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Belgrade Media Report 12 May 2020

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Tuesday 12 May 2020

LOCAL PRESS

Vucic: I expect more from the Trump administration than from Albright and Engel (Tanjug/Novosti)
Vucic: Nothing will be achieved by violence in Serbian politics (B92/Tanjug)
Botsan-Kharchenko: Final solution for Kosovo and Metohija needs to be approved by UNSC (Politika)
Djuric: Soluiton can be sought with respect of international law (Tanjug/RTV)
US says Moscow welcome to join Kosovo dialogue (Beta/RFE)
Lajcak: Land swap between Serbia, Kosovo not on agenda (APA/RFE/KoSSev/Beta)
Another 67 cases, 3,600 recovered (RTS)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Elections to be postponed for 8 November being that funds for preparing and holding of local elections have not been secured (Dnevni avaz)
CEC gives green light for appointment of Lucic for Minister of Human Rights of B&H (Vecernji list)
Lajcak on the phone with Izetbegovic, welcome Presidency of B&H’s initiative regarding acceleration of EU path of B&H (Dnevni list)
Deputy Mayor of Sarajevo and Archbishop Puljic meet to discuss mass for Bleiburg (O kanal)
Dodik: Announcement of mass for Bleiburg victims deeply disturbed public (ATV)
US Embassy on mass for Bleiburg in Sarajevo: We must all focus on true values (N1)
Mesic: No one was killed in Bleiburg (FTV)
SDA asks Cardinal Puljic and Vrhbosna Archdiocese to reassess decision on holding the mass for Bleiburg (BHT1)
Cvitanovic: Attacks on Cardinal Puljic are part of strategy according to which there is no room for Croats in B&H (Vecernji list)
WHO: Epidemiological situation in B&H is satisfactory (Dnevni avaz)
RS Crisis HQ abolishes local and border crossing quarantines (RTRS)
B&H Covid-19 stats: Country’s total at 2,158 (N1)
Croatia

Skoro and Croatian Sovereigntists sign coalition agreement (Hina)
Restart Coalition denies negotiations with MOST (TCN)
New COVID-19 measures take effect at Croatian airports (HRT)
Croatia confirms 11 new coronavirus cases (N1)
Montenegro

Danilovic endangers the results of the fight against the coronavirus (RTCG)
Complaints about the police threatening freedom of religion (RTCG)
Republic of North Macedonia

Measures still in force, elections could be discussed after continual drop in infections: deputy health minister (MIA)
Osmani encourages believers to skip mosques (MIA/TV 24)
One patient dies 10 new cases and five recover from Covid-19 (Republika)
Albania

Electoral Reform to be concluded within May (Radio Tirana)
Albanian gov’t working to legalize cultivation of medical cannabis (Tirana Times)
Lowest number of infected in Albania reported for second day in a row (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

Serbia raises €2bn from 7-year Eurobond (bne IntelliNews)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic: I expect more from the Trump administration than from Albright and Engel (Tanjug/Novosti)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stated that it is not a coincidence that Serbia, when it comes to resolving the Kosovo issue, expects much more from President Donald Trump than from representatives of some previous US administrations. Commenting on assessments made by Albanian lobbyist, US Senator Eliot Engel and US Secretary of State from Bill Clinton’s administration, Madeleine Albright, that he was pursuing a policy around Kosovo with an “iron fist” and that he managed to turn America against Pristina, Vucic said that these were very important people. who attacked him and Serbia and pointed out that he would continue to fight for his country. “This shows that these people would simply like Serbia to recognize an independent Kosovo and not have its own legitimate demands. It is not a coincidence that it has been, I will not say easier, because it’s not easy at all, but we can expect much more from the administration of President Trump and his associates, than from Mrs. Albright and Mr. Engel,” said Vucic. He said that he would continue to fight for Serbia, because that is his job. “I haven’t used any kind of fist, I only tried to make sure we have a free flow of goods, capital, people and services,” said Vucic. He stressed that these are important people, and assessed that this story has not been given much attention in Serbia. As he said, Eliot Engel is a senatorial doyen who comes from Brooklyn, the most prominent Albanian lobbyist, a very powerful man. “That 3rd Prizren League formed in 1946, when Albanians started financing the Albanian lobby in America with horrific amounts of money has cost us the most, much more than the 1st and 2nd Prizren League,” said Vucic. As he added, he does not even want to talk about Albright and her strength and power, because she has a huge influence, especially on the Democratic nomenclature.

Vucic also said that he knows US Democrats’ presidential candidate Joe Biden very well, because he was also his guest, and they saw each other several times in Munich and Washington.

 

Vucic: Nothing will be achieved by violence in Serbian politics (B92/Tanjug)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic urged the election campaign pass without violence, with due respect shown to the participants in the elections of all political affiliations. “It is inadmissible to expose our citizens to a health risk. A gathering of 5.790 SNS supporters and about 64 supporters of the Dveri movement is being held about a hundred meters from here,” he said, emphasizing that he did not state that in order to brag. He said that we do not need counting, but unity. “We know which party has the majority in Serbia, but it should be measured in the elections. Not now, when we are not done with the epidemic,” he said and called on the citizens to refrain from gathering until the end of May. He also expressed satisfaction because MP Miladin Sevarlic ended the strike, but also said that it would be difficult to convince Martinovic to do that. “They didn’t move, they didn’t sleep, it lasts 35 hours. Sandra Bozic is a mother of two children. I will try to convince Martinovic to end the hunger strike. I know it will not be easy to convince Aleksandar Martinovic to end the hunger strike, I will not go and take part in a circus in front of the parliament, but I will call him tonight, and I know it will not be so easy because he believes in the reasons why he went on strike. With all gratitude for the courage and bravery, my request to them is to give up,” he said. He once again called on all actors in political life to go to the upcoming elections. “I wish all of them a fair, democratic campaign. I just ask them not to take part in any violence, because regardless of party affiliation, they will be punished. The competent authorities will react effectively and everyone will be punished,” he said. Vucic did not want to comment on the decisions of the opposition leaders to go to the polls. “I will not use this as a party stand, I criticized my own party tonight instead. I called for conversation so many times, they refused. I invited them to come for a discussion on Monday, again they did not want to,” he said, adding that he will never give in to blackmail if he never saw the opposition that would like the elections to be held either never or a month after that. He made it clear that he was not interested in the significance of the idea of a boycott. “Please, don’t make me tell you what a failure it will be. I’m just interested in no violence,” he was brief. Violence will not achieve anything in Serbian politics, Vucic emphasized and added that he would never put up with blackmail and threats. “As for the hunger strike of one of the opposition MPs (Obradovic), I called for talks countless times and they said that I could not be talked to and that it was not necessary. They repeated it dozens of times, I invited them to come on Monday to the talks when there were other representatives of the opposition parties, and I did that publicly at the press conference,” Vucic said. “I never accepted that, and when they railled close to the Presidency, I was not afraid, I am not interested in that. Violence in Serbian politics will not achieve anything, those times have passed,” Vucic said. As he said, the president strongly condemned the violence in front of the parliament and the brutal attack on Marijan Risticevic. Vucic expressed hope that no one would use violence and said that the state would react. He also asked people not to attack journalists no matter what they think about their work. Vucic also announced that D.G. (1979) from Novi Sad, got arrested for threatening the journalist of Vreme weekly Jovana Gligorijevic, and the prosecution is underway. “Our job is to ensure that the state of Serbia functions without violence. I am very scared and worried, and this has nothing to do with the SNS and SzS (Alliance for Serbia), I am scared as I see that ultra-right and fascist movements with crazy ideas are tremendously strengthening. I hope that our society will have the strength to seriously and responsibly oppose the anti-civilization ideas from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, from the time of the Inquisition, and that we as a society will oppose each other in a peaceful and civilized way,” Vucic concluded.

 

Botsan-Kharchenko: Final solution for Kosovo and Metohija needs to be approved by UNSC (Politika)

 

Random interpretations of Russia’s stand on resolving the Kosovo issue, which appeared in part of the public, cause deep dilemmas. An open issue remains, what is the goal to bend, distort content of Russia’s approach, for this approach to be depicted completely the opposite. Russia’s position on resolving the Kosovo issue is crystal clear. That stand is well-known. The only basis for resolving it still needs to be UNSCR 1244 which established the foundation principals of the peace resolution of the Kosovo crisis, said the Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Botsan-Kharshenko. Russia advocates reaching a sustainable and mutually acceptable compromise solution between Belgrade and Pristina, based on international law, the valid UNSCR 1244. Russia will agree with a solution that will be acceptable for Serbia. For Russia’s direct participation in the negotiations on the Kosovo issue Belgrade’s appropriate invitation is required. Let me underline again that such negotiations should be conducted in an international-legal framework, in this case this is UNSCR 1244. We also start from the point that the situation in the Province of Kosovo is an inalienable item of the agenda of the UNSC. The attention of the UNSC towards the Kosovo topic should not be reduced. A definite solution of the Kosovo problem should correspond to international law. Since at issue is ensuring of international peace and security, such a solution should be approved by the UNSC, concluded Botsan-Kharchenko.

 

Djuric: Soluiton can be sought with respectoif international law (Tanjug/RTV)

 

The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric said that Serbia’s stand is that the solution to the issue of Kosovo and Metohija should be sought only with respect of international law, according to which Kosovo is an integral part of Serbia. “According to UN Security Council Resolution 1244, Kosovo and Metohija is an integral part of Serbia, and our stand is that a solution to the issue of Kosovo and Metohija should be sought only within these frameworks,” the Office for Kosovo and Meothija has quoted Djuric as having stated.

 

US says Moscow welcome to join Kosovo dialogue, Russia says invitation needed (Beta/RFE)

 

Spokesman Dick Custin for US special envoy for Kosovo, Ambassador Richard Grenell said that Russia is welcome to join in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue to help achieve peace and stability. Custin told Radio Free Europe that anyone who can help achieve those two goals is welcome to join in the dialogue to normalize relations between Belgrade and Pristina. “Everyone who can contribute ideas to help stability, peace and the prosperity of Serbia and Kosovo is welcome,” RFE quoted him as saying.

 

Lajcak: Land swap between Serbia, Kosovo not on agenda (APA/RFE/KoSSev/Beta)

 

EU special representative for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajcak said on 11 May that a territorial exchange between Serbia and Kosovo was not on the agenda and that an agreement to relieve tension was needed between the two sides. Lajcak told the Austrian wire service APA that there had been a very strong negative reaction to the idea of territorial exchange — in Kosovo, other countries in the region and in EU countries and concluded that this was not on the table and that it shouldn’t be on the table. He said reactions to the land swap idea had shown “very clearly” that it would not be conducive to reducing tension, on the contrary, KoSSev reported. Lajcak, EU special representative for other regional issues in the West Balkans, would not comment on rumors about a “secret plan” to swap territory allegedly arranged between the presidents of Serbia and Kosovo, Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci, with US support. I pay no attention to rumors and I haven’t seen any such plan, Lajcak said.

 

Another 67 cases, 3,600 recovered (RTS)

 

Until 3pm there have been another 67 cases, in total 10,243 infected. There have been two more deaths, totally 220 deaths. A total of 3,600 people have recovered.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Elections to be postponed for 8 November being that funds for preparing and holding of local elections have not been secured (Dnevni avaz)

 

Daily learns that even if the Central Election Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) (B&H CEC) would get the funds necessary for holding of local elections, which they announced for 4 October, the decision on postponing of elections for 30 days will still be reached. After the elections have been called, B&H CEC has deadline of 15 days to establish the factual situation and this means that unless the funds for elections are secured by 22 May the decision on postponing of elections for 30 days will be reached. Daily learns that such decision will most likely be reached at the B&H CEC’s session scheduled for 26 May and calculates that elections will be postponed for 8 November, being that 1 November is All Saints’ Day and Election Law of B&H bans holding of elections on religious holidays. Daily also noted that due to the lack of funds, the B&H CEC is not able to announce vacancies or tenders. B&H House of Representatives’ session is scheduled for 15 May, daily reads, but the agenda does not stipulate a discussion about the B&H budget, adding that B&H Presidency tasked the B&H Council of Ministers to submit the restructured budget by May 31 at the latest.

 

CEC gives green light for appointment of Lucic for Minister of Human Rights of B&H (Vecernji list)

 

The Central Election Commission (CEC) of B&H has carried out necessary checks of Milos Lucic, who is DNS’ new candidate for the Minister of Human Rights and Refugees of B&H. According to the daily, the CEC said there are no obstacles to appointing Lucic to the post. Daily reminds that DNS nominated Lucic after previous candidate Mladen Bozovic gave up on the post.

 

Lajcak on the phone with Izetbegovic, welcome Presidency of B&H’s initiative regarding acceleration of EU path of B&H (Dnevni list)

 

The EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak spoke on the phone with the SDA President Bakir Izetbegovic on Monday. Lajcak informed Izetbegovic about his tasks and activities within his new duty as the EU Special Representative for dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and other issues pertaining to the Western Balkans. Lajcak expressed optimism regarding many issues he will be working on in the future, conveying dedication to the international community’s support to B&H that will strengthen in the future after weakening of the Coronavirus restrictive measures. During the conversation about progress of B&H on the EU path, both collocutors welcomes messages from last week’s EU-Western Balkans Summit, which confirmed the European perspective of the region. In addition, Lajcak welcomes a new initiative of the Presidency of B&H and formation of a working group that is aimed at accelerating the EU path and implementation of 14 priorities from the European Commission’s Opinion.

 

Deputy Mayor of Sarajevo and Archbishop Puljic meet to discuss mass for Bleiburg (O kanal)

 

Deputy Mayor of Sarajevo Milan Trivic met Archbishop of Vrhbosna Vinko Puljic in Sarajevo on Monday. They discussed the announcement that a religious ceremony honoring victims of Bleiburg will take place in the Sarajevo cathedral on Saturday. Trivic warned Puljic about the dissatisfaction of citizens of Sarajevo and throughout B&H with the announcement of the mass. Puljic said that he is disappointed about the fact that the ordinary holy mass for the innocent victims of Bleiburg has been portrayed as his approval of any form of totalitarianism. ˝No crime can be defended or justified, but also all victims need to be treated with the same piety, including those from the Croat people. This was the first and the only intention of the holy mass˝ said Puljic. He added that those who contributed to the creation of a negative climate need to help and turn Sarajevo into a city of coexistence and dialogue. The response to announced mass for Bleiburg victims came from SABNOR B&H who invited citizens in Sarajevo to attend, on the same day of the mass, the commemoration to victims of Ustasha crimes and terror in Sarajevo.

Meanwhile, Metropolitan of Dabar-Bosna Hrizostom has reacted to the announcement of a holy mass for victims of Bleiburg which should be held in Sarajevo on 16 May, deeming it extremely worrying. Metropolitan Hrizostom stressed that one is permanently closing the doors of cooperation and all relations between the Metropolitanate of Dabar-Bosna and the Vrhbosna Archdiocese, as well as with Cardinal Vinko Puljic, in this way. Metropolitan Hrizostom said that he does not understand “what is the purpose of bringing Bleiburg to Sarajevo.” Hrizostom said that people in the Metropolitan feel betrayed and that they are sorry. Hrizostom also stated that he cannot cry for victims of Ustasha commissioner Jure Francetic, while the Cardinal and Archbishop of Vrhbosna Puljic brings the Bleiburg to Sarajevo. He also said that there will be no joint prayers for the unity of Christians anymore or any other relations, adding that the announced mass for the Bleiburg does not lead to any good.

 

Dodik: Announcement of mass for Bleiburg victims deeply disturbed public (ATV)

 

Member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said that the holy mass for Bleiburg victims that should be held on 16 May in Sarajevo cannot be an internal issue of Roman-Catholic Church. Dodik emphasized that the announcement of the abovementioned mass deeply disturbed the public. “Without the intention to dispute the right of any religious community to organize religious services, I have to say that the announcement of such a mass deeply disturbed us,” emphasized Dodik. He underlined that the public announcement of this ceremony raises doubt that some have been attempting to misuse religious service in order to rehabilitate Ustasha movement, adding that Serb people still have not biologically recovered from atrocities committed by this movement in the World War Two. Dodik added that the mass should not be held especially not in Sarajevo, where members of the Ustasha Movement killed trains full of Serbs in the WWII.

 

US Embassy on mass for Bleiburg in Sarajevo: We must all focus on true values (N1)

 

Reactions to the announced mass in Sarajevo on 16 May for Croat(ian) victims of the Bleiburg tragedy keep on coming. The US Embassy to B&H reacted by saying: “We call on those organizing the Bleiburg commemoration in B&H to refrain from historical revisionism and retrograde rhetoric”. The US Embassy to B&H stated that after marking of the Day of Victory over Fascism, we must all focus on true values, democracy, reconciliation and interreligious dialogue.

 

Mesic: No one was killed in Bleiburg (FTV)

 

Guest of FTV central news was former Croatian President Stjepan Mesic who spoke about the announced commemorative mass for victims of Bleiburg which should be held in Sarajevo on Saturday, 16 May. Asked what is Bleiburg for him in the context of the entire story of the mass for victims of Bleiburg, Mesic said that no one was killed in Bleiburg. “Quisling army capitulated in Bleiburg – therefore, Ustasha, the White Army soldiers, Chetniks and all those who feared punishment because of the crimes that they committed in the area of Yugoslavia and of course in the area of Croatia. Bleiburg is a place where those quislings surrendered, but ten, twelve days after the Third Reich capitulated. After that, they were supposed to capitulate just like all other military components of the Third Reich. However, they continued to fight for another ten or fifteen days, I do not know precisely. More than 1,500 Partisans died in those battles which should not have happened and more than 3,500 were wounded. If they had surrendered in time – because there were casualties on both sides, people were being wounded on both sides… That was supposed to be accepted as a place of surrender of the Quisling army and that ended like that. However, the Church today, pro-Ustasha elements, pro-fascist elements want to turn Bleiburg into something it was not. Nine people who wanted to penetrate through the enemy ranks died there. They did not succeed, and they were killed and that is all. After that, women, children, civilians, they were all dismissed. Just look at photographs from Bleiburg. There is no child, no woman. All of that is disarmed army,” Mesic said. Asked why Sarajevo was chosen to hold the mass for Bleiburg victims there and what is the goal of the Catholic Church in Sarajevo, Mesic stated that “probably they themselves do not know that precisely.” “Those are nostalgic for the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) which was neither Croatian nor independent nor a state. That was a criminal organization brought by fascism, Nazi-fascism,” Mesic stressed. Asked how much nostalgia for the fascist, criminal regime exists in the Republic of Croatia today, Mesic said that there is a lot of it. Mesic stressed that a survey conducted in high schools in Croatia showed that about 70 percent of students do not believe that NDH was a criminal regime, i.e. a fascist creation. “The Croatian government is paying certain authors who are writing notorious untruths about Jasenovac, where it was established that more than 82,000 people were killed there just because they were different,” Mesic stressed.

SDA asks Cardinal Puljic and Vrhbosna Archdiocese to reassess decision on holding the mass for Bleiburg (BHT1)

 

Collegium of SDA held a session on Monday and adopted seven conclusions. Among other things, these conclusions call upon all political subjects to contribute to the process of unblocking the work of state institutions so that economic and all other consequences of the coronavirus pandemic are eased, and the country’s EU path accelerated. SDA asked the B&H CoM to submit a conclusion to the Central Bank (CB) of B&H in lie with the Constitution of B&H and position of the entities, and which is necessary to urgently make the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) assistance available for use. SDA also asked the B&H CoM to provide funds for preparation of local elections in this country. This party asked Cardinal Vinko Puljic and the Vrhbosna Archdiocese to reassess the decision on holding the mass for Bleiburg in Sarajevo.

 

Cvitanovic: Attacks on Cardinal Puljic are part of strategy according to which there is no room for Croats in B&H (Vecernji list)

 

President of HDZ 1990 Ilija Cvitanovic, asked to comment on the announcement of mass for victims of Bleiburg, which will be served in Sarajevo (on May 16). Namely, replied by saying he was shocked and disturbed by the reactions and threats made against him and the Cardinal (Vinko Puljic) and everyone else who will take part in the mass on May 16. In addition, he called on all Croats to gather at the (Sarajevo) cathedral on Saturday to “pray for souls of innocent Croat martyrs”. Asked to comment on the daily’s remark that Croat member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic said two years ago that “his people” committed the crime in Bleiburg, Cvitanovic says Komsic is a consequence of imposition of political will to a people and that, unfortunately, the trend will continue. “I fear it is part of a strategy according to which there is no room for Croats in B&H in a long-run”, added Cvitanovic. Asked how HDZ 1990 will take part in this year’s local elections, Cvitanovic says HDZ 1990 will go independently in areas where Croat position is not endangered, and will go together with HDZ B&H and other HNS (Croat People’s Assembly) in areas where it is (endangered). Asked if there is any point to discuss changes to the Law on Elections of B&H in the current circumstances, Cvitanovic says that with the current Law on Elections of B&H and current composition of the Central Election Commission of B&H, which is illegal and illegitimate, political forces will try to eliminate Croats from the Federation of B&H and B&H authorities in the 2022 (general) elections.

 

WHO: Epidemiological situation in B&H is satisfactory (Dnevni avaz)

 

WHO Representative and Head of Country Office in B&H Victor Olsavszky stated on Monday that in line with monitoring and ranking within the international community, B&H is ranked on the third place on the scale of best epidemiological image in Europe, right after Bulgaria and Albania. The conference of Ministers for healthcare issues took place on Monday and the officials discussed the epidemiological situation in B&H, concluding it is satisfactory.

 

RS Crisis HQ abolishes local and border crossing quarantines (RTRS)

 

The RS Crisis Headquarters (HQ) reached a decision on Monday on abolition of local and border crossing quarantines as of Tuesday 06,00hrs. Thus, all persons will continue their 14-day-long quarantines in home isolation, while citizens – both B&H citizens and foreigners – who enter territory of the RS will also be sent to 14-day-long home isolation. RS Minister of Health and Social Protection Alen Seranic said on Monday that inspectors will begin issuing decisions on home isolation as of Tuesday 06,00hrs, both to B&H citizens and foreigners, who will have the obligation to respect home isolation in their place of residence. Seranic also explained that all of the aforementioned persons will be instructed about conditions of home isolation in details. The RS Crisis HQ also abolished on Monday the prohibition on gathering of more than three persons in the RS and allowed gatherings of up to 50 people. However, the prohibition on mass public gatherings and the curfew from 22,00hrs until 05,00hrs remain in force. Regular controls of persons in home isolation in the RS continue and sanctions for violation of home isolation vary from BAM 1,000 up to BAM 3,000. Agricultural producers in border areas will be able to work, but they will be obliged to show IDs to inspectors. Drivers in international transport are exempted from isolation and they will only be subjected to registration.

 

B&H Covid-19 stats: Country’s total at 2,158 (N1)

 

B&H has recorded 17 new cases of infection with the novel coronavirus over the last 24 hours. According to the Civil Affairs Ministry, B&H has so far recorded 2,158 patients and its death toll stands at 117.  1,168 patients have recovered to date. The total of 43.291 lab tests has been performed in the B&H, 1085 in the last 24 hours.

 

Skoro and Croatian Sovereigntists sign coalition agreement (Hina)

 

Homeland Movement leader Miroslav Skoro and representatives of the Croatian Sovereigntists party signed on Monday a coalition agreement on joint participation in the coming parliamentary election. Skoro told a press conference that after the agreement with the Bloc for Croatia his Homeland Movement had also reached an agreement with the Croatian Sovereigntists to run in the elections together. “We are extremely pleased. We still want talks to continue so that everyone seeking change in Croatia can join this political camp,” Skoro told a press conference.

“Croatia wants all of us to be together and finally offer a political alternative. The Croatian Sovereigntists will be, together with the Homeland Movement and other partners, the alternative that Croats have been looking for a long time,” Hrvoje Zekanovic of the Croatian Sovereigntists said. Expressing satisfaction with the agreement, Marijan Pavlicek, the leader of the Croatian Conservative Party, said that the patriotic and sovereigntist camp had been fragmented for the past 20 years and that this was the first time Croatian citizens were provided with a joint political option that would be an alternative to the left and right political elites. Pavlicek believes the newly-established coalition will be the biggest surprise in the upcoming election. Noting that Croatia has been waiting for real political changes for a long time, Ladislav Ilcic (HRAST) underscored that real changes could not be expected to stem from the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) or the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

 

Restart Coalition denies negotiations with MOST (TCN)

 

Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) leader Kreso Beljak said on Monday that the Restart Coalition had never been in negotiations with the MOST party and denied that he had offered cooperation, following an agreement with Social Democratic Party (SDP) chief Davor Bernardic, to the MOST Party. “The Restart Coalition (SDP, HSS, GLAS, HSU, SNAGA) has never been in negotiations with MOST nor did I say that I had offered them cooperation following an agreement with the president of the SDP,” Beljak posted on Twitter. I will not comment further on various fabrications on this topic, since this is obviously an attempt to divert attention from much bigger issues Croatia has, the HSS leader said. It was said in the Monday issue of the Vecernji list daily that Beljak told them that the SDP had offered coalition to the MOST party, wanting to bring together, against the ruling Croatian Democratic Party (HDZ), opposition ranging from the far left to the far right. Beljak told the daily that he had investigated a month ago, in agreement with Bernardic, the possibility of bringing together the entire opposition against the HDZ, from the left wing to the right wing, including the MOST party, but the MOST party rejected the proposal.

 

New COVID-19 measures take effect at Croatian airports (HRT)

 

Croatia Airlines (CA) planes landed at Franjo Tudjman International Airport on Monday morning for the first time since the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown. The CA aircraft arrived from Dubrovnik and Split, marking the partial resumption of the national air carriers flight program following an almost two months of suspension of domestic air traffic as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the new safety regime, all passengers, cabin crew and pilots must wear protective facemasks while aboard the airplane. Physical distancing must be observed when boarding and disembarking, and to the extent that it is possible, the same is observed onboard. In-flight services have been reduced. Additionally, all aircraft are thoroughly disinfected between flights. The Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) has published a list of recommendations regarding commercial flights on its website. The measures include physical distancing where possible, protective masks, gloves and hand disinfection. Masks are not mandatory for children, people with respiratory problems and those with disabilities. All airport employees are required to take their temperature in the morning on days they are working. Those whose temperature is higher than 37.2 degrees Celsius are forbidden from coming in to work.

The management of Zagreb International Airport and Croatia Airlines say that the need to adhere to the new safety regime demonstrates just how important transport infrastructure is. They reminded that throughout the lockdown they had maintained the Zagreb-Frankfurt line. With preparations already well under way, including numerous contingency plans, both CA and the airport say they hope to able to announce the re-opening of additional flights soon. Senior executives at Croatia Airlines say they do not want to speculate as to what the airline’s losses will be due to the pandemic, as it remains to be seen just how long it will last. For now, ticket prices have remained the same, however, given the movement of prices on the market and new higher operating costs, prices are expected to be adjusted.

 

Croatia confirms 11 new coronavirus cases (N1)

 

Eleven new cases of coronavirus infection have been registered in Croatia in the last 24 hours, bringing their total to 2,207, while the death toll has remained at 90, Health Minister Vili Beros told a daily press conference. Number of patients who have recovered is 1.808.

 

Danilovic endangers the results of the fight against the coronavirus (RTCG)

 

The National Coordination Body for Infectious Diseases (NKT) announced that the MP and leader of the United Montenegro Goran Danilovic is endangering the achieved results of the entire society in the fight against coronavirus. “No one has the right to endanger the achieved level of health security of citizens by their actions. The painstakingly and responsibly acquired epidemiological stability will be protected by all legal means in the interest of the health and life of our citizens and the creation of conditions for reviving economic activities,” said NKT. They estimate that Danilovic grossly violated the valid measures for suppressing the epidemic, and, as they said, he violated his publicly given word – that he would “walk in silence and with respect to the rules of distance”. “By doing so, he clearly showed that his goals are completely different, and that they directly jeopardize the achieved results,” the statement reads. NKT calls on the competent state bodies to evaluate public invitations and gatherings directed by MP Danilovic, because, as they said, they endanger the health and lives of citizens and the conditions for reviving the economy. “Due to such occurrences and actions we call on the institutions to prevent any further risk to the health and safety of citizens. Any organized violation of measures prescribed by the profession in any local community, on any occasion and whoever the organizer is, will result in establishing or restoring earlier restrictive epidemiological measures in that city,” they said. NKT says that the interests of any individual, any group or any party, cannot be more important than the health of citizens and the need of our entire society to jointly, responsibly and decisively initiate economic reconstruction in the interest of all citizens.

Complaints about the police threatening freedom of religion (RTCG)

 

Three citizens complained to the Council for Civil Control of Police Work about the actions of police officers regarding their intention to, as it was announced, use the guaranteed freedom of religion and express their religious beliefs. According to the statement of the Council, all complaints were taken into account and appropriate verification procedures were initiated.

“As one complainant also has a video of the police’s actions, the Council recommended that a meeting of the relevant senior police officer, citizen and member of the Council in charge of the case be organized in CB (Security Center) Podgorica in order to jointly review the recording in the possession of the citizen and provide all necessary clarifications regarding the specific event,” the Council said. “As they said, they expect detailed information from the Police Administration about the measures and actions taken,” the Council said.

 

Measures still in force, elections could be discussed after continual drop in infections: deputy health minister (MIA)

 

All existing measures remain in force and they should be respected. The Commission for Infectious Diseases and experts have not concluded that the curfew should be cancelled along with relaxation of other restrictive measures, says Deputy Health Minister Armend Aslani. Aslani said that the elections could be discussed after infections drop below 5 percent over the course of two weeks. “We have had certain days under five percent, but it rose to ten percent couple of days ago. Yesterday it stood at 5.7 percent but today it increased to 14.5 percent. The Commission for Infectious Diseases has not concluded that the curfew should be extended” says Aslani. He adds that information is analyzed on a daily basis, but will continue to be done weekly, in order to transfer to the second stage of measures related to cafes, restaurants, hotels, public transport, international transport, for which there is no definite date. “Regarding the elections resulting from the leaders’ meeting, the Commission should give a conclusion, which is then assessed by the Crisis HQ and the Government. If daily information show infections below 5 percent for a period of 14 days, then we would have room to discuss this topic,” says Aslani.

On Tuesday’s opening of the mosques, he says it can be implemented if social distancing is observed, along with the wearing of masks, every believer carrying own mats, and using the mosques’ outer area.

 

Osmani encourages believers to skip mosques (MIA/TV 24)

 

Deputy PM for European Affairs Bujar Osmani has encouraged believers to skip mosques, which are set to open on Tuesday, until the COVID-19 situation has stabilized. “There is no way to close the mosques, there is no constitutional or legal grounds to do it. This is a question of cooperation, not agreement between institutions. I encourage people not to go until we are certain that the situation has improved,” Osmani told TV 24. According to him, there has been no coordination either for the recent Orthodox event in Struga or the mosques’ opening. “I was informed by the Islamic Religious Community after the decision was taken. I received a text after midnight and talked to the IRC head on the next day. I decided that the best way is to cooperate as soon as I realized that the decision cannot be altered. As the IRC head said ‘We can possibly sit down and talk if the situation worsens’”, says Osmani. He adds that rivalry is not the solution, because everyone will lose. “If there is rivalry between the communities, even between those who want to go to religious objects and those who don’t, then everyone will lose. Slip ups have occurred everywhere – among health workers, businesses, religious communities said Osmani. He urges for caution because fears an increase in the number of infections in the coming period.

 

One patient dies 10 new cases and five recover from Covid-19 (Republika)

 

Ten new Covid-19 cases have been confirmed out of a total of 198 tests performed, the Minister of Health, Venko Filipce informed at Tuesday’s press conference. New cases were registered in Skopje – 6, Kumanovo – 2, and one each in Prilep and Veles. As the Minister informed, 5 patients have recovered and one patient died. It is about a 60-year-old patient from Delcevo who had malignant diseases. So far, a total of 1,674 people have been infected with Covid-19 in Macedonia, 1,205 have recovered and 92 have died. There are currently 377 active cases.

 

Electoral Reform to be concluded within May (Radio Tirana)

 

Parties inside and outside parliament have agreed to close Electoral Reform by May 2020. The opposition, however, demanded that the Political Council resume work on the issues proposed by the Democratic Party and the Socialist Movement for Integration so that the parliamentary majority could clarify its position. The Electoral Political Council met virtually and representatives of the opposition attended the meeting from the headquarters of the Democratic Party.

 

Albanian gov’t working to legalize cultivation of medical cannabis (Tirana Times)

 

The Albanian government is close to concluding a draft law which allows for the cultivation of medical cannabis in the country. Prime Minister Edi Rama made the announcement during a live conference alongside EU Ambassador to Albania Luigi Soreca on the occasion of ‘Europe Day’ on Saturday. According to Rama, the government has been working on the draft law for a year now after continuous consultations with foreign experts. “The draft will be available very soon for public discussion, just like the one on the fiscal amnesty, which is ready and is being discussed with several international institutions” Rama said, emphasizing the importance of these discussions. After several media inquiries referring to Rama’s statement, the EU delegation to Albania stepped in to clarify that it had not been involved “in preparation, drafting or consultation of draft reports concerning plans for cultivation and legalization of cannabis for medical purposes in Albania.” Furthermore, the Prime Minister ‘s announcement sparked reactions from the LSI party as its leader Monika Kryemadhi praised the EU Delegation for clarifying its disinvolvement in Rama’s “disinformation campaign” and misuse of the EU’s image for purposes related to the electoral process. The Prime Minister hinted at government plans to legalize cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes several weeks ago, although at the time he did not imply that the conclusion of the draft law was close. Currently, cannabis possession – excluding amounts for personal use-, cultivation and transport is illegal in Albania and there is no medical cannabis program. Nevertheless, the country has been a major transit point for drugs entering Europe from Asia and Latin America. In 2014, the police raided and destroyed major cannabis plantations in the southeastern city of Lazarat, once considered as the drug capital of Europe. According to government data, the raid destroyed 102 tons of marijuana and 530,000 marijuana plants with an estimated market value at the time of 6.4 billion euros — more than 60 percent of the GDP. Although the crackdown destroyed a significant number of plantations, cultivation spread elsewhere across the country and more police operations followed.

According to the 2016 EC Progress Report on Albania, the police conducted 240 operations against drug cultivation and trafficking in 2015, which resulted in the identification of 4 634 cultivated parcels, the arrest of 402 offenders and the destruction of 797 422 narcotic plants, 246 008 more than in 2014. Moreover, in 2016, the Albanian cannabis market was thought to be worth 3.5 billion euros, which was then equal to about half of the country’s GDP. As Lazarat no longer served as the biggest cannabis hub in the country, on August 3, 2019, on Tepelena Municipality Territory, three mini-parcels with 22, 30 and 20 square meters of space respectively, where found cultivated in vases and holes and 28 cannabis plants were confiscated.

The secret police reports provided similar information for varying amounts of cannabis which were confiscated on 5, 14, 15 August and 23 September respectively, as well as the arrests of certain individuals near the crime scenes. However, during the middle of February 2018, the Italian Guardia di Finanza presented a report for cannabis cultivation during 2018 which removed Albania from the cannabis cultivation map. “Drop in plantations has been confirmed, only 27 out of 88 that existed in 2017 have been identified. There was also a significant drop in the amount of cannabis confiscated in Italy, with almost 81 percent within one year,” said Brigade General Giuseppe Arbore during the conference. Nevertheless, Albania continues to hold a bad reputation as Europe’s cannabis hub; In the US Department of State 2019 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Albania was valued as being “both a source country of cannabis and, increasingly, a transit country for cocaine and heroin commanded largely by organized crime elements moving illicit drugs from source countries into European markets.”

Lowest number of infected in Albania reported for second day in a row (ADN)

 

The Ministry of Health has reported only 4 coronavirus cases during 24 hours for the second day in a row, while the total number of infected now is 876. The new cases of last 24 hours are 2 in Kruja, 1 in Tirana and 1 in Berati. Anyway, representative of the Public Health Institute, Rovena Daja assured that the epidemiological situation in the country is stable. This stable condition is confirmed also by the figures of total active patients, 163. Only 24 of them are hospitalized and only 1 out of 24 is in critical condition. 28 citizens have recovered in past 24 hours. To date, 876 citizens across the country have tested positive for COVID-19. 682 citizens have recovered, or about 78% of all affected. The geographical distribution of active cases is as follows:

Tirana – 70

Kruja – 51

Shkodra – 16

Kamza – 12

Fieri – 5

Kurbini – 3

Elbasani – 2

Mirdita – 1

Berati – 1

Durresi – 1

Korca – 1

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Serbia raises €2bn from 7-year Eurobond (bne IntelliNews, By Denitsa Koseva, 11 May 2020)

 

Serbia has raised €2bn from a seven-year Eurobond issue, which will be listed on the London Stock Exchange, the finance ministry said in a statement on May 11. The government has adopted a €5.1bn package to support the economy amid the coronavirus (COVID-19)-related crisis and has refused to borrow from the International Monetary Fund and the EU. The funds from the Eurobond issue will be used to finance the stimulus measures. “Serbia is the sole European country that went out on international markets during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic without the help of the European Central Bank in the sale of the bond,” the ministry said in the statement. The securities carry a 3.125% coupon. More than 300 investors bid for the bonds, placing offers for €7bn. Thanks to the high investor interest, Serbia was able to lower the cost of borrowing by 0.5pp. “Investors have shown that Serbia reacted well in the time of the coronavirus pandemic and took the respective economic measures that would help the economy to overcome this period and resume the economic growth,” the finance ministry said in the statement. Raiffeisen analysts said in a note that the high volume of bids “demonstrated healthy demand for Serbia risk in crisis time”. “Since the Covid-19 outbreak Serbia sovereign spread (the note due 2029) went up from 178bp at end-February to 359bp as of yesterday. In this regard Serbia risk re-pricing stood closer to Romania, for which sovereign spread widened by similar 180bp, while Croatia suffered only a 120bp increase,” the note said.  Serbia’s general government public debt stood at €24.31bn at end-March, equaling to 51.9% of the projected end-year GDP. “Serbia’s gross financing needs in 2020 stand at RSD886.2bn and besides Eurobonds, government plans to secure funding via local debt issuance (RSD455bn), loans (RSD71.2bn) and sale of state’s real estate (RSD5.8bn). Debt accumulation will lead to public debt soaring to 59.8% of GDP, wiht the deterioration being one-off effect driven mainly by financing needs to combat the virus impact on the economy,” Raiffeisen analysts wrote.

 

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