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Belgrade Media Report 24 June 2020

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Wednesday 24 June 2020

LOCAL PRESS

Vucic attends Military Parade in Moscow (RTS/Tanjug)
Vucic after meeting Putin: “We discussed issues I cannot talk about in public” (B92)
Vucic with Putin on Kosovo and Metohija: Russia respects Serbia’s stands (RTS/Tanjug)
Brnabic: Serbia appreciates EU’s efforts to resolve Kosovo issue (Tanjug)
Godfrey: US is offering Belgrade and Pristina a chance (Danas)
Serbian opposition agrees – parliament illegitimate (Beta)
Another 143 cases (RTS)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Sattler meets B&H parliament Commission for EU Integration (FTV)
Oslobodjenje interview with B&H Presidency member Komsic (Oslobodjenje)
Dodik arrives in Moscow for Victory Day parade (RTRS)
RS Crisis HQ extends protection measures by 6 July (BHT1)
B&H records 88 new Covid-19 patients, no new fatalities (N1)
Croatia

Plenkovic: 5 July remains election date (Hina)
War, missing, Croatian minority’s status remain in focus of Serbia-Croatia relations (Hina)
Bozinovic: Border regime with B&H and Serbia likely to be changed (Hina)
Croatia reports 22 new Covid-19 cases, a total of 2,388 (N1)
Montenegro

Tensions in Budva continue: Police stand guard in front of the Municipal building (CDM/RTV Budva)
Nuhodzic: Montenegrin institutions will act decisively and strongly to prevent violence (CDM)
Markovic: Montenegro has proven to be the most promising and closest to EU membership (CDM)
Institute for Public Health confirms five new coronavirus cases (CDM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Dimitrov: Let’s give Berlin a good argument to help us (MIA)
Roth: W. Balkans to remain an important issue during Germany’s EU presidency (MIA)
Borders to reopen Friday, airports to start operating as of 1 July (MIA)
PM: Opening of borders not a political decision, based on Commission’s opinion (MIA)
North Macedonia reports 136 new Covid-19 cases, 43 patients recover, 8 die (MIA)
Albania

Bushati urges Presevo Valley to unite for national identity (ADN)
Rama: Albania doesn’t have to meet 15 conditions (ADN)
Calavera: There are not 15 conditions to open the first round of talks, they must be met in the future after the opening of talks (Radio Tirana)
Rama in his capacity as OSCE Chairperson-in-Office addressed the 2020 Annual Security Conference (Radio Tirana)
Albania ends state of emergency but some restrictions remain (ADN)
Covid-19 Safety protocol for public transport published (ADN)
In Albania 67 new Covid-19 cases (Tirana Times)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

Meeting with President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic (The Kremlin)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic attends Military Parade in Moscow (RTS/Tanjug)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic attended today the Military Parade marking the 75th anniversary of the victory over fascism in the Second World War, at the invitation of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. Putin said in his address that the Soviet people had borne the greatest burden of the war bringing Nazism down to the knees, but that it was the duty of all to maintain this truth. “I congratulate you on the 75th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War, the victory that determined the future of the planet. It has always remained in history as the most grandiose in its size and significance and by its spiritual and moral heights. It has remained in history as a victory of good over evil, peace over war, and life over death,” said Putin. Vucic saluted the echelon of the Serbian Army Guard, which took part in today’s parade on Red Square in Moscow. “I am exceptionally proud of our unit, of our guardsmen, who were brilliant. It is an incredible feeling when you stand on Red Square, and the Serbian flag and the Serbian army pass by. It is a unique feeling of pride, and it must be experienced,” said Vucic. He pointed out that Serbia will continue to preserve the truth and admiration for all victims of fascism. “It is important that we hereby present our concern in preserving the truth about the Second World War, about the struggle of our nations against fascism, and that we show high respect for our victims. The Serbian people was one of the most suffering nations in the World War II,” said Vucic. Following the end of the army parade on Red Square, Vucic, together with Putin and the heads of delegations, laid flowers at the monument to the Unknown Hero in the Aleksandr Garden. “I spoke with President Putin on several occasions, and he was an exceptional host. It is a good feeling, and it is particularly great when you see that he received only the President of Uzbekistan and me, as the President of Serbia, for a bilateral visit. That is an honour for Serbia. Thank you to our Russian friends and President Putin,” said Vucic at the end of his two-day visit to Russia.

 

Vucic after meeting Putin: “We discussed issues I cannot talk about in public” (B92)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met on Monday with Vladimir Putin, afterwards, he conveyed his impressions from the meeting. He announced Putin’s arrival in Serbia, adding that the Russian President was too wise to warn him directly about the upcoming meetings that await the President of Serbia. “We really had a good conversation and some things you can’t talk about publicly. I am grateful to President Putin for the warm reception, he congratulated me in front of the Russian media on a convincing victory in the elections,” he said, announcing “good news for Serbia.” He also spoke about the upcoming meetings before leaving for Washington. “On Thursday evening, I will be with Ursula von der Leyen and Varhelyi. On Friday, I will be with Charles Michel and, I hope, with Tusk. Of course, Lajcak as well. Then, I’m heading to the airport and to Washington,” Vucic emphasized. “Serbia is proudly upright, but small country. It must take care of avoiding making enemies, that is my opinion,” Vucic said. He denied that the US President would attend the meeting. “I don’t believe that will happen. Trump might appear if some kind of solution is reached,” he said. “If we do not show up, we have isolated and destroyed our country. When we show up, we must protect the national interest,” Vucic said, referring once again to allegations of recognizing Kosovo’s independence ahead of Vidovdan, which are now hushed. He answered questions about the recent elections and the turnout. “I think that’s a bad message. You have to show respect to the people. You say that the turnout of 50 percent is low at the time of the coronavirus… Those who are always looking for a mistake in the people, and not in themselves, are terribly wrong,” he said. He denied allegations that the new convocation of the parliament will be without opposition. “I read those headlines ‘Serbian parliament without opposition’ which are stupid. How do you know that, how can anyone know that?” Vucic wondered. He also spoke about the Serbian diaspora in Russia. “I am most happy when Serbs are in Serbia. We will see to it that they return to Serbia. In Russia, I see the best chances for our citizens in Sochi. We have room for it in the future, but we must grew stronger. The Russian market is the hardest”, Vucic concluded.

 

Vucic with Putin on Kosovo and Metohija: Russia respects Serbia’s stands (RTS/Tanjug)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has stated that he had with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin an outstanding conversation on all vital political issues, and above all on Kosovo and Metohija and the overall situation in the region and the world. “We discussed all ideas in the world and the ways for resolving the Kosovo problem, and, if I may say so, Putin has voiced his opinion in a wise manner, primarily, respecting Serbia’s stands. Russia respects Serbia and there is no doubt about that,” Vucic replied to a journalist question as to whether the Russia President had advised him how to position himself further on regarding the resolving of the Kosovo issue on the international scene. He adds that it was important to him to hear Putin’s stands and thoughts regarding the Kosovo and Metohija issue. “Putin is too wise and great to do it so directly, but can he point to some things smartly and I am grateful to him for that,” said Vucic. Following the meeting, Vucic pointed out that he was very grateful to Putin for the attention he paid to our country, and that relations between our two countries were very close. “We had a very cordial and very good conversation, and I am quite satisfied with its content. We discussed all the key issues, political – especially the ones related to Kosovo and Metohija – but also the entire regional situation and relations in the world. In addition to the political ties – which are very close between our two countries – I received specific advice, but also high-grade analyses from President Putin,” stressed Vucic and underlined that Putin confirmed his arrival in Serbia in October for the opening of Saint Sava Temple which speaks of our good relations.

“Our economic cooperation is sound; in the first three months, despite the coronavirus, we had an increase in our trade exchange of seven per cent year-on-year, which is virtually unimaginable. We also talked about what else we can do within our economic cooperation and a large project carried out by Russian railways in our country, but also about new opportunities for cooperation in the future,” said the President. He added that they also discussed military-technical cooperation between the two countries, as well as the construction of the pipeline and timeframe of the first gas flow through Serbia. “There are issues you can never talk about publicly, but I expect further strengthening of trust and even better cooperation in the future. I am grateful to Putin for his kind words and warm hospitality,” said Vucic and conveyed that Putin had expressed open congratulations on, as he said, convincing victory in the elections.

The President noted that at the Military Parade marking the 75th anniversary of the victory over fascism in the World War II which he will attend, members of the Serbian Army will also take part. “We will be proud when the lads with the Serbian flag march in Moscow,” he said and stressed that the Serbian people, in proportion to the number of its population, are the fifth or sixth nation in the world that suffered most during the war, and that we can be proud of that and not allow history to be falsified.

 

Brnabic: Serbia appreciates EU’s efforts to resolve Kosovo issue (Tanjug)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic met with EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and other regional issues of the Western Balkans Miroslav Lajcak. Brnabic emphasized that Serbia is always committed to the dialogue and that it is ready for the continuation of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina under the auspices of the European Union, noting that our country appreciates all the efforts of the EU in resolving this very important issue. She assessed that the readiness for the implementation of the Brussels agreement to be on the dialogue agenda is a positive signal and hope that the dialogue will continue in good faith. Brnabic thanked Lajcak for his readiness and commitment to fully engage and help Belgrade and Pristina find a lasting solution, emphasizing that Serbia’s European path and the continuation of reforms, as well as cooperation in the region, will be a priority for the next government. Speaking about the foreign policy orientation of the country, she pointed out that the first message of President Vucic, after the parliamentary elections, is the acceleration of Serbia’s European path and reform processes. Lajcak expressed the expectation that the talks would continue in July, and added that the intention is to work on making progress and reaching a final and comprehensive agreement between Belgrade and Pristina. The EU Special Representative confirmed that the EU will insist on the implementation of all previous agreements, assessing that dialogue is a platform for resolving all open issues. He pointed out that the readiness of the EU to mediate in the talks between Belgrade and Pristina is an important indicator of the importance of the Western Balkans region, and that its stability, prosperity and European perspective are high on the EU agenda.

 

Godfrey: US is offering Belgrade and Pristina a chance (Danas)

 

US Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey has stated that the meeting between Belgrade and Pristina representatives on 27 June in Washington D.C. represents a chance for the two sidesbto open doors to new economic development and investments, stressing that he is certainly optimistic when it comes to this meeting. Godfrey told Danas that the US hopes Belgrade and Pristina representatives will use this chance to return to dialogue and to commence a new era of stability and prosperity.  “The people in this region does not deserve anything less than that,” said Godfrey.

 

Serbian opposition agrees – parliament illegitimate (Beta)

 

The Serbian opposition agrees that annulling what it says are irregular elections and beginning preparations for a free and fair election is accordance with practices in other Western Balkan countries is the only way for Serbia not to fall into an abyss and become like North Korea, Belarus or Turkmenistan. A statement released by the Alliance for Serbia (SzS) said that for over a year now the bloc had been telling Serbian citizens, the regime, but European representatives as well, that there are no conditions for holding a fair and free election in the country and that the situation with the media along with blackmail and pressure on voters were the key arguments for that. “On 21 June the entire world was able to see how election day looks like in Serbia. The result is a completely illegitimate parliament without a single opposition party in it, which is unprecedented in Europe and among candidate states seeking membership in the EU,” the statement on 23 June said. The SzS said that this was why statements by a large number of international officials that there was no election in Serbia and that the 21 June election were a mockery of democracy, were logical.

 

Another 143 cases (RTS)

 

Until 3pm there have another 143 cases, in total 13,235 infected. There have been no deaths, in total 263 deaths. The number of active cases is 861. There are 21 patients on respirators.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Sattler meets B&H parliament Commission for EU Integration (FTV)

 

Members of the Joint Commission of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) parliament for EU Integration and Head of the EU Delegation to B&H and Special Representative of EU Johann Sattler met on Tuesday. They discussed the 14 priorities highlighted by the European Commission in its Opinion on the B&H request for the EU candidacy. Sattler called on B&H MPs to accelerate their work on the key priorities set by the EU for B&H. Members of the Commission are not united on their stance whether B&H is making progress on the EU path.

Deputy President of the Commission Lazar Prodanovic said that they discussed the establishment of the Board for Stabilization and Association and the Joint Collegium of the B&H Parliament will discuss this on Thursday. Member of the Commission Sasa Magazinovic believes that foreign diplomats in B&H should work to make B&H more European instead of B&H ˝Balkanizing˝ them. ˝We all see that the authorities are not functioning, that institutions are not fulfilling their obligations and with that, one cannot expect much progress on the EU path. The discussion was interesting. The essence of the story is that in B&H, institutions are weak at the expense of strong leaders said member of the Commission Mladen Bosic.

 

Oslobodjenje interview with B&H Presidency member Komsic (Oslobodjenje)

 

The daily carried a lengthy interview with member of the B&H Presidency and DF leader Zeljko Komsic. At the very beginning Komsic dismissed accusations against him of not being “a legitimate representative of Croats”, saying that he pays no attention to HDZ B&H vocabulary, but he did criticize the fact that left-orientated parties are using the same vocabulary. Asked about the fact that HDZ B&H and SNSD leaders Dragan Covic and Milorad Dodik respectively, are disputing legitimacy and legality of appointed members of B&H Central Election Commission (B&H CEC), Komsic dismissed this and stated that this is the language of HDZ B&H and SNSD policies, adding that part of political and media scene falls for this language and that even those who do not agree with HDZ B&H and SNSD fall for this story and adopt this terminology. Komsic underlined that this is a direct consequence of “neglect of politics of Bosnian political spectrum” and “we” need to fight to find new language for old and new political processes. “I repeat, all that is in line with laws and Constitution of B&H is legitimate, including B&H CEC,” said Komsic. He noted that HDZ B&H and SNSD are not only nervous because of the new composition of B&H CEC, but the fact is that they lost their privileges, as “for the HDZ it is unacceptable for dead people not to vote and for SNSD it is politically unacceptable for them not to print the ballots”. He dismissed accusations of him having control over B&H CEC because the new composition includes his former advisor (Zeljko Bakalar), arguing that there are six more members and this body is now more democratic than it ever was. Komsic stressed that nobody was raising this issue of control over B&H CEC when B&H CEC was proposing changes to Election Law, which seemed as written by Covic and which were not in line with Constitution, but they (DF, SDP, NS and SBB B&H) had to schedule press conferences to explain that those changes would deepen the discrimination and would lead to ethnic division of the state. Besides, Komsic stressed, his Cabinet employs also people who are not members of any parties. Asked whether B&H CEC can be composed of non-partisan candidates, Komsic said: “It can, but honestly speaking, it should be first abandoned by those close to parties who announce dissolution, secession on a daily basis and who are working on this and who have never given up nor they will. We have different scenario here. The pressure is for such people to stay and naïve individuals think they will not stand against the state. They will if they can. If they cannot, they will not”. Speaking about the budget, Komsic expressed discontent with the sum provided for local elections, saying that the proponent (Council of Ministers) should be asked where this sum came from and whether it is sufficient. Further on, Komsic criticized decrease of funds for Defense Ministry of B&H, i.e. the funds important because of continuation of NATO path: “Answers to these two questions will determine my stance, as well as vote pro or contra the draft state budget”. Asked about ‘Mostar Agreement’, Komsic said that agreement is rather fair and the first step has to be the change of Election Law, which would define the method of election of city councilors. However, he said that he is rather certain that when the issue of Mostar comes to the agenda of the B&H Parliament, HDZ B&H will start with blackmails and insist on adoption of changes that refer to elections for House of Peoples and B&H Presidency. “The question will be raised then how will SDA react? Whether they will succumb to HDZ blackmails or not” said Komsic and noted that this is important because SDA- HDZ B&H- SNSD alone have the majority to adopt the changes and without SDA this would be impossible. In the end, he dismissed the accusations of him being responsible and obstacle to uniting of left-orientated parties, stressing that he does not care for leadership and he is “only interested not to allow the enemies of this state to divide it and destroy it now and they have not done it in 1992 and 1995”.

 

Dodik arrives in Moscow for Victory Day parade (RTRS)

 

Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik and famous Serbian film director Emir Kusturica arrived in Moscow on Tuesday at the invitation of President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Dodik and Kusturica will attend the Victory Day parade which will take place on the Red Square in Moscow on Wednesday. On this occasion, RTRS carried an exclusive interview with Dodik and Kusturica. Dodik said that he is glad that again this year he received an invitation from Putin to attend the Victory Day parade in specific circumstances, explaining that he previously received an invitation to attend the Victory Day Parade in Moscow on May 9, but that this event had to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. “I expect both the parade and everything else surrounding the activities related to World War II to rehabilitate the old, true values and oppose revision, which we are faced with too, as it was through the declaration, resolution that was adopted in the B&H Parliament where the people who survived genocide – the Serb people – were placed on the third place of victims of fascism in B&H which is incorrect and a kind of revision” Dodik said. Dodik noted that Russia had a decisive role in the collapse of fascism in Europe. “Now, history is being written differently in the West and one is trying to put the role of the Soviet Union and the Red Army into negative context. That is why I believe President Putin and the Russian state are trying through the parade and remembrance to oppose that kind of revision that is nefarious” Dodik underlined. Dodik stressed that communists in former Yugoslavia minimized the suffering of Serbs in World War II. “They concealed the suffering of our people through the platitude victims of fascism. That would mean that all suffered equally, both Muslims of that time, Croats of that time and so on. However, that is not the case. The truth is that precisely members of that people in the area of B&H, Bosniaks, earlier Muslims, and Croats belonged to the movement that killed Serbs. That is something that we Serbs have to explain in an adequate way, but not to us, this is clear to us, but precisely to those who are now trying to carry out a revision,” Dodik stressed. Dodik emphasized that few people know that 500,000 Serbs were killed in Jasenovac. “Few people outside the region know that… That is why it is necessary to do everything to rehabilitate those events in terms of the facts. Because, simply, if that goes into oblivion, then descendants of those who committed those crimes will simply tell their own story,” Dodik underlined. Kusturica said that Victory Parade, which will be held on the Red Square in Moscow on Wednesday, is a place of real pride. Kusturica underlined that one of the consequences of globalization is revision of history, since the global impression of the existence of small nations is not favorable.

 

RS Crisis HQ extends protection measures by 6 July (BHT1)

 

Deterioration of the epidemiological situation in Republika Srpska (RS) over the last couple of days did not make authorities of the RS strengthen the existing or introduce new restrictive measures. The RS Crisis HQ extended the existing protection measures by 6 July, while the emergency situation is still in force in the RS. Addressing media, RS Minister of Health and Social Protection Alen Seranic explained that the measures primarily refer to mandatory wearing of masks indoors, keeping physical distance, mandatory disinfection, respect for recommendations regarding special businesses, limitation of work of all businesses to 23,00hrs and the prohibition of gathering indoors for up to 50 persons. The City of Banja Luka, that registers the highest number of persons infected with the Coronavirus, did not strengthen protection measures. The City of Banja Luka prohibited visits to nursing homes, while the reduced public transportation still remains in force. Mayor of Banja Luka Igor Radojicic said that inspectors registered total relaxation in the catering service which is why they will strengthen controls in the upcoming days. According to epidemiologists, the reasons for increased number of persons infected with the Covid-19 are gatherings, celebrations and opening of borders as of 1 June as a huge number of infected are persons who came from abroad.

 

B&H records 88 new Covid-19 patients, no new fatalities (N1)

 

Another 88 Covid-19 patients were reported in B&H in the last 24 hours, 44 in each of its two regions, the healthcare authorities of the FB&H and the RS confirmed on Wednesday. No coronavirus-related fatality has been reported since the last update a day ago. According to official statistics, the country’s coronavirus total now stands at 3,676, with 2,279 patients who recovered and 173 fatalities. The FB&H healthcare authorities performed 868 coronavirus tests in the last 24 hours, 50,276 since the epidemic outbreak. With 44 new infections, the region has so far confirmed 1,675 Covid-19 patients. To date, 1,000 patients have recovered and 47 died, leaving 628 active cases in the region. The total of 421 lab tests was performed in RS over the last 24 hours, 34,969 since the epidemic outbreak. The region has so far confirmed 1,975 coronavirus infections, including 44 new patients who tested positive in the last 24 hours. 1,281 patients have recovered to date and 121 died. The Brcko District has seen 26 confirmed Covid-19 patients, of which 16 recovered and five died.

 

Plenkovic: 5 July remains election date (Hina)

 

Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) president Andrej Plenkovic said on Tuesday that 5 July remains to be the date of the parliamentary election and that wise and smart balancing was needed to do good for the economy and protect the public healthcare system. Asked by the press in Rijeka if the election date stayed the same, he said, “Of course it does. I don’t understand how holding the election can even be brought into question.” He said the Electoral Commission was in charge of that. “No spins or, mainly opposition, arguments about some lack of safety. That isn’t so. Croatia today, regardless of 20 or 19 cases, remains one of the three EU countries with the least active Covid-19 cases per million inhabitants and this is the message about Croatia as a safe country.” Plenkovic said he was tested for Covid-19 three times and that he could get tested every day if epidemiologists thought it was necessary. He said experts clearly indicated that Covid-19 was at its lowest intensity during the summer and that everyone was much more skeptical about what the situation in the autumn would be like. “That’s why we decided, thinking of citizens’ health safety, that we need the election and new legitimacy now when the disease is at its lowest intensity so that we can form the government and deal with economic and public health challenges in the autumn.” Plenkovic said the somewhat higher number of infections were localized and that it was necessary to once again increase the protection of hospitals and care facilities. “We have to learn to live with CoviD-19 until there is a vaccine at a global level.”

Plenkovic said another lockdown would result in no revenue or economic activity. “We have to be wise about that and smartly balance to do good for the Croatian economy while protecting the healthcare system.” Asked if measures on the border with Serbia might be tightened, he said the national civil protection authority would see about that. If a large number of infections are confirmed to be originating from a country, Serbia for example, measures at the border can be tightened, he added. Asked about the Slovenian health minister’s statement that he was worried about the daily rise in new infections in Croatia, Plenkovic said Slovenians were among the most numerous tourists in Croatia and that the opening of borders was agreed to with Slovenia before any other country. “It’s normal for the minister of health to follow the situation in other countries, just as we are. I believe we will keep the number of new infections under control and that we will ensure the normal movement of Slovenian citizens in Croatia and Croatian citizens in Slovenia. That’s in the interest of both our countries.”

 

War, missing, Croatian minority’s status remain in focus of Serbia-Croatia relations (Hina)

 

Croatia will continue to insist on solving the issue of persons gone missing in the Homeland War and the equal treatment of minorities in the two states, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman said on Monday, a day after a parliamentary election in Serbia. “There must always be cooperation, talks must always exist, especially because we are neighbors. We have certain outstanding issues, we have 1,892 missing persons we are tracing,” the Croatian Minister told reporters. Asked what kind of cooperation he expected after the landslide election victory of President Aleksandar Vucic‘s Serbian Progressive Party, he said the two countries had “many topics” they could discuss that “the Croatian public must be informed about.” Croatia will continue to work so “the families of the missing and those killed have their satisfaction” said Grlic Radman. “If Serbia has committed, if Serbian politics is credible in terms of commitment to the European journey, then it must prove it.” He reiterated that Croatia would insist that the Croatian minority in Serbia had the same status that the Serb minority had in Croatia. “We supported absolutely all Croatian representatives in the People’s Assembly. Unfortunately, the Serbian side still hasn’t honored the international agreement on the protection of minorities, on fixed representation, so in the period ahead we will work very hard on achieving reciprocity,” he said. “Just as Croatia meets all standards for the protection of minorities, and the Serb minority has seats in the Croatian parliament, we will insist that the same be done in Serbia,” he added.

 

Bozinovic: Border regime with B&H and Serbia likely to be changed (Hina)

 

Croatian Interior Minister and head on the national coronavirus crisis management team Davor Bozinovic on Tuesday announced a new border regime with B&H and Serbia that could include 14 days of compulsory self-isolation. “We are monitoring the epidemiological situation in neighboring countries and the thing that we have noticed in the past few days is that the infections are being brought by people who are coming for the most part from our eastern neighborhood,” Bozinovic told reporters. He underlined that the national coronavirus crisis management team would meet on Wednesday and probably change the current regime at border crossings with Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro as well as the regime concerning citizens of Kosovo and North Macedonia. “We will make a decision tomorrow. You know that they enter into force at midnight the next day, but I would not speculate. We will probably revert to the regime that existed before and that means self-isolation for anyone coming from those countries,” said Bozinovic. He mentioned the case of a Croatian Embassy employee in Belgrade who has been infected with the coronavirus, saying that he did not think the embassy would be closed, although he did not have any concrete information in that regard.

 

Croatia reports 22 new Covid-19 cases, a total of 2,388 (N1)

 

In the last 24 hours, 22 new cases have been reported, so far, a total of 2,388 positive people have been reported on Covid-19. 2,145 people have recovered. One hundred and seven people died. Another 136 people are being treated, the National Staff said. There are no patients on a respirator, and 18 people are being treated in hospital. So far, 73.738 people have been tested, of which 645 in the last 24 hours.

 

Tensions in Budva continue: Police stand guard in front of the Municipal building (CDM/RTV Budva)

 

Police forces are in front of the Municipal building in Budva this morning too. RTV Budva reports that functionaries are expected to arrive soon. Members of the police didn’t allow dismissed presidents of the Municipality of Budva and Municipal Assembly of Budva to enter the building, stating that everybody, even the employees, won’t be allowed to enter until further notice. Acting presidents, Vladimir Bulatovic and Snezana Kuc, said that they wouldn’t come to work until conditions for free access to their jobs were created. Incidents in Budva started when president of Democrats, Aleksa Becic, broke through the security cordon and violently entered the Municipal building.

Nuhodzic: Montenegrin institutions will act decisively and strongly to prevent violence (CDM)

 

Commenting on the latest events in Budva, Montenegrin Interior Minister Mevludin Nuhodzic says that Montenegrin institutions will act decisively and strongly to prevent any form of violence. As for religious processions that are being organized again by the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, the Minister underlines that organizers of public gatherings have a special responsibility, as it’s obvious that measures proposed by health officials haven’t been respected. “These days we are witnessing unpleasant scenes that do not honor both the tradition of Montenegro and its international reputation. I believe that there is no political issue that cannot be resolved in a civilized way. After all, new elections are about to be held, so those who are the most important – citizens – will tell what they think about this all,” Nuhodzic underlines.

He points out that the rules of democracy and election are clear: it’s about the game where not everybody can win, but we all have to abide by the rules and the views of the majority. “I’d like to remind all of them that Montenegro has its institutions, its regulations…and not everybody has to like them, but certainly must comply with them. Let’s prove that we are ready to solve our misunderstandings in a democratic way, by respecting the institutions. I’d hereby like to say loud and clear – Montenegrin institutions will act decisively and strongly to prevent any form of violence.” According to him, the role of the National Police is to ensure public order and peace.

 

Attacks on police officers

“Finally, I have to mention one more thing, not only as the head of the department dealing with internal affairs, but as a man who respects every profession, and that is the increasingly frequent insults and belittling of the police. Unfortunately, it is encouraged even by certain clergy and political entities. It insults not only their personal and professional honor, but their families as well, since they are people who take care of their closest ones by doing their job,” the Minister concludes.

 

Markovic: Montenegro has proven to be the most promising and closest to EU membership (CDM)

 

As the European Commission decided to approve the opening of the last negotiating chapter with Montenegro, Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, noted that this day is a great day for Montenegro, which has confirmed that it’s the most promising and closest to EU membership. “We are very pleased to receive the news that the competent EC’s body has given the green light to open the last chapter 8 – Competition – in negotiations with the EU. We expect this to be formally confirmed tomorrow. This is a great day for Montenegro, which will thus become the first candidate country to open all negotiation chapters,” he said. It is also a great recognition to the government and all the bodies for their hard work on the adoption and application of European standards and harmonization with European regulations, he said. “At the same time, it is a response to all those who tried to question the democratic and reform capacities of Montenegro.” He recalled that our country has come a long and difficult way since the beginning of negotiations, having in mind the fact that a new approach focused on progress in Chapters 23 and 24 was applied to us for the first time, as well as certain challenges that followed the internal consolidation in the EU.

 

Institute for Public Health confirms five new coronavirus cases (CDM)

 

According to the latest data of the Institute for Public Health, another five cases of coronavirus have been reported. New cases are from Rozaje (3), Berane (1) and Podgorica (1). “Of the 69 samples analyzed, 5 were positive for coronavirus”, Institute reported. There are currently 59 active coronavirus cases in Montenegro. Nine patients are under hospital treatment, and one of them is on ventilator.

 

Dimitrov: Let’s give Berlin a good argument to help us (MIA)

 

We see the new methodology as a great opportunity. We have nothing to be afraid of. The politicians who want to continue to bluff, to pretend that we’re reforming and that Europe is interested in enlargement, the new methodology will prove problematic, but those striving for European way of living in every sense of the word, they have nothing to be afraid of, Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov said. On Tuesday, he took part in an online debate organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, alongside German Federal Minister for Europe Michael Roth and Albanian Acting Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Gent Cakaj. “We want to show the skeptics that enlargement can work with the new methodology,” he stressed. As regards North Macedonia and its reform path, according to Dimitrov, it will be key to stick to the fundamentals, namely rule of law, fight against corruption, media freedom and human rights. “Our goal is to become a real European society, a real European democracy and to bring Europe here, to have a European way of life instead of people emigrating in EU countries,” said Dimitrov. According to Dimitrov, Cakaj and Roth, both the EU and the Western Balkans will gain something if the region becomes Southeastern Europe, which it already is geographically. Regarding the 15 July elections, Dimitrov said the country would do its best to make sure the process was fair and free and to secure a good OSCE/ODIHR report. “Let’s give Berlin a good argument to help us.”

 

Roth: W. Balkans to remain an important issue during Germany’s EU presidency (MIA)

 

Germany will remain a strong supporter of the EU enlargement process. Even though our presidency will be overwhelmingly affected by Covid-19, the Western Balkans will remain a very important issue during the German presidency, Michael Roth, Germany’s Federal Minister for Europe, told an online panel Tuesday. North Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov and Albanian Acting Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Gent Cakaj also took part in the panel titled “What does the start of EU accession talks mean for Albania and North Macedonia?”, organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. Roth stressed that North Macedonia and Albania must continue to pursue and accelerate reforms. According to him, Western Balkan countries integrating into the EU is a win-win situation, which is beneficial for both sides. “We all have to work together. The member states need to elaborate and agree on negotiating framework based on the new methodology. North Macedonia and Albania need to continue with determination on their reform path, speedy reforms are important for both,” Roth noted, adding that some EU members undermined the crucial role of Western Balkans for peace, stability and prosperity for all. “It’s a win-win situation not only for the Western Balkans, but also for the EU,” the German top diplomat stated. Germany, Roth said, during its presidency of the EU will also focus on young people in addition to democracy and migration in the Western Balkans. Quality education, according to him, is key because the countries can have better future only with qualified young people. Roth said that a conference of the EU and the Western Balkans would be organized in October or November with youth and their perspectives at the center of the dialogue.

 

Borders to reopen Friday, airports to start operating as of 1 July (MIA)

 

The government of North Macedonia has decided, based on the recommendations from the Commission for Infectious Diseases, to fully open on 26 June (Friday) all border crossings for passengers and vehicles without presenting PCR tests and no referrals for home isolation or mandatory state quarantine, says Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski. Spasovski says that the government also decided to reopen the Skopje and Ohrid international airports on 1 July 2020. In addition, the indoor areas of bars and restaurants can also operate through specific protocols as of Friday, as can gyms, while malls can operate on Sundays.

 

PM: Opening of borders not a political decision, based on Commission’s opinion (MIA)

 

The opening of borders is not a political decision and one related to elections, but based solely on epidemiological analyses and opinion of the Commission for Infectious Diseases, said Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski on Wednesday. Spasovski told a press conference that people must learn to live with the virus, observe protective measures, maintain distance and frequently disinfect. “We have said for a while that borders would open depending on the analyses of the Commission for Infectious Diseases, which are based on the epidemiological considerations in our country, the region and the broader surrounding. The European Union has opened its borders for member-states and will do so for third countries on 1 July, including our region. We must learn to live with the virus,” Spasovski told reporters. According to him, the strict restrictions have produced maximum effects, with personal responsibility now paramount in order to keep the virus under control. He said the fact there is no election silence on Election Day is not an omission or an intentional move, adding the State Election Commission (SEC) would define all steps related to the electoral process. A novelty is that we will have two days for voting because of people in isolation and the Covid-19 cases, the homebound, infirm and aged, so that campaign will last less than 20 days. The more important aspect is the messages that the campaign sends to citizens. Let’s replace hate speech with projects and vision,” noted Spasovski.

 

North Macedonia reports 136 new Covid-19 cases, 43 patients recover, 8 die (MIA)

 

There were 1,208 tests performed over the past 24 hours, with 136 new Covid-19 cases registered in North Macedonia, of which 80 in Skopje, the Ministry of Health said on Wednesday. New cases were also reported in Tetovo-24, Kumanovo-6, Ohrid-5, Gostivar-4, Resen-4, Veles-3, Prilep-3, Shtip-1, Struga-1, Strumica-1, Kriva Palanka-1, Kochani-1, Kichevo-1 and Negotino-1. Eight patients passed away, two each from Skopje, Kumanovo and Tetovo, and one each from Veles and Kichevo. The Institute of Public Health registered 43 patients who have recovered. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, North Macedonia has registered 5,445 confirmed coronavirus cases, while 2,091 people have recovered. The death toll stands at 259. At the moment, there are 3,095 active cases across the country, of which 1,785 in the capital Skopje.

 

Bushati urges Presevo Valley to unite for national identity (ADN)

 

Every Albanian in Presevo Valley of Serbia must unite for a platform which defends their national identity, the Former Foreign Minister and Socialist MP Ditmir Bushati appealed Tuesday. Bushati stressed that assimilation there must be brought to a stop and the “trap of numbers in a monochrome parliament” must be confronted with a platform containing all rights. “Albanians in Presevo Valley must unite around a platform that protects national identity. Assimilation must be stopped! The trap of numbers in a monochrome parliament that has little relation to a European country must be put on front of it the platform of their rights,” said Bushati. This call by the Socialist came after Albanian parties in the Valley won at least three seats in the parliament as Serbia held its general parliamentary and administrative elections. Earlier, the political leaders from Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja laid the foundations of the Albanian Democratic Alternative – United Valley and aimed at winning the seats in the Serbian parliament.

 

Rama: Albania doesn’t have to meet 15 conditions (ADN)

 

The Country of Eagles does not have to fulfill all 15 conditions for the EU talks to officially launch, Prime Minister Edi Rama reiterated on Tuesday as he referred to Genoveva Ruiz Calavera‘s statement in EP. In his viewpoint, whoever says that the 15 criteria must be completed aims only at picking up fights with the government. Calavera speaks on behalf of the European Commission, Rama concluded. “For all those that sing or repeat it after listening to the song of 15 conditions for the official start of negotiations for membership in the European Union. There are no 15 conditions and who repeats that song has only the political purpose of blind fight with the government. Calavera speaks on behalf of the European Commission,” he said. The Director for Western Balkans Calavera said EU has not set 15 conditions for Albania at the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee. Some of them must be completed while Albania advances in the European path and conditions will be discussed at the first intergovernmental conference, she marked. On his part, Chairman of the Socialist Party (SP) parliamentary group Taulant Balla welcomed “the discussions of most MEPs at the session of the European Parliament’s Foreign Policy Committee (AFET). The EP’s focus and support for Albania should make us feel good because it shows the attention of EU institutions at such an important moment for Albania”.

 

Calavera: There are not 15 conditions to open the first round of talks, they must be met in the future after the opening of talks (Radio Tirana)

 

The Director for the Western Balkans at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Genoveva Luiz Calavera, stated that there are no 15 conditions for opening Albania-EU intergovernmental talks. During discussions in the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by President David McAllister, Calavera said “we need to differentiate between the 15 conditions.” “The 15 conditions are very important for Albania’s progress, but I think we need to differentiate between them. There are not 15 conditions to open the first round of talks. There are conditions that are very important before the opening of talks and other conditions that must be met in the future after the opening of these talks,” said Calavera. She stressed that “all these conditions will be reflected in the negotiation process at the intergovernmental conference and will be discussed with EU members in the Council”. Also, in her speech, Calavera focused on justice reform, emphasizing that the implementation of this reform and vetting has continued, despite Covid-19. “The vetting process has had a positive effect on the justice system and we look forward to seeing its results,” she said. Calavera underlined, among other things, that “every EU fund in Albania has been carried out in a very transparent manner and we will continue to do so, both for the funds for the earthquake and for Covid-19”. The director for the Western Balkans in the EC assessed the results of the fight against drug trafficking and cultivation as impressive.

 

Rama in his capacity as OSCE Chairperson-in-Office addressed the 2020 Annual Security Conference (Radio Tirana)

 

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in his capacity as OSCE Chairperson-in-Office addressed the 2020 Annual Security Conference. Rama said that he is optimistic from the moment he took this important task, but he is worried about the lack of will for improvement. Meanwhile, he called on all parties to make a global ceasefire, as the coronavirus also showed that we are, after all, human beings. He further said that the OSCE will work to resolve the conflicts and even more attention should be paid to terrorism as since 2016 there is no longer a commitment from the OSCE, although the threat has not been diminished. “I am urgently calling for a global ceasefire. Time to put aside hostilities, we need solidarity. We must first and foremost remember that we are human beings. In February I went to Ukraine and saw the work that the OSCE has done on the ground. I was optimistic. I have continued to be optimistic but I am worried about the improvement. We need to look at the principles of the Minsk agreement. We need to revive discussions in the contact group format. They need to rise above the practices of the contact parties. I urge the parties to take responsibility. We need to make commitments. Full and comprehensive truce. We need to put an end to the victims and guide them to a lasting solution. The mission must be allowed to do its job. I sincerely hope to go to Ukraine in the coming months. All involved should make this possible. This is not the only conflict in our region. The co-chairs of the Minsk agreement group continue to work on the mission. The OSCE also supports international discussions in Geneva to reduce tensions and resolve conflicts. We must not lose sight of human losses and casualties. The OSCE will continue to resolve conflicts. The OSCE actually has not undertaken a new anti-terrorism commitment since 2016. The threat has not faded. It is time to move ahead,” Rama said.

 

Albania ends state of emergency but some restrictions remain (ADN)

 

Albania ended its state of emergency on Tuesday, but some restrictions will remain in place and it is not yet known if the government will be able to declare an emergency once again if Covid-19 escalates. In a press release, Health Minister Ogerta Manastirliu stressed that the country is still battling the epidemic. “The end of the state of emergency does not diminish our readiness to deal with this dangerous virus, which means that all measures taken in the context of the pandemic will apply. Based on the law on infectious diseases, gatherings of any kind will continue to be banned, as a high-risk activity of spreading the virus; We will continue to quarantine persons confirmed with Covid-19. Anti-Covid Task Force structures continue to be engaged 24/7 throughout the territory with full capacity and any breach of the rules will be considered a threat to the health of the population” said Manastirliu. The government will leave open museums and other recreational venues, but they will be subject to restrictions that support social distancing. Also, with the re-opening of outdoor bars and outdoor restaurants, guest houses and small hotels, more caution has to be in place as they would all have to comply with required sanitary measures.

 

Covid-19 Safety protocol for public transport published (ADN)

 

Albanian Public Transport will be allowed to resume operation starting from Wednesday, but with conditions and measures against Covid-19 based on a 13-point safety protocol. Any public or intercity public transport is allowed up to a capacity of 70% of passengers and passenger landings must be diagonal. The driver of the vehicle must have a protective mask and gloves, the same for passengers. The vehicle and the terminal must also be disinfected, as posters against Covid-19 must be present in the buses. Manastirliu said that there will be no tolerance regarding public transport measures. However, the Public Transport Union in Tirana refuses to resume the activity without changing the protocol and without fulfillment of their demands, intending to facility their activity following the economic crisis caused by coronavirus pandemic. Security protocol established for public transport: The number of passengers will be allowed with a capacity of 70%, Passengers have to sit down diagonal, The driver of the vehicle have to wear a protective mask and gloves, Passengers have to wear masks and gloves, The entering and exiting have to take place at different doors, If the passenger shows signs of Covid-19, the driver will need to notify the help line, Vehicles have to be disinfected, Vehicles have to be ventilated during the trip, Distance have to be applied to the terminal, The terminal has to be disinfected, Covid-19 posters have to be placed on the vehicles, Hygiene measures have to be respected, The envisaged measures will be controlled by the relevant competencies.

 

In Albania 67 new Covid-19 cases (Tirana Times)

 

Sixty-seven new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of infected patients to 2114 in Albania. Furthermore, a 34-year-old woman passed away on Wednesday, after being intubated for several days at the Infectious Diseases Hospital. According to the Ministry of Health, she was suffering from underlying health conditions including diabetes. This brings the total death toll to 47 victims. So far, tests have been conducted on more than 24,500 people. A total of 82 patients are being treated at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, 14 of whom are in intensive care. However, a total of 1217 patients who tested positive for the coronavirus in Albania have recovered. Currently there are 850 active cases in Albania, 377 of which are in Tirana.

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Meeting with President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic (The Kremlin, 23 June 2020)

 

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, I am very glad to see you.

I would like to thank you for coming to Moscow to attend the celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War and to watch the military parade. Tomorrow, Serbian army units will march on Red Square together with their fellow Russian comrades-in-arms. Our countries are developing fairly pragmatic but still very special, very good allied relations. At the beginning of our meeting, I would like to congratulate you on your party’s convincing victory in the parliamentary elections in your country.

 

President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic: Thank you very much.

 

Vladimir Putin: Our relations are developing in all areas, including the economy. I believe last year our trade grew by 22.6 percent, and this year, in the first quarter of this year, it has already increased by 7.7 percent. We actively and successfully cooperated in countering the coronavirus infection, continue investment activities, develop relations in all areas, including security and countering current threats – not only pandemics but also organized crime and terrorism. We are promoting our military and military-technical cooperation. Naturally, we are developing cultural, educational and spiritual ties. I am very happy to see you. Welcome once again!

 

Aleksandar Vucic: Mr President, my dear friend, I am very glad to have this opportunity to meet with you today and discuss the entire range of our relations. Serbia and Russia are sincere friends. First of all, I would like to thank you for always finding the time for Serbia. This is very important for us, and we appreciate it very much. We really have friendly, constructive and trustworthy relations in all areas. Our political ties are at the top level. I hope that, just as always, together we will be able to do a great deal to increase our trade. Once again, I would like to thank you personally, Mr President and my dear friend, for your unequivocal support of Serbia’s vital national and state interests, especially its territorial integrity and sovereignty. As you know, the situation in the Western Balkans is extremely complicated. We will talk with you on this issue. I would like to emphasize once again that Serbia, a free and independent country, maintains its military neutrality. I believe it is the only country in the region with this policy. Thank you once again for your support and assistance in countering the coronavirus infection. We thank you very much, and we thank the Russian people very much. Your invitation to attend the Victory Day Parade tomorrow is a great honour for me and my country. We are proud of our joint victory. Of course, you have done everything to preserve the historical memory of World War II. We will help you in this regard. Thank you once again for your support. Thank you for your congratulations. And, of course, we expect to see you in Belgrade, in Serbia before the end of this year. I hope we will have an opportunity to reciprocate the warm reception and hospitality that you always accord us. Once again, thank you very much.

 

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

 

Vladimir Putin met in the Kremlin with President of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic, who arrived in Moscow to take part in celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War.

 

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