Institute, while those collected in Albanian-majority communities are sent to the Microbiology Department of the Kosovo Institute of Public Health in Pristina. Serbs are admitted and treated in health centers and two hospital centers – Gracanica and North Mitrovica, which operate within the Republic of Serbia, on the other hand, the majority of Albanians receive treatment at the University Hospital Center of Pristina and other Kosovo hospitals.
Also, in the north of Kosovo, curfew measures adopted by official Belgrade – and implemented by the Serbia-sponsored municipal emergency team – and measures imposed by the Kosovo government are both respected. Thus, the residents of the four municipalities in the north have until recently been obliged to respect daily curfews of two systems and they were only allowed outside from 5 am to 10 am and from 4 pm to 5 pm. In all other Serb-majority communities south of the Ibar, along with Kosovo measures, the Serbia-sponsored municipal emergency teams are operating with their own measures, however, without a „Serbian curfew“. These emergency teams are headed by the Provincial Emergency Headquarters and report to the Kosovo Office.
The two health systems do not show any visible cooperation even in the wake of the current coronavirus pandemic.
“We emphasize the need to regulate the regime of movement through integrated administrative crossings during the pandemic so as to allow the free movement of ambulances and medical teams,” the Working Group wrote, adding that it is also necessary to allow the passing of consumer goods, in particular food, medicines, medical supplies, disinfectants and other necessities for a normal life.
Finally, the Working Group on Chapter 35 emphasized that a joint approach and active cooperation in combating the coronavirus pandemic in Serbia and Kosovo can make a significant contribution to the reconciliation of the two societies, stressing that this opportunity should certainly not be missed.
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