Pahor informs Vucic on postponement of Brdo-Brioni Process (RTS)
Serbian Aleksandar Vucic spoke on Saturday by telephone with Slovenian President Borut Pahor who briefed him about the postponement of the Brdo-Brioni Process meeting due to the epidemiological situation in the region. Vucicsaid that he fully understood the decision of President Pahor to postpone the meeting which was supposed to be held on 29 June in Brdo by Kranj. He expressed hope that the circumstances would soon allow the leaders of the Western Balkans and the presidents of Slovenia and Croatia to meet within the BB Process, which Serbia greatly appreciates and actively participates in, and which has proven to be a significant driver of cooperation in the region. Vucic thanked Pahor for Slovenia’s support to Serbia’s EU path, as well as for the European future of the Western Balkans, thus significantly contributing to peace and stability in the region. The two statesmen expressed hope that the world, through mutual solidarity, would soon defeat the coronavirus pandemic and return to the path of social and economic progress.
Michel: Belgrade–Pristina dialogue under EU auspices key to European integration (FoNet)
Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, said on Friday it was important to resume the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalization of relations under the European Union auspices as a crucial element of the European integration, FoNet reported. Michel and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic discussed the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and aid the EU planned for the region. The European Commission (EC) plans to help a long-time regional recovery and push it closer to the EU, will be presented in autumn, Vucic’s office says in a statement. In the talks with Michel, Vucic emphasized the importance of the reforms in Serbia needed for the country’s European integrations, primarily in the rule of law and fighting corruption.
Serbia will not open any new Chapters (N1)
Serbia will not open Chapter 2 in accession negotiations with the European Union, it was confirmed to N1 in the European Council. Chapter 2, Freedom of Movement for Workers, was the next Chapter that Serbia was to open. So far, Serbia has opened 18 of the 35 chapters, two of which have been provisionally closed. In 2018 and 2019, Serbia opened new Chapters every June and December – this is the first time that more than six months will pass since the previous Chapter(s) was opened.
Djuric: Beating Serbs in Gazimestan points to Pristina’s rule by fear (Tanjug)
The beating of two young Serb men because they displayed the Serbian flag on the occasion of the feast day of Vidovdan (28 June) is a manifestation of institutional violence of Pristina and its rule by fear, which denies everyone, except Albanians, the right to national pride and affiliation, Djuric said. “With such bestial actions over a display of national symbols, on one of the biggest Serbian holidays, the identity and the most elementary national rights of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija got attacked most directly,” said Djuric. As announced by the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, the Head of the Office Marko Djuric pointed out that international representatives in Kosovo and Metohija are under obligation to provide an answer to the question why Albanian extremists are allowed what no one else in the civilized world is allowed to do, and why a blind eye is being turned toward the thugs in our southern province for two decades. “Such a policy of double standards has led to the fact that the few Serbs left in Kosovo and Metohija are today treated not only as second-class citizens, but as inferior beings who can be beaten and abused with impunity,” warned Djuric. He added that he expects Serb political representatives in Pristina to take the strongest position regarding this disgraceful incident and to demand, in the form of an ultimatum, that the responsible police officers who attacked the Serbs be punished.
If Thaci were convicted, Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Joschka Fischer and Wesley Clark would also have to be convicted (Tanjug/RTV/B92)
I do not expect Hashim Thaci to be convicted of war crimes in Kosovo, David Stockinger, one of the officials of the Social Democratic Party of Austria, said. In his opinion, the publication of the indictment against Thaci presents a ‘carrot-and-stick’ approach towards Belgrade, because the West, primarily the United States and the EU, want to reach a final solution to the Kosovo problem, with the ultimate goal of recognizing Kosovo. He believes that Thaci will not be convicted, he said, as he had good relations with the West, as well as with current Western politicians and diplomats. That was evident, Stockinger said in a statement submitted to Tanjug, during the presentation of his book “Hashim Thaci – New State, Modern Statesman” at the Vienna Diplomatic Academy two years ago. He reminded that Thaci was a close ally, partly in friendly relations with many Western military and diplomatic representatives, who financed and equipped the KLA, because it served NATO as a cheap ground force in the war against the former Yugoslavia. According to Stockinger, Thaci, with his network from the time of the war and support for the declaration of independence, rose to the top of the political scene in Pristina, a scene which, he notes, is dominated by former KLA leaders and their mafia structures.
“I don’t believe, based on everything that has happened so far and with Thaci being familiar with everything, that he will be convicted,” he said, noting that, in fact, if Thaci were convicted, many former Western politicians and soldiers would have to be convicted, including leaders such as Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Joschka Fischer, Wesley Clark… Stockinger says that the indictment against Thaci and others was unexpected for him, and he believes that the number of victims for which the KLA terrorist organization is responsible is far greater than the one mentioned in those indictments. Stockinger says that the cooperation between NATO, the EU and Thaci has been very close for many years, and that Thaci possesses thorough knowledge on Western politicians and military leaders.
Russia counts on RS (Novosti, by S. Misljenovic)
Novosti analyzes the results of the Serb member of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency, Milorad Dodik’s visit to Russia, where he attended Victory Parade, upon invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin and noted that their collocutors stressed that this proved that Russia seriously counts on the Republika Srpska (RS) and that “cooperation between two countries is on the upward trajectory”. Director of Banja Luka based Center for International Relations Milos Solaja stated that Dodik was greatly honored in Russia, adding that Russia definitely counts on the RS, but within the framework of official politics where Russia supports Dayton Peace Agreement. Solaja stressed that Dodik was invited to pay visit on one of the most important dates for Russia, while at the same time, Putin conveyed a clear message that Russia is part of Europe and cannot be avoided. He stressed that good relations between RS and Russia can serve as a bridge for good cooperation of entire B&H with Russia. Professor Zeljko Budimir said that this is the highest form of cooperation and great honor for Serb people for their participation in World War II. Budimir noted that at the same time, Russia continues with support to Dayton Peace Agreement, but it is also working on preserving of the RS. He underlined that Russia is the only advocator of RS interests in the international politics and he argues that RS will have better and better relations with Moscow. Member of SNSD Main Board Rajko Vasic said that B&H is an artificial creations, which West is using to prevent returning of Russia to the Balkans. “B&H’s expiration date will be until the fight of the West against Russia is current. If the West breaks down Serbia and B&H has no more importance and if Russia attracts Serbia, B&H also no longer has any importance. So, now in B&H everyone is looking their own position and searches for allies. Serbs are looking towards Russia, Sarajevo is searching for allies in Pakistan, and Coats in Vatican,” noted Vasic.
Crisis Response Team introduces new measures (Tanjug)
The COVID-19 Crisis Response Team discussed today the current epidemiological situation in the Republic of Serbia and passed new measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and protect the health of citizens. Taking into account a different epidemiological situation in different cities in Serbia, the Crisis Response Team will gradually adopt measures in certain cities, which can be made stricter at any moment if they are not respected or prove to be insufficiently effective. Team member Darija Kisic Tepavcevic stated that from tomorrow in the area of the city of Belgrade, from six o’clock in the morning, it will be mandatory to wear masks in all closed spaces and indoors facilities, and not only in transportation, as the headquarters decided, and the government confirmed last week. Also, the new measures will have to be strictly monitored and there will be penalties, Belgrade media have learned. “These do not have to be surgical masks, but cotton ones that we sew ourselves, any mechanical protection. We appeal for the use of other prevention measures, such as a physical distance of at least one meter, as well as regular hand washing,” Kisic Tepavcevic added for Tanjug after the meeting of the Crisis Staff. She said that those measures were adopted due to the increase in the number of infected people in the previous days. The Serbian government and the Crisis Response Team will continue to monitor with the utmost attention the development of the epidemiological situation in the country day in, day out and inform the citizens about everything.
Another 242 cases (RTS)
Until 3pm there have been another 242 cases, in total 14,288 infected. There have been four more death, in total 274 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,433. There are 36 patients on respirators.
Dodik says appointments at level of B&H will be discussed more detailed next week (ATV)
Serb member of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik said on Friday that appointments at the level of B&H will be discussed more detailed next week and that he is expected to meet with the HDZ and SDA leaders on Wednesday or Thursday. He stressed that it is high time to do the appointments that passed the procedure and to complete B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) at the post of B&H Minister of Security. “There is certain (agreement on) distribution (of posts) between the Serb, Croat and Bosniak sides and it has to be kept until some new change occurs. It is obvious that SDA wanted new agreement and as far as I understand, this new agreement means that all will be the same except for indirect taxes that will be a subject to some new agreement,” Dodik reminded, adding that he agrees with that in order to “finally unblock everything and complete this story.”
Nikola Spiric takes over post of B&H HoP speaker (ATV)
Nikola Spiric (SNSD) will take over the post of B&H House of Peoples (HoP) Speaker as of June 28 for the next eight months. Within the rotation at this post, Bakir Izetbegovic (SDA) will be the First Deputy Speaker of B&H HoP and Dragan Covic (HDZ B&H) will be the Second Deputy Speaker of B&H HoP in the next eight months.
B&H not on list of countries for which EU borders will be opened as of 1 July (N1)
The EU borders will remain closed for B&H citizens as of 1 July, although a different decision was expected. The EU made on Friday a list of countries the citizens of which will be allowed to enter the EU as of July 1 without restrictions. B&H, North Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo are not on the list, while Serbia and Montenegro are the only two countries of the region for which the EU borders will be opened as of July 1. The main criteria to put a country on the list is to have no more than 16 newly-infected per 100,000 citizens. The previous draft list included some 40 countries which were assessed as countries with adequate epidemiological situation, but the list was shortened in the end. The EU list currently includes Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zeeland, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay, as well as Serbia and Montenegro. The list also includes China, but under condition to ensure reciprocity or entry of the EU citizens, which is currently not the case. This list is still not final and it will be reconsidered by the EU member states over the weekend. The final decision is expected on Monday. The list will be updated every two weeks depending on epidemiological situation.
Denis Hadzovic, Chief of Cabinet of B&H Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic, told the daily that the decision on alleged ban of entrance to the EU for B&H citizens as of1 July, has not been reached yet. “The EU’s stance is to have the same approach for all countries of the Western Balkans. This is the last information that we in B&H had. This information that appear is probably the result of their monitoring of the number of infected people. Even though this cannot be an indicator because we do not know the number of tested people,” said Hadzovic. He referred to the example of Croatia, that opened its borders to B&H and then introduced the measure of 14-day self-isolation and now they are again considering lifting of this measure and stressed that it is obvious that each of EU countries will reach the decision in line with their own economic interests first of all.
Transit of certain number of B&H citizens through territory of Croatia to Neum was not allowed on Sunday; B&H Ministry of Foreign Affairs to request introduction of reciprocal measures for Croatia (O kanal)
O Kanal learns that the transit of a certain number of B&H citizens through the territory of Croatia to B&H’s only town on Adriatic coast – Neum was not allowed on Sunday. B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic reacted to this information and said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of B&H will propose on Monday introduction of reciprocal measures for Croatia. Turkovic added that as a member of the EU, Croatia has to respect joint stances of this bloc, adding that she disagrees with the decision to ban the transit of B&H citizens through Croatia. She added that the number of infected ones in Croatia is higher than in B&H, while the number of Coronavirus tests it conducts is lower. Minister Turkovic underlined that she does not have information why Croatia decided to introduce abovementioned measures, adding that B&H has positive attitude towards all countries of the region in regards to tourism, business travels and trade exchange in the period of pandemic. Meanwhile, representatives of the Croatian Ministry of Interior (MoI) explained that citizens of B&H are allowed to transit through Croatia provided that they show certain documents. For example, they explained that if a woman from B&H wants to visit her husband in Germany, she is required to show their marriage certificate and his residence permit, in order to be able to pass through Croatia and head further towards Germany. They also dismissed the allegations that citizens of B&H are not allowed to transit through Croatia on their way to Neum. Representative of the Croatian MoI Tomislav Kufner stated: “If they are transiting via border crossings Doljani and Metkovic, it is enough that they provide certain documents to prove their reasons for transit. If it is a tourist visit to Neum, further transit will be allowed if a proof of hotel booking is provided. If they are transiting towards other countries of the EU, citizens of B&H are required to show documents to prove that they meet conditions to enter other countries of the EU.” Representatives of the B&H Border Police also dismissed the allegations that citizens of B&H are not allowed to transit through Croatia on their way to Neum. Spokesperson for the B&H Border Police Franka Vican stated: “The B&H Border Police received information from the Croatian MoI that citizens of B&H travelling to Neum have been allowed to transit through Croatia via border crossings Doljani and Metkovic as of Sunday at 0700 hrs.” Reacting to these statements, representatives of the B&H Ministry of Foreign Affairs told N1 that they were informed by several sources that the statement of the B&H Border Police is not true, otherwise the B&H Border Police should issue an official press release instead of referring citizens of B&H to return via Svitava rather than using border crossings Doljani and Metkovic. They reminded that the border of B&H is still open to citizens of the neighboring countries – Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia, in accordance with the decision of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM). However, they warned that if such situation continues, the B&H Ministry of Foreign Affairs might request from the B&H CoM to impose reciprocal measures.
Recommendations of FB&H Crisis HQ became orders on Sunday (FTV)
Due to deteriorated epidemiologic situation, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FB&H) Ministry of Healthcare’s Crisis HQ passed a decision on Friday according to which all recommendations that are currently in force got the status of orders. This decision entered into force on Sunday and it obliges citizens to wear protective masks indoors, as well as outdoors if obligatory physical distance cannot be respected. Also, avoiding of unnecessary movements, gatherings and travels outside of B&H is recommended. Harsher fines were announced for those failing to respect abovementioned orders. Member of the FB&H Ministry of Healthcare’s Crisis HQ Goran Cerkez stated that this body decided that working hours of catering facilities will be limited until midnight. Cerkez added that the Crisis HQ also ordered social institutions to implement decision preventing visits to their protégés’ as well as to limit movement of their users, especially elderly persons.
B&H sees another 128 Covid-19 cases, one fatality (N1)
B&H health authorities reported another 128 new Covid-19 cases, with the FB&H reporting 97, while the RS reported 33 new cases. After testing 936 samples over the past 24 hours, the FB&H reported 97 positive cases, most of which came from Tuzla and Sarajevo cantons. This entity currently has 1,003 active patients and health authorities recorded one fatality as well, over the past 24 hours. The Covid-19 crisis staff in this entity said the situation is getting more complicated and is it very important that citizens act according to their recommendations. When it comes to the RS, the authorities there said they recorded 31 new cases of the disease after testing 211 samples. The authorities there say 2,232 cases were confirmed positive so far, and that 1,323 people have recovered. According to the state Civil Affairs Ministry, B&H has so far confirmed 4,325 cases of Covid-19, of which 2,366 recovered and 186 have died.
President says postponement of elections theoretically possible, but won’t happen (Hina)
Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said on Friday that due to an increase in the number of new coronavirus infections, postponement of parliamentary elections set for 5 July was theoretically possible but that he doubted that the election would be postponed. Milanovic noted that postponement of the elections in the current situation would be constitutionally possible but that it would require his holding talks with the prime minister as well as understanding on the part of the Opposition. “Such a situation is not exactly envisaged by the Constitution, but some sort of solution would be found. I believe it would be theoretically possible, but in practice that is not going to happen,” Milanovic said. Milanovic added that he would not initiate talks on the postponement of the elections because he had not been the one to dissolve the parliament.
“I said that elections should be held at some other time, but after that I stopped commenting. (PM) Plenkovic contacted me and I asked him about his priorities, and holding elections on June 21 was definitely not among them,” Milanovic said in reference to Plenkovic‘s statement that “by dissolving Parliament in May we wanted the election to be held when the intensity of the coronavirus was lowest, and it was the President who decided that the election would be held on the second to last date possible under the constitution.” Milanovic went on to say that 28 June and 5 July had been discussed as possible dates. “I said, ‘They will be held on 5 July’. Hindsight is a good thing, but one leaves traces. I cannot do anything with regard to elections now without the prime minister’s initiative, but that, too, is questionable. That option has not been specified,” he said when asked about the possibility of delaying the elections set for 5 July. Asked what would happen if the situation with the coronavirus escalated, Milanovic said that he did not know and that one should have thought about it sooner. Asked about the politicization of the national team managing the coronavirus crisis, Milanovic said that he, himself, was asking himself such questions but that he did not know the answer. “I have been wondering about some things, but I have called the elections, they should be held on 5 July, and that’s it,” he said. A complete lockdown, such as the one that happened in March and April, is not possible again, he said. “Whoever on the crisis management team said that there would be no lockdown again was right,” Milanovic said, adding that one could not do more than wearing face masks and protecting the elderly and ill. “There is no reason for panic. Elections will be held in a week’s time and we’ll see what happens,” he said. As for post-election consultations on the formation of the new parliamentary majority, Milanovic said that there was no set deadline by which he had to appoint the Prime Minister-designate but that consultations would first be held with those who bring him the 76 signatures of support required to form a majority. “Consultations will really be consultations, not a parade. They will be very transparent, not the way they were in some other situations, which has undermined trust in democracy. I don’t have a favorite in these elections,” Milanovic said.
Voting rights assured during pandemic, says Bozinovic (HRT)
Although over 2,000 people in Croatia are currently self-isolating, the head of the Civil Protection Directorate said on the weekend that all voters would be able to vote in the July 5th parliamentary election. Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic, who leads the coronavirus task force, said the State Electoral Commission and the Croatian Institute of Public Health would work together to ensure everyone was able to vote, despite the pandemic. The head of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, said on Saturday the steep rise in cases of Covid-19 over the past week had come from people returning to Croatia after visiting certain neighboring countries, mostly Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia.
HRejting: Major parliamentary elections poll Restart 60, HDZ 54 (TCN)
The full results of one of the biggest polls conducted in Croatia before the parliamentary elections, which are to be held on July 5th, have just been published. The poll was organized by the Croatian Radio television, and performed by the Promocija plus agency, between 14th and 22nd of June, with the sample size of 6000 total participants. The statistical error for each constituency (there are 10 geographical constituencies in Croatia, the 11th constituency is for the votes by the Croatian diaspora and the 12th is for minorities living in Croatia) is not more than +/- 4%.
I. constituency (Zagreb Centre)
Restart Coalition (SDP+partners) wins 29.2% of the votes, HDZ+HSLS get 19.7%, Miroslav Skoro‘s Homeland Movement (Domovinski Pokret) get 10.4%, and Tomislav Tomasevic from the Mozemo! platform gets 9.1% of the votes. Most Party is just over the threshold for a seat, with 6.3%, and Dalija Oreskovic‘s party (Stranka s imenom i prezimenom) is just below, at 3.9%. Zagreb Mayor and his party Milan Bandic are around 2%. As far as the seats go, the poll is certain it can predict the 12 seats (Restart – 5, HDZ – 4, Skoro – 2, Mozemo 1). The two seats are up for grabs, with Most and Restart having the highest chances of winning them.
II. constituency (Zagreb East, Central Croatia)
Restart Coalition wins 31% of the votes, HDZ+HSLS gets 28%, Miroslav Skoro gets 11.3%. Most is below the threshold at 4.6%, as well as Milan Bandic Party with 3.6% In the II. constituency, the poll suggests 13 certain seats (Restart – 6, HDZ – 5, Skoro – 2), while the highest chance of winning the final seat is given to Most.
III. constituency (Northern Croatia)
Restart Coalition wins 41.8% of the polled votes, HDZ gets 22.4%. Below the threshold currently are Domovinski Pokret, HNS and Radimir Cacic‘s Reformisti. 12 certain seats go to SDP and HDZ (8:4). The two remaining votes are likeliest to go to Restart and Domovinski Pokret.
IV. constituency (Northern part of Slavonia)
HDZ has 32.4% of support, Miroslav Skoro’s Domovinski Pokret has 22.2%, Restart Coalition is at 18.7%. Out of 13 certain seats, 6 go to HDZ, Domovinski Pokret gets 4, Restart Coalition gets 3. The last seat will probably go to either HDZ or Restart Coalition, with HDZ having better chances to get it.
V. constituency (Southern part of Slavonia)
HDZ has 41.1% support, Restart Coalition gets 20.8%, and Miroslav Skoro’s coalition gets 16.8%. Most is currently at 4.4% and is close to getting a seat. Again, 13 seats are certain: 7 for HDZ, 3 for Restart Coalition and 3 for Miroslav Skoro. The last seat will most likely go to Restart Coalition.
VI. constituency (Zagreb South, Central Croatia)
Restart Coalition gets 29.4%, HDZ gets 24.4%. Skoro’s Coalition gets 11.7%, and Most is at 5.7%. Mozemo! platform is close to the threshold at 4.4%. 12 seats are certain, with 5 going to Restart, 4 to HDZ, 2 to Domovinski pokret and one to Most. Two remaining seats will probably go to Restart and HDZ.
VII. constituency (Zagreb South-West, Western Croatia)
Restart Coalition gets 28.6%, HDZ 26.4%, and Skoro gets 11%. Mozemo! platform is close to the threshold, 4.6%. 12 certain seats will be distributed between Restart and HDZ (5 each) and Skoro (2). Two remaining seats will probably go to Restart and Mozemo!
VIII. constituency (Istria, Nothern Islands)
Restart Coalition gets 47.2% of the votes, and HDZ gets 19.7%, and those are the only two slates certain to be over the threshold. Zivi Zid, Mozemo! and Domovinski Pokret are at just over 4% support, so close to a seat. The 12 certain seats go to Restart and HDZ (9:3), with the other mentioned options close to catching a seat, but the highest chances are they will go to Restart and HDZ.
IX. constituency (Lika, Northern Dalmatia)
HDZ gets 37.1% of the votes, Restart gets 20.2%, Miroslav Skoro gets 10.2%, Most 9.6% and Stipe Petrina Independent List is also over the threshold at 6.1%. 13 certain seats go to HDZ (7), Restart (3), Domovinski pokret (1) and Stipe Petrina (1). The final seat will probably go to Restart Coalition.
X. constituency (Southern Dalmatia)
33% of the votes go to HDZ, 26.2% are for Restart, Miroslav Skoro gets 8.5% and Most gets 8.3%. Out of the 13 certain seats, HDZ gets 6, Restart gets 5, and Skoro and Most get one each. The final seat will probably go to HDZ.
HRejting poll is certain about the 125 seats in the Croatian parliament:
Restart – 52
HDZ – 51
Domovinski Pokret – 17
Most – 3
Mozemo! – 1
Stipe Petrina – 1
If we added the remaining 15 to those slates which are given the highest probabilities of winning them, the situation would be like this:
Restart – 60
HDZ – 54
Domovinski Pokret – 18
Most – 5
Mozemo! – 2
Stipe Petrina – 1
One thing to keep in mind while considering these results is the timeframe during which the poll was conducted (June 14 – 22), so a large uncertainty still remains regarding how much the events of this previous week might’ve influenced the voters. And there’s one whole week before the parliamentary elections ahead of us as well.
Croatia reports 34 new cases of Covid-19 (N1)
In the last 24 hours, 34 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded, so the number of currently ill (active cases) in Croatia today is 463. In the last 24 hours, 730 people were tested, the National Headquarters announced. Since February 25, 2020, when the first case of infection was recorded in Croatia, a total of 2,725 people infected with the new coronavirus have been recorded, of which 34 in the last 24 hours. 2,155 people have recovered, and 107 people have died so far. So far, 78,183 people have been tested.
Chaos in Budva municipal assembly: Tear gas, insults, threats… (CDM)
Tensions were rising earlier today in Budva, as councilors of the Budva municipal assembly were supposed to elect the president of that municipality and the municipal assembly. In the end, tear gas was released, followed by a range of insults, whereas the Democratic Front (DF) councilor, Mr. Janko Dimic, sent scandalous messages to an independent councilor, Mr. Stevan Dzakovic. The new majority anointed Mr. Nikola Divanovic as the president of the Municipality of Budva, while Ms. Andjela Ivanovic was anointed as the president of the municipal assembly in that city. Beside the new ruling majority, the sitting was attended by the councilors of the DF and the Social People’s Party, SNP. According to unofficial information, tear gas was released by a DF councilor, but this political group later on denied those claims, saying that it was done by the private security. Private security then stated that tear gas was let off by Mr. Djordje Vujovic, a DF councilor. “Having in mind gross untruths reported by the independent daily Vijesti that members of the security service used a chemical during the session of the Budva Municipal Assembly, we’d hereby like to inform the entire Montenegrin public that this is a serious subterfuge to cover up the real perpetrators of that incident” members of the security service stated. DF and SNP councilors entered the hall where the session of the Municipal Assembly of Budva was being held, thus agreeing on the new parliamentary majority in that city. DF councilor, Vujovic, required speaking which meant that he officially recognized the new govt in Budva comprising the DPS, the Crnogorska party and Social Democrats.
We won’t organize religious processions, claims MCP (CDM)
The Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro said earlier today that they were going to abide by the recommendations of the National Coordination Body referring to Covid-19 restrictions on public gatherings, i.e. religious processions. “Church representatives informed the Institute for Public Health about this decision yesterday, and it’s important to say that we were not making a deal with them to halt religious processions and we didn’t back their prohibition either. Taking care about the general health, both physical and spiritual, the church municipalities in Montenegro, as organizers of religious processions, were instructed to immediately inform the units of the National Police about the suspension of religious processions announced for June 28 this year. We call on all believers to come to their temples and churches on religious services, as worshiping in churches, monasteries and other areas which belong to them are not and cannot be banned,” the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral, MCP, announced. They also said they were worried over the fact that the President of Montenegro and the President of SUBNOR “had been recommended” to cancel their previously announced public gatherings, while the church had been strictly prohibited from organizing peaceful gatherings, i.e. religious processions, outside churches and monasteries.
Institute for Public Health confirms 17 new coronavirus cases (CDM)
Laboratories of the Institute for Public Health analyzed another 243 samples, 17 of which tested positive for Coronavirus. “One case is importation from Bosnia and Herzegovina, six are contacts of previous cases. We are searching for the source of infection for the remaining 10 cases,” the Institute said. Since mid-June, 174 Coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Montenegro. Two deaths have also been reported, which means that number of active cases is now 172. During the first wave of the outbreak, Montenegro reported 324 cases and eight deaths.
Zaev: We took bold decisions, Mickoski has no stance on important issues (MIA)
SDSM leader Zoran Zaev said in Kumanovo on Sunday the economy would develop in the coming period, with 600 million Euros on offer to support businesses and opening of new jobs, along with 2 billion Euros in productive infrastructure – express and regional roads, water supply and sewerage systems, kindergartens, hospitals, culture centers. Zaev said the average salary would increase to Mden 34,000 (550 Euros) and the minimum wage by 40 percent to Mden 20,000 (325 Euros) by the end of the four-year term. Regarding his political opponents, he said Mickoski did not have a stance on any key issue – name, multiethnicity, Prespa – accusing the opposition of only being fit for quarreling, not EU negotiations or accession funds. Pillar “Care for All” encompasses workers in bankrupt companies, social pensions, increased social transfers, higher salaries for social workers, employees in kindergartens and culture sector, subsidies for farmers. “Eco State” is a pillar offering financial support for environmental projects, including EUR 60 million for inverter ACs for home heating. “Justice, Order and Discipline” is there for all, with the law on the public prosecutor’s office being the key. Zaev said judges and prosecutors who worked on the expiry of the statute of limitations of cases would be purged. Oliver Spasovski and Sanja Lukarevska, who head the list of coalition “We Can” in the second election district, referred to several projects to be realized in Kumanovo, leading to higher standard and a better future.
Mickoski: Time to beat our political opponent (MIA)
Our program “Renewal for Macedonia” is not only a four-year project, but a strategy that will make Macedonia our pride and joy, said VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski in Bitola on Sunday. Mickoski said they commit to at least 25 percent higher average salary and at least 20 percent higher pensions. “We commit to at least 1,000 km of new and rehabilitated regional and local roads, new exterior walls for buildings subsidized by the state up to 50 percent, for a warm home and protection of ambiance air,” said Mickoski. He announced a new approach in the economy and a 9-percent flat tax, dropping to 8 percent in 2022. “Lowest tax in Europe in order to show that the economy can be revived and jobs can open. We are committed to an unemployment rate below 10 percent, employment for young people without personal tax imposed on employers, return of the excise tax for education, sport and culture purposes,” added Mickoski.
Kasami: Time for DUI to go into opposition (MIA)
BESA leader Bilal Kasami, who heads the list of coalition “We Can” in the sixth election district, paid a visit to Gostivar and village Zdunje on Sunday, saying these elections are important because they would topple a political party that abused the power for years. “We want to send a message that the time has come for DUI to finally go into opposition. They have abused power for their personal interest for more than 18 years. By voting for BESA and the ‘We Can’ coalition you can bring a new elite of politicians who take care of your interests, your health, your future,” said Kasami. Several MP candidates in the sixth election district also address the Gostivar event.
North Macedonia reports 132 new cases of Covid-19, 12 died (24.mk)
In the last 24 hours, 868 tests were performed, and 132 new cases of Covid-19 were registered in North Macedonia, bringing the total number of infected to 6.209. 12 people died, five patients from Skopje, one from Stip, two patients from Tetovo, two from Struga, one from Veles and one patient from Gostivar, bringing the total number of deaths to 298. A total of 59,633 Covid-19 tests have been performed in the country so far. The number of active cases is 3.484.
Cakaj-Grenell: No plans for partition of the Republic of Kosovo, no territorial exchanges (Radio Tirana)
Albania’s Acting Foreign Minister Gent Cakaj had a meeting at the White House in Washington with Richard Grenell, the US envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue. Through a Facebook post, Cakaj writes that the focus of the talks with Grenell was the importance of a lasting agreement between Kosovo and Serbia, as well as promoting economic development in the Western Balkans. Cakaj underlined the fact that there is no secret agreement on the partition of Kosovo. Full post: “Today at the White House in Washington we had a great meeting with Ambassador Richard Grenell. We discussed the importance of a lasting agreement between the Republic of Kosovo and Serbia and the promotion of economic development in the Western Balkans in general. There are no secret agreements, no plans for partition of the Republic of Kosovo, no territorial exchanges, no rush for any harmful agreements, but efforts to promote economic development and strengthen the people of the Republic of Kosovo internationally with the support of states United of America! Despite the challenges, Albania will continue its unstinting support for the Republic of Kosovo! God bless the United States of America!” said Cakaj.
Cakaj meets Reeker and Palmer: US-Albania relations, of irreplaceable significance and with an inalienable value for Albania (Radio Tirana)
The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Gent Cakaj met with Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Special Representative for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer. The meetings focused on discussions related to the necessity of fulfilling as soon as possible all obligations for holding the First Intergovernmental Conference with the European Union, joint work within the OSCE and Albania’s efforts to secure the seat of the non-permanent member of the Security Council 2022-2023. “Strong relations with the United States of America are of irreplaceable significance and with an inalienable value for Albania!” – said Cakaj in a post on “Facebook” regarding the meetings held.
Meta working lunch with V-4 Group countries: A period of great challenges for Europe (Radio Tirana)
President Ilir Meta was invited to a working lunch on the occasion of the passing of the Presidency of Group V-4 from the Czech Republic to Poland. During this meeting, the Albanian Head of State expressed confidence in the success of the new Polish leadership in achieving many ambitious goals in a period of great challenges for the whole of Europe. “It is a pleasure to be invited to a working lunch yesterday on the occasion of the transfer of the Presidency of Group V-4 from the Czech Republic to Poland. I congratulated the Ambassador of the Czech Republic for the successful leadership of the Group during a difficult year. I expressed confidence in the success of the new Polish leadership in achieving very ambitious objectives in a period of great challenges for the whole of Europe. Inspirational motto of the Polish Presidency: “Back on track”. Quite current for everyone. I thanked the countries of Group V-4 for their support to Albania in the European integration process. Their cooperation is an excellent example for our region,” writes Meta.
Rama on a two-day visit to Kosovo (Tirana Times)
Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama is starting a two-day visit in Kosovo, during which he will hold meetings with several high officials in the country. Rama is expected to meet with numerous Kosovo high officials on the first day, including parliament speaker Vjosa Osmani, Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti, DP leader Kadri Veseli and President Thaci. On the second day, Rama is expected to hold a meeting with former Prime Minister Albin Kurti, followed by a press conference later in the day. The two-day visit comes after Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci and DP leader Kadri Veseli were indicted on war crimes and crimes against humanity charges by the Special Prosecutor’s Office in the Hague. During the plenary session last week, Rama described the indictment as a “selective, experimental international justice.” Kosovo Albanians, PM Rama said during Thursday’s plenary session, have been under investigation for 21 years, while on the other hand no Serb has been investigated for war crimes in Kosovo. Rama also said that the Hague has been dealing with senior KLA leaders for 21 years now, where in the investigations it has acquitted them several times only to file indictments once again. He said that this raises a question of whether this is related to a fair international justice or a misuse of Kosovo’s cooperation with the international community.
Consensus reached, the agreement on the changes in the Electoral Code disclosed (Radio Tirana)
Following the consensus reached at the Political Council between the majority and the opposition, the changes made to the Electoral Code have been disclosed. According to these changes, general and local elections in Albania will be held from 15 April to 15 May or from October 15 to November 15, depending on the year when they will be held. The draft stipulates that the Central Election Commission is the institution responsible for organizing and administering elections and referendums. It directs and supervises the activity of the electoral administration, monitors the activity of electoral subjects, state bodies and institutions, as well as the media in relation to the elections, and resolves administratively the requests or complaints related to the electoral process. The CEC will reject the lists of political parties if they do not have 30% women. The amendments to the Electoral Code show that the government 4 months before the elections cannot make favorable decisions, such as tax cuts, pension increases, etc. Four months before the election, the government can only carry out activities with the permission of the CEC. If the CEC considers that the activities are of an electoral nature, it blocks them and broadcasting in the media is prohibited. The day the new Electoral Code enters into force, the current CEC will be dissolved. The chief commissioner will have a 7-year term, while Deputy commissioner 4 years. Members of the Regulator 5 years, while of the Commission of Appeals and Sanctions 9 years. The salary and privileges of the Commissioner are the same as the salary and privileges of the President of the High Court.
In Albania 64 new Covid-19 cases (Tirana Times)
Sixty-four new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of infected patients to 2.466 in Albania. Furthermore, two more patients passed away at the ‘Infectious Diseases’ Hospital, one aged 78 years old and the other victim aged 83 years old. According to the Ministry of Health, both were suffering from several underlying health conditions. This brings the total death toll to 58 victims. So far, tests have been conducted on more than 26,500 people. A total of 84 patients are being treated at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, 11 of whom are in intensive care and two are intubated. However, a total of 1.438 patients who tested positive for the coronavirus in Albania have recovered. Currently there are 970 active cases in Albania, 358 of which are in Tirana.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Serbia’s Vučić: Kosovo talks must go on despite Thaçi indictment (Politico, by Andrew Gray and Jacopo Barigazzi, 26 June 2020)
Serbian president aims for EU membership in 2026.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said Friday that Kosovo peace talks must resume despite war crimes charges filed against Kosovan President Hashim Thaçi. In an interview with POLITICO in Brussels, Vučić signaled he would still be willing to meet with Thaçi if Kosovan leaders chose to make him part of their delegation for future talks. But he said he did not believe they would do so. Prosecutors at a special tribunal said on Wednesday they had filed charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes against Thaçi — a veteran leader of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority — and others. A judge is reviewing the indictment to decide whether to confirm the charges, which allege that the group is responsible for nearly 100 murders and that the victims of their crimes include Kosovo Albanians, Serbs, Roma and members of other ethnic groups. News of the indictment scuppered plans for talks on economic cooperation between the two sides, led by Vučić and Thaçi, at the White House on Saturday. Vučić, in Brussels for meetings with EU leaders, said he would not comment on the indictment itself. But he made clear he wants an EU-sponsored dialogue on relations between Belgrade and Pristina, which has been stalled for more than a year, to get going again. The EU has signaled it aims to restart the dialogue next month. “We don’t want to ignite further political or physical clashes between Serbs and Albanians and also it’s the best way to protect the safety and security of the Serbs living in Kosovo,” Vučić said when asked about the indictment. “We need to resume our dialogue process with whomever the Albanian side will pick as their representative,” he said. “It has to go on. Otherwise, what might happen? What would be the perspective of an entire region?” Asked if he would meet Thaçi if he is involved in the talks, Vučić said: “It’s not up to me. I can always say I am not going to speak to someone who is indicted for war crimes but it’s not me that will choose the Albanian leadership, it’s up to their people.” The EU-backed talks aim to reach a permanent settlement between the two sides, more than two decades after the end of the 1998-1999 Kosovo war. The war culminated in a NATO bombing campaign to stop Serb repression of ethnic Albanians that also ended Belgrade’s rule over Kosovo. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but Belgrade continues to regard the territory as a rebel province. With the support of its ally Russia, it has prevented Kosovo from joining the United Nations and other international organizations. The EU has made clear that a permanent settlement is a prerequisite for either country to become a member of the bloc. Serbia has been in EU membership talks since 2014; the bloc classes Kosovo as a potential candidate for membership. Vučić said his aim was for Serbia to become an EU member in 2026, having wrapped up talks in 2024. Such a scenario is likely to be seen as optimistic by at least some EU diplomats. In 2017, the European Commission suggested Serbia and its neighbor Montenegro could join the EU in 2025 but that goal proved unrealistic and is no longer mentioned by EU officials. Asked if he had any doubts about the aim of EU membership and might prefer instead to be close to the bloc without joining it, Vučić replied: “We would like to be a member of a club, to tell you the truth.”