International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Coronavirus: Slovenia’s hospitals under strain as surge in cases continues

January 27, 2022
Slovenia continues posting record-high numbers of new coronavirus cases as the renewed surge, fueled by the more contagious Omicron variant of the virus, is increasingly straining the country's hospitals.
In some hospitals as many as 20 percent of staff are reportedly on sick leave, with testing laboratories facing the same problem, a senior official at the Health Ministry, Robert Carotta, said on Thursday.
Over the last 24 hours 14,206 new cases have been confirmed, Slovenia’s national health institute said in their daily report. Although high, the number was still somewhat lower compared to Wednesday, when a record-high of 17,500 cases were registered.
The seven-day daily caseload average has now increased to 12,415, and the 14-day incidence rate to 6,815 per 100,000 people. Around 57.3 percent of the country’s total population of 2.1 million have been fully vaccinated so far.
Health authorities said another 12 Covid-related deaths were registered over the last 24 hours, with Slovenia’s total death toll to date now increasing to 5,825.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-slovenias-hospitals-under-strain-as-surge-in-cases-continues/

Bosnia registers 2,632 new coronavirus infections and 55 COVID-19 deaths

January 27, 2022
A total of 2,632 people tested positive for the coronavirus and 55 COVID-19 patients passed away in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the past 24 hours, healthcare authorities said on Thursday.
Of the 4,034 people tested in Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity since Wednesday, 1,879 were confirmed positive for the virus and 35 patients died from the disease.
In the other semi-autonomous entity, Republika Srpska (RS), 1,195 people were tested and 589 of them were confirmed infected, while 19 patients died.
Bosnia’s Brcko District registers 164 new infections and one COVID-19 death.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/bosnia-registers-2632-new-coronavirus-infections-and-55-covid-19-deaths/

Coronavirus: Croatia logs 10,500 new cases, 59 deaths

January 27, 2022
In the past 24 hours, and 10,500 new cases of coronavirus infection have been identified in Croatia, and 59 people have died as a consequence of the infection, the national Covid-19 response team said on Thursday.
There are currently 67,376 active cases in the country, including 2,006 hospitalized Covid patients, of whom 185 are on ventilators. A total of 44,766 people are self-isolating. Since the start of the pandemic, a total of 4,175,854 people have been tested, including 20,798 in the past 24 hours.
By 26 January 2022, a total of 5,071,377 doses of a vaccine were, with 56.47% of the total population or 67.21% of the adult population having been vaccinated.
A total of 2,291,578 people have received at least one dose of a vaccine while 2,201,139 have been fully vaccinated, which is 64.71% of the adult population.
The Covid-19 death toll stands at 13,625. A total of 828,673 people have recovered, including 9,092 in the last 24 hours.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-croatia-logs-10500-new-cases-59-deaths/

Coronavirus UPDATE: 40 deaths, 17.674 new cases

January 27, 2022
The Serbian Health Ministry said in its daily 3:00 pm bulletin on Thursday that 40 people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 13,417.
It said that 35,974 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 17,674 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The total number of people tested to date stands at 8,010,329 with 1,616,584 confirmed cases.
The bulletin said that there are 3,301 hospitalised patients, including 142 patients on ventilators.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/%e2%80%8b-coronavirus-update-40-deaths-17-674-new-cases/

Croatian president ends up on Ukrainian online blacklist

January 27, 2022
Spies, priests, prosecutors and journalists are denounced as pro-Russian collaborators on Ukraine's online blacklist.
“Some of those on the ‘Myrotvorets’ database may have been involved in acts of propaganda or heinous war crimes in the country's east, but others have done nothing more than offend political or popular sensitivity, or simply use the ‘wrong’ vernacular’,” the London-based The Times reports.
“It matters not: one and all are judged by a hidden panel, accused of ‘deliberate acts against the national security of Ukraine’ and have their personal data published alongside their supposed crimes for all to see.”
“As the threat of Russian invasion mounts, antagonising political schisms and stoking invective within Ukraine, neither rank nor reputation exempts individuals from accusation by Myrotvorets,” the Ukrainian nationalist website, says The Times.
The newspaper published its article on the Ukrainian name-and-shame list two days before Croatian President Zoran Milanović ended up on it.
He is accused of humanitarian aggression against Ukraine, of aiding the Russian aggression, disseminating Russian propaganda and supporting and justifying the Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Milanović ended up on the list for saying that Croatia will not in any way get involved in the Ukraine crisis in case of its escalation and that it will not deploy its troops there.
He has also said that Ukraine does not belong in NATO and that the European Union triggered a coup d'etat in Ukraine in 2014 when the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday summoned Croatian Ambassador Anica Džamić to protest against Milanović's statements, which, conversely, were applauded in Russia.
Milanović's inclusion on the Myrotvorets database blacklist was confirmed also by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexei Zaitsev at a regular press conference on Thursday.
The list contains as many as 187,000 names, including not only war criminals and Russian FSB secret service agents but also Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters, who three years ago said Russia had more rights to Crimea than Ukraine.
Belarusian writer, Nobel Prize winner and Kremlin critic Svetlana Alexievich has ended up on the list just for mentioning that some ethnic Ukrainians helped Nazis in the persecution of Jews.
The list also includes 500 Ukrainian civil servants, ethnic Hungarians, who have obtained Hungarian passports. The reason – Ukraine prohibits dual citizenship, and Myrotvorets considers such an act an act of treason.
The database was established in 2014 after a meeting of Ukrainian politician George Tuka and a former member of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), known only by his pseudonym Roman Zaitsev, The Times says.
Tuka told The Times that former police officers, former soldiers and some political figures continued to have pro-Russian views and that lack of an official database with their names was the reason why Myrotvorets was created.
Several people were killed after their names and addresses ended up on the database. Tuka claims there is no connection between that and the database but notes that those were enemies of Ukraine and that he does not miss them.
The list also includes data on around 4,500 Western, Ukrainian and Russian reporters who had accreditations of the separatist authorities of Donbas, which was a condition for them to work in the area controlled by pro-Russian forces. Many of them later received threats.
The list is very dangerous and should be removed immediately. The tension is already high and it only adds fuel to the fire, former Human Rights Watch official in Ukraine Yulia Gorbunova said.
The removal of the list has been requested a number of times by the UN, G7 and EU ambassadors and human rights groups, but to no avail.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/croatian-president-ends-up-on-ukrainian-online-blacklist/

SDP rejects BiH election reform talks under present conditions

January 27, 2022
Bosnia’s Social Democratic Party (SDP) will not take part in Election Law reform talks as long as the country’s state institutions are blocked and unconstitutional and anti-Dayton Peace Agreement, secessionist decisions by the country’s Republika Srpska entity get abolished, party Leder Nermin Niksic said Thursday in a letter to the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), EU Special Representative Johann Sattler and High Representative Christian Schmidt.
“We don’t think that any agreement is better than nothing. Bosnia and Herzegovina has an Election Law. It’s bad, but it exists, so the potential failure of this process does not jeopardize the holding of elections. At a time when BiH is exposed to constant, intense attacks on its sovereignty and territorial integrity by decisions of the RS National Assembly, but also from neighbouring countries, discussions regarding changes to the BiH Election Law with those involved in the process of overthrowing the state is unacceptable to us,” Niksic wrote.
He further added that any changes to the election law that would lead to the additional division of the state along ethnic lines, as well as any asymmetric solution regarding the election of members of the BiH Presidency, are unacceptable to the SDP as well.
“Equally, we reject any solution to further ethnicization and exclusivism in the electoral process, which the European Parliament called contrary to the founding principles of the EU,” said the SDP leader.
As for the SDP of Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said, they are ready to participate in all processes that are conducted in state institutions, which will lead to the unblocking of the state, stopping secessionism and establishing a fair electoral model in accordance with the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, guaranteeing protection of the integrity of the electoral process.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/sdp-rejects-bih-election-reform-talks-under-present-conditions/

Palmer, Eichhorst meet with Inter-Agency Working Group for BiH electoral reform

January 27, 2022
US special envoy Matthew Palmer and European External Action Service (EEAS) director Angelina Eichhorst are meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Working Group for electoral reform on Thursday.
The meeting comes after the two met with members of both houses of Bosnia’s Parliament on Wednesday to discuss the issue.
Palmer and Eichhorst stressed that electoral reform is key for overcoming the political crisis in Bosnia and strengthening the country’s institutional framework, urging politicians to reach a compromise.
The negotiations will continue in the southern town of Neum.
Nakon današnjih sastanaka, Palmer i Eichorst će otići u Neum gdje će biti nastavljeni pregovori.
Pregovorima ne prisustvuju predstavnici SDP-a i DF-a.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/palmer-eichhorst-meet-with-inter-agency-working-group-for-bih-electoral-reform/

UK MP Alicia Kearns visits BiH: It's clear divisive language is being weaponised

January 27, 2022
It is clear that “divisive language is being weaponised” in Bosnia and Herzegovina, British MP Alicia Kearns wrote on Twitter after meeting with BiH’s Presidency members on Wednesday.
Kearns, who is the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Bosnia, visited BiH together with representatives of the Foreign Affairs Committee amid what many call the worst political crisis since the 1990s.
“It is quite clear that divisive language is being weaponised, and we must do all we can to help reduce tensions & ensure BiH delivers for all citizens to maintain stability,” she wrote.
BiH Presidency member, Milorad Dodik, also participated in the meeting, although Kearns urged the UK to follow the example of the United States and introduce sanctions against him.
Kearns initiated a debate on the situation in Bosnia in December last year, where the House unanimously decided to support the preservation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement in Bosnia, the work of the international community’s High Representative in the country.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/uk-mp-alicia-kearns-visits-bih-its-clear-divisive-language-is-being-weaponised/

Escobar: US expects Kosovo and Serbia to reach agreement, including recognition

January 27, 2022
US Deputy Assistant State Secretary Gabriel Escobar said on Thursday that Washington expects Kosovo and Serbia to reach an agreement that includes mutual recognition.
Speaking to Pristina portal Reporteri prior to a visit to the region with European Union envoy Miroslav Lajcak, Escobar said that Pristina and Belgrade have to fulfill the obligations they accepted, including the forming of the Community of Serb Municipalities and the implementation of a Kosovo Constitutional Court ruling on land owned by the Visoki Decani Serbian Orthodox Church monastery.
Escobar said that he and Lajcak will discuss ways to promote the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue with political leaders in Kosovo and Serbia. According to him, the best way for to fulfill promises to their citizens is to give the EU-supported dialogue a priority. He said the current status quo is not working and voiced hope that the leaders in Belgrade and Pristina see the importance of moving forward instead of backward in terms of normalizing their relations.
He said that no one is asking Kosovo to compromise its sovereignty or territorial integrity.
Escobar said that it’s important to allow the Kosovo Serbs to vote in the coming elections but added that Kosovo has the right to define the conditions for the vote.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/escobar-us-expects-kosovo-and-serbia-to-reach-agreement-including-recognition/

International organizations deny Brnabic’s claims

January 27, 2022
Several international organizations denied accusations by Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic of having financed the environmental protests in Serbia over the past few months.
Radio Free Europe said that it was told by spokespeople for USAID, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, British Council, Riverwatch and EuroNatur that they are not involved in political events in Serbia.
Brnabic accused those organizations and others of financing the protests which led to her government revoking geological exploration permits held by Rio Tinto. She said that those organizations came from the US, UK, Germany and other western countries.
The embassies of the United States, Great Britain and Germany reacted to her accusations a day later, rejecting her claims that the protests were being financed by from their countries.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/international-organizations-deny-brnabics-claims/

Serbian government body says GDP to grow by 4.5 percent this year

January 27, 2022
A Serbian government body in charge of GDP growth said on Thursday that the country’s GDP is planned to rise by 4.5 percent this year.
A press release said that the Council for Coordination of Activities and Measures for GDP Growth, chaired by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, discussed plans for 2022 and the results achieved last year. It said that positive trends were noted in the processing and food industries “which is particularly encouraging given that the sector has been stagnant for some time” and that salaries increased in both nominal and real terms.
The Council said that infrastructure and construction projects are being planned. “A tender for the construction of a control tower at the airport in Nis is expected, the construction of the Preljina-Pozega highway, the Belgrade bypass continues, and documentation for the Uzice bypass and construction has been prepared. A number of projects from the line infrastructure whose preparation is nearing completion were considered, such as the Belgrade-Zrenjanin-Novi Sad highway, the continuation of the construction of the highway on Corridor 11, towards the border with Montenegro to Duga Poljana, and the start of works on the construction of the gas interconnector Serbia-Bulgaria, which is planned for the beginning of February,” the press release said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-government-body-says-gdp-to-grow-by-4-5-percent-this-year/

Ombudsman says textbook denies national minority languages

January 27, 2022
Serbian Ombudsman Zoran Pasalic called the Education Ministry to withdraw a grade 8 textbook which denies the existence of the Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin languages.
Pasalic wants the Serbian language textbook withdrawn to show respect for those national minorities in Serbia, a press release said. The Ombudsman launched proceedings in October 2021 following a complaint by the Croatian National Council which claimed discrimination and denial of that minority’s language. The Office of the Ombudsman found that the Education Ministry approved the publication of the 8th grade textbook which said that Croats, Bosniaks and Montenegrins use the Serbian language but call it Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin.
The Ombudsman said that approval for that textbook violates the rights of those national minorities, recalling the Croatian and Bosnian are in official use in Serbia.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/ombudsman-says-textbook-denies-national-minority-languages/

Fajon to N1: More recommendations for Serbian elections

January 27, 2022
Tanja Fajon MEP told N1 on Thursday that more recommendations might be made to improve conditions for elections in Serbia.
Fajon is one of the facilitators engaged in the inter-party dialogue between Serbian ruling and opposition parties in an effort to improve conditions for elections. She came to Belgrade with Vladimir Bilcik, Eduard Kukan and Knut Fleckenstein. The European Parliament delegation is due to meet with President Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, Parliament Speaker Ivica Dacic, heads of parliament party groups and the opposition parties that rejected their mediation.
She said that more recommendations could be made after her talks with political leaders on Friday. “I expect that we will make recommendations again or talk to all players about what can be done,” she said. “The elections will be very significant and I want everyone to have an opportunity to choose at free, transparent and fair elections and that will be our most important message to the authorities,” she said.
Fajon said the facilitator delegation faces two hard days during which they will see if agreed measures have been implemented, the preparations for the April elections and what remains to be done to improve conditions for fair and democratic elections.
According to Fajon, the fact that some opposition parties have not named representatives to the Republic Election Commission and interim media monitoring body is not crucial to the elections.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/fajon-to-n1-more-recommendations-for-serbian-elections/

Dveri leader Obradovic running for Serbian president

January 27, 2022
The Dveri Movement said on Thursday that its leader Bosko Obradovic would run for president of Serbia at the elections in April.
A press release said that the movement will campaign under the slogan Heart for Serbia. It quoted Obradovic as saying at a meeting in Belgrade that “Serbia is obviously not in good shape” with a government that “is not guided by a love of its homeland”. “If they loved Serbia they would not be bargaining over Kosovo, they would not be robbing farmers and entrepreneurs, would not humiliate Serbian families, would not sell Serbian land, water and air,” Obradovic said.
He said that the authorities suffered two big blows over the past month – the departure of Rio Tinto and the outcome of the referendum on constitutional amendments. He said the “third and most important blow” will come at the April elections.
The Dveri Movement will run in the parliamentary elections as part of the Patritic Block.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/dveri-leader-obradovic-running-for-serbian-president/

Montenegrin politicians discuss region with Serbia’s Vucic

January 27, 2022
The leaders of the Montenegrin Democratic Front (DF) met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade on Thursday to discuss the situation in the region, Podgorica daily Vijesti reported.
The pro-Serbia DF is a member of the ruling coalition in Montenegro.
A DF press release said that coalition leaders Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic gave a presentation of projects in the north of Montenegro which would secure economic development for that part of the country where a large number of the population consider themselves to be Serbs. It added that the meeting agreed that “peace and stability in the Balkans are priceless”.
The DF leaders told Vucic that Montenegro should be part of the Open Balkan initiative (launched by Vucic, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and former North Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev) because regional cooperation and the abolishing of borders is the only way for Montenegro to develop its primary industries which they said were destroyed in the 30 years that the country was ruled by President Milo Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS).
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/montenegrin-politicians-discuss-region-with-serbias-vucic/

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