Serbia issues countermeasure against Montenegro’s decision: Montenegro Airline banned (Blic/B92)
The Directorate of Civil Aviation, on the basis of reciprocity, passed a measure banning the landing of “Montenegro Airlines” at the “Nikola Tesla” airport. Previously, the government of Montenegro made a decision to open the borders of its country for as many as nine countries, excluding Serbia. The explanation of this decision, which Blic had an insight into, states that as the stated measure is still in force, the citizens of Serbia have been prevented from entering Montenegro. “On the contrary, in accordance with the Decision on Amendments to the Decision on Declaring COVID-19 Disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 Virus a Contagious Disease, restrictions on the entry of foreign citizens, including Montenegrin citizens, into the Republic of Serbia have been removed, the principle of reciprocity in the movement of passengers between the two countries is seriously violated, which directly affects the reciprocity in the operation of scheduled air transport referred to in Article 13, paragraph 1 of the Ordinance on issuing authorizations to foreign air carriers for international public air transport with the Republic of Serbia, and to the detriment of air carriers registered in the Republic of Serbia”, the explanation states. According to media reports, a “Montenegro Airlines” plane with 115 Montenegrin students landed at the Belgrade airport on Tuesday evening. As the decision of the Directorate comes into effect on Wednesday, students will be able to stay in Serbia.
Vucic: Montenegrins are our brothers, we have no one closer (B92)
“I’ve no doubt that this is a political decision of the authorities in Montenegro,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said regarding the decision of the Montenegrin government. He explained that he did not understand the criteria according to which it was decided whose passengers Montenegro would open its borders to. “How is Germany on the list of countries that have had many more dead than Serbia, how can Austria and Slovenia, all proportionally with more death cases than Serbia. However, we will continue to test many people because human health is for us the most important”, the President said in his address in Smederevska Palanka. “As for the decisions of the Republic of Serbia, we will not stop the citizens of Montenegro and identify diseases. It is in the Serbian spirit, in the spirit of good and fraternal relations, and we do not want to punish 30% of Serbs living there or other citizens of that country”, Vucic added.
When it comes to the decision of the Directorate of Civil Aviation that Montenegro Airlines is denied a permit to land at the Belgrade airport, Vucic explained that it was a logical decision.
“If the measure of the Directorate had not been passed, how could we separate who can get on the plane in relation to the decision of the Government of Montenegro – by counting their blood cells, so that who is from Montenegro can enter, and others do not. Does anyone think that is possible or normal?”, Vucic explained. He invited all Montenegrin citizens to come to Serbia.
“All citizens of Montenegro are welcome in Serbia and I invite them to come,” he said. The President also answered the question about criminal groups from Montenegro. “We want to protect our citizens from the influence of criminal groups from Montenegro. Everyone else is allowed to enter Serbia. There are no tensions, we have no problem with anyone. We will have a normal relationship, and we will show the difference between ourselves and them,” he said.
He adds that Serbia has found a way to prevent the entry of members of criminal groups, even when they have no verdicts. When asked why we do not close the borders, he answers: “Why should we close our border? We want to ban our relatives from entering Serbia?” “I don’t understand what the point is. I think the point is for Serbia to open its doors wide to show that it accepts its guests. These are our brothers, we have no one closer than Montenegro.” Also, Vucic emphasized that he has nothing against students who come from Montenegro to study in our country. Another group of students arrived in Belgrade on Tuesday. “I am proud that they are coming to Belgrade to study. They are wonderful young people. Do you want us to return to the time when our country was closed and no one could come to our country?” Vucic concluded.
Dacic: Montenegro’s behavior leading to conflicts (TV Prva/FoNet)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on Wednesday that the behavior of the Montenegrin authorities leads to conflicts, adding that conflict or cooperation is the fundamental issue in relations between the two countries. Commenting the Montenegrin government’s decision not to open its border towards Serbia on TV Prva, he said that means fewer tourists from Serbia on the Montenegrin coast. He added that the ban on Air Montenegro flights to the Serbian capital, Dacic said that is not a foreign policy issue. “It has nothing to do with a political decision. If our airline can’t fly there, of course reciprocal measures are implemented,” he said. Dacic said that Montenegrin officials were schooled in Serbia but did things against Serbia such as recognizing the independence of Kosovo. Dacic said there are no official assessments as yet whether Montenegro is safe for the people coming from Serbia, but that Belgrade will surely make such an evaluation. “Security assessments are being carried out and we will declare them based on the information provided by our security services,” Dacic said during an appearance on TV Prva. He added that Greece and Bulgaria, too, still fear the coronavirus epidemic but that they have opened their borders to Serbian citizens. “Whether Montenegro wants to join NATO, the eastern bloc, or something else, is fully up to them and is their right. It does not concern us, but what does concern us is the position and rights of the Serbs living in Montenegro,” the minister said.
Asked if Serbia can protect Serbian Orthodox Church holy sites in Montenegro, Dacic said it can’t but can provide aid to the Serb people and church there.
Dacic: Serbia committed to values of Adriatic-Ionian Initiative (RTS)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic took part today in a video meeting of the Adriatic- Ionian Council of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative and a ministerial meeting of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region (EUSAIR). Today’s meeting was co-chaired by Dacic and Minister of EU Integration Jadranka Joksimovic and with it, the one-year chairmanship of Serbia of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative and EUSAIR has been ended. Dacic presented the results achieved by Serbia during its chairmanship. I want to confirm once more Serbia’s commitment to the values of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative and the corresponding Strategy, as part of which we implement activities that strengthen us, who are still not EU Member States, on that path, and those who are Member States make a better place for life, Dacic stated. He also presented plans for Serbia’s further active participation in the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative and EUSAIR, especially bearing in mind that even after the end of its chairmanship, Serbia remains part of the “Trio of Presidency”.
Djuric: International missions in Kosovo and Metohija to stop the wave of violence against Serbs (RTS)
The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric has stated that he demands the international missions in Kosovo and Metohija to urgently undertake measures and actions from their jurisdictions and mandates established by UN Security Council Resolution 1244 to stop the latest wave of ethnically motivated violence against the Serbs, by acting directly and through the provisional institutions of self-government in Pristina. “The attacks over the past several days show that the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija are the most persecuted ethnic group in Europe today in terms of security, and that the provisional institutions of self-government in the province are not capable or do not want to independently resolve this problem,” notes Djuric in a press release. That is why, he says, it is necessary for KFOR, UNMIK, EULEX and other international factors in the province to fulfill their mandate and earn the salaries they receive, and not to sit in Pristina’s restaurants while extremists threaten with impunity those for whose safety and rights they are responsible.”
Miodrag Stasic from Drenovac near Klina was injured after an attack by several Albanian shepherds on his property. This is the third attack on returnees in Klina and Istok over the past three days. Previously they threatened to kill Djordje Djorovic, and last night the house of returnee Zarko Zaric was stoned.
Gojkovic discusses elections with Fajon, Bilcik (Beta)
Serbian parliament speaker Maja Gojkovic spoke on Tuesday, via video-link, with the European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Serbia Vladimir Bilcik and the Chair of the EP Delegation for Relations with Serbia Tanja Fajon. The Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi also took part in the talk. Gojkovic spoke with Bilcik and Fajon about the activities implemented to improve the conditions for the upcoming parliamentary elections and the fulfilment of the commitments adopted at the previous three rounds of inter-party dialogue. She said that all the agreements reached in the three rounds of dialogue have been fulfilled in the previous period and are being implemented, adding that the laws have been amended and the election process for members of the REM and Supervisory Board is completed, mentioning that after the meeting with the representatives of the political parties which announced their participation in the election, it was approved that, besides notaries public, the voters’ signatures can be verified by municipal and city administrations. Gojkovic said that the European Parliament, as well as the parliamentary assemblies of the Council of Europe, OSCE and the Mediterranean, have already been invited to monitor the electoral process and everybody wishing to follow the electoral process on the day of the elections is welcome. Gojkovic said that all the measures needed to ensure the health of the citizens during the electoral process and on the day of the elections will be implemented. Fajon said that it was essential to secure the integrity of the electoral process, which was equally important for the participants and the voters, to make sure they trust the election process, stressing also the importance of the credible reporting on the electoral process.
Train with medical equipment from China arrives in Belgrade (Tanjug/RTS)
A train from the People’s Republic of China carrying medical equipment arrived on Tuesday in Serbia, at the train station in New Belgrade. There are 300 tons of medical equipment in the train, which additionally ensures that our country is ready in case of a second wave of COVID-19. The train symbolically set off on 9 May, the Victory Day, from Wuhan, the city from which the fight against the coronavirus began and the city that defeated the coronavirus. The transportation and all the equipment, which includes 16 million non-medical masks, 7.8 million medical masks, 230,000 protective suits and 5,000 contactless thermometers, were paid for by Serbia. At this moment, we don’t know whether there will be a new wave of COVID-19, but we know for sure that Serbia is fully provided with medical equipment. We have worked on it with dedication and from the first day we left nothing to chance. The train with protective equipment, which arrived from China on a new silk road, symbolizes the steel friendship of the two nations and shows the importance of the Belt and Road initiative, in which Serbia is an active participant. I want to thank our partners from the People’s Republic of China for keeping their word every time. Everything that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic agreed with President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, everything that I agreed with Prime Minister Li Keqiang, has always been fully respected. We appreciate this relationship of partnership and trust. It is important to point out today that Serbia supports and will support the One-China policy, said Prime Minister Ana Brnabic. Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Serbia Chen Bo said that China Railway worked day and night together with its partners from Serbia, cooperated closely and coordinated intensively the opening of the “green corridor” for transport, which once again showed the steel friendship between Serbia and the People’s Republic of China.
Another 48 cases, 6,277 recovered (RTS)
Until 3pm, there have been another 48 cases, in total 11,275 infected. There has been one more death, in total 240 deaths. There are 622 people in hospitals, and ten on respirators. The number of recovered is 6,277.
SNSD officially submits motion with B&H CC for constitutional review of B&H CEC decision to postpone elections for November 15 (ATV)
SNSD officially submitted a motion to the Constitutional Court (CC) of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) on Tuesday, requesting a constitutional review of the decision of the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) to postpone the local elections to 15 November. Representatives of SNSD explained that the B&H CEC’s decision does not comply with the B&H Election Law and there were no legal grounds to postpone the elections. If the elections had to be postponed after all, it could have been done in a different way – for less than 30 days, they stressed. They also warned of the “unlawful” appointment of members of the B&H CEC that made such decision. Therefore, they expect the B&H CC to take this chance and reach a ruling in accordance with the B&H Constitution. SNSD Spokesperson Radovan Kovacevic stated: “We expect the B&H CC to accept our arguments and annul this decision of the B&H CEC.” He added that they also hope that all “unlawful activities”, which started with the “illegal and illegitimate” appointment of members of the B&H CEC, will finally stop. B&H CoM Chairman Zoran Tegeltija assures there is no reason why the Budget would not be adopted by the end of the set deadline. “We should remind that organizing the local elections does not depend on whether the Budget will be adopted or not, because the Council of Ministers can adopt a special decision on financing the elections and it has the funds for that. The elections can be called and funds for that purpose can be secured” Tegeltija wrote in his statement. The B&H CEC pushed local elections from 4 October to 15 November under the explanation that 25 October was not adequate due to the tender procedures that had to last for 170 days. November 15 is the next best date, as no religious holidays are celebrated in that period.
Cvijanovic says she is surprised that there is no reaction of foreigners regarding the postponement of the elections (ATV)
The SNSD Executive Committee held a meeting with the heads of the municipal and city boards of SNSD in Istocno Sarajevo on Tuesday. On this occasion, Republika Srpska (RS) President Zeljka Cvijanovic told reporters that they analyzed the situation in the municipal and city boards and preparations for the local elections. “Of course, we expressed dissatisfaction with regard to this issue and the fact that members of the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) were appointed without a vacancy procedure, in a way that is very strange and indicates manipulations with certain things related to the election process, which should not be allowed. I must say that I am surprised that there is no reaction of foreigners. They usually talk to us about the rule of law and the obligation to conduct procedures, and when we get into a situation like this one, they usually remain silent. One way or another, SNSD is absolutely ready for the local elections, regardless of whether they will be held in October, November or later on,” Cvijanovic said. She said that this meeting also resulted in defining of the election goal of SNSD, which is 80 percent. “This is how much we want to win in these local elections. I am convinced that we will be able to do that. We clearly defined our policies when it comes to the coalition and our coalition bloc. We expect participation of all coalition parties at the level of the RS. They should be a part of all coalition arrangements at the local level,” Cvijanovic explained. Asked to comment on the fact that EUR 330 million from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been stuck on the account of the Central Bank of B&H (CBBH) for more than a month, Cvijanovic stressed that the funds are blocked because of the lack of agreement between the Bosniak and Croat parties in the Federation of B&H (FB&H) on distribution of the money between the FB&H and the cantons. She assessed that such situation certainly affects the RS in terms of the obligation to pay interest on the money that has not been distributed yet. She concluded that the RS will probably have to take some legal actions in order to protect itself in this context.
Dodik: SNSD does not support postponement of elections; SNSD finds CEC illegitimate; SNSD Executive Committee is preparing for elections like if it will be held tomorrow (RTRS)
Leader of SNSD and member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik asked what he expects from the Constitutional Court (CC) of B&H to decide about the SNSD’s motion for constitutional review of the decision of the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) to postpone the local elections in B&H for November 15, said: “Obviously, the law was violated in the case of postponement of the elections. The law stipulates that this should be done within the maximum of 30 days and they (the CEC) exceeded it and they could have done it a week or two weeks before and thus, make it within the legal maximum”. Dodik underlined that SNSD does not support postponement of the elections and SNSD advocates the stances to secure all necessary conditions for the elections. He emphasized that SNSD finds that the CEC is illegitimate because it was appointed in a way that is contrary to the law. He added that the CEC is politically motivated and it was appointed to eliminate or try to favor someone else. Dodik said: “Anyhow, we are doing what we can. Of course, a lawsuit will be submitted with the Court of B&H if it turns out to be necessary”. Speaking about the meeting that the SNSD Executive Committee organized in Istocno Sarajevo on Tuesday afternoon with members of municipal, city boards of SNSD from the City of Istocno Sarajevo, he explained that SNSD has decided to visit all constituencies starting with Istocno Sarajevo. Dodik stated: “This is a good forum during which we try to consider whole economic, political situation. Of course, we are entering the stage when we will begin talks on what SNSD should do to have the best possible election result. We are preparing for the elections like if it will be held tomorrow. We have no reasons to postpone the elections. We do not speculate with the elections. We believe that it should be within the legal framework as it is stipulated, without any delays and that all funds should be secured. They are trying to set us up when they say that we (SNSD) do not want this and this is why there is obviously no consent at the level of B&H”. Dodik added that attendees of the meeting also discussed the situation in B&H, blockades that are evident and ongoing and future infrastructural projects in Istocno Sarajevo. Dodik stressed: “However, this (meeting) is specific for one more thing. Namely, for the first time ever, a Mayor of Istocno Sarajevo will be directly elected and this was changed at the initiative of our party. Now, we want to promote the best possible candidate for this post whose name will be known by the end of the meeting”. Dodik stated that: “B&H CEC is obviously politically motivated because it is now composed of visible members of (Bakir) Izetbegovic’s SDA and opposition SDS and PDP, who want to control the elections. They complained about the previous convocation of B&H CEC although members representing Serbs were from SNSD and SDS, so they illegally removed them and appointed a Croat as well to represent (Croat member of the Presidency of B&H and DF leader Zeljko) Komsic”. Dodik also spoke about relations in the Federation of B&H and said that the issue of Mostar is the main cause of the problem related to holding of elections and added that the RS has nothing to do with this, except for desire to finally have representatives of Serb people elected in Mostar.
Stanivukovic: Opposition in RS is ready for elections (O kanal)
The RS MP of PDP Drasko Stanivukovic asked about the postponement of local elections in B&H from 4 October to 15 November due to the failure of B&H institutions to finance them, said that the political will and self-will was not fulfilled. “You have authorities here that act as dictatorship, in a totalitarian manner and that wishes to see everything go their way in this country, including the Central Election Commission of B&H (B&H CEC). They want their people inside and they want them to do whatever they want to and of course to steal votes and print ballots however they want to,” said Stanivukovic. He assessed that the appointment of the new members of the B&H CEC was done in accordance with the law. Stanivukovic reminded that people who disputed the B&H Constitutional Court (B&H CC) until recently are now requesting the same court to determine whether it was done legally. He added that the opposition in the RS is ready and he would like for the elections to take place as soon as possible in order to remove the current ruling authorities from power. Asked about who benefits from the postponement of the elections and what the B&H CEC represents to the opposition, Stanivukovic said that the B&H CEC directs the election process in B&H and their decisions need to be respected. He said that political processes are created by the authorities and the goal of the opposition is to remove them from authority. Stanivukovic said that this does not benefit anyone, especially citizens of B&H who are waiting for their chance to vote.
Radoncic: Elections are matter of political will; I do not think CEC was appointed legally (N1)
B&H Security Minister and SBB B&H leader Fahrudin Radoncic briefly commented the decision of Montenegro not to allow entrance to B&H citizens and Radoncic deems that this is not a political message of any kind, but a security, i.e. healthcare-epidemiological decision. Commenting the local elections in B&H, Radoncic stated that he deems that everything now is matter of political will. “To be direct, I think that the item of around ten million for elections is not disputable in any way, the funds exist, now it is all the mater of political will to allow the elections or not” said Radoncic. Asked if political will exists, Radoncic said that this is a matter for SNSD –HDZ B&H relation and SDA to some extent. “Earlier you had a situation where SDA, HDZ BIH and SNSD had majority in Central Election Commission and now SDS, DF and SDA have it,” said Radoncic. He added that in his opinion B&H CEC was not appointed legally and he does not agree on this with SDA leader Bakr Izetbegovic. “Let the judicial bodies of B&H and Constitutional Court handle this and say who is right and who is not,” said Radoncic. Speaking about participation in local elections, Radoncic said that they are not thinking about coalitions and believe they have enough potential to participate alone.
Colak: CEC’s decisions lead to expelling Croats from authorities in 2022 (Vecernji list)
Delegate in the B&H House of Peoples (HoP) Barisa Colak (HDZ B&H) asked if the Central Election Commission (CEC) of B&H could pass a decision on postponement of the (local) elections replied by saying it absolutely could not. Elaborating on his answer, Colak says there is not a single provision in the Law on Elections of B&H that would define the issue, stressing that a decision on postponement of elections can apply only to a certain polling station or constituency. “There is not any possibility to postpone the elections that were not held,” added Colak. Asked if that means that one such decision cannot be made in advance, Colak replied affirmatively. Asked what could be the background of the CEC’s decision, Colak said he cannot figure it out. “In my opinion, this is about intentional violation of provisions of the Law on Elections of B&H. This cannot be a coincidence or omission”, added Colak. Asked to comment on different comments, according to which the CEC is an illegal body that adopts illegal decisions, Colak replied by saying it is true and that the CEC is an illegal body that was appointed in an illegal manner. Asked what kind of a message SDA is sending by taking over the CEC and to comment on the rumors that this is about preparations aimed at removing Croats from the authorities after the 2022 (general) elections, Colak said: “Unfortunately, I fear that is the strategy. That is not something that is mentioned for the first time in the public space, they are openly saying that they need to get to six Croats in the (Federation of B&H) House of Peoples and that it would resolve the problem. In that case they would not need the Croats”.
Tegeltija, ministers Bevanda and Turkovic discuss current political and economic situation in B&H with EUSR Sattler (Dnevni avaz)
Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Zoran Tegeltija, Minister of Finance and Treasury Vjekoslav Bevanda and Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic held a meeting on Tuesday in Sarajevo with Head of the EU Delegation to B&H and EU Special Representative in the country, Ambassador Johann Sattler. The meeting, according to daily, was dedicated to current political and economic situation in the country, in the light of continuation of European integration. B&H CoM Chairman Tegeltija underlined the Council of Ministers’ commitment to continuation of the European path of B&H, through fulfilment of priorities from the European Commission’s Opinion, and with full respect for the country’s Constitution and the Dayton Peace Agreement. Tegeltija also said that the B&H CoM is committed to visible economic progress.
Cubrilovic receives request for special session on B&H HoR’s resolution on respect for victims of fascist regime (ATV)
RS parliament speaker Nedeljko Cubrilovic has received a request for a special session on the information on the resolution on respect for victims of the fascist regime and movement, which was adopted by the B&H House of Representatives (HoR). The request for the special session was signed by representatives of the Caucuses of SNSD, DNS, DEMOS, SPS, United Srpska, NDP and SP RS, as well as two independent representatives in the RSNA, reads a statement issued by the RS parliament speaker’s Office. The RSNA Collegium will hold a session on Friday, 29 May, while the special session of the RSNA should be held on Monday, 1 June, according to the proposal.
Dodik: I expect RS parliament to reject resolution on respecting victims of Ustasha regime (RTRS)
Leader of SNSD Milorad Dodik asked what he expects from a special session in the RS parliament that SNSD launched due to adoption of the resolution in the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) on respecting victims of the Ustasha regime, stated: “I expect that the RS parliament will reject the paper that they adopted and that represents revision of the historic truth, which favors untruth and some type of killing of peoples who did not exist at that time like Bosniaks. Everyone perfectly knows the historic truth on a significant number of Bosniaks and Croats in the Ustasha Movement that committed many crimes against us, Serbs and the genocide. Giving the priority to killings of other peoples, who were on the other side – like (leader of SDS Mirko) Sarovic and (leader of PDP Branislav) Borenovic did – speaks about the revision and a set up to the Serb people and the Serb national history, the national history of killings in this area. This is why I believe that the RS parliament will discuss this issue and reach its stance. We will propose to reject it as an act of revisionism. This is a set up and has no historic verification. We want to make this our clear stance, our institutional stance. When it comes to Bleiburg and all, I was very clear about this; those who killed Serbs, were killed there. I have no regrets about this and I consider that this was a legitimate goal of the former partisan army and that this was part of the total war events that happened there. There were no innocent ones there, in Bleiburg”.
Dodik: Decision of Montenegro not to open borders with B&H, Serbia attempt to solve internal political issues in this country (N1)
Leader of SNSD Milorad Dodik reacted on Tuesday to a decision of Montenegro not to open its borders with B&H and Serbia as of June 1, following the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. Dodik stated that this decision is an attempt and calculation of Montenegro authorities for solving of internal political issues in Montenegro. The B&H Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not want to comment on this decision saying that they do not comment on decisions of sovereign countries regarding epidemiological, health situation and interests to protect their citizens. B&H Minister of Security Fahrudin Radoncic commented on this issue for N1 on Tuesday. Radoncic said that when it comes to B&H, he does not see any political background in this decision of the Montenegro’s Government. He said that Montenegro clearly stated that they will open borders with countries that currently have at most 20 to 24 COVID-19 patients per 1,000 inhabitants.
B&H sees spike in coronavirus cases as Tesanj becomes latest hotspot (N1/Fena)
B&H health authorities recorded a spike in numbers today, with 21 new cases, 18 of which came were confirmed in the FB&H, and 3 in the RS. Both entities also recorded a fatality each. In both cases, patients suffered from multiple chronic diseases. When it comes to the reasons for the spike, the FB&H health officials say that 14 cases are related to the newly formed Covid-19 cluster in the northern Bosnian town of Tesanj, where a leather factory had to close due to several of its employees who contracted the virus. Head of the Tesanj Municipality Crisis Staff Suad Huskic told Fena that this cluster now counts 28 patients consisting of company employees and their immediate family. “The company has 80 employees and it closed on May 23. Their first case was discovered on 21 May1. Since then, 15 employees tested positive for the disease, and the rest are their family members or primary contacts,” Huskic said, adding that they now need tests and PPE, which they expect to receive following numerous donations of medical equipment from abroad. He added that 12 newly discovered patients with Covid-19 have already been placed in the Zenica regional hospital and that the rest will be taken there in the coming days. According to the state Civil Affairs Ministry, B&H now has 2,435 confirmed coronavirus cases of which 1,744 recovered and 151 had died.
Oil deal document ignites political firestorm (Glas Hrvatske/Nacional)
An investigation by Nacional alleges Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic’s government shortchanged Croatian oil refineries by striking a deal with Hungary. The weekly Nacional has published documents that show Energy Minister Tomislav Coric signed a deal in 2018 that sent Croatian oil to MOL’s refineries in Hungary instead of INA’s refineries at home. The magazine published a memorandum of understanding between INA and pipeline operator JANAF outlining the transport deal, which was co-signed by Coric. Defending the move, Coric said the decision to allow MOL to ship oil out of Croatia for refining in Hungary was more profitable for the company in the long-term, which benefited Croatia as well. Coric said he’s willing to take full responsibility for co-signing the document. “As far as protecting Croatian interests in the context of bringing the contents of that memorandum to fruition, two Croatian companies, INA and JANAF, can vouch for that with their business results,” Coric said. Croatia and Hungary’s MOL have been involved in a legal dispute over INA for years. MOL owns 49% of the Croatian refiner but has had management rights for the past decade. The Croatian state owns 45% of the company. The battle was further fueled by MOL’s decision to shutter INA’s refinery in Sisak and consider doing the same with and another one in Rijeka. Prime Minister Plenkovic’s government had promised to buy back MOL’s stake in INA but the plan has largely faded from view in the last two years. Now, the Prime Minister says the government will assess INA’s value in June, as part of the buy-back plan. “INA is extremely important for our energy independence and our economy. What’s most important is that the consultants, Mazars, will have the first preliminary assessment around June 10. After that, we’ll make decisions accordingly.” HDZ parliament speaker Gordan Jandrokovic defended the government, saying it protected Croatian interests as best it could. SDP leader Davor Bernardic said the government had betrayed Croatian oil refiners while promising to buy back MOL’s stake in INA over the same issue for the past four years. “Croatian politicians are not protecting Croatian interests. They have not been looking out for the country’s energy interests, which is now evident,” said Nikola Grmoja of Most. “The Memorandum of Understanding between INA and JANAF is a non-binding document and was signed on 21 August 2018 with the aim of creating preconditions for making business decisions that ensure greater profitability and sustainability of INA’s refinery business, and thus the entire company,” INA said in a statement.
No new cases of Covid-19 reported in Croatia (N1)
In the past 24 hours there were no new cases of the novel coronavirus in Croatia and 2,047 people have recovered from the disease, the National Civil Protection Authority said on Wednesday. “There are currently 2,244 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus infection and 2,047 people have recovered. 38 people are hospitalized. Of that number, six patients are on ventilators” the authority said. One more have recovered since yesterday. In the past 24 hours, 584 people were tested for the virus, bringing the total number of people tested overall to 64.266. Total number of deceased is 101.
Djukanovic to Kurti: We wish our countries well, but it won’t happen to us if we don’t wish the same for our neighbors (CDM)
“We wish our peoples and countries well, but it cannot come to us if we don’t wish the same for our neighbors,” Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic, said in a telephone conversation with Kosovo’s incumbent Prime Minister Albin Kurti. Djukanovic stressed that Montenegro has been carefully monitoring the situation in Kosovo and the region as a whole, and expressed hope that the conditions for the continuation and intensifying of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue would be created soon. “In that sense, the President welcomed the decision of the government of Kosovo on the abolition of taxes, as an encouraging step towards the restoration of trust, and expressed hope for speedy finding of a quality and long-term sustainable solution that will contribute to the regional stability and prosperity in the common goal – EU integration,” Djukanovic’s office said in a statement. Kurti confirmed their commitment to the principled and well-prepared continuation of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, emphasizing that problems do exist, but progress can be made with joint work and cooperation. Both sides assessed that dialogue based on the values of multi-ethnic democracy is crucial and its successful outcome would represent a breaking point for restoring trust and stability of the region.
Montenegro Airlines says: Serbia remains part of our plans (CDM)
The Montenegrin airline Montenegro Airlines (MA) announced on the occasion of the decision of the Serbian Directorate of Civil Aviation to deny it permission to land at Belgrade’s “Nikola Tesla” airport, that Serbia will certainly remain a part of MA’s traffic plans. “Regardless of this unexpected decision of Belgrade, Serbia certainly remains a part of Montenegro Airlines’ traffic plans and we will try to contribute to repairing the consequences of COVID19, in the economic sense, as soon as possible” the Montenegrin company said in a statement. The Montenegrin company says that they are facing a fight for faster and better connection of Montenegro by air to all European destinations and that “the industry in which they operate should not depend on political decisions.”
Spasovski: Elections as soon as possible needed to provide stable institutions (MIA)
Election date has been regulated under a decree with the force of law that is valid until the state of emergency is declared over. Twenty-two days after the state of emergency is lifted elections should be held and this is a fact, Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski said Tuesday evening. “We have to be principled and elections should take place once the most appropriate conditions are in place,” Spasovski told a news conference. The Macedonian democracy and the Macedonian development, he stressed, need stable institutions and the state needs to restore normalcy as soon as possible, and most notably, the Macedonian citizens need a functioning Parliament. According to the PM, the government’s one of many responsibilities is to do everything in its power to provide a new normal for all citizens as soon as possible. “Those who are against a new normalcy are acting as if though they want the country to remain in a health and economic crisis. It’s an irresponsible behavior,” Spasovski said speaking at a news conference, where he announced the government’s easing of the restrictions imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Interview with the terrorist attackers on Kumanovo aired live on a Kosovo TV station (Republika)
A TV station from Kosovo yesterday aired a live conversation with a group of Albanian terrorists held in the Skopje prison for the 2015 attack on Kumanovo. The station had the son of Muhamed Krasniqi, one of the leaders of the group, in the studio to talk to him. Krasniqi, who goes by the name Commander Malisheva, and his group killed eight Macedonian police officers after entrenching themselves in a majority Albanian part of the city of Kumanovo, during the security crisis caused by the 2015 Colored Revolution. The group previously attacked a border post and issued demands for the Macedonian Government to resign. Ten of its members were killed in the two-days long firefight and 33 are currently in prison. The terrorist group effectively runs the Sutka prison, and has been issuing political threats against the VMRO-DPMNE party as well as getting involved in Albanian politics. In 2019 its members attacked two former Government ministers from VMRO-DPMNE who were detained in Sutka as part of the SDSM led campaign of political persecution. Kosovan authorities have praised the group as heroes fighting to liberate Albanian lands in Macedonia and the killed terrorists were buried at a cemetery set aside for fighters from the 1999 Kosovo war.
Coronavirus curfew ends as of Wednesday, catering facilities to reopen on Thursday (MIA)
Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski said the coronavirus curfew, i.e. the government’s decision on restriction of movement introduced on 22 March, ends as 27 May. Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Spasovski presented decisions reached at a session earlier in the afternoon, adding they were in line with analyses and recommendations of the Commission on Infectious Diseases. In addition, catering facilities will reopen on Thursday, 28 May, in line with a strict protocol of work in open areas. The work of catering facilities that have no open areas will be regulated at a next stage. Starting 1 June 2020, the government’s decisions by which different categories of employees are exempted on various grounds from regular and ongoing performance of activities, including work from home, job rotations, commuting to work, etc., will no longer be valid. This is also to be carried out under a strict protocol of work – appropriate conditions, physical distance, wearing personal protective equipment, etc. “This won’t apply to the chronically ill, and an exception will also be made for parents of children under the age of 10 or preschool children – until a decision on reopening preschools is reached,” Spasovski said. He pointed out that decisions are reached in line with expert opinion and because of two core reasons – the situation is under control and the number of active cases is stable. According to Spasovski, the rise in the number of new cases in the past few days is due to failure to comply with restrictive measures of the previous stage, and the clusters are known. The second reason for this decision, the PM noted, is due to the high expert and professional level of readiness, which gives the right to believe that the health system is prepared to successfully respond to challenges. Current hotspots will be in the focus in the coming period. Spasovski underlined it was important to continue being aware that it is still possible to contract the COVID-19 virus. “The virus is here and it won’t disappear overnight. It will be with us until immunity is achieved and a vaccine is developed,” Spasovski said, adding that protection is crucial – physical distance and wearing protective equipment.
State quarantine replaced by home isolation, protocol for borders to be defined (MIA)
The government adopted Tuesday a specific protocol on procedures during entry of Macedonian nationals in the country, according to which the state quarantine is replaced by home isolation if citizens present a negative PCR test for COVID-19 made within 72 hours prior to the entry in North Macedonia. As of today, all persons in state quarantine can take a PCR test at the facility where they are isolated. If the test is negative, they will be sent for home isolation. Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski told a press conference that a protocol has also been defined for foreign diplomats accredited in the country and their family members, who can perform their tasks without restrictions if they present a certificate of a negative PCR test made within 72 hours prior to entry in the country. The PM said the Committee for Infectious Diseases is charged with making a clear and precise assessment on the opening of state borders and draft entry and exit protocols, in coordination with regional countries. “We have excellent communication with all states and travel of citizens will be regulated shortly. The Commission is also tasked with drafting specific protocols for the operation of hotels,” added Spasovski. According to him, the Macedonian health sector reacted in a proper and timely manner, coping well with the COVID-19 situation, whereas all government decisions have been taken based on expert analyses and recommendations.
Talks underway with neighboring countries and EU over opening borders (MIA)
Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski announced Tuesday that a decision on reopening the borders should be expected in the coming period. This issue is being discussed with the neighboring countries and the EU member states, he said. “Talks are underway with the neighboring countries and EU member states on opening of borders. We should expect a decision to open the borders, bilateral cooperation, reciprocity in the coming period,” Spasovski told reporters. In regard to reopening of the catering facilities, Spasovski said that decisions for easing of measures will be made, however citizens must respect the protective measures. “We will make decisions to ease the restrictive measures, however the citizens must strictly respect the protective measures. Therefore, on the one hand, we cannot ease the restrictive measures, and on the other hand, by neglecting the protective measures we increase the risk,” Spasovski said.
In North Macedonia 25 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed, 17 patients recovered, 3 people have died (Libertas)
The Ministry of Health informs that today the Institute of Public Health registered 17 recovered patients in: Skopje-11, Kumanovo-4, Tetovo-1 and Veles-1. A patient from Struga (58 years old) and a patient from Skopje (47 years old) both died at the Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Febrile Conditions, both of whom have been on mechanical ventilation for a long time. A patient from Tetovo (41 years old) hospitalized on May 19 died in the CGH “September 8”. In the last 24 hours, 622 tests were performed, and 25 new cases of Covid-19 were registered in: Skopje-14, Kumanovo-2, Stip-4, Prilep-1, Tetovo-2, Struga-1, Veles-1. The total number of cases diagnosed in our country since the beginning of the epidemic is 2039, the number of recovered patients is 1470, the number of deaths is 119, and currently the number of active cases in the country is 450.
Political Council decides about election dates (Radio Tirana)
The next elections will take place in the spring or fall. Specifically, between 15 April and 15 May, or 15 October-15 November. This is one of the consensual decisions of political parties that gathered today under the auspices of the OSCE to discuss Electoral Reform. The DP and the SP have agreed on a number of issues related to the election rules, and if consensus continues, then within the next few weeks we may finally have the new electoral code.
Gjiknuri after Political Council meeting: Parties agreed on some of points proposed by the opposition (Radio Tirana)
Socialist Reform co-chair Damian Gjiknuri said in a statement to the media after the meeting of the Political Council that the parties had agreed on some of the points proposed by the opposition, although there were still issues to be discussed. Gjiknuri stressed that it was agreed that the elections would no longer be held in June, but were postponed. According to him, this was a very good period as the tourist season was not affected. Opposition-proposed election periods are April 15-May 15 and October 15-November 15. “It was a valuable meeting, with a lot of debate and some consensual agreements on several issues. All parties agreed on the election period shortening. This was a consensus that reflected a long-standing demand of all political actors and the tourism industry. It is a very good period in Albania, as there is less immigration going to neighboring countries and consequently the number of voters will be higher.
-We also agreed on the principle of gender quota that one in three names be from the female gender and accompanied by the relevant sanctions, but we still do not have a final model.
-We agreed to have mixed funding for the campaigns. The government has pledged an increase of the total value to be given to the election campaign. We still have some issues that need further discussions, but we have found consensus on most of them. The upcoming meeting of the week will be on Thursday,” said Gjiknuri.
Kim after meeting Basha: Discussion focused on future, not past (Radio Tirana)
After the meeting with the chairman of the Democratic Party Lulzim Basha, the US Ambassador Yuri Kim gave details from the meeting. The foreign diplomat stressed that the discussion was focused on the future, not the past. She also clarified that 31 May for the approval of electoral reform is not a deadline set by the United States. “We just had a great meeting. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to meet with the opposition leader Mr. Lulzim Basha. Our discussion was about the future, not the past. In particular, we spoke about the importance of how Albanian leaders must meet the expectations of the Albanian people, as promised, to complete electoral reform by 31 May. This is not a timeline set by the United States Embassy or any other external factor. This is a deadline set by the leaders themselves,” she said.
Land borders with Kosovo expected to be opened on 1 June (Radio Tirana)
From 1 June Albania has decided to open land borders, while Kosovo still does not have a specific date for opening corridors with neighboring countries, although according to the MoH, this could happen with the start of the Third Phase during which land and air borders are expected to be opened on 1 June or from this Monday. On the other hand, some bus companies in Kosovo have already started organizing and preparing for their lines to Albania. In fact, on their official website, one of them has given information about its passengers, that from Monday they start with a regular schedule of trips to their home country. According to the same company, there will be regular lines Prishtina – Tirana – Durres and vice versa, as well as Tirana – Prizren – Pristina. On the other hand, the tourist companies, apart from the offers for summer vacations that they have made for hotels in Albania and Montenegro, have not yet given details when they can start. However, Montenegro and North Macedonia will also lift their borders on Monday.
Days ago, the Albanian ambassador to Kosovo, Qemajl Minxhozi stated that they have already made a decision and in the first days of June the Kosovo-Albania border will be opened. Ambassador Minxhozi says that the reopening of the border only by the Albanian side would not make sense and expects that Kosovo will soon make a decision. The incumbent Prime Minister Albin Kurti said last night that a decision will be made this week on opening the border with Albania. He stated that this decision will be based on the recommendations of the National Institute of Public Health of Kosovo (NIPH).
In Albania 21 cases confirmed positive with Covid-19 (Radio Tirana)
In the last 24 hours, the number of new cases affected by Covid-19 in Tirana continues to be high. 262 suspected citizens affected by Covid-19 were tested and 21 positive cases were confirmed, all in Tirana. From an in-depth epidemiological investigation, it turns out that 13 affected people at QSUT, are health personnel and patients, contacts of a nurse who tested positive two days ago, infected outside the hospital. Of these, 9 are asymptomatic and self-isolated, while 4 patients were transferred to the infectious disease hospital. Meanwhile, the epidemiological investigation continues for some new cases in Tirana, which remains the main focus in the country. There are still new hospitalizations in the infectious disease hospital, where 25 patients are currently being treated, 3 of whom are in intensive care. In the last 24 hours, 9 citizens have recovered, bringing the number of recovered over 800 since the beginning of the epidemic. So far, over 15,000 molecular and serological tests have been performed, while the number of confirmed positive cases across the country turns out to be 1,050. Of these, 205 are currently active with Covid-19, mainly in Tirana, Durres and Kruja.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Kosovo leader Thaci rejects EU mediator for Serbia talks as Pristina wants increased US role in dialogue (RT/Reuters, 26 May 2020)
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said on Tuesday he would not take part in talks on normalizing ties with Serbia that are led by a European Union special mediator. In March, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell appointed Slovak diplomat Miroslav Lajcak as special mediator for the breakaway Serbian province. Slovakia is one of five EU member countries – along with Cyprus, Greece, Romania and Spain – that decline to recognize Kosovo’s independence. “In front of us we will have two negotiators from the countries that do not recognize Kosovo’s independence,” Thaci said in Pristina, referring to Lajcak and Borrell, a former Spanish foreign minister. Thaci said he would join any meetings organized by Germany and France. He said only the US, which brokered Bosnia’s peace accord 25 years ago and led NATO’s 1999 airstrikes against Serbia, could really advance dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, according to Reuters.