Vucic introduced state of emergency in Serbia (B92/Tanjug/RTS/Beta)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has declared a state of emergency in Serbia. “Serbia is at war as of today with the invisible adversary,” the President says. As the President states, we must do everything we can to help people, especially the elderly. “Our parents, our elders, they have built our villages, our roads and railways… They have built everything we have in our country. And we have to do everything we can to help these wonderful people,” Vucic said. “Pursuant to the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, and in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, Article 5 of the Constitution, I inform that we have made the decision to declare a state of emergency throughout the territory of Serbia”. He cited this as the primary reason for introducing a state of emergency throughout Serbia. The decision was not made easily, he said. “We will have to fight by performing discipline and strict measures, that discipline means that people over 65 have to be in their homes,” the president said, adding that it is the most disciplined part of our society. The President stated that local governments would restrict the opening hours of the restaurants and cafes. “We will restrict life in order to save life,” he stated.
As of Monday, all pre-school institutions, schools and the faculties will be closed until the end of the school year. Also, there wouldn’t be any practices and gyms would be closed as well. The army will be on guard outside the hospitals. He warned the Serbs living abroad not to come for the Easter holiday, saying they would have to be in isolation if they decide to come to Serbia. Those coming from the most hit countries would have to be for 28 days in isolation. Depending on their health situation, it could be either quarantine or home isolation. The President said that two people were on respirators with worsening health situation. “This is a tough fight for us. I’ve listed the main measures, there will be more,” he says. The President states that a violation of these measures will be followed by a three-year prison sentence. “We will not show European solidarity, but we want to show Serbian solidarity. We will preserve some of the respirators for the people of Republika Srpska,” he said. “Surrender was never an option,” he said at the end of his address.
Brnabic urges citizens to respect emergency measures (TV Prva)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic appealed to citizens today to listen to the recommendations of the state and experts about ways to reduce the spread of coronavirus, and said that otherwise, drastic measures would be introduced, including a total ban on freedom of movement, and a police curfew. Brnabic told TV Prva that she saw big traffic jams and a large number of people in the streets of the capital today, pointing out that citizens did not take the recommendations of the president, prime minister and experts seriously enough. “Please exercise self-discipline, especially senior citizens, do not go out. Do not make us impose curfews and take the military and police to the streets and completely prohibit freedom of movement. That is the most drastic measure possible, and neither I nor the president would want to implement it,” said Brnabic.
She said that if such a situation continued, more drastic measures would have to be taken in the next two days, which would include additional involvement of the Interior Ministry (MUP), and the Serbian Army. “Today I will get reports from other cities, urban areas are the most vulnerable, if it’s like this in other cities, then that’s devastating,” said Brnabic. She said that this morning she saw big traffic jams and crowds of people in the streets of Belgrade, and a large number of elderly citizens in the streets, bakeries, and stores. “I plead with everyone over 65 take it most seriously, for your own sake and for the sake of the healthcare system. We must strive to control the situation so that the number of infected people is kept to a minimum, that is, to a number that our health system can receive and treat,” said Brbabic. She stressed that without solidarity, the epidemic cannot be defeated. She also said that 55 cases of the new coronavirus have been registered in Serbia so far. Of these, 28 are treated at home and their condition is stable. Of the patients being treated in medical institutions, two people are on ventilators and in a serious condition. “We currently have the situation under control, which is not to say it will remain so. It is common that about 15 days after the onset of the virus, the number of those infected increases drastically, hitting the health care system the hardest,” said Brnabic.
Brnabic: Serbia closes borders due to coronavirus (RTS)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has announced that as of Sunday night our borders have been closed and that Serbian Armed Forces members will be at the borders to assist the sanitary inspection and border police. Speaking in a special broadcast of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS), Brnabic explained that borders remain open to Serbian citizens returning from abroad, as well as to diplomats and foreign nationals with a residence permit. She pointed out that classes will start on Tuesday through RTS Planeta, RTS 3 and through digital textbooks. According to her, all Serbian citizens who come from abroad must be subject to a 14-day self-isolation, and those who come from the focal areas must stay isolated for 28 days. The police, military and local self-governments will be checking that people adhere to this rule, the violation of which provides for a sentence of up to three years in prison.
Vucic, Orban discuss cooperation in fighting Covid-19, Dacic meets with Dimitrov (Beta)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in
Belgrade on 15 March, a press release issued by the president’s office has said. Vucic and Orban discussed bilateral relations, mutual support, cooperation and solidarity in the fight against Covid-19, but also the migrant crisis and the process of Serbia’s EU integration. The Foreign Ministers of Serbia and North Macedonia, Ivica Dacic and Nikola Dimitrov, spoke
on the phone about the situation surrounding Covid19 and the consequences of the pandemic in the two countries and the region, the Foreign Ministry said in a press release issued on 15 March.
They agreed to quickly find solutions to current problems related to the obstructed transport of goods and standstills in the transport of people due to limitations on entry for persons who visited states and regions with high disease transmission, the press release said.
Video conference between Vucic and Merkel postponed until tomorrow (RTS)
The meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, scheduled for today in the form of a video conference, has been postponed until tomorrow. Aleksandar Vucic said earlier that the main topics of the conversation would be the continuation of the dialogue with Pristina and, in particular, the new situation after the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic. The plan had been for the Serbian president to visit Berlin on Sunday and Monday, but the trip was postponed due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Federation of B&H declares state of emergency over coronavirus (N1)
Bosnia and Hercegovina (B&H) entity, Federation of B&H government decided to declare a state of emergency in that entity, during Monday’s session. The session was convened by the Federation of B&H Prime Minister Fadil Novalic and in addition to government members, he invited the prime ministers of all 10 cantons and officials from the Federation of B&H Employers Association, Association of Unions, Federation of B&H Trade Chamber, Federation of B&H Tax Administration, Federation of B&H Police Administration, Federation of B&H Civil Protection Agency, Federation of B&H Inspection Administration, Federation of B&H Development Programming institute, Federation of B&H Commodity Reserve Directorate, Federation of B&H Red Cross and the Federation of B&H Health ministry’s Crisis Staff.
Responding to the coronavirus spread in the country, the authorities of Bosnia’s westernmost region, the Una-Sana Canton (USK), passed conclusions on Monday, restricting the movement of migrants on its territory and imposing a ban on their further influx to the canton.
USK Health Ministry’s crisis management group, which is closely following the developments concerning the coronavirus outbreak, has passed four conclusions that have an immediate effect.
They asked the competent authorities of the Federation of B&H, to hold an urgent session and review the situation in the USK, considering a large number of its citizens who work abroad, the fact that the USK is practically the country’s gate to the European Union, a large number of migrants that are accommodated in several camps across the canton and poorly equipped health care centers and hospitals. “We ask the Federation of B&H Health Ministry’s crisis management group to task the Federation of B&H authorities in an urgent session to provide financial and other assistance to the USK institutions, to implement prevention measures and early discovery of potential disease cases caused by the novel coronavirus among the locals and migrants,” said the USK’s crisis management group. The body also fully restricted the movement of migrants who are staying out of the temporary camps on the canton’s territory and their immediate relocation as well as further transportation of the migrants to the canton’s territory. Locals are not allowed to rent their private rooms or other facilities to migrants unless they possess valid documentation proving their identity. A document signed by USK Health Minister Nermina Cemalovic demand from the USK Prime Minister to act urgently and task competent bodies to immediately implement the adopted conclusions. USK is the westernmost part of B&H that borders Croatia and is packed with migrants from various African and Asian countries who are hoping to continue the journey to their final destinations in western Europe and elsewhere. But as Croatia keeps its borders closed for illegal migrants, thousands are stranded on the canton’s territory, mostly accommodated in temporary camps run by local and international authorities.
Total number of coronavirus infections in RS reaches 20; RS authorities announce new measures to tackle COVID-19 (BHT1)
Three new cases of Coronavirus infections were confirmed on Sunday in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), two in Republika Srpska (RS) and one in the Federation of B&H. Total number of infected citizens reached 24. Due to current situation, a new meeting of high-ranking officials of the RS was held on Sunday in Banja Luka. Following this meeting, RS Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic addressed media. Among other things, Viskovic said that the health status of around 1,000 citizens of the RS is monitored. Also, Viskovic stated that since the RS authorities believe that many citizens failed to respect earlier introduced preventive measures, a telephone session of the RS parliament will be requested on Monday with goal to adopt amendments to the Criminal Code of the RS, i.e. to harshen fines for those failing to respect orders of competent institutions. Viskovic stated that previous experiences show that many people and local businesses do not follow the prescribed measures, which then leads to the spread of a virus and more confirmed cases. RS PM Viskovic stated that the number of people coming to work should be reduced by at least 50 percent. All official visits outside of B&H are prohibited as of Monday. The RS authorities again called on citizens to act responsibly and in line with recommendations and not to risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Due to the current situation affecting trade, the RS and Federation of B&H governments earlier agreed to adopt a regulation which would prohibit prices of food and protective gear from soaring.
On Tuesday, the public broadcaster will begin broadcasting class for primary school education, in line with the law. RS Minister of Education and Culture Natalija Trivic said that all teachers will be involved in this process to help facilitate easier learning for children at this time. At this moment, 1,186 people in the RS are placed under medical supervision. All of these people have recently been in countries affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19). 173 people have been released from medical supervision as of recently since they showed no symptoms. The epidemiological situation is under control despite a rise in the number of persons infected with coronavirus, RS Minister of Health Alen Seranic said on Sunday. The prepared order of Sarajevo Canton Crisis HQ has appeared in media and social networks on Sunday, according to which Canton will ban the work of all facilities, except of pharmacies, gas stations, food stores and markets. According to this document, the work of restaurants, bars, shopping malls will be completely banned. However, SC Prime Minister Mario Nenadic told the daily that no decision on this has been made. He stressed that neither SC Government nor the Crisis HQ reached any decisions on Sunday, so the document with these orders is not in force. Nenadic explained that SC Crisis HQ will hold a regular session on Monday morning and the public will be informed at 10:00 hrs about new measures. The B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) held a special session via conference call on Sunday to discuss new measures of prevention of COVID-19 epidemic. The Council of Ministers passed the decision to ban entry to B&H for foreign nationals coming from high-risk countries: China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran, France, Romania, Germany, Austria, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium. Those who are not permitted to enter the state will receive an order at the border at their request. The entity authorities agreed all other foreign nationals that arrive in B&H will be ordered to enter a 14-day self-isolation. Inspectors and the communal police will also conduct frequent controls of the people placed in self-isolation. If they are not found at their homes, these people will be fined.
B&H Presidency reached agreement on deployment of B&H Armed Forces to B&H border (BN TV)
Member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik has reached an agreement with the other two members of the B&H Presidency on deployment of the B&H Armed Forces to the border of B&H, with the aim of protection of citizens of B&H from the new coronavirus COVID-19.
Dodik also said that the Presidency will give approval for setting up of military tents at every border crossing, where the citizens coming from western countries would spend two weeks for preventive reasons and then released to continue the journey or go back to the original destination. “The Presidency will give its constant for that, I talked to other two (Presidency) members,” Dodik said following a meeting with the officials in RS. “We agreed to set up military tents at every border crossing, which will be equipped with beds and other things necessary for a 14-day stay,” he stressed. “It is the fact that our calls were not taken seriously. It is the fact that a huge number of our people is coming from the west and they are potential carriers. This is the moment that requires full solidarity and self-consciousness of people,” Dodik added. “This will be a very difficult month and a half but we will prove that we are capable to fight something that is ‘not a part of us’. I urge everyone to do their best, not only conducting the measures but to do personally everything in their power,” said Dodik. “This is not the first crisis we are in, but although the coronavirus has been here for several months, it seems like it was not taken seriously,” he added.
US State Department’s report shows significant human rights issues in B&H in 2019 (BN TV)
According to the ‘Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) 2019 Human Rights Report’ published by the US State Department, significant human rights issues in B&H included significant problems with the independence of the judiciary, restrictions of free expression, the press, and the internet, including violence and threats of violence against journalists, significant government corruption, trafficking in persons, and crimes involving violence or threats of violence against members of national/ethnic/racial minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons. According to the report, attacks on journalists’ professional integrity and freedom of the press in B&H continued to grow throughout the year and on a number of occasions, public officials obstructed the work of journalists. “As of August, the Free Media Help Line (FMHL) recorded 37 cases involving violations of journalists’ rights and freedoms, five death threats, and six physical assaults,” the report published by the US State Department reads. Journalist Erduan Katana said that in the last five or six years, there were on average one hundred lawsuits against journalists for defamation only. “Courts impose fines between BAM 500 and BAM 20,000 and given that journalists’ wages are below the average wage, this represents a blow to them,” Katana stressed. Katana noted that when one needs to protect journalists, neither courts nor the public and institutions are doing their job. “Journalistic community in B&H is very unorganized. They are not organized in trade unions. Therefore, in principle, they do not have great protection,” Katana said. In its report, the US State Department stated that the authorities in B&H did not implement the law effectively nor prioritize public corruption as a serious problem. “Courts have not processed high-level corruption cases, and in most of the finalized cases, suspended sentences were pronounced. Officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity, and corruption remained prevalent in many political and economic institutions. Corruption was especially prevalent in the health and education sectors, public procurement processes, local governance, and in public administration employment procedures,” the report reads.
B&H Border Police faces new migrant wave with little equipment and low numbers of officers (FTV)
B&H expects to meet the biggest migrant wave yet in 2020, which is estimated at up to 50,000 people arriving to the area. The border between B&H and Serbia is the critical point and the pressure on the border is four times higher than it was last year. Members of the B&H Border Police (B&H BP) assess that migrants, smugglers and local guides who help migrants cross the border have up to four times better equipment than the B&H BP. Information about the routes are spread fast and the network of migrant smugglers is very well developed. The eastern border of B&H is 160 kilometers long and it is very hard to protect it in its entirety. Member of the B&H BP from Zvornik Omer Omerovic said that during one shift at the border near Zvornik at the Drina river, the officers have been followed by a drone. He added that they do not have the adequate thermos-vision cameras, the batteries are either empty or the equipment is old. Omerovic said that the situation in the terrain is difficult, the B&H BP lacks people, equipment and vehicles. He added that it would be easy to handle the migrants if it was not for migrant smugglers. Omerovic stressed that they are working on breaking down networks of smugglers. Members of the RS Ministry of Interior (RS MoI) and State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) support the B&H BP on the border, but it is not enough. Commander of the B&H BP unit in Zvornik Muamer Fazlagic said that the number of refugees coming from areas threatened with war have been going down significantly. He added that the age of the migrants arriving is between 20 and 35 years and most of them are male. Fazlagic explained that the Drina River can be crossed at almost every part and this makes it easier for smugglers to illegally smuggle migrants over the border. B&H Minister of Security Fahrudin Radoncic said that B&H will change its perception of the migrant crisis and instead of treating it as a humanitarian crisis it will handle it as a security issue for B&H and the region.
Croatia to introduce strict measures to contain coronavirus spread (Hina)
A total of 49 people in Croatia are infected with the novel coronavirus and nearly 8,000 are in self-isolation, the national civil protection service said on Sunday afternoon, announcing stricter measures to protect the citizens against infection. “What you are seeing in the foreign media we will introduce at a certain pace. Our lives will change for the sake of protecting the public and our loved ones. We need to take responsibility for ourselves and for others. Measures will be put in place as of tomorrow, including a whole set of economic measures and a set of measures concerning social life, and everything will certainly be more restrictive,” the Minister of the Interior and head of the national civil protection service, Davor Bozinovic, told a press conference. He did not rule out the possibility of closing the borders as a way of stemming the import of the virus from the west. “It is important to maintain supply routes and the flow of goods. That must not be brought into question,n” Bozinovic said. He advised people, particularly the elderly, not to go out unless they had to. Anyone in Croatia who disobeys the order to self-isolate or other measures imposed over the coronavirus outbreak faces a fine of HRK 8,000 (€1,060), while repeat offenders face a fine of up to HRK 120,000 (€16,000), the State Inspectorate decided on Sunday. Health Minister Vili Beros said that so far 49 people in Croatia had tested positive for the virus, officially known as COVID-19, and that nearly 8,000 people were in self-isolation. “We are awaiting results for 745 people,” he said. The Director of the Croatian Public Health Institute, Krunoslav Capak, said that over 80 percent of those infected were exhibiting mild symptoms, while there were also those with severe symptoms, mostly elderly people. Capak called on the elderly to refrain from attending public gatherings, using public transport and shopping in large retail chains, adding that the government was considering ways of delivering food to those people.
Public Health Institute: Montenegro still coronavirus-free (RTCG)
According to latest data of Montenegro’s Public Health Institute released on Sunday, there are no confirmed cases yet of the coronavirus in Montenegro. Dr. Karolina Hajdukovic said that there are 536 people under surveillance in Montenegro, of whom 276 in the Public Health Institute, while the rest is in other municipalities of Montenegro. “Sixty-four people have been tested in the microbiology laboratory of the Public Health Institute and the results of all tested people were negative, so the presence of COVID-19 in Montenegro hasn’t been detected yet,” Hajdukovic explained.
SEC proposes that the elections are postponed (Republika)
The State Electoral Commission (SEC) members suggested that the early general elections, scheduled on 12 April, are postponed due to the coronavirus. The proposals came from the SDSM party nominated members of the SEC, while SEC President Oliver Derkovski, nominated by VMRO-DPMNE, said that a decision needs to be made with a cool head. The Commission reminded that parts of the country are in quarantine and that holding elections requires training 35.000 people who will oversee the voting of about a million people. Derkovski said that all efforts are made to complete the tasks before the SEC electronically but that preparing for elections the sometimes requires holding meetings of several hundred people at the same time. We will continue to work until a new decision is made by the relevant institutions, Dekovski added. The parliament is dissolved. There is precedent to re-call an already dissolved parliament, from the 2016 political crisis, when a scheduled election was postponed on SDSM request.
Meanwhile, SDSM representatives Boris Kondarko and Janaki Vitanovski were quoted as saying that the SEC is not in charge of moving the date of the elections. Lider.mk quotes SEC sources saying that the two SDSM members are now calling for the elections to be held as planned. The SEC even sent out a press release denying reports that the Commission wants to see the elections postponed. VMRO-DPMNE representatives said that the elections are “the last of our concerns” as the country faces the virus. Parliament speaker Talat Xhaferi said that legally it will be very difficult to call off the elections scheduled on 12 April. Xhaferi said that he will discuss the issue at the coming meeting of the Security Council, after members of the SEC expressed concern about voting during a coronavirus epidemic. “The parliament is dissolved and certain actions are already taken. The situation is serious and the legal concerns are not the only problem. We’ll examine all options and see how the virus situation develops in the coming ten days. Public health must come first,” Xhaferi said.
All Albania in lockdown as of Sunday as Coronavirus cases rise (ADN)
Albania has been put under total lockdown as coronavirus spreads in the country. Prime Minister Edi Rama announces that he is extending restrictions. “Starting from Sunday, March 15 00:00, Albania closes the borders with Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Greece,” said Rama as an order to protect the population, and especially the most fragile individuals. He made clear that borders will be open only for the transport of goods. Albanian authorities announced on Sunday new rules after country locked down due to outbreak. Director General Ardi Veliu ordered that starting from Monday 00:00 until 08:00 am citizens can circulate with their own vehicles respecting the rules of the hygiene. 08:00 to 16:00 pm no one is allowed to drive within country. The situation changes only for one hour 16:00 to 17:00 where the vehicles can be used again by few people that work to return home. Rama said that the worst is yet to come regarding coronavirus situation. “Strengthening the measures is necessary, because if we do not slow down the spread, the number of those who will be hospitalized will be much higher than the number of beds and this is a problem faced by all other countries,” said Rama. Rama announced that all private health sectors will have to cooperate in an emergency plan to combat the coronavirus crisis, among fears that public hospitals will soon be unable to cope with the number of patients suffering from the virus. The head of government warns that those who do not comply with the order will be fined up to ALL 5 million and will have to forcibly become available to public health service. Depending of the dynamics of the hospitalization of affected persons, upon order of the Minister of Health all private health structures will have to become available, including ambulances and health care staff. On Sunday, the number of coronavirus cases confirmed in Albania was officially 43, but doctors believe that there are around 400 persons infected by the novel virus. Doctor Pellumb Pipero, said that the virus is still unknown and citizens must be careful and stay home.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Serbia voices solidarity with Iran in fight against coronavirus (Tehran Times, by 15 March 2020)
TEHRAN — Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, in a phone call on Friday night with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, has voiced Belgrade’s solidarity with the Iranian nation and government in their fight with coronavirus. The two foreign ministers discussed the latest efforts to combat the novel coronavirus, according to the Foreign Ministry website.
The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a new respiratory disease that emerged in China last December and has spread around the world, halting industries, bringing travel to a standstill, closing schools, and forcing the cancellation of public events. Iran is currently battling the world’s second-deadliest outbreak of the coronavirus outside China. As of Saturday, 12,729 Iranians were confirmed to have been infected with the virus. Of this number, 611 have lost their lives. The coronavirus outbreak has been labelled a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday that the number of cases outside China had increased 13-fold in two weeks. He said he was “deeply concerned” by “alarming levels of inaction.” Observers say the U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran are an act of war as they hamper Tehran’s efforts to counter the coronavirus outbreak. In a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denounced the United States’ sanctions as a major obstacle to Iran’s battle against the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country. In his letter, Zarif urged an end to such an “illegal” sanctions. In part of his letter, Zarif said, “Although our medical facilities, doctors, nurses and other health practitioners are among the very finest in the world, we are stymied in our efforts to identify and treat our patients; in combatting the spread of the virus; and, ultimately, in defeating it, by the campaign of economic terrorism perpetrated by the Government of the United States.” Also on Thursday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei commanded Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Bagheri to establish a medical base to fight the coronavirus as there is an increased likelihood that the virus be a “biological attack”. “While commending the services that the Armed Forces have so far provided to the dear people [of Iran], and while emphasizing the need for those services to further expand and continue, it is necessary that these services be organized in the form of a health and treatment base,” the Leader wrote in his edict.
North Macedonia: Pre-Election Poll Shows Increased Economic Anxiety, Declining Hopes for EU Accession (International Republican Institute, 16 March 2020)
Skopje, North Macedonia—A new nationwide poll of North Macedonia by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research reveals a decline in the belief that the country will secure European Union (EU) membership in the near future, as well as mounting economic anxieties. These findings come one month ahead of North Macedonia’s parliamentary elections and follow the EU’s failure to agree to initiate accession negotiations with the country in 2019. The breakdown of EU accession talks has dampened the Macedonian public’s hopes for future membership,” said Paul McCarthy, IRI Regional Director for Europe. “Citizens are now focusing their attention inward, citing economic issues as the most important problems facing North Macedonia today.” Although 80 percent of citizens support North Macedonia becoming an EU member, just 28 percent believe that their country will join the EU over the next five years—a seven-point decline since IRI’s last poll in July 2018. Likewise, the proportion of respondents who think EU integration will take longer than ten years has increased by seven points. Respondents also cited “Integration in the EU” as the top issue politicians “talk too much about.” With the prospect of EU integration delayed, the public is turning its attention towards the economy: 52 percent of respondents think issues related to the economy (unemployment, the economic situation, poverty, low or nonpayment of pensions) are the most important problems facing North Macedonia today. However, citizens do not feel that politicians share their priorities: 59 percent of citizens agree that politicians should talk more about these economic issues. These economic anxieties may contribute to a general sense of pessimism regarding the country’s trajectory. Seventy-seven percent of respondents think that today’s generation of young people do not have a good future in North Macedonia, while 50 percent of respondents reported that a family member had emigrated in recent years. “The failure of successive governments to address these issues has likely contributed to the public’s negative economic outlook and heightened emigration,” added McCarthy. On April 12, North Macedonia will hold parliamentary elections, in which about three quarters of citizens are “very” or “somewhat” likely to vote. While a plurality of North Macedonia’s population does not think that any political party is best equipped to grow the economy, the SDSM (18 percent) and VMRO-DPMNE (17 percent) parties share the lead among those who did name a preferred party to revamp the economy. Overall, findings show SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE in a dead heat and ahead of all other parties in the lead up to next month’s elections. When asked which party they would vote for if elections were held next Sunday, 17 percent of voters identified SDSM and 16 percent selected VMRO-DPRMNE.
The survey was conducted on behalf of IRI’s Center for Survey Research by Brima market research firm between January 30 to February 10, 2020. Data was collected using a stratified multistage probability sampling method through in-person, in-home interviews. The sample consists of 1,222 respondents ages 18 and over. The data was weighted for age, gender, region and ethnicity. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.8 percent at the midrange of the 95 percent confidence level. The response rate was 73 percent. This poll was conducted with support from the National Endowment for Democracy.