Vucic-Merkel video meeting: Fast dialogue resumption (Tanjug/Beta/B92/RTS/RTV)
Vucic and Merkel are in favor of a rapid resumption of dialogue in order to reach a comprehensive agreement on full normalization of Belgrade-Pristina relations. This was stated in a joint statement following a video conference by Serbian President Vucic and German Chancellor Merkel. Merkel welcomes the readiness of the President of Serbia to open a dialogue on trade and non-tariff barriers between, as she said, Serbia and Kosovo with EU mediation.
He also welcomes Serbia’s readiness to implement the Brussels Agreement on Integrated Management of the Administrative Line, the first step of which will be the commissioning of Merdare Station, with Vucic insisting on full respect and implementation of all provisions of the Brussels Agreement. President of Serbia and German Chancellor are in favor of a rapid resumption of dialogue in order to reach a comprehensive agreement on the full normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina. “I am grateful for the German and your personal attention and concern for Serbia and the countries of the Western Balkans,” Vucic said.
He said that he would take all necessary steps to successfully continue the dialogue and avoid steps that would damage relations between Belgrade and Pristina in order to create a constructive and open atmosphere for negotiations. Officials exchanged views on close bilateral and economic ties, Serbia’s EU accession process and related reforms, as well as the situation in the region. During the talks, Vucic and Merkel discussed in detail the challenges of controlling the contagious COVID-19 infection.
Brnabic: If needed, the state of emergency will last four months (Tanjug/B92)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Wednesday night that the state of emergency will last four months, if necessary, to save a single human life. She personally believes that the borders of Serbia should be sealed. “If necessary, epidemiologists and infectologists alike say it is not safe to lift a state of emergency, as we have seen countries where drastic measures and a fall in infection and mortality have occurred, and that they had a second peak when they abandoned all measures, so we will be extremely careful”, Brnabic said. She also points out that the President of Serbia is also in favor of sealing the borders. “However, at this point, we can’t find a way to do it constitutionally, because these people are our citizens and we have to let them in.” She says that professionals and experts such as Rodoljub Sabic could do something useful for a change, assisting the government to legally find a way to do it, because that is good for the people currently in Serbia. This is much smarter for all those people who want to come to Serbia and risk their health as well.
Stefanovic: Thousands of potentially infected come to Serbia: 25.000 people in self-isolation (TV Prva/Tanjug)
Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said that people did not respect the recommendations not to come to Serbia and that 70.000 people head towards the country.
He explained to TV Prva that a large number of vehicles were at the border yesterday, but that no one entered Serbia during the traffic ban, which was pronounced from 08.00 pm to 05.00 am.
“All appeals did not bear fruit. Over 70.000 people tried to enter Serbia and thus violated health security. From 20h to 05h, vehicles could not enter the territory of the Republic of Serbia, when the ban ended, one part of the people returned, and one has entered our territory”, the minister said. “About 25.000 people have some measure of self-isolation, which we closely monitor,” Stefanovic said. He explained that for everyone to come there was a decision on self-isolation, but also quarantine. “All of them are subject to self-isolation or quarantine measures. Quarantines are being established today for those people who come from the hotspot, especially if they have no place to stay, even though they have our citizenship. All who came are currently in self-isolation,” Stefanovic said. There are also those who violate the measures, and the minister says members of the Minister of Interior are responding. “We have written criminal charges, even for one of the athletes. These people will be held accountable in our courts. Some have been brought to police stations and some have been given extended self-isolation measures,” Stefanovic says. He added that the vast majority of citizens last night complied with the government’s prohibition of movement.
Government suspends international passenger traffic from Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport until further notice (Tanjug/Beta)
The Serbian government passed today new decisions aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including the decision to suspend international passenger traffic from Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport until further notice. This decision enters into force today at 12.00 and all airplanes that have taken off from their departure destinations by that time will be able to land safely to the Belgrade airport. Self-isolation measures are binding for all passengers that land and their violation will be strictly controlled and punished in line with the law. The government passed a decision that the closure of public service counters does not apply to the Tax Administration, Customs Administration and the Treasury Administration since their closure would disturb the smooth functioning of the state, especially during the period of the state of emergency.
Number of coronavirus cases rises to 97 in Serbia (N1)
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Serbia rose to 97, the Health Care Ministry said in its 8:00 am bulletin on the covid19.rs web site. The number of confirmed cases rose by 8 since the previous bulletin on Wednesday evening which said that 89 people had been confirmed to have contracted the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, adding that 46 people had been tested between bulletins. Three of the eight people confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus were released to their homes for self-isolation while five were hospitalized in generally stable condition without complications, the bulletin said. The Torlak Institute laboratory has tested a total of 486 suspected coronavirus cases to date.
Army of Serbia secures borders, migrant centers, hospitals, airports (Beta)
Based on a government decision to introduce a state of emergency across the country, the Army of Serbia will control the national borders, secure and supervise all refugee and asylum centers and guard all hospitals as of 18 March, the Ministry of Defense reported. “The Army of Serbia has accepted to control Serbia’s refugee and asylum centers so that the police could use its resources to supervise implementation of the Serbian government’s emergency measures to restrict movement and isolate the elderly,” the Ministry explained in a press release. According to the previous set of measures to curb the outbreak of coronavirus, the Serbian troops will also guard public facilities, the hospitals testing for COVID-19 and treating infected patients, airports in Belgrade and Nis, and bus stations in Belgrade, Kragujevac, Nis, Novi Sad and Pancevo. The Army of Serbia assists the border authorities as well, and has also prepared ABHO units for external and internal decontamination to stop the spread of the virus.
Thirty-nine confirmed coronavirus cases in B&H more than 15,000 under medical supervision (FTV)
There are 39 confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Bosnia and Herzegovina
(B&H). Out of that number, 29 cases have been confirmed in Republika Srpska (RS) and ten in the Federation of B&H. More than 15,000 people have been placed under medical supervision. Sanitary inspectors are conducting frequent controls of people in self-isolation, issuing fines for those that do not follow the mandatory measures. The Federation of B&H Civil Protection Headquarters’ measures are in effect and they imply, amongst other things, the work ban for all catering facilities in this entity. The citizens will still be able to resupply at the supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and bakeries. Competent authorities assure the citizens there is no need for panic but urge them to strictly follow the issued measures and recommendations. Two new cases of Coronavirus were registered in the RS, one man and one woman of younger age from Banja Luka. They are both in isolation at home and under supervision of epidemiologist.
B&H Presidency adopts decision on engagement of B&H Armed Forces (BHT1)
The B&H Presidency held an extraordinary session on Wednesday and adopted a decision on engagement of the B&H Armed Forces to support the civil authorities in prevention of the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19 in the tents for accommodation of persons arriving in B&H from foreign countries. The B&H Presidency authorized the B&H Ministry of Defense to allow the use of non-combat material and technical resources and personnel of the B&H Armed Forces in order to support the civil authorities, at the request of competent institutions of the state, the entities and the Brcko District. The authorization for engagement of the B&H Armed Forces will be in force over the period of 30 days. The decision of the B&H Presidency entered into force on the day of adoption. The B&H Ministry of Defense is ready to put their human resources and material-technical means at disposal for setting of quarantines at B&H borders for people who enter B&H and who are supposed to stay in 14-day-long isolation. Deputy B&H Minister of Defense Mirko Okolic confirmed the aforementioned information and added that he expects that the Ministry of Defense will receive requests on Wednesday evening or on Thursday morning. The B&H Armed Forces will start setting up first quarantine tents at border crossings in B&H on Thursday. Quarantine tents will first be set up at Gradiska border crossing and then at other border crossings as well.
Dodik: Set up check point of our police at each border crossing; It is high time this was done at inter-entity boundary line as well (RTRS)
Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik stressed that Banja Luka and its citizens demonstrated high level of responsibility, especially the RS University-Clinical Center in Banja Luka which, according to him, did everything to protect children and new mothers and secure additional capacities in case there is spread of COVID-19 epidemic. Dodik underlined that the RS with a series of measures has to regulate the issue of its self-defense, noting that irresponsible officers at border crossings who are taking money and allowing people to cross into B&H without issuing orders on self-isolation are jeopardizing everyone. He believes that this would be solved by deploying the RS police along border crossings. “To set up a check point of our police at each border crossing to control entry of those citizens. Also, I think it is high time this was done at the inter-entity boundary line as well,” Dodik underlined. He stressed that he is dissatisfied with the B&H Presidency’s reaction to the RS’ request for the B&H Armed Forces (AF) to set up tents which would serve as quarantine for citizens coming from coronavirus-affected areas, noting that there is still no operational decision of the B&H Presidency. “There is a decision in principle to engage and set up tents. However, there is no operational decision which would say – do that. One is probably philosophizing about that,” Dodik underlined. Dodik said that he believes the concept of European solidarity in crisis situations proved to be unsustainable. Dodik stressed that China is a proven friend of the RS and that it is helping in continuity, adding that besides relying on itself, the RS also relies on Serbia. “I am in contact with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. I believe that the series of measures they are taking – they are taking care of us as well. We primarily need to solve the problem of supply both of the economy and the market and I believe that we will solve this in the coming days,” Dodik said, adding that Serbia is demonstrating readiness to share part of the equipment it is procuring across the world with the RS. Dodik underlined that one did everything to help businessmen and that it is necessary to establish a reserve fund where all available funds will be in one account for interventions during the crisis. He noted that employers who lay off workers will not get assistance. “Do not lay off workers. Do not reduce their salaries. When the time comes, we will sit down. We are trying to secure significant part of funds,” Dodik underlined.
Extraordinary session of B&H Coordination Body for Protection and Rescue held (O kanal)
An extraordinary session of B&H Coordination Body for Protection and Rescue was held on Wednesday and it was dedicated to the discussion on the situation with Coronavirus in B&H. Among other things, medical experts engaged as members of this team stated that COVID-19 is very lethal disease and that everyone should act accordingly. Following the session, Head of the Coordination Team and B&H Minister of Security Fahrudin Radoncic said that many citizens are not taking current situation seriously and are failing to respect measures ordered by competent institutions. Minister Radoncic also stated that it was decided that citizens of some neighboring countries who had been allowed to cross B&H border by presenting only their ID card will not be allowed to do it anymore, because this prevents B&H to have control about the number of people entering and leaving B&H. Also, experts deem that B&H will face real dimension of this problem in some 15 days when the number of infected ones could increase significantly. Radoncic emphasized that in case of such scenario, it will be requested for state penitentiary in Istocno Sarajevo to be turned into isolation chamber. He added that same may be requested for military barracks ‘Grebak’ and some other military barracks. According to O Kanal, Radoncic stressed that migrants moving freely on streets of B&H cities may represent focal point of Coronavirus and that it is necessary to deal with this problem. Reporter noted that some of those who arrived to B&H from abroad and were ordered into home isolation have not been respecting these orders. Radoncic noted that around 80,000 citizens have arrived in B&H from foreign countries over the past seven days, while 79,000 citizens have left the country. He stressed that more rigorous measures should be introduced at the border crossings in B&H because of that. Nevertheless, it is somewhat encouraging that around 1,600 citizens have entered B&H over the past two days. “The B&H Armed Forces reported on the number of tents and their potentials. We were informed on that. The B&H Ministry of Defense should now receive a decision from the B&H Presidency, which is the only commander of the B&H Armed Forces, so that the process of setting up those tents can begin as soon as possible. People must know that, whoever arrives in B&H, we want to discourage them by saying that they will have to go into 14-day quarantine in the tents with the worst possible conditions, because we have no time to invest so much money and human resources in persons who are irresponsible and who want to come here no matter what, instead of waiting and staying where they currently live and work until the crisis has passed,” Radoncic warned. Also, the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) will be asked to stop the railway traffic for passengers.
Federation of B&H Civil Protection Headquarters introduces two new measures due to coronavirus pandemic (FTV)
The Federation of B&H (FB&H) Civil Protection Headquarters held a session in Sarajevo on Wednesday in order to discuss the current situation caused by the new coronavirus COVID-19. According to the latest information, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has registered nine cases of the infection so far, while 8,000 people are currently in self-isolation and under medical supervision. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Civil Protection Administration introduced two measures on this occasion – the crisis headquarters of all cantons were ordered to change the working hours for healthcare workers, their coworkers and all employees in the healthcare sector, while specialists and sub-specialists who currently attend education outside their place of residence will be requested to return to the healthcare institutions where they are employed. The order to ban public gatherings and close all restaurants and coffee bars entered into force in the FB&H early in the morning. Only grocery stores, bakeries, pharmacies and gas stations are allowed to be open during their standard working hours.
SC government adopts decision to declare state of natural and other disaster in SC (N1)
The Sarajevo Canton (SC) government adopted on Wednesday a decision to declare state of natural and other disaster in Sarajevo Canton. The government also decided to ban public gatherings and close the abovementioned facilities. Police officers of the SC Ministry of Interior are controlling whether people abide by the orders for self-isolation, which currently apply to 700 persons in the SC. They reported the cases in which they did not find those persons at their place of residence on Wednesday. By the order of the FB&H Civil Protection Headquarters, a work ban for all catering facilities in this entity came into force as of Wednesday morning. For now, the order is being respected in the SC, but owners of small businesses fear this decision will affect their work, create great loses and lead to a situation where many workers will lose their jobs. SC inspectors conducted frequent controls on Wednesday and saw that all catering facilities complied with the issued order. Soup kitchens have been excluded from this decision and their managers say this situation has not affected their work in a major way. The SC government adopted a decision to limit the movement of migrants in SC and to place them in reception centers, in order to prevent and alleviate consequences of coronavirus spreading. The migrants are banned from leaving the reception centers and this decision will stay in force during the time of applying of the SC government and FB&H government’s decision on declaring of state of natural disaster.
USC Crisis Headquarters bans work of restaurants, coffee bars and other services due to coronavirus pandemic (BHT1)
The Una-Sana Canton (USC) Crisis Headquarters banned the work of restaurants and coffee bars, betting shops, fitness centers and other facilities as of Tuesday, due to the current situation caused by the new coronavirus COVID-19. Together with the police, the USC Administration for Inspection Affairs is checking if everyone abides by the instructions and orders. They are also checking if citizens abide by the orders for self-isolation. As many as 466 orders for self-isolation have been issued in the USC so far, 95 of which have been issued since Wednesday morning. Spokesperson for the USC Ministry of Interior (MoI) Ale Siljdedic noted that most citizens are responsible and they abide by the measures and instructions they received. However, there is a certain number of irresponsible individuals who do not abide by the decisions on self-isolation, he added.
Border police officer arrested for allowing persons from countries with COVID-19 to enter B&H in return for money (ATV)
A member of the Border Police of B&H, who was stationed at a border crossing in Brcko, was arrested on Tuesday under suspicion of accepting bribe. Namely, according to the allegations, on March 15 the mentioned police officer enabled entrance of three persons (to B&H), arriving from the region which was banned from entering due to coronavirus. The three persons should have been denied entry or placed in 14-day quarantine. Director of the B&H Border Police Zoran Galic said that irresponsible behavior of all police officers will be sanctioned. Galic said that the three persons have been identified and isolated, preventing possible consequences, which was also confirmed by the Spokesperson of the B&H Prosecutor’s Office Boris Grubesic. “Unfortunately, we had a chance to see that even measures which we introduced upon our request at border crossings are being violated in such way that the state border officers are taking money to let people pass without issuing them decisions on self-isolation. This is so dangerous that RS, today already, will have to order a number of its measures and regulate issues of its self-defense because we simply cannot allow ourselves to be placed in hands of irresponsible individuals at border crossings,” Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said.
Minimum of 6,000 people receive decision on isolation in B&H (Hayat)
A minimum of 6,000 people received a decision on isolation in B&H due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Hayat reported that this number may be even bigger, bearing in mind that sanitary inspections in the entities did not reveal the latest data. B&H citizens who return to B&H are obliged to home isolation or else, they may pay fine in the amount of up to BAM 10,000 or even go to prison. When it comes to the Federation of B&H, sanitary inspectors issued nearly 4,000 decisions on isolation, while inspectors in RS issued 2,100 decisions on self-isolation. At the same time, citizens of South Korea, China, Japan, Italy, Iran, France, Spain, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland and Romania are banned from entering B&H. Representatives of the Red Cross of the Federation of B&H said that thousands of people in isolation are going through some kind of depression and fear. In this regard, the Red Cross of the Federation of B&H established a phone line that citizens in isolation can call in order to get psychological help. Spokesperson of the Red Cross of the Federation of B&H Amina Kurtagic said that they notice that people are sad, confused and disturbed due to the current situation. Kurtagic said that they were surprised with a big number of calls that they receive.
President Milanovic addresses the nation on Coronavirus crisis (Hina)
President Zoran Milanovic addressed the nation on Wednesday, saying that Croatia has taken appropriate action to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and calling on the public to follow instructions from the National Civil Protection Authority. “Today I signed a decision amending the Civil Protection Act giving greater powers to the National Civil Protection Authority. I expect all of us to seriously adhere to the instructions and decisions issued by the Authority because in this crisis that we are faced with, the state is working for our benefit and it is working a lot, and in my opinion it is doing a good job,” Milanovic said in an address to the nation which was aired by all national television stations. “However, the personal responsibility of each of us, to adhere to the rules that we have been talking about for days, will make the difference between success and failure, between the length or shortness of this crisis, not necessarily between life and death,” he underscored. Milanovic said that the crisis was addressed in a good way from the start. “The crisis, after all, is not so big. It is good that we approached it relatively seriously from the start and not at one moment did we fall victim to low or heavy feelings, much less panic, which is a word I do not wish to use at all,” the President said.
Milanovic said that Croatia was not at war, but in a crisis, facing a challenge. “We are in a crisis that will pass, I dare say, in a few months. However, its consequences, particularly its economic and social consequences, will remain. The question is when we will be able to fully open our borders and function the way we have virtually until yesterday,” Milanovic said. “Like any crisis, this one too will end with a certain amount of damage done, but it will also teach us lessons that we will be able to rely upon when a new crisis comes upon us,” he added. “Economic damage will certainly be considerable, and we need to realize that and accept it. What the government is doing right now are temporary measures which I support. Their budgetary and monetary effects will be clearer to us from day to day, from week to week, and these measures will certainly be changed,” the President said. Milanovic said he was encouraged by the fact that Croatia was doing more or less everything that its EU neighbors were doing, “some of which are among the richest and best organised countries in the world, with the best functioning public healthcare systems, yet things that we can call mistakes happen even there. This is a chance for us to show that we are mature people and responsible individuals.” Referring to stories that still not enough tests were being carried out in Croatia, he said that the public healthcare system was showing solid results, praising all healthcare professionals for their efforts.
In Croatia, 99 are infected with coronavirus (HRT)
In Croatia, 99 people are infected with coronavirus. This was confirmed by the Croatian Institute of Public Health Krunoslav Capak. As of midnight, decisions banning public gatherings and sporting events, suspension of work in restaurants and shops other than food and pharmacies, suspension of sports and recreation centers and suspension of religious gatherings is effect.
On Wednesday Croatian Parliament approved new and expanded authorities to the National Crisis Center. The new powers allowed the center to adopt a decision to close down all non-essential services. Based on the National Crisis Center’s new expanded powers, Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic, who heads up the crisis center, announced on Wednesday that all non-essential services, including bars and restaurants will be close for a thirty-day period as of Thursday. “All non-essential stores are being shut down. We’re not going just sit here and let this stand for the proposed 30 days. We’re going to make daily assessments, which means that it can be adjusted, extended, or annulled altogether depending on how the situation develops,” Bozinovic said. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Finance Minister Zdravko Maric presented to MPs a package of legislative changes and measures aimed at limiting the damage to the economy and preserving jobs. The prime minister called for and received support across the aisle. “Only if we as a society show solidarity will we be able to better survive this crisis. And it is important for all of us to bear the burden equally. This war against the coronavirus will only be won if we stand united. If we do not stand united, we will have bigger problems and bigger losses,” Plenkovic told MPs. He informed MPs that the European Council met on Tuesday and discussed measures against the coronavirus pandemic. There is European solidarity, notably with those who have suffered great losses, he said, adding that he also talked with budget commissioner Johannes Hahn. The Commission has allowed Croatia to utilize €174 million for faster contracting of projects co-funded by the EU, Plenkovic said. In his address to the nation about the coronavirus situation on Wednesday evening President Zoran Milanovic said he supported government’s measures: “The economic damage will definitely be significant, we simply have to accept that fact. I support government’s temporary measures. Their ultimate effect on monetary policy and the budget will become evident from day to day and week to week. These measures will definitely change, as the fight against the virus changes. I am encouraged by the fact that we are doing much the same as our neighbors and other EU member states.”
Montenegro guarantees protection and assistance (CDM)
The country guarantees everyone protection and help, especially to the most vulnerable categories of the population. Continuous and immaculate action in that context must be provided, said Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic. “Montenegro was among a very small number of countries which haven’t reported any case of the coronavirus. However, it was established that our two citizens have been infected. We were ready for that. Our healthcare system, with Government’s measures and activities of other institutions, is well organized and ready to respond to the new situation,” Djukanovic said. According to him, coronavirus pandemic is the greatest scourge in Europe in the modern history and one of the greatest challenges of the humanity. “Taught by negative experience of some European countries, we undertook specific measures duly. The government reacted promptly and adequately, public services have shown high responsibility in this serious situation. We are obliged to abide by the prescribed measures and advice of doctors. We must behave responsibly because that way we can help ourselves and others,” the President said. On the behalf of all citizens, Djukanovic pledged full support for doctors and expressed his gratitude to medical staff. “Individual fate of our people and our country is in their hands. I call on citizens to help them,” the President said. He pointed out it was necessary to let go of political divisions and misunderstanding. “Our ancestors found their way out of any bad situation with sacrifice and togetherness, bravely and reasonably. Our generation is before a specific, historic challenge. Very difficult and uncertain days lie ahead of us, but I am optimist. We must overcome this, we have no other choice. We can do it together. May long live Montenegro,” Djukanovic said.
Six new cases of coronavirus in Montenegro (CDM)
In Montenegro, six more cases of coronavirus have been confirmed, according to the Institute of Public Health. The total number of people with COVID-19 in Montenegro is currently eight. “At 6 pm, there were 3,523 people under medical and health supervision in Montenegro, including our citizens, who arrived in an organized manner and were quarantined for preventive reasons,” stated the Ministry.
New measures of Montenegro’s Ministry of Health (CDM)
Ministry of Economy has informed Montenegrin businessmen that kiosks, facilities for the production of baby products and facilities for the sale of funeral equipment will be exempt from the ban on working. Yesterday, after the meeting of the National Coordination Authority for Contagious Diseases, Ministry of Health has rendered order on the new temporary measures to protect citizens from the spread of the coronavirus. The new measures encompass: ban on the activities of trading facilities, except for pharmacies and facilities where trade of beverages, food, hygiene products, motor fuels, construction materials, products for the protection of plants and planting material, products for feeding animals takes place.
Pendarovski: The fact that we are declaring a state of emergency for the first time indicates how complex the situation in the country is (Republika)
President Stevo Pendarovski declared a state of emergency on Wednesday. Such a decision was taken, as he said in his address to the citizens, for more efficient handling of the coronavirus outbreak. The state of emergency will last for 30 days. During this period, the Government will have to report to Pendarovski on the effects of the measures against the coronavirus, informing him daily about the actions taken and updated plans for future action. The government will continue to operate as interim government. “I just signed the decision to declare a state of emergency on the territory of the whole country. The fact that we are declaring a state of emergency for the first time since our independence indicates how complex the situation in the country is. The elections will have to be postponed, and they will be scheduled only when the opportunity arises,” Pendarovski said in an extraordinary address. He once again urged the citizens to stay home and not travel abroad.
Osmani: EU reaches consensus to launch accession talks with North Macedonia (MIA)
EU has reached a consensus to launch accession talks with North Macedonia, which is unconditional, and that the first intergovernmental conference to be called immediately after a negotiating framework is adopted, Deputy PM for European Affairs Bujar Osmani told Thursday’s news conference. Osmani said that the decision is expected to be confirmed today, and afterwards the General Affairs Council is expected to adopt at its next meeting on 24 March and supported by the European Council at videoconference summit meeting on March 26.
“This is exceptionally good news, not only because it is a consensus reached by all 27 EU member states on all the differences that have existed in the past 15 years and is truly a historic moment for the state. However, today and in the coming days it should be formally confirmed,” Osmani said. The positive news from Brussels, as Osmani said, comes after Permanent Representatives of the EU members states held meeting and discussed about enlargement.
Seven new coronavirus cases confirmed Wednesday evening, total number of patients in Macedonia rises to 42 (Republika)
Seven new coronavirus cases confirmed on Wednesday evening, total number of patients in Macedonia rises to 42. As part of the early screening process for the coronavirus that began in several municipalities, 30 tests were conducted with wider indication and an additional 8 that arrived through the Infectious Diseases Clinic in Skopje this afternoon, Health Minister Venko Filipce informed Wednesday evening. Of the 38 tested, 7 people tested positive for the coronavirus, 3 from Debar and 4 from Skopje. A total of 11 new coronavirus cases have been registered today. Thus, the number of people infected with the virus in the country until 21h is 42. The condition of all patients is stable. Two of the patients have moderate pneumonia, Filipce said. Currently, 22 more tests are pending, also conducted as part of the screening, and the results of these tests will be later today.
As of today, only 6 hours of pedestrian traffic permitted in Albania (Oranews)
The Albanian government further restricts pedestrian traffic after some citizens did not apply self-isolation at home and did not comply with measures from Monday. For this reason, Albanians will be able to leave their apartment only for 6 hours during a day, 4 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon.
Morning 06am to 10am
Afternoon 4pm to 6pm
Prime Minister Edi Rama has announced that anyone who violates this order will not only be fined but also excluded from the state aid packages. Since Monday, 11 people in Tirana, Durres and Vlora have been fined for breaking the government’s decisions.
Number of Coronavirus cases in Albania reaches 64 (ADN)
Director of the Institute of Public Health Albana Fico announced this Thursday that the number of coronavirus cases in Albania has reached 64. As the Director reported, there are 5 new cases during last 24 hours: three of the new infected are Italian citizens and two others are from Kavaja. Moreover, the number of tested persons during last 24 hours is 32, bringing the total number of the suspected cases tested until now to 697. “We are continuing to test suspected cases as an important element for disrupting the transmission chain of COVID-19 infection,” stated Fico.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
China is winning the coronavirus propaganda war (Politico, by Matthew Karnitschnig, 19 March 2020)
Beijing deploys soft power as Europe and US fall short on solidarity.
BERLIN — Judging by the propaganda, this really is war. And China is winning. As Europe struggles to slow the spread of coronavirus and China begins to show signs that it has put the worst of the outbreak behind it, Beijing is engaging in a not-so-subtle PR campaign. China’s main strategy is to show that the country that gave birth to the virus (and then covered it up for weeks, allowing it to spread across the globe unhindered) is on the front lines trying to save humanity, while the EU can’t get its act together and the world’s other superpower is busy pointing fingers. Over the past few days, China has sent planeloads of masks, teams of doctors and even ventilators around the world to help battle the crisis. Chinese billionaire Jack Ma donated one million masks and hundreds of thousands of testing kits to the U.S., with the first load arriving in Seattle on Monday. “We are doing instead of talking. We are the friends not enemy. Could the American do the same to Chinese?” China’s ambassador to South Africa, Lin Songtian, tweeted on Monday. A shipment of 300,000 masks, sent by Chinese charities founded by Ma and his Alibaba empire, arrived in Belgium this week. Chinese state news agency Xinhua published a photograph of one of the containers draped with the slogan “Unity makes strength” in French, Flemish and Chinese. Though the saying serves as the national motto of both Haiti and Bulgaria, it would appear the Chinese were taking a swipe at a lack of solidarity on display in Europe in recent weeks. Italy, by far the hardest hit country in Europe so far, has struggled to get supplies and assistance from its EU partners, for example. Maurizio Massari, Italy’s ambassador to the EU, expressed frustration last week over member countries’ failure to heed a European Commission call to send equipment and supplies. “Unfortunately, not a single EU country responded to the Commission’s call,” he wrote in an op-ed for POLITICO last week. “Only China responded bilaterally. Certainly, this is not a good sign of European solidarity.”
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio rammed home the point by posting a video on Facebook that showed live coverage of a Chinese plane loaded with medical equipment and doctors arriving to help fight the coronavirus. China’s willingness to help has won Beijing praise from the highest levels. World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the Chinese-Italian cooperation a “heartwarming example of solidarity” on Twitter.
“A friend in need is a friend indeed,” Zhang Jun, China’s ambassador to the United Nations, responded. “We’ll do whatever we can to help other countries in fighting the COVID-19.”
Unlike, say, China’s No. 1 rival. As China has polished its global image by dispatching supplies to the countries hit hard by coronavirus, U.S. President Donald Trump has faced questions over his reported attempt to secure exclusive American rights to a vaccine under development in Germany. Though U.S. officials disputed the story, German government representatives insisted it was true and vowed to make any vaccine developed in Germany available to the world. “Viruses don’t have a nationality and neither will the antidote,” German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said during a national address on Monday in a thinly veiled rebuke of Trump, who has begun referring to coronavirus as “the Chinese Virus.” Trump’s decision last week to seal U.S. borders to Europeans without first informing the EU also did little to burnish his image. While such moves have become commonplace in recent days, the aggressive manner in which Trump justified the decision (“When they raise taxes on us, they don’t consult us”) confirmed to many Europeans that he has little interest in helping allies. More surprising is that European countries don’t seem that interested either. Italy isn’t the only country not feeling the Europe’s love.
Serbia, which is in the midst of the circuitous process to join the EU, complained on Monday that the bloc’s ban on the export of critical medical supplies had left the country in the lurch. President Aleksandar Vučić, a politician not known for hiding his emotions at the best of times, unleashed a torrent of criticism on Brussels. “By now you all understood that great international solidarity actually does not exist,” he told a news conference. “European solidarity does not exist. That was a fairy tale.” Melodrama aside, China long ago identified Serbia as an important partner in southeastern Europe and has cultivated Vučić for years by making substantial investments in the country. Vučić often berates the EU for not moving faster on Serbia’s membership application. His critics argue his real goal is to turn his population against the EU because he worries joining the club would threaten his iron grip on power in the country, something authoritarian China welcomes. Whatever the case, Vučić’s appearance — which went viral on social media — offered a huge win for China’s propaganda machine. Vučić, his voice dropping into a dramatic semi-whisper, explained that had sent a special appeal to President Xi Jinping, addressing the Chinese leader as his “brother,” because the Chinese “are the only ones who can help us.” Likely sensing the shift in the PR tide, China has become bolder in recent days in trying to rewrite history, claiming without any evidence that the virus originated not in China, but in the U.S. “More evidence suggests that the virus was not originated at the seafood market in Wuhan at all, not to mention the so called ‘made in China,'” Lin, the Chinese ambassador, tweeted on Monday, as if to prove the maxim that truth is the first casualty of war. Trouble is, with the U.S. facing its own credibility issues in recent years, China’s false narrative threatens to spread as quickly as the coronavirus.