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Belgrade Media Report 22 April 2020

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Wednesday 22 April 2020

LOCAL PRESS

Drecun: If it were not for Belgrade, Serbs in Kosovo would not be able to survive (RTS)
Joksimovic: Important that we hear clear stand of EU and Lajcak on dialogue principles (Tanjug)
Office for Kosovo and Metohija: Belgrade is not blocking transport of goods (RTS/Tanjug)
Quint ambassadors commend government’s response to coronavirus (Tanjug)
Dacic: Powers owe us a report on the virus (Novosti)
Another 224 cases, 1,025 recovered patients (RTS)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

The Constitutional Court of B&H ruled that the ban on the movement of persons under the age of 18 and over the age of 65 violates citizens’ rights (N1)
B&H CoM fails to adopt decision to draw approved funds from IMF (BHT1)
Dodik: I do not understand why the postponement regarding IMF funds; Croats and Bosniaks now have different interpretations, but everything is clearly stated in Letter of Intent (Dnevni avaz)
Dodik: I agree with Radoncic on migrant crisis; Those who entered B&H illegally should be thrown out of B&H immediately (Dnevni avaz)
Dzaferovic and Plenkovic discuss epidemiologic situation and EU-Western Balkans Summit (FTV)
WHO’s Olsavszky: Generally speaking, RS has already achieved certain level of success through flattening curve of number of infected as recommended by WHO (RTRS)
RS Main Coordination Team recommends extending level of population testing (RTRS)
Citizens in quarantines in ZDC interrupt hunger strike (FTV)
First shipment of protective equipment arrives in Brcko from China (Nezavisne novine)
B&H sees 27 new cases, two more fatalities (N1)
Croatia

Another shipment of protective equipment arrives from China (Hina)
In Croatia, there are 1,950 coronavirus patients and a new hotspot has emerged (N1)
Montenegro

Montenegro has the lowest mortality rate of the countries in the region (Dan)
Institute for Public Health confirms one more coronavirus case in Budva (CDM)
Fajon interview: The EU keeps encouraging enlargement process (Pobjeda)
Republic of North Macedonia

SDSM is reportedly trying to reconvene the parliament (Republika/360 Degrees)
No parliament, no elections: Macedonia is in legislative limbo (Republika)
President Pendarovski has phone call with EU’s Lajcak (MIA)
Interior Minister proposes that relaxed curfew also applies on weekends (TV Telma)
Spasovski: Measures not determined by any religious holidays or efforts of individuals (MIA/Slobodna TV)
In North Macedonia 48 patients recovered, 28 new cases of covid-19 confirmed, the total number of diagnosed cases 1259, 1 person died (Libertas)
Albania

Law Commission approves government’s decision to postpone state of emergency (Radio Tirana)
Rama: Albania to slowly ease restriction measures (ADN)
Kosovo gains energy independence (Radio Tirana)
President greets Kosovo’s deal for electricity independence (ADN)
EU donated 20 000 test kits for Albania (Radio Tirana)
In Albania 25 new Coronavirus cases reported, Ministry assures situation under control (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

Serbian envoy to Turkey grateful for aid to fight virus (Anadolu Agency)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Drecun: If it were not for Belgrade, Serbs in Kosovo would not be able to survive (RTS)

 

The Chairperson of the Serbian parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun has told the morning press review of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) that extreme political instability if noticeable in Kosovo and Metohija. “The situation is utterly contradictory,

it is not known who is doing what, who is leading what. There is formally some president and some prime minister, a new government is hinted at, but Kurti is still working as some prime minister. End to this instability is not in sight, which may result in new elections,” notes Drecun.

He points out that the position of the Serbs is extremely important in every UNMIK report, but that this position has not been improved. “Even the relations among the Albanians has deteriorated, the dialogue has stopped. I don’t see any progress achieved in Kosovo and Metohija, on the contrary, there has been a setback,” says Drecun. Commenting the wish of the Albanians to dismiss Richard Grenell, Drecun notes they are bothered with the possibility of reaching a compromise where Serbia would not be a complete loser. “We see that, apart from the engagement of the White House to move the resolution process, Albanian lobbyists and the so-called deep state, which have been active for decades on separating Kosovo and Metohija from Serbia and creating a greater Albania, are very much engaged. They are not just sitting and doing nothing. We also have the engagement of the leading European states that are on the same path as this deep state, and their goals are opposed to a compromise,” he says. He says their goal is to completely prevent the resumption of talks, for everything to be unacceptable for Belgrade. “We don’t want to talk at all if the goal is recognition of Kosovo. Everybody except Thaci, who is saving his skin from indictments before the court for KLA, are working on preventing the reaching of a compromise solution. We see a strong link between Albanian parties and the international community,” notes Drecun. If this continues, such a situation will not lead to the resumption of talks and reaching of a solution. “The situation over there is without perspective except for criminals. If it were not for Serbia, the Serbs would not be able to survive,” said Drecun.

 

Joksimovic: Important that we hear clear stand of EU and Lajcak on dialogue principles (Tanjug)

 

The EU Special Envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajcak has not received an easy task, Serbian Minister for EU Integration Jadranka Joksimovic assesses, adding that under the present circumstances it is still impossible to renew the dialogue in full capacity because Albin Kurti’s government has been toppled in the meantime. Joksimovic said in a written statement to Tanjug that it is important that we hear a clear stand of the EU and Lajcak on the principles of the future dialogue and a detailed exchange of opinions on the hitherto achieved in the dialogue, before the necessary and sufficient conditions for talks on reaching a comprehensive agreement on normalization are created at all. She says that Belgrade is behaving in a responsible manner, it is monitoring the situation, adding that President Vucic had talked with Lajcak over the phone. “I believe that the President presented clearly to Lajcak our positions regarding the non-implemented obligations by Pristina, with which Lajcak will certainly be dealing as the EU mediator’s representative,” notes Joksimovic. Three days ago, it was seven years since the signing of the Brussels agreement, and Joksimovic says that we have a result that reflects in a certain way the failure of the joint foreign and security policy of the EU as the guarantor and mediator to ensure for the signed issues to be implemented. The then high representative Catherine Ashton has also signed the Brussels agreement, Joksimovic recalls, adding that with this that agreement had become part of the joint EU foreign and security policy. “Pristina, apart from numerous other unconstructive moves, has also introduced 100 percent taxes and violated the CEFTA regional agreement,” says Joksimovic.

 

Office for Kosovo and Metohija: Belgrade is not blocking transport of goods (RTS/Tanjug)

 

Kosovo Minister for Infrastructure Lumir Abdixhiku claims that Belgrade blocked transportation of goods from Kosovo. Reacting to this statement, the Office for Kosovo and Metohija underlines that at issue is fake news. “Certain media and political circles, aimed at discrediting Serbia, have issued fake news on the blockade of trucks towards Serbia proper. This is not the first fake news of this kind over the past period, but we expect the last one, because the pandemic should not be the reason for spreading propaganda and lies aimed against cooperation in stopping the pandemic,” stated the Office.

 

Quint ambassadors commend government’s response to coronavirus (Tanjug)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic met today with the Quinta ambassadors in Belgrade – the United States, Great Britain, Italy, Germany and France and Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia. The officials discussed the current situation regarding the coronavirus pandemic and Serbia’s cooperation with EU countries and partners in overcoming the current crisis.

Brnabic informed the ambassadors about the current situation and the measures taken by Serbia in accordance with epidemiological data and expert advice. She said the epidemiological study is expected to be started soon by the Faculty of Medicine in Belgrade. In their talks, the ambassadors welcomed the measures taken by the government of Serbia to deal with this crisis.

Speaking about Serbia’s strategic priorities in the aftermath of the crisis, the Prime Minister said that the focus would remain on further strengthening the health system and especially eHealth and the overall digitalization of health. She added that the e-Government and education reforms implemented earlier confirmed the importance of all e-services precisely in the situation when we faced a pandemic. European integration and regional stability remain Serbia’s strategic priorities, she said, adding that the focus will remain on economic and rule of law reforms. She once again thanked for the help and support the EU and other partners have sent to Serbia. The officials also discussed the economic measures presented by the Serbian government to assist the economy in combating coronavirus.

 

Dacic: Powers owe us a report on the virus (Novosti)

 

Serbia, and I believe we are not the only ones in this, expects the launching of a broad dialogue in international forums, primarily in the United Nations and the Security Council, so the entire world would be given answers about the origin of the corona virus, suspicions on a biological war, consequences the pandemic will leave. We need talks on how the world and international relations will look like in the future, what is the destiny of numerous international political and economic organizations and projects that exist now, and which have failed to a greater or smaller degree in the response to this crisis. I have in mind here the EU, but also NATO, the UN, OSCE, IMF…Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told Novosti. He says the big powers, as well as the UN and Security Council, owe certain answers on the corona virus, among other things on whether it is natural or from a laboratory. Looking at everything that is happening, Dacic says that the policy conducted by Serbia over the past years has turned out to be right: “It is good that we based national interests on strengthening bilateral ties with certain world powers, such as China, Russia, Turkey, but also the UAE and other important countries. And what is the reaction of the UNSC in all this? Well, you see for yourselves that the SC held only one session on Covid 19 during the month of April.”

 

Another 224 cases, 1,025 recovered patients (RTS)

 

Until 3pm there have been another 224 cases, in total 7,114 infected. Another four deaths, in total 134 deaths. The number of recovered patients is 1,025. There are 3,266 patients in hospitals, 103 patients are on respirators while 73 of them have been taken off from them.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

The Constitutional Court of B&H ruled that the ban on the movement of persons under the age of 18 and over the age of 65 violates citizens’ rights (N1)

 

The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) today ruled that the ban on the movement of persons under the age of 18 and over the age of 65 as a result of the coronavirus epidemic violates citizens’ rights. The Constitutional Court of B&H concluded that the impugned orders of the Federation of B&H (FB&H) Civil Protection Staff (prohibiting the movement of persons under 18 years of age and over 65 in the Federation of B&H) violated the right to freedom of movement under Article 2 of the Constitution of B&H / Protocol No. 4 and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (European Convention) vis-à-vis the appellants and all other persons in the relevant factual and legal situation. It is directed that the government of the FB&H and the FB&H Civil Protection Headquarters, within five days from the date of receipt of this decision, align the Order of the FB&H Civil Defense Headquarters of March 27, 2020 with the standards referred to in Article 2 / Protocol No. 4 of the Constitution of B&H and the European Convention. It was further ordered that the FB&H government and the FB&H Civil Protection Headquarters inform the Constitutional Court of the implementation of the order referred to in this decision within three days. The appeals were rejected as part of a motion to quash the Federal Civil Protection Order of 27 March 2020. In the Constitutional Court’s view, the impugned measures do not meet the “proportionality” requirement of Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 and the European Convention, because the impugned orders do not show the basis of the estimates of the FB&H Civil Protection Staff that the disputed groups concerned increased risk of contracting or transmitting Covid-19. Furthermore, the possibility of introducing milder measures, if such risk justifiably exist, was not considered, was not strictly limited in time, nor was the obligation of their regular review to ensure that they lasted only as long as was “necessary” in line with the Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 and the European Convention, that is, to alleviate or abolish as soon as the situation permits.

 

B&H CoM fails to adopt decision to draw approved funds from IMF (BHT1)

 

At an extraordinary telephone session that was held on Tuesday, the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Council of Ministers (CoM) failed to adopt a decision to draw the funds in the amount of 330 million Euros from the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF Executive Board approved the loan on Monday evening. None of the Ministers from the ranks of Bosniaks voted in favor of adoption of this decision. “The B&H CoM failed to adopt the decision to draw the IMF’s RFI funds in order to finance the growing needs of healthcare sector and the measures of economic stabilization. The B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic, the B&H Minister of Defense Sifet Podzic and the B&H Deputy Minister of Human Rights and Refugees Dzevad Mahmutovic did not vote in favor of the decision” reads a press release issued by the B&H CoM. A press release issued by the B&H Ministry of Finance and Treasury reads that the Bosniak Ministers requested that the decision to accept the loan arrangement with the IMF is adopted based on the B&H Law on Borrowing, Debt and Guarantees. B&H Minister of Finance and Treasury Vjekoslav Bevanda deems that such request is unfounded and unacceptable because this would not be a typical act of borrowing. He reminded of the previous arrangements with the IMF, in which the case was about financing based on the membership in this institution. “After difficult talks, negotiations and consensuses, we reached the point of a technical issue. Is it a problem that I am the proponent? I do not know, but this is shocking and unbelievable,” Bevanda stressed. On the other hand, B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic argued that the decision to draw the funds does not comply with the Letter of Intent either, aside from the fact that it is legally unfounded. Therefore, she requested from Bevanda to adjust it. What seems to be a problem is distribution of the funds within the Federation of B&H (FB&H). Turkovic explained that the funds were supposed to be distributed between the entities in a way that the Federation of B&H gets 62 percent and Republika Srpska (RS) 38 percent, while the FB&H would then determine how to distribute the funds to the cantons. “The Article 3 provides a new interpretation. I am talking about the decision at the level of the B&H CoM, which now mentions distribution between the cantons all of a sudden. The cantons were thus included into a single decision at the state level. This is not in accordance with the Letter of Intent,” Turkovic explained. Commenting on the issue, SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic stated that Bevanda needs to harmonize the decision with the IMF’s decision as soon as possible in order for the decision itself to be adopted. B&H House of Representatives (HoR) Speaker Denis Zvizdic (SDA) expressed hope that disagreements over the arrangement, if any, will be resolved very soon so that the IMF’s loan can be fully operational. FB&H Prime Minister Fadil Novalic commented on the failure of the CoM to adopt the decision and said that certain details were not regulated, like the one that defines who will return the loan. Novalic added that this will be defined in some future discussions between the IMF and the CoM. ATV reminds that this is not the first time that Bosniak leaders obstructed the arrangement between B&H and the IMF. First time this was done was at the recent session of the Fiscal Council of B&H, when Bosniak members refused to attend the session. They refused to sign the Letter of Intent, but days after that the agreement was made and the document was signed through an agreement made between leaders of the three largest parties in B&H. Minister of Finance and Treasury of B&H Vjekoslav Bevanda (HDZ B&H) said that “obstruction have continued and I see no purpose and where they lead”.

 

Dodik: I do not understand why the postponement regarding IMF funds; Croats and Bosniaks now have different interpretations, but everything is clearly stated in Letter of Intent (Dnevni avaz)

 

Member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said that he is tired because of the fact that we in B&H are dealing with the same issues several times. Commenting the decision of Council of Ministers not to withdraw funds from the IMF credit, which were aimed for financing of increased healthcare needs and recovery of economy, Dodik said that this was an unnecessary decision and “more technical than essential”, because many things were agreed before. “I do not understand what this is now all about. The essential decision was reached at the meeting of leaders and Fiscal Council, when exact elements of that arrangement were established concerning the scope of interest rate redemption and other things. The fact is that it was agreed how this needs to be divided between the entities and Brcko District and within the FB&H the arrangement was determined which should follow the distribution between cantons and FB&H level,” said Dodik. This is why Dodik deems that “negative attention is given to all this without reasons”, arguing that the funds are operational and he believes that this issue will be solved shortly, adding that it is necessary what was agreed at the meeting of leaders. He stressed that unfortunately Croats and Bosniaks are now differently interpreting this, while everything is clearly stated in the Letter of Intent. “It was clearly stated there that redistribution of funds will be carried out in ratio that they agreed, which is 50% for the FB&H and 50% for the cantons. This is the case because the cantons have certain competencies concerning the healthcare and employed workers. I do not know what changed now and why the postponement, nor I wish to be an arbiter. However, it is tedious and harmful for the state for us to deal with one issue over and over again. This consumes energy,” said Dodik. Asked how important it is for everyone in B&H to hold on to each other in situation of the pandemic, Dodik said that B&H Presidency adopted 18 important decisions in order to establish a certain framework. However, he expressed surprise by the inability of local officials to reach agreement on their own on the issue of IMF arrangement. “I am sorry that foreigners had to organize a meeting to solve our important internal issue. This was unnecessary and returned B&H to the level of foreign interventionism. We need to reach decisions on our own. It is a fact that in the first weeks of the pandemic we could not count on the European Union, but only on ourselves,” stressed Dodik.

 

Dodik: I agree with Radoncic on migrant crisis; Those who entered B&H illegally should be thrown out of B&H immediately (Dnevni avaz)

 

B&H Presidency member Milorad Dodik said that he supports the stance of B&H Security Minister and SBB B&H leader Fahrudin Radoncic concerning the migrant crisis. “I agree with Radoncic concerning the migrants. Those who entered illegally should be immediately thrown out of B&H. This is not a humanitarian issue, but security one. I am glad that a certain voice of that kind is coming from Sarajevo and from a man who is responsible for that. If someone remembers I spoke about this earlier. If the EU made a promise, it should deal with that, but not on B&H’s territory. We cannot endure another six to seven thousand migrants besides all the problems we have,” said Dodik.

 

Dzaferovic and Plenkovic discuss epidemiologic situation and EU-Western Balkans Summit (FTV)

 

Chair of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic had a telephone conversation with Prime Minister of Croatia Andrej Plenkovic on Tuesday. The main topic of this conversation was the epidemiologic situation in B&H and Croatia in regards to Coronavirus pandemic. Two officials agreed that both countries have been successfully tackling the pandemic. Plenkovic expressed preparedness of Croatia to provide assistance to B&H in form of medical equipment if such assistance is required. Plenkovic and Dzaferovic also discussed upcoming the EU-Western Balkans Summit that should be held in Zagreb on 6 May. They exchanged opinions on possible models of this summit in regards to Coronavirus pandemic.

 

WHO’s Olsavszky: Generally speaking, RS has already achieved certain level of success through flattening curve of number of infected as recommended by WHO (RTRS)

 

The Head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Office to B&H Victor Olsavszky spoke about the epidemiological situation in the RS and B&H due to coronavirus pandemic, the global situation and vaccines, on the occasion of his visit to Banja Luka on Tuesday and a meeting with the RS officials. He said that his visit is part of a regular cooperation since B&H is a member of the WHO and this is a two-way cooperation, meaning that the WHO brings expert knowledge to the country and also learns from the country – in this case about the COVID-19 pandemic. He added that the goal is to collect information on the disease and measures the WHO member countries take in the fight against the pandemic. Olsavszky said that three possible scenarios with regards to the development of the pandemic in B&H include termination of the virus transmission from one persons to another, a repeated wave of transmission and a continuous pandemic with lower intensity. He reminded that he opts for the second scenario, i.e. the recurrent wave of the virus transmission is most likely to happen along with continuous virus transmission of low intensity. According to Olsavszky, this mean that another wave of the pandemic could be expected in October or November, but after this first wave ends there needs to be assessment on how to accept the new wave of infection. He stressed that coming back to a normal life needs to be done gradually and it needs to be carefully assessed which measures will be the first one lifted and in which manner, and after that people will need to adapt to a new way of life because this problem will not disappear instantly and life will have to go on with the virus until there is possibility to introduce strong preventive measures, such as vaccines. Olsavszky added that the vaccination against the virus is the most burning issue now. He reminded that certain pre-clinical studies and experiments are underway to develop the vaccines against COVID-19, and although several years are needed to develop the cure there are expectations that the vaccine will be developed within a year. Olsavszky assessed that generally speaking, the RS has already achieved certain level of success through flattening the curve of the number of the infected as recommended by the WHO, and now the question is what needs to be done to reduce the persons-to-person transmission. He concluded that the main message is to continue with application of the current protective measures for the population and certain restrictive measures imposed by authorities to slow the spread of COVID-19.

 

RS Main Coordination Team recommends extending level of population testing (RTRS)

 

The RS Main Coordination Team assessed at the meeting in Banja Luka on Tuesday that the RS has enough coronavirus test kits. The RS Main Coordination Team recommended the RS Public Health Institute to extended the level of population testing, especially for persons who are exposed the most due to their work, such as medical workers, police officers, service sector workers, etc. The RS Main Coordination Team assessed the current epidemiological situation in the RS as stable and recommended lifting the ban on work for certain service sector companies as of 27 April. Participants at the meeting concluded that the formation of three funds to help the economy amid the coronavirus crisis is at the final stage.

 

Citizens in quarantines in ZDC interrupt hunger strike (FTV)

 

Citizens isolated in quarantines established in Zenica-Doboj Canton (ZDC) interrupted hunger strike launched on Monday after they were informed that they will be tested for Coronavirus as of Wednesday and that the period of quarantine isolation will be reduced from 28 to 14 days. Currently, as many as 178 people have been placed in quarantines established in seven hotels and motels in ZDC and majority of them are people employed in the EU countries. ZDC Minister of Healthcare Adnan Jupic stated that some 80 percent of people ordered into isolation in abovementioned quarantines are B&H citizens who attempted to leave B&H in order to return to their jobs in the European countries. Jupic added that as soon as they crossed B&H borders they were returned to this country. Since new arrival of B&H citizens coming from abroad is expected in upcoming days, ZDC authorities launched activities to establish new quarantines in this canton. Jupic stated that the ZDC Ministry will not manage the issue of quarantine facilities any longer and the hunger strike initiated by people accommodated in the facilities in the ZDC. He added that this is the exclusive competence of the FB&H Civil Protection Crisis HQ.

 

First shipment of protective equipment arrives in Brcko from China (Nezavisne novine)

 

The first batch of protective equipment from China – approximately 4.5 tons of equipment worth a total of some BAM 380,000 – arrived in the District of Brcko on Tuesday. This equipment will be used to fight the coronavirus infections in the District. Mayor of Brcko Sinisa Milic said that the first batch of assistance contains 300,000 protective masks, 300,000 gloves, and 2,000 protective suits. The second shipment is expected to arrive next week, and will contain 10,000 medical masks, 10,000 protective suits and 3,000 protective goggles. “Our medical workers need this equipment in order to be able to continue doing their job in line with standards and protecting the citizens, while at the same time protecting themselves as well,” said Milic. He added that after the arrival of this protective equipment, one can say that the healthcare system in the District of Brcko is equipped and capable of dealing with the coronavirus epidemic.

 

B&H sees 27 new cases, two more fatalities (N1)

 

B&H has registered a total of 27 new Covid-19 patients and two deaths caused by the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, healthcare authorities confirmed in their daily press conferences. According to official data by B&H’s Civil Affairs Ministry, published every day by 1 pm, the country now has 1,368 confirmed patients and 53 fatalities caused by Covid-19. 460 patients have recovered. The FB&H has tested another 634 patients and 11 turned out positive to the novel coronavirus, bringing the total in this half of the country to 770. Currently, there are 595 active cases and 143 have recovered. The region has recorded 32 fatalities caused by the virus. Of the total of 281 lab tests that were performed over the past 24 hours in the RS, 16 were positive for the novel coronavirus, which brings the tally in this half of the country to 580. Nineteen patients have died and 306 recovered. The new infections were recorded in seven different local communities but they all had a close contact with previously confirmed infected patients. Ninety-seven patients are being treated at the University Clinical Centre in Banja Luka, with 38 patients showing serious symptoms and six are connected to ventilators. The Brcko District counts 18 confirmed cases and two fatalities to date.

 

Another shipment of protective equipment arrives from China (Hina)

 

A plane with 58 tons of medical equipment arrived on Tuesday in Zagreb from Shanghai, as part of a program to procure protective equipment from China for Croatia’s healthcare system during the Covid-19 epidemic. The largest part of the latest shipment is equipment procured from the Chinese state companies MEHECO and Sinopharm, the Croatian government said in a press release. The shipment also included a donation from the Split-based Deltron company and its Chinese partner — Gree Electric Appliances Inc. – for the hospital in Split and local health authorities in Split-Dalmatia County. Some more shipments of medical equipment will arrive in Zagreb in the coming days owing to coordinated activities by the Office of the Croatian Prime Minister and the ministries of economy and health. On 12 April, a direct flight from Shanghai brought to Zagreb around 60 tons of protective equipment for the Croatian health system and other services fighting the coronavirus epidemic, and that was the first shipment of this kind since the outbreak of Covid-19.

 

In Croatia, there are 1,950 coronavirus patients and a new hotspot has emerged (N1)

 

In the past 24 hours, 42 new cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed in Croatia. There are 1950 patients in total, Health Minister Vili Beros said at a press conference at the National Headquarters. The minister said that a new hotspot has emerged, at the Nursing Home in Koprivnica. Meanwhile, the government and ministers are working on a comprehensive exit strategy for loosening of the measures imposed due to the coronavirus epidemic. The strategy is due to be completed this week, announced the head of the National Civil Protection Headquarters and Minister of the Interior, Davor Bozinovic. ”The government will come up with a comprehensive priority strategy with phases, after which we will agree on everything with the profession. It is important for us to make sure that everything is well aligned with the needs of the various stakeholders in the loosening of the measures, and, on the other hand, to make some assessment of the epidemiological risk at that moment,” Bozinovic said at a conference of the National Headquarters.

 

Montenegro has the lowest mortality rate of the countries in the region (Dan)

 

In accordance with the statistics on the number of infected persons and number of deaths in the countries in the region, coronavirus mortality rate is the lowest in Montenegro, confirms WHO director, Hans Kluge, citing timely measures as main reason. Serbia has reported the highest number of infections in the region. It is followed by Slovenia and North Macedonia.

According to the methodology of the WHO, number of infected persons is expressed in relation to million inhabitants. Slovenia has most people tested (19.744), and Montenegro follows (7.086). Dr Senad Begic, epidemiologist, said two days ago that rate of tests in Montenegro amounted to almost 8.000 per one million.

 

Institute for Public Health confirms one more coronavirus case in Budva (CDM)

 

Analysis of 282 tests in Montenegro has confirmed one more coronavirus case. New case is from Budva, the Institute for Public Health reported. So far, 314 cases have been confirmed. Number of recovered cases is 101. Number of cases by municipalities:

Podgorica: 161

Tuzi: 37

Niksic: 33

Bar: 23

Ulcinj: 22

Budva: 7

Andrijevica: 7

Bijelo Polje: 6

Herceg Novi: 6

Plav: 6

Danilovgrad: 3

Tivat: 3

 

Fajon interview: The EU keeps encouraging enlargement process (Pobjeda)

 

Regardless of coronavirus consequences, the EU remains strong in its position to keep its doors open to the WB region, said in the interview for Pobjeda, Tanja Fajon, Member of the European Parliament. She pointed out that nobody could be sure about the consequences of the pandemic.

 

The Union has demonstrated solidarity with Montenegro in those difficult times. Do you think that the help could have come sooner?

Ms Fajon: I am very happy that the EU has managed to prove how important solidarity is, the crisis will definitely affect both economy and our social life. I can’t say that financial assistance came too late as the pandemic is not over yet. I wouldn’t be that focused on the timing as on purpose. Coordination for the response required time.

 

How is Montenegro dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and are economic measures necessary to maintain stability of the economic system?

Ms Fajon: The situation is very serious and I believe countries are doing their best to prevent spread of the virus and mitigate consequences thereof. I feel so optimistic when I see people care for each other, adhere to Government’s measures… Since Montenegro was the last European country to report coronavirus outbreak, I guess it might take more time for some measures to be lifted, but I firmly believe you are on the right way. What will happen after the pandemic is uncertain. After health crisis, financial will come but nobody can tell what the consequences will be. I think richer countries will have to help poorer ones. Innovative European responses and new resources will play important role in mitigating consequences.

 

Have we managed to confirm European togetherness in those difficult times?

Ms Fajon: I want to believe that we are going to come out of this more united and with even stronger belief that, if we work together, we can win. There’s no time for egoism, selfishness and chaos.

 

The region was faced with many problems before coronavirus. Now it’s quite obvious that this region still lacks firm guidelines on where to go. Serbian president used the pandemic to prove that Russia and China are his main partners. Can such Serbian leadership blur the European perspective of the WB?

Ms Fajon: I am certain that this crisis will have many negative consequences in every country in the region. But EU association process is still our top priority. As far as the situation in Serbia is concerned – the EU is Serbia’s greatest donor and they must know that.

 

It is obviously very hard to make forecasts, but do you believe that enlargement process has survived?

Ms Fajon: Regardless of coronavirus consequences, the EU remains strong in its position to keep its doors open to the WB region, said Fajon. We send signals that we are interested in enlargement and provide financial assistance to the region.

 

SDSM is reportedly trying to reconvene the parliament (Republika/360 Degrees)

 

With Macedonia in a complete legislative limbo, after the elections were postponed but the Parliament was not re-called, the ruling SDSM party is reportedly scouting members of Parliament asking them to demand they reconvene. The 360 Degrees site reported that SDSM is getting 20 members of parliament to prepare a proposal to Speaker Talat Xhaferi to re-call the parliament. So far, Xhaferi has resisted the call, 360 Degrees reports.

 

No parliament, no elections: Macedonia is in legislative limbo (Republika)

 

The decision of the Constitutional Court not to discuss the dissolution of the parliament brought Macedonia into a serious legal quandary. Parliament is dissolved and elections were supposed to be held on 12 April, but they were called off because of the coronavirus epidemic. An attempt by the main political parties and President Stevo Pendarovski to find a legal, constitutional norm to postpone the elections failed. Instead, the government issued a decree to order the State Electoral Commission to stop preparing the elections on public health grounds. But with the parliament dissolved and a new date for elections not set, it’s unclear who will order the new elections and set the date once the epidemic has passed. A controversial precedent was set in 2016 when an already dissolved parliament was recalled under international pressure, to better maneuver the SDSM party in a position to form the next government. The Constitutional Court was called up with the purpose of finding some sort of technicality in the decision to dissolve the parliament and the legislative was recalled. The court was asked to do so again and recall the parliament that dissolved in February, but the justices refused to discuss the issue. Meanwhile, speaker Talat Xhaferi also refuses to recall the parliament on his own, insisting that that the court needs to do it like the last time. This leaves Macedonia with an incomplete caretaker government exercising the legislative power under a state of emergency that was extended for a second month even after President Stevo Pendarovski acknowledged that he has no authority to do so, a judiciary that was in shambles even before the pandemic, and no legitimate legislative power.

 

President Pendarovski has phone call with EU’s Lajcak (MIA)

 

President Stevo Pendarovski had a phone call on Tuesday with EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and other Western Balkan regional issues, Miroslav Lajcak. Pendarovski told Lajcak that by appointing a special representative the EU sends a positive signal that the region is among its priorities. Pendarovski voiced support for Lajcak’s mission, underlining that the EU’s contribution is more than necessary to find an acceptable solution as regards the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, the President’s Office said in a press release. “The two interlocutors discussed the ongoing political situation in the region, the significance of regional cooperation, the EU enlargement process, as well as the support that the Union and the Member-States mobilize for the countries in the region to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the President, by appointing the special representative, and following the decision to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, the European Union sends further positive signal that the region is among its priorities,” reads the press release.

 

Interior Minister proposes that relaxed curfew also applies on weekends (TV Telma)

 

Interior Minister Nakje Chulev said in an interview with TV Telma on Tuesday that movement restriction measures can be relaxed. He is set to suggest at Wednesday’s government session that the proposed 19:00-05:00 curfew should also apply on weekends. People over the age of 67, Chulev underlined, should be allowed to move between 05:00 and 12:00, while those under 18 should be able to go outside between 13:00 and 19:00. “30 days have passed since the curfew was imposed 22 March. The country saw it longest, 85-hour lockdown this past weekend. Interior Ministry officials are working in the field and have noted the negative effects this situation has on citizens. However, public awareness regarding personal protection is also much higher. Taking all this into account, as well as the fact that we haven’t seen a drastic increase in the number of coronavirus patients, I think that the new curfew should be enforced between 19:00 and 05:00 during both weekdays and weekends,” Chulev said. He added that the ban on movement in parks and forests should be lifted, but stressed the need for wearing protective gear. “I’m in favor of wearing protective equipment and in turn relax movement restrictions. Social distancing measures, should as well continue to be enforced,” Chulev said.

 

Spasovski: Measures not determined by any religious holidays or efforts of individuals (MIA/Slobodna TV)

 

The government at its session on Wednesday is to discuss the proposal on shortening of the curfew period after 1 May whereas the curfew will start every weekday at 7 pm and end at 5 am. People over the age of 67 will be given longer time outside between 5 am and 12 pm, while people under the age of 18 should be able to go out between 1 pm and 7 pm, Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski said in the interview with Slobodna TV on Wednesday. He said that the proposals that have come from the Committee for Infectious Diseases, include several parameters as number of new cases, number of recovered patients, age group, were reviewed at crisis HQ meeting on Tuesday and today will be considered at a government session. “The decisions that will be passed by the government are absolutely not determined by any religious holidays, or by any efforts of individuals. If we took the measures only because someone proposed to take such a measure or only because they like a certain group of people then these are not serious measures, which will give results,” Spasovski underlined. Spasovski said that restrictive measures are not desired by anyone in the government but they must be taken aimed at protecting the lives and health of the citizens.

 

In North Macedonia 48 patients recovered, 28 new cases of covid-19 confirmed, the total number of diagnosed cases 1259, 1 person died (Libertas)

 

The Ministry of Health of North Macedonia informs that today the Institute of Public Health registers 48 patients that have recovered. Of these, 6 patients were hospitalized and 42 were treated at home. Recovered patients for home treatment are registered in: Kumanovo -1, Bitola -1, Skopje-19, Tetovo -16, Stip-1, Radovish -4. A 51-year-old patient from Skopje died. He was admitted to the hospital on April 9 in serious condition and was immediately placed on a respiratory machine. In the past 24 hours, 28 new cases of covid-19 have been confirmed. By cities: Skopje -11, Kumanovo -2, Prilep -9, Tetovo -2, Veles -3 and Valandovo -1. With this, the total number of diagnosed patients with covid-19 in our country is 1259, and the last distribution by cities is:

Skopje – 422

Kumanovo – 342

Debar – 51

Stip-34

Prilep –126

Tetovo – 62

Struga – 55

Veles – 62

Bitola –17

Ohrid –15

Kavadarci – 4

Gostivar –13

Gevgelija – 4

Strumica – 2

Kriva Palanka-4

Radovish – 4

Krushevo – 3

Kocani – 28

Probistip – 2

Kicevo – 2

Negotino -2

Demir Hisar – 1

Макkedonski Brod -2

Pehchevo- 1

Valandovo -1

 

In the past 24 hours, 660 tests were performed. So far, a total of 13,000 covid-19 tests have been performed in the country. A total of 63 patients were admitted to the Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Febrile Conditions, and a total of 63 patients were hospitalized. 21 of them are on oxygen support and 4 on mechanical ventilation. 7 new patients were admitted to the CGH “September 8”, and a total of 43 patients were hospitalized. With a more severe clinical picture, there are 8 patients and 4 patients are on a respiratory machine. The hospital in Bitola is treating 10 patients, and 14 patients are being treated at home. At the moment, 2 patients are hospitalized in Stip, and another 19 are being treated at home.

 

Law Commission approves government’s decision to postpone state of emergency (Radio Tirana)

 

The parliament has announced that the “Parliamentary Law Commission” approved the government’s request to postpone the state of emergency until 23 June. Deputies Alban Zeneli and Andi Permeti, from the new opposition, abstained. The Commission reviewed the draft decision “On the proposal of the Assembly of the Republic of Albania for granting consent for the extension of the state of natural disaster, announced by decision no. 243 dated 24.03.2020, of the Council of Ministers.”  Deputy Minister of Health Mira Rakacolli said that the situation is fortunately under control, thanks to immediate measures for social distancing of the population, but their facilitation can lead to an increase in the number of cases, as some of the infected are asymptomatic and contact their more people will create conditions for increasing the number of people affected by COVID-19. According to her, if there is a high number of cases, there will be a need to return of the drastic measures. “For this reason, the measures that will be taken will be gradual and the situation will be assessed in a dynamic way,” said Racacolli.

 

Rama: Albania to slowly ease restriction measures (ADN)

 

Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, has announced on Tuesday plans to slowly ease restrictions brought in to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. The slowly ease will start next week expecting further relaxation on 4 May. Social distancing rules will stay in place but as of next week other shops could open their doors. PM said that people can take more time shopping as so far, they are allowed to go out only 90 minutes a day. “We are planning to ease restrictions slowly. I know that people are upset but this is the only way to stop the spread of the virus. We will ease restrictions starting next week when citizens will have more time to go out as other shops will be allowed to reopen,” said PM. He underlined that the Albanian government will decide on May 4 what to do with schools, when can they be reopened. Public gathering will remain banned and bars, cafes, restaurants will all remain closed.

 

Kosovo gains energy independence (Radio Tirana)

 

The entry into force of the written agreements between the Transmission System Operator of Albania and the Transmission Operator of Kosovo to increase the security of the power system, setting to work Albania-Kosovo interconnection line, as well as the development of a common electricity market between the two countries has been assessed as an important step for KOSTT in its journey to use the Kosovo Electric Power System in the same way as all other European countries in implementing European standards for system operation. This agreement is expected to enter into force on 14 May. This agreement also offers the opportunity to increase trade exchanges and create facilities for electricity traders to conduct transactions on the Albania-Kosovo border, promotes regional initiatives for the merger of energy markets, which are expected to bring a reduction in energy prices for consumers, while also promoting the use of balancing energy, within the European Balancing Code.

 

President greets Kosovo’s deal for electricity independence (ADN)

 

President of the Republic of Albania, Ilir Meta greeted the agreement reached between Transmission System and Market Operator Company in Kosovo (KOSTT) and the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E). According to him this deal will ensure Kosovo’s freedom on electricity. After agreement’s approval by Regional Group Continental Europe (RGCE), Head of State explained that Kosovo’s energy system will operate independently within Kosovo-Albania zone. All this will happen within the synchronous zone of Continental Europe. Furthermore, Meta listed what advantages will derive from union with Albania’s energy system. Among them are: independent use of network, lower cost, safer and more profitable services and integration in European mechanisms of electric power transmission. “I greet the approval of the new agreement. Now, the energy system of Kosovo will operate as an independent regulatory zone inside the Kosovo-Albania block, in the framework of the synchronous zone of Continental Europe,” stated the President.

 

EU donated 20 000 test kits for Albania (Radio Tirana)

 

The European Union has donated 20,000 tests to Albania, for confronting the situation with COVID-19. The EU Ambassador to Tirana, Soreca, writes that “the more reliable the tests, the more effective the fight against COVID!” “The EU donation of control materials for COVID-19 is on its way. 20,000 tests will be made available to the Institute of Public Health in Tirana. The more reliable the tests, the more effective the fight! The EU stands by Albania,” writes Soreca.

In Albania 25 new Coronavirus cases reported, Ministry assures situation under control (ADN)

 

Deputy Minister of Health and Social Protection, Mira Rakacolli said this Wednesday that there are 25 new coronavirus cases confirmed during the last 24 hours. Now, the total number of coronavirus cases in Albania is 634, while the number of deaths reached 27, with one new victim during the last 24 hours. Furthermore, Rakacolli assured that the situation is under control, despite the fact that the daily number of new infected has risen. “In the last 24 hours, 252 people suspected of having COVID-19 were tested. 25 positive cases with COVID-19 were confirmed during the last 24 hours. The epidemiological investigation and the tracking of contacts in Kruja continue, where 18 positive cases were recorder in last 24 hours. So far, 6,669 suspected cases have been tested, 634 out of which resulted positive,” informed Rakacolli. The geographical distribution of positive cases is as follows:

Tirana 256 cases

Durresi 42 cases

Lushnja 6 cases

Elbasani 18 cases

Fieri 36 cases

Kavaja 9 cases

Rrogozhina 4 cases

Korca 19 cases

Vlora 5 cases

Shkodra 100 cases

Lezha 14 cases

Berati 2 cases

Has 13 cases

Kruja 58 cases

Tropoja 4 cases

Puka 5 cases

Mirdita 3 cases

Kukesi 11 cases

Mallakastra 1 case

Kurbin 28 cases

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Serbian envoy to Turkey grateful for aid to fight virus (Anadolu Agency, by Nazli Yuzbasioglu, 22 April 2020)   |

 

Serbia is grateful to Turkey for aid in diagnostic and protective equipment provided to us, says Ambassador Zoran Markovic

ANKARA – Serbian Ambassador in Ankara on Wednesday expressed his gratitude to Turkey over sending medical aid to fight against the novel coronavirus, and said country entered the pandemic “well-prepared”. Speaking exclusively to Anadolu Agency, Ambassador Zoran Markovic said “We are particularly grateful to Turkey for the aid in diagnostic and protective equipment provided to us, as to a number of other countries in need.” Markovic also thanked “for prompt replies to facilitation requests for repatriation of our citizens, some of them traveling from further abroad and having been stranded on their return home.” Aside from the solidarity between Turkey and Serbia, the Serbian envoy also addressed the latest updates regarding the Covid-19 pandemic in his country. He said the latest number of diagnosed positive cases in Serbia is 6,890 and recovered patients are 977 while there are 130 fatalities. “Although medicine is not my field of expertise and it is still too early to give estimates on the pandemic peak, it can be said that the number of positive diagnoses has been steady over the last week, with a slight drop in the rate of infections, now standing at about 10 percent of the total tests being administered daily,” Markovic further noted. Underscoring that the rate of casualties is on the decline and “has fallen below 2 percent for the first time,” he said the general situation in the country “seems positive” and that the measures Serbia is implementing gave “rise to cautious optimism on the possibility of a slight relaxation of the curfew regime in the near future”.

The Serbian ambassador continued on by praising Turkey’s efforts in curbing the spread of the pandemic and said “Turkey seems to have entered the global health crisis well prepared, with a sound healthcare system and adequate stocks and resources to handle the initial challenge.”

“Furthermore, a commendable public attitude and a mature general response of the population to the calls of President Erdogan and the leadership for social distancing measures have greatly helped curb the risk of a much greater outbreak.” Commenting on the solidarity between the two countries, Markovic said “The cooperation of Turkey and Serbia in fighting the heinous pandemic, as in many other fields, has been open, consistently strong and mutually beneficial, in keeping with the sincere and cordial relations between our two nations and in the best interest of defeating our common invisible enemy.” Defining the Turkey-Serbia relations as “excellent” and “the best in recent history,” Markovic stressed that the two countries’ relations can “clear the way of any obstacles that may surface”. He recalled the Turkey’s medical aid to Serbia in fight against the coronavirus and Turkey’s help in repatriation of Serbian citizens in Turkey to Serbia. “On our part, we have facilitated repatriation of a number of Turkish citizens having provided them free travel on humanitarian flights of our national carrier Air Serbia,” he said. He also recalled Turkish President’s statement underscoring that the fight against coronavirus is a global issue, and said “The Republic of Serbia shares this view. Yes, we are a small country and we are not the ones making global decisions, but we share in and support joint efforts to eradicate the pandemic.” “It is absolutely clear that it is impossible for a single country to overcome a disease whilst being surrounded by others still fighting it,” he added. Continuing on by saying that everyone close to him including his family back in Belgrade are healthy, Markovic further said they are spending their days in Ankara “in line with the officially proclaimed health regulations and advice of the experts, respecting all measures and implementing social distancing guidelines at work and outside…” Hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel, the Serbian envoy said “It is certain that this scourge, no matter how tough and challenging, will be beaten like many before it. And although much still remains unknown, it is important that we all keep a positive outlook and invest our best efforts to respect all recommendations of experts…” Similar to many others, Markovic also drew attention to how the pandemic changes lives and said “Diplomacy as we have known it until now has been transformed completely, with even some good things that we had to learn on the way.” “Old fashioned diplomacy already wasn’t functional for a while. We live in a dynamic world, one that requires quick actions and reactions,” he said. He ended his statements by noting that “Many aspects of human life, including politics, will not be the same as we have known them before,” and said “We should keep in mind that situations like we are facing today occur once in a hundred years.” The novel coronavirus has spread to 185 countries and regions since emerging in Wuhan, China last December, with the U.S. and Europe being the hardest-hit. More than 2.58 million cases have been reported worldwide, with the death toll over 178,000 and some 687,000 recoveries, according to data compiled by the U.S.’ Johns Hopkins University.

 

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