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Belgrade Media Report 02 June

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LOCAL PRESS

Dacic and Godfrey disappointed by Pristina’s measures (Beta/RTS)
Stefanovic, Godfrey discuss election conditions (Beta)
Djuric, Botsan-Kharchenko: Pristina’s behavior requires harsh and resolute reaction of the international community (RTS)
Is the EU offering an agreement on two Germanys? (Novosti)
ODIHIR deploys election assessment mission to Serbia (Beta)
Italy thanks Serbia for generous donation (FoNet/RTV)
Another 24 cases, 6,766 recovered (RTS)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Opposition MPs in FB&H parliament submit request for reshuffling of FB&H government (O kanal)
SDP calls for urgent FB&H HoP session and forming of new FB&H government (Dnevni avaz)
FB&H PM Novalic returns to work after being released from custody (O kanal)
Tegeltija: Death threats to Chief Prosecutor are consequence of political labelling (FTV)
B&H’s Security Minister Fahrudin Radoncic announces his resignation (N1)
US Embassy in B&H says fight against corruption is of outmost importance (N1)
RS parliament discusses B&H HoR’s resolution on respect for victims of fascist regimes and movements (RTRS)
IC Ambassadors in B&H hosted another meeting on Mostar elections, but no agreement was reached (Dnevni avaz)
Commercial flights in B&H to resume as of Tuesday (FTV)
Another 11 coronavirus cases and three deaths due to Covid-19 in B&H (N1)
Croatia

No new Covid-19 cases in Croatia, 92.5 pct of all patients have recovered (N1)
Montenegro

Brajovic: Opposition demonstrates lack of responsibility by failing to participate in the meeting (RTCG)
Montenegro to declare end to the coronavirus epidemic (CDM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Lockdown possible in some municipalities (MIA)
Xhaferi: State of emergency cannot last indefinitely (MIA/Slobodna TV)
Still early to reopen borders, says Filipche (MIA)
Bulgaria lifts quarantine for arrivals from EU, Serbia and North Macedonia (MIA)
Macedonia daily has more patients than the whole Balkans together, and the government is only talking about elections (Republika)
EU’s Varhelyi: Important to ensure fair and free elections; EC’s enlargement package postponed until autumn (MIA)
Over 60 new COVID-19 cases registered in North Macedonia, one patient dies (MIA)
Albania

Electoral Reform/The ambassadors of US, EU and GB meet with Basha (Radio Tirana)
President pushes for completion of Electoral Reform at earliest (ADN)
Kosovo imposes 22 € disinfection tax on Albanian lorries (Tirana Times)
In Albania 21 new COVID-19 cases (Tirana Times)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

Chinese medical experts awarded by Serbia for assistance in fighting COVID-19 (Xinhua)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Dacic and Godfrey disappointed by Pristina’s measures (Beta/RTS)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and US Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey voiced their disappointment over Pristina’s latest moves related to Serbian imports, the Foreign Ministry has stated. Dacic expressed disappointment with the latest moves of Pristina regarding the conditions for import of Serbian goods –  the so-called introduction of reciprocal measures.

He underlined that such decisions are very harmful, that they violate all agreements made to date and make the continuation of dialogue difficult.  Godfrey said that he shares the disappointment regarding this move of Pristina and voiced hope that all restrictions will be soon lifted and dialogue continued. Discussing regional matters, the US Ambassador said that he believes that Serbia and Montenegro will find a solution to all issues through a dialogue, including the issue of full opening of borders to all their citizens.

 

Stefanovic, Godfrey discuss election conditions (Beta)

 

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic and US Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey

agreed on Monday that the country’s government’s work in fighting against the coronavirus pandemic was timely, Beta reported. The two discussed the activities taken in improving the election conditions and the protective measures to be imposed during the election process and on the election day, to safeguard the health of the people and enable them to exercise the legal right to vote at the same time. They also agreed the police cooperation between the two countries was good and that it would continue.

 

Djuric, Botsan-Kharchenko: Pristina’s behavior requires harsh and resolute reaction of the international community (RTS)

 

The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric met with Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko, to whom he once again confirmed that Serbia advocates the path of dialogue on a lasting and sustainable solution for the issue of its southern province, and that it is consistent in the view that this solution can only be sought within UNSCR 1244 and the Serbian Constitution. They examines the situation following the introduction of Pristina’s blockade on trucks and goods from Serbia proper, agreeing that the behavior of the government interim institutions in Pristina requires harsh and resolute reaction of the international community, the Office announced. Informing the interlocutor on the problems and position of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, Djuric once again thanked the Russian Ambassador on the brotherly support offered by Russia to Serbia in the efforts to fight in the international arena for its state and national interests and protection of its people in the southern province.

 

Is the EU offering an agreement on two Germanys? (Novosti)

 

Ever since the legally binding agreement on the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina was first publicly mentioned in 2012, no one has managed to figure out what it should mean, but in the meantime, it has become a formal condition for Serbia to join the European Union. “Without resolving the Kosovo issue, Serbia will not enter the EU, and that is a clear condition,” President Aleksandar Vucic recalled. He also several days ago said that he expects someone to tell us how the agreement on normalization is seen and whether it means recognition of Kosovo or not, and, in case it does, “how they intend to carry that out”. European officials have not yet offered answers to these questions, except for a rush to reach a comprehensive agreement, as German and French Foreign Ministers Heiko Mass and Jean-Yves Le Drian had conveyed recently in a letter that “it is high time to renew the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina”. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell then hinted at some guidelines, saying that “the agreement reached must be acceptable to the international community as well”, and that Belgrade and Pristina should agree on a solution, but that “they cannot have their hands untied to agree on whatever they want”. It is clear that this refers to the issue of borders, which Borrell says is sensitive, with the warning that any deal will have a collateral effect on the region.

However, the issue of recognizing or giving a seat to Kosovo in the United Nations is not openly being ordered to Belgrade at this time. Political analyst Dragomir Andjelkovic, however, has no doubt that Belgrade is expected to treat Kosovo as an independent state. “That is de facto recognition, not de jure, that is, the way West Germany treated East Germany in the period when they did not have diplomatic relations. That implies that we recognize all documents of Kosovo and not dispute its entry into international institutions, which then means the United Nations as well,” Andjelkovic tells Novosti. He recalls that the Germans presented this model very clearly back in 2007, which is absolutely unacceptable to Serbia: “We cannot treat our secessionist province as a state, even without recognition. Accepting Ischinger’s model within Kosovo’s current borders would be our complete capitulation. Serbia must take the position that this is unacceptable and that nobody should have illusions that we will accept this.” As for when Belgrade will be clearly told what is expected of it, Andjelkovic says that since 2007, when this idea was presented, nothing has changed for the better, that it is current and that it is being presented to the Serbian side in an informal way, although is not called the Ischinger model.

In the negotiations led by the mediating “troika” of the Contact Group in 2007, Ischinger proposed a model of “two Germanys” which would imply the signing of an interstate agreement on the basis of which mutual relations would be determined without mentioning recognition. That plan was rejected by the then Serbian government and parliament.

 

ODIHIR deploys election assessment mission to Serbia (Beta)

 

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is deploying a Special Election Assessment Mission (SEAM) in Serbia, planning to commence its work on 5 June. The deadline for applying for vacancies at the SEAM mission expired on 1 June. The tentative plan for the Mission is to start working in Belgrade on 5 June. In its assessment of election monitoring activities the ODIHIR says that the organization has taken into account its own report from November 2019 on preparations for the election in Serbia and “concerns expressed by interested parties.” Among other things, those included “confidence-related issues as to the implementation of procedures on the Election Day, the accuracy of voter registration lists, campaigns in terms of possible intimidation of voters and abuse of government resources,” the organization said.

 

Italy thanks Serbia for generous donation (FoNet/RTV)

 

Italian Ambassador to Serbia Carlo Lo Cascio thanked Belgrade and President Aleksandar Vucic for the generous medical equipment donation to Rome, adding it would be remembered, FoNet reported.  On the occasion of the Republic of Italy Day, Lo Cascio said: “It was an authentic friendship gesture that would remain in the history of our diplomatic relations. Serbia has shown solidarity with us, and I use this opportunity to all of those who showed their affection for Italy,” the Ambassador said. He added Italy believed in the Western Balkans integration into the EU and would actively support Serbia’s EU path. “We will continue to work together and support many Italian companies already working in Serbia. I invite you to go forward with new energy, creating new chances for the cooperation between Italy and Serbia,” Lo Cascio told his compatriots in Serbia.

 

Another 24 cases, 6,766 recovered (RTS)

 

Until 3pm there have been another 24 cases, in total 11,454 infected. There have been one more death, in total 245 deaths. There are 475 people in hospitals, and ten are on respirators. The number of recovered people is 6,766.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Opposition MPs in FB&H Parliament submit request for reshuffling of FB&H government (O kanal)

 

More than twenty representatives in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FB&H) Parliament submitted a request for reshuffling of the FB&H Government and removal of its Prime Minister Fadil Novalic, after the recent ‘Respirators’ affair. The request was signed by MPs from SDP B&H, ‘Our Party’ (NS), ‘People and Justice’ (NiP), PDA, ‘Independent bloc’ and A-SDA. They call upon the competent authorities to investigate the recent affairs and sanction the officials most responsible for these scandals. They were joined by SBB B&H and DF MPs, but with a separate request which asks only for the removal of three key officials in the Government, the PM and his two Deputies. “What I personally expect is for the (FB&H) House of Peoples (HoP) to finally schedule a session and appoint a new Government, because that is the safest way to remove Fadil Novalic and (FB&H Finance Minister) Jelka Milicevic, and all other bad ministers from this government. There are seven ministers in this Government that were appointed to other posts”, said SDP B&H MP Irfan Cengic. DF is not part of the opposition’s initiative, but its representatives submitted a request of their own, asking the removal of the three most responsible members of the FB&H government. Alma Kratina, Head of the DF Caucus in the FB&H parliament, explains that they ask for the removal of Novalic, Milicevic and FB&H Labor Minister Vesko Drljaca. The only surprise came from SBB B&H, as its representatives confirmed they will support the reshuffling of the government. “We must send a message that this, what happened here in most critical moments, is completely unacceptable and someone must bear the political responsibility for that and that someone is the man that ‘leads the parade’ – the FB&H government’s Prime Minister”, SBB B&H MP Adis Arapovic told the reporters. Speaker of the FB&H House of Representatives (FB&H HoR) Mirsad Zaimovic (SDA) confirms that talks will be held on further functioning of the government, not only due to strained relations between SDA and HDZ B&H but also due to SBB B&H and DF’s stance in the matter. HDZ B&H members take no responsibility in the matter, saying that everything that the government did was in line with the laws and procedures, emphasizing that public procurements of medical equipment were the task of the FB&H Civil Protection Administration (FUCZ).

 

SDP calls for urgent FB&H HoP session and forming of new FB&H government (Dnevni avaz)

 

SDP Caucus in the FB&H House of Peoples is asking for holding of an urgent session with a goal to analyze the effects of the recent decisions of the B&H Court on the functioning of the FB&H government. They stressed that this can be considered as their public invitation to election winners from 2018 to launch the process of appointing of new FB&H government.

 

FB&H PM Novalic returns to work after being released from custody (O kanal)

 

Representatives of the FB&H government confirmed that FB&H Prime Minister Fadil Novalic returned to work on Monday, after he was released from custody. According to announcements, the next Government session will be held on 4 June. Government representatives say Novalic is following the restrictive measures that the B&H Court issued against him. This also includes the fact that witnesses in the mentioned case will not be present during the Government sessions. The witnesses are FB&H Minister of Finance Jelka Milicevic, FB&H Minister of Health Vjekoslav Mandic and Director of the FB&H Public Health Institute Davor Pehar. They will authorize their assistants to take part in sessions and reply to matters that connect to their ministries and institutions.

 

Tegeltija: Death threats to Chief Prosecutor are consequence of political labelling (FTV)

 

President of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of B&H, Milan Tegeltija reacted to the death threats received by Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H Gordana Tadic. Tegeltija said that such threats and endangering the security of a person holding judicial office are consequences of political labelling and targeting of the Chief Prosecutor and the prosecutor in charge as enemies of the state and a certain ethnic group. Tegeltija warned that pressures of SDA on the justice system in ‘Respirators’ affair are dangerous and completely inappropriate. Tegeltija called on political representatives of SDA to stop with the attacks on the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H. Tegeltija stressed that main and acting prosecutor in the criminal case against NovalicSolak and Hodzic, are exposed to unprecedented political pressure and belittling, and while doing their job, they were also called enemies of the state. “Without an intention to prejudge anyone’s guilt and fully respecting the presumption of innocence of anyone, including the Prime Minister of the Federation of B&H, I must say that such flagrant pressures, targeting, putting targets on the back of the Chief Prosecutor and the acting prosecutors are obviously aimed at obstructing the investigation or obtaining an appropriate court decision. In fact, the investigation is being obstructed by political pressures,” Tegeltija underlined.

 

B&H’s Security Minister Fahrudin Radoncic announces his resignation (N1)

 

B&H Security Minister, Fahrudin Radoncic, has announced his resignation on Tuesday, saying the relations within the coalition were irreparable, that he cannot tolerate “attacks against the judiciary” and that he disagrees with a coalition partner on how the migrant crisis should be handled. Radoncic, the leader of the Alliance for a Better Future (SBB), is among the ruling coalition in Bosnia alongside the three main ethnic parties. “I would like to thank the SDA (Party for Democratic Action) that it made it possible for me and the SBB to be part of that parliamentary majority in the Council of Ministers. Political differences have emerged regarding some strategic internal issues in B&H,” Radoncic said. The first reason he named was disagreement over the issue of Pakistani migrants in the country. “I asked for us to solve the migrant crisis through legal deportations and said we have a problem with Pakistan and his excellence (Pakistan’s Ambassador) in Sarajevo,” he said. Radoncic had earlier accused some countries, including Pakistan, of refusing to cooperate on the deportations of migrants. He said that if this turns out to be the case, he would ask the Council of Ministers to declare the Pakistani Ambassador a persona non grata and send him back to his country. However, the Bosniak Presidency member sided with the ambassador. Another reason Radoncic named was “strategic disagreement regarding the ‘ventilator affair’.” Prosecutors named FB&H Prime Minister, Fadil Novalic, a member of the SDA, a suspect in a controversial procurement of 100 ventilators from China by a company that runs a raspberry farm and that has no history in dealing with medical equipment. It turned out that the purchased ventilators were overpriced and unfit for treating COVID-19. The fact that a 10.5 million Bosnian Mark (some 5.3 million Euro) government contract was granted to the raspberry farm sparked outrage in the semi-autonomous Bosnian region. According to prosecutors, experts found that the 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.” The SDA reacted to this immediately, saying that Novalic’s detention represents “a continuous attack on Bosniaks” by the state prosecutor.

Radoncic revealed on Monday that he asked for additional police protection for the Chief Prosecutor, Gordana Tadic, because she and her family received threats online. The SBB leader said he did not want to get into who is to blame for the affair, but argued that he, as security minister, could not accept “nationalist” attacks against B&H’s judiciary. He argued that three prosecutors in the case are Bosniaks and that “turning state prosecutors, police officers and courts into targets” was something he could not tolerate as security minister. The third reason he stated was that he feels the relations within the coalition will not improve. “Citizens expect results and the Council of Ministers is practically a hostage of the relations between the SDA, the HDZ and the SNSD,” he said, referring to the three main ethnic parties in B&H. He added that he decided to wait for the pandemic to be over and for his deputy to be named before he announces his resignation.

 

US Embassy in B&H says fight against corruption is of outmost importance (N1)

 

The US Embassy to B&H stated: “The fight against corruption is of vital importance for the citizens and future of B&H. Police and prosecutors have a responsibility to act professionally, without political influence, and in accordance with the law to investigate corruption allegations. At the same time, threats and pressures against police and prosecutors are unacceptable.”

 

RS parliament discusses B&H HoR’s resolution on respect for victims of fascist regimes and movements (RTRS)

 

At a special session in Banja Luka on Monday, the RS parliament discussed the information on the resolution on respect for victims of fascist regimes and movements, which was recently adopted by the B&H House of Representatives (HoR). The ruling coalition’s request for the special session reads that the resolution is a disgraceful attempt of historical revisionism, which is a dangerous act that should not have been supported by representatives of SDS and PDP in the B&H HoR, since everyone is obliged to cherish the values of the antifascist struggle of the Serb people. During the session, Head of the RS SNSD Caucus Igor Zunic stressed that the RS parliament should reject this document unanimously, warning that it is aimed at historical revisionism and marginalization of sufferings of Serbs in WWII. Just like in the case of Jasenovac, genocide against Serbs is not recognized at all, he said. “The RS parliament and institutions of the RS should not allow historical revisionism through political institutions of B&H. The nature of WWII and sufferings of Serbs are too important for our ethnic awareness and identity,” Zunic stressed. RS parliament speaker Nedeljko Cubrilovic assessed that the resolution should not have been adopted with support of the Serb representatives in the B&H HoR. He deems that this document does not meet the basic requirements of truth and justice and it only favors petty political interests. “The abovementioned resolution of the B&H HoR contains unnecessary and false symmetry of glorifying the contribution to the victory of some people and eliminating the criminal responsibility of other people. This is the main problem of the resolution, and not the intention to pay respect to victims of the Ustashas’ Independent State of Croatia (NDH),” Cubrilovic stressed. SNSD leader Milorad Dodik warned that the resolution is a “set-up by political Sarajevo” and humiliation of the Serb victims, while its nature is evident in the name condemning fascist regimes and movements, although NDH was the only fascist creation on the territory of B&H back then. He stressed that the fact that it does not mention genocide against Serbs in NDH actually proves that it continues the policy of the communist regime that was aimed at hiding the truth about sufferings of Serbs. “When we talk about this resolution, as far as B&H and Sarajevo are concerned, the case is about Croats and Muslims’ separation and symbolical demarcation of the territory of B&H, where Muslims would be presented as the main actors in the antifascist struggle and antifascism nowadays, which is not true, of course. This is not a historical truth. The resolution on respect for victims of fascist regimes and movements should certainly be rejected as untrue. Its implementation in the RS should be prohibited as well,” Dodik stressed. SP RS leader Petar Djokic stressed that adoption of the resolution actually verified “historical injustice and incorrect historical facts”, which should not have happened at all. SPS leader Goran Selak warned that the resolution is aimed at relativizing the sacrifice of the Serb people in NDH during WWII, while genocide and serious crimes are not mentioned at all. United Srpska leader Nenad Stevandic assessed that the resolution treats antifascism as some sort of a new achievement of Bosniaks. NDP leader Dragan Cavic said that he would never vote in favor of the resolution if he was a representative in the B&H HoR. He argued that the mass for Bleiburg is not mentioned or condemned in the resolution at all. On the other hand, the leaders of SDS and PDP explained that the aim of the resolution was to condemn the mass for Bleiburg in Sarajevo, particularly the role of the Croatian Parliament in the organization of this event. They assessed as “disgraceful” that only representatives of SNSD and HDZ B&H in the B&H HoR did not vote for the resolution. SDS leader Mirko Sarovic explained that SDS voted in favor of the resolution because “it condemns organizing, transferring and identifying Bleiburg with Sarajevo – and this is the point of this resolution”. PDP leader Branislav Borenovic stated: “No matter how you interpret this, the B&H HoR that includes the elected representatives from the RS showed its strength to condemn this mass and disgraceful glorification of the so-called victims of Bleiburg.” RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic said that the resolution is detrimental because of the announcements that it will be sent to the European Parliament and the European institutions. She assessed that everything adopted by the RS parliament would be undermined in that case. RS Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic assessed that the resolution is not a good message for Serbs in B&H, explaining that the truth is the only way to achieve reconciliation. “On the other hand, documents of this kind contribute to the lack of trust and cause unnecessary tensions,” Viskovic said.

 

IC Ambassadors in B&H hosted another meeting on Mostar elections, but no agreement was reached (Dnevni avaz)

 

The international community (IC) in B&H increased efforts towards finding of the political solution for holding of elections in the City of Mostar and during the last week the meeting took place, which besides the key ambassadors of the IC, was attended by SDA and HDZ B&H leaders and representatives of local boards of two parties Bakir Izetbegovic and Dragan Covic, as well as Salem Maric and Slaven Zeljko respectively. Daily learns that unfortunately, despite the efforts of the IC the final agreement was not reached and learns that another similar meeting will take place soon. According to daily’s information, the agreement was not reached because Covic still deems that the issue of the City of Mostar needs to be discussed in a package with other “issues that bother Croats”. Also, in the story about two models for election of councilors for the City Council, which was agreed by representatives of nine political parties, HDZ B&H finds unacceptable the proposal of SDA regarding the changes of Statue of the City, which stipulate introducing the post of a Deputy Mayor.

 

Commercial flights in B&H to resume as of Tuesday (FTV)

 

Airports across B&H are to reopen for commercial flights as of midnight on Monday. Flights are to resume in reduced capacity and with measures in place aimed to help curb the spread of coronavirus. Airports in Sarajevo, Mostar and Tuzla are to resume work. B&H’s borders have been opened to all its neighboring countries. Spokesperson of the Border Police Franka Vican confirmed that with the decision of the B&H Council of Ministers which was rendered on 28 May, Serbian, Montenegrin and Croatian nationals have been allowed to enter B&H. FTV covers border crossings and concludes that an increase of traffic has been marked at border crossings.

 

Another 11 coronavirus cases and three deaths due to Covid-19 in B&H (N1)

 

Health authorities in B&H reported another 11 confirmed coronavirus cases across the country in the past 24 hours and the RS reported that three more people died due to Covid-19. According to RS health authorities, eight more coronavirus cases were confirmed since Monday. Three more were reported in the FB&H. The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in B&H so far is 2,534 of the 66,722 people tested. A total of 157 people died due to Covid-19 in B&H, while 1,919 recovered.

 

No new Covid-19 cases in Croatia, 92.5 pct of all patients have recovered (N1)

 

In the last 24 hours, there has been no new case of the infection with coronavirus in Croatia, and the Covid-19 crisis management team on Tuesday reported 11 more recoveries. Since the start of the epidemic in Croatia on 25 February, a total of 2,246 people have tested positive and of them, 2,088 have recovered to date. The authorities have registered to date 103 deaths connected with Covid-19. Currently, there are 17 patients treated in hospitals for this infection, and of them four are placed on ventilators. The healthcare authorities have conducted 67.297, including 602 in the last 24 hours.

 

Brajovic: Opposition demonstrates lack of responsibility by failing to participate in the meeting (RTCG)

 

Montenegrin parliament speaker Ivan Brajovic said that he wanted agreement on the second round of talks between governing coalition and opposition to be reached during yesterday’s meeting. Leaders of the opposition parties have rejected the call. “Their failure to attend the meeting tells about responsibility of one side and irresponsibility of the other,” Brajovic said. Brajovic has scheduled the meeting expecting to come to a constructive solution with the aim of improving election environment in lead-up to the parliamentary elections in fall.

 

Montenegro to declare end to the coronavirus epidemic (CDM)

 

Montenegro hasn’t reported any new coronavirus case for 27 days, which means that Montenegro will officially declare end to the epidemic today. Analysis of 86 samples yesterday has shown zero coronavirus cases, Institute for Public Health has reported.

There are no active cases of coronavirus in Montenegro.

 

Lockdown possible in some municipalities (MIA)

 

All analyses have shown that the virus’ spread is not uncontrolled. We discussed a possible enforcement of additional restrictive measures, but we agreed on seeing data over the next 2-3 days and then decide. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior should work more intensively on implementation of the measures already in force, said Health Minister Venko Filipche on Monday. Filipche clarified that the additional restrictive measures relate to lockdown in certain places with a higher number of cases. “One of the main problems we are facing is the poor cooperation with certain citizens, who reject testing or reporting to hospitals even when having symptoms,” said Filipche and added that everyone should observe recommendations and provide complete and true information to the authorities. According to him, the curfew was cancelled based on the analysis and assessment of the new cases but also considering its duration. “A large portion of the new cases are practically people were were infected during the curfew, namely through gatherings and failure to wear masks. We eventually had to relax restrictions but we are closely monitoring developments and if needed, the Commission will recommend a lockdown in certain places. I must say that a vast majority of the new cases say they have not observed the measures of social distancing and wearing of masks,” noted Filipche.

 

Xhaferi: State of emergency cannot last indefinitely (MIA/Slobodna TV)

 

Party leaders must show responsibility towards finding a solution, as the state of emergency in the country cannot last indefinitely, parliament speaker Talat Xhaferi told Slobodna TV on Monday. “In regard to the current situation, I have said that we must not be surprised if we come to a situation to hold elections even during the state of emergency, because the appropriate institutions need to be set up. We cannot live in a state of emergency indefinitely,” Xhaferi said.

Commenting on the legal aspects of why the parliament cannot reconvene, Xhaferi said that because of the ambiguity about the duration of the situation, and things were being resolved ad hoc in the absence of a plan. “I don’t feel like a winner, and my goal was not to come out victorious over everyone else. But a lot of precedents have been set in these three decades, and I don’t think we have to set precedents because it will cost us dearly in the future. An example of a precedent is when we consider that parliament can be dissolved and reconvene when necessary. The Constitution allows shortening the term for early elections. And in such a situation, a political decision is made for one action. We created a situation six months in advance by setting an election date and did not leave any opportunity for evaluations. We did not learn the lesson. Since 18 March, after the first state of emergency was declared, we have not had any strategy for way out from this situation and the state of emergency cannot last indefinitely,” Xhaferi said, underlining the experts’ opinions that Covid-19 situation may be even worse in the coming period. In regard to the remarks of the opposition that the work of the Commission for Infectious Diseases was questioned due party affiliation of epidemiologists, he said that commission members are experts and they should be left to do their job, as not every action can be political. “Everyone has the right to be associated to their party or ideology, but what matters is their expertise. They follow the trends, none of their findings are different from the trends,” Xhaferi said. Talking about some of the exit solutions, he pointed out that it is possible that the voting will take place in a few days. “If the predictions say that this situation will be in the next few years, with an unclear situation, then at the moment a consensus can be reach that on election day, infected people will not to be able to exercise their right to vote or to vote at home. There are mechanisms for that,” he said. Xhaferi believed that it is feasible elections to be held in a several days. “It should be done by adopting a decree. That is one of the solutions. The experts should give a consensus and a mechanism for the way of voting,” he said. Xhaferi said that the political parties should communicate urging them to show responsibility. “They are representatives of the citizens. I appeal to everyone who has taken responsibility to make decisions, to bring the situation to an end and to decide on election day when the citizens will be able to vote for new institutions. There was enough time for all of us to understand that the situation is serious and taking into account the experts’ opinion that in the future this situation may only get worse, and therefore in such situations we should take some of the risk,” Xhaferi noted. According to him, in the end, the institutions should take the responsibility to implement issues in the interest of the citizens.

 

Still early to reopen borders, says Filipche (MIA)

 

Health Minister Venko Filipche told a news conference Monday that it’s still too early to reopen borders, adding that authorities are monitoring the situation and will base all future decisions on available data. “I think it’s still too early to reopen borders, as that will also pose a risk on neighboring countries. Travel increases chances for importing new cases from abroad. Therefore, we’ll analyze data before reaching a decision on the matter,” Filipche said. “This morning” he added, “we concluded that it’s still too early to open discussion, but we have a whole week ahead of us.” The Minister underlined that the decision to reopen borders can’t be rushed. “Neighboring countries will also refer to data. I scheduled this morning another call with the Bulgarian [Health] Minister by the end of the week,” Filipche told reporters.

 

Bulgaria lifts quarantine for arrivals from EU, Serbia and North Macedonia (MIA)

 

Quarantine for people who arrived to Bulgaria from the EU, Serbia and North Macedonia between 20 and 31 May and who have not been in contact with COVID-19 patients is lifted under an order by Health Minister Kiril Ananiev on Monday. Quarantine remains in place for all individuals who entered Bulgaria between 20 and 31 May from Sweden, the UK, Northern Ireland, Belgium, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Malta and Italy. In addition, all third countries arrivals with the exception of Serbia and North Macedonia are placed under a 14-day quarantine.

 

Macedonia daily has more patients than the whole Balkans together, and the government is only talking about elections (Republika)

 

Macedonia daily has more patients than the whole Balkans together, and the government is only talking about elections Instead of giving proposals for new measures to protect the population from the coronavirus, SDSM leader Zoran Zaev is only talking about elections, VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski said at Tuesday’s press conference. Macedonia daily has more patients every day than the whole Balkans together, and what is the government doing, we have not heard a single new protocol, we have not heard a single new measure, but the only thing we hear is elections, elections, said Mickoski. Mickoski added that he is not afraid of going to the polls, but the only thing he fears is of losing lives. After we protect the health of the citizens, after we defeat this pandemic caused by the Covid- 19 virus, Zaev will experience an election debacle, added Mickoski.

 

EU’s Varhelyi: Important to ensure fair and free elections; EC’s enlargement package postponed until autumn (MIA)

 

EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Oliver Varhelyi told Tuesday’s press conference that he will discuss with the North Macedonia’s authorities on ensuring sufficient time for campaigning and freedom of elections, MIA’s Brussels correspondent reported. “I have seen the announcement of the government their intent to hold elections early July and I need to look into the details and at this stage what I can tell you is that free and fair elections would have to be hold with sufficient time for campaigning and sufficient possibilities for all political parties to campaign. We need to also look into how under the COVID-19 regimes this can be implemented. So, this is something that we will take up with the North Macedonia’s authorities for sure, because it is very important to ensure fully fairness and freedom of elections,” Varhelyi said. Varhelyi said that the negotiating frameworks for North Macedonia and Albania will be published in “a couple of days” and that the European Commission’s goal is to get negotiating frameworks on the table of the Council of the European Union hopefully next week. He announced that the European Commission’s enlargement package has been postponed until autumn.

 

Over 60 new COVID-19 cases registered in North Macedonia, one patient dies (MIA)

 

Over 60 new COVID-19 cases have been registered in North Macedonia in the past 24 hours and one patient has passed away, the Institute for Public Health told MIA on Tuesday. It added that majority of new cases are registered in Skopje. Health Minister Venko Filipche is set to hold a press conference at 15:00 to inform the public on the latest Covid-19 developments in North Macedonia.

 

Electoral Reform/The ambassadors of US, EU and GB meet with Basha (Radio Tirana)

 

The failure to reach a consensus on electoral reform has set in motion the ambassadors of the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom to Tirana. The three ambassadors started a meeting at the headquarters of the Democratic Party with the chairman of this political force, Lulzim Basha. Yuri Kim, Luigi Soreca and Duncan Norman are trying to persuade the DP leader to find a consensus on approving the reform. The meeting lasted 60 minutes. After the meeting, the ambassadors of the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom did not comment the meeting with the leader of the opposition.

 

President pushes for completion of Electoral Reform at earliest (ADN)

 

President of the Republic, Ilir Meta received this Monday the Ambassador of Austria, Christian Steiner, on the occasion of the presentation of the Credential Letters.

President Meta wished Mr. Steiner success in his mission in Albania, for the benefit of further strengthening the excellent relations between our two countries and peoples. President expressed his gratitude for the support that Austria continues to give to the process of European integration of Albania. In this context, the Head of State stressed the importance of constructive engagement of each institutional actor in the obligations it has to implement the 15 priorities of the EU, which condition the process of the membership negotiations, including the completion of electoral reform in the Political Council as soon as possible and its approval in Parliament, in accordance with OSCE/ODIHR recommendations. “The consensual fulfillment of the electoral reform, as well as the credible progress on all 15 priorities of the EU, would also help Austria to have more arguments in favor of Albania in the context of the EU debate,” said Meta. The Head of State thanked in particular Ambassador Steiner for the aid and assistance provided by the Austrian authorities after the tragic earthquake that hit our country last November, as well as the assistance for coping with the Covid-19 Pandemic. President Meta praised the effective bilateral cooperation between law enforcement agencies of our two countries, and encouraged their further strengthening. President expressed satisfaction for the positive trend in bilateral economic and trade exchanges, praised the Austrian assistance in professional education, and asked that the excellent experience of the professional high school of Shkodra be extended even further in our country.

 

Kosovo imposes 22 € disinfection tax on Albanian lorries (Tirana Times)

 

Dozens of Albanian trucks carrying goods to Kosovo were faced with a 22 € disinfection tax at the border checkpoint between the two countries. Long queues of both goods and personal vehicles coming from Albania were seen at the Morina checkpoint as the Kosovo Police stated that the fee was required to disinfect the trucks as a measure against the coronavirus. Citizens with private vehicles were asked for a certificate proving they have been tested for coronavirus, which if not provided, would let to them being subject to a one-week quarantine in Kosovo. This caused confusion for the travelers who were unaware of such conditions, and who claimed that the government had not officially announced them in regard to Albania. The situation came at a time when Albania recently opened its land borders to all neighboring countries and has begun to receive the first tourists from Kosovo. Although no official announcement was made on the matter, Faik Hoti hinted earlier that this could happen after he said that Albania could open the border unilaterally because “each state decides on its own borders.” The situation at the border checkpoint sparked several reactions from citizens which were left confused and dissatisfied. As a result, the Ministry later clarified that the disinfection of trucks was foreseen in the framework of measures to combat the pandemic of Covid-19, but added that importers no longer need to disinfect the trucks at border crossings. Similar to Albania, Kosovo opened its land borders for its neighboring countries on Monday. Although Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti spoke of a health certificate requirement for those entering the country and a one-week quarantine, specifics were not made regarding Albanian citizens nor about a disinfection tax, hence the citizens’ confusion.

In Albania 21 new COVID-19 cases (Tirana Times)

 

Twenty-one new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of infected patients to 1164 in Albania. A total of 14 new cases were identified in Tirana, three in Kruja, one in Durres, one in Shkodra, one in Kamza and one in Mallakaster.

So far, tests have been conducted on more than 16,500 people. A total of 27 patients are being treated at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, four of whom are in intensive care. Moreover, 76 percent of patients who tested positive for the coronavirus in Albania have now recovered.

The death toll remains at 33 victims. Currently there are 240 active cases in Albania.

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Chinese medical experts awarded by Serbia for assistance in fighting COVID-19

(Xinhua, 2 June 2020)

 

BELGRADE — Another three members of a six-strong Chinese expert medical team to Serbia were awarded on Monday with military memorial medals for their assistance in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The medals were awarded by Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin to the three members, who arrived on May 4 to replace their colleagues. Following the award ceremony, Cheng Shouzhen, a member of the Chinese medical team, said the team has toured many places in Serbia, such as COVID-19 hospitals, elderly care facilities, and child care centers. “We shared our experience gained in China and especially in Wuhan. We openly exchanged suggestions and opinions in line with the current epidemiological situation about treatment of patients, abolition of the state of emergency, gradual return to work and restarting production, as well as opening borders,” she said. Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo congratulated the country on excellent response to COVID-19, adding that the joint battle against the pandemic strengthened ties between the two countries. “The Chinese expert medical team to Serbia became a symbol of the friendship between our two countries,” Chen said. Defense Minister Vulin thanked the Chinese experts for their help. “We learned from you as doctors, but also as human beings. You have demonstrated discipline, endurance and diligence,” he said.

The Chinese medical expert team has been assisting Serbia in fighting the COVID-19 since March 21. On May 6, Serbia lifted the state of emergency, and opened borders for passengers recently.

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