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Belgrade Media Report 05 May

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LOCAL PRESS

Elections in Serbia slated for 21 June (Tanjug)
Proposal of decision on abolition of the state of emergency submitted to the parliament (Tanjug/B92)
Another 120 cases, 1,723 recovered (RTS)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

RS officials express concern over increase of number of infected in RS, they argue that control of protection measures must be strengthened (ATV)
Dodik: RS government ready to propose to RS parliament to lift state of emergency and return to emergency situation in upcoming days (N1)
Chinese President sends letter to Dodik, wishing authorities and citizens in B&H fast victory over pandemic (RTRS)
Russian Embassy dismisses insinuations that Russian medical workers visit B&H for different reasons other than assistance to hospital in Mostar (BHT1)
US Embassy: All assistance needs to be adequately coordinated with relevant authorities (Dnevni avaz)
FB&H House of Peoples adopts Law on Mitigation of Negative Economic Consequences of Coronavirus Pandemic (FTV)
Working group tasked to launch reform process and implementation of 14 priorities from EC’s Opinion holds meeting (BHT1)
B&H’s Covid-19 tally nears 2,000, death toll stands at 79 (N1)
Croatia

Coronavirus has turned public’s focus away from upcoming parliamentary election in Croatia (HRT)
EU promises greater assistance to Balkans, but does not mention membership or enlargement (Jutarnji list)
In Croatia, 11 new infections, totaling 2.112, 3 more died (N1)
Montenegro

Around €1,9 million for subsidies, sport activities to resume on Wednesday, competition without audience on 1 June (CDM)
Only one test coronavirus positive in Montenegro (CDM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Sela rejects Pendarovski’s warning that Macedonia may give up its EU integration, claims that the Albanian language is discriminated against (Republika)
Gruevski: You’re naive if you think that the Bulgarian demands will end with the Macedonian language and history (Republika)
Filipche: Elections in North Macedonia to be administered using strict protocol (MIA)
Government plans to reduce the curfew, re-open restaurants and cafes (Republika)
In North Macedonia 8 new cases of Covid-19, 21 recovered, 1 died (Libertas)
Albania

First medical aid from the EU arrives in Albania (Radio Tirana)
In Albania lockdown loosened, COVID-19 cases rise again (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

Zagreb Declaration in shadow of COVID-19: WB has an EU perspective, EU assistance deserves public acknowledgement (EWB)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Elections in Serbia slated for 21 June (Tanjug)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stated on Monday night, after meeting with representatives of nine political lists that announced participation in the elections, that parliamentary and local elections in Serbia will be held on 21 June. Vucic underlined that elections are a democratic right and the greatest interest of the citizens and the state of Serbia, to elect the parliament and other state authorities. He added that the opinion of health experts will be taken into account regarding the election campaign. Vucic announced that if all goes well, the Serbian parliament will lift the state of emergency on Wednesday, which is why the question of elections re-emerged. They had been scheduled for 26 April, but were postponed due to the COVID-19 epidemic. He said that he accepted the proposal of some political parties to have 38 days for the election campaign before the date of the elections, which is why the parliamentary and local elections in most municipalities will be held on 21 June. According to him, major electoral rallies are not expected in May, especially indoors, while as for June, the opinion of doctors will be considered. Commenting on the fact that there are not enough notaries-public to certify signatures, Vucic said that the political parties that will run in the elections made an agreement that in addition to notaries-public, the municipal certifying authorities will also certify signatures of support.

After this difficult period, we need to create an atmosphere of support and elect a parliament and government that will serve the interest of the people, Vucic stated and wished everyone success in the elections.

 

Proposal of decision on abolition of the state of emergency submitted to the parliament (Tanjug/B92)

 

The draft Decision on the abolition of the state of emergency, which was proclaimed on 15 March, reached the Serbian parliament.Also, the Bill on the validity of the regulations passed by the government with the signature of the President of the Republic during the state of emergency, which was approved by the Serbian parliament, reached the parliament. The Proposal for a Decision on lifting the state of emergency that the activities of the competent health organizations and state bodies in the territory of Serbia have established active epidemiological surveillance of the disease COVID-19 in order to implement preventive and anti-epidemic measures in the control of the spread of coronavirus. As a result of the implementation of the measures, there was a slowdown in the epidemic flow and the creation of conditions for the gradual acquisition of collective immunity. In such controlled conditions of spread of infection there was a decrease in the intensity of virus activity. “In view of the above facts, COVID-19 can no longer be considered a disease of public health, which poses the highest risk to the state and citizens, so the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister jointly assessed that the conditions for declaring a state of emergency had ceased and decided, in accordance with the Law on Defense, to submit a proposal to the Serbian parliament to take a decision on the abolition of the state of emergency”, the statement said. The Bill on the Validity of Regulations states that on 11 May, the competent election commissions will issue a decision on the continuation of electoral activities in the process of holding elections for MPs, MPs of the Assembly of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, along with the MPs of assemblies of municipalities and cities. “It is the responsibility of the competent election commissions to provide and keep the existing election documentation until the continuation of electoral activities and elections, and to set new deadlines for the conduct of electoral activities in the electoral process in accordance with the time of continuation of electoral activities,” reads the Bill.

 

Another 120 cases, 1,723 recovered (RTS)

 

Until 3 pm, there have been another 120 cases, in total 9,677 infected. There have been three more deaths, in total 200 deaths.  There are 51 patients on respirators, and 1,723 people have recovered.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

RS officials express concern over increase of number of infected in RS, they argue that control of protection measures must be strengthened (ATV)

 

Republika Srpska (RS) President Zeljka Cvijanovic, RS Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic, RS Minister of Interior Dragan Lukac, Mayor of Banja Luka Igor Radojicic and Acting Director of the RS Administration for Inspection Affairs Dragutin Skrebic held a meeting in Banja Luka on Monday. During the meeting, the officials expressed their concern with the increase of number of persons infected with the Coronavirus in the RS. In this regard, the officials underlined the need to strengthen control of protection measures; prohibition on gathering and mandatory wearing of protection equipment. The officials also discussed the possibility of redistribution of employees within the RS Administration for Inspection Affairs. They also discussed the implementation of the decree amending the law on the protection of population from contagious diseases. According to head of the team tasked with monitoring of implementation of measures imposed by the RS Crisis Headquarters Nenad Stevandic, along with poor discipline, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FB&H) is also partially responsible for the increase number of cases of coronavirus infection in the RS due to the decision of the FB&H authorities to abolish the curfew and quarantine facilities in the territory of the FB&H. He reminded that the growth in the number of new cases of infection in the RS has come a week after the curfew and quarantine facilities in the FB&H were abolished on 24 April.

 

Dodik: RS government ready to propose to RS parliament to lift state of emergency and return to emergency situation in upcoming days (N1)

 

Serb member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik told N1 on Monday that the RS government is ready to propose to the RS parliament to lift the state of emergency and return to the emergency situation in the upcoming days. He stated that an option to shorten the curfew or to lift it entirely is also being considered, but that all depends on further evaluations of the epidemiological situation. He reminded that competent health authorities in the RS were asked to do an analysis on possible causes of the increased number of cases of coronavirus infection in the RS lately. However, Dodik stressed that despite the increase in the number of infection cases he believes that the situation will be stabilized in the next 10 days, which will create a possibility to lift the curfew and the state of emergency, as well as to allow reopening of businesses with adequate protective measures.

 

Chinese President sends letter to Dodik, wishing authorities and citizens in B&H fast victory over pandemic (RTRS)

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping has sent a letter to Serb member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik, in which he stressed that China is ready to continue the cooperation in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. “I give great importance to the cooperation proposals regarding biotechnical pharmacy that you have proposed. The Chinese side is ready, together with B&H, to promote the cooperation in technological innovation, in the health and medical sciences, as well as to broaden the cooperation in the field of public health and contribute to the development of a health-related Silk Road, in order to protect the health and well-being of the peoples of the two countries,” Xi said in the letter. He voiced readiness to work with the Serb member of B&H Presidency to continuously deepen bilateral cooperation.

 

Russian Embassy dismisses insinuations that Russian medical workers visit B&H for different reasons other than assistance to hospital in Mostar (BHT1)

 

Representatives of the Russian Embassy to B&H stated that they have a dilemma while observing the B&H authorities’ reaction to the request for securing undisturbed movement of the Russian humanitarian medical team via border crossings in B&H, in order for the team to provide assistance to the University-Clinical Hospital in Mostar. They dismissed the insinuations that the Russian medical workers are visiting B&H for entirely different reasons as “unfounded and malicious”, which affects friendly relations between the two countries. It is still uncertain if the B&H Presidency will give consent to the visit of the team, given the fact that Chairman of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic and member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic said that other companies in B&H could perform such activities as well, including the B&H Armed Forces. The Russian Embassy to B&H also stated that matter of providing humanitarian assistance to healthcare facilities in B&H has become a “hostage of political contradictions” and that policies are being conducted contrary to the need of citizens. The Embassy officials underlined that they have not imposed anything onto B&H, adding that B&H is a sovereign country that makes its decisions independently. The Russian Embassy to B&H stressed that it is a paradox that those who now reject the assistance criticized the Russian assistance to the RS a month ago.

 

US Embassy: All assistance needs to be adequately coordinated with relevant authorities (Dnevni avaz)

 

Upon the inquiry of the daily, the US Embassy to B&H issued a statement commenting the announced arrival of military-medical Russian units to Mostar in order to carry out the disinfection of hospital premises. “Many states and institutions, including the USA and NATO, have answered the requests for assistance of B&H citizens during this unseen crisis. Every assistance needs to be adequately coordinated with relevant authorities in B&H, transparent and available to all citizens who need the assistance all over the country,” reads the Embassy’s statement. Daily noted that the arrival of Russian units is now questionable after the swift reaction of B&H authorities and it is still unknown whether B&H Presidency will issue approval for their arrival, being that two members, Zeljko Komsic and Sefik Dzaferovic, stated that disinfection and be carried out by local companies and even B&H Armed Forces.

 

FB&H House of Peoples adopts Law on Mitigation of Negative Economic Consequences of Coronavirus Pandemic (FTV)

 

One and a half month since the state of natural and other disaster was declared in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FB&H), this entity received the first set of measures which aim to mitigate negative economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. The so-called ‘Corona Law’ was previously adopted in the FB&H House of Representatives (FB&H HoR) and delegates of the FB&H House of Peoples (FB&H HoP) also gave support to it on Monday. With this concluded, all conditions for implementation of the mentioned Law were fulfilled. 32 delegates voted in favor of the Law, 15 abstained from voting and three were against. FTV reporter reminds that ‘Corona Law’ prescribes that the FB&H Government will subsidize the contributions, in the amount of BAM 244, for all workers in businesses that had a drop in income during the pandemic that amounts to 20 percent and more. This Law also foresees abolishment of the default interest on public revenues until the state of natural disaster is in effect in the FB&H and sixty days after it is lifted. The business owners will also be freed from payment of advance income and profit tax during the mentioned period. This will not refer to businesses that were able to work during the pandemic. The Government representatives explain that this Law also states that pensions, disability and other allowances will not be harmonized. The goal is to have a stable system and secured payment of pensions and allowances. The Law also stipulates formation of a Guarantee Fund at the FB&H Development Bank and BAM 80 million was already allocated for this purpose.  During his address before the FB&H HoP delegates on Monday, FB&H Prime Minister Fadil Novalic said this Law has a certain ‘expiration date’, and he believes after four to six months another legislative solution or a set of measures should be adopted. Parties that form the majority in the FB&H HoP and which gave their support to ‘Corona Law’ stated that there are some things that they believe could be different in this legislative solution but, for now, the most crucial thing was to adopt a law that would begin to help the economy recover. SDA delegate Jasmin Duvnjak emphasized this is the first set of measures and not the final Government response to the coronavirus crisis. HDZ B&H delegates believe that ‘Corona Law’ should have included funds for payment of minimal salaries to workers that were forced to stay home during the pandemic. Over 50 amendments were submitted to this legislative solution, most of them were submitted by opposition, but none of them were accepted by the FB&H government. The opposition protested over this decision and stated that this law was adopted later than expected. The opposition does not expect the Law to change many things, nor to help the economy recover. “This law will lead to more layoffs than employments” said SDP B&H delegate Aner Zuljevic. He underlined that this law did not treat any of the problems that citizens currently have over the coronavirus pandemic. “The only good thing is that the Government will temporarily stabilize the pension fund, but that could have been done with expansion of its capacities; that would be way safer, because this, what we have now, is temporary protection”, Zuljevic concluded. ‘People and Justice’ (NiP) delegate Elmedin Konakovic noted that Novalic admitted on Monday that the government still does not know how much money will be needed for implementation of ‘Corona Law’ and how the funds will be secured. “The problem is that the government only pours from one pocket to another,” Konakovic points, adding the government does not care much about the workers.

 

Working group tasked to launch reform process and implementation of 14 priorities from EC’s Opinion holds meeting (BHT1)

 

A political working group that was formed in order to launch the reform processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), as well as the implementation of 14 priorities referred to in the European Commission’s (EC) Opinion on B&H’s application for membership of the EU, held a meeting at the B&H Presidency in Sarajevo on Monday. Participants expressed their joint commitment for B&H to acquire the EU candidate status as soon as possible. Speaker of the B&H House of Peoples (HoP) and HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic rejected the invitation to attend the meeting. In a letter to Chairman of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic, Covic complained about the position of Croats in B&H and argued that the B&H Presidency is not an institution that should lead the EU integration process in this country. Addressing reporters after the meeting, Dzaferovic refused to make a comment on the letter and invited HDZ B&H, Covic, Deputy Speaker of the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) Borjana Kristo and B&H Minister of Finance and Treasury Vjekoslav Bevanda to participate in accordance with their constitutional and legal rights and duties. “If they want to say that they respect the B&H Constitution and laws, as officials of the state of B&H, they must respect the B&H Presidency’s invitation for a meeting here in the institutions of B&H,” Dzaferovic stressed. Member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik confirmed that they expressed their joint commitment for B&H to acquire the EU candidate status as soon as possible, being aware that the enlargement methodology has changed. Member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic stated: “We discussed the B&H parliament’s Joint Commission for European Integration, which has not been formed yet and it was not even formed in the previous term either. In the previous term, entity voting within this commission was a disputable issue, which was requested by representatives of SDS and PDP back then, while the EU and the rest of political parties rejected such request. Representatives of the EU even said that such practice is unknown to them.” The meeting was held ahead of the upcoming EU-Western Balkans Summit in Zagreb. In a written statement that Covic and the Croat People’s Assembly (HNS) in B&H issued on Monday, it was stated that the EU integration process does not fall under jurisdiction of the Presidency, but solely under jurisdiction of the B&H CoM and the state parliament. They stated another reason for not coming to this meeting and that is the fact that they do not believe the current convocation of the B&H Presidency fulfills the criteria of constituent status and legitimacy of representation and that, as stated, the Croat representatives “will never show support to an usurper that has been elected for the third time contrary to the democratically expressed will of the constituent Croat people” adding such Presidency cannot be a leader of positive processes. HZD B&H and HNS B&H also sent a message to Dzaferovic, saying the political option that he represents is obstructing equality in the electoral process with the goal of achieving absolute domination of Bosniak people over all other people in B&H. HDZ B&H’s move was commented by B&H Presidency members who, regardless of HDZ B&H’s absence, discussed the recommendations stated in the EC Opinion during Monday’s meeting. “I am sorry that they did not come. Why they did not come? That question should be better referred to Mister (Head of the EU Delegation to B&H Johann) Sattler, he was with the ‘champions of the EU paths’ the other day, so I believe he would be better in answering this question,” Komsic told the press. Dodik believes no formal talks on B&H’s EU path can be held without HDZ B&H, as they are “legitimate representatives of Croats in B&H”. For this reason, he notes, Monday’s meeting was an informal one and the 14 recommendations from the EC’s Opinion are “a noose around B&H’s neck”. HDZ B&H and HNS B&H members once more expressed their commitment to the EU integration process. They informed Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic that they will not attend Monday’s meeting in the B&H Presidency but confirmed Covic’s attendance at the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Zagreb on Wednesday.

 

B&H’s Covid-19 tally nears 2,000, death toll stands at 79 (N1)

 

Another 20 patients tested positive for the new coronavirus in B&H in the last 24 hours, 16 in the RS and 4 in the FB&H, the healthcare authorities confirmed on Tuesday. According to the Civil Affairs Ministry, B&H’s nationwide tally is 1,946. With 2 more fatalities reported in RS, the country’s death toll now stands at 79. FB&H healthcare authorities performed another 501 tests and registered new Covid-19 cases in the Zenica-Doboj Canton and the eastern Bosnia-Podrinje Canton. For five days straight, the Sarajevo Canton recorded no new patient. The total of 19,878 tests have been performed in this part of B&H and the virus presence was confirmed with 942 patients. Currently, there are 394 active cases in the FB&H, 515 patients have recovered and 33 have died. 39 Covid-19 patients have been hospitalized and three are connected to ventilators.

As for RS region, its healthcare authorities performed 347 lab tests in the last 24 hours, with 16 new patients reported in the towns of Doboj, Gradiska, Derventa, Banja Luka, Kalinovik, Srbac and Gacko. The latest Covid-19 patients who passed away in RS include a 79-year old man and an 85-year old woman. Among the latest Covid-19 patients, there is one nurse and an employee of a nursing home. So far, RS reported 985 coronavirus infections, 381 patients have recovered and 43 died. The total of 14,836 persons in RS has been tested to date. Brcko District has so far reported 19 coronavirus infections, with 11 recovered patients and 3 fatalities.

 

Coronavirus has turned public’s focus away from upcoming parliamentary election in Croatia (HRT)

 

Croatia will hold parliamentary elections this year. The constitutional deadline for the poll is in December. However, experts say the HDZ is looking to hold the election in June, to capitalize on the HDZ-led government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking for Croatian Radio on Tuesday, communications expert Kresimir Macan said that right now the elections are best suited to the HDZ, which is why they are looking to hold the poll this summer. For this reason, Macan believes that it is likely that baseline anti-epidemic measures will be withdrawn.

“Conflating the HDZ and the HDZ-led government of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic with the National Civil Protection Headquarters is inevitable in this case. This is not only a case of political pressure but also economic pressure to normalize as soon as possible,” Macan said.

Another guest on Croatian Radio, sociologist Sven Marcelic agreed, adding that the authorities will be looking to loosening the measures and return to normalcy, but that this will be a gradual process. “In the coming weeks, we can expect a broader relaxing of measures than has been the case so far. And I expect there will be very few such restrictions when the elections take place at the beginning of July. I think the role of the National Civil Protection Headquarters will be reduced gradually throughout the transition period,” Marcelic said. He added however, that with regard to the election, the key issue is whether or not candidates and political parties will be able to effectively present their platforms to voters: “We know that in times of crisis there is a cohesion between citizens and government. That is why we’re seeing a growth in the popularity of the HDZ right now. This is commensurate with a growth in the popularity of other political leaders, such as Merkel in Germany, Macron in France and other leaders around the world. It remains to be seen whether the Headquarters will allow this democratic process to proceed in an appropriate setting. I am assuming that the situation we are in will primarily help already established parties,” Marcelic said. Macan also believes that the Headquarters will have to provide a timeframe so that parties can properly organize themselves for the elections: “Those parties and politicians who are not already preparing for the elections are naive. They need to know that the elections are going to take place, and if they wait it will be too late. Small parties are handicapped in this situation, all large parties have begun entering into coalitions, so they will be ready. There are two months remaining before the election and a lot can change. I think there are two clear blocs: the SDP together with its coalition partners and the HDZ. For right now there also appears to be a third bloc representing the right end of the political spectrum. This bloc fits with the HDZ, but it is more likely that the HDZ will only enter into a coalition after the elections. The HDZ is well-suited to a situation in there are clear blocs in Croatian parliament, as opposed to one that is fragmented,” Macan said.

 

EU promises greater assistance to Balkans, but does not mention membership or enlargement (Jutarnji list)

 

The EU-Western Balkans Summit, which was supposed to take place this week in Zagreb will be held via video link on 6 May instead. The Summit should have represented a turning point in the EU enlargement process but the outcome will be nowhere near. The daily claimed to be in possession of a draft declaration that will be adopted on this occasion and noted that the draft does not even mention ‘enlargement’, ‘membership’ or ‘EU integration’ and added: “It only contains a vague sentence on ‘European perspective’ and stronger connections”. The daily learned that the reason behind this is insisting of some countries, such as France, Netherlands and partly even Germany, that this should not be an enlargement summit. However, some diplomats assessed that it is good the Summit will be held and that it will reiterate the support to the European perspective in spite of the current circumstances. The daily added that the draft makes it clear that the coronavirus crisis affected stances towards the region and that it will continue to affect future relations. “It might even assist in strengthening of relations in the region which the EU insists on and also strengthening of relations with the EU”, the daily added. The draft also emphasized that the EU and Western Balkans are jointly fighting the coronavirus and its consequences and reminded that the EU swiftly mobilized a package of assistance worth 3.3 billion Euros for the fight against the pandemic in the Western Balkans and facing the consequences after the crisis. The daily noted that it is obvious from the text of the draft declaration that the EU was affected by criticism which claimed that it does not assist the region enough and that others assist it more. The daily added that the EU will also convey the message again that rule of law, democratization, fight against organized crimes and corruption, gender equality and protection of minorities must be treated as priorities. Finally, the daily noted that it is interesting to know that previous versions of the draft declaration called for ‘full harmonization’ with stances of the EU in foreign policy but the new draft called partners to ‘make a progress towards full harmonization’ which is “obviously a favor to Serbia which, together with Bosnia and Herzegovina, is the only country which does not support foreign policy stances of the EU especially when it comes to relations with Russia, China and some other countries”.

 

In Croatia, 11 new infections, totaling 2.112, 3 more died (N1)

 

Currently, a total of 2.112 people in Croatia has been infected with coronavirus and 1.560 has recovered. A total of 83 people died. “In the past 24 hours, we have 11 new cases in the Republic of Croatia, totaling 2.112. Unfortunately, 3 more people has died,” said Chief of Staff Maja Grba Bujevic.

 

Around €1,9 million for subsidies, sport activities to resume on Wednesday, competition without audience on 1 June (CDM)

 

Minister of Economy Dragica Sekulic said in the press conference today that everybody who “applied for subsidies during holidays and met criteria envisaged by the Program were paid salaries today”. “A total of €1,9 million has been paid in gross,” Sekulic said. Minister warned that they had information that measures of the National Coordination Body were not respected. She pointed out that employers were entitled not to allow entrance to people who didn’t have masks. Minister of Sport and Youth, Nikola Janovic, announced that sport activities would resume starting from 6 May and would be organized in three phases. “The first phase encompasses that all sport clubs can train in open and closed space while adhering to rigorous measures. Without close contact, of course. The second phase with collective sports starts on 18 May and the third phase starts on 1 June and allows continuation of competition without audience,” Janovic said. Director of the Institute for Public Health Boban Mugosa warned that nobody should completely relax as danger was still there. Mugosa said that he couldn’t tell when kindergartens would start working. Mugosa said they were estimating the level of risk every day. “Lifting the ban on intercity traffic will depend on the risk assessment. I can’t tell you anything about that today,” Mugosa said.

 

Only one test coronavirus positive in Montenegro (CDM)

 

The Institute of Public Health said this morning that after another 255 analyzes, only one test was coronavirus positive. This is a person who came from abroad. Since the beginning of the infection, 324 cases of new coronavirus infection have been registered in Montenegro, 63 are currently ill and 253 have recovered. 8 people died from the coronaviruses. The second phase of easing of the measures began yesterday. After more than 50 days, certain hairdressing and beauty salons, crafts, fitness centers, bookstores were opened. Special conditions are prescribed for each activity, among other things, care must be taken to respect physical distance and hygiene, and wearing masks is mandatory.

 

Sela rejects Pendarovski’s warning that Macedonia may give up its EU integration, claims that the Albanian language is discriminated against (Republika)

 

Ziadin Sela, the leader of the Alliance of Albanians, wrote an open letter to President Stevo Pendarovski strongly condemning his position that, if Macedonians are forced to give up their national identity and language in negotiations with Bulgaria, the country should give up its EU accession. Sela writes that for the ethnic Albanians living in Macedonia this is unacceptable and that, while he sympathizes with the pressure ethnic Macedonians are under, he demands additional concessions and greater role for the Albanian language in Macedonia. “Where I cannot agree with you at all is when you say that “North” Macedonia should give up integration into the European Union if the Republic of Bulgaria conditions the opening of negotiations for our country’s EU membership to the fulfillment of their request that the Macedonian language is referred to in official EU documents as “the official language of the Republic of Northern Macedonia”. No Mr. President, the citizens of this country will never give up on the EU,” Sela writes. The leader of the opposition party that represents ethnic Albanians, who helped Pendarovski get elected as he roundly lost the ethnic Macedonian vote in 2019, insists that the Albanian language remains discriminated against in Macedonia because, it is not mentioned explicitly in the Constitution but its official use is under the qualification of a language spoken by at least 20 percent of the population. “Mr. President, what does justify the denial of the Albanian language in ‘North’ Macedonia today? I am afraid that it is the same old logic that motivates the continued refusal by the Macedonian political class for the Constitution of ‘North’ Macedonia to refer to the Albanian language by its name, thus perpetuating shameful formulations borrowed from a totalitarian past… We will stand with you in letting Sofia know that “North” Macedonia in fact has two official languages, not one, and that codifying and regulating them is an internal matter of ours, not theirs,” Sela writes in his open letter to Pendarovski.

 

Gruevski: You’re naive if you think that the Bulgarian demands will end with the Macedonian language and history (Republika)

 

Macedonia resembles a village with no guard dogs, and it’s natural that this will encourage propaganda from other countries, said former prime minister and VMRO leader Nikola Gruevski, in his remarks regarding the latest dispute with Bulgaria. Tensions have risen between Macedonia and Bulgaria after the larger country announced it will block Macedonia from opening EU accession talks unless Macedonian historians agree to declare legendary VMRO leader Goce Delcev to have been a Bulgarian. Gruevski published his comments on 4 May, the anniversary of Delcev’s death in 1903. Goce Delcev is as current today as he was in his day, not as much because of the attempts by our eastern neighbor to claim him and the entirety of Macedonia’s contemporary history until 1944 as its own, but for the incredible intrusion of foreign propaganda that the Macedonia authorities allowed into the country with the treaty signed with Bulgaria. Anyone who read his history can easily notice similarities from the nationalist Balkan propagandas in the 19th and 20th century aimed at Macedonia (from Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and others) and what is being done now on the part of our neighbors, seriously assisted by domestic collaborators, Gruevski, who was the leading opponent of Zoran Zaev’s series of concessions to neighboring countries and a major proponent of having an sovereigntist Macedonian policy, wrote from his political exile in Budapest. Nikola Gruevski writes that Greece seemingly finished her job in Macedonia and achieved its goals, but that now Bulgaria launches its own campaign that is in full swing. “And seeing how easy it is, with resistance restricted to individuals, and no organized response, Bulgaria is pushing to get more out of this opportunity while Macedonia resembles the time under occupation, with no state, institutions or allies”. Gruevski warns that, while Bulgaria currently demands concessions with regard to the Macedonian language and history, it won’t stop there. If you think it ends there, you’re naive or misinformed. Even top-level officials from our eastern neighbor are coming open with their demands. One of them observes that the day is not far when we will be together again, and that “where waters flowed, they will flow again”, Gruevski writes citing a recent statement from Bulgarian Defense Minister Krasimir Karakacanov. Karakacanov praised comments from a former Yugoslav Macedonian politician Denko Maleski, who accepted Bulgaria’s positions, and then strongly condemned Gruevski for his opposition to this process of national unification. “I have the impression that politicians in Bulgaria are eager to pursue these ideas to win more nationalist votes, but also to accomplish their goal, as they see Macedonia as weakened, unprotected, with a government that is quick to make concessions, and they are far better placed being an EU member state. I find very logical the observations that Bulgaria acts this way only toward us, but not toward Greece, which also holds part of the geographic region of Macedonia. They have no activities or pretensions there. They don’t even push against Serbia, which holds their so-called Western provinces. Bulgaria doesn’t claim minority rights for Bulgarians in Serbia, aren’t Dimitrovgrad, Bosilegrad also part of the San-Stefano Bulgaria (Greater Bulgaria)? Why don’t Bulgarian historians pressure Serbia? It’s simple, they found Macedonia as a village with no guard dogs and they are pushing against us,” Gruevski writes.

 

Filipche: Elections in North Macedonia to be administered using strict protocol (MIA)


Once elections take place, they must be administered using a strict protocol for the protection of the people’s health. The protocol will be drafted by the Committee for Infectious Diseases and we will not allow anything jeopardize the successful management of this health crisis, said Health Minister Venko Filipche. Minister Filipche said the number of infected patients is dropping and the epidemic is calming down, with ongoing activities towards relaxation of measures and gradual reopening of businesses. “Protocols have been drafted and they have been shared with the respective economic operators. I believe that all protocols will be completed by the end of the week and could be applied as of next week,” added Filipche.

 

Government plans to reduce the curfew, re-open restaurants and cafes (Republika)

 

The government is raising the prospect of putting an end to the evening curfew. Deputy Prime Minister Bujar Osmani said that with the dropping numbers of new infections it is possibly time to use different, milder tactics to fight the virus. Osmani, who comes from the ethnic Albanian representing DUI party, cited the evening gatherings for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan as one of the reasons why the measures should be kept in place for a little while longer. “People gather for dinner over Ramadan, and that is why the curfew lasts until 19h, to prevent them from meeting for the iftar dinner. The first proposal will be to reduce the curfew over weekends, have it start at 19h, and then in the coming days we can reduce it even further,” Osmani said. He also proposed the idea of having restaurants and cafes open, provided that guests use masks and sit at a distance of two meters. A similar proposal was made by Healthcare Minister Venko Filipce, who said that restaurants could begin working soon, but only in their open, patio areas. And the Food and Veterinary Agency ordered that cattle markets can re-open across the country, after a closure of a month and a half. Pigs will not be sold for the time being, and inspectors will require to see full paperwork for the animals, who can be driven from the market only to slaughterhouses or certified farms.

 

In North Macedonia 8 new cases of Covid-19, 21 recovered, 1 died (Libertas)

 

The Ministry of Health of North Macedonia announced that today the Institute of Public Health registers 21 recovered patients in Skopje-8, Kumanovo-6, Stip-1, Prilep-2, Tetovo-1, Veles-1, Kocani-1 and Makedonski Brod-1. A 59-year-old patient from Tetovo died. In the past 24 hours, 185 tests were performed, and 8 new cases were confirmed, in: Skopje-3, Bitola-1 and Veles-4. According to this, the total number of Covid-19 diagnosed in our country, since the beginning of the epidemic is 1,526, the number of recovering patients is 1,013, the number of deaths is 86, and currently the number of active cases in the country is 427. The last distribution by cities is as follows: Skopje – 515, Kumanovo – 401, Debar – 51, Stip – 34, Prilep – 159, Tetovo – 90, Struga – 67, Veles – 81, 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 from PE Negotino are residents of Demir Kapija), Demir Hisar – 1, Makedonski Brod – 2, Pehchevo – 2, Delchevo – 1, Valandovo – 1, Vinica – 2 and Kratovo -1.

185 tests were performed through: IPH-79, Veterinary Faculty-3, Avicenna-9, Biotech-33, Clinic “Jean Mitrev” -27, Sistina with PCR method – 17 and MANU-17. So far, a total of 17,544 tests have been performed in the country.

 

First medical aid from the EU arrives in Albania (Radio Tirana)

 

The first grant of 4 million Euros from the EU, materialized in medical services, has arrived today in Albania. The box offers 110 gloves, 200 masks, 1000 liters of hand sanitizer. Next week are expected to arrive the testing kits, 50 ventilators and 5 ambulances. The delivery of 400 boxes was made by the EU Ambassador, Luigi Soreca, who declared that EU is close to Albania in these moments. “For me personally it is an important moment in delivering the first donation for the Health Ministry. 4 million Euros of donations from the European Union. 110 gloves, 200 masks and 1000 liters of hand sanitizer. The facts talk for themselves. EU is closer than never with Albania,” said Soreca. Minister of Health, Ogerta Manastirliu declared that these equipment’s will serve for the protection of the health personnel, since the measures are being eased. “Like the ambassador said, the facts are facts. It is a necessary help and the European Union has showed that is beside us in the most important moments such as the earthquake and the pandemic and show the highest values that are in the heart of EU,” said Manastirliu.

In Albania lockdown loosened, COVID-19 cases rise again (ADN)

 

Number of people infected with coronavirus in Albania has increased again, after several days of drop in cases. The Ministry of Health reports that in the 24h, 17 new cases have been recorded, bringing the total number of infected to 820. The new cases have been confirmed in Tirana 9 cases, Kruja 5 cases and in Kamza 3 cases. The epidemiological situation is being closely monitored by all health structures. In this situation of easing the measures, the awareness for tracking, testing and timely identification of cases suspected of COVID-19 and their contacts has increased. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, 820 coronavirus positive cases have been confirmed across the country, while 70% of them has recovered. There are currently 219 persons active cases. There has been an increase in the number of cases registered in the last 24 hours, not only in the number of cases identified but also the need for hospitalizations has increased as well. In the two COVID hospitals, currently there are 38 inpatients, 8 of whom are in the intensive care. The geographical distribution of active cases is as follows:

Tirana 99

Kruja 81

Shkodra 15

Kurbin 9

Elbasan 3

Kamza 3

Kukesi 2

Mirdita 2

Berat 2

Durresi 1

Korca 1

Lezha 1

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Zagreb Declaration in shadow of COVID-19: WB has an EU perspective, EU assistance deserves public acknowledgement (EWB, 5 May 2020)

 

BRUSSELS – EU once again reaffirmed its unequivocal support to the European perspective of the Western Balkans, calling for unity and solidarity at the time of COVID-19, reads the draft declaration of the EU-Western Balkans Zagreb Summit, seen by European Western Balkans.

The declaration stresses all forms of assistance and cooperation provided by the EU to the Western Balkans during the pandemic, including the mobilization of 3.3 billion Euros, 750 million macro-financial assistance, as well as the joint procurement and the unrestricted trade-flow of protective personal equipment. “The fact that this support and cooperation goes far beyond what any other partner has provided to the region deserves public acknowledgement”, the draft declaration reads, also recognizing the support Western Balkans has provided to its immediate neighbors and EU Member States. The declaration tackles European values and principles as well, welcoming the pledge of the Western Balkan partners to uphold them and reminding that the increased EU assistance will be linked to tangible reforms in the areas of the rule of law and socio-economic reforms. “The Western Balkan leaders should ensure that fundamental values, democratic principles and the rule of law are strictly upheld and implemented, including while special and extraordinary measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic are in place”, the draft reads. The EU and the Western Balkans are expected to intensify their cooperation in addressing disinformation and other hybrid activities of third-state actors seeking to undermine the European perspective of the region. The EU also fully supports the pledge of the Western Balkans to inclusive regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations, with the particular emphasis on bilateral agreements reached between North Macedonia and Greece, as well as Bulgaria. The appointment of EU Special Representative for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and other Western Balkan regional issues is also welcomed. “Once we exist the immediate measures to contain COVID-19 pandemic, a new phase of close cooperation to tackle the significant socio-economic impact of the crisis will follow”, the draft declaration reads. It invites the European Commission to come forward with the announced robust economic and investment plan. Security challenges, including the fight against terrorism and extremism, as well as organized crime and corruption, are stressed as well. Migration challenges are particularly emphasized. “The remaining Frontex status agreements should be concluded without delay. The EU will continue to support the improvement of reception capacities in the Western Balkans”, the declaration reads. The EU also expects further deepening of foreign and security policy cooperation, as well as the reinvigoration of the political dialogue with the region, the draft declaration concludes.

 

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