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Belgrade Media Report 30 June 2020

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Tuesday 30 June 2020

LOCAL PRESS

Vulin: Edi Rama’s friendship cannot be trusted (Tanjug/RTV)
Loncar, Brnabic: Hospital in Novi Pazar has enough medical equipment, health workers (Tanjug/RTS)
Loncar, Brnabic booed in Novi Pazar (N1)
Schieb: Serbia’s EU integration depends on progress in reforms (FoNet)
Due to worsening epidemic situation, CRTA won’t monitor vote in Serbia, CIP will (Beta)
Another 276 cases (B92)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

B&H CEC: Budget of institutions of B&H not adopted yet (BNTV)
RS Emergency Situation HQ adopts decision on closing down all quarantine facilities as of 1 July (BHT1)
Crisis HQ of FB&H Ministry of Health strengthens measures of prevention from spreading of Coronavirus (Hayat/O kanal)
Dzaferovic calls upon B&H institutions to help Sandzak region in Serbia in their fight against Coronavirus pandemic (N1)
Another 109 Covid-19 cases in Bosnia and one fatality (N1)
Croatia

Skoro says in favor of Croat federal unit in B&H (Hina)
Electoral Commission issues rules for voting during pandemic (HRT)
PM discusses EU Presidency with foreign diplomats (HRT)
Bozinovic: List of 15 countries for open borders to include Bosnia and Herzegovina (Hina)
Croatia reports 52 new cases of Covid-19 (N1)
Montenegro

Montenegro opens today last chapter in negotiations with the EU (CDM)
Another three cases of coronavirus in Montenegro (CDM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Sela: Albanians believed for years, but always disappointed by parties (MIA)
Dimitrov to Siljanovska: Do you want to have Prespa Agreement rescinded? (MIA)
Skopje, Ohrid airports to reopen 1, 2 July with Wizz Air flights (Republika)
North Macedonia reports 126 new cases of Covid-19, 4 died (Libertas.mk)
Albania

Rama to Hoti: Albania will help Kosovo in all its processes (Radio Tirana)
Rama showed support for the leaders of UÇK (Radio Tirana)
Rama meetings with political leaders in Kosovo (Radio Tirana)
Greece confirms opening its borders with Albania (Radio Tirana)
Another 69 COVID-19 cases (Radio Tirana)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

The Brief – Going to the polls after COVID-19 (EurActiv)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vulin: Edi Rama’s friendship cannot be trusted (Tanjug/RTV)

 

Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin has assessed that Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s friendship cannot be trusted, adding that Rama likes to speak about reconciliation, but only until this implies punishing the Serbs and being silent about the creation of a greater Albania. “If Edi Rama ever had the respect to read Dick Marty’s report he would have known that on the territory of the state of Albanian where he is the prime minister, organs of abducted Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija were extracted and then sold. He would have also known that the abduction of Serbs, murders of their political opponents among the Albanians, murders and torturing of Romas, Goranis, Bosniaks, were organized and approved by Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli and numerous other terrorists form the KLA,” said Vulin in a statement of the Serbian Defense Ministry. “I don’t know whether the court for war crimes established according to the laws of so-called Kosovo will try the murderers of Serbs, but I know that the evil of Albanian terrorists cannot be hidden and that one cannot trust Rama’s friendship,” said Vulin.

 

Loncar, Brnabic: Hospital in Novi Pazar has enough medical equipment, health workers (Tanjug/RTS)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Serbian Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar visited the General Hospital in Novi Pazar today, in order to be convinced of the situation in that city in connection with the coronavirus epidemic. Brnabic and Loncar were welcomed by Serbian Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajic, and then they talked with the director of the hospital, Meho Mahmutovic, after which they addressed the citizens. Brnabic said that the claims that there are no equipment and medicines in Novi Pazar are not true, but on the contrary, that the general hospital in that city is the best equipped in Serbia in terms of population. She appealed that the virus not be used for politicization, expressing gratitude to all health workers, primarily from Novi Pazar, who did their best in the fight against the pandemic, as well as health workers from Kragujevac, Kraljevo, the Institute of Public Health of Serbia “Dr Milan Jovanovic Batut” and other institutions. According to her, the main problem at the beginning was that the infected people showed up late, the number of cases grew extremely fast in a few days and there was no good separation into Covid and non-Covid parts of the hospital, and there were people who visited others in the “red” zones. She told the citizens that she and her associates brought additional equipment today, announcing that more nurses and technicians will be hired. Two to three new ambulances for a better connection of Tutin and Novi Pazar will be procured too, she said. Brnabic assessed that the situation with the coronavirus is challenging, difficult and complex, not only for Serbia, but also for the whole world, and that we do not need false news and misinformation, but the priority should be to support the health system, workers and patients. Loncar pointed out that additional quantities of equipment were delivered to this health institution today, so that it is better equipped than any hospital in Serbia, noting that protective equipment, an ultrasound machine, a gastroscope and others were brought today.

The system has been established and the situation is under control, he emphasized and announced that the capacities of the hospital in Novi Pazar will be expanded and that, if necessary, the entire hospital will be turned into a Covid hospital. Ljajic said that the situation in Novi Pazar with the coronavirus is no more difficult than in some other cities and municipalities, and called on citizens to concentrate and unite in the fight against the virus, regardless of political differences, personal likes and dislikes. He pointed out that the investment has never been greater in the health system and the General Hospital in Novi Pazar than it is the case over the last five or six years.

 

Loncar, Brnabic booed in Novi Pazar (N1)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Serbian Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar received a hostile reception in Novi Pazar on Tuesday, where they went to oversee the coronavirus epidemic situation recently reported to be the worst in the country, N1 reported. A group of people almost constantly booed the two, who spoke about false news coming from the “tycoon and opposition media and some obscure websites” who “politicized” the situation which they said was “not worse than in some other parts of Serbia.” There, however, she said, no one politicized the situation. The crowd chanted ‘thieves’. A journalist, who was only one allowed to post a question, said that the crowd was not politically motivated since they came from all political parties in the town. He said people were angry because of the situation with sick people reported to be treated in the hospital’s corridors and about the lack of necessary medical equipment. Brnabic said their presence was a proof of the politicization, while Loncar said such reaction might make the medical staff leave Novi Pazar. Brnabic denied all reports describing the situation in Novi Pazar as untrue, adding she and Loncar saw the hospital had everything needed to cope with the epidemic. Loncar reiterated his claim that undisciplined people bore the responsibility for the latest outbreak. “We wouldn’t have been in this situation had we respected all the measures,” he said. Loncar admitted the situation in Novi Pazar had been dramatic at one point, and that patients were in the corridor, but because they could receive oxygen there.

 

Schieb: Serbia’s EU integration depends on progress in reforms (FoNet)

 

German Ambassador to Serbia Thomas Schieb told an online conference on Monday that the speed of the European integration process depends on progress in several areas and added that he is sure that the new Serbian government will secure that speed. Speaking at the conference on preparations for a post-pandemic European Union, the ambassador said that the speed on Serbia’s path to the EU depends on progress in rule of law, media freedom and judiciary reforms.

He voiced the conviction that new chapters will be opened and inter-governmental conferences held during Germany’s six months as chair of the EU Council. Serbia sets the pace of reforms and the date of membership depends on that, Schieb said.

 

Due to worsening epidemic situation, CRTA won’t monitor vote in Serbia, CIP will (Beta)

 

The NGO’s CRTA monitoring mission said on Tuesday its observers would not take part in overseeing the repeated elections at 234 polling stations in Serbia on Wednesday, Beta reported.

Later on Tuesday, the Centre for Monitoring Election and Electoral proceedings, CIP, said its people would observe the repeated elections in Belgrade with the respect of all measures recommended by the government and the Ministry of Health. CRTA Mission said it called on the government, the anti-epidemic Crisis Team and the Republic Electoral Commission (RIK) to “urgently and clearly” declare themselves about the conditions for a new vote, but that no answer came their way. “Due to the current epidemic situation and the lack of the respective institutions’ say about the safety of the environment for the ballot, we are forced to give up observing the process,” the Mission’s statement said. It added CRTA planned to monitor elections at 234 polling stations as before despite there was a slim chance the results from the 21 June would change. Over 200,000 people are due to cast a ballot on Wednesday across Serbia at the polling stations where the irregularities on 21 June made RIK repeat the elections.

 

Another 276 cases (B92)

 

Until 3pm, there have been another 276 cases, 14,564 in infected in total; three more deaths, in total 277 deaths. There are 1,625 active cases. There are 42 patients on respirators.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

B&H CEC: Budget of institutions of B&H not adopted yet (BNTV)

 

According to the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Central Election Commission (CEC), after adoption of the budget of B&H institutions, there is no reason not to hold the local elections in B&H on November 15. The B&H CEC also reminded that the budget was still not adopted in the B&H Parliament. BNTV reported that in the meantime, the CEC has been undertaking all preparatory activities including updating of the Central Voters’ Register in B&H that still includes names of dead persons. The reporter noted that although they still did not receive money, tenders for public procurements were already announced, adding that the public is the most interested to know who will print the ballots. President of the B&H CEC Vanja Bjelica Prutina said that deadline to file applications for this public procurement procedure expires on 6 July. Bjelica Prutina also explained that they can carry out all activities, but it is impossible to sign a contract without money. Speaking about the Central Voters’ Register in B&H, she stated that there are 578 names of dead people on the list as well as 950 persons aged 100+ and one person aged 115. Bjelica Prutina also stated that as soon as competent ministries of interior erase names of the dead people, the persons will automatically be removed from the Central Voters’ Register in B&H. In her opinion, “dead people who apply to vote via mail is a classic abuse”. According to Bjelica Prutina, the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H and the State Investigation and Protection Agency should deal with this issue.

 

RS Emergency Situation HQ adopts decision on closing down all quarantine facilities as of 1 July (BHT1)

 

The Republika Srpska (RS) Crisis Headquarters adopted the decision to close down all quarantine facilities in the RS. It was decided that patients who display a less serious medical condition will be sent home into 14-day isolation, while those who have a more serious medical condition will be sent for treatment into a hospital. Acting Director of the RS Institute for Public Health Branislav Zeljkovic said that the number of new cases increased in the areas where citizens did not uphold restrictive measures imposed by authorities. He added that this was followed by the spreading of the infection within families and this caused the bad epidemiologic situation in these municipalities. It was stressed that the fact that the medical conditions in most cases are milder does not mean they are less dangerous for the population or the medical system. Quarantine facilities in Banja Luka, Istocno Sarajevo, Bijeljina, Trebinje and Doboj will be closed down by 1 July and no longer used for treatment of Covid-19 patients.

 

Crisis HQ of FB&H Ministry of Health strengthens measures of prevention from spreading of Coronavirus (Hayat/O kanal)

 

The Crisis HQ of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FB&H) Ministry of Health has strengthened and extended measures against spreading of the Coronavirus. Citizens of the FB&H will be sanctioned and pay fines in the amount of BAM 100 up to BAM 2,000, while legal entities will be sanctioned with payment of fines up to BAM 10,000 if they disrespect the measures. The FB&H inspection teams have intensified their controls due to growth in the number of new cases of the Coronavirus infection in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H). They announced strict fines, misdemeanor orders and even criminal liability for citizens, companies, coffee bars and restaurants that do not respect protective measures and recommendations issued by authorities in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic. The FB&H Civil Protection Crisis HQ issued an order for the obligatory wearing of protective face masks in closed public spaces and the wearing of masks in public open spaces in cases where it is not possible to keep a physical distance. The inspection supervision was increased in public transport in order to determine whether citizens respect the measures. Head of the Sarajevo Canton (SC) Ministry of Healthcare Crisis Headquarters Aida Pilav stated that the Crisis Headquarters has started to consider the possibility of limiting the number of people gathering indoors or outdoors. She added that the public will be informed about it in the upcoming period.

 

Dzaferovic calls upon B&H institutions to help Sandzak region in Serbia in their fight against Coronavirus pandemic (N1)

 

Chairman of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic called upon B&H institutions to help the Sandzak region, in Serbia, by sending necessary medical equipment needed for fight against coronavirus. “Officials from Sandzak informed me that they mostly need expert medical assistance. That is why I expect medical teams to be formed in B&H, which would be made of doctors and other medical staff, and, through cooperation of institutions in B&H and Serbia, they would be sent to Sandzak with the goal of providing aid,” reads Dzaferovic’s statement.

Also, Head of the Islamic Community in B&H Husein Kavazovic called on Muslims and citizens of Sandzak in Serbia, especially members of the Islamic Community in Serbia, to stick to measures of protection from spreading of the Coronavirus. Kavazovic also called on competent institutions in Serbia and B&H to find ways to help people of Novi Pazar and other parts of the Sandzak area in Serbia, that are currently in a difficult situation. A special shipment containing uniforms and masks was sent from the Islamic Community in B&H to Novi Pazar on Monday, while the Islamic Community in B&H will organize collection of money for this purpose on Friday.

 

Another 109 Covid-19 cases in Bosnia and one fatality (N1)

 

Bosnian health officials said Tuesday they uncovered 109 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, 40 in the RS and 69 in the FB&H, adding that there was also one fatality as a result of the infection in the RS. After testing 327 samples for the presence of SARS-COV-2, the RS Public Health Institute said 40 samples came back positive for the disease. The fatality which the Institute reposted was that of a middle-aged man with multiple chronic diseases. The FB&H entity’s Covid-19 Crisis Staff reported 69 new cases after testing 775 samples. This entity reported zero fatalities over the past 24 hours. According to the state Civil Affairs Ministry, Bosnia has so far confirmed 4,453 Covid-19 cases, of which 2,402 recovered, and 186 had died.

 

Skoro says in favor of Croat federal unit in B&H (Hina)

 

Homeland Movement leader Miroslav Skoro has said that he advocates a Croat federal unit in B&H so that Croats in that country could become equal to the other two ethnic groups, and he criticized the attitude of Croatia’s governments so far to compatriots in the neighboring country.

“We are not satisfied with statements about the need for Croats in B&H to be an equal and constituent ethnic group, we have been hearing them for years and (ethnic Croats) are neither equal nor constituent. The only true solution that would satisfy those principles is a federal unit for the Croat people within an integral B&H,” Skoro said. He said that that solution would be best for B&H and Croats themselves as it would not “push them into the embrace of Milorad Dodik, who is not hiding his separatist ambitions at all.” Skoro welcomed resolutions by the European Parliament supporting the federalization of B&H, on which he said Zagreb had not insisted. Skoro believes that the source of the inequality of Croats in B&H is the 1995 Dayton peace agreement, which put an end to the war in the country, which, he said, had stripped local Croats of that constitutional right.

 

Electoral Commission issues rules for voting during pandemic (HRT)

 

The State Electoral Commission has issued instructions for poll workers and voters on how voting will take place this Sunday in the parliamentary election. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, voters are advised to wear masks, while people who are under orders to self-isolate will be able to vote from home, but only if they contact their election boards by Thursday, members of the Commission told reporters at a news conference on Monday in Zagreb.

“We are inviting those people who are under orders to self-isolate to contact their polling boards at least 3 days prior to the election so that the board has enough time to prepare,” said Vesna Fabijancic-Krizanic, vice president of the Electoral Commission. People voting from home will do so on their doorstep when poll workers bring them their ballot, the Commission said. Voters will have to enter polling stations one by one and keep a distance of one and a half meters from others while inside. Wearing a mask is recommended but not mandatory. Elderly or infirm people who are unable to leave elder care of hospice facilities will also be able to vote. Poll workers will be allowed to bring ballots with them, but they will be required to wear full personal protective gear. “Voters are encouraged to take their temperature on the morning of the election and if they measure above 37.2 degrees or if they have respiratory or other symptoms typical for Covid-19, they should contact their doctors. They will not be allowed to enter polling stations nor will those who are Covid positive, nor those who are under orders to self-isolate,” said Ana Lovrin, also a vice president of the Electoral Commission. Croatian voters will cast ballots in the parliamentary election on Sunday. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 

PM discusses EU Presidency with foreign diplomats (HRT)

 

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic addressed to a gathering of foreign diplomats in Zagreb on Croatia’s expiring six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, which wraps up Tuesday. Due to the new and unexpected circumstances of the global coronavirus pandemic, the Croatian presidency had to radically change and adapt its program to instead focus on the health and safety of European citizens. “Despite these challenges, we actually achieved quite a lot. For us, one of the priorities was to put into focus our immediate neighborhood, the region of the Western Balkans. And one of the big achievements was to completely change the political situation vis-a-vis the enlargement that existed back in October 2019. We enabled the consensus at the level of the Council to open the accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania,” said Plenkovic. The Croatian mandate was based on the four priorities of development, connectivity, protection, and European Global influence, and was united in the motto ‘A Strong Europe in a World of Challenges’. This, the government stressed at the beginning of the year, encapsulated the vision of a Europe acting for the benefit of its Member States and citizens.

 

Bozinovic: List of 15 countries for open borders to include Bosnia and Herzegovina (Hina)

 

EU member states will on Wednesday open their borders to 15 countries, including Serbia and Montenegro, while Croatia has added Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatian Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said on Tuesday, adding that there were fewer new cases of COVID-19 in Bosnia than in Serbia and the decision is in Croatia’s economics interest. Bozinovic assessed that this is not a political decision related to the coming election but that it is in the interest of the Croatian economy. He said that the final recommendation from Brussels is still pending. “We do not expect any additional problems due to opening the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina because the import of infected people was far higher from Serbia than from Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Bozinovic. Twenty-five cases were imported from Serbia and only eight from Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said and added that authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including epidemiologists, were taking the necessary steps. “The thing that is important is that hotspots are under control in Croatia. It is not unexpected that the number of people infected will increase in some areas of Croatia, just as they are growing in other European countries. Given that the clinical picture is milder, the health services are not overloaded, I think that only one ventilator is currently in use,” he said. Bozinovic reiterated that at the moment decisions were being made in favor of economic activity, primarily tourism. He said that he has noticed that people are adhering more to the recommendations and that this is “a preparatory period for the autumn when more respiratory problems are usually prevalent.” Commenting on night clubs being the source of new infections in Croatia, he said that inspectors would be issuing warnings at first but then would impose sanctions for those breaching measures.

 

Croatia reports 52 new cases of Covid-19 (N1)

 

In the last 24 hours, 52 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded, a total of 2,777 people infected with the new coronavirus have been recorded. Two people are on respirators.

 

Montenegro opens today last chapter in negotiations with the EU (CDM)

 

The EU-Montenegro Intergovernmental Conference will be held today in Brussels and the last negotiation Chapter 8 – Competition will be officially opened. Having in mind the current situation due to the coronavirus epidemic and restrictions when it comes to the attendance, Mr. Bojan Sarkic, Head of Mission of Montenegro to the EU, will be attending the conference on behalf of Montenegro, while Ms. Irena Andrasi, the permanent representative of Croatia to the EU, and Mr. Christian Danielson, director-general of the EU Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, will be present on behalf of the EU. On this day, eight years ago, the EU started negotiation talks with Montenegro. On the occasion of the eighth anniversary of the EU negotiations, chief negotiator, Mr. Aleksandar Drljevic, said yesterday that Montenegro has achieved great results in cooperation with the EU and that it’s important now to show that our institutions and our legislative framework are absolutely functional. With the last chapter officially opened, Drljevic added, Brussels administration has shown that enlargement policy remains active in these difficult times when we are all faced with coronavirus pandemic. “There’s still a lot to be done in the next negotiating phase. By that, I mean the area of rule of law and Chapters 23 and 24 which will remain in the spotlight.”

 

European integration of Montenegro

Results that Montenegro has achieved on the road to the EU rely on exhaustive and dedicated work, as well as the partnership with the EU that was set as a goal after the restoration of independence in 2006. Ever since the first treaty was signed with the EU – the Stabilization and Association Agreement on 15 Oct. 2007, further successes have followed, such as providing a visa-free regime for Montenegro citizens, applying for membership in the Union, but also complex tasks such as submission of answers to the Questionnaire of the European Commission until obtaining the candidate status on 17 Dec. 2010. Hard work and achieved results were crowned with the official start of the accession talks on 29 June 2012 in Brussels. Montenegro started accession talks with the EU as the first country that negotiated within the new approach, i.e. chapters that referred to the rule of law – 23 Justice System and Fundamental Rights and 24 – Justice, Freedom and Security took a central place in negotiations.

 

Another three cases of coronavirus in Montenegro (CDM)

 

The Institute for Public Health analyzed another 181 samples. The analysis showed three coronavirus cases. New cases are from Berane, Cetinje and Kotor and are now subject of epidemic research. “Total number of registered cases since mid-June has reached 177. Number of active cases is 175, as two patients passed away”, the Institute said.

 

Sela: Albanians believed for years, but always disappointed by parties (MIA)

 

It is time to create a state for all, where everyone will feel equal. Election Day is when citizens have the power to make that change, said Alliance for Albanians leader Ziadin Sela on Monday.

“We are faced with a situation that comes once in four years. There are many party officials who come and attempt to jeopardize the citizens’ political will. Election Day is your ‘five minutes’. At 7 am party leaders are not worth a dime, because the political power is measured at 9 pm. We will as powerful as the votes you give us” Sela told a meeting in the Kumanovo village of Cherkezi while presenting program “State for All” of the Alliance for Albanians/Alternativa coalition “Time is Now”. He said that Albanians believed for years but were always disappointed by the political parties of ethnic Albanians, and as a result redirected their votes to an entity of ethnic Macedonians. “Where are we today? I saw how SDSM treats Albanians. They say ‘a society for all’ but there is no school for Albanians in Idrizovo or Chashka. There are thousands of Albanian children learning in Macedonian, not their mother tongue. This is not a society for all,” said Sela.

 

Dimitrov to Siljanovska: Do you want to have Prespa Agreement rescinded? (MIA)

 

Nikola Dimitrov, first candidate on the SDSM-led coalition’s list in the first electoral district, called on Monday his rival Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, the first candidate on VMRO-DPMNE’s list in the same constituency, to tell voters whether she is in favor of rescinding the Prespa Agreement. “We heard Gordana Siljanovska saying over the weekend that she would seek annulment of the Prespa Agreement. It’s an agreement that was backed by almost 610,000 Macedonian citizens in the name referendum. It’s an agreement that was endorsed by two-thirds of MPs, which paved our way for NATO membership and open the way for EU accession,” Dimitrov said in a statement. The name, he added, we inherited from our predecessors and that had been a constant element in all complex names throughout the history of the Macedonian state is the name and the adjective Macedonia. “We are neither Madagascar, nor Mongolia, not even Skopje,” Dimitrov noted, mentioning UN envoy Matthew Nimetz, who has stated that no one can question Macedonians and Macedonian language in North Macedonia after the Prespa Agreement. Reading a statement, Dimitrov asked Siljanovska if she was in favor of rescinding the Agreement that served as a guarantee for the Macedonian future. “Are you Ms. Siljanovska prepared to face the consequences from this move. Hungry for power, you say you will eliminate historic steps you don’t even understand,” the MP candidate said.

 

Skopje, Ohrid airports to reopen 1, 2 July with Wizz Air flights (Republika)

 

Skopje International Airport and Ohrid St. Paul the Apostle Airport are to reopen Wednesday and Thursday respectively with Wizz Air flights. The first set of tourists are expected to arrive at the Skopje airport from the Netherlands and Poland in mid-July, TAV Macedonia General Manager Alper Ersoy said on Monday. Flight protocols have been designed in line with international standards. Ersoy noted that passengers will have to arrive at the airport three hours before their flight, as protective measures will prolong security checks. Limits have not been imposed on the number of passengers per flight, Ersoy added, as this would be unprofitable, but passengers will be obliged to wear face masks for the duration of the flight and cabins have been equipped with HEPA filters that destroy 99.9% of viruses and bacteria.  “Flying will become the safest way to travel,” Ersoy said. He added that Turkish Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Pegasus Airlines, Edelweiss Air and Czech Airlines will resume flights from Macedonia’s airports on Wednesday, while Austrian Airlines and Croatia Airlines will do the same mid-July. Meanwhile, Qatar Airways and flydubai have cancelled all flight until the end of August. Airport authorities expect a decreased amount of flights and passengers in coming months. Health Minister Venko Filipce, who visited together with Minister of Transport and Communications Goran Sugareski the Skopje airport on Monday and met with airport management, confirmed that Macedonia’s two airports will reopen on 1 July. He told reporters that he is set to talk to his Greek counterpart Monday about the reopening of the Evzoni border crossing, adding that he has already discussed with EU health authorities entry of Macedonian nationals in EU member states and will discuss the issue with them again on Tuesday and Thursday. “Protocols at the Skopje airport are in line with international standards. Basic protective measures, such as social distancing, face protection, etc. have been implemented. A thermal camera has been placed at the airport’s entrance and the isolation room will also become operational,” Filipce said. Only passengers, he added, will be allowed to enter the airport building, thus reducing significantly the risk of large crowds gathering.

 

North Macedonia reports 126 new cases of Covid-19, 4 died (Libertas.mk)

 

In the last 24 hours, 126 new cases of Covid-19 were registered in North Macedonia, bringing the total number of infected to 6.334. Four people died, bringing the total number of deaths to 302. The number of active cases is 3.557.

 

Rama to Hoti: Albania will help Kosovo in all its processes (Radio Tirana)

 

Prime Minister Edi Rama had a meeting with his Kosovo counterpart Avdullah Hoti, where he thanked him for the support that Albania has given to Kosovo. Hoti said that the government of Kosovo naturally considers Albania as the closest and strategic partner in the process of achieving the Euro-Atlantic integration goals. Speaking about the new situation created in Kosovo, Hoti reiterated that Kosovo has already   proven an institutional culture to face with dignity such challenges that are not easy. Hoti also reiterated that, despite the circumstances and difficulties that may arise during the process, the government of Kosovo is committed to developing its Euro-Atlantic integration agenda. “We are determined to continue the dialogue process with Serbia, in order to reach a permanent peace and stability agreement, which will result in mutual recognition between the two countries,” he said. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rama offered the full support of the Albanian government to the institutions and people of Kosovo. “Albania has stood and will always stand by Kosovo,” Rama said, emphasizing that in the future, Albania will help Kosovo in all its processes. At the end of this meeting, Prime Minister Rama invited Prime Minister Hoti for an official visit to Albania, which is expected to take place this Friday, 3 July 2020.

 

Rama showed support for the leaders of UÇK (Radio Tirana)

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, who is currently conducting a two-day visit in Kosovo, posted a video that summarizes the difficult days of the Serbian invasion of Kosovo and the efforts of the latte for freedom and independence. The video is accompanied by a speech of Rama in parliament where he openly supported the heads of the Kosovo’s Liberation Army that are being accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Rama declared that Serbia is not the victim but the aggressor that caused grave consequences for the life of Albanians. According to him, ThaciVeseliHaradinaj and many others rebelled against the aggressor in the name of the innocent victims. “They are on the right side of history, making history themselves and giving it the possible unchangebility, as part of the liberation of that undividable part of the Albanian nation that is called Kosovo,” declared Rama.

 

Rama meetings with political leaders in Kosovo (Radio Tirana)

 

The Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, has started meetings with political leaders in Kosovo. Rama met with the President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci this afternoon after several meetings with Kosovar leaders. Earlier in the day, Rama said in a Twitter post that he was in Kosovo to discuss the war crimes indictment filed by the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, Kadri Veseli, and others. Rama also met with the Speaker of the Assembly of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani, the Prime Minister Abdullah Hoti, the Chairman of the Self-Determination Movement, Albin Kurti, the Chairman of the Democratic Party of Kosovo Kadri Veseli and the Chairman of the Initiative for Kosovo, Fatmir Limaj. Rama also met in Pristina with PDK leader Kadri Veseli.

 

Greece confirms opening its borders with Albania (Radio Tirana)

 

Greece has confirmed that it will open its borders with Albania. It was the Spokesman of the Greek government, Stelios Petsas, who confirmed in a press statement that Kakavia and Kapshtica are among the check points to be opened with other countries. Among other things, after announcing the opening of airports and ports from the day after tomorrow, July 1, he says “at the same time, the entrance gates of Evzono, Kakavia, Kristalopigis, Kapshtica, Promachona, Nimfeas, Kastanion and Kipon will be opened”, writes daily TemA. The statement comes after the European Union’s decision to include Albania in the list of countries that will not be allowed to join the Union on 1 July, due to the blocking of the bloc’s international borders due to pandemics.

 

Another 69 COVID-19 cases (Radio Tirana)

 

The high number of the infected people with COVID-19 in Albania continues to remain high. In the 24 hours 69 positive cases were identified out of 371 tests performed. There were also three victims today due to the coronavirus. All three victims had accompanying illnesses and couldn’t survive the situation due to the grave symptoms caused by COVID-19. At the Infectious Diseases Hospital there are 79 patients, where 8 patients are receiving intensive care and 3 are intubated. The best news is that in the last 24 hours, 25 citizens have recovered, bringing to 1459 the number of the cured patients since the beginning of the pandemic.

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

The Brief – Going to the polls after COVID-19 (EurActiv, by Zoran Radosavljevic, 29 June 2020)

 

What is it with Eastern Europe and the rush to the polling stations as soon as the lockdown  measures were relaxed?

Serbia, the biggest EU candidate country, broke the ice on 21 June with a controversial parliamentary election boycotted by the opposition. Poland, the biggest eastern EU member, held the first round of a presidential ballot, a crucial part of the ruling PiS party’s efforts to stay in power, on 28 June. Croatia, the youngest EU country and the current EU presidency holder (until midnight Tuesday) then took the baton and is gearing up for a parliamentary election on Sunday (5 July). The common thread in all three, other than public health concerns, is that the EU, with its massive €750 billion recovery package and efforts to go green and digital, did not feature at all in either. In Serbia, which the US-based Freedom House recently declared no longer a democracy but a “hybrid regime”, President Aleksandar Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party (EPP) won massively and effortlessly, as most of the opposition stayed away, decrying the election as unfair and illegitimate. There was some talk of digitalisation, migration, and economic growth, but all that was sketchy and overshadowed by the boycott. In Poland, apart from a controversy about postal voting, talk focused largely on LGBTI rights. Incumbent Andrzej Duda, who is close to Pis, had campaigned on a promise to ban classes about gay rights in schools, saying LGBT was an “ideology” that was worse than communist doctrine. And in Croatia, whose maiden EU presidency went largely unnoticed at home, two red herrings swept everything else away. The main campaign issues – brace yourselves – were: Should raped women be allowed to have an abortion? (Yes – centre-left. No – centre-right) and Should Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic self-isolate after visiting an ill-starred tennis tournament on the Adriatic coast, where a number of participants tested positive? “There was no talk whatsoever about what projects we could put forward to attract the €10 billion earmarked for Croatia from the EU’s recovery fund,” says EURACTIV Croatia editor-in-chief, Zeljko Trkanjec. “The ruling HDZ believes they’ve already demonstrated their EU competence by drawing considerable cohesion funds. All the other parties just don’t understand it at all”. Small wonder, then, that the true gem of the campaign turned out to be a mocking video clip presenting veteran ethnic Serb representative Milorad Pupovac, who has been a regular target of nationalist invective from the right-wing camp. Brimming with self-irony and wit, it turns those cliches on their head. “This ethno-businessman [a reference to his 30-year career as a Serb deputy] is in daily telephone contact with businessman Bill Gates,” reads a serious male baritone as the video shows Pupovac walking around Zagreb with his mobile phone. “The notorious Milorad Pupovac sold him the idea for 5G and chips that will be implanted with the so-called ‘corona vaccine’”. “And right now, by sending Croats to Serbia to listen to Serbian folk music, and sending infected Serbs to Croatia [a slight jab at Novak Djokovic, one of the tennis players who tested positive] Pupovac is organising a second wave of coronavirus in Croatia”. The clip ends on a serious note, with a slogan ‘Be what you are, respect what you’re not’. Pupovac is almost guaranteed one Serb seat in the new parliament but everything else up for grabs and analysts predict a hung parliament where the main parties, the HDZ and the Social Democrats, will struggle to build a working majority. In the meantime, as the number of infections is lightly but steadily rising in Croatia and a few other countries, it remains to be seen whether rushing those ballots was really a smart move.

 

The Roundup

The centrist Renew Europe political faction has added another EU leader to their roster after Ireland formed a new government over the weekend, with Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin at the helm, tasked with overseeing the country’s economic recovery after the pandemic. Solidarity and sovereignty will be the name of the game for the German EU presidency, according to Foreign Minister Heiko Maas who emphasised the need for greater EU independence from the current geopolitical power struggle between the US and China. Helena Dalli is the first European Commissioner for Equality, an issue to which she dedicated a big part of her life. In an interview with EURACTIV, she said that racism is “alive” in Europe, and called for “thinking ‘out of the box’” to address the structural biases inside the Commission. European Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan said he would not seek to become the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation, despite having previously stated he was looking into the possibility. For the first time since 2015, asylum applications in the EU started to rise again in 2019. However, Italy is no longer among the main host countries while Germany retains its top spot. Poland’s nationalist incumbent Andrzej Duda won the first round of a presidential election but will have to face the centrist mayor of Warsaw in a run-off on July 12, in a race that could transform the nation’s ties with the European Union. Farmers need access to the latest tools and technologies to enable them to reach EU-wide fertiliser targets and get a clear picture of what is happening on the ground, stakeholders stressed during a recent EURACTIV conference. An increased reliance on digitalization could help to preserve minority languages despite the English language dominating online, a leading MEP has said.

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