When Disastrous Events Proved to be Record-Breaking

FOTO: KoSSev

For the KoSSev portal, in its ten years of existence, 2023 proved to be, in short, a quite a record-breaking year, with 3,028,407 users, 15,967,167 sessions, and 28,023,336 page views. The year saw our most read month and day in the decade since the portal was founded. Moreover, we witnessed a record-breaking increase in the number of followers and views on videos on social networks. We were also presented with a number of awards. It was a year marked by severe crises. Below, we outline the events in Kosovo – based on the most-read news pieces – that took place in the past year.

The three most-read news piece on the KoSSev portal for 2023:

KP seizes beer, Coca-Cola, brandy, vodka, peas, toilet paper… (67,723)

Scholz, Macron, and Meloni: Kosovo to initiate the procedure for the establishment of the ASM, Serbia to deliver de facto recognition (61,664)

Drug labs in the north – from millions in profit to abandoned buildings (54,353)

When it comes to our readership, as in the previous year, according to Google, we were the most read in Serbia, followed by Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

December: Echoes of the year

In addition to being on the list of the three most-read news items in 2023, the report made by an Al Jazeera team about the former drug labs in the north of Kosovo, which are now just abandoned buildings, was also the most read news piece in December. Svecla presented his view of the structure of C. Protection, Petković at the top; He also published photos of alleged participants in the events in Banjska – this news item takes the second spot on the list.

The third most read news in December was published three days before the end of the year – Maqedonci: The deployment of the Serbian gendarmerie on the border is a security risk.

November: Seizures and removal of monuments

The year 2023 was also particularly marked by news on the seizure of goods in the north, so much so that the most read article for the whole year and the month of November, was about searches in Zvecan and Leposavic during which various goods were confiscated.

The ban on the import of Serbian goods into Kosovo has been in force since last July, when the government in Pristina introduced the ban in response to the Serbian police arresting three Kosovo police officers. Serbia released the policemen, but this measure, although made only orally, remained in force and is treated as a „security“ measure. The European Union and the US have repeatedly condemned the ban of goods, and such assessments were also reiterated through a recent report by the European Commission, as well as the EU Council of Ministers.

The second on the list is the public letter of the editor of KoSSev to the French ambassador after the removal of the monument to the fallen Serbian soldiers in the wars from 1918 to 1921 at the Orthodox cemetery in Pristina. It is followed by the text that the French and German embassies confirmed that they moved the monument and listed their reasons for doing so in a joint statement.

Following an avalanche of reactions from the Serbian public, the monument was returned to its original place in early December. Although no public apology was issued, the French ambassador in Belgrade, Pierre Cauchard, said that the return of the memorial plaque to its original place in the Serbian Orthodox cemetery in Pristina, represented „an apology, in a way“.

October, the most read month – The situation settles, a „confession“ that was heard for the 2nd time

In October, the article on the call of the top European officials for Serbia to de facto recognize Kosovo was the most widely read. Although this message was sent publicly back in March, it was only the second letter from these officials that had a wider resonance in the public, so much so that it appeared as if it was heard for the first time – Scholz, Macron and Meloni: Kosovo to initiate the procedure for the establishment of the ASM, Serbia to deliver de facto recognition.

The news about the Kosovo government’s allegations that the „Serbian Army moved towards Kosovo from three directions“, which was later denied by the President of Serbia, was also well-read.

Although it is not part of the list of the most read news pieces, for the relations between Belgrade and Pristina, that is, Serbia’s position in the international sphere, the news about the withdrawal of Serbian troops from the wider vicinity of the administrative crossings was crucial.

Serbian officials claimed that there was no increase in the combat readiness of the Serbian Army, but only activities in the Land Security Zone. We learned from the Serbian Army chief that the population of Kosovo will be invited to reserve composition exercises from 2021, but that the turnout is low – only 19%, and that Milan Radoičić is among those who did not respond. General Mojsilović’s statement that „it is not the Serbian Army’s business what Milan Radoičić does on private property“ stands out as particularly memorable.

The third most read text this month was the one about how Kurti confirmed that the Five offered a new plan, and advocated for a new approach. We learned that the key message of the Prime Minister of Kosovo to the Western Five reads: „The main priority and urgent issue for the Republic of Kosovo is the security of the state and citizens, borders and territory. After the terrorist and criminal attack on September 24, which was carried out by paramilitary groups with the sponsorship and participation of Serbia, punishment is the key in order to prevent it from happening again.“

The month of October, while being the most read month this year, was also the month that saw the highest readership ever since KoSSev was founded. As many as 495,123 users, 1,993,011 sessions, and 3,299,361 page views were recorded. This could practically be expected, given the event that preceded it.

September: World News. The most read day.

The month of September will be remembered for the Banjska case, when an armed conflict broke out between Serbs and members of the Kosovo Police. In an ambush, a sergeant of the regular police unit of the Kosovo Police was killed, and at least three alleged attackers were shot dead, while several were wounded and arrested. An armed, uniformed group, as it turned out, composed of Serbs from Kosovo, led by Milan Radoičić, broke into the monastery complex, among other things, breaking the monastery gate, occupying the lower dormitory and ousting the pilgrims who were staying there.

In addition to death, there were also other consequences – from the locals’ stress and distress, to the seizure of weapons worth an estimated five million euros, to a decrease in pressure placed on Pristina (Kurti’s policies), the shifting of the ‘bad guy’ narrative once again to the Serbian side, back again to the damaged Serbian negotiating position and Serbs’ position in Kosovo.

As expected, the news items about the event of September 24, which became world news, were the most read. September 24 itself was the most read day of the year with as many as 196,813 users, 196,813 sessions and 444,469 page views. Moreover, it is the most read day in the decade that KoSSev has been informing the citizens.

The three most-read news items in September:

Military analyst: The „armored“ vehicle in Banjska acts as a „garage“ modification of the SUV, not the MIA and the Serbian Army; Šarović on Banjska: The one who armed the Serbs convinced them that things would turn out differently; Svecla from Banjska: We established control, arrested six people, some from Civil Protection

August: Quiet before the storm

August saw a brief break from politics and crises, when it came to the most-read news pieces, although these articles still had a political context. The first on the list was a text about the performance of singer of Albanian origin Rita Ora with the Serbian flag.

The information that members of the Kosovo Police seized cryptocurrency mining equipment in an apartment on the 11th floor of a building in North Mitrovica may have foreshadowed the events to come. However, at the same time, they also found explosive devices, bullets, and drug lab equipment.

Kosovo Minister Xhelal Svecla interpreted it to be „triple evidence“ – about attacks on the police, KFOR, EULEX, journalists and ordinary citizens, and, as he said, about a contingent of „criminals of Vučić’s fascist idea about the Serbian world“. Svecla also alleged it is the real reason why „Vučić and his followers oppose the collection and billing of the energy consumed.“

One of the most read texts in August was the one about the decision of the Pristina Business Registration Agency to shut down the MTS company.

The issue of MTS.doo is one of the key issues for Serbs in Kosovo – from problems in functioning on the ground to the final status and future. But this is also one of those issues that passes under the broader public radar.

July: „When the army returns to Kosovo“

In July, the most read news item was about one of several addresses by the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, who often criticized Pristina for refusing to meet the EU’s demands to de-escalate the situation – Rama: Clinton and Blair are the two great fathers of Kosovo, but the time has come when a child is not obeying his fathers.

In the tense crisis between Belgrade and Pristina, the news about the Special Court in The Hague proved not to be very popular among our readers. However, the invitation of the Special Prosecutor’s Office to Rustem Mustafa, the former „commander of the KLA“, to testify in The Hague was recorded as the second most read news in July.

The third on the list was the text: Bislimi about the choreography of Red Star fans: They send messages that Vučić cannot say publicly; The FFK also condemned.

In the coming months, from the Rajko Mitić stadium to stands throughout Serbia, but also in other countries, the following message could be seen: „When the army returns to Kosovo“ – all with the same colors, fonts, and iconography.

Previously, on Christmas Eve at Merdare crossing, representatives of the Commission for the Implementation of the Military Technical Agreement of the General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces received the response to Belgrade’s request from representatives of KFOR, which was sent in the midst of the December crisis over Kosovo, for the return of up to 1,000 members of the Serbian Armed Forces and the police of the Republic of Serbia to Kosovo, without elaborating on what the response said.

June: Echoes of Zvecan, pressure on Pristina

The first half of the year, in addition to the adoption of the so-called European agreement, was also marked by echoes of the never-formed Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities and the withdrawal of Serbs from Kosovo institutions, increased presence of Kosovo special forces in the north, license plates, the boycott of elections and the entry of Albanian mayors into municipal buildings, ending with the May clash between Serbs and KFOR in Zvecan.

In June, the pressure on the moves of Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti continued to grow, when it came to Pristina’s involvement in the crisis in the north.

Among our readers, the Prime Minister of Albania was also popular in June when he again criticized his counterpart in Pristina: Rama after the announcement of EU measures: KP guards empty buildings, soldiers „sing on the border“ – this is not European behavior.

Along the same lines, the second most read news item was the Urgent Appeal of Serbs from Kosovo to the EU and Quint; which contained a long list of demands from over 160 Serbian NGOs, activists and individuals from Kosovo, the main request being the withdrawal of all special police units from the north of Kosovo. There was also a request to form the ASM, the resolution of all cases of attacks on Serbs and their property, and an end of the demonization of the Serbian people in the public appearances of the President and Prime Minister of Kosovo.

Serbia is to blame for the riots, we have evidence that they planned everything, said Kurti at the time from the assembly in Pristina, to which the opposition replied: We are looking for your replacement, you have jeopardized relations with the allies.

Kurti stood by his words, however, this – the third most read news in June, actually showed that, especially in the first part of the year, he had a lot of work to do on the domestic front when it comes to discussions with the strongly critical opposition.

May: A Forerunner to Banjska

The month of May brought new tensions in the north of Kosovo. If September 24 in Banjska is considered a political turning point, it could also be said for the May 26 or May 29 events in Zvecan.

After the Serb boycott, the northern municipalities had Albanian mayors for the first time after the war. The low turnout of only 3.5% and calls from the international community not to make any unilateral moves were not enough for Pristina to refrain from what they announced was in line with „sovereignty and democracy in the country“.

On the day when thousands of employees, organized by the leading party in Serbia and Srpska Lista, left their workplaces and homes to attend a counter rally in Belgrade, the new mayors, with the assistance of special forces, entered the workplaces of those who were on their way to Belgrade. The small number of citizens who gathered to prevent their entry failed in their endeavor.

Even the fact that the US was the first to react, with two announcements by State Secretary Anthony Blinken, along with leading international officials, as well as crisis visits, did not sway Albin Kurti.

The turning point occurred on May 29, when the Serbs and KFOR clashed in Zvecan – an event that became world news. Officially, around 100 KFOR soldiers were injured, at a time when Belgrade and SL were calling for greater involvement of these soldiers, it was declared that the highest number of NATO soldiers have been injured in Kosovo since 1999 in this incident.

As anticipated, this event was the most read news this month, as was Belgrade’s announcement on the same day about the deployment of units of the Serbian Armed Forces. Another well-read article was the one about an incursion into municipal buildings in the north with the assistance of special units of the Kosovo Police.

April: No April Fools’ Day

Although elections took at the end of April, which will bring Albanian mayors to the north for the first time, and establish mono-ethnic compositions of municipal assemblies, which will begin to significantly change the situation in these municipalities in the coming months, readers were attracted to other, less „dark“ news.

The most popular news item in April was about the International Tourism Convention held in Tirana, where Kosovo was shown as part of Serbia.

The second on the list was the news about the seizure of fruits and vegetables in Josanica, and the third most read news item was about a researcher from Mitrovica who said that people showed up in the premises of the former AMSS and allegedly threatened violence if the then re-registration from Serbian to RKS plates continued.

March: Echoes of an agreement, Vučić and Kurti in a media offensive

The news about the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities, that is, the Kosovo Prime Minister’s refusal to form it, was also popular in March, so all of the well-read pieces tackled this topic. It was the period immediately after the end of February of the so-called Franco-German proposal presented as a European agreement that the parties agreed to, despite the disharmony between Pristina and Belgrade; then the adoption of the annex for its implementation in March, better known as the ‘Ohrid Agreement’.

Even then, the Serbian president and the Kosovo prime minister kept the media attention busy with their statements, conferences and interviews, each interpreting in their own way what was happening in the negotiations. Despite the fact that we reported in great detail on all the appearances of President Vučić, it seems that Kurti was more influential in that media offensive, at least judging by the statistics of the news items read on our portal.

Kurti: Serbia wants the carriage before the horse, the agreement on the Association cannot be a priority – was the most-read piece in March, followed by Kurti: Self-governance for the Serbian community and the ASM are not the same thing, Vučić is refusing to sign the agreement, which is a de facto recognition.

The third news that generated the highest number of clicks that month was the statement of the US ambassador in Belgrade – „You don’t have to be a historian to know that Serbs have lived in Kosovo for centuries and have the right to decide their future.“

February: Agreements, plates, expropriation

News about the relationship between Belgrade and Pristina, that is, the mutual accusations coming from top officials, dominated as the most popular items in February, just when iron was being forged to present the success of international mediators – „we have an agreement“.

The most read text in February was about the Kosovo Police seizure, this time at a checkpoint in the village of Josanica, but with a statement from the Kosovo Minister of the Interior – „While Vučić talks about arming Serbia, ammunition was seized in the north today“.

However, the statements of Albin Kurti were once again more popular among our readers. His statement that „ethnic association is not possible“ is the second most-read news this month.

The loss of KM license plates could have been sensed at the beginning of the year, despite Belgrade’s claims that they „preserved“ Serbian license plates with markings of towns in Kosovo. One of the most-read news pieces for the month of February: „Bislimi: The Serbian government can play with its decisions, but vehicles with ‘illegal’ plates are not allowed to enter Kosovo„.

Broadcasts of the first public hearings on expropriation in Zubin Potok, that is, Leposavic, were also popular among our readers.

January: Expropriation

Finally, exactly one year ago, in January, the situation started calming down once again after the sudden removal of the barricades in December. The crisis that heated up at the end of 2022 with the explosion of news about the issue of license plates, the exit of Serbs from institutions, arrests, barricades, and then their removal at the end of the year, was only mildly and ostensibly neutralized.

New sparks could be spotted as early as mid-January when the Kosovo government made a new decision on the expropriation of over 80ha of land in the municipality of Leposavic. As a result, the most-read news this month was the following: What’s happening with 80ha of Leposavic land?

A year later, another piece of news arrived: The decision on the expropriation of land in the municipalities of Leposavic and Zubin Potok, which was made in May of last year, has been annulled.

Second on the list in terms of popularity for the month of January is the news about the attack on a bus in Serbia proper carrying passengers from Kosovo who were traveling to Germany.

The third piece of news that attracted the attention of our readers the most is a police report that members of the Special Operations Unit of the Kosovo Police pulled over a car at a checkpoint near Bistrica in which they found 30,879 euros of unreported money.

Social media records, video views in the hundreds of thousands

This year, there was a lot more breaking news, or other popular news. These news were watched through live broadcasts, or just videos through our social networks. The number of views on our videos is incomparably higher than the number of page views. Many videos recorded several hundreds of thousands of views on some of the social networks.

As far as social networks are concerned, this year we saw a 30% increase on Facebook, which is the biggest increase ever in a decade. We currently have 52, 2700 likes, or 68,000 followers, and they are all organic. We also recorded an increase of 34% on the X network (14,821 followers); on Instagram by 43.17% (19,013); on YouTube, the audience increased by as much as 61.17% (7,040)

While not ranked by views, here are just a few random videos of what’s been happening over past year:





Awards and recognitions

This was also the year of awards and recognition for our work.

At the beginning of the year, the editor of KoSSev was presented with the order of knight of the National Order of Merit, and at the end of the year she received another title of knight of the invitation awarded by the prestigious League of Experts. Previously, in October, she was presented with the annual journalistic award of the „Katarina Preradović“ Foundation for professional integrity, excellence, selflessness and courage. In April, she received recognition for her courage from the US ambassador in Pristina.

The Initiative for Peaceful Change presented media awards in March. Among the winners was the KoSSev portal, that is, our director, Nevenka Medić. As the runner-up, she donated the entire award sum of 500 euros to the Savić family from Koretiste, who had eight children and a ninth on the way, and whose family patriarch was seriously ill.

At the end of this review, we will reiterate our desire to report on as many pieces of good news as possible.



Preuzimanje i objavljivanje tekstova sa portala KoSSev nije dozvoljeno bez navođenja izvora. Hvala na poštovanju etike novinarske profesije.