International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Croatia reports 2 new Covid-19 cases, nearly 90 percent of patients recovered

May 20, 2020

In the last 24 hours, there have been two newly diagnosed Covid-19 patients, bringing the total number to 2,234 since the outbreak of the infection, Croatia's coronavirus crisis management team said on Wednesday.

The latest confirmed cases are in the Vukovar and Koprivnica counties.

Since the first registered case on 25 March in Croatia, a total of 1,978 patients have recovered from this infection, while this communicable disease has taken 96 lives in the country.

Currently, 117 coronavirus patients are being treated in hospitals, of whom eight are on ventilators.

The crisis response team again calls on the Croatians to comply with the epidemiological measures and behave responsibly so as to curb the epidemic.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a435240/Croatia-reports-2-new-Covid-19-cases-nearly-90-percent-of-patients-recovered.html

Bosnia Serb entity lifts mandatory self-isolation, still in place in Federation

May 20, 2020

The Serb entity's authorities lifted on Wednesday the measure of mandatory self-isolation for persons entering Bosnia and Herzegovina through that entity's territory, but the measure is still in place in the Federation entity.

The civil protection authority of the country's Serb-dominated entity, called Republika Srpska (RS), has decided that the obligation of self-isolation ends on May 21, which means that persons entering the entity from abroad will no longer have to undergo a sanitary inspector's examination if they are nationals of Bosnia and Herzegovina, or show that they have tested negative for the coronavirus no more than 48 hours ago, which foreigners entering the country for business purposes had to do before.

Foreigners are still not allowed to visit the country for private purposes.

In the country's Bosniak-Croat shared entity, called the Federation, the obligation of two-week self-isolation is still in place.

Opening Bosnia and Herzegovina's borders to foreigners depends on the decision by the Council of Ministers, but health authorities in the country assess that the epidemiological situation is stable enough and that the restrictions on crossing borders imposed in March to curb the spread of the coronavirus should no longer be in place.

A total of 2,336 cases of the infection were registered in Bosnia from the start of the epidemic, and in the last 24 hours, there have been 18 new cases, of which 14 in the RS and four in the Federation.

There have been a total of 132 coronavirus-related deaths in the country.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a435212/Bosnia-Serb-entity-lifts-mandatory-self-isolation-still-in-place-in-Federation.html

Coronavirus UPDATE: Hundred new infected, one more death



May 20, 2020

In the last 24 hours, one person died in Serbia from COVID-19, while there were 100 new cases of infection with coronavirus out of 6,198 tested, Health Ministry reported on Wednesday.

The death toll in the country rises to 235, and the mortality ratio stands at 2.17 percent.

A total number of currently hospitalized is 766, and 13 are still on ventilators.

So far, 5,067 patients have recovered.

Since the epidemic outbreak on March 6, out of 196,881 tested, 10,833 people have been positive on coronavirus.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a601512/One-more-death-100-new-infected.html


Coronavirus Montenegro: One new case

May 20, 2020

Montenegro’s Public Health Institute said on Wednesday that one new coronavirus case had been reported over the previous 24 hours, adding that it is a so-called imported case.

The daily bulletin said that two patients had recovered from COVID-19 and added that only one person is in hospital.

A total of 324 people have been infected by the coronavirus since the pandemic began in Montenegro, 314 have recovered and nine patients died.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a601656/Coronavirus-Montenegro-One-new-case.html

New coronavirus cases reported in Bosnia, a total of 2,338 infected

May 20, 2020

Health authorities in Bosnia’s two semi-autonomous regions have reported that more than a dozen people tested positive for the coronavirus throughout the past 24 hours, bringing the total of those infected in the country to 2,338, according to official government data published on Wednesday.

A total of 136 people have now died due to Covid-19 since the virus came to the country in March, while 1,557 have recovered.

Bosnian authorities have been gradually lifting the measures introduced to combat the spread of the virus since the end of April, including restrictions on movement for citizens, as the coronavirus curve seems to be flattening.

Authorities in the Serb-majority region, Republika Srpska (RS), are now discussing whether to lift the curfew while the other region, the Federation (FBiH), has already done so.

There are currently 1306 people infected in the RS, while that number in FBiH is 1012. Another 20 are infected in the Brcko District, which does not belong to either of the semi-autonomous entities.  

Bosnia has tested 55,624 of its citizens for the coronavirus so far.       

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a601480/New-coronavirus-cases-reported-in-Bosnia-total-of-2-338-infected.html

Three More Prosecutors Join Special Anti-Corruption Prosecution

May 20, 2020

Three new prosecutors have been appointed to the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SPAK).

The High Prosecutorial Council (KLP) has appointed Sotir Kllapi, Dritan Prençi and Vladimir Mara to SPAK, where they will serve 9-year terms.

Two of the prosecutors, Prençi and Mara, were transferred to SPAK by KLP to  help the Office with a heavy caseload. 

Vladimir Mara and Dritan Prençi were prosecutors at the Serious Crimes Prosecution Office. They worked in several important cases such as that against former Minister of Interior Saimir Tahiri, Orest Sota, Habilaj criminal group financer Nazer Seiti, and the Dako-Avdylaj affair. In July, when the first batch of SPAK members were selected, neither Mara nor Prençi made the cut.

Sotir Kllapi was the head of the Pogradec Prosecution Office and passed his vetting in May 2019.

SPAK currently has 11 members, out of its regular 15. 

Prosecutors Anton Martini, Manjola Jajana and Elisabeta Imeraj are still running to be part of SPAK.

Source:  https://exit.al/en/2020/05/20/three-more-prosecutors-join-special-anti-corruption-prosecution/

Bosnia: The fewer COVID-19 restrictions, the more irregular migrants

May 19, 2020

Bosnia and Herzegovina's border police director Zoran Galic said on Monday evening that upon the lifting of some of the COVID-19 restrictions, the pressure of migrants along the Bosnia-Serbia borderline had risen.

In the last 24 hours, the police in the area of the northeastern town of Zvornik deterred 91 illegal migrants from entering Bosnia from Serbia.

They also prevented the smuggling of irregular migrants from Serbia into Bosnia on their route towards western Europe.

Galic said that an additional team of police officers had been deployed in the area of Zvornik in a bid to step up the border protection.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a434864/Bosnia-The-fewer-COVID-19-restrictions-the-more-irregular-migrants.html

Qatar sends 10 tonnes of aid for Bosnian hospitals amid pandemic

May 19, 2020

A plane carrying 10 tonnes of three million Euro worth aid from Qatar for Bosnian healthcare institutions landed at the Sarajevo International Airport on Tuesday.

Bisera Turkovic, the Foreign Affairs Minister, said the help that arrived from Qatar will be distributed to the hospitals across Bosnia through crisis headquarters.

She said Qatar was the only Arab country to send the assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina despite the fact that this country is facing a more complex situation caused by the pandemic, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

“The State of Qatar is a true friend of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Turkovic, thanking the people and Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, for the help during the difficult times their own country is facing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a434960/Qatar-sends-10-tonnes-of-aid-for-Bosnian-hospitals-amid-pandemic.html

Bosnia to open borders in June, passenger treatment to depend on their origin

May 19, 2020

Bosnia and Herzegovina's border will open to foreigners at the start of June, however, passengers will be treated according to which country they are coming from, an official of the Health Ministry in the Federation entity said on Tuesday.

"Entry into Bosnia and Herzegovina will probably be allowed as of the start of June. We are considering measures and will see what they will be like for certain countries because it is not the same if passengers are coming from Italy or some other country where the (epidemiological) situation is stable," Assistant Federation Health Minister Goran Cerkez told reporters in Sarajevo.

He underscored that the obligation of two-week self-isolation for anyone coming from abroad would remain in force until May 30, because the aim is to maintain stability until the start of the summer so that the situation can remain under control in that period as well.

The decision to open the border has to be adopted by the country's Council of Ministers, however, Cerkez has no doubts that that will occur at the end of May because the epidemiological situation in the country is stabilising and the increase in the number of new infections is under control.

He explained that there were currently 665 people in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina who are considered to have come down with COVID-19. Twenty-five are being treated in hospital but not one patient is in critical condition.

In the past 24 hours 19 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified, 14 of whom are in the Republika Srpska entity. The Federation entity has recorded a significantly better epidemiological situation and new cases reported in that entity over the past few weeks have been in single-digit numbers.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic in March, more than 51,000 people in the entire country have been tested for the virus, with 2,300 cases proving positive to coronavirus. The death toll in the country is 131.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a434918/Bosnia-to-open-borders-in-June-passenger-treatment-to-depend-on-their-origin.html

Varhelyi: Peaceful solution needed in Montenegro

May 19, 2020

European Commissioner Olive Varhelyi told the European Parliament Foreign Policy Committee on Tuesday that a peaceful, European solution needs to be found in Montenegro.

“A state cannot function without respect for freedom of confession and the important thing is to find a peaceful, European solution in Montenegro,” he said.  

Varhelyi said the problem is not new. “This is the current problem but it is also a problem that repeats itself. I was in Montenegro when the crisis escalated and I tried to mediate between the state and the church to find a solution acceptable for all sides,” he said.

He said that the church held a religious service despite the measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic and the state sanctioned that behavior by arresting the priests. He called the church to respect the measures and the authorities to secure freedom of confession during the crisis. Varhelyi said he would continue trying to calm the situation and help find a European solution for church-state relations in Montenegro.  

Serbian Orthodox Church Bishop Joanikije and a group of priests were arrested in the northern town of Niksic following a saint’s day religious service which was attended by a large group of the faithful. The church and the Montenegrin authorities have been at odds since the law on freedom of confession was adopted late last year. The church claims that the intention of the law is to seize church properties.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a601296/Varhelyi-Peaceful-solution-needed-in-Montenegro.html

Freedom House stands by report conclusions on Serbia

May 19, 2020

Freedom House President Mike Abramowitz told the Voice of America that the organization stands by the conclusions on Serbia in its Nations in Transit 2020 report.

A written statement quoted by the VOA said that the Nations in Transit report has been published since 1995, assessing the state of democracy in 29 individual countries. “Every year Freedom House cooperates with local analysts working on the report,” Abramowitz wrote, adding that the report is tehn handed to anonymous reviewers who provide more information and evaluate the progress made as presented by the report author.  

Finally, the conclusions on all 29 countries arre reviewed by a board of experts who check the assessments in the document which is finally reviewed by Freedom House. “The section on Serbia went through that rigorous process,” the statement said.

Freedom house changed Serbia’s ranking from partly consolidated democracy to hybrid regime, the first time that it was not ranked among democratic countries since 2003. The new ranking means that Serbia’s authorities are classed as authoritarian as the consequence of incomplete democratic transition.

The report drew reactions from Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic who said it was full of errors and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic who sent Abramowitz a detailed letter, expressing her views of the report and attempting to refute some of its points.

The author of the Serbia report Milos Damjanovic told the VOA that the drop in ranking is mainly due to inefficiency in combatting corruption, flaws in the election process, the captive state and the environment that journalists work in. “Every year the rating of the state of democracy in Serbia drops a little and the drop is evident in the various parameters that we follow – the integrity of the election process, freedom of the media and the overall state of democracy in the state. There is simply a continued backslide,” he said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a601256/Freedom-House-stands-by-report-conclusions-on-Serbia.html

Seven NGOs call on Serbia’s Govt to start social dialogue about democracy

May 19, 2020

Seven NGOs who deal with the Euro-integration called on Serbia’s Government to initiate a serious social dialogue about the state of democracy in the country, the Beta news agency reported on Monday.

The NGOs told the Government to seriously consider the latest Freedom House report on Serbia which put the country into the hybrid regimes category and to put efforts to improve democracy and media freedom.

Recalling the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) report which showed Serbia falling 39 places since 2014 on its Index of Media Freedom, the NGOs also say that the European Commission (EC) views on democracy in Serbia and media freedom are increasingly sharper.

The organizations appealed to the Government not to “deny, selectively present and scorn the reports by the renowned international institutions including the EC, which are the same in many aspects to those of local civic organizations remarks, and start a serious dialogue about the current situation and future of democracy in Serbia.”

The NGOs also called on the European Union to use its new Methodology for the Western Balkans accession to secure the respect of democratic principles and the rule of law in candidate countries.

The non-governmental organizations which signed the appeal included Belgrade Center for Security Policy (BCBP), Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence (BFPE), EU-RS Center for European Politics (CEP), the International and Security Affairs Centre (ISAC), the European Movement in Serbia (EPuS) and Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM).

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a601132/Serbi-s-NGOs-appeal-with-Government-to-start-social-talks-about-democracy.html

Serbian DefMin says situation at refugee camps calm

May 19, 2020

Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said on Tuesday that the situation is calm in the migrant centers in the border town of Sid.

Army of Serbia personnel has been deployed to guard three migrant camps in the Sid are along the border with Croatia, following alleged complaints from the local population.  

He told the state Radio Belgrade that the troops have reported no significant events at those centers, adding that only migrants who have been issued special permits by the Refugee Commissariat are allowed to leave the camps.  

Vulin recalled that the Serbian military guarded 20 migrant centers across Serbia, claiming that none of the migrants were infected by the coronavirus.   The three refugee and migrant centers in the Sid area house some 1,900 migrants with some 70 Serbian soldiers guarding the camps. There are about 8,000 migrants in camps across Serbia.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a601210/Serbian-DefMin-says-situation-at-refugee-camps-calm.html

Medical aid form Qatar arrives in Belgrade

May 19, 2020

A shipment of medical protective equipment meant to help Serbia tackle the coronavirus pandemic arrived in Belgrade from Qatar on Tuesday, the Srna news agency reported.

The shipment included almost 600,000 various types of masks, tens of thousands of gloves, goggles, visors, surgical coats and suits.  

Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said at the airport that Qatar helped Serbia reinforce its capabilities in fighting the pandemic, adding that the country will not forget the gesture of friendship and solidarity. 

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic was also at Belgrade airport to meet a planeloadd of medical aid from Azerbaijan.

Ambassador Sheikh Mubarak bin Fahad Al-Thani said that the Emir of Qatar ordered the shipment sent to Serbia as humanitarian aid following a request for help and expressed the hope that it will help normalize the situation and strengthen relations between the two countries.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a601264/Medical-aid-form-Qatar-arrives-in-Belgrade.html

No tests or other requirements to enter country, pandemic Crisis Staff says

May 19, 2020

The Pandemic Crisis staff recommended the lifting of requirements to enter the country for both Serbian and foreign nationals.

The Crisis Staff issued a statement saying that people entering the country will not require a negative coronavirus test or permission as of Friday, May 22. “Everyone entering the country will be given a health notice warning them that they are entering a territory which is still affected by the coronavirus and ways to prevent infection,” it said.  

The recommendation is due to be confirmed by the government at a cabinet meeting on Thursday.  

The Crisis Staff also recommended the opening of administrative crossings with Kosovo. The statement said that PCR tests for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus which are preformed at personal request will cost 6,000 Dinars across the country and will be free of charge for students and minors. The Crisis Staff decided to return some of the medical facilities reserved for COVID-19 patients to normal operation with all medical and other staff tested.  

The Crisis Staff said that it never recommended sanctions for failure to wear face masks in the open, adding that nothing of the sort is being planned.  

“The activity of the virus has weakened greatly but we all need to continue abiding by basic epidemiological measures such as wearing masks, regular disinfection of hands and maintaining social distance in order to finish the battle against the coronavirus successfully,” the statement said.  

Some local health care institutions published price lists for coronavirus tests which range from 6,000 to 8,000 Dinars.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a601190/No-tests-or-other-requirements-to-enter-country-pandemic-Crisis-Staff-says.html

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