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Belgrade Media Report 29 May

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LOCAL PRESS

Brnabic: Why do we currently face regional instabilities? (Tanjug/B92)
Vucic: When they can’t blame Macron or Kurz – let’s step on Vucic (Tanjug/B92)
Brnabic: Perfectly clear message about Serbian citizens being unwanted (TV B92/Beta)
EU sets aside €70m in non-repayable aid to Serbia (RTS/Tanjug/RTV)
Further relaxation of restrictive measures in Serbia and North Macedonia (Tanjug/Beta)
Dacic, Jovanovic say they share strategic goals (N1)
Bilcik: Criticism of Lajcak undermines the EU as an actor (Beta/EWB)
US Ambassador to OSCE: Russian arms and deals with China harm Serbia’s EU path (FoNet)
Another 54 cases, 6,524 recovered (RTS)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

FB&H Prime Minister Fadil Novalic arrested (Dnevni avaz)
FB&H HoR session interrupted, DF and opposition request resignation of government (N1)
Prosecutors: Respirators procured from China inadequate for Covid-19 treatment (N1)
SDA Secretary General Zukic banned from entering US (FTV)
B&H HoP in session: Izetbegovic and Covic present different stances on distribution of IMF funds (FTV)
Discussion on registering of military property in B&H restarted after statement of B&H Minister Podzic (BHT1)
New attack on the property of Republika Srpska (Glas Srpske)
Tegeltija: B&H opens borders for all neighbors without restrictions; Croatia open its borders for citizens of some countries, but not for B&H (ATV)
Another 22 coronavirus cases reported in B&H, 11 of them in Tesanj (N1)
Croatia

Croatia opens borders to 10 EU countries (HRT)
No new coronavirus cases, disease takes another life (HRT)
Montenegro

The motive of media campaign against Montenegro: When we remove Djukanovic, we can easily handle the rest (Dnevne novine)
Citizens of specific countries to be allowed to enter Montenegro (CDM)
Republic of North Macedonia

EC: North Macedonia cannot have caretaker government forever (MIA)
Spasovski: Constitution offers no compromise, election must be held 60 days after parliament’s dissolution (MIA)
Osmani: Differences not insurmountable, 5 July possible compromise on elections (MIA)
Spasovski hopes countries in the region to soon reach agreement on opening of borders (MIA)
Ambassador Byrnes: Flyover saluting North Macedonia’s NATO membership expresses US support (MIA)
Active Covid-19 cases in North Macedonia at 470, most in Skopje (MIA)
Albania

Justice reform must not be derailed, Chair of IMO says (Tirana Times)
Political Council convenes days ahead of deadline (ADN)
Cakaj receives Austrian ministers: Support for Albania in opening negotiations and Security Council (Radio Tirana)
The Air Force is equipped with Black Hawk helicopters funded by the United States (Radio Tirana)
Covid-19 Cases climb to 1099 as Albania reopens (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

EU, US refuse to take part in Belgrade conference on COVID-19 attended by Russia and China (TASS)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Brnabic: Why do we currently face regional instabilities? (Tanjug/B92)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic stated that the situation in the region becomes more and more complex, as certain political actors are creating political tensions. According to her, everyone is interested in better connections and greater stability, which Serbia will continue to call for. “It is clear that it is of utmost importance for all citizens in the region, wherever they are and whatever their nationalities, to be much better connected and more stable than they are now,” Brnabic said at the international conference “World after coronavirus”, within the initiative “Belgrade Strategic Dialogue”. She points out that the region is small and that we are directed at each other, as well as that only if we are well connected and have a stable region will we be able to fulfill all our potentials. “Why do we currently have some regional instabilities? It is a complex question. I think some politicians in the region resort to it and create instabilities politically to cover up other things and would not have to answer why their economies are not doing better and why Serbia is going faster than others”, Brnabic said. Brnabic adds that such things are to their detriment, but that it has negative consequences for us in Serbia, because we are forced to balance between what is politically and economically good for our citizens and to just answer someone and finish it or say, for example, “Fine, introduce reciprocal measures”. “It is not smart and thoughtful and responsible towards our citizens,” she said. Brnabic also points out that Serbia will continue to call for economic cooperation, that is, at the international level, for globalism and multilateralism, and at a local level, that is, in the region, for better connections and stability. As she says, we are left with a huge issue, and that is the issue of Kosovo and Metohija and the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. The Prime Minister hopes that this dialogue will be resumed soon, but recalls that on 21 November 2018, she was supposed to attend the laying of the foundation stone for the science and technology park in Nis, but that she was prevented because Pristina introduced a 100% tax on goods from central Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. She added that the park will be opened on 9 June, and that nothing has changed yet regarding the taxes in Pristina. “We haven’t introduced reciprocal measures,” the Prime Minister stressed, adding that it was devastating that such behavior by Pristina presented a direct violation of the CEFTA Agreement and the Stabilization and Association Agreement, and that Pristina did all that without consequences, leaving Serbia alone to fight it. She adds that Serbia must balance, but remains committed to European integration, and that the crisis due to the coronavirus has shown all the strengths and advantages of a smart policy that we pursue as a country, by being committed to European integration, but also a policy that will not endanger our partners China, Russia and others. “It is in the highest interest of the citizens of Serbia, and we will continue to be guided by that policy,” she concluded.

 

Vucic: When they can’t blame Macron or Kurz – let’s step on Vucic (Tanjug/B92)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is taking part in the international conference “The World after the Coronavirus” in Belgrade today. The conference is held in the Club of Deputies.

Vucic said that it was time to talk more openly about two things: how we see relations in the world, and secondly – the position of Serbia is in the future, and how we will react to political, economic and health challenges. “For days and weeks, I made analyzes of everything that happened and what could happen. We have challenges ahead of us,” Vucic said. According to him, in the previous 6 months, more things have changed than in the previous 20 years.

“Drastic changes have taken place in the world, in strength and what impact the world blocs will have in the future,” he assessed. Vucic pointed out how the pandemic affected the economy and assessed that Germany and China are coming out of the pandemic with great strength. “China was the first to cope with the pandemic, the desire to continue what was the American desire – that is globalization and taking the position of a key player in globalization. It managed to show a dose of solidarity that many could not show,” Vucic said. He pointed out the consequences of the pandemic in the United States, but he estimated that it would recover economically faster than small countries. “In these conditions, speaking in the political, economic and military sense, the United States, China, Europe, primarily Germany and Russia stand out,” Vucic said, adding that we can expect a higher level of solidarity from those countries. Vucic said that he was the first to point out such a position of forces in the world, and added that, as Serbia, we will not accept the role of being obedient, no matter how small we are. “While Serbia was absolutely the most unsuccessful, when we lagged behind Montenegro with the average salary, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, it did not bother anyone at that time,” he said. Speaking about the situation in the region, Vucic said that the idea of traveling only with an ID card failed, because he “did not have a tutor”. “Everyone thinks that they have the right to talk about the solution of Kosovo and Metohija, all world and regional powers. However, if we said one word about them, they would say that we are interfering in internal affairs of other countries”, Vucic said. He said that his guilt was that he was not allowed to hide his contempt for those who showed such an attitude towards Serbia because of history. “They consider that we are a mat on which they can wipe their dirty feet, to step on us,” Vucic said and added that he could not say everything he thought because he is the President of Serbia. “It is of utmost importance for us to watch what is happening around us,” Vucic said. However, he concluded that Serbia has its own strategic path to the European Union. “We remain on our way to the European Union, we will cooperate with China,” he said, adding that in the future he would respond to anyone who objected to that cooperation. He added that we need to “get out of the shadow of the big ones”. “When they can’t blame Macron or Kurz for something, let’s step on Vucic. It’s not a problem for me to bear the brunt personally, but Serbia feels the consequences,” he concluded. The conference is being held as part of the “Belgrade Strategic Dialogue” initiative, and as the organizers announced, it will be dedicated to analyzing the geopolitical, economic and health aspects of the coronavirus pandemic through three thematic panels.

 

Brnabic: Perfectly clear message about Serbian citizens being unwanted (TV B92/Beta)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic stated on Thursday that Podgorica’s message about Serbian citizens being unwanted in Montenegro was perfectly clear to her. She told TV B92 that Montenegro’s decision to open its borders for several countries, but not Serbia, was wrong and that it represented a classic case of politics obscuring the economic interests and the well-being of their commerce and people. “Their decision is guided by political motives and, as for the message from Prime Minister Markovic – that I should have phoned him to hear the explanation – I do not need explanations, everything is perfectly clear to me,” she stated. She also said she believed Podgorica would amend that decision under pressure from the tourism sector. She reiterated that Serbia respected Montenegro as a neighboring country and that it was advocating regional stability and better liaising with the aim to improve the quality of life of the people throughout the region.

 

EU sets aside €70m in non-repayable aid to Serbia (RTS/Tanjug/RTV)

 

Serbian Minister for EU Integration and National IPA Coordinator Jadranka Joksimovic and Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi signed today, in the presence of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, a financial agreement for the first part of IPA Program 2020.

Under the agreement, the EU has set aside €70 in non-repayable aid to Serbia. The signing ceremony was followed by a video link by European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi. The focus of the first part of IPA Program 2020 are local development, competitiveness and employment. For competitiveness, agriculture, innovation and rural development, with grants, €30 million have been set aside for up to 450 micro enterprises, start-ups and organizations for support to business in less developed regions of Serbia.

€25 million have been earmarked for employment, education and social protection of the underprivileged. A special focus is placed on strengthening the capacity for surveillance and response to infectious diseases after the coronavirus pandemic. The remaining €15 million have been set aside for support to Serbia in the process of EU accession, namely for support to institutions for a successful conduct of the process of European integration.

 

Further relaxation of restrictive measures in Serbia and North Macedonia (Tanjug/Beta)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic had a telephone conversation today with Foreign Minister of North Macedonia Nikola Dimitrov. The two ministers exchanged experiences regarding the measures taken in the fight against COVID-19, information on the current epidemiological situation in the two countries, and the plans for further relaxation of the restrictive measures introduced during previous months. Dacic and Dimitrov agreed that the epidemic is under control, which is why a gradual relaxation of measures that had been in force since March is underway. Dacic informed Dimitrov that Serbia no longer requires a special permit for the entry of foreign nationals and that the crossing of the Serbian border has been returned to the regular regime.

Dacic, Jovanovic say they share strategic goals (N1)

 

The leaders of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and Liberal Democrat Party (LDP), Ivica Dacic and Cedomir Jovanovic, told N1 that their strategic goals are the same. The SPS is part of the ruling coalition which is headed by President Aleksandar Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) while Jovanovic’s LDP is in the opposition but is not part of the main opposition group – the Alliance for Serbia – and has not decided whether to stand in or boycott the 21 June elections. Speaking live on the 360 Degrees (360 Stepeni) talk show, Dacic and Jovanovic said the country’s strategic goals include European integration and the resolving of open issues such as Kosovo through dialogue. Dacic, the Serbian Foreign Minister, said that his party is taking part in the coming parliamentary elections with the goal of winning more than the 11 percent of the vote that it won at the previous elections. He said that the position of junior partner in the ruling coalition is not an easy one. Speaking about the opposition parties that have called for a boycott of the elections the SPS leader said that he would like to see more parties stand in the elections but added that the Alliance for Serbia (SzS) has no common policy since the Democratic Party (DS) wants the country to join the European Union and the Dveri Movement does not.

Bilcik: Criticism of Lajcak undermines the EU as an actor (Beta/EWB)

 

European Parliament Rapporteur for Serbia, Vladimir Bilcik, believes that criticism of Miroslav Lajcak, the EU Special Representative for Belgrade-Pristina negotiations does not undermine him as a person, but undermines the EU as an actor, while Toby Vogel from the Democratization Policy Council still thinks that Lajčak is the wrong person for this position, Beta reported.

Bilcik said that criticism of the Slovak diplomat should be viewed in the context of the domestic political situation in Kosovo. “If there is no clear and sustainable government in Kosovo, the dialogue with Serbia will not begin”, Bilcik, MEP from Slovakia, stated. He stressed that attempts by Kosovo to take revenge by referring to European officials are very unfortunate. “It is not about undermining Miroslav Lajcak as a person. It is about undermining the EU as an actor”, Bilcik said. According to Bilcik, the idea of exchanging territory opens “Pandora’s box” not only in the Balkans, but also in the wider international context, and cannot be a good start or end to any sustainable agreement. Bilcik, therefore, does not think that the exchange of territory between Kosovo and Serbia could contribute to a sustainable solution. At the same time, Toby Vogel from the Democratization Policy Council, co-author of one of the most critical texts ever written about Lajcak, pointed out that the Slovak diplomat is the wrong man to lead the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina. “We believe that the EU was wrong when it appointed Lajcak as the Special Representative for the negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo”, Vogel told Euractiv Slovakia. Vogel said that Lajcak is the wrong man for the job because he comes, like Joseph Borell, from one of only a few EU member states that have not recognized Kosovo. As he added, Lajcak’s appointment from the beginning creates unnecessary complications in the dialogue process, which is already complicated enough. Vogel, however, concluded that Lajcak, when he was appointed, showed that he is a professional, rejecting the dangerous idea that the exchange of territory, i.e. the ethnic division of Kosovo, can solve the problem and bring stability.

 

US Ambassador to OSCE: Russian arms and deals with China harm Serbia’s EU path (FoNet)

 

The US Ambassador to OSCE James Gilmore said on Thursday that Washington supported Serbia’s people goal to strengthen democracy and become the EU member, but warned that the recent purchase of weapons from Russia and non-transparent agreements with China “do not contribute to that,” FoNet reported. Commenting on the report by Andrea Orizio, the OSCE Mission Head in Serbia, to the organization’s Permanent Council, Gilmore said the US “strongly supports democratic, prosperous and peaceful future of the Western Balkans and recognizes Serbia’s important role in achieving the goal.” “My government demonstrated our sincere commitment to such future by appointing the Presidential special envoy to secure a concrete outcome of the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue, as well as the State Department special envoy to the Western Balkans,” Gilmore said. He welcomed the OSCE office in Belgrade and Orizio’s assistance in drafting the Media Strategy upon Serbia’s government invitation. “You reacted quickly and warned about the restriction in media reporting introduced during the state of emergency in Serbia declared because of the coronavirus pandemic,” Gilmore said, welcoming Serbia’s government decision to “adjust to the situation and enable the free flow of information and preserve pluralism during the pandemic,” Gilmore said.

Another 54 cases, 6,524 recovered (RTS)

 

Until 3pm there have been another 54 cases, in total 11,354 infected. There has been one more death, in total 242 deaths. There are 558 people in hospitals, and eight on respirators. The number of recovered is 6,524.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

FB&H Prime Minister Fadil Novalic arrested (Dnevni avaz)

 

Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FB&H) Prime Minister Fadil Novalic, Director of the FB&H Civil Protection Administration (FUCZ) Fahrudin Solak and owner of ‘Srebrena Malina’ company Fikret Hodzic were arrested on Thursday night, after they were interrogated in SIPA premises as suspects. Daily noted that they are suspected in the affair concerning the BAM 10.5 million worth import of 100 respirators from China and among other things they are suspected of office abuse and money laundering. All three were accompanied by their attorney and according to the daily interrogation lasted for over four hours. According to daily’s unofficial information, Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) on Friday file a motion for ordering of one-month detention for the suspects. Daily reminded of the background of the case and role of each of the suspects in this affair and learns that SIPA has firm evidence that three of them were involved in illegal activities when it comes to this procurement. Daily stressed that this confirms the information they earlier published abut Solak and Hodzic being suspected of organizing of group, money laundering and office abuse.

 

FB&H HoR session interrupted, DF and opposition request resignation of government (N1)

 

Due to the recent ‘Respiratori’ (Respirators) affair and, as explained, the overall inefficient work of the government he controls, representatives of DF in the FB&H parliament asked FB&H Prime Minister Fadil Novalic to resign. The session during which this was supposed to be discussed was postponed until Monday. The session of the FB&H House of Representatives (FB&H HoR) was, once again, held online because all representatives could not be gathered at one place due to respect of the coronavirus measures. The main topic of this session will be recent public procurements, primarily the disputable procurement of Chinese respirators. The opposition believes Novalic is the most responsible in this situation. “The opposition representatives ask for resignation, dismissal or removal of Fadil Novalic, as the most responsible person in the FB&H government,” SDP B&H MP Damir Masic told reporters in Sarajevo. The DF Caucus submitted a formal request which asks for Novalic and his deputies, FB&H Minister of Finance Jelka Milicevic and FB&H Labor Minister Vesko Drljaca, to be held accountable for this disputable procurement. “At least, due to moral reasons, primarily these three people should be faced with all the things they did wrong” said DF MP Alma Prutina. SDA representatives, however, say there is no majority for adoption of such a proposal. These officials are in ‘technical mandate’ and even if the MPs would support vote of no confidence, that would only be of “formal nature”. When asked to comment, Novalic did not wish to speak to members of the press about the mentioned request nor the ‘Respiratori’ affair.

 

Prosecutors: Respirators procured from China inadequate for Covid-19 treatment (N1)

 

The respirators which a fruit and vegetable processing company ‘Srebrena Malina’ from the eastern town of Srebrenica procured for the FB&H do not meet the minimum requirements for treating Covid-19 patients, the Prosecutor’s Office said on Monday, adding that the investigation into the case is ongoing. “The expert’s report established that the procured ventilators did not even meet the minimum characteristics necessary for the adequate treatment of patients in intensive care units, among which are Covid 19 patients,” Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Prosecutor’s Office said, adding that the investigation into the case is ongoing since 4 May.

 

SDA Secretary General Zukic banned from entering US (FTV)

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo published a statement that former MP in the FB&H parliament and Secretary General of SDA Amir Zukic is publicly designated ineligible for entry in the US due to Zukic’s corrupt actions that undermined the rule of law in B&H. “In his official capacity as a Member of the House of Representatives in the FB&H and as the General Secretary of the SDA, Zukic was involved in corrupt acts that undermined the rule of law in B&H. This designation reaffirms U.S. commitment to combating corruption in B&H.  The United States continues to stand with the people of B&H in their fight against corruption.  The Department will continue to use these authorities to promote accountability for corrupt actors in this region and globally,” reads Pompeo’s decision. State Secretary also published a post on his twitter about this: “Former Representative Amir Zukic’s corrupt actions undermined the rule of law in B&H. As a result, I am publicly designating him, making ineligible for entry into the United States. We remain #UnitedAgainstCorruption with our partner in B&H”.

 

B&H HoP in session: Izetbegovic and Covic present different stances on distribution of IMF funds (FTV)

 

At the session of the B&H House of Peoples (HoP) held on Thursday, there was also discussion about the IMF loan. Deputy speaker of B&H HoP and leader of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic talked about distribution of the 330 million Euros worth funds provided to B&H by the IMF in form of a favorable loan. He stressed that in order to distribute these funds, the Ministry of Finance of B&H should make next move. “We had an agreement in this regard. First, it was the Letter of Intent with the IMF. Then, there was a political agreement between me and Mr. Covic to distribute 50 percent of (the FB&H) funds to the FB&H and 50 percent to cantons. B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) cannot order the FB&H or the RS how they will distribute their funds. I do not know why some are insisting that B&H CoM should be distributing the FB&H’s funds, because it is not competent to do so” emphasized leader of SDA. Speaker of B&H HoP and leader of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic replied to Izetbegovic’s statement. Covic underlined that what Izetbegovic stated is partially true. He added that the IMF’s funds are not at disposal of the Ministry of Finance of B&H.  “We are all waiting for the decision of the Governor of the Central Bank of B&H (CB B&H) to distribute funds in line with agreement we reached earlier,” explained Covic. He called on politicians in B&H to disprove those claiming they are not capable to distribute funds. B&H Minister of Finance Vjekoslav Bevanda also addressed media in this regard and said that he did everything within his competences to enable distribution of the IMF’s funds and that now distribution of funds depends on the CB B&H. Bevanda emphasized that some statements recorded at Thursday session of B&H HoP are not true. He underlined that claims saying B&H CoM’s decision reads that cantons will draw funds from the CB B&H is not true.

 

Discussion on registering of military property in B&H restarted after statement of B&H Minister Podzic (BHT1)

 

B&H Minister of Defense Sifet Podzic stated on Wednesday that the process of registration of prospective military property is an ongoing process defined in the B&H Program of Reforms submitted to NATO by the Council of Ministers (CoM). This sparked a new discussion about the registration of prospective military property, which has not been progressing in the past several years. Podzic mentioned the barracks Kozara and airport Mahovljani as prospective military property on Wednesday. The B&H Attorney stated that these facilities have not been submitted for registration to their office. It was explained that competent authorities disagree on this issue and they did not submit such a request to the competent court. Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said on Wednesday that there is no such request and there will be none because these facilities belong to the RS- he implied that something like this could have been approved by former Serb member of the B&H Presidency Mladen Ivanic. SDS stated on Thursday that Podzic’s statement can imply that this process was unblocked with the signing of the Program of Reforms, which was signed by Dodik. Military expert Djuro Kozar said that the only reason for the rejection of the registration of military property as B&H property is the disputing of everything that symbolizes the state of B&H. “State property located in the RS will remain in the RS. No one will take this property and carry it to Sarajevo. It will remain there and the Armed Forces B&H (AF B&H) will use it like they used it before,” said Kozar. Delegate in the House of Peoples (HoP) of B&H Dusanka Majkic (SNSD) said that not a single location in the RS territory will ever be registered to the Ministry of Defense of B&H and added that this is the stance of the RS government which will not be changed. Majkic added that Minister Podzic “can only fantasize about it” but he needs to have documentation with which he would prove that the Ministry if the true successor of the property. Reporter reminded that military property in the Federation of Bi&H has been registered as B&H property, while no locations from the RS have been registered. This was not done even after the B&H Constitutional Court (B&H CC) ruled that this needs to be done in the RS in several cases.

 

New attack on the property of Republika Srpska (Glas Srpske)

 

During its most recent session, on 20 May, the B&H Constitutional Court (CC) annulled the verdict of the District Court in Trebinje, which rejected Ministry of Defense of B&H’s request that more than 250,000 square meters of the RS-owned land in Foca is registered as the property of this state-level Ministry. The District Court in Trebinje rendered its verdict on 24 January, 2018, but the B&H CC decided that the right to fair hearing had been violated, and sent the case back to the District Court. The B&H CC’s verdict reads, among other things, that the District Court arbitrarily interpreted relevant provisions of laws and regulations when it concluded that the appellant had failed to meet legal requirements for registration of property in their own favor, as well as that the appellant had no equal treatment before the court. The Ministry of Defense of B&H wants a total of 254,568 square meters of land in Foca – officially registered as the ‘property of the RS – Ministry of Defense of the RS’ – to be registered as the ‘property of B&H – Ministry of Defense of B&H’. The District Court in Trebinje concluded that there was no basis for the change of ownership over this plot of land, because the appellant did not request that on the basis of decision passed by the court or some other competent institution, or on the basis of some other document necessary for the procedure to be launched. In a short statement for the daily, the RS Attorney General Milimir Govedarica said that this is just yet another in a series of B&H Ministry of Defense’s attempts to register the RS-owned property as the property of B&H. Govedarica underlined that the Office of the RS Attorney General is doing everything it can to protect the property of the RS. “We have called on all relevant institutions to use their competences prescribed by laws, with the goal of taking all available legal actions in order for us to prevent prospective and non-prospective military property located in Srpska from being registered as the property of B&H,” concluded Govedarica. Head of PDP Caucus and member of the Board for Constitutional Issues at the RS parliament Perica Bundalo said that the Constitutional Court of B&H has proven too many times that its intention is to change the legal and political order in B&H. “The Constitutional Court has started operating outside of the framework of its competences a long time ago, and cases related to military property and especially the agricultural land owned by the RS only confirm that,” said Bundalo.

 

Tegeltija: B&H opens borders for all neighbors without restrictions; Croatia open its borders for citizens of some countries, but not for B&H (ATV)

 

The B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) adopted on Thursday a decision to open borders with neighboring countries. According to B&H CoM Chairman Zoran Tegeltija, the B&H CoM adopted a decision according to which B&H will open its borders with Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro, as well as airports as of 1 June. Tegeltija stressed that no conditions will be set for entry of citizens of these countries to B&H, especially regarding testing for Covid-19, although neighboring countries were not so benevolent towards B&H. He reminded that there are still several restrictions when it comes to entry of B&H citizens to Croatia and Montenegro also has its special policy with regards to this issue. However, he stressed that regardless of that the B&H CoM decided to make possible for citizens of Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro to enter B&H without any restrictions. Tegeltija added that the borders will be opened for citizens of other countries one step at a time, depending on the epidemiological situation that is still unfavorable in some countries.

 

Another 22 coronavirus cases reported in B&H, 11 of them in Tesanj (N1)

 

A total of 22 new coronavirus cases were reported across B&H since Thursday but all the new cases in half of the country, the FB&H region, come from the northern town of Tesanj. Of the 258 samples tested at the Sarajevo University Clinical Center in the past 24 hours, 11 came back positive – all of them from Tesanj. Another 33 residents of the town tested positive for the virus throughout the past two days. Health authorities in the RS, also reported 11 new coronavirus cases after testing 662 people since Thursday. The total number of people who caught the virus across B&H so far is 2,485. Of those, 153 people died due to COVID-19, while 1,803 recovered.

 

Croatia opens borders to 10 EU countries (HRT)

 

The Prime Minister announced at Thursday’s cabinet session that the government had decided to lift the temporary travel ban and open the borders to several EU member states due to the positive epidemiological situation. The government’s latest move to salvage the summer tourism season will include Slovenia, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany and Poland. “According to our comparative analysis of the epidemiological situation, these countries have made similar progress like we have in Croatia, or who are trending in that direction. This has allowed us to make this decision to allow the arrival of citizens from these aforementioned countries during the upcoming tourism season,” said the Prime Minister. The easing of restrictions is hoped to bring in visitors to Croatia’s Adriatic coastline, ahead of the summer tourism season which usually peaks from June to August. In 2019, more than eighteen million tourists visited the country, with largest numbers coming from Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Poland, and Italy. He added that the list of countries permitted to freely enter Croatia would be expanded if the situation continued to improve.

 

No new coronavirus cases, disease takes another life (HRT)

 

The National Civil Protection Headquarters announced on Friday that there have been no new coronavirus cases in the Republic of Croatia in the past 24 hours, leaving the total number of patients with the coronavirus at 2,245. So far, 65,509 people have been tested, 415 of them in the last 24 hours. There are 28 people in hospital. Out of that, 4 patients are on respirators. The total number of healed recovered is 2059, which is 8 newly recovered in the past 24 hours. The total number of deaths is 103.

 

The motive of media campaign against Montenegro: When we remove Djukanovic, we can easily handle the rest (Dnevne novine)

 

Media campaign which is being conducted against Milo Djukanovic from Serbia is becoming more brutal day by day. The media nationalist factorial matter is not accidentally aimed to discredit Montenegrin president with the most terrible insults, set-ups, going as far as to proclaim him a fascist who needs to be eliminated for the salvation of Serbs and Montenegro. If the brutal media campaign is connected to the activities of Serbian services, their diplomacy, the objectives of the principals who see Djukanovic as a threat are clear. To the best knowledge of Dnevne novine, Serbian services, their diplomatic representatives in all structures and at all levels are doing what is clearly seen through their media – trying to destabilize Montenegro. They are not even trying to hide that in contact with foreigners. Dnevne novine sources say that officers of Serbian security agency go around the world and in meetings with their counterparts abroad never miss a chance to call Montenegrin president a criminal, to denounce Montenegro as mafia, criminal, private state, managed by Djukanovic and Brano Micunovic. They also say all elections in Montenegro are stolen, that only Milo’s people sit in polling stations and counting votes, that dissatisfaction rules in Montenegro…Sources claim that Serbia’s strategic commitment is to make sure all structures at all levels make as bad image of Montenegro as possible and then to inform the public through the most widely translated and distributed newspapers that several EU countries have understood their point very well. And what about the fact that these media have been declared the leaders in publishing fake news and disinformation, the media that only last year released thousand fake news on their front pages? Does that fact matter? They believe constant media pressure and campaign against our country and Djukanovic will “open eyes” of the international community and foreign diplomats. They are also in hopes that such pressure will enable them to sell their story in Europe and in the USA, expecting that a well-organized campaign will convince the EU to make Djukanovic resign his function by autumn. Strategy for ousting Djukanovic and destabilizing Montenegro has a short-term and a long-term objective. The short-term objective is to destabilize the state and its institutions no matter the cost, with the aim of damaging Montenegro’s rating as regional leader in integration processes and economic development. The long-term objective is to destroy Montenegro from the inside, through external influences and make it a compensation for the lost Kosovo.  The only obstacle to this strategy is Milo Djukanovic. That is why Belgrade media are in service of those who tend to discredit him and remove him from the political stage. Sources claim one sentence is dominant in the media, intellectual and church circles: “When we remove him (Milo), we can easily handle the rest”.

 

SMEAR CAMPAIGN

How far the campaign against Djukanovic goes is best seen on the front pages of the Serbian media. During the epidemic they stated that “Milo proclaims epidemic only to save his position”, that “Djukanovic initiates war”, that he “wants bloodshed in religious processions”, that he “calls NATO to wage war against Serbs” that he “is digging channels at the border with Serbia” . They even claimed that Montenegro’s president had COVID-19 and that he wanted help from France and Russia?! Today, Djukanovic is criticized for expelling soldiers from the armed forces because they declare themselves as Serbs, that he arms Bosniaks and “milogorce” and that he “is invoking 1990s”.

 

Citizens of specific countries to be allowed to enter Montenegro (CDM)

 

National Coordination Body for contagious diseases has decided that foreigners will be allowed to enter Montenegro without self-isolation or quarantine starting from 1 June, provided that rate of active cases of COVID-19 is less than 25 per 100.000 inhabitants in the country where a foreigner lives and in the country from which foreigner enters Montenegro. The list currently includes the following countries: Slovenia, Iceland, Croatia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Albania, Austria, Norway, Monaco, Kosovo, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Denmark, Lithuania, Latvia, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Israel, North Macedonia, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Finland and Estonia. President of the NCB, Milutin Simovic, said that Montenegro didn’t close its borders. “On the contrary! We open our borders, in accordance with the recommendations from many countries, for the sake of citizens and tourists who are going to visit us this summer,” Simovic says.

 

EC: North Macedonia cannot have caretaker government forever (MIA)

 

Diplomats and senior officials in Brussels are closely following the situation regarding the elections in North Macedonia and talks between the ruling and opposition parties. They urge for consensus while saying that the caretaker government “cannot last forever,” MIA reports from Brussels. “It is reasonable to contemplate about the elections, a caretaker government cannot last forever, but of course elections must be held if all prerequisites are met,” say EC officials. According to them, all political parties must be committed to the talks and reach consensus over a date for the elections in a time when the country has no parliament and no democratically elected government, during a period of crisis that requires taking crucial decisions. Boycott of either side or non-recognition of the results are scenarios that must be avoided at all costs, especially considering the fact that enlargement will return to the Union agenda in June, when the negotiating frameworks for North Macedonia and Albania are set to be released. One should also not neglect the fact that a member-state, Bulgaria, is sending signals of discontent from certain aspects of the bilateral relations, whereas a government having full legitimacy can commit to solving potential bilateral disagreements, explain interlocutors in Brussels. They say the elections must be flawlessly administered, meaning health aspects need to be considered so that the voting is safe, along with the desired presence of domestic and international observers from OSCE/ODIHR. “International observers are not an obligation, but this provides legitimacy to the elections. If there are no international observers, there is room for challenging the process and the results. Therefore, their presence is important for the EU,” diplomatic sources told MIA. ODIHR has said they expect a decision from Skopje so they can decide on the observation mission. “Once a date for the election has been decided on, ODIHR will give careful consideration to the new timeline, taking account of the ability of observers to travel and any other restrictions that may be in place. However, we can’t make any plans until that decision has been taken,” ODIHR says in a response to MIA’s query. ODIHR add they remain in contact with the authorities of North Macedonia to clarify all the possibilities for ODIHR observers. Brussels would like to see progress in inter-party talks over the date for the elections, but the distant positions by the largest political parties SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE are not encouraging. “It is true that September is far away, it is not understandable from our viewpoint why the positions cannot be approximated, but it is not up to us to say when to hold the elections. For us it is important to see properly administered and legitimate elections, while boycott will be the biggest problem,” say diplomats in Brussels and add the elections would also weigh on the country’s EU perspectives. The European Commission has said it would release the negotiating frameworks in June, followed by their approval by Union member-states. In this context, the diplomats and senior officials recommend that North Macedonia is fully invested in fostering bilateral relations with Bulgaria and Greece, the two countries it has signed friendship treaties with. The next EU General Affairs Council is slated for15  June and if the EC fails to release the negotiating frameworks in time, it is possible that ministers discuss this issue at the July meeting.

 

Spasovski: Constitution offers no compromise, election must be held 60 days after parliament’s dissolution (MIA)

 

The Constitution offers no compromise. It clearly states that election must be held 60 days after parliament has dissolved, Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski told reporters. “The state of emergency will be extended for a few days if the need arises, in order to deal with economic effects. 22 days after it expires, the election will take place,” Spasovski said. The PM added that the government will decide by the end of the week whether the state of emergency in North Macedonia will be extended for the third time, in order to implement economic measures. “I expect reason and political maturity from all. Everyone should realize that parliamentary election should be held due to the health crisis as soon as possible, in line with the Constitution and legislation,” Spasovski said.

 

Osmani: Differences not insurmountable, 5 July possible compromise on elections (MIA)

 

Differences among political parties, including the most extreme positions on the date for the elections, do not exceed 10-15 days. Therefore, differences are not insurmountable and if parties continue to communicate in the coming days, I believe we could meet somewhere around July 5, said Deputy PM for European Affairs Bujar Osmani on Thursday. DUI’s position is that no process should endanger the health state, an aspect that all political parties agree on, while consensus is needed because of the importance of inclusiveness in the elections. “We will continue to make efforts these days, because it is not worth putting the country into a political crisis because of differences involving 10-15 days. I expect everyone to act responsibly and find common ground in the sense of confirming a date for the elections” Osmani told reporters. According to him, the least the country needs in time of pandemic is extreme polarization among political parties, thus bringing the country into a political crisis.

 

Spasovski hopes countries in the region to soon reach agreement on opening of borders (MIA)

 

Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski said Thursday that he expected countries in the region will soon reach an agreement on opening of borders. Spasovski added that he regularly communicates with his colleagues from the neighboring countries, discussing the issue of opening the borders. “I recently mentioned that we also held a conference aimed at tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, opening of borders, opening up opportunities between countries in the region. This is most important because if we open the borders, this will enable free movement of people, goods, services and the economic expansion. I expect that such an agreement will be reached and we will soon be able to make decisions on opening the borders for the entire region,” Spasovski said.

 

Ambassador Byrnes: Flyover saluting North Macedonia’s NATO membership expresses US support (MIA)

 

Friday’s flyover of US army aircraft over Skopje is an expression of our enduring support for North Macedonia and a gesture of welcome to NATO’s 30th member US Ambassador to North Macedonia Kate Byrnes said on the occasion of the flyover saluting North Macedonia’s NATO membership. “This flyover is both an expression of our enduring support for North Macedonia, as well as a gesture of welcome to NATO’s 30th member, the newest member of the Alliance. Of course, over the past few weeks the focus has, as it rightfully should have been, on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. But, that should not obscure the fact that this year a very historic achievement took place for North Macedonia as it joined NATO and then also received the green light for EU accession. This is an incredible moment and these are two aspirations, two goals, for which both of our countries have worked for over two decades. It’s important that even as we focus, rightfully, on the challenges that we face with this pandemic across the globe, we do it together as allies and we do it here in North Macedonia as allies in this fight. The flyover, the planes that you saw today, are indeed a reaffirmation that the United States’ commitment to the NATO alliance and most especially to its newest NATO ally remain steadfast. And today I hope we symbolized in this way and commemorated the deepening partnership that exists between our two countries,” said Ambassador Byrnes, who witnessed the event together with North Macedonia’s Defense Minister Radmila Shekerinska. The two aircraft of the US Army Aviation, accompanied by four Greek army aircraft, flew over the territory of North Macedonia to salute the country’s NATO membership. The aircraft took off from the state of South Dakota on Thursday. They flew at an altitude of 1,500 meters over North Macedonia and their flyover was accompanied by a loud sound. NATO members demonstrated strong support for North Macedonia’s membership to the Alliance by sending medical aid to the country amid the corona crisis. As a new member of the Alliance, North Macedonia has also taken part in NATO’s Air Policing program, which aims to secure NATO airspace.

 

Active Covid-19 cases in North Macedonia at 470, most in Skopje (MIA)

 

Two days after North Macedonia lifted the nationwide coronavirus curfew, cafes and restaurants began to reopen under strict protocol and many people got back to work. Wearing a face masks and keeping physical distance is mandatory. Authorities urge people to comply with recommendations for protection against COVID-19 despite relaxed measures, in order to avoid reintroduction of restrictions. North Macedonia reported 38 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, while active COVID-19 cases stand at 470 at the moment. Health Minister Venko Filipche said we were facing two challenges – to become accustomed to unconditionally respect protective measures that are a prerequisite for normalizing the situation or to disrespect the measures and risk reintroduction of more restrictive measures. “Life begins to return to normal and businesses start to open, free movement restores and the borders will reopen soon. We are opening up as all the countries in the world do,” Filipche said. He noted that analyses of the epidemiologists confirmed that the situation is stable, and the current strategy has yielded results. “We protected the healthcare system and kept the epidemic under control. This was a prerequisite for easing restrictive measures. However, personal protective measures remain in place and should be fully respected. Wearing face mask or covering of the mouth and nose, maintaining physical distance, hand washing and use of hand sanitizers are preventive measures that remain part of our daily lives. We will continue with these protective measures,” Filipche said. At the moment, most of the active coronavirus cases are in Skopje – 232, followed by Kumanovo – 36,  Shtip -19, Prilep – 43, Tetovo – 71, Struga – 9, Veles – 31, Bitola – 7, Ohrid – 8, Gostivar – 4, Strumica –  1, Negotino – 5, Vinica – 1, Kratovo – 1 and Sveti Nikole – 1. Of the new 24 Covid-19 cases registered in Skopje on Thursday, Saraj has 7, Butel – 4, Chair – 3, Aerodrom – 3, Studenichani – 2, Shuto Orizari – 2, Gazi Baba – 1 and Karposh – 1. A total of 27,023 Covid-19 tests have been carried out in the country so far. The total number of coronavirus patients since the onset of the epidemic is 2,077. Of these 1,486 people have recovered and 121 passed away.

The Ministry of Health says the COVID-19 death rate in North Macedonia is far below the European and world average. “The death rate of the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in North Macedonia is 5.8 percent. Countries in the region with higher death rate include Slovenia – 7.3 percent, Bosnia and Herzegovina – 6.2 percent, Greece – 6.0 percent,” the Health Ministry added.

 

Justice reform must not be derailed, Chair of IMO says (Tirana Times)

 

Director for the Western Balkans at the European Commission and Chair of the International Monitoring Operation (IMO), Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, urged Albanian officials to move forward with the judicial reform in order to ensure its full implementation. In an Op-Ed published online at EAAS, Calavera said that the reform must not be undermined by various attacks, as it will be a key element in Albania’s path towards EU integration. “This is not a time to derail the reform and its many achievements to date, such as the establishment of all new judicial institutions, which have been functioning well already for some time. The vetting process has continued progressing steadily as well, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on hearings,” she wrote, praising at the same time the latest appointment of three new members to the High Court. Debate over the justice reform was sparked by the launch of an investigation into one of the members of the Appeal Chamber, Luan Daci, on suspicion of concealing from his records his dismissal as a judge in 1997. Daci was suspended from office at the College of court decision. For Ms. Calavera”. The current investigation in the case of one of the members of the Appeal Chamber and the subsequent suspension from office, should not be an excuse to attack the judicial reform – it should rather be seen as the most concrete evidence that the system has started to function effectively. The statement comes as President Ilir Meta has been critical of the reform’s implementation and has spared no direct accusations against US and European legal aid missions that have closely followed not only the drafting of the reform but also its implementation. He recently proposed “the establishment of a Political Council where all legal and constitutional changes should be made with unanimous consensus regarding the justice reform.”

 

Political Council convenes days ahead of deadline (ADN)

 

The government and opposition representatives at the Political Council on Electoral Reform held a closed-door meeting on Thursday, only a few days ahead of the deadline for the completion of electoral reform. According to local media, the parties discussed the role of the police, the prosecution and the whistleblowers in the elections. The parties have agreed to have police officers outside each polling station, which must be equipped with cameras. Reportedly, they have disagreed on the Democratic Party’s proposal that the Interior Minister under a caretaker government should appoint the general director of the state police. The Socialists suggested that higher-level meetings are needed for this decision. In addition, the parties have agreed that the SPAK will investigate electoral crimes, while the regional prosecution offices will set up special groups to investigate vote buying. Meanwhile, the two hot topics, the Electoral College and the election administration, are expected to be discussed in the coming days.

 

Cakaj receives Austrian ministers: Support for Albania in opening negotiations and Security Council (Radio Tirana)

 

Acting Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Gent Cakaj, received in an official visit to Tirana, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria, Alexander Schallenberg, and the Minister of State for the Constitution and the European Union, Caroline Edtstadler. In a reaction on Facebook regarding the meeting, Cakaj said that the ministers praised the excellent bilateral relations of the two countries and the very valuable cooperation in international organizations.

“Austria has strongly supported the opening of EU membership negotiations, the OSCE Presidency of Albania for 2020 and today the two Austrian ministers reaffirmed their support for Albania to take the seat of the non-permanent member of the Council of Security 2022-2023” stressed the Head of the Albanian Diplomacy Cakaj in his reaction. During the official visit, the two Austrian ministers donated a considerable amount of humanitarian packages and medical equipment to face up the consequences of COVID-19 in Albania.

The Air Force is equipped with Black Hawk helicopters funded by the United States (Radio Tirana)

 

The Minister of Defense, Olta Xhaçka and the Ambassador of the United States of America in Tirana, Yuri Kim, signed today the acceptance contract for equipping the Albanian Air Force with “Black Hawk” helicopters, a joint financing of the two governments. “The United States of America, the supporter of Albania in the key moments of history, showed again that they are on the side of our country even in these difficult times of pandemic” said Minister Xhaçka. The Black Hawk helicopters that will soon be part of our Air Force, the colossal investment in the Kuçova Base, the radar system after the agreement with the American company Lockeed Martin, are indicators that the Albanian Air Force and the Armed Forces are recovering step by step” she said. Meanwhile, the Ambassador of the United States of America in Tirana, Yuri Kim, said that the United States and Albania are and will continue to stand “side by side”. As you know, this is not just a donation of American defense equipment. This is a jointly funded program, where both the United States and Albania share the financial responsibility to defend the Alliance.

Covid-19 Cases climb to 1099 as Albania reopens (ADN)

 

Coronavirus cases in Albania remain within the double-digit range, with 23 cases in the past 24h. The total number of infections topped 1099 on Friday, as Albania is taking its steps toward full reopening. Health Ministry reported that map of cases expanded to Tirana, and cases returned to Mat, Lushnja, Durres. “During the last 24 hours, 276 citizens were tested for Covid-19 and 23 resulted positive. Out of these cases 12 are in Tirana, 8 are contacts of previous positive cases and 4 are new cases in the tracking process. At Mother Teresa University Hospital, QSUT, all 57 health professionals and patients tested resulted negative. Six cases were confirmed in Mat, 4 cases in Lushnje, and 1 new case in Durres. The infectious disease hospital is currently treating 23 patients, 5 of whom are in intensive care. In the last 24 hours, 28 citizens have been recovered, bringing the number of healed people to 851 since the beginning of the epidemic.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 15,500 molecular and serological tests have been performed, and the number of confirmed positive cases across the country is 1099. Of these, over 77% have recovered. There are currently 215 people in Albania active with Covid-19, mainly in Tirana,” said Eugena Tomini from Institute of Public Health.

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

EU, US refuse to take part in Belgrade conference on COVID-19 attended by Russia and China (TASS, 29 May 2020)

 

Earlier, representatives of Western states in Serbia accused Russia and China of attempts to expand their influence during the pandemic

BELGRADE, May 29. /TASS/. Representatives of the EU and the US have refused to take part in the conference dubbed The World After the Coronavirus, hosted by the Belgrade Strategic Dialogue foundation, Marko Djuric, director of the Serbia’s Office for Kosovo and Metohija, informed TASS on the sidelines of the conference on Friday. “I am proud that my city, Belgrade, is hosting such an inclusive forum to discuss political, economic and medical consequences of the coronavirus epidemic for humanity. We have become the capital of dialogue, which involves high representatives of the Russian Federation, China, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, numerous ministers and medical experts. We have invited representatives of the EU and the USA, and I am disappointed that they have not come. I hope that in the future, they will also take part in such meetings, because I think that the issue of the coronavirus and the cooperation in resolving such issues must not be considered through the prism of political competition. This is what dialogue is all about, it is about hearing different opinions instead of repeating one’s own stance over and over again, like many are perhaps used to,” Djuric stated. Earlier, representatives of Western states in Serbia accused Russia and China of attempts to expand their influence during the pandemic. Nevertheless, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stressed the role of Russian and Chinese aid to the country in his opening speech, noting that Belgrade will continue to cooperate with Moscow and Beijing despite Western pressure. According to the latest figures, Serbia has documented 11,300 cases of COVID-19, including 241 deaths. The lethality rate in the country reaches 2.13%. Earlier, Serbia requested Russia’s aid in fighting the pandemic. From April 3 to May 18, Russian units disinfected medical facilities and other buildings in 40 Serbian towns and settlements. In late December 2019, Chinese officials notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, in central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus — named COVID-19 by the WHO — have been reported in every corner of the globe, including Russia. On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

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