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Belgrade Media Report 28 April

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LOCAL PRESS

Vucic with Godfrey on pandemic and future cooperation (RTV/Tanjug)
Brnabic: Serbia effective in fighting pandemic (RTS/Tanjug)
Gojkovic: Constitution does not allow elections to be held in autumn (Tv Pink/Tanjug/B92)
EU committed to supporting Western Balkans in fight against COVID-19 (Tanjug)
Vulin: Thaci must explain his participation in organ trafficking (RTS)
Opposition won’t participate in session, protest in front of parliament on 30 April (Beta)
Another 222 cases, 1,260 recovered (RTS)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Reactions to decision on abolishing quarantines in Federation of B&H (RTRS)
RS Crisis HQ extends all measures introduced to curb spread of coronavirus in RS by 11 May; Viskovic says RS will not completely ban movement during 1 May holidays (ATV)
SDA Collegium welcomes adoption of rebalance FB&H Budget 2020, Corona Law, calls on HoP to adopt it (FTV)
Sattler: I expect local leaders to reach agreement on European path of B&H (Nezavisne/RTRS)
B&H CoM approves temporary opening of international border crossing for passenger air traffic for return of citizens to/from Turkey (ATV)
B&H confirms 20 new Covid-19 cases and two fatalities (N1)
Croatia

Prime Minister: Elections will be held when epidemiological conditions allow (HRT)
Dr. Markotic says Covid-19 measures in Croatia could be in place for up to a year (HRT)
Additional medical supplies arrive from China (HTR)
In Croatia, 8 new infections, 2047 in total, 4 died (N1)
Montenegro

Institute for Public Health plans to widen sampling strategy (CDM)
No new cases of coronavirus in Montenegro (CDM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Pompeo: United States supports North Macedonia during crisis (MIA)
Pendarovski-Pompeo: Efforts in fighting COVID-19 and regional developments with emphasis on the Kosovo issue in the focus of the conversation (MIA)
Borisov demands that joint historic commission urgently resumes its work, decides on all disputed historic figures “one by one” (Republika/Sitel TV)
Speaker Xhaferi says parliament cannot reconvene (TV 21)
Milososki: The parliament lost its mandate when it voted to dissolve (Republika)
DUI’s Grubi wants the Constitutional Court to decide on whether the parliament can re-convene (Republika)
In North Macedonia on 1,2,3 May, curfew will start at 2 pm and will last until 5 am the next day (Libertas)
In North Macedonia 22 new cases of Covid-19, a total of 1,421, 6 dead and 36 cured (Libertas)
Albania

New eased measured for the days to come (Radio Tirana)
In Albania 14 new Coronavirus cases reported (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

Serbs Take to Balconies in Protest Against Curfew (Bloomberg)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic with Godfrey on pandemic and future cooperation (RTV/Tanjug)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met earlier today with US Ambassador Anthony Godfrey.

Vucic and Godfrey expressed their regret for the victims of the coronavirus in the US and Serbia, as well as the hope that the precautions taken will have an effect on the control of the infection. The two discussed the cooperation between Serbia and the US in addressing the challenges of the pandemic, as the only way to deal with them is with joint forces. “Friends like Serbia and the US also rely on each other in uncertain times, such as the time of the pandemic,” agreed Vucic and Godfrey. On behalf of the US administration, Godfrey thanked Vucic and the government of Serbia for helping to return American citizens to their homes and families, while Vucic thanked for the US support to Serbia to combat COVID-19. Vucic informed Godfrey about the package of measures for the recovery of the Serbian economy from the consequences of the pandemic, emphasizing that he counts on the contribution of American companies already operating in our market and even more on future investments from the USA. The President and the Ambassador expressed the expectation that the two countries’ economic cooperation would be strengthened, as well as cooperation in other areas of common interest, discussed during Vucic’s visit to the US in March this year.

 

Brnabic: Serbia effective in fighting pandemic (RTS/Tanjug)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, stressed in today’s address to the first session of the Parliament of Serbia that the country has the lowest coronavirus mortality rate compared to the countries in this part of Europe is 1.9 percent. Brnabic said at the session, which began with a minute of silence to pay tribute to all citizens who died of coronavirus, that the number of tests performed per 100,000 inhabitants, and expressed her expectation that we would be elsewhere today. Today, when we are on the downward trajectory of the epidemic, we see that the rate of positive cases is around 5.8 percent over the total number tested. And when we still cannot declare victory, but have reason to believe that if we retain discipline and crisis management, it seems to me that we can say that we have succeeded in what we have set out, the Prime Minister stressed. She emphasized that the health system in Serbia has endured, stating that it has the capacity to accommodate all infected, medical teams, ventilators and medicines, so we did not have to choose whose life to save. According to her, the lives of the oldest citizens were largely preserved, which was one of the goals in this fight, while the other was to preserve the health system. We have fought with heart and knowledge for the lives of citizens, with the tremendous help of partners from China whom we will be eternally grateful for, as well as partners from the EU, who themselves have dealt with the pandemic and huge human casualties, and also partners from Russia, USA, UAE , Norway, Hungary, said Brnabic. She reiterated that she is proud of her country and how Serbia has dealt with the pandemic, as well as where we are today and how we prepared for everything that comes after the pandemic. I am proud of our citizens, institutions, the joint team of the government and the President, all our experts, doctors and medical staff, as well as everyone who was on the front line. To them, the greatest gratitude goes to them and on behalf of the entire government, she said. Brnabic recalled that the first identified case of coronavirus in Serbia was recorded on 6 March and it imported from Italy, stating that 58 people who had symptoms like COVID-19 had been tested before. Testing, she recalled, began on 13 February, when the first suspected case appeared and all tested were negative, with the first death on 20 March. The Prime Minister announced that the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Belgrade will start the preparation of an epidemiological study of leprosy on a sample of 7,000 households in Serbia from 4 May. Brnabic said that Serbia has started domestic production of antibody tests, which will be done by the Institute for the Application of Nuclear Energy, with the first tests to be ready within a month. At the moment, more countries have asked Serbia for support if we have additional amounts of antibody tests, she said, reiterating that Serbia is in a better position than the richer and more developed countries. She also said that the value of humanitarian flights is approximately €2 million. At the session of the Assembly, the deputies should declare their approval of the Decision on declaring a state of emergency, as well as 44 decrees with legal force issued by the government, with the co-signature of the President the Prime Minister.

 

Gojkovic: Constitution does not allow elections to be held in autumn (Tv Pink/Tanjug/B92)

 

Serbian parliament speaker Maja Gojkovic says the Constitution doesn’t envisage elections in Serbia to be held in the fall, as part of the opposition demands. “How to hold the elections in the fall when the Constitution does not allow it? We would have to introduce another state of emergency, to extend it for another 90 days,” Gojkovic told TV Pink. She said that the end of the state of emergency had not yet been seen and that the last word on when it will be lifted would give the Health Crisis Staff. “When they say we are safe, the Assembly will be summoned and the state of emergency will be lifted. After that, the Republic Electoral Commission can resume its election activities. The deadlines are in accordance with the Constitution and law will be respected,” she said. He points out that according to the Constitution, a state of emergency cannot be prolonged, “even if Djilas and Obradovic were lying in front of the parliament at curfew.” “Serbia is moving forward and we want to go to the polls as soon as the Constitution and law allow and see which political option the citizens of Serbia support,” she concluded.

 

EU committed to supporting Western Balkans in fight against COVID-19 (Tanjug)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic received a joint letter from EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security and European Commission Vice President Josep Borell, European Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan and European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi, addressed to Western Balkans foreign ministers. The joint letter confirms the lifting of restrictions on exports of medical equipment from the European Union to the Western Balkans. It also states that the European Union is fully committed to international cooperation and to continuing to assist the most vulnerable countries around the world, especially the Western Balkan countries, as their closest partners. The Commission, as pointed out, made a proposal to amend the procedure for obtaining export licenses in accordance with our needs, as it reduces the range of products for which a license is required, while exempting it from the Western Balkans procedure.

 

Vulin: Thaci must explain his participation in organ trafficking (RTS)

 

Before he utters the word genocide, Thaci must explain his participation in the murdering and abducting of Serbs and organ trafficking, Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said on the occasion of the accusations of the Kosovo President. “Only since the arrival of international forces in Kosovo and Metohija more than thousand Serbs and non-Albanians have been killed. Nobody was held accountable for the murdered Serbs children in Gorazdevac, murdered harvesters in Staro Gracko, and murder of two-year-old Danilo Cokic in Livadice,” said Vulin.

 

Opposition won’t participate in session, protest in front of parliament on 30 April (Beta)

 

The Alliance for Serbia (SzS) and other opposition parties that had announced a boycott of the elections will not attend the session of the Serbian parliament called for 28 April, leaders of the opposition bloc announced on 27 April. Movement for a Turnaround leader Janko Veselinovic told a news conference in front of the Serbian parliament building that the opposition would not participate in the legalization of the unconstitutional decision on the part of the Serbian cabinet and President Aleksandar Vucic to abolish the work of the parliament during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Given that the state of emergency was introduced unconstitutionally, that the Serbian cabinet and President Aleksandar Vucic trampled the Constitution, subverted the separation of powers and grabbed authority that does not belong to them, the opposition has decided not to take part in the forthcoming session of the parliament because it does not want to validate the trampling of the Constitution,” he said. He added that the SzS would file an initiative with the Constitutional Court to rate the constitutionality of the decision to introduce a state of emergency. Veselinovic announced that the opposition would hold a protest against the unconstitutional introduction of the state of emergency and “never before seen measures introduced against the citizens of Serbia” in front of the parliament at 6 pm on 30 April. The protest will include only party representatives, as citizens were not invited because of the 6 pm curfew.

 

Another 222 cases, 1,260 recovered (RTS)

 

Until 3 pm, there have been another 222 cases, in total 8,497 cases. There have been six more deaths, 168 total deaths. There are 2,517 patients in hospitals, and 79 patients are on respirators. So far, 1,260 people have recovered.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Reactions to decision on abolishing quarantines in Federation of B&H (RTRS)

 

Even though quarantines were closed in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FB&H), the Republika Srpska (RS) citizens that return to the country will have to stay two weeks in self-isolation. Regardless of where they cross over into B&H, the RS citizens will have to report their return within twelve hours after their arrival. FB&H Assistant Health Minister Goran Cerkez said the RS authorities need not to worry about the abolishment of this measure. He explains the quarantines were closed but the self-isolation measure remains for all citizens that return to B&H. “From a scientific point of view, from the epidemiological, human or any other character, that is a completely irrational measure and that basically proves that we are in two different countries” said Head of the Team for monitoring measures and recommendations of the RS Emergency Situations Headquarters, Nenad Stevandic. Drvar Crisis HQ unanimously concluded that abolishment of the mentioned measure in the FB&H came in way too soon. B&H Security Minister Fahrudin Radoncic assessed that B&H was successful in stopping the accelerated spread of the virus but underlined that measures must be reduced in line with the recommendations issued by epidemiologists.

 

RS Crisis HQ extends all measures introduced to curb spread of coronavirus in RS by 11 May; Viskovic says RS will not completely ban movement during 1 May holidays (ATV)

 

The RS Crisis HQ adopted on Monday a conclusion extending all measures introduced to curb the spread of coronavirus in the RS by 11 May, but with certain corrections and changes. Namely, persons older than 65 in the RS will be able to go out every day in the period from 7 am to 10 am. Furthermore, carwash shops, dry-cleaning stores, auto-mechanic shops, furniture stores, museums and libraries will re-open in the RS on Tuesday. During the second round of easing of restrictive measures in the RS which will start as of May 1, shopping malls will be allowed to re-open, but not playrooms, restaurants and movie theaters located inside the shopping malls. All shops that will be allowed to re-open will have to comply with prescribed hygiene measures. RS Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic said that bars, restaurants and hotels will be the last to re-open. “We will conduct analyses on their beginning of work in the coming days and in the coming period,” Viskovic said. Viskovic also announced that curfew in the RS will be extended during 1 May holidays, but that the RS will not ban movement for three days during May Day holidays, as is the case in Serbia. Viskovic told the press conference that all people will still have to wear protective gear when outside, respect the social distancing rules and avoid gathering in larger groups. All measures have been aligned with the recommendations of the RS Health Ministry and medical experts, who gave specific rules for businesses that are set to re-open on Tuesday. Viskovic says catering facilities that will be allowed to work will only have take-out food and food deliveries. Hair salons and beauty parlors will not be re-opened just yet. Schools will not be reopened but teachers will be allowed to work on school programs and evaluation tests. The RS PM said that state of emergency in this entity will possibly be abolished after May 10, but that will solely depend on the epidemiological situation. The RS authorities considered the introduction of a police curfew during Labor Day but they did not make a definitive decision on Monday.

 

SDA Collegium welcomes adoption of rebalance FB&H Budget 2020, Corona Law, calls on HoP to adopt it (FTV)

 

The SDA Collegium adopted several conclusions at a session held in Sarajevo on Monday. Among other things, the SDA Collegium welcomed adoption of the rebalance of the FB&H Budget for 2020 and the Law on Mitigation of Negative Economic Consequences Caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic in the FB&H House of Representatives. In this regard, the SDA Collegium called on delegates in the FB&H House of Peoples to vote for adoption of the abovementioned law. The SDA Collegium called on Cantonal and municipal assemblies to adopt measures under their competences. At the same time, the SDA Collegium called on B&H Minister of Finance and Treasury Vjekoslav Bevanda to stop with obstructions and to deliver the promissory note to the Central Bank of B&H in line with the mandatory conclusion of the B&H Council of Ministers in order to enable use of available funds of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for accelerated financing with the aim to mitigate economic and other consequences of the pandemic. Bevanda responded by saying that SDA should not remind the one who respects the B&H Constitution, the law and the agreement all this time what he should further do. Bevanda said that the conclusion will be fully respected, once he officially receives it.

 

Sattler: I expect local leaders to reach agreement on European path of B&H (Nezavisne/RTRS)

 

Head of the EU Delegation to B&H and EU Special Representative in the country, Ambassador Johann Sattler, said that he expects local leaders to reach an agreement on how to proceed on the European path before the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Zagreb – which, according to daily, should take place on 6-7 May. (Actually, President of the European Council Charles Michel has recently announced that the EU-Western Balkans Summit will be held as a video conference on Wednesday, May 6.) “I believe it is possible to reach an agreement. I do not expect all 14 key priorities of the European Commission to be resolved, because there are some very complex issues among them,” Sattler said in an interview for RTRS. He announced that he will meet with members of the Presidency of B&H and several ambassadors on Tuesday, and noted that members of the Presidency of B&H should play much more active role when it comes country’s number one priority – to become the member of the EU. “As of Tuesday, we will engage in more concrete talks about how to come up with an Action Plan on how to resolve the 14 key European Commission’s priorities,” Sattler explained. According to Sattler, improvement of country’s functionality, curbing of the spread of coronavirus infections and fight for human lives and jobs are also among priorities. The EUSR believes that it was very good to hear that the EU gave the green light for the beginning of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. He reminded that the EU presented the new, enhanced enlargement strategy, meaning that the process should be raised to a higher political level, “with stronger interaction between EU officials and politicians from the Western Balkan countries through relevant bodies, in order to make the process more dynamic”. Sattler concluded that it is a rather demanding process, with 34 negotiation chapters which will now be restructured into clusters. The EUSR explained that there will be a cluster about the rule of law, and it will not be possible to open other clusters until this one is completed. He reminded of the fact a year has passed since the European Commission presented 14 priorities, yet there has been no response from local authorities in B&H so far.

B&H CoM approves temporary opening of international border crossing for passenger air traffic for return of citizens to/from Turkey (ATV)

 

At the proposal of the B&H Ministry of Security, the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) adopted a decision to approve temporary opening of Sarajevo Airport so that B&H nationals could return from Turkey to B&H and so that Turkish nationals who are currently in B&H could return to their country. The B&H CoM stated that repatriation flights will be conducted on 28 April via an international flight.

 

B&H confirms 20 new Covid-19 cases and two fatalities (N1)

 

A total of 20 new Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in B&H, over the past 24 hours, along with 2 more fatalities related to the virus, health authorities confirmed on Tuesday.

The RS tested 338 samples suspected for coronavirus and confirmed only two infections, over the past 24 hours, entity Health Minister Alen Seranic said. According to him, this entity performed 11,420 tests in total, since the beginning of the pandemic in B&H. The Banja Luka University Hospital currently treats 45 Covid-19 patients, he said, adding that five were places in isolation. The hospital confirmed that they had two fatalities over the past 24 hours – a 51-year-old woman and a 64-year-old man, both with pre-existing chronic diseases. When it comes to FB&H, the head of the Public Health Institute Davor Pehar said 18 cases were confirmed after testing nearly 700 samples. “The positive trend continues. After testing 687 samples for the new coronavirus, 18 samples came back positive. In total, out of 15,745 samples we tested so far, 855 were positive,” Pehar noted, adding that women are still more prone to infection in this entity than men. According to him, 302 persons have recovered from the disease. The state Civil Affairs Ministry published on their portal that 1,585 infections have been reported so far in B&H, of which 682 recovered and 63 patients died as a result of Covid-19.

 

Prime Minister: Elections will be held when epidemiological conditions allow (HRT)

 

It is our desire to hold elections when epidemiological circumstances allow it, said Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, answering journalists’ questions about when elections would take place given the coronavirus situation. “In accordance with our political evaluation, we will make decisions on when elections will be held. At the moment, no one, not even bodies of the Croatian Democratic Union, has discussed this in detail,” said Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. “We are in an election year. If elections are held in June, July, August or September – those are all nuances,” he said. Plenkovic said he did not discuss calling elections with President Zoran Milanovic. He recalled that the last elections were held on September 11, 2016. “The government is currently in its third year and seventh month in office,” said Plenkovic.

Plenkovic said that as a country we can be extremely pleased with the manner in which we prevented the spread of coronavirus in the context of the global pandemic and epidemic in Croatia. He added that economic and social measures were extremely well received. Commenting on allegations of politicization of the Civil Protection Headquarters, Plenkovic said that the opposition had many reasons to be unhappy and that he understood this. “The Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia were appointed by the government, with representatives of ministries as members, these are people who primarily have a political mandate because it was given to them by the government. And the thesis about the politicization of the work of the Headquarters simply does not stand, it also contains experts and epidemiological recommendations that they gave, and they have a head and a tail and are not any kind of improvisation, but rather an easing of measures according to circumstances,” said Plenkovic.

 

Dr. Markotic says Covid-19 measures in Croatia could be in place for up to a year (HRT)

 

On Monday Croatia began implementing a three-stage plan to withdraw restrictive measures implemented to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The Director of the Zagreb University Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Dr. Alemka Markotic announced today that epidemiological measures could stay in place for up to one year. She said the measures would definitely be in for the long term, adding that this would only be shortened if an effective medication were found.

Dr. Markotic agreed that slowly withdrawing the measures and allowing people some freedom of movement was a positive thing, as it would not keep citizens cooped up in small spaces. However, she also warned against putting ones hopes in seasonal change, meaning that the virus will taper off during the warmer summer months, as some have suggested. Noting that it will continue to spread in the warmer months, which could result in a new outbreak in the fall together with the seasonal flu. Finally, Dr. Markotic said that she expects that an effective medicine for the coronavirus could be available in about one year’s time. In this context she said that Croatian doctors and scientists are playing a major role in that process having successfully isolated and developed the virus in laboratory conditions.

 

Additional medical supplies arrive from China (HTR)

 

China has sent a number of cargo planes with tons of medical supplies, including facemasks, rubber gloves and other protective gear, in a bid to assist in efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. An additional 76 tons of protective medical equipment needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic were delivered to Croatia on Monday. This is the sixth direct flight by China’s SF Airlines from Shanghai to Zagreb. According to a statement issued by the Croatian government, some 76 tons of disinfectants, goggles, and a large amount of protective masks have arrived in Croatia. The statements note that along with the commercially procured goods from the MEHECO and Sinopharm companies, there were several hundred thousand protective masks donated by Sinopharm on the flight.

 

In Croatia, 8 new infections, 2047 in total, 4 died (N1)

 

Currently, a total of 2,047 people has been confirmed to be infected with coronavirus, and 1,232 have been cured. So far, 63 people have died. “In the past 24 hours, we have 8 newly infected people in Croatia, which gives the total number of 2,047 patients, Health Minister Vili Beros told a press conference of the National Civil Protection Headquarters. He added that four more people have died since yesterday. In addition to several chronic diseases, deceased were also positive for coronavirus.

 

Institute for Public Health plans to widen sampling strategy (CDM)

 

Assistant Director of the Institute for Public Health, Dr Senad Begic, announced that plans were afoot for extension of the sampling strategy. “We are going to start with wider sampling in all municipalities. Sampling on public areas will be proposed with the aim of better observing the overall situation and identifying asymptomatic carriers,” Begic said. Sreten Kavaric, director of the Internal clinic of the Clinical Center, said in the press conference today that eight patients were hospitalized in the Clinical Center of Montenegro, two of whom are on ventilators and in critical condition. Senad Begic, said that opening borders would be the last measure to be lifted. “We should be cautious and monitor development of the situation,” Begic said and added there was high risk of importation as infection rate is everywhere higher than in Montenegro. Begic said that lifting measures would be carried out in accordance with the dynamic on the field. “We eased one measure and it was seen as every measure was lifted. Nothing’s permanent. Monitoring the situation on the field is crucial,” Begic said. Masks indoors mandatory starting from 4 May. Begic reiterated everybody should wear masks indoors. “Especially starting from 4 May, when some activities will resume. That’s the only way to reduce the possibility of transmission,” Begic said. He pointed out home-made masks could be used as well, expect for healthcare workers who are required to wear special masks. As far as collective sports are concerned, Begic said recommendations would be put forward in due time.

 

No new cases of coronavirus in Montenegro (CDM)

 

Analysis of 57 samples showed no positive coronavirus cases. Total number of infections in Montenegro amounts to 321. There are currently 125 active cases, whereas 189 persons have recovered. Around 1,952 citizens are under sanitary watch. So far, six persons who were positive for coronavirus have died. Number of cases by municipalities:

Podgorica: 163

Tuzi: 37

Niksic: 34

Bar: 23

Ulcinj: 22

Andrijevica: 7

Budva: 7

Plav: 7

Bijelo Polje: 6

Herceg Novi: 6

Danilovgrad: 3

Gusinje: 3

Tivat: 3

 

Pompeo: United States supports North Macedonia during crisis (MIA)

 

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke Monday with President Stevo Pendarovski to congratulate him on North Macedonia’s accession into NATO and EU’s decision to open accession negotiations – two historic events that the 2018 Prespa Agreement made possible. Secretary Pompeo commended President Pendarovski and the government of North Macedonia for their leadership in securing these milestones, which the United States believes will lead to greater stability and prosperity in the Western Balkans, the Department of State said in a press release. Pompeo and Pendarovski also discussed worldwide efforts to combat COVID-19 and the Secretary expressed continued U.S. support to the people of North Macedonia during the crisis.

 

Pendarovski-Pompeo: Efforts in fighting COVID-19 and regional developments with emphasis on the Kosovo issue in the focus of the conversation (MIA)

 

Efforts in fighting COVID-19 and regional developments with emphasis on the Kosovo issue were in the focus of the phone conversation between President Stevo Pendarovski and United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday. On behalf of the citizens of North Macedonia, Pendarovski extended condolences over the death of over 50,000 U.S. citizens as a consequence of COVID-19 and expressed solidarity with the American people, the President’s Office said in a press release. Interlocutors exchanged information on the efforts to manage the pandemic, with Pendarovski thanking Pompeo for the U.S. assistance that has exceeded over US$ 1 million, which is a confirmation of the mutual solidarity and friendship amid a period of serious challenges for mankind. In addition, President Pendarovski thanked Secretary Pompeo for the U.S. support, and especially the U.S. diplomacy, in fulfilling North Macedonia’s strategic objective to join NATO, reads the press release.

 

Borisov demands that joint historic commission urgently resumes its work, decides on all disputed historic figures “one by one” (Republika/Sitel TV)

 

In an interview with Sitel TV, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said that he demands that the joint commission on historic issues between Macedonia and Bulgaria urgently resumes its work. Borisov was evasive when asked whether Bulgaria will veto Macedonia from opening EU accession talks, but laid clear conditions that must be met. Relations between the two countries are deteriorating after Bulgaria appended a statement to the European Council decision that Macedonia opens its accession talks, in which it demands that the Macedonian language is referred to as the “official language of the Republic of North Macedonia”, that Macedonia gives up claiming minority rights in Bulgaria and accepts the Bulgarian character of many shared historic figures. “What language are we speaking in right now? Do we need a translator? Do Germany and Austria dispute their language?, Borisov asked the Sitel TV journalist, who replied that Bulgaria is the one who is disputing the existence of a Macedonian language, separate from the Bulgarian. After claiming several times that Bulgaria does not oppose Macedonia calling its language Macedonian” Borisov said that he is also facing serious pressure at home, from people who believe that he is giving up and selling out Bulgarian national interests and history. The language issue aside, Borisov zeroed in on the joint commission of historians which was set up as part of the treaty he signed with Zoran Zaev in 2017. Macedonian historians in the commission initially accepted the Bulgarian narrative on a number of historic figures, mainly the medieval Tsar Samuil, but talks broke off when Bulgaria demanded a similar solution about national liberation figure and VMRO leader Goce Delcev. Borisov stated that Bulgaria demands concessions on the issue. The commission stopped meeting late last year, with its Macedonian members citing the coming early elections as a reason why they can’t keep working on the “joint historic narrative”. “We found a solution about Tsar Samuil, we went to his monument in Bulgaria and in Macedonia together and we need to continue in the same manner. I also understand you, identity is important for a newly founded, or let’s say, young country, but we need to reach agreement. For you it is best if you join EU and NATO, and it is best for us too. The historians need to get together quickly and resolve the problems, name by name, issue by issue. We have cities named after Goce Delcev, and we won’t easily give them up, that is impossible. Let them sit down, come up with a formula like for Tsar Samuil. Your President had a proposal to say that Delcev is a Bulgarian who fought for the liberation of Macedonia,” Borisov told Sitel TV. The interview comes days after Sitel TV was sharply criticized by a political ally of Borisov, Bulgarian member of the European Parliament Andrey Kovatchev, for airing the Third Half movie during a coronavirus TV marathon. The 2012 movie depicts the deportation of the Jews from Macedonia to the German death camps, under Bulgarian occupation. Bulgaria insists that the movie depicts Bulgaria as culprit in the Holocaust, which runs against its official historical narrative.

 

Speaker Xhaferi says parliament cannot reconvene (TV 21)

 

Speaker Talat Xhaferi told TV 21 on Monday that the Parliament cannot reconvene after SDSM filed an initiative for such a move. “The Parliament can convene only after the next elections and the people are the ones who can do this” says Xhaferi. According to him, having a Parliament other than after the elections is a coup attempt. “All MPs voted for the Parliament’s dissolution on February 16. The Parliament will convene after the next elections,” adds Xhaferi.

 

Milososki: The parliament lost its mandate when it voted to dissolve (Republika)

 

VMRO-DPMNE official Antonio Milososki said that holding elections in June or July would be a serious health risk. The ruling SDSM party is trying to recall the dissolved Parliament in a move which prompted speculations that SDSM will try hold “corona elections”, before the epidemic has been fully defeated. “A parliament can’t reconvene itself after it voted to dissolve. It no longer has the mandate. It is clear that their goal is political and not linked with the rule of law, Milososki said. He also added that SDSM is likely trying to recall the Parliament for another reason – get the representatives to approve all the decrees that were adopted using the emergency powers that were given to the Government and are not linked with the Covid-19 epidemic”.

Regarding the growing issue with Bulgaria, which is adding pre-conditions to the expected opening of EU accession talks, Milososki said that it is now clear that SDSM lied to the public when it said it has resolved all issues with Bulgaria with the signing of the 2017 Zaev – Borisov treaty. Is this how good-neighborly relations work? But we shouldn’t be angry at our neighbors. Zaev agreed to sign anything they put before him just so he can hold on to power. Bulgaria has a unified position toward its neighbors, and we don’t, Milososki said.

 

DUI’s Grubi wants the Constitutional Court to decide on whether the parliament can re-convene (Republika)

 

Artan Grubi from the DUI party said that the Constitutional Court should be the one to decide whether the parliament can be recalled. The ruling SDSM party and some of its allies are proposing that the parliament, which dissolved in mid-February, re-convenes, but DUI and the main opposition VMRO-DPMNE party do not support making this precedent. “A dissolved parliament gives its mandate back to the citizens. We don’t care for elections, we care about public health. We are ready to go to the polls tomorrow but only if it is safe for the voters,” Grubi said. He called on the Constitutional Court to have its say on the matter. Macedonia recalled a dissolved parliament once, in 2016, again on SDSM request, but in that case the Constitutional Court was pushed to come up with some kind of a technicality in the vote to dissolve the parliament. This time around SDSM wants to have the members of the dissolved parliament vote on re-convening.

 

Filipche: Commission for Infectious Diseases calls for Labor Day weekend lockdown (MIA)

 

Health Minister Venko Filipche told Monday’s press conference that the government would discuss a possible extension of the curfew during the 1 May (Labor Day) holidays at today’s session. “The decision will be taken at tomorrow’s government session. I presented the opinion of the Committee for Infectious Diseases at his morning’s meeting of the Crisis HQ, according to which the coming weekend should be under full lockdown, similar to the one for Easter, starting from Friday until Monday,” said Minister Filipche. Regarding the position of Minister of Interior Nakje Chulev that the coming weekend should not be restricted as the Easter, Filipche said the decision would be taken by the Committee based on epidemiological and medical findings. “I believe these opinions should not be personal or reflect wishes by a certain group of citizens, but based on expert findings by the Committee for Infectious Diseases. This is how we have operated until now. They were based on number of patients and what we can expect from the restrictive measures in the sense of reducing the number of new cases. Of course, citizens do not like to stay at home, who would want to be closed for three days, but there is a reason behind this proposal,” added Filipche.

 

In North Macedonia on 1,2,3 May, curfew will start at 2 pm and will last until 5 am the next day (Libertas)

 

At today’s session, the government adopted a decision to restrict the movement of citizens on the territory of the entire country during the May Day holidays. As the Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski said, on 1, 2,3 May, i.e. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the movement of citizens will be allowed from 5 am to 2 pm. The ban on movement throughout the country will start at 2 pm and will last until 5 am the next day. For persons over 67 years of age, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, movement will be allowed from 5 am to 11 am. All children and young people up to 18 years of age will be able to go out on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 to 14:00. Republic of Northern Macedonia remain in force, Spasovski said.

 

In North Macedonia 22 new cases of Covid-19, a total of 1,421, 6 dead and 36 cured (Libertas)

 

The Ministry of Health announced that today the Institute of Public Health registers 36 recovered patients in Skopje-19, Kumanovo-1, Stip-5, Prilep-4, Tetovo-1, Struga-1, Veles-3, Gostivar-2.

Two people from Prilep died at the Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Febrile Conditions, a 58-year-old patient was hospitalized at the Clinic on April 19 and a 63-year-old patient was hospitalized on April 9, and both were connected to mechanical ventilation. Three people died at the CGH “September 8”, two patients from Skopje at the age of 75 and 58 and both hospitalized on April 26, and a patient from Tetovo age of 51, hospitalized on April 12. Two days ago, a patient from Skopje died at the Oncology Clinic at the age of 71. Its positive result on the Covid-19 was confirmed yesterday, said to the Ministry. In the past 24 hours, 362 tests were performed, and 22 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Skopje-11, Kumanovo-2, Struga-1, Veles-3, Kavadarci-2, Gostivar-2 and Negotino-1. Thus, the total number diagnosed with Covid-19 in the country is 1,421, the number of recovered patients is 589, the number of deaths is 71, and currently the number of active cases in the country is 761. The last distribution by cities is as follows:

Skopje – 486,

Kumanovo – 378,

Debar – 51,

Stip-34,

Prilep – 143,

Tetovo – 75,

Struga – 65,

Veles – 69,

Bitola – 19,

Ohrid – 15,

Kavadarci – 7,

Gostivar – 17,

Gevgelija – 4,

Strumica – 2,

Kriva Palanka – 5,

Radovish – 4,

Krushevo – 3,

Kocani – 28,

Probistip – 2,

Kicevo – 2,

Negotino – 5,

Demir Hisar – 1,

Makedonski Brod – 2,

Pehchevo – 1,

Valandovo – 1,

Vinica – 2.

The 362 tests on Covid -19 were performed in past 24, so far 15,771 in total.

Five new patients have been admitted to the Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Febrile Conditions, and a total of 52 are currently hospitalized. Three patients are critically ill and mechanically ventilated, 25 have a more severe clinical picture and oxygen masks. 3 patients were admitted to the CGH “September 8”, and a total of 28 patients were hospitalized. 3 patients have a more severe clinical picture and 6 are on a respiratory machine. Six patients are being treated at the Clinical Hospital in Bitola, and eight are being treated at home. In the Clinical Hospital in Stip there are 2 patients in hospital treatment, and 6 more patients are being monitored for home treatment. At the other infectious wards in Prilep, Veles, Kumanovo, Gostivar, Ohrid, Tetovo, a total of 46 patients were hospitalized, positive and suspected for Covid -19, reads the statement by the Ministry of Health.

 

New eased measured for the days to come (Radio Tirana)

 

Albania has entered a new phase on the battle against coronavirus. After several weeks of almost total blockage on 27 April, the application of mitigation measures has started, as the balance of the disease progress according to the medical authorities is improving. In all cities, the pedestrian movement schedule has been extended from 90 to 120 minutes. It is estimated that about 27,000 employees have returned to work today. They are mainly employees in retail stores such as clothing, shoes, flowers, etc. The taxi service has been reactivated today, but with no more than one customer on board. Authorities have warned of strict adherence to the security protocol, otherwise there will be penalties.

In Albania 14 new Coronavirus cases reported (ADN)

 

Fourteen new coronavirus cases were reported as of 11:00 AM on 28 April in Albania, according to data released by the Ministry of Health. This brings the total reported cases of coronavirus in Albania to 750, while 431 have recovered and 30 have passed away. Public Health Institute Director, Albana Fico informed this Tuesday that 7 new cases have been recorded in Tirana, 5 in Kruja and 2 in Shkodra, meanwhile Fico confirmed also the 30th victim caused by coronavirus in Albania, a 52-year-old man from Kruja. “During the last 24 hours, 267 people suspected of COVID-19 have been tested. From the test results, 14 positive cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed: 7 cases are in Tirana, 5 cases in Kruja and 2 cases in Shkodra. So far, 7758 suspected cases have been tested, out of which 750 tested positive. The average age of confirmed cases is 46.8 years,” said Fico. The geographical distribution of active and recovered patients is as follows:

Municipality- Infected- Recovered

Tirana- 309- 188

Shkodra- 107- 64

Kruja- 97- 9

Durresi- 42- 38

Fieri- 37- 29

Kurbini- 31-

Korca- 19- 18

Elbasani- 18- 15

Kukesi- 18- 10

Lezha- 14- 14

Hasi- 14- 12

Kavaja- 9- 8

Lushnja- 7- 4

Vlora- 5- 4

Puka- 5- 4

Mirdita- 5- 3

Rrogozhina- 4- 4

Tropoja- 4- 4

Berati- 3- 2

Mallakastra- 1- 1

Mati- 1-

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Serbs Take to Balconies in Protest Against Curfew (Bloomberg, by Misha Savic and Gordana Filipovic, 28 April 2020)

 

For two nights in a row, tens of thousands of Serbs banged pots and pans from their balconies, demonstrating their rising discontent with a curfew and other coronavirus-related restrictions imposed by President Aleksandar Vucic. Such protests have worked in the past. In the late 1990s, they voiced their discontent with late strongman Slobodan Milosevic, who led the nation into a war with most of its neighbors. He was ousted in 2000, months after NATO drove out Serb forces from Kosovo. The slogan “Down with the thieves!” echoed across residential areas of Belgrade and more than two dozen other cities late Monday. Confined to their homes, protesters accuse Vucic of going too far in the Balkan nation’s response to Covid-19. The government declared state of emergency in mid-March, expanding its authority to restrict movement and tighten control over institutions in measures fashioned after China’s response to the pandemic. The curfew is among Europe’s toughest. So far, Serbia has reported 8,275 infections and 162 dead. Several hundred people also protested Monday in Slovenia, another ex-Yugoslav state that’s now part of the European Union. It was the first anti-government protest against Premier Janez Jansa, a veteran politician who returned to power last month as the pandemic spread.

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