International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Serbia's epidemiologist: Face mask and physical distance – 99 pct protection

October 21, 2020

Predrag Kon, an epidemiologist and a member of Serbia's anti-coronavirus Crisis Team, said on Wednesday that wearing face masks and keeping physical distance provided a 99 percent protection from the coronavirus infection.

"If only one person wars a mask the protection for them is about 30 percent," Kon wrote on his Facebook profile.

His message came after Prime Minister-designate Ana Brnabic said late on Tuesday that by 8 pm last night there were 400 people infected with the coronavirus after the regular official bulletin at 3 pmsaid that number was 326.

"In the beginning, the (World Health Organisation) WHO believed a mask was functional only if an infected person wore it to prevent the virus from spreading. The latest studies about their effectiveness show the pandemic is more successfully fought against in the countries where people massively wear them," Kon wrote.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a662995/Serbia-s-epidemiologist-Face-mask-and-physical-distance-99-pct-protection.html

Coronavirus UPDATE: 1 death, 512new cases

October 21, 2020

The Serbian Health Ministry said in its daily 3:00 pm bulletin on Wednesday that 1 person died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 781.

It said that 7,425 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 512 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The total number of people tested to date stands at 1,256,531 with 37,120 confirmed cases.

The bulletin said that there are 490 active cases, including 27 patients on ventilators.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a663168/Coronavirus-UPDATE-1-death-512new-cases.html

Slovenia confirms record 1,503 new coronavirus cases, 8 more dead

October 21, 2020

In the last 24 hours, as many as 1,503 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Slovenia and eight persons have died due to COVID-19, the government said on Wednesday.

In the last 24 hours as many as 1,503 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Slovenia and eight persons have died due to COVID-19, the government sad on Wednesday.

This is the highest number of new cases in a 24-hour period to date. The previous record was 898 last Friday.

Since the start of the epidemic, Slovenia has registered 15,982 cases of the new virus, including 8,860 currently active ones. The number of infections over the past fortnight has jumped to 423 per 100,000 inhabitants. The death toll is 200.

Currently 333 patients are hospitalized, including 55 in intensive care.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a663073/Slovenia-confirms-record-1-503-new-coronavirus-cases-8-more-dead.html

Croatia reports record high of 1,424 new coronavirus infections

October 21, 2020

Over the past 24 hours, Croatia has registered 1,424 new cases of the coronavirus infection, a record one-day high, and there have been 11 deaths, the national Covid-19 response team said on Wednesday.

Currently, 622 Covid patients are being treated in hospitals, and 38 of them are on ventilators. The number of active cases stands at 6,459, and there are 24,242 people in self-isolation.

Since February 25, when Croatia registered its first case of the infection, 28,287 people have contracted coronavirus, 393 of them have died, and 21,435 have recovered, including 473 in the last 24 hours.

To date, 411,947 people have been tested for the virus, including 5,428 over the past 24 hours.

This is the third time in a week that the number of single-day cases has exceeded one thousand.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a663061/Croatia-reports-record-high-of-1-424-new-coronavirus-infections.html

Bosnia sees new record-high with over 900 coronavirus cases reported in a day

October 21, 2020

More than 900 new coronavirus cases and 14 fatalities were confirmed in Bosnia and Herzegovina over the last 24 hours, said healthcare authorities who have continued the mass coronavirus testing with over 3,000 lab tests performed since the last update.

The Federation entity currently has 5,021 active Covid-19 cases, while 17,935 have recovered to date. The region has also confirmed 655 fatalities among Covid-19 patients.

The healthcare authorities in this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina have performed the total of 186,395 lab tests with 23,621 of those who tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the epidemic outbreak, 654 in the last 24 hours.

In Republika Srpska, the healthcare authorities have performed 730 lab test over the last 24 hours, with 268 of those who tested positive for the coronavirus. The region has so far confirmed 12,325 Covid-19 cases and 345 fatalities. The total of 7,548 patients has recovered to date.

Brcko District reported four more Covid-19 cases, 369 in total. According to official data, 296 patients have recovered and 21 died.

According to statistics, Bosnia's coronavirus total stands at 36,242 and death toll at 1,021. The total of 25,779 patients has recovered.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a663101/Bosnia-sees-new-record-high-with-over-900-coronavirus-cases-reported-in-a-day.html

Montenegro registers seven more coronavirus-related deaths

October 21, 2020

The Montenegrin Public Health Institute said on Tuesday that seven people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths since the pandemic broke oout to 247.

It said that 777 people had been tested for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus including 132 who tested positive, bringing the total number of people infected to 15,892.  

The Institute said that antother 293 patients had recovered from COVID-19, adding that there are 4,064 active cases in the country.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a662861/Montenegro-registers-seven-more-coronavirus-related-deaths.html

Four coronavirus-related deaths in North Macedonia

October 20, 2020

North Macedonia’s Health Ministry said on Tuesday that four more people had died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths since the pandemic broke out to 850.

It said that 2,104 pepople had been tested in that period, including 408 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. A total of 223,922 people have been tested in North Macedonia since the pandemic broke out, 24,196 of who tested positive.  

The Ministry said that there are 5,674 active cases and the Public Health Institute added that another 280 patients recovered from COVID-19 bringing the total number of recoveries to 17,672.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a662875/Four-more-coronavirus-related-deaths-in-North-Macedonia.html

Pisonero: Concern over closure of Kosovo's anti-corruption department

October 21, 2020

European Commission spokeswoman Ana Pisonero on Wednesday expressed concern over the decision by the authorities in Pristina to shut down a special anti-corruption department.

“Decision of government to abolish the special anti-corruption department with the Kosovo Police raises concerns about its commitment to the fight against corruption,” Pisonero wrote on he Twitter profile.  

She added that the anti-corruption department is crucial in Pristina’s fight against corruption. “This department plays a key role in this fight, as noted in the latest European Commission and EULEX reports.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a663374/Pisonero-Concern-over-closure-of-anti-corruption-department.html

UNMIK chief says recent meetings on Kosovo show potential for solution

October 21, 2020

UNMIK chief Zahir Tanin told the UN Security Council that the recent meetings between officials from Belgrade and Pristina showed potential to resolve serious issues.

He told the UN SC meeting by video link that the meetings in Brussels and Washington showed the potential for progress in resolving serious issues when international resources are joined with leadership on the ground.  

According to Tanin, the most important conditions that have to be meet for the negotiations to succeed are political unity, strong commitment and good will among the leaders in Belgrade and Pristina along with consistent international support. He welcomes the engagement of both sides to find common ground to resolve disputed issues and reach a comprehensive agreement to normalize relations.

The UN Security Council debated the Secretary General’s report for the March 16-September 15 period.

Tanin said that the publication of indictments by the Specialist Prosecutor against leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and former parliament Speaker Kadri Veseli met with accusations that the Specialist Chambers were politically motivated.

“Some public reactions about the publication of the indictments in June were worrying, including attempts to question the legitimacy of the Specialist Chambers and claims of political motives. Unfortunately, some political leaders did not help correct those false claims,” the UNMIK chief said, recalling that the Hague-based court was an integral part of the Kosovo judiciary whose mandate is crucial to rule of law and the future of Kosovo.

He said that Kosovo has faced multiple challenges over the past seven months, starting with the coronvirus pandemic. “The social and economic consequences of the pandemic are serious. Both of Kosovo’s economy sectors – formal and informal – suffered a serious negative shock which especially affected young people and their education, as well as women and sensitive communities,” Tanin said.

He said that Kosovo was not left to figh the pandemic on its own. “The international community came to its aid to strengthen the professional and institutional capacities and ease the social and economic consequences of the pandemic. In September, the European Commission approved a package of financial aid worth 138 million Euro, including 50 million to respond to the pandemic,” he said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a663350/UNMIK-chief-says-recent-meetings-on-Kosovo-show-potential-for-solution.html

Albania supports Kosovo dialogue, parliament speaker says

October 21, 2020

Albanian Parliament Speaker Gramoz Ruci said on Wednesday that his country supports the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue with the mediation of the European Union and United States.

Pristina daily Koha quoted him as saying that the dialogue should end in a legally binding agreement in line with the Kosovo constitution which would enable mutual recognition.  

Ruci told a delegation of the Kosovo Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee headed by chairwoman Time Kadrijaj and Pristina’s Ambassador Nait Hasani that cooperation between Albania and Kosovo is strategic and stabilizing for the region, adding that the comprehensive partnership with Kosovo should become the model for regional cooperation.  

“Albania strongly supports the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue with EU and US mediation. The final outcome should be a legally binding agreement which allows mutual recognition, Kosovo’s membership in the UN and EU and minority rights in line with the Kosovo constitution,” he said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a663332/Albania-supports-Kosovo-dialogue-parliament-speaker-says.html

DFC Office chief says solve political problems to normalize relations

October 21, 2020

The head of the US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) office in Belgrade told Nedeljnik weekly that political problems have to be resolved before relations between Kosovo and Serbia can be normalized.

“To us, and when I say us that means the US government which I represent, it’s clear that without resolving all political problems there will be no normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia but it should also be clear to everyone that time is passing. Young people are leaving. The region is missing opportunities. The long-term goal is to resolve the significant political problem between Belgrade and Pristina once and for all but that is not possible without cooperation at economic, business level. See that as building trust. You can’t just wake up and run a marathon, you have to prepare,” Jovanovic said.

He said that investing in infrastructure is the most important thing, adding that has driven down the road from the southern Serbian city of Nis to Kosovo. “Faster and better roads would allow the movement of people and business. There are trucks waiting at every crossing. I saw trucks on the border with Croatia as well and that does not have to be the case,” he said. Jovanovic said that he has met people in Belgrade and Pristina who are ready to cooperate regardless of the political risks.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a663316/DFC-Office-chief-says-political-problems-have-to-be-solved-to-normalize-relations.html

Vulin at Serbian military’s first live fire exercise with Chinese drone

October 21, 2020

Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin attended the first live fire exercise with a Chinese-made drone at the Nikinci training grounds on Wednesday.

Vulin and deputy Chief of Staff Major General Petar Cvetkovic observed the flight and live fire at targets on the ground from the CH-29A drone, a Defense Ministry press release said.  

The outgoing Defense Minister is quoted as saying that modern warfare is a high tech affair with the use of remote controlled platforms, adding that this was the reason why the Serbian military purchased the Chinese drones with the FT-8C missile.

“This is the first time that we had live fire with a laser guided missile at the Nikinci grounds and it was successful. The Army of Serbia has acquired another capability. We are keeping up with the best, the latests and the 353rd Recon Squadron got an important piece of equipment as did our Air Force and AA Defense Every Dinar invested in technology, modernization and the purchase of combat equipment is well invested into something that protects the lives of our soldiers,” he said.  

Vulin said that the purchase is a kind of transfer of technology because the purchase includes know how which Serbian engineers can use. He said the drone and accompanying equipment will be introduced into the military once the final tests are completed.  

Also present at the exercise were Air Force and Air Defense chief Major General Dusko Zarkovic, his deputy commander Brigadier General Zeljko Bilic, the head of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Directorate Brigadier General Miroljub Cupic and the head of the General Staff Development and Equipment Directorate Brigadier General Milan Popovic.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a663296/Vulin-at-Serbian-military-s-first-live-fire-exercise-with-Chinese-drone.html

Serbian parliament to reconvene, elect speaker, hear PM

October 21, 2020

The Serbian parliament will continue its first post-election sitting on Thursday, the parliament web site said.

“The First Sitting of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, 12th Legislature will be continued on Thursday, 22 October 2020, starting at 10 am, with the second item on the agenda - election of the Speaker of the National Assembly,” the statement said.

President Aleksandar Vucic told a news conference on Wednesday that his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and its parliamentary partners will nominate Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) leader Ivica Dacic for parliament speaker.  

MPs will also elect deputy speakers, a parliament general secretary and working bodies. They will also adopt changes to the law on the government and ministries because two new ministries will be formed and they will hear Prime Minister Designate Ana Brnabic speak about her new cabinet and its goals.  

The deadline to form a new government is 90 days after the mandates of the new MPs are confirmed at the first sitting – in this case by November 1.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a663184/Serbian-parliament-to-reconvene-elect-speaker-hear-PM.html

Serbia’s Vucic and Russian Medvedev on Moscow-Belgrade relations, coronavirus

October 21, 2020

Serbia’s Vucic and Russian Medvedev on Moscow-Belgrade relations, coronavirus pandemic Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and deputy leader of the Russian Security Council Dimitry Medvedev discussed on Wednesday the relationship between the two countries and the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking via video link on the eve of the International Inter-Party Forum ‘SCO +’ on the topic ‘Economy for People,’ the two agreed that Moscow and Belgrade relationship was ‘very good’ in all fields, according to the post on Vucic’s Instagram account buducnostsrbijeav (futureofserbiaav).

It quoted Medvedev as greeting Serbia’s independent policy and its friendly attitude toward Russia.

Vucic thanked Russia for its support during the coronavirus pandemic, adding a mass vaccination was the proper solution for the issue.

The two agreed they should meet and talk about all critical political and economic issues.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a663117/Serbia-s-Vucic-and-Russian-Medvedev-on-Moscow-Belgrade-relations-coronavirus-pandemic.html

EU commissioner advocates joint migration management with Western Balkans

October 21, 2020

The European Union (EU) has to manage migration together with its Western Balkan partners, notably in returning illegal migrants who should go back to their countries of origin and in fighting against human traffickers, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson has said.

Human traffickers are extremely well-organised in the Western Balkans and they should be fought together. Without close cooperation with those countries, we won't be successful in the fight against traffickers, she told the press in Brussels ahead of an annual meeting between the EU and Western Balkan justice and interior ministers on Thursday.

Johansson said the meeting would discuss migration and the fight against human traffickers, terrorism and organised crime.

There are many illegal migrants in the Western Balkans who are not refugees and who must go back to their countries of origin, she said.

Both the EU and the Western Balkans should have a registration system for asylum seekers and adequate accommodation capacities for migrants as well as strengthen the asylum system, she said.

Johansson said many migrants in the Western Balkans had not applied for asylum and that this made it impossible to know how many were entitled to international protection.

Therefore, she added, it is necessary to speed up the strengthening of capacities for the processing of asylum applications.

She hopes that agreements on deploying Frontex members will be concluded soon with all Western Balkan countries. Frontex is already deployed in Albania and should be soon in Montenegro.

Asked if the Commission had a way of looking into NGOs' claims about the inhumane treatment of migrants and their pushback at the hands of the Croatian police, Johansson said she was concerned about such reports.

It is not just Croatia. We have reports on pushbacks in several countries on the external border, she added.

The proposal for a new pact on migration and asylum, which the European Commission presented a month ago, envisages new laws so that all member states would have independent monitoring mechanisms on borders to make sure that fundamental rights are respected and to enable people to apply for asylum, she said.

That is a very important proposal whereby all member states would have to investigate allegations of pushbacks, she added.

She expressed optimism that a compromise could be reached between member states on the proposed package and that it could get support from the European Parliament.

The Commission's earlier proposal from 2016 was blocked for years as it envisaged binding quotas for migrant distribution. The new draft pact on migration, presented on September 23, focuses on swift returns of illegal migrants, increased controls on the EU's external borders and faster asylum procedures.

As for solidarity mechanisms, under the new pact EU member states not wishing to take in asylum seekers will be able to contribute in another way, by taking on the responsibility for returning persons not granted asylum to their countries of origin.

Interior ministers of member states have already held their first discussion on that proposal.

The discussion was very constructive. I think the proposal is balanced and that member states and the European Parliament can accept it, the commissioner said.

She stressed that there was no migrant crisis now.

The reality is that there are many migrants arriving legally, three million people got a residence permit last year, and over three million left the EU. We need migrants because we are ageing societies, Johansson said.

We need to deal with the issue of illegal arrivals. Last year there were 140,000 illegal arrivals, which is little compared to the previous period, but we are not managing this well. My goal is to have fewer illegal and more legal migrants, the commissioner added.

Another priority is to send back those who are not entitled to international protection. Of the 140,000 who arrived illegally last year, two-thirds were not refugees and when they apply for asylum, they get a negative response and a return decision, but the EU does not have good results here either, Johansson said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a663063/EU-commissioner-advocates-joint-migration-management-with-Western-Balkans.html

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