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Belgrade Media Report 14 May 2020

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Thursday 14 May 2020

LOCAL PRESS

Vucic: There is not any kind of solution on the table regarding the issue of Kosovo and Metohija (RTS/Tanjug)
Vucic: We do not understand reasons for detaining Bishops (Tanjug/B92)
SPC Holy Synod called upon authorities in Montenegro to stop persecuting the Church (RTS/Tanjug/NSPM)
Ljajic: 18.5 million Euros of goods exported to Kosovo (TV Pink/FoNet)
Pristina bans Serbian doctors and nurses from entering Kosovo and Metohija (Tanjug)
Obradovic requests from police to be allowed visits while on hunger strike (Beta/RTV)
Another 79 cases, 4,084 recovered (RTS)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

B&H Bishops’ Conference rejects all unjust insinuations regarding Holy Mass for Bleiburg in Sarajevo (FTV)
Covic: Mass is not act of hatred nor extremism (FTV)
Dzaferovic: If one is to pray for anything in Sarajevo, then one will pray for victims of Ustasha regime (O kanal)
Dodik: Holy mass is attempt to rehabilitate Ustasha movement (RTRS)
Sattler: Every religious community has right to organize religious ceremonies, but they have to secure that these are not politically abused (Dnevni avaz)
Doboj registers increase in number of COVID-19 cases; Doboj District Prosecutor’s Office launches investigation (BHT1)
B&H gets loan from World Bank worth 33.1 million Euros for prevention and fight against COVID-19 (O kanal/BHT1)
Riot of large number of migrants in Lipa migrant camp (ATV)
B&H Covid-19 tally over 2,200, 39 new cases reported on Thursday (N1)
Croatia

Grlic Radman sends message of support to Cardinal Puljic (Fenix magazine)
World Jewish Congress condemns plans to hold masses honouring Bleiburg events (N1)
33rd Croatian Contingent leaves for Kosovo (Hina)
EC publishes recommendations for opening borders (Hina)
Croatia has 8 new Covid-19 cases bringing the tally to 2.221 (N1)
Montenegro

Police used tear gas to break up protest in Niksic (Vijesti)
No more COVID-19 patients in Podgorica (CDM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Infectious diseases committee drafts protocol on election process activities (MIA)
Zaev: Election date will be set next week (MIA/TV Telma)
Health Minister: We’ll request extension of state of emergency in North Macedonia (MIA)
In North Macedonia 29 new COVID-19 cases, 6 patients recover (MIA)
Albania

Rama rejects opposition’s proposal for transitional gov’t (Tirana Times)
Political Council gathers to discuss Electoral Reform (Radio Tirana)
Coronavirus infection in Albania jumps to 18 in the last 24 hrs (Radio Tirana)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

Head of Office of Kosovo and Metohija: Serbs and Albanians should decide on Kosovo fate (TASS)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic: There is not any kind of solution on the table regarding the issue of Kosovo and Metohija (RTS/Tanjug)

 

Responding the questions of journalists about elections, President Vucic says more than four years have passed since the last elections. “In democracies you do not have elections after the expiration of the deadlines, things are not so here, some wanted to postpone elections,” said Vucic, adding they were postponed over the situation with the coronavirus. He says that he has been listening since 2012 to stories how he will have to recognize Kosovo and how he is in a hurry. “Some are going around western embassies and saying that Vucic is a Serbian nationalist who is fooling them and who will never give anything regarding the issue of Kosovo and Metohija. Then they tell our public that Vucic will have to recognize Kosovo and Metohija and that this is why he is in a hurry,” said Vucic. He says that there are not any kind of talks, nor ideas, nor any kind of solution on the table regarding anything on the issue of Kosovo and Metohija.

 

Vucic: We do not understand reasons for detaining Bishops (Tanjug/B92)

 

Answering the questions of the journalists about the accusation that “Serbia is waging a biological war against Montenegro”, he said that you can only shrug your shoulders at such claims. “I don’t know what to tell you. I think it is normal not to use the police against political opponents, if they do not use violence. For us, this is a terribly difficult situation. On the one hand, you must not interfere in the internal affairs of another country. On the other hand, it is a question of the Serbian Orthodox Church and a part of our people”, he said and once

again expressed his misunderstanding for the detention of Bishop Joanikije and the Serbian Orthodox Church priests. He had no answer to the research of the SeConS group, which presented data that about 200.000 people lost their jobs during the pandemic. “Which group? What are you, who are you? I don’t know what to answer you. You can come out with the information that four million people have lost their jobs, even though there aren’t that many on the list of the employees,” he said. Vucic pointed out that three days ago he criticized certain municipal boards of the SNS, which called for mass rallies. He considers it irresponsible behavior. “I know that many people from the SNS were angry with me, but I think that there is no need for such a gathering,” Vucic said, commenting on the gathering of SNS supporters in front of the Assembly, while government and opposition deputies went on hunger strike. He added that showing superiority by gathering as many people as possible will not be the case.

 

SPC Holy Synod called upon authorities in Montenegro to stop persecuting the Church (RTS/Tanjug/NSPM)

 

In a press release, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) strongly condemned the latest persecution of the SPC in Montenegro and the arrest of Bishop Joanikije of Budimlje-Niksic and seven priests by the Montenegrin authorities, which under the false pretext of fighting the coronavirus had been using the opportunity to confront the Serbian Orthodox Church and her faithful people. “The Holy Synod of Bishops called upon the authorities in Montenegro to stop persecuting the Church and to finally started behaving in accordance with the norms of civilization, according to which free confession of faith is one of the most important rights of every individual,” reads the statement on the SPC website. At the same time, the Holy Synod of Bishops expressed great concern over the aggravation of the situation in Montenegro and hoped that the Serbian people, as before, would act peacefully and would not respond to provocations by the then authorities that obviously wanted a conflict to accuse the Orthodox Church and her believers. The Holy Synod stated that it was clear to anyone reasonable and well-meaning that sobriety and prudence should be preserved in these moments, and above all, we should pray to God that peace prevails in Montenegro and that the innocent Bishop Joanikije and his priests should be released from custody immediately.

 

Ljajic: 18.5 million Euros of goods exported to Kosovo (TV Pink/FoNet)

 

Serbian Trade Minister Rasim Ljajic told TV Pink on Thursday that Serbian companies exported 18.5 million Euros worth of goods to Kosovo during the pandemic state of emergency. He said that some of those exports were higher than before the pandemic because Kosovo depends on Serbia for some raw materials. According to the minister, 83 percent of all grains sold in Kosovo originate in Serbia proper. He said that the Kosovo authorities are restoring trade barriers by introducing a tax of 40 Euros a ton on flour. Ljajic said that the Serbian trade sector did well because of the high demand for foodstuffs but added that a drop in the sale of household appliances and furniture was recorded. He said that the exports of grains to the countries of the region and the rest of Europe rose during the pandemic and that imports of oil and medical supplies rose. He said that all prices that had been frozen during the state of emergency were now free with the exception of surgical gloves and masks.

Pristina bans Serbian doctors and nurses from entering Kosovo and Metohija (Tanjug)

 

The Pristina authorities have prevented 20 Serbian doctors and nurses from entering Kosovo and Metohija, the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric announced today and pointed out that this was a first-rate scandal which saw Pristina reach a new low in human and political terms. Djuric specified that the doctors and nurses were stopped yesterday at the administrative crossing of Merdare, although the liaison officer had already announced their arrival. Djuric also said that he expects a reaction from the international community, Miroslav Lajcak and Richard Grenell, because of this ban. “With this, Pristina has hit new rock bottom and in both the political and human sense, thus preventing the normal functioning of the Clinical-Hospital Center in Gracanica and other institutions,” Djuric told Tanjug. He stated that these are doctors and nurses, who already live and work between Serbia proper and Kosovo and Metohija, that is, they are all from Kosovo and Metohija, and have been working in those health institutions for decades. Djuric also said that this represents a violation of numerous international norms and obligations arising from various agreements, and is a direct threat to the health and safety of Serbs in Kosovo. “This is the result of the political climate created by the leaders of Albanian parties in Pristina, and the direct reason is that Kadri Veseli’s statements frightened them in Pristina the day before, when he in a cynical and sinister manner falsely spoke about how new doctors are coming from Serbia to Kosovo and Metohija. As if that should be a problem, even if new ones were coming,” said Djuric. According to Djuric, the Pristina authorities then, apparently in a state of panic, afraid of this terrorist leader, decided to prevent Serbian medics from entering. Djuric said that Belgrade would continue the campaign all over the world with even more zeal and passion to spread the truth about Kosovo as a fake, terrorist creation. Djuric also stated that this was a first-rate scandal and if it happened to medics of another nationality, it would be headline news around the world – but the way things stand, there is a risk that it will go unnoticed. “My message to Pristina is, just continue with this practice and you will be able to join any international organization and achieve any of your political goals – never. We will continue to behave completely opposite to them, when it comes to medical and cooperation on humanitarian issues,” said Djuric. He added that he expects medical chambers and medical associations to react, because their colleagues are being prevented from doing their job. He also stated that existing capacities can provide care for patients in Kosovo and Metohija.

 

Obradovic requests from police to be allowed visits while on hunger strike (Beta/RTV)

 

Dveri Movement leader Bosko Obradovic, who has been on a hunger strike on the stairs in front of the Serbian parliament building in Belgrade for four days, sent on 14 May a request to the Ministry of the Interior to be allowed to receive visits from close family members and political associates. In his letter, Obradovic wrote that as an MP and the leader of the Dveri parliamentary party, he has been on a hunger strike since 10 May, and that the strike is a personal act of rebellion and a “legitimate means of political struggle.” He pointed out that his closest political associates are forbidden from visiting him, adding that the police did not allow his own brother to see him on 13 May. “Based on which act did the Ministry of the Interior on 13 May assume authority over who visits and stays inside the parliament building, which is in the parliament’s General Secretariat’s jurisdiction,” Obradovic asked. Dveri leader added that even convicts are allowed visitors according to the Law on the Execution of Criminal Sanctions. “As an MP and an individual on a hunger strike, with all the spiritual and physical consequences of this act, I am denied this. I demand from competent bodies of the Serbian Ministry of the Interior to be allowed to meet with the closest family members and political associates and officials of the Dveri movement,” Obradovic wrote in his request.

 

Another 79 cases, 4,084 recovered (RTS)

 

Until 3pm there have been another 79 cases, in total 10,374 infected. There have been two more deaths, in total 224 deaths.  There are 949 patients in hospitals and 20 on respirators.

The total number of recovered patients is 4,084.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

B&H Bishops’ Conference rejects all unjust insinuations regarding Holy Mass for Bleiburg in Sarajevo (FTV)

 

The Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Bishops’ Conference issued a statement on Wednesday commenting on strong reactions to the announced holding of a mass in Sarajevo on 16 May for the Bleiburg. The statement reads that “the Catholic Church has its own and inalienable right – as well as of any other Church and religious community – to perform their worship, prayers and rites in accordance with the legal internal organization and to educate the faithful in their faith”. The statement also reads: “According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, praying for a person or a group does not mean paying homage to that person or the group, or identifying with them, or accepting their political beliefs. Catholic Bishops resolutely reject all unjust judgments and insinuations regarding the Holy Mass, which will be celebrated on Saturday in Sarajevo’s Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. In this regard, we have the trust and we expect the goodwill of all churches and religious communities and all peoples as well as their representatives, respecting the right that someone thinks, believes and behaves in a different way, but always within just law and respecting the individuality of the Catholic Church”.

 

Covic: Mass is not act of hatred nor extremism (FTV)

 

Leader of HDZ B&H and speaker of the B&H House of Peoples Dragan Covic commented on Wednesday strong reactions to the announced holding of a mass in Sarajevo for Bleiburg victims. Covic said that some individuals in B&H deliberately again open wounds from the past in order to distract the attention from other, current topics in the B&H society adding that at the same time, this reveals the intention to prohibit some citizens to freely and publicly practice their religion. Covic said: „The interfering that we are witnessing represents violation of religious freedom and the right of peoples to religious rites. I condemn all crimes, no matter who committed it and regardless of the time when the crimes were committed. It is necessary to look at all the historical facts and allow every innocent victim to have the right to be honored. The fact is that B&H is a multi-ethnic state that must find enough strength and tolerance within for the differences that make it what it is. Whether someone like it or not, Sarajevo belongs to all of us who live in B&H”.

 

Dzaferovic: If one is to pray for anything in Sarajevo, then one will pray for victims of Ustasha regime (O kanal)

 

The B&H Presidency Chairman Sefik Dzaferovic, asked to comment the announced mass for Bleiburg victims that should be held in Sarajevo on 16 May, called on all B&H citizens to refrain from any kind of activities that would cause any kind of incident. “Perhaps, someone wants to cause incidents. We should not fall for that,” Dzaferovic said, wondering what Sarajevo has to do with Bleiburg. “If one is to pray for anything in Sarajevo, then one will pray for the victims of the Ustasha regime, victims of Maks Luburic and so on,” Dzaferovic said. He stressed that he is against holding a mass for Bleiburg victims in Sarajevo, asking why only Bosniaks are being called out for being against the announced mass. “Why is no one mentioning  the World Jewish Congress that issued a very sharp statement, or the Israeli Embassy in B&H? Why is no one mentioning the Croatian President, Mr. Zoran Milanovic, who opposed this? Focus is on Bosniaks and it is completely clear what this is about,” Dzaferovic stressed, noting that this has to do with politics.

 

Dodik: Holy mass is attempt to rehabilitate Ustasha movement (RTRS)

 

RTRS investigated whether the mass honoring the victims of Bleiburg which will take place on Saturday in Sarajevo is an attempt to rehabilitate the Ustasha movement in B&H. Historians questioned the intent of the holy mass organized by the Catholic Church in B&H and reminded that the Ustasha movement was closely tied to the Catholic Church and their high officials before World War II. Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said that the mass was strongly announced and it was supposed to be an attempt to rehabilitate the Ustasha Movement. He added that the idea about the destruction of Serbs did not go away with the fall of NDH. Reporter noted that the RS institutions, numerous parties from the RS, as well as non-governmental organizations condemned the organization of the holy mass in Sarajevo. The holy mass was condemned by the Jewish Community in B&H as well. Dodik stressed that B&H Presidency did not discuss on Wednesday the situation regarding the mass service for Bleiburg.

 

Sattler: Every religious community has right to organize religious ceremonies, but they have to secure that these are not politically abused (Dnevni avaz)

 

Head of the EU Delegation to B&H and EU Special Representative Johann Sattler commented the reactions to the announced mass for Bleiburg victims and he stressed that every religious community has right to hold religious ceremonies for innocent victims of wars and these events must not be politically abused. “At the same time, organizers are obliged to secure that such events are not politically abused. Considering that I come from the country where Bleiburg is located, I can say that we have had many challenges with organizers during the past years. This is why the mass was not held last year, because the Catholic Church decided that this is a political abuse, which harms it and refused to organize it. However, threats to those who want to participate and threats in general to anyone, are also unacceptable. I would appeal to all to smooth their ruffled feathers. From historic aspect, I have the impression, it is especially painful that in the Balkans, and especially in B&H the wars from the past are led with fierce rhetoric instead to build the future together,” said Sattler.

 

Doboj registers increase in number of COVID-19 cases; Doboj District Prosecutor’s Office launches investigation (BHT1)

 

Doboj has registered an increase in number of COVID-19 cases, among others, in the city hospital. BHT1 reports that 55 infected persons are currently in the hospital, 17 of them are health workers from the hospital. The number of COVID-19 cases increased sharply after the placement of a number of the retirement home ‘Zlatni lug’ beneficiaries in the hospital. The directors of both the hospital and the retirement home refuse to address the public, and the Doboj District Prosecutor’s Office initiated investigation to determine potential irregularities in the work of these two institutions. RS Minister of Health and Social Welfare Alen Seranic ordered forming a commission for supervision of the work and compliance with protocols of the hospital. BHT reports that the Doboj Health Center managed to suppress spreading of the coronavirus by introducing early preventive measures. The reporter asked citizens about the situation in Doboj, and their opinion is that they are not afraid of the infection, but the worry about the life after.

 

B&H gets loan from World Bank worth 33.1 million Euros for prevention and fight against COVID-19 (O kanal/BHT1)

 

Deputy Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) and B&H Minister of Finance and Treasury Vjekoslav Bevanda and Head of the World Bank in B&H Emanuel Salinas signed on Wednesday the agreement on World Bank’s loan, based on which 33.1 million Euros was approved to B&H for prevention and fight against the COVID-19. The FB&H will receive 60 per cent and the RS 40 per cent of the amount. Bevanda said that conditions of this loan are favorable. B&H has 32 years to pay back the loan with seven-year grace period. Also, within the European Union’s ‘EU4Business’ Project, a total of 10 million Euros of EU grants is available and will be used as incentives for aiding the economy in B&H. The funds will also be used for helping the agricultural companies and entrepreneurs, allowing them to keep most of their workers. Besides this assistance, the EU announced a 73.5 million Euros assistance for mitigation of socio-economic consequences of COVID-19 pandemic in B&H. Another 250 million Euros will be provided in form of macro-financial assistance.

 

Riot of large number of migrants in Lipa migrant camp (ATV)

 

Una-Sana Canton (USC) Minister of Interior Nermin Kljajic stated on Wednesday that a large number of migrants rioted in the Lipa migrant camp outside Bihac on Monday and they damaged one of the police vehicles, so the police were forced to use firearms, i.e. to fire warning shots into the air. He stressed that the police will not let migrants walk around whenever they want in this canton. Migrants said that they rioted due to the fact that they were deprived from medical assistance. Kljajic said that migrants were dissatisfied with food and medical services because of which they launched a protest, which soon escalated into a riot. “They stoned premises in which they are accommodated, threw stones at employees of the Foreigners’ Affairs Service and one of our vehicles,” Kljajic said. Kljajic added that migrants calmed down after the police fired the warning shots and the situation was put under control. Kljajic went on to say that migrants simply must accept the fact that Lipa reception center is their new home now and noted that, although there are no migrants in Bihac lately, they are still causing problems in Velika Kladusa.

 

B&H Covid-19 tally over 2,200, 39 new cases reported on Thursday (N1)

 

The B&H health authorities reported 39 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, adding that there was also a fatality caused by the new coronavirus. Over the past 24 hours, the RS reported 33 new cases of the disease after testing 697 new samples. The entity Health ministry said that the gender structure of the patients consists of 17 male and 16 female patients. The Ministry added that so far, this entity has seen 1,201 confirmed cases of Covid-19, of which 511 have recovered and 81 died. When it comes to the FB&H, Health Ministry’s Crisis Staff said 650 people were tested over the past 24 hours and that six tests came back positive. So far, this entity confirmed the disease in 997 cases, 745 of which have recovered. Currently, 216 people are suffering from Covid-19, and the entity saw 37 fatalities caused by the new coronavirus. The fatality that occurred over the past 24 hours happened in the central-Bosnian town called Teslic, located in the RS entity. The patient was a 69-year-old woman who suffered from pre-existing conditions. According to B&H’s Civil Affairs Ministry, the total number of confirmed cases in the country now stands at 2,218, of which 1,272 people recovered and 122 had died.

 

Grlic Radman sends message of support to Cardinal Puljic (Fenix magazine)

 

Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlic Radman spoke by telephone with the Archbishop of Vrhbosna Cardinal Vinko Puljic and expressed his support for serving Holy Mass in the Sarajevo Cathedral as part of the program to mark the 75th anniversary of the Bleiburg tragedy and the death marches forced on the Croatian people, planned for 16 May. Cardinal Vinko Puljic was jointly elected by the bishops of Croatia and B&H as head of the Eucharist for the Bleiburg victims. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Cardinal Vinko Puljic and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlic Radman expressed satisfaction that the culture of remembrance will continue this year in Bleiburg, Sarajevo and Zagreb, where the state leadership will lay a wreath and light a candle at the Mirogoj cemetery in prayer. The two stressed the importance of reverently paying homage to the deceased and preserving the memory of innocent and tortured victims killed without trial. Minister Grlic Radman expressed regret over certain attacks on Cardinal Puljic, especially over the fact that Cardinal Puljic spent the entire war in Sarajevo and helped many residents. The Minister once again thanked Cardinal Puljic for his three decades of service to the Catholic Church and the Croatian people in B&H.

At the end of World War II numerous Croats fled to Bleiburg in hopes of surrendering to Allied forces but were forced in the end to surrender to Yugoslav partisan forces. Tito’s partisans subsequently killed tens of thousands, including women and children, without trial, on forced death marches back to the area of the former Yugoslavia, leaving a trail of graves across Slovenia.

 

World Jewish Congress condemns plans to hold masses honoring Bleiburg events (N1)

 

The World Jewish Congress (WJC), a global Jewish organization representing Jewish communities around the world, strongly condemned plans to hold a controversial mass on May 16 in B&H capital Sarajevo intended to commemorate the anniversary of the World War II events at Bleiburg, the organization said in a press release on Wednesday. The Catholic mass in Sarajevo in B&H – which during World War II was part of the fascist Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia (NDH) – had been announced as a replacement for the open-air gathering normally held at Bleiburg itself, due to the restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the events at Bleiburg, a small Austrian town on the border with Slovenia, where thousands of members of the Nazi-allied fascist Ustasha regime, together with pro-regime civilians, had surrendered to the British forces in the closing stages of World War II, only to be turned over to communist Partisans who then sent them on a death march back to Yugoslavia. In a press release sent to local media on Wednesday, the World Jewish Congress slammed these remembrance events. “For the past 24 years remembrance events intended to commemorate those perished in the fight for Croatia’s freedom and independence are not used to celebrate heroes who had contributed to the rise of a strong and moral modern Croatia. Instead, they are used to glorify individuals who supported or were actively involved in the activities of a regime which had executed hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children only because of their ethnic or religious identity,” WJC said on Wednesday. The event at Bleiburg, organized since the 1990s by a remembrance group calling itself the Honorary Bleiburg Platoon, funded in part by Croatia’s parliament, and supported by Croatia’s Catholic Church, became infamous for commonly featuring far-right sympathizers who often used the occasion to sport World War II-era insignia and salutes of the Ustasha regime. In February 2019 Austria, which already had laws banning public displays of Nazi-related insignia, added Ustasha symbols to the list of proscribed symbols over concerns about Bleiburg gatherings, and in May that year the local Catholic Church officials withheld permission for an open-air mass, which had normally been celebrated on site by Croatian priests. This year, however, the ban on large gatherings due to the Covid-19 pandemic meant that the main event couldn’t be held. Instead, the commemoration would be marked by a mass in Sarajevo and two smaller events announced to be held in Zagreb and in Bleiburg. After the announcement, the plan was condemned by the Israeli embassy to B&H. WJC also referred to Croatia’s law on holidays and remembrance days, which had been amended by its conservative government last year and which came into force in January 2020, which recognises May 9 – the end of World War II – as Victory Day, but also proscribes May 15, the anniversary of the Bleiburg event, as an official remembrance date, officially billed as “Day of Remembrance of Croatian Victims in the Fight for Freedom and Independence.” “It is impossible to understand why the modern Croatian Parliament had passed this law, and out of all the available dates in a given year chose the one related to the events at Bleiburg, thereby designating it as the most appropriate day to commemorate those who died in the fight for modern Croatia’s freedom and independence,” WJC added. “It is horrifying to realize, in the Jewish world, how fascists who had tried to cleanse Croatia of its Jewish and ethnic Serb population – by following the model emanating from Nazi Germany – get respect, and also to see them viewed as people whose deeds have contributed to the freedom and independence of the modern Croatian state, a state whose Constitution is based on anti-fascist struggle and the fight against the Nazi regime and its associates,” said Menachem Rosensaft, General Counsel of the World Jewish Congress. The Ustasha regime, which ran the Nazi-allied NDH on the territory which comprised much of present-day Croatia and B&H from 1941 to 1945, persecuted ethnic minorities, including Serbs, Jews, and Roma. At its main extermination camp at Jasenovac, official estimates say that more than 80,000 people had perished, including some 20,000 children up to 14 years of age. “The fact that Croatia’s parliament is sponsoring such a controversial event, under the banner of honoring and remembering those who gave their lives for Croatia’s freedom is a slap in the face of all innocent victims of the Ustasha regime, all advocates of historical truth, and the Jewish community across the region whose patriotism is questioned and personal safety at risk whenever they stand up to commemorations honouring the very people who had engaged in brutally killing their ancestors,” Rosensaft said. The WJC added that they extend full support to all Jewish communities affected by this, especially to Jewish communities in Bosnia, Croatia, and Austria.

 

33rd Croatian Contingent leaves for Kosovo (Hina)

 

The 33rd Croatian army contingent (HRVCON) was sent to Kosovo on Monday to join NATO’s KFOR peace mission in Kosovo, Croatia’s Defence Ministry said. The contingent was seen off by Commander Boris Panic, who underscored that Croatia has participated in the peace mission in Kosovo since 2009 with personnel and two helicopters. “The contingent is completely prepared to conduct its duty in the field of operation and I am certain that it will represent the Croatian Army and Croatia in this mission in a dignified manner,” Panic said. The commander of the 33rd contingent, Colonel Dubravko Radic, said that the contingent was well prepared, experienced and ready for the new mission. “A specific feature of this mission is that all its members spent two weeks in quarantine recommended by epidemiological measures. They were all tested prior to being sent and we are leaving completely ready to contribute to building and maintaining peace and stability in Kosovo under the auspices of NATO’s operation,” said Radic. The main duty for Croatia’s contingent as part of the KFOR operation is in and around the Slatina airport in Pristina and to transport KFOR troops, freight and VIP personnel.

 

EC publishes recommendations for opening borders (Hina)

 

The European Commission has finally published recommendations on opening borders. They are not binding for member states. They recommend the gradual and coordinated lifting of travel restrictions between members or within regions that have a similar epidemiological situation. In addition, the Commission has drafted a series of documents to revive tourism, a key industry for Croatia. The European package is very precise – it envisions a strategy for the recovery of tourism this year and beyond, and a common approach to establishing freedom of movement and lifting restrictions at the Union’s internal borders. But the basic goal is – not to jeopardize people’s safety. “We need to work together to travel across borders safely again. Tourism is a vital part of the European economy, millions of jobs depend on tourism,” said Margrethe Vestager, vice-president of the European Commission. The EC has adopted a series of measures aimed at ensuring that people can once again travel safely across the continent as governments try to revive tourism and the aviation industry that has been stopped by the coronavirus. The Commission proposes a step-by-step approach starting with the lifting of restrictions between regions and member states that have similar sufficiently epidemiological situations. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said that the documents adopted by the European Commission on tourism and transport are extremely important, and that the discussion on them had been initiated by Croatia and himself. The PM pointed out that a large number of EU members include tourism among their important branches of industry. He is therefore pleased, he added, that the EC has come up with such documents, as proposals to member states, on what to do in the context of pandemic mitigation at the global and national levels. He also assessed how important it is for Croatia to gradually reactivate its economy, including tourism, with the phased easing of measures, and in that context measures already taken to facilitate border crossings for economic reasons will gradually be more and more in the function of revitalizing tourism. “Croatia’s talks with neighboring countries, who are just as successful in the fight against Covid-19 as Croatia, are on the same track,” said Plenkovic. Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli also commented on the measures of the European Commission. “The European Union will have a protocol, we will abide by it, but bilaterally with some countries, such as the Czech Republic, under equal conditions of reciprocity, we will have traffic and tourism will be active in this segment. We also expect a result with Slovenia,” said Cappelli and announced the opening of borders with that neighboring country in a few days. The announcement of the opening of borders brought a touch of optimism to Dalmatia. How much did the epidemic affect tourism – the latest data from the Croatian National Tourist Board and the e-Visitor system show – in April there were 99 percent fewer tourists and 88 percent fewer overnight stays than in the same month last year.

 

Croatia has 8 new Covid-19 cases bringing the tally to 2.221 (N1)

 

Eight more people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 in Croatia in the last 24 hours, which puts the total number of infections at 2.221, the national civil protection authority said on Thursday. A total of 1,850 patients have recovered from the infection so far, while 94 people has died.

 

Police used tear gas to break up protest in Niksic (Vijesti)

 

The police used tear gas to break up a protest over the arrest of the Bishop and priests on Wednesday evening in Niksic. Podgorica daily Vijesti said on its website that the police

used flash bangs and tear gas to break up the protesters who responded by throwing stones.

Earlier in the evening, the coordinator of the Alternativa party Vesko Pejak was summoned to the police for questioning after he used social networks to call people to the protest gathering.

There were protests in Pljevlja, the north of Montenegro, on Wednesday night as well.

The police also threw the tear gas in Pljevlja, when the police clashed with the people, unofficially, there are also injured ones. Detonations echo through the town. At the time of the conflict, there were also children on the streets, among whom, as we find out, one

child was injured. The protests were held in Berane too. Earlier on Wednesday, the faithful and opposition supporters organized a blockade of the Berane-Andrijevica road, demanding the release of the bishop and priests. That protest was broken up by the police. The protesters blocked the road at around 11 am and strong police forces broke up the protest around 2 pm using tear gas and force and arresting several people. At the same time in the Montenegrin parliament, the leader of Democratic Front (DF) party Andrija Mandic said that an idea had been voiced to call SPC faithful out onto the streets to block all roads until Joanikije and the priests are released but that the idea was abandoned at the appeal of Montenegro-Littoral Bishop Amfilohije and the SPC Council of Bishops in Montenegro. Mandic said that he regrets having to obey Amfilohije “because he knows that Montenegro would have been blocked bringing an end to the dictatorial authorities”. The Police in the capital Podgorica filed criminal charges against Mandic and two other DF MPs for calling for resistance, that is for calling the public to gather for the church service on the feast of St Vasilije. The same charges were filed against Mandic, Milan Knezevic and Predrag Bulatovic as well for failing to follow the Health Ministry ban on public gatherings. The ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) said that the church service in Niksic on Tuesday was “a political provocation in the form of a church gathering” to bring political and economic instability and endanger the lives of the population.

The opposition Socialist People’s Party (SNP) demanded the release of Joanikije, adding that the authorities declared a dictatorship with the arrest and called for a conflict with the people,

the church and tradition. The opposition Demos Alliance demanded the bishop’s immediate release, saying that this is an attempt by Djukanovic “to raise political tensions to boiling point in election year and draw attention away from the reality of a corrupt country”.

 

No more COVID-19 patients in Podgorica (CDM)

 

One patient from Podgorica tested negative for COVID-19 for the second time yesterday afternoon, which means that the Capital is officially without active coronavirus cases.

“Since the outbreak, there have been 164 coronavirus cases in Podgorica only,” Institute for Public Health reports. Total number of infections is 324. There are currently 6 active cases: 3 in Gusinje, 2 in Ulcinj and 1 in Bijelo Polje.

 

Infectious diseases committee drafts protocol on election process activities (MIA)

 

The Committee for Infectious Diseases has drafted a protocol on election process activities, Health Minister Venko Filipche said at a press conference Thursday. Protocol provisions are in line with established coronavirus preventive measures, such as wearing face masks and social distancing. Filipche expressed hopes that political stakeholders will abide by the protocol. “The protocol was unanimously endorsed by all members of the Committee for Infectious Diseases and it must be fully implemented to protect public health. Political leaders underlined at the meeting Tuesday that public health is their top priority therefore I expect that all participants in the election process will respect the protocol. Protocol provisions are in line with established coronavirus preventive measures, set to remain in force in the coming period” the Minister said.

The protocol, Filipche underlined, was requested by President Stevo Pendarovski, following Tuesday’s leaders’ meeting. It does not, however, specify when the election will be held, as this decision is up to political stakeholders to make. Furthermore, the protocol covers four areas of the election process: pre-election, campaign, party meetings, and polling day activities. On polling day, election board members, observers, and voters will be obliged to wear protective equipment, use hand sanitizer, and maintain two-meter distance from others. “Only a certain number of people will be allowed to enter the polling station at the same time. The State Election Commission (SEC) has also been advised to extend the polls closing time by two hours,” Filipche said. Coronavirus preventive measures will have to be implemented during pre-election activities, rallies, and door-to-door canvassing, as well. Party meetings will have to be held outdoors whenever possible, while no more than two volunteers will be allowed to hand out campaign leaflets at the same booth. The protocol is to be submitted to President Stevo Pendarovski and Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski. Regarding the coronavirus situation in North Macedonia, Filipche told the news conference that the number of new cases is decreasing, the epidemic is under control, and the situation has significantly improved. “We can see now the positive effects of harsh restrictive measures. Although the situations has improved, projections show that the virus will be around for a while. This will change only when a vaccine is developed and the population builds up collective immunity,” Filipche said.

 

Zaev: Election date will be set next week (MIA/TV Telma)

 

People’s health is what matters the most, no one is rushing into holding elections, but we have to take into consideration the fact that the corona crisis is easing and the country still doesn’t have a functioning parliament and a political government, Zoran Zaev has said. “Public health also means a functioning legislative house and a functioning political government that will implement responsible policies. That’s why we need to get this done as soon as possible,” the SDSM leader said Thursday in an interview with TV Telma. North Macedonia, he noted, is the only country in Europe without a functioning Parliament. According to Zaev, elections could be held in mid-June. “Now’s the time to settle this after having implemented restrictions that have produced results,” he said, adding the number of infected people has been dropping. Zaev said he hoped that there will be no confirmed cases in summer and autumn, but he warned the parliamentarians could go well over their four-year terms since they were elected on Dec. 11, 2016. “We, as a mature democracy, cannot allow it. We’ve concluded it – we are learning to live with the corona crisis and elections need to be organized” the ruling party leader said. Next week – Monday or Tuesday – the party leaders will meet again, following their Tuesday’s meeting, to define details after reviewing the guidelines of the Committee for Infectious Disease. Zaev said SDSM at the leaders’ meeting put forward 14 June as a potential date to hold the elections. According to him, all the party leaders concluded that elections must be organized. “We proposed 14 June, but we are open for talks in order to make the opposition feel comfortable and organize election campaign,” Zaev said, adding the State Election Commission had begun having meetings to coordinate election activities and the OSCE/ODIHR was expected to say whether it could deploy an election observation mission. “I’m confident next week we will have election date,” Zaev stressed.

Electronic voting could be a good idea

Electronic voting and adding a few extra voting hours on election day are options that are worth considering if the opposition accepts them, Zaev told TV Telma. “It would be great if we could cast our votes electronically, but first of all the opposition needs to approve it” he said in Wednesday’s interview. Zaev also said he liked the idea to extend the voting hours. In North Macedonia, polling stations usually open at 7 am and close at 7 pm. According to him, since June election is being considered, polling stations could open at 6 am and close at 9-10 pm.

Asked how the voting process would be organized in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic, Zaev said they would be no major changes. Even in normal conditions, he said, voters are allowed to go in polling stations one by one, meaning there is no grouping. “Now, it isn’t going to be any different. Voters will keep 1,5-2-meter distance, wear masks, etc.,” Zaev said in the interview.

 

Health Minister: We’ll request extension of state of emergency in North Macedonia (MIA)

 

Health Minister Venko Filipche of North Macedonia said Thursday that the Commission for Infectious Diseases will request an extension of the state of emergency at the session of the Security Council which is scheduled to be held on Friday. “The meeting of the Security Council meeting is scheduled for tomorrow. We will request the state of emergency to be extended due to several reasons in order to have mechanisms regarding the implementation of such recommendations in the coming period,” Filipche told reporters during the news conference. He did not specify whether the state of emergency would be extended for another 30 days or less.

“We need to extend the state of emergency because some of the measures apply only during a state of emergency. It is very important that they continue to apply. It is very important to have instruments in hand to work with these mechanisms in terms of restriction of movement. We need instruments that will enable the recommendations of the Commission for Infectious Diseases to be implemented through the government,” Filipche said. The state of emergency declared by President Stevo Pendarovski on 16 April expires on Saturday. If a decision is made to extend the state of emergency and the government submits a proposal, the Security Council is due to convene a new session on Friday to decide whether to extend it. Otherwise, nationwide state of emergency state of emergency which was declared on March 18 in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus and afterwards extended for another 30-days, will end on Saturday.

 

In North Macedonia 29 new COVID-19 cases, 6 patients recover (MIA)

 

Twenty-nine new COVID-19 cases have been registered in North Macedonia in the past 24 hours, while 6 patients have recovered, the Ministry of Health said in a press release Thursday. 349 coronavirus tests have been carried out over the past 24 hours. New coronavirus cases have been registered in Skopje – 9, Prilep – 6, Tetovo – 5, Struga – 2, Veles – 2, Bitola – 2, Ohrid – 2 and Kumanovo – 1. Of the recovered, in Veles – 3, Shtip – 1, Gostivar – 1 and Kochani – 1.

According to the Ministry, 5 new patients were admitted at the Clinic for Infectious Diseases in the past 24 hours. A total of 42 patients are being treated for COVID-19 there at the time. Three patients are on ventilators, while 20 need oxygen support. 11 new patients have been admitted at the “8 September” hospital in Skopje. A total of 27 patients are being treated for COVID-19 there now. 3 patients show severe symptoms and 4 others are put on ventilators. 3 COVID-19 patients, are hospitalized in Bitola, while 2 are treated for the infection at home. In Shtip, 6 coronavirus patients are being treated at the hospital, and there are no patients treated at home. A total of 49 patients, who have tested positive or show coronavirus symptoms, are being treated for COVID-19 at the infectious wards in the hospitals in Tetovo, Veles, Kumanovo and Prilep, the press release read. This brings the tally of coronavirus patients in North Macedonia since the onset of the epidemic to 1,723. Over the past 24 hours, 349 coronavirus tests have been carried out. Of these, 211 through the Institute for Public Health, 27 through the Veterinary Faculty, 17 through Avicena lab, 34 through Biotek lab, 33 through the Zhan Mitrev Clinic, 10 PCR tests through Sistina, 17 through the MANU lab. A total of 20,088 COVID-19 tests have been carried out so far in North Macedonia. Thus, of the 1,723 coronavirus patients in North Macedonia now, Skopje has 588 (of which 138 active), Kumanovo-411 (of which 47 active), Debar-51, Shtip-35 (of which 1 active), Prilep-190 (of which 62 active), Tetovo-126 (of which 63 active), Struga-69 (of which 6 active), Veles-111 (of which 49 active), Bitola-25 (of which 6 active), Ohrid-17 (of which 2 active), Kavadarci-5, Gostivar-19 (of which 3 active), Gevgelija-4, Strumica-2, Kriva Palanka-6 (of which 2 active), Radovish-4, Krushevo-3, Kochani-31 (of which 4 active), Probishtip-2, Kichevo-2, Negotino-9 (of which 5 active and 7 are residents of Demir Kapija), Demir Hisar-1, Makedonski Brod-2, Pehchevo-3 (of which 1 active), Delchevo-1, Valandovo-1 (active), Vinica-2, Kratovo-2 (active), Berovo-1 (active).

 

Rama rejects opposition’s proposal for transitional gov’t (Tirana Times)

 

Prime Minister Edi Rama has rejected the opposition’s proposal to establish a transitional government prior to the elections. During a press conference on Tuesday, Rama stated that the Electoral Reform will be focused on OSCE-ODIHR’s recommendations instead of the opposition’s proposals. He said that one of the key recommendations is ensuring the depolarization of the election administration, and that all judges of the Electoral College go through the vetting process before appointment. According to Rama, these are currently the government’s priorities as regards the electoral reform, therefore the transitional government will not happen. “We are close to coming up with a draft to move the process forward. The state is not done by sacrificing basic principles and tearing up the contract with the citizens who vote. The opposition can ask for it, they asked for it in completely vulgar forms and they burned themselves. If they continue looking for it, it is in their right, but it will not happen, “he said.

Last year, Albania’s main opposition Democratic Party declared that the solution to the political dead-end the country must come through a transitional government that will prepare free elections in the country. Based on the North Macedonia model, the transitional joint government was to be built three months prior to the elections. This was decided by the democrats’ National Council, called to elect the party’s new leadership and structures, both of which compiled the opposition’s political action in detail. As stated in the speech of chairman Lulzim Basha at the time – when the political climate was characterized by rampant protests – the opposition’s first task is the great battle and confrontation for democracy and the rule of law by leading people’s protests to achieve Rama’s collapse and the dismissal of this model by institutions and politics in Albania. While harshly criticizing the Socialist Party and Prime Minister Edi Rama, starting from the economic situation, the government’s alleged corruption or its links with crime, according to the opposition, Basha said it’s clear the country’s great challenge is restoring people’s trust in politics. “The more Albanians join us, the faster Edi Rama will leave. Therefore, the main solution to the Rama problem cannot be found neither in the streets or in institutions, but in the minds and hearts of the people. If people believe in us, if people have hope in us, Rama will also fall formally, as he has politically and morally,” Basha said at the time. Later in October, the opposition reiterated its proposal by submitting it to OSCE as well, but to no avail.

 

Political Council gathers to discuss Electoral Reform (Radio Tirana)

 

The members of the working group of the Political Council will meet today in the next meeting, which will not be held online like the previous meetings. The OSCE Presence in Albania will logistically support tomorrow’s meeting of the Political Council working group at the Palace of Congresses to facilitate discussions and concrete work on electoral reform. At their first online meeting on Monday, members of the Council’s working group proposed that the next meeting be held around a table, in order to have a more efficient work environment. The presence will enable the meeting room, which allows the observance of safety distance measures for COVID-19, as well as will provide participants with masks, gloves and sanitizers.

Coronavirus infection in Albania jumps to 18 in the last 24 hrs (Radio Tirana)

 

Cases of coronavirus infection are increasing in the country. The number of people affected by coronavirus has gone up to 898, with 18 new cases, 11 cases in Tirana. The new cases, according to the Ministry of Health, came out after the testing performed on the suspects during the last 24 hours. “In the last 24 hours, 191 citizens suspected of being affected by Covid-19 have been tested and 18 citizens have tested positive. Most of them are contacts of previous cases, while the field epidemiological investigation carries on. The cases of the last 24 hours are distributed as follows: 11 cases in Tirana, 4 in Kruja, 2 in Berat and 1 in Durrës,” said Eugena Tomini.

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Head of Office of Kosovo and Metohija: Serbs and Albanians should decide on Kosovo fate (TASS, 13 May 2020)

 

BELGRADE. The settlement of the issue of Kosovo and Metohija would have been much more successful if Serbs and Albanians had been doing this without any interference from outside, Marco Djuric, head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija and Deputy of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucuc in the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, said in an interview with TASS.

“Any solution (for Kosovo and Metohija – TASS), which is not long-term and sustainable would lead to a new conflict in the near or distant future. Therefore, for all those who do not want new conflicts, a long-term and sustainable solution is the goal and has no alternative, President Vucic has long insisted that only two of our peoples can come up with the best solution for reconciliation and resolve the differences between the Serbian and Albanian peoples, and I sincerely hope that we will move towards such a solution. I see the importance for the future progress of both Serbia and its associates in the fact that President Vucic has brought up to date the wide regional cooperation and the maxim “Balkans to the Balkan peoples.” Either everyone will be satisfied with the decision on the Balkans, or rather, equally dissatisfied, or there will be no decision at all,” Djuric said. “Opponents of resolving the issue of Kosovo and Metohija are those who want to have a zone of long-term instability and a frozen conflict in the Balkans, which can be unfrozen depending on individual geopolitical interests. Anyone who sincerely wants stabilization and prosperity of society in the Balkans must accept the fact that deep historical and interethnic problems in this region need to be solved by atypical methods, which implies that all decisions should be on the negotiating table. I’m sure that if the European forces that supported NATO’s aggression and the creation of a false Kosovo state in our southern autonomous region, accepted the will of the Balkan peoples and provided them [the opportunity] to solve problems independently, the solution would be closer than it is today. Today, the solution is very far away,” the politician states. According to Djuric, Serbia’s biggest advancements on the Kosovo issue is a wave of withdrawals of recognition of Kosovo’s unilaterally proclaimed independence and relevant appeals to international organizations. “Russia provided key support to Serbia in this matter, and our gratitude for this is immeasurable,” the head of the office said.

 

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