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Belgrade Media Report 4 May 2020

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Monday 4 May 2020

LOCAL PRESS

Vucic: The state of emergency to be lifted on 6 May (TV Pink/B92)
Ghebreyesus praises Serbia’s results in fight against COVID-19 (RTS)
Brnabic: State of emergency to be lifted soon while keeping precautionary measures (TV Prva/Tanjug)
Dacic: Agreement on opening border reached with Hungary (TV Prva/Tanjug)
Another 93 cases, 1,574 recovered (RTS)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

B&H CEC announces calling of local elections next week and calls on authorities to secure funding for holding of elections (Hayat)
OSCE’s Kavalec: It is too early to decide on postponement of elections (Dnevni avaz)
Deadline set by ECHR to amend Election Law and allow elections in Mostar expires, with no solution in sight (Dnevni list)
Anniversary of exodus of Serbs from Slavonija region marked in Gradiska (ATV)
Anniversary of Operation ‘Bljesak’ marked in Croatia; Milanovic leaves official ceremony because of Ustasha insignia worn by participants (BHT1/O kanal)
Reactions to announced coming of Russian military unit to Mostar (FTV)
Cvijanovic: RS could have been satisfied with epidemiological situation up until several days ago, but some indicators right now are not encouraging (Nezavisne)
Over 14,760 citizens enter B&H as of abolition of mandatory quarantines in FB&H until today (BHT1)
B&H confirms 79 new Covid-19 cases (N1)
Croatia

President: I can understand that it’s in govt’s interest to hold elections soon (Hina)
Non-emergency medical and personal care services reopen in Croatia (HRT)
In Croatia, 5 new cases of Covid-19, a total of 2101, 1 person has died (N1)
Montenegro

Rakocevic: Parliamentary elections won’t be postponed (Dan)
Second phase of easing of the measures in Montenegro has begun today (CDM)
Institute for Public Health of Montenegro reports 1 new coronavirus case (CDM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Election date once infectious diseases committee approves it, says Filipche (MIA/Telma TV)
Pendarovski says he’ll think twice about extending state of emergency (MIA)
Pendarovski: Bulgaria declaration could be real political hurdle (MIA/Alsat-M)
In North Macedonia 7 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed, 47 patients recovered, 1 person died (Libertas)
Albania

Rama explains the rules for the weeks to come (Radio Tirana)
Albania sees only 8 new Coronavirus cases (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

China’s medical experts honored for Serbia COVID-19 aid (CGTN)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic: The state of emergency to be lifted on 6 May (TV Pink/B92)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has announced that the state of emergency is likely to be lifted on Djurdjevdan, 6 May. He said the signed proposal by the President and Prime Minister would be submitted to the Assembly on Wednesday and that the state of emergency was expected to be lifted, which would come into force on Thursday, 7 May. “That would mean, we wouldn’t have a curfew as of Thursday,” the President said on TV Pink. “Of course, it is difficult for people to spend time at home, but it was the only way to preserve our parents, to preserve the younger ones as well, and I think for the most part, we have succeeded,” Vucic said. The President previously explained that the state found the opinion of the profession essential, when it came to the coronavirus epidemic. “We have brought these measures in line with what the profession has told us,” Vucic said. “I am not expert in their field of work and I did not hide that fact. We had no conflict. We tried to find a compromise solution taking into account their opinions,” Vucic explained. He explained that the state had its own responsibilities, among other, to enable it to function during a state of emergency. “It was our duty to ensure that the state was functioning, to bring our citizens back from abroad, to provide respirators,” Vucic said. Vucic spoke about comparing the situation in Serbia with the results achieved in other countries. “Serbia was destined to experience something similar to the situation in Italy,” he said, explaining that Serbia had successfully fought the epidemic. “The state has proven to be very serious and very operational.” Vucic also praised the doctors responsible for fighting coronavirus. Epidemiologist Predrag Kon pointed out that he was very pleased that the state was very fast and efficient when it came to implementing all the proposals and measures. “I think we’re near the end of this epidemic season,” Vucic said. “We are committed to protecting life. Imagine if we did what Sweden did, which has over 3.000 dead. When asked why my mother or father had to die, I would not know how to answer,” the President said. “We did not reduce the number of dead, we did not reduce the number of tests,” he added. Vucic pointed out that much more testing is now being done to detect a large number of lighter patients. He added that although in many cases people died from other diseases, they were positive and were reported to have died of COVID-19. “Two dates are possible – 14 or 21 June,” Vucic said when asked about the election date.

 

Ghebreyesus praises Serbia’s results in fight against COVID-19 (RTS)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic spoke today with World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus, who praised Serbia’s results in the fight against COVID-19 and said that the organisation will continue to help our country. Ghebreyesus supported Serbia for the implementation of the project “Sustainable production of a serological ELISA for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 virus” in Serbia. The project is envisaged to be carried out by the Faculty of Chemistry and the Institute for the Application of Nuclear Energy in Serbia, in cooperation with two partners – the Institute of Virology, Vaccines and Serums “Torlak” and the Clinical Centre of Serbia. The WHO Director said the organization will continue to help Serbia, both through the project and in its future commitment to improving the health system. Vucic praised the World Health Organization’s commitment, pointing out that Serbia respected the organization’s guidelines and was very pleased with the results achieved in the fight against the virus and in protecting the population from COVID-19.

 

Brnabic: State of emergency to be lifted soon while keeping precautionary measures (TV Prva/Tanjug)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Sunday that mitigation of restrictive measures in the fight against COVID-19 is underway, but also warned that if the number of new coronavirus cases does not continue to fall, the measures will be reintroduced. Brnabic told TV Prva that we have an encouraging downward trend in coronavirus infections, and stressed that along with the relaxation of the measures, there should be a high degree of personal responsibility of citizens so that the virus does not spread. She said she is optimistic about preventing the spread of coronavirus and expressed her hope that the state of emergency will soon be lifted, as announced by President Vucic. According to her, when the state of emergency is lifted, precautionary measures such as wearing masks, protective equipment, enhanced hygiene and disinfection will continue to apply. The ban on movement will be lifted along with the state of emergency, she said, adding that there is a plan to open the airports as well as international, urban and intercity transport. Brnabic reiterated that testing for the novel coronavirus will continue in the coming period, noting that the number of total tests made until now will exceed 100,000 today.

 

Dacic: Agreement on opening border reached with Hungary (TV Prva/Tanjug)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic stated on Saturday that an agreement has been reached with Hungary to open the border for our passengers, and that possible options on this matter are being discussed with Romania and Bulgaria. Dacic told TV Prva that he held talks with the ministers of the neighboring countries, but that he has not received adequate answers from Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Speaking about the EU, he said that they will not allow free traveling to all countries now, but that each country will make such a decision gradually. Dacic recalled that there is a category of people belonging to the so-called small border traffic zone, which includes the area of 50 kilometers from both sides of the border and reiterated that it would be important that these people have the freedom of passage because they have their property and jobs on the other side of the border.

 

Another 93 cases, 1,574 recovered (RTS)

 

Until 3pm, there have been another 93 cases, in total 9,557 cases. There have been four deaths, in total 197 deaths. There are 2,023 patients in hospitals, and 53 on respirators. A total of 1,574 people have recovered.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

B&H CEC announces calling of local elections next week and calls on authorities to secure funding for holding of elections (Hayat)

 

At a session held in Sarajevo on Thursday, the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Central Election Commission (CEC) discussed the information on preparation activities for the local elections that should be announced next week and held in the first week of October. Namely, the B&H CEC has sent an initiative to the B&H parliament for adoption of amendments to the B&H Election Law, which would make it possible to postpone the local elections. Since there has been no response to this initiative, the only thing left for the B&H CEC is to announce the local elections within the stipulated deadline, i.e. 150 days before they are supposed to be held. However, the B&H CEC warned of financial problems it is facing while trying to conduct the preparation activities. “One of the problems is inability to hire additional staff that the B&H CEC hires every time before the elections. This additional staff also needs to be educated, which requires funds,” reads a statement of the B&H CEC. Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Zoran Tegeltija stressed that there will be funds for the local elections, although the budget for 2020 has not been adopted yet. “I think we will have the budget and, of course, we will plan the necessary funds. If something happens and we fail to adopt the budget, there are clearly defined provisions making it possible to plan the necessary funds. We will secure the funds necessary for organizing the local elections,” Tegeltija said. According to SDA, the B&H CEC will certainly act in accordance with the law, but it is also necessary to monitor the epidemiological situation, especially during the pre-election campaign in September, as well as in October. Head of the SDA Caucus in the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) Adil Osmanovic stated: “When it comes to possible postponement of the local elections in October 2020, there should be a broad political consensus. SDA is ready for both options – either to amend the law or to hold the local elections.” On the other hand, SDP B&H deems that there is no reason to postpone the local elections, with all due respect for the current epidemiological situation. SDP B&H representative in the B&H HoR Sasa Magazinovic stated: “Several days ago, they announced local elections in Vienna. If local elections were held in Munich 15 days ago, if the neighboring countries are announcing elections, I cannot see a reason to cancel the elections here in B&H, except if someone wants the entire country to turn into Mostar.”

 

OSCE’s Kavalec: It is too early to decide on postponement of elections (Dnevni avaz)

 

The Head of OSCE Mission to B&H Kathleen Kavalec, speaking about the preparations for the 2020 local elections which are supposed to take place in October, said that it is too early for a decision on possible delay of the elections. According to her, preparations for the October elections should continue. “In my talks with all political actors I emphasized that the present times require efficient democracy, and that it is necessary to make sure that governments and elected officials answer to citizens. Elections are the backbone of every democratic society. Democracies throughout the world have found a way to continue performing their essential functions,” said Kavalec. She added that if the pandemic situation allows it, the October elections should take place. According to Kavalec, the main current obstacle to holding the October elections is not the coronavirus pandemic, but lack of money. She explained that B&H Central Election Commission will probably call the election in line with the Election Law, but if necessary funds are not secured on time, the Commission will not be able to organize the elections. “The necessary funds must be secured by adopting the state-level budget or through a special decision of B&H Council of Ministers. I called on leaders to do this as soon as possible,” Kavalec said. Commenting the ongoing crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Kavalec said that it is still too early to say how well B&H authorities responded to the pandemic. However, she noted, it is encouraging that the restrictive measures introduced at the very beginning of the crisis slowed down the epidemic and allowed the healthcare system to prepare. She underlined that the crisis is not over yet. “I am concerned that some citizens believe that the battle is won. It is not, and there are serious risks if we become too relaxed regarding the social distancing and other protective measures. It is important to have coordinated measures which are implemented based on carefully considered advice of epidemiologists,” said Kavalec.

 

Deadline set by ECHR to amend Election Law and allow elections in Mostar expires, with no solution in sight (Dnevni list)

 

In October 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), acting upon motion filed by Mostar citizens Irma Baralija, ruled that B&H parliament must amend B&H Election Law within six months in order to allow local elections to be held in Mostar. Namely, after B&H Constitutional Court ruled that parts of B&H Election Law and Statue of the City of Mostar were unconstitutional, there has been no legal basis to hold the election in this city and political parties have been unable to reach an agreement on this matter. The last election in Mostar was held in 2008. The deadline set by ECHR has expired, and there has been no progress. According to Baralija, the coronavirus pandemic is providing a perfect excuse for the political parties to do nothing regarding this matter. She reminded that B&H Central Election Commission (B&H CEC) is expected to call the 2020 local elections next week, and it is already clear that B&H CEC will not be able to call the election for Mostar as well. According to constitutional law expert Nurko Pobric, B&H Constitutional Court might act and pass a ruling which would allow the election to take place in Mostar. However, it is not clear if this is likely to happen. The daily reminds that Head of EU Delegation Johann Sattler also spoke about this problem during his last week’s visit to Mostar. Sattler reminded that finding a solution for election process in Mostar is one of the 14 priorities defined by the EU. He added that he personally would prefer B&H parliament to find a solution to this problem. HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic stated that even if it is not possible to hold the local election in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, it would be good to find a way to hold the election in Mostar only, since the last election in this city took place so long ago. Head of SDA’s Mostar City Board Salem Maric expressed hope that the local election will be held in Mostar at last. Maric said that SDA would prefer a solution agreed by political parties and adopted by parliament. However, if this is not possible, Maric said that B&H Constitutional Court or CEC should pass a temporary decision in order to allow the election to finally take place.

 

Anniversary of exodus of Serbs from Slavonija region marked in Gradiska (ATV)

 

The marking of the 25th anniversary of the exodus of 15,000 Serbs from Western Slavonia during the Croatian military-police Operation ‘Bljesak’ (Flash) began on Friday in Gradiska without the presence of citizens due to the state of emergency caused by the coronavirus outbreak and the mass gathering ban. The marking, which began with a memorial service for the killed Serbs, was attended by Republika Srpska (RS) President Zeljka Cvijanovic and Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik, RS Minister of Labor, War Veterans and Disabled Persons Protection, Dusko Milunovic, Mayor of Gradiska Zoran Adzic, as well as representatives of Serb refugees from Western Slavonia. The commemoration program included laying of wreaths at a memorial plaque to Serb victims from Western Slavonia near the Church of the Blessed Virgin. Between 1 and 2 May 1995, Croatian military-police forces carried out the operation in Western Slavonia, which was a UN-controlled area, killing 283 Serbs, including 114 civilians, among whom there were 56 women and eight children, and expelling 15,000 Serbs. Dodik and Cvijanovic emphasized that Serbs must stand united and always remember those that gave their lives for what they believed was right. Dodik stated that historic relations between Serbs and Croats are rather difficult. He added that one evidence for this claim is the fact Croatia celebrates anniversary of ‘Bljesak’ while Serbs honor victims. “If you add Bosniaks-Muslims to this equation, our entire history is related to the fact while some mark victories other mark commemorations,” explained Dodik. Dodik said that Serbs are the biggest victims of the last century and added that the operation ‘Bljesak’ must never be forgotten. He said: “We vow to defend the freedom of the Serb people. We can talk about preservation of the Serb people only there where we have a state”. According to Dodik, the genesis of killings of Serbs in the area of Croatia dates from a long time ago. He also underlined that Serbs do not come to Donja Gradina to vow for revenge but to pay tribute to the victims and to vow for peace. Cvijanovic said that it is their obligation to honor the victims, to speak about the crimes especially about the ones about which the world does not want to talk about, including the crimes committed during the ‘Bljesak’. She stressed that there is no justification in any war or in any political process to treat the civilians who leave their areas in this way.

 

Anniversary of Operation ‘Bljesak’ marked in Croatia; Milanovic leaves official ceremony because of Ustasha insignia worn by participants (BHT1/O kanal)


The 25th anniversary of Operation ‘Bljesak’ carried out by Croatian Army and police in 1995 with the goal to liberate western part of Slavonija region was marked on Friday by a ceremony held in Okucani. Representatives of Croatian political leadership attended this ceremony. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Gordan Jandrokovic, and Croatian President Zoran Milanovic were supposed to lay a wreath together at the memorial site, but Milanovic left the event in protest against the salute “For the homeland ready” which was visible on the T-shirts of some war veterans who had arrived in Okucani to participate in the commemoration (The controversial salute, originally used by the Nazi-allied Ustasha regime in WWII, was revived during the 1991-1995 war in Croatia among right-wing paramilitary groups). Milanovic explained that he found the T-shirts to be an act of provocation and an insult to the memory of all those who gave their lives for Croatia. Milanovic said:” My office did not take part in organization of this gathering. This was organized by the Ministry of Veterans. We agreed to absolutely all elements of the protocol However, a participant here was dressed in a uniform with the message ‘For the homeland ready’ and I do not want to take part in that. This is my standpoint. I am sorry. This is a deliberate provocation to which we were counting and it happened. Unfortunately, this happened because someone wanted it to happen. I have to say that I will not take part in all similar situations that may happen in the future period”. Plenkovic said that Milanovic’s decision to leave the event was not good.

Milorad Dodik welcomed the act of the Croatian President Zoran Milanovic who left the ceremony in Okucani over Ustasha insignia worn by some of the people attending the ceremony. “I think this is a good path and a signal of efforts made to significantly normalize relations,” said Dodik. Dodik stated: “I believe that Croatia – as well as Serbs as a whole – will find ways to make a peaceful concept of co-existence in which there will be no conflicts”. In that future, Dodik stated, full respect for all victims on all sides must be shown, as that is the only way to go forward.

 

Reactions to announced coming of Russian military unit to Mostar (FTV)

 

The fuss regarding the announced arrival of Russian military-sanitary team to Mostar hospital, upon invitation of HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic, is not calming down. B&H Security Minister Fahrudin Radoncic reacted immediately and did not allow the Border Police of B&H to approve entrance for the team for 24 hours. Minister Radoncic informed B&H Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the case, which first asked him to declare on this, saying that the decision about this is under competence of B&H Presidency. Radoncic explained that the reason is the fact that the Russian Embassy to B&H provided different data compared to the data provided on the occasion of the team’s visit to Banja Luka and other parts of the RS. This time, the information provided by the Russian Embassy to B&H included a much more detailed list of military-technical devices, names and military ranks of all members of the team. “It means that the B&H Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not qualify this as a humanitarian action, unlike in the case of their visit to Banja Luka, so it requested a reaction of the B&H Ministry of Defense and the B&H Ministry of Security. The two ministries proposed to the B&H Ministry of Foreign Affairs that everything should be forwarded to the B&H Presidency for decision-making, which is in line with the law. That is a legalist approach,” Radoncic was quoted as saying. B&H Presidency Chairman Sefik Dzaferovic has stated that the B&H Presidency cannot decide on the possible arrival of a unit of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation from Serbia to Mostar because necessary procedures have not been complied with. According to Dzaferovic, the B&H Armed Forces have a unit for disinfection and decontamination. Dzaferovic stressed that, as one of the members of the B&H Presidency whose jurisdiction this falls under, he is ready at any point to give approval for the use of that unit in any part of B&H. Croat member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic wondered what is the real purpose of inviting and arrival of Russian military unit in B&H. Komsic stressed that considering that the presence of this unit of the Russian army on the territory of B&H is completely unnecessary and that this unit was invited in B&H from completely different reasons than those which were publicly stated and that this is a kind of, as soldiers and intelligence agents like to say, activity of the so-called special, psychological action, he believes that the Russian unit should not have come to B&H, nor that it should return again. “As a member of the B&H Presidency, I want to say publicly that I am absolutely against such activities on the territory of B&H,” Komsic said in a press release. Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said that the humanitarian help of the Russian experts for the fight against COVID-19 was focused mostly on the disinfection of the space with special equipment and vehicles they transported from Russia. He added that this help was timely and efficient. “Reactions to the call of Covic to the Russian Federation is pure politicization which originates from the constant rusophobia of Bosniak politicians which is being kept up by foreign prompters and lobbies, because of which, sadly, they rejected the arrival of the necessary help to Mostar,” said Dodik. He explained that the team of Russian experts uses modern equipment which is not used by any company in B&H. Dodik reminded that the Russians were ready to send help to Sarajevo and other parts of the Federation of B&H, if there was a call for help. He added that many foreign countries welcomed the help of Russia and they were unwanted only in B&H.

 

Cvijanovic: RS could have been satisfied with epidemiological situation up until several days ago, but some indicators right now are not encouraging (Nezavisne)

 

RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic said that epidemiological situation in the RS has become a bit more complicated. She added that next steps will be taken depending on trends and in line with expert recommendations. Cvijanovic reminded that the number of persons infected with coronavirus in the RS has been growing for several days, even though it was supposed to be decreasing, and noted that the RS could have been satisfied with the situation up until several days ago, “but now we have indicators which are not encouraging”. When it comes to speculations about alleged collapse of healthcare system in the RS, Cvijanovic said that it seems as if idle ones are trying to criticize those who have too much work to do, and that some are trying to remedy their own frustrations instead of contributing to the greater good or helping their colleagues.

 

Over 14,760 citizens enter B&H as of abolition of mandatory quarantines in FB&H until today (BHT1)

 

As of 24 April – when the mandatory 14-day-long quarantine in the FB&H for passengers from abroad was abolished – over 14,760 persons entered B&H until today. BHT1 investigated whether this can influence increase of the number of persons infected with the Coronavirus in B&H. Most of the persons entered B&H at border crossings in the FB&H: Orasje, Maljevac and Izacic. Commander of the B&H Border Police Unit at the Izacic Border Crossing Nedzad Vojic said that the number of entrance has tripled compared with the weekend, but the number is still far from the usual traffic. BHT1 warned that the number of decisions issued for home isolation is growing and on Wednesday the number reached to 433. The Una Sana Canton (USC) crisis headquarters reacted on Wednesday – after the USC registered 11 new cases of the COVID-19 which is the highest number of infected persons registered in one day – and expressed discontent due to abolition of the mandatory quarantine. The USC Crisis HQ characterized the decision of the FB&H Civil Protection Crisis HQ on abolition of the mandatory quarantine as hasty. USC Minister of Health Nermina Cemalovic said that the peak that they registered on Wednesday is not good at all. She said that among the 11 infected persons, is also one person who came from Slovenia adding that this person may not come to B&H if the quarantine was still in force. The USC crisis HQ requested from higher levels of power to urgency introduce rapid tests for the COVID-19 on border crossings, bearing in mind that most of the B&H citizens in the Diaspora come from the area of the USC and bearing in mind that doctors will not carry out medical checks at borders. Assistant to Director of the FB&H Administration for Inspection Affairs Merima Tanovic said that this would be very efficient and characterized this as a good move.

 

B&H confirms 79 new Covid-19 cases (N1)

 

B&H health authorities reported 79 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, 69 in the RS and 10 in the FB&H. According to the RS Health Minister Alen Seranic, after testing 447 samples, 69 came back positive raising the total number of positive cases in this part of the country to 969, of which 42 had died. He also noted that this marks the third day of an increased number of new cases in this entity, where 381 patients had recovered from the virus. When it comes to the FB&H, 557 samples have been tested over the past 24 hours, of which 10 came back positive, the FB&H Health Ministry’s Crisis Staff said Monday. A total of 938 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in this entity so far, of which 426 recovered. There was also a new fatality. An 82-year-old woman had died in Banja Luka University Hospital. The hospital said she was admitted for Covid-19 treatment on April 22, and that she suffered from multiple pre-existing chronic diseases. B&H’s Civil Affairs Ministry said the country’s total tally is 1,926, with 857 people who recovered and 78 fatalities.

 

President: I can understand that it’s in govt’s interest to hold elections soon (Hina)

 

During his interview with the RTL broadcaster on Friday evening, President Zoran Milanovic declined to speculate about possible dates for Croatia’s parliamentary elections this year, adding that he could understand the government’s wish to have elections soon. “It is evident that it is in the interest of this government to have the elections as soon as possible. With every additional month to pass, the dissatisfaction of citizens with the economic situation, for which they (the government) is not responsible, will grow,” Milanovic said in his comment on the economic scenarios stemming from the corona crisis. He said that that he would be in favor of the extended term of the parliament if necessary and if possible under the constitution.

Asked whether Croatia’s national COVID-19 crisis management team is a political or expert body, Milanovic said that the team was led by doctors who were “in the politically conditioned positions as they are members of one political option and that it is allowable”. As for the COVID-19 epidemic and the subsequent crisis, Milanovic elaborated that all the governments had similar approaches to the issue and that all the countries would suffer economic damage, including Sweden which, he said, in his opinion had a good approach to the crisis. Milanovic has no objections to government’s rescue package.  He went on to say that the cabinet led by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic had adopted the necessary set of measures and that he had no objection. The government could not have done anything more to ensure smaller contraction of Gross Domestic Product, said Milanovic, expressing again understanding for this whole situation. He holds that entrepreneurs are right when they ask for lower taxes and contributions, adding that those costs for businesses are within the European average. He admitted that they could always be lower, however, the state must have its revenues to function. Milanovic went on to say that the citizens would have to live in line with epidemiological measures and care for the elderly and other vulnerable groups. “This will not pass overnight. It will last for some time and traumatize us,” Milanovic said calling for patience.

 

Non-emergency medical and personal care services reopen in Croatia (HRT)

 

Hospitals, doctor’s offices and personal care salons are open again as Croatia entered on Monday phase two of the government’s plan to ease coronavirus restrictions. The health care system has been focused on COVID-19 since Croatia went into lockdown six weeks ago, but non-emergency services are again available at public health care institutions around the country starting today. Health Minister Vili Beros has promised that waiting lists for medical procedures and tests will be updated and patients will be given new dates for their appointments. He has also said the system would step up coordination with primary care physicians to ensure patients are well prepared and spend as little time in hospital for their elective procedures as possible. Hospitals will also be increasing out-patient care and day surgery services to reduce traffic in waiting rooms. Health care institutions will be working in two shifts, and possibly over the weekend if needed, Beros said. Personal care services, such as hairdressers, barbers, cosmetics and nail salons, and tattoo parlors are also reopening today under strict social distancing and hygiene rules. The guidelines issued by public health authorities for hair salons and barbershops include providing hand sanitizing gel for clients and staff, marking off seats in waiting areas to ensure adequate space between waiting customers, and installing plexiglass dividers at the cash register desk.

 

In Croatia, 5 new cases of Covid-19, a total of 2101, 1 person has died (N1)

 

Currently, a total of 2101 people in Croatia has been infected with coronavirus and 1522 has recovered. A total of 80 people has died. “In the past 24 hours in the Republic of Croatia we have 5 newly diagnosed patients, a total of 2101” said Health Minister Vili Beros at a press conference at the National Civil Protection Headquarters. He added that 1 more person had passed away.

 

Rakocevic: Parliamentary elections won’t be postponed (Dan)

 

The final deadline for holding elections has been defined by law and I’m sure the legal system will be observed, i.e. parliamentary elections will be held before the due date, head of the DPS caucus, Nikola Rakocevic, noted. In an interview for Dan daily, he said that the opposition has been making unreasonable requests. When asked whether the DPS is ready to discuss the election reform after the epidemic passes, Rakocevic says that the existing election legislation has been aligned with the most important international standards. On the opposition’s request for the postponement of elections due in autumn, he told: “That won’t happen. There’s a determined final deadline for holding elections and I’m sure the legal system will be observed, that is, parliamentary elections will be held before the due date.”

 

Second phase of easing of the measures in Montenegro has begun today (CDM)

 

Since the beginning of the infection, 322 cases of new coronavirus infection have been registered in Montenegro, 65 are currently ill and 249 have been cured, while 8 people has died. The second phase of easing of the measures has begun today. After more than 50 days, certain hairdressing and beauty salons, crafts, fitness centers, bookstores were opened, taxi transportation, driving schools, rent-a-car… For each activity, special conditions were put in place, among other things, care must be taken to respect physical distance and hygiene, and wearing of masks is mandatory.

 

Institute for Public Health of Montenegro reports 1 new coronavirus case (CDM)

 

After four days of zero coronavirus cases in Montenegro, one new infection has been found in Bijelo Polje and the source of infection is still unknown, the Institute for Public Health reports.

“Analysis of 164 samples has revealed one new coronavirus case. The person is from Bijelo Polje and there is no data on the source of infection in this case,” the Institute says. So far, 323 coronavirus cases have been reported in Montenegro. Number of active cases is 66 whereas 249 persons have recovered. Around 1,402 persons are under watch. 8 persons who were positive for coronavirus have died. Number of cases in municipalities:

Podgorica: 164

Tuzi: 37

Nikšić: 34

Bar: 23

Ulcinj: 22

Andrijevica: 7

Bijelo Polje: 7

Budva: 7

Plav: 7

Herceg Novi: 6

Danilovgrad: 3

Gusinje: 3

Tivat: 3

 

Election date once infectious diseases committee approves it, says Filipche (MIA/Telma TV)

 

Election date will be set once the committee for infectious diseases approves it, Health Minister Venko Filipche has stated. “No event, not even the elections, which were scheduled before the onset of the crisis, has never been discussed so far and it has never served as the foundation for our recommendations. Everything that was recommended to the Ministry and the government, all measures were designed to give top priority to public health. We’ll continue to prioritize it in the future,” Filipche told Telma TV in a statement. Proposals in the future, he added, will be based on expert opinion, analysis of the number of patients, and the number of new confirmed cased and the number of patients treated in hospitals and those at home. According to the Minister, every day the number of new confirmed cases and hospitalized patients is dropping with the number of recovered patients rapidly growing. “This means that the measures have been designed and planned well, they were based on medical proof and epidemiological science,” Filipche said. He said that blood plasma therapy has started at the Clinic for Infectious Diseases yesterday after a COVID-19 patient was given blood plasma extracted from two people who have recovered from the new virus. On the reopening of restaurants and coffee bars, Filipche said that protocols have been drafted about public transportation, restaurants and coffee bars. “We are still waiting for proposals from the chambers of commerce, but we still cannot say when they will reopen.” According to him, when and how life will get back to normal depends on whether the number of confirmed cases will continue to drop. Minister Filipche also noted that health workers who are on sick leave after being infected and treated for COVID-19 would be paid full salary.

 

Pendarovski says he’ll think twice about extending state of emergency (MIA)

 

A leaders’ meeting could take place between 10 and 12 May and the leaders of both SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE have confirmed that they would come, as well as the leaders of the parties of the Albanian bloc, both the ruling party and the opposition, President Stevo Pendarovski has said. Pendarovski said he had spoken on the phone with both SDSM’s Zoran Zaev and VMRO-DPMNE’s Hristijan Mickoski. The party leaders at the meeting are expected to discuss the prospect of elections. The President was asked why the party leaders need to discuss elections since the government has passed a decree, saying election activities will continue once the state of emergency is declared over. According to him, the decrees with the force of law are valid until the state of emergency is in force. “Then, for the decrees to continue to be valid, parliament should uphold them – if the legislative house upholds them they remain valid, if not, they become null and void. It is one of the legal opinions my legal advisors have been telling me. I’m not saying it is the definitive truth, but I want to say it,” Pendarovski said. The government, he noted, has been adopting decrees with the force of laws and the government has legislative power only during a state of emergency. “The government only during a state of emergency is allowed to pass decrees with the force of law, this isn’t permitted if parliament is active. So what’s the problem? Parliament isn’t able to convene because its head believes that the assembly is definitely dissolved. It strikes me as odd that even the opposition is against having a reactivated parliament in order to have check and balances,” Pendarovski stressed. He was asked whether he would extend the state of emergency for another 30 days after it ends on 16 May. Pendarovski amid the coronavirus pandemic declared a state of emergency twice – on 18 March and 16 April. “If the health crisis, the COVID-19-related situation starts calming down – I wish that from the bottom of my heart – I’ll think twice if I’m going to extend the state of emergency, 30 days plus 30 days and another 30 until the end of the year,” President Pendarovski said in the interview.

 

Pendarovski: Bulgaria declaration could be real political hurdle (MIA/Alsat-M)

 

If the price we have to pay is to say we are not Macedonians and the language I speak is not Macedonian, then we don’t need the EU, President Stevo Pendarovski said in an interview with Alsat-M, commenting on Bulgaria’s statement attached to the conclusions of the EU General Affairs Council. Commenting on Bulgaria’s demands regarding the Macedonian language, Pendarovski said it was ‘the most rigid’ provision in the declaration of the Bulgarian parliament. “I have to be honest, I reread the sentence twice, three times when I read it the first time, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that in the 21st century someone could dispute someone else’s language, disputing the way it is being called for decades despite the fact it is codified,” the President said. Macedonian language, he stressed, is a historic fact and is recognized internationally since 1974. The UN at a 1977 conference, the President added, verified the language, thus concluding something that has been a pure linguistic and practical fact. “It’s also a fact that in 1946, a committee led by (linguist and professor) Blazhe Koneski had codified the Macedonian standard language. And these are facts, they are not up for a debate,” Pendarovski stated. He said the declaration adopted by the Bulgarian parliament ‘is against several basic principles of our agreement with Bulgaria. “The key phrase used in the bilateral agreement is shared history, meaning people and events that are considered key figures and events by both Bulgaria and Macedonia,” Pendarovski noted, adding: “If we rely on this phrase, we will be able to find a joint solution very soon. If we keep on insisting on declaring that everything before 1944 is joint history – read between the lines, Bulgarian history – then we have nothing to negotiate about.” President Pendarovski said that the Bulgarian declaration, which was endorsed by both the ruling party and the opposition, could prove to be ‘a real political hurdle’ in the adoption of the negotiating framework between the European Commission and North Macedonia, which is expected this June. He was also asked about the comments by professor Denko Maleski, the President’s aide, who recently in an op-ed on Macedonian-Bulgarian relations wrote that “we have to adjust to the historical truth that in the past we were part of the same nation.” His statements caused public backlash in the country.

“I do not agree with him in this regard, I don’t think he is right. He is only one of the few people who advise me on foreign affairs. I want to have advisors and aides who can tell me when I’m not right, but I have to say I don’t agree with him on this,” President Pendarovski concluded.

 

In North Macedonia 7 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed, 47 patients recovered, 1 person died (Libertas)

 

The Ministry of Health of North Macedonia informs that today the Institute of Public Health registered 47 recovered patients. Skopje-9, Kumanovo-9, Prilep-8, Tetovo-13, Ohrid-1, Gostivar-5, Kocani-1 and Kriva Palanka-1. A 65-year-old patient from Skopje, hospitalized at the clinic on April 27, died at the Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Febrile Conditions. Over the past 24 hours, 113 tests have been performed, and 7 new cases of covid-19 has been confirmed. Skopje-1, Prilep-1, Tetovo-4 and Kratovo-1. According to this, the total number of cases diagnosed in our country since the beginning of the epidemic is 1.518, the number of recovered patients is 992, the death toll is 85, and currently the number of active cases in the country is 441. So far, a total of 17,359 Covid-19 tests have been performed in the country. The latest distribution by cities is as follows:

Skopje – 512

Kumanovo – 401

Debar – 51

Stip-34

Prilep –159

Tetovo – 90

Struga – 67

Veles – 77

Bitola -19

Ohrid –15

Kavadarci – 5

Gostivar – 17

Gevgelija – 4

Strumica – 2

Kriva Palanka-5

Radovish – 4

Krushevo – 3

Kocani – 31

Probistip – 2

Kicevo – 2

Negotino -9 (7 infected persons are residents of Demir Kapija)

Demir Hisar – 1

Маkedonski Brod-2

Pehchevo- 2

Delchevo-1

Valandovo -1

Vinica – 2

Kratovo-1

 

Rama explains the rules for the weeks to come (Radio Tirana)

 

Prime Minister Edi Rama has once again commented on the new rules, regarding the restrictions and gradual facilitation for opening of businesses and freedoms for citizens in the period of pandemics for the next 3 weeks. For the next 3 Mondays, there will be a larger number of businesses at work, and an increase in green areas, but also changes for repatriates, where after 11 May everyone will be self-quarantined in their apartment. Specifically, during the coming week, on Monday, May 4, 18 other green areas have been added to the list, while the taxi service has been facilitated, where the movement will already be intercity throughout the country and from 1 passenger now 2 persons can travel inside the taxi, but always members of one family. Regarding the repatriation a change has taken place, where those living in the red areas will self-quarantined in their apartment and not in quarantine hotels. While the rest living in the green areas will stay in the hotel quarantine for 14 days.

 

Albania sees only 8 new Coronavirus cases (ADN)

 

Albania on Monday reported 8 new Coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infected to 803. 5 new cases were discovered in Tirana, 2 in Elbasan and 1 case in Durres. 31 one patients have died of coronavirus in Albania so far. The cities that have the most active cases are Tirana and Kruja. “Out of 140 tests performed during the last 24 hours for people suspected with COVID-19, only 8 positive cases, were detected. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 803 citizens have been confirmed positive for COVID-19 throughout the country, and currently 68% of them have recovered. There are 229 active cases throughout the country. Currently 34 patients are hospitalized and only 7 of them are in intensive care,” said the Institute of Public Health expert, Eugena Tomini. The geographical distribution of active cases is as follows:

Tirana 93

Kruja 87

Shkodra 17

Kurbin 14

Kukes 5

Elbasan 4

Mirdita 2

Berat 2

Durres 1

Korce 1

Lezha 1

lushnje 1

Mat 1

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

China’s medical experts honored for Serbia COVID-19 aid (CGTN, by Aljosa Milenkovic, 3 May 2020)

 

Serbia has the highest number of people infected by COVID-19 in the Western Balkans. At the same time, the country has one of the lowest death rates from the virus in Europe. The country’s health authorities say that one of the reasons for this is the substantial medical help that came from China, at the very beginning of the outbreak. The first batch arrived on 21 March, just five days after the state of emergency was declared in the country. Onboard the Air Serbia’s A330 was much needed medical equipment, ventilators, PPE suits, and also a team of six COVID-19 combat-hardened Chinese medics. Over a month later, the epidemic in Serbia started slowing down, and part of that team left the country. But before that, Serbia’s defense minister handed military medals to the entire team of Chinese medical experts. It was a token of appreciation towards their work in helping combat the pandemic in Serbia. On advice from these experts, Serbia adopted practices such as isolating even mild cases of the virus in field hospitals and implemented a Wuhan-style strict lockdown, with those over the age of 65 confined to their homes at all times. At the ceremony in the Serbian Ministry of Defence, Chinese Ambassador Chen Bo said: “Remaining members of the team will stay here in Serbia. But if it is required, and needed by Serbia, China will send more medics here.” At the height of the pandemic, a bridge between China and Serbia was established in the skies. As a rapidly growing need for face masks emerged, a solution was offered by the Chinese side to import face masks production machines and so Serbia could make its own. Air Serbia’s Airbus A330 delivered those machines from Shanghai. They were installed and started production in record time by Healthcare Europe in the town of Ruma, just 60 kilometers west of Belgrade. The company’s Chief Operating Officer Aleksandar Andersen Podravac told CGTN about this unique endeavor. “This is one good example of how good our cooperation can be. I mean, it’s not usual to see such a plant in Europe only three weeks after it is ordered from the Chinese factory. So, this is first-class and world-class cooperation.” The production line here works 24 hours a day and will soon reach its designed capacity of producing almost 200 thousand face masks. All of these masks are being bought by the Serbian government, primarily for its healthcare workers.

 

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