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Belgrade Media Report 06 July

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LOCAL PRESS

Vucic: All I hear from their statements is rubbish (RTS/Tanjug)
Vucic to meet Macron in Paris (RTS/Tanjug)
Dacic: Greek decision to close borders for Serbians is bad (RTS)
RIK announces final results of parliamentary elections in Serbia (RTS/Tanjug/Beta)
Ljajic: Forty-six patients died at Novi Pazar hospital since April (TV Prva/Beta)
Another 289 cases (RTS)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Covic: Partnership between HDZ B&H and SDA does not exist; Izetbegovic: Croats hold more posts that they should (O kanal)
Russian Ambassador Ivantsov: Attempts to push NATO integration undermine foundations of B&H’s functioning as state of three constituent peoples and two entities (Nova BH)
B&H CC declines jurisdiction over decision of B&H CEC; Decision causes sharp reactions in RS (ATV)
Dodik: Self-discipline and respect of measures are RS’ main commitment in prevention of spreading of Covid-19 (ATV)
B&H sees significant decline in daily coronavirus cases for 2nd straight day (N1)
Croatia

HDZ wins convincing victory in Croatian parliamentary elections (Index.hr)
Plenkovic: Election victory is huge obligation (Hina)
Croatia reports 69 new cases of coronavirus infection, a total of 3,220 (N1)
Montenegro

Boskovic: Montenegro is our holiest place (CDM)
Mugosa: I advise Vucic to listen to health experts and leave us alone (CDM)
Media campaign against Montenegro: Not even Goebbels did this (CDM)
Divanovic: We’ll defeat political primitivism in the forthcoming elections (Pobjeda)
Coronavirus: Montenegro hits record high in daily cases (CDM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Political parties make various promises, focus on young people and economy (MIA)
North Macedonia reports 78 new cases of Covid-19, 172 patients recover, 5 died (MIA)
Albania

Meta welcomed Hoti: Albania supports Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (Radio Tirana)
Covid does not stop “patriotic tourism”. A high influx of vehicles at the Morina border crossing (Radio Tirana)
Albania reports 71 new case of Covid-19 in past 24h and 3 deaths (Tirana Times)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

Serbian President Vučić takes German lessons (Politico)
Serbia thanks Turkey after receiving another batch of medical supplies (TRT World)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic: All I hear from their statements is rubbish (RTS/Tanjug)

 

In comment to the statement by Kosovo Prime Minister Avdulah Hoti that he would claim the port of Durres from Albania, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said: “All I hear from their statements is rubbish, I’m so fed up with their nonsense. They say they’re coming to negotiate mutual recognition. Well, don’t come, then. I’m not coming to negotiate about it. I keep telling that to their political tutors.”

 

Vucic to meet Macron in Paris (RTS/Tanjug)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, it has been confirmed for Tanjug from Vucic’s cabinet. The two will talk in Paris, a day before the Serbia-Kosovo video summit, which will be hosted by Macron and Angela Merkel. First, a face to face meeting will be organized between the two presidents, and then they will have dinner along with their delegations.

 

Dacic: Greek decision to close borders for Serbians is bad (RTS)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on Monday the decision to close the borders of Greece to Serbian nationals is bad, adding that he hopes it will be changed. “The decision is unpleasant and bad,” he told RTS. He said the decision inflicts more damage on Greece than on Serbia and recalled that Hungary and other European Union member states have kept their borders open for Serbians. Dacic expressed the hope that the Greek government could review its decision and change it. He said that decisions to close borders are taken quickly during pandemics. “This is a living thing, changing from second to second,” he said.  Greece closed its borders to Serbian nationals as of 6:00 am on Monday but allowed those Serbians who are already in the country to stay for the duration of their vacations. The decision was reported to have been taken because of the rise in the number of people infected with the coronavirus in Serbia and the fact that a number of Serbian tourists developed COVID-19 symptoms while in Greece.

 

RIK announces final results of parliamentary elections in Serbia (RTS/Tanjug/Beta)

 

On Sunday night, the Republic Election Commission (RIK) adopted the Report on the overall results of the elections for deputies of the parliament. 6,584,376 voters registered in the voter list had the right to vote in the elections held on 21 June and 1 July, and 3,221,908 voters exercised their right to vote in 8,433 polling stations. The report states that the electoral list Aleksandar Vucic – For our children won 1,953,998 votes, i.e., 60.65 percent of the number of voters who voted, or 188 seats. The list Ivica Dacic – Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), United Serbia (JS) – Dragan Markovic Palma won 334,333 votes, 10.38 percent of the votes, or 32 parliamentary seats. The list Aleksandar Sapic – SPAS won 123,393 votes, 3.83 percent of the vote, or 11 seats. In addition to these lists, four minority parties entered the parliament – the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians – Istvan Pastor with nine seats and the electoral list Academician Muamer Zukorlic – Only Right – Party of Justice and Reconciliation (SPP) – Democratic Party of Macedonians (DPM) with four seats. The list Albanian Democratic Alternative – United Valley won three seats, the list of SDA Sandzak – Dr. Sulejman Ugljanin won three seats, while all other electoral lists did not pass the census.

 

Ljajic: Forty-six patients died at Novi Pazar hospital since April (TV Prva/Beta)

 

Forty-six patients have died since April through 2 July at the general hospital in Novi Pazar, according to Serbian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajic. Speaking to TV Prva, Ljajic said it was “horrible that those who died are today mentioned as numbers” because of misinformation that emerged over the past few days. He urged everyone to put aside the political battles and stop spreading false information, which needs to be denied every now and then. “Head of the hospital is presenting data on daily basis, there’s no need for someone to hide the number of those who died, and I cannot understand what would be a motive for that,” he said and called for solidarity.

 

Another 289 cases (RTS)

 

Until 3pm there have been another 289 cases, in total 16,420 infected. There have been six more deaths, in total 317 deaths. The number of active cases is 2,737. There are 93 patients on respirators.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Covic: Partnership between HDZ B&H and SDA does not exist; Izetbegovic: Croats hold more posts that they should (O kanal)

 

Leader of HDZ Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Dragan Covic stated on Saturday that partnership between HDZ B&H and SDA does not exist. Covic announced that at the upcoming meeting with the leaders of SDA and SNSD, one will attempt to reach an agreement on partnership action in the next two years because, according to him, without that, Croats will not support appointment of any Bosniak cadres. “Partnership that we had with SDA completely disappeared in the last few months with appointments of Croat officials without any kind of agreement with representatives of the Croat people – HDZ B&H and the Croat People’s Assembly (HNS),” Covic said, adding that this is why HDZ B&H stated that it will not support any appointment proposed by the Bosniaks. SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic also commented the upcoming meeting between him, Covic and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik, stressing that topics of the meeting will include appointment of Selmo Cikotic to the post of B&H Minister of Security, but also other appointments. “Situation as it is suits Mr. Covic. I believe that Croat corps is getting double, triple more positions when it comes to the state and of course he does not want to negotiate further. I am not asking for anything new in particular. I only ask for compliance with the Constitution and to determine what is the Bosniak quota, what is the Croat and what is Serb (quota),” Izetbegovic underlined.

 

Russian Ambassador Ivantsov: Attempts to push NATO integration undermine foundations of B&H’s functioning as state of three constituent peoples and two entities (Nova BH)

 

Glas Srpske daily published on Saturday a text written by Russian Ambassador to B&H Petr Ivantsov, Ivantsov, comments recent media reports about a report presented to the US Senate by the Committee on Armed Forces, according to which Russia is undermining sovereignty of B&H. Ivantsov explained that at first, he did not want to react to this information which contains “zero true information, but a lot of deceit and empty, groundless thoughts”. According to him, this is not the first attempt to paint a negative picture of Russia for no other reasons by Russophobia. “What is the essence of the new claims against us? We undermine sovereignty of B&H? Let us recognize in which way. Where are the facts? At least some which would not be so shameful to put trust in? Or is this only someone’s personal stance? Opinion of another well-paid ‘expert’? Another foreign body whose most members would not be able to find B&H on a map, and as we had the opportunity to see on numerous occasions, are not familiar with developments here? You can quote me: Russia supports sovereignty (should I write it in capital letters to make it clearer – SUPPORTS), territorial integrity and independence of B&H, equality of its three constituent peoples and two entities with broad constitutional competences,” Ivantsov wrote. He underlined that Russia cooperates with all levels of authority in B&H, with representatives of all three constituent peoples and representatives of the ‘others’. He wonders where the problem may lie, and speculates that it may lie in the fact that Russia’s views on Dayton Peace Agreement do not match tasks set from abroad which have the aim to revise the basic principles upon which B&H is built. He emphasized that Russia is against such revision and against violation of the status and rights of constituent peoples and entities. According to Ivantsov, such revision would pose a serious threat to the future of multi-ethnic B&H. Noting that the problem may also lie in Russia’s cooperation with the RS, Ivantsov said that Russia does not hide this, noting that this cooperation is not detrimental to anyone else. According to him, speculations on undermining of B&H’s sovereignty obviously have the goal to deceive the public and create tension in order to complete some other tasks. Commenting Russia’s stance on B&H’s NATO integration, Ivantsov said that Russia is opposed to enlargement of NATO which is an aggressive military-political bloc which creates divisions in Europe and undermines all-European stability and security. According to him, NATO blatantly, acting out of its own inclination and for its own selfish political interests, violated the international law and bombed towns, bridges, infrastructure and other civilian targets in the Balkans using depleted uranium ammunition which contaminated large areas of land. As for integrational aspirations of B&H, Ivantsov wrote, they are an internal matter of B&H.

He underlined that B&H, as a sovereign country, has the right to come closer to anyone. However, he reminded, there is no consensus in B&H when it comes to NATO membership. Ivantsov argued that all attempts to push NATO integration are undermining the foundations of BIH’s functioning as a state of three constituent peoples and two entities with broad constitutional competences, and they jeopardize its stability and security. “Russia, as one of countries which are guarantors of the peace agreement, has the right and obligation to warn of this and to work for the benefit of unconditional adherence to the Dayton principles,” Ivantsov concluded. In reaction to Ivantsov’s text, Chairman of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic stated that integration of B&H into NATO would guarantee security and stability of the country, while statements such as those made by the Russian Ambassador undermine the stability. Croat member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic also reacted to the text and warned that Ivantsov’s statements are by no means harmless. Komsic noted that the decision on NATO membership will be adopted again and, according to him, Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik will “once again participate” in that. Komsic said that he deems we have to be very careful when it comes to destructive role of Russia in this region, because messages that Russian Ambassador is conveying are not harmless. “Such aggressive approach of the Russian Federation and attack on what state of B&H defined through its laws and decisions, gives right to the US Senate when claim that Russia undermines sovereignty of B&H,” said Komsic. Speaker of the B&H House of People (B&H HoP) Bakir Izetbegovic said that Russia does not have anything to do with the decisions on NATO integration of B&H which were adopted a long time ago. ˝In this country there will be Rule of Law, Russia or anyone else will not rule here. We made our strategic decisions, our strategies, our laws and we will move in accordance with those towards the EU and NATO,” said Izetbegovic. Member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik stated that there is no, nor there will ever be a decision on NATO path, adding that “We in Republika Srpska (RS) are deciding about that”. He stressed that Izetbegovic and Komsic are no leading principled politics, nor they defend interests of B&H because this what they are saying is not interest of the RS. “They are mere ventriloquist dummies of their mentors, who are hiding within other embassies in Sarajevo,” said Dodik. SNSD member and delegate in B&H House of Peoples, Dusanka Majkic stated that SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic and member of B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic would prefer if Russian Ambassador to B&H did not have a right to speak about anything in this country. “Representatives of Bosniak politics would prefer if only Ambassadors of Quint countries i.e. Americans, would have the right to speak about B&H,” said Majkic. US Embassy to B&H commented the statements of Russian Ambassador to B&H Ivantsov, who said that “B&H integration to NATO questions security and stability”. Embassy’s statement reads that NATO membership is one of established goals of B&H’s foreign policy. “US is fully dedicated to providing of assistance to B&H on its Euro-Atlantic path. Our goals are the same as B&H’s goals: Euro-Atlantic future in which B&H will be stable and economically prosperous country. NATO has intervened in order to end the horrible war in B&H and it has helped in maintaining the peace for 25 years. NATO has secured peace in Europe for 70 years. US, along with other NATO allies, are partner to B&H in the process of achieving of progress towards declared goals of B&H foreign policy for permanent securing of peace and prosperity with full integration into EU and NATO” reads the statement.

 

B&H CC declines jurisdiction over decision of B&H CEC; Decision causes sharp reactions in RS (ATV)

 

B&H Constitutional Court (CC) declined jurisdiction and rejected the request of the RS parliament representatives to review the constitutionality of the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) to postpone 2020 local elections to 15 November caused numerous reactions in the RS. Serb member of the B&H Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik stated on Saturday that the decision of the B&H Constitutional Court (CC) to declare itself not competent to assess the constitutionality of postponement of local elections was expected. “That which we earlier called a joint criminal enterprise, this is now a joint judicial enterprise, which is going towards not sentencing evidently illicit matters. It is important that this happened because now we see in what manner this all functions, and the exact manner in which it functions has been displayed one more time. The CC which declares itself competent for anything and everything, for what it is and is not competent, has now accordingly said it is not competent. But OK, we expected this in the end. We do not want them to think that we expected that they would do something – no. We only sent that there to show that they do not want to do this. That is what happened in the end,” Dodik said. RS President and Vice President of SNSD Zeljka Cvijanovic stated for the media that SNSD expects the Court to judge by law, not by politics, or speculations. “Our laws are clear and our Constitution is clear as well as when what should be held’’ said Cvijanovic. ATV reports that opposition political parties in the RS are of view that no special attention should be paid to the B&H CC’s decision. Vice President of SDS Rado Savic stated: “I think we should move forward, prepare local election to actually hold the elections”.

 

Dodik: Self-discipline and respect of measures are RS’ main commitment in prevention of spreading of Covid-19 (ATV)

 

Experts are warning that although the number of new cases of Covid-19 in the RS on Sunday was three times smaller than on Saturday, there are no reasons for relaxation. Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik stated that if experts say that new restrictive measures are necessary, there will be no hesitation. Dodik stressed that if experts say that bars and hotels should be closed down, the RS will not hesitate to do so. Dodik stressed that it is concerning that there is an increasing number of patients in intensive care units, adding that it is evident that first wave of coronavirus did not come to an end. He stressed that self-discipline and compliance with measures remain the main commitment of the RS in preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus. “It is evident that the first wave did not stop, that this is not the second (wave), but sort of a continuation. It is visible that there is a larger number of infections with weaker intensity, but what worries us is the increasing number of people requiring intensive care. We will respect what experts say in that respect. If they tell us to close down bars, hotels and everything else that needs to be closed down, we will close it down. We will not hesitate at all,” Dodik underlined. RS Minister of Healthcare Alen Seranic confirmed for ATV that epidemiological situation in the RS is unfavorable. Seranic stressed that there are individual hotspots, but that situation is under control. Seranic said that mask, physical distance, disinfection and avoiding mass gatherings remain the main weapon in the fight against the coronavirus, but that problem are irresponsible individuals. Acting Director of the RS Public Health Institute Branislav Zeljkovic stated that it is very important to continue to comply with measures. “We see that wherever there was easing of measures, even to a smaller extent – not wearing of a mask and not respecting physical distance – there was a sudden increase in the number of infected individuals”, Zeljkovic underlined.

 

B&H sees significant decline in daily coronavirus cases for 2nd straight day (N1)

 

For the second straight day, B&H has recorded a significant drop in the number of daily coronavirus infections, with 62 positive coronavirus test outcomes — 46 in the FB&H and 16 in the RS, the healthcare authorities of confirmed on Monday. B&H’s coronavirus death toll has increased to 199, with three more fatalities reported over the last 24 hours – two in RS and one in the FB&H. The FB&H healthcare authorities have continued the mass testing and performed 688 lab tests since the last update, 61,222 since the epidemic outbreak. To date, the region has confirmed 2,814 Covid-19 patients, of whom 1,197 have recovered and 63 died. Over the last 24 hours, the RS healthcare authorities have performed 134 tests, 38,982 in total. So far, the region has confirmed 2,609 infection cases with 1,380 patients who have recovered and 131 that died. The Brcko District, has reported 35 Covid-19 patients to date of which 20 have recovered and five died. According to official statistics, the country’s coronavirus total stands at 5,458 and 2,598 patients have recovered to this date.

 

HDZ wins convincing victory in Croatian parliamentary elections (Index.hr)

 

According to the first official results of the Croatian parliamentary elections, HDZ wins 66 mandates, SDP’s coalition ‘Restart’ wins 41 mandates, Miroslav Skoro and ‘Homeland Movement’ win 16 mandates, ‘Most’ wins 8 mandates, ‘Mozemo’ seven mandates. The coalition gathered around political party ‘Pametno’ will also be a member of the Parliament, as well as Dalija Oreskovic, Dario Zurovec and Marijana Puljak. HNS also wins one mandate, as well as Radimir Cacic with his reformists.

 

Plenkovic: Election victory is huge obligation (Hina)

 

HDZ President Andrej Plenkovic said on Sunday, after winning the parliamentary election, that this was a big victory and big voter support as well as a huge obligation which they would take into account every day of the new term in dealing with the challenges facing Croatia. “Such support by a majority of Croatian voters is a huge obligation for us and we will take it into account every day over the next four years. We’ll take it into account because Croatia needs solutions for the economy, public health challenges, for strengthening democracy, strengthening institutions, strengthening human rights, minority rights,” Plenkovic said in his address to enthusiastic HDZ members. Croatia needs a government which will pursue a new modern sovereignism policy, which cultivates the values of the HDZ, of our first President Franjo Tudjman, because in recent years we have put the HDZ in the part of the political spectrum where he always put it and always wanted it, he added. “This transformation was supported both in intra-party elections and today’s parliamentary election. That’s why we know we are on the right track both for Croatia’s values and progress.” Plenkovic thanked everyone for the result and the HDZ’s victory today, including voters. “Whether they gave (the vote) to us, who have won the majority confidence, whether they gave it to some other parties they felt have the best solutions for Croatia. That’s what democracy is, an expression of the people’s will on which course Croatia should take.” He said this victory was an obligation “because we had a difficult term, full of temptations, and the challenges ahead are likely to be more difficult.” Such circumstances demand work, energy, enthusiasm, drive and dedication, he added. “They also demand responsibility, knowledge and experience. We tried to synthesize all that in our platform and in our candidates.”

 

Croatia reports 69 new cases of coronavirus infection, a total of 3,220 (N1)

 

In the past 24 hours, 69 new cases of Covid-19 virus infection were recorded, and the number of currently infected (active cases) in Croatia is 897, the National Civil Protection Headquarters announced. Since 25 February 2020, when the first case of infection was recorded in Croatia, a total of 3,220 people infected with the new coronavirus have been recorded to date, of whom 113 have died and 2,210 have recovered. There are currently 4.850 people in self-isolation. To date, a total of 85,997 people has been tested, of which 587 in the last 24 hours.

 

Boskovic: Montenegro is our holiest place (CDM)

 

Montenegrin Minister of Defense Predrag Boskovic is loud and clear – Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral, and Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) in Montenegro has gone too far in the political campaign, using religious processions as political platform. “It became clear in June, when Amfilohije started to instruct people on who to vote for. A man who is logically supposed to be a spiritual leader, sending messages of peace and love towards people. Instead, we are witnessing a publicly declared party which is constantly violating laws in Montenegro and doesn’t even recognize it,” Boskovic says. Such manipulation is very dangerous, Minister says. Commenting on the lists of professional and retired military persons who opposed the Law, Boskovic says that it isn’t only campaign against Ministry but also an open campaign against the state of Montenegro. “Sovereign and independent Montenegro they want to erase. That doesn’t bother us at all, because our country traced its path long time ago” Boskovic points out. He says that attacks on the Armed Forces of Montenegro have also been present since the beginning of year. “I reiterate that we are going to defend Montenegro from attacks. It is civil, independent state and will always be our only shrine,” Boskovic concludes.

 

Mugosa: I advise Vucic to listen to health experts and leave us alone (CDM)

 

Head of the Public Health Institute Boban Mugosa advised citizens to reduce contacts with people and stay at home whenever possible. Mugosa also advised owners of hospitality facilities and businessmen to adhere to the prescribed measures, and finally, advised Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic not to tell untruths and to leave Montenegro alone. He told PR Center that he has been repeating for months that a distance, hygiene and face coverings are the only way to protect from the coronavirus. “Reduce contacts with other people, stay at home whenever possible, as this fight cannot be won without your help. As you can see, the number of infections is continuously on the rise. We have to take care of our families, our friends,” noted Mugosa. All those showing signs of Covid-19 should stay at home. They must not go out and should call their doctor or an epidemiologist in charge. “You must self-isolate until we determine the reason of your symptoms, while your family members should go out only when needed and must wear face masks from the moment of exiting the house.” He also pointed out to certain violations of the prescribed measures in hospitality facilities. “Your work depends on whether you respect the measures and health of the citizens. You must help and be responsible in order to preserve the health of our citizens, jobs, as well as the activities.” Commenting on the statement of Serbia’s President that Montenegro doesn’t even have a lab for PCR testing, he says those remarks shouldn’t even be commented. “He certainly has bigger concerns and I really don’t understand his need to tell untruths about Montenegro. It would be better for him to take the situation in his country seriously and it would be better if he had understood it earlier, because this virus really poses a serious threat. If he had realized it on time, the situation in Serbia and in the region would have certainly been better.” According to him, epidemiologists from Serbia know very well that only Montenegro has the PCR diagnostics.

 

Media campaign against Montenegro: Not even Goebbels did this (CDM)

 

After pro-Serbian tabloids in Montenegro reported that ‘the Army of Montenegro defended its people and that some soldiers backed the Serbian Orthodox Church in protecting shrines’, several Serbian tabloids, that have been conducting a media campaign against Montenegro for a long time, have reported the news in their own way – by spreading fake news and exaggerating. Some of the headlines were ‘MONTENEGRIN ARMY RALLIED AGAINST MILO’S DICTATORSHIP! More than 120 soldiers and officers signed the petition supporting the church!’, ‘EVEN THE ARMY OF MONTENEGRO BACKED THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH: More than 120 soldiers defended the shrines!’, ‘The Army of Montenegro showed resistance to Milo, backed the people and is defending the shrines’…

Montenegro’s Defense Minister Mr Predrag Boskovic reacted on these titles, saying: “Such a campaign carried out by Serbian and Montenegrin tabloids not even Goebbels (Nazi Germany’s propaganda chief) used to do”.

 

Divanovic: We’ll defeat political primitivism in the forthcoming elections (Pobjeda)

 

The newly elected president of the Municipality of Budva Nikola Divanovic, in an interview for Pobjeda daily, assessed that the DPS would win a landslide victory in the elections on 30 August.

Divanovic accused the Democratic Front, DF, and the Democrats of ruining the harmony among the residents of Budva and Montenegro under the cloak of defending the shrines. He also rejected accusations of the above-mentioned parties for political corruption and violation of the Constitution during the change of power in Budva, noting that those who lose have the right to be angry. As for the forthcoming summer season, the crisis in Budva and his plans, Mr Divanovic said: “The crisis in Budva was instigated by representatives of the political minority in the time when they officially became a parliamentary minority. My plan is to unblock the operations of the Municipality of Budva along with a team of experts, having in mind that the city has been blocked for three and a half years. Our priorities are to set up an efficient administration, unblock the city’s account, pay off salaries, assist the residents and the industry in overcoming the consequences of the coronavirus crisis, as well as to create conditions for the implementation of development projects. The life in Budva can’t cease to exist neither due to the coronavirus epidemic nor due to the ignorance of its former management.” On his motives for taking on the new function, Mr Divanovic said: “My decision to show responsibility towards Budva stemmed from unscrupulous attacks on the dignity of my city and democratic values, such as interreligious and multinational harmony, that represent the bedrock of Montenegro. I’m sure that the majority of Budva residents recognized this, and I could see that from the messages they were sending me. I’m sure that we’ll win a landslide victory in the forthcoming elections, thus defeating the political primitivism that seriously contaminated the local political stage.” Commenting on the accusations of the opposition referring to the alleged violation of the Constitution during the change of power in that city and political corruption, the new President of the Municipality of Budva noted: “Those who lose have the right to be angry. However, one must not pass certain limitations even while being angry. You cannot always accuse somebody else for things that go wrong for you.”

 

Coronavirus: Montenegro hits record high in daily cases (CDM)

 

The number of coronavirus cases in Montenegro is continuously increasing. Montenegro has recorded its highest daily coronavirus case figure since the start of the outbreak. Over the past 24 hours, labs of the Public Health Institute analyzed 450 samples and 61 people have tested positive for Covid-19. The data of the Institute show that Montenegro records 73 active cases per 100.000 people. “Of 61 new cases, 46 people were in contact with someone already infected with the virus, while for 14 people, the source of infection is still unknown,” the Institute explained. From the beginning of June, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Montenegro is 457. Unfortunately, five people have passed away from the virus.

 

Political parties make various promises, focus on young people and economy (MIA)

 

Political parties resumed late Sunday campaign ahead of 15 July early parliamentary elections promising justice for all, public administration by European standards, security, prosperity, the fight against corruption and crime, judicial reform, better life for young people, education reform. Political parties are set to continue Monday presentation of their election programs to the citizens in line with coronavirus health protection protocols. The time of VMRO-DPMNE’s nationalism is over, Gruevism is behind us, it has ended. We live in the 21st century, in a time of globalization and digitization. People will support a serious party, that guarantees the country’s European future and politicians who make brave decisions for the good of all. We’re on the right track and will continue to move in the same direction, because there’s no other road, no alternative, SDSM leader Zoran Zaev told a rally in Chair municipality on Sunday night. He expressed expectations that SDSM will win an even stronger victory than the one in 2016. Citizens, Zaev added, can make a comparison of what life was like before 2017 and what it’s been like since. He underlined that North Macedonia solves today international disputes, is friends with all five of its neighbors and has the whole democratic world on its side. No one has the right, Zaev stressed, to annul friendship agreements and called on rival Mickoski to present his opinion on key state issues. “We’ll crush them. Those who favor nationalism and false patriotism will lose. Gruevski’s time is over. A real patriot is someone who increases pensions and salaries, helps people, builds unity, raises the living standard,” Zaev noted. He told young people not to consider moving away. “Stay here and I’ll fight for you, we’ll fight together. Here lies the challenge, in implementing reforms and making North Macedonia a European country with higher living standards. That’s patriotism. Everything we’ve done up until now, every risk, every brave decision, was for the good of future generations,” Zaev stressed. This is a historic election, set to pave the way for future Macedonian generations and make proud our ancestors, who have died so we can live, VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski told a rally in Krushevo on Sunday night. He expressed confidence that his party will win the election and told opponent Zoran Zaev that 15 July will end his political career. “Tonight, I stand here in Krushevo and say to you Zoran Zaev that I, Hristijan Mickovski, am the one who will defeat you and end your political career. Then, I will respect your right to presumption of innocence and give you a chance to prove to the court that you’re not guilty. But I don’t think you’ll succeed” Mickoski said. He stressed that the country will find itself at a historic crossroads on 15 July. With your support, we’ll turn the idea of first Albanian Prime Minister in North Macedonia, into reality. I’m sure that nothing can stop us. I don’t understand why Zaev, Mickoski and other party leaders can’t support this idea. They have to understand that it will improve trust between communities, DUI leader Ali Ahmeti told a rally in Debar on Sunday night. He added that the Albanian PM will work in the best interest of the country and all ethnic communities. “We contributed to NATO accession and are fully committed to North Macedonia’s efforts to obtain EU membership. We’re ready to handle any situation. We have a lot of work ahead of us before the country joins the European family,” Ahmeti said. Naser Ziberi, DUI’s candidate for first Albanian PM, also addressed the residents of Debar. “Our vision is just and inclusive. I’m sure it will come to fruition. We want to knock down the last wall that stands between us and equality and take only what’s ours,” Ziberi said. He called on Albanians, Macedonians and Turks to vote for DUI on 15 July, and vowed to return to Debar once he’s PM to make good on all promises.

 

North Macedonia reports 78 new cases of Covid-19, 172 patients recover, 5 died (MIA)

 

There were 894 tests performed over the past 24 hours, with 78 confirmed Covid-19 cases, 172 patients have recovered, while 5 passed away, the Ministry of Health said on Monday. Five patients passed away, aged 63, 70, 77, 80 and 86. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, North Macedonia has registered 7,124 confirmed coronavirus cases, while 3,199 people have recovered. The death toll stands at 346. At the moment, there are 3,579 active cases across the country, of which 1,960 in the capital Skopje. There have been 68,059 tests performed in the country until now.

 

Meta welcomed Hoti: Albania supports Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (Radio Tirana)

 

On Friday, the President of the Republic Ilir Meta received the Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti. The Head of State congratulated Prime Minister Hoti on his new task and on as many successes as possible for the good of Kosovo, its people and the European future. Meta and Hoti discussed the intensification of cooperation between our two countries, joint integration processes in the European Union, as well as developments in the region. Meta stressed that Albania supports the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, for the normalization of relations between the two countries. “In this context, the efforts of the United States of America and the European Union to resume the dialogue between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia are welcome. It is important that all Kosovo’s political forces are united around a comprehensive platform in this process,” said Meta. He expressed full confidence that Kosovo’s institutions will continue to represent Kosovo’s best interest in dialogue with Serbia. Also, Meta encouraged close cooperation with strategic partners, who have played a crucial role in Kosovo’s independence and its international affirmation. Meta stressed that visa liberalization for the citizens of Kosovo is a necessity that must happen as soon as possible. Meta promised Hoti that he would gladly promote Kosovo’s natural beauties this summer as well, and expressed confidence that more tourists from Kosovo would visit Albania.

 

Covid does not stop “patriotic tourism”. A high influx of vehicles at the Morina border crossing (Radio Tirana)

 

The start of July has brought a large influx of vehicles from Kosovo entering Albania at the Morina customs point moving towards the coast. On Friday morning, long queues of vehicles were created, where from 05:00 in the morning until 07:00 about 8 thousand people entered from Kosovo to Albania. This high influx has made Morina’s customs point work with 6 counters and with an accelerated procedure, precisely to avoid queues at the border. In addition to personal cars, a large number of buses have been observed, which respect the conditions and anti-Covid measures. Although in our country the most infected cases have reached a record, this has not stopped what is known as “patriotic tourism”. Tourism within the country as well as that from Kosovo are seen this summer as an economic necessity in the circumstances created by Covid and the earthquake in Durres.

Albania reports 71 new case of Covid-19 in past 24h and 3 deaths (Tirana Times)

 

Another three patients passed away due to the coronavirus during the last 24 hours, a 69-year old Doctor from Puka, a 63-year old from Lezha and a 65-year-old from Tirana. According to the Ministry of Health, the three victims were suffering from several underlying health conditions. This brings the total death toll to 79 victims in the country. Furthermore, 71 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of infected patients to 2964 in Albania. So far, tests have been conducted on more than 29,000 people. A total of 80 patients are being treated at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, 8 of whom are in intensive care and one is intubated. However, a total of 1702 patients who tested positive for the coronavirus in Albania have recovered. Currently there are 1183 active cases in Albania, 453 of which are in Tirana.

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Serbian President Vučić takes German lessons (Politico, by Jacopo Barigazzi and Andrew Gray, 5 July 2020)

 

Country’s dominant politician discusses Kosovo, China, EU and being ‘a small guy from the Balkans.’

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has been reading German history lately — and appears to have drawn some lessons. During a recent interview with POLITICO in Brussels, Vučić discussed how modern Germany has come to terms with the loss of territory it used to consider its own, and instead focused on its economic rise and promoting its culture and values. Is that a template for Serbia, which played a central role in the Balkan wars of the 1990s and faces the prospect of having to recognize that Kosovo is no longer its province as a price of EU membership? Vučić wouldn’t quite go that far. But, he said, “I would like us to be smart enough and to know that it’s not always the territorial issue that’s the most important. It’s important, no doubt. But it cannot be more important … than the values, than the virtue, than the language and the culture.” Vučić twice referred to himself as a “small guy from the Balkans” — a jarring description not just because he stands some 2 meters tall. For the past decade, he has been the dominant political figure in Serbia, the biggest and most populous of the six Western Balkan states seeking EU membership. His party claimed 60 percent of the vote in last month’s Serbian parliamentary election. For critics inside and outside Serbia, Vučić is far too dominant. Academics, rights activists, Western diplomats and opposition politicians say he has presided over serious backsliding on democracy, freedom and the rule of law. Freedom House, the U.S. government-funded NGO, rates Serbia as only “partly free.” The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe declared that while candidates in last month’s election were able to campaign “and fundamental freedoms were respected, voter choice was limited by the governing party’s overwhelming advantage and the promotion of government policies by most major media outlets.” Vučić dismissed such assessments as “bureaucratic reports.” He described the vote as “the most fair elections we have ever had.” “I don’t say that it’s an ideal situation,” he said of the election result. But he said his success was down to sound management of the economy, big infrastructure projects and the weakness of his political opponents. Vučić talked in glowing terms about the new Belgrade Waterfront (a controversial real estate development), new highways and the country’s robust economic growth. According to the national statistics office, the Serbian economy grew in the first quarter by 5 percent — “by far the best in Europe,” Vučić said, adding the country hopes to avoid recession this year despite the coronavirus crisis.

 

White House talks

Vučić was in Brussels to meet top EU officials on Friday of last week, a day before he had been due to hold talks at the White House with leaders from Kosovo — until news of a war crimes indictment against Kosovan President Hashim Thaçi scuppered that plan. Kosovo, a predominantly ethnic Albanian territory, declared independence from Serbia in 2008, almost a decade after a war that ended with a NATO bombing campaign. But Serbia continues to regard Kosovo as a rebel province. With the support of its ally Russia, Serbia has prevented Kosovo from joining the United Nations and other international organizations.In Brussels, the White House talks had not been viewed with great enthusiasm. EU diplomats complained that U.S. special envoy Richard Grenell had cut them out of the process. Grenell has insisted he informed senior French and German officials of his initiative, which he said focuses on economic cooperation. But there has been little sign of coordination with his EU counterpart, Miroslav Lajčak. Some EU officials were also afraid the U.S. administration could preside over a deal changing the borders of Kosovo and Serbia — although Grenell said he does not favor such a land swap and the EU does not have a common position on the idea. Vučić didn’t close to the door to future meetings in Washington: “Whenever they invite me, how can one small guy from the Balkans refuse to speak to someone from the White House?” But he also said EU-sponsored talks should resume despite the charges filed against Thaçi and expected them to take place in Brussels in the coming weeks. On borders, Vučić said, “I’m ready to discuss every single issue, ready to discuss all the proposals that might come from anyone.” But he also stressed that “it cannot be the case that we lose everything and they gain everything.” For Serbia, the Kosovo issue is inextricably linked to its bid for EU membership. The bloc has made clear neither Serbia nor Kosovo can join until they have reached a permanent peace settlement. But Vučic said the EU would have to offer a guarantee of membership before Serbia signs off on a peace deal: “If you think that Serbs will accept to recognize Kosovo independence to get maybe your membership in the future — hey!” Serbia has been in EU membership talks since 2014, and Vučic said his aim was to wrap up negotiations in 2024 and become a member in 2026. “We have to accelerate our EU process,” he said. That timeline strikes some EU officials as highly ambitious. It would certainly need Serbia to get more serious on rule of law and other issues, they say.

 

Points of friction

As he sat down for the interview at Serbia’s diplomatic base in Brussels, Vučić spotted a map on the wall — with Serbia and other Western Balkan countries in gray, surrounded by EU members in yellow. The map, Vučić said, showed not just that Serbia needs the EU but also that the EU needs Serbia. But the EU still needs some convincing. Last week, six EU members blocked the opening of a new chapter in Serbia’s membership talks, mainly because they were disappointed with the state of reforms, according to diplomats. Another point of friction with the EU is foreign policy. Not only because of Serbia’s ties to Russia but also due to Vučić’s close cooperation with China. During the coronavirus crisis in March, Vučić expressed his gratitude for Chinese shipments of medical supplies, writing a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping and declaring that “the only country that can help us is China.” He even kissed a Chinese flag when welcoming the arrival of Chinese doctors. By contrast, he dismissed EU solidarity as a “fairy tale.” That did not go down well with EU members. A statement issued as part of a virtual EU summit with Balkan leaders in May declared that “the fact that this [EU] support and cooperation [on coronavirus] goes far beyond what any other partner has provided to the region deserves public acknowledgment.” Yet Vučic stood by his comments: “Did I lie? Did I say something that you didn’t hear even from in a different way, from Ursula [von der Leyen, the European Commission president], from Italians, from France, from Spanish? But it was easy to find a scapegoat.” However, he said he also acknowledged “the biggest humanitarian aid we got is from the European Union, the biggest trade turnover we have [is] with the European Union, there are no doubts about it.” He said alignment with EU foreign policy would come — but not now. “We will do it but that chapter has not been opened yet,” Vučic said. Vučić, 50, started his political career in Serbia as an ultranationalist. He worked as minister of information under Slobodan Milošević, the former Serbian and Yugoslav president who died in 2006 while on trial before the U.N. war crimes tribunal, facing grave charges over the wars of the 1990s in which more than 100,000 people were killed. These days, Vučić is sometimes compared to Josip Broz Tito, the leader of communist Yugoslavia famous for playing major powers off each other, rather than Milošević. But he declined to say whether he had a political role model. “I cannot compare different times,” he said, adding it was easy today to criticize Tito, Milošević and others. “Tomorrow, it will be easy criticizing me,” Vučić said.

 

Serbia thanks Turkey after receiving another batch of medical supplies (TRT World, 4 July 2020)

 

A Turkish cargo plane carrying a second batch of medical supplies has arrived in Serbia amid the coronavirus pandemic. The plane landed at the Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade on Saturday and was met by Turkish Ambassador to Serbia Tanju Bilgic and Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister Rasim Ljajic. The aid, consisting of 16 tons of medical supplies needed to fight Covid-19, was sent upon directives of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a call for help from Serbia.

 

“Cooperation will continue”

Receiving the aid, Ljajic expressed gratitude to Turkey for help. “ … the plane is full of protective, medical equipment, disinfectants and other types of supplies and assistance intended for two or three cities, in other words, two or three municipalities in Serbia, “said Ljajic. He added that in this way, excellent relations between the two countries and the two presidents are once again exposed, as well as Turkey’s care for good relationships and the people in Serbia. Bilgic said that Turkey continues to be with Serbia in the fight against the pandemic. “The aid we delivered today is a result of cooperation with central and local authorities. I hope that this aid will contribute to the fight against Covid-19 in the region. On this occasion, I would like to thank the Serbian authorities for their close cooperation with our country and wish everyone health,” Bilgic said. The first set of supplies was sent on June 12. There are over 15,500 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 298 deaths in Serbia, according to data compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University. Since first appearing in China last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 188 countries and regions. The US, Brazil and Russia are currently the countries hardest hit in the world. The pandemic has killed nearly 525,500 people worldwide, with infections surpassing 11 million and recoveries over 5.88 million.

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