International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Bosnia's coronavirus tally surpasses 7,000

July 14, 2020

Bosnia has reported another 189 infections with the novel coronavirus -- 139 in the Federation (FBiH) and 50 in Republika Srpska (RS), which brings the country's total to more than 7,000 cases, the healthcare authorities in both semi-autonomous regions confirmed on Tuesday.

With five new Covid-19 deaths confirmed in the last 24 hours, the country's death toll now stands at 231.

Of 3,851 patients that were reported in the FBiH since the epidemic outbreak, 1,528 have recovered. In RS, which makes a little less than half of the country, 1,693 of 3,254 Covid-19 patients have recovered to date.

Brcko District, a separate administrative unit in the north of the country, has so far confirmed 69 infections. To this date 23 patients have recovered and five died as a consequence of the coronavirus infection.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a447912/Bosnia-s-coronavirus-tally-surpasses-7-000.html

Coronavirus UPDATE: 13 deaths, 344 new cases

July 14, 2020

The Serbian Health Ministry said in its daily 3:00 pm bulletin that 13 people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 418.

It said that 8,659 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 344 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The total number of people tested to date stands at 507,002 with 18,983 confirmed cases.

The bulletin said that there are 4,574 active cases, including 170 patients on ventilators.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a619660/Coronavirus-UPDATE-13-deaths-344-new-cases.html

Crowd much smaller on 8th protest night

July 14, 2020

Some 300 people gathered in front of the Serbian parliament for the 8th protest against the authorities on Tuesday.

N1 reporters said there were no incidents, adding that no one in the crowd chanted or whistled. The crowd split into three groups – one gathered around Dosta Je Bilo leader Sasa Radulovic who voiced proposals for fair elections; a second at the steps to parliament focusing on nationalist issues and a third sitting quietly in the middle of the street which was closed to traffic.  

The police presence was much smaller than on previous protest nights, with about just 50 uniformed police with several officers in plain clothes.  

A protest was also staged in the southern city of Nis, also much smaller than on previous nights with only traffic police present. The crowd of a few dozen people marched through central city streets, lighting candles in front of the city court house.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a619795/Crowd-much-smaller-on-8th-protest-night.html

Serbian Military Union official says protest coming against Defense Minister

July 14, 2020

An official from the Serbian Military Union (VSS) told N1 that the union is preparing a public protest to express its dissatisfaction with Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin.

Antic said that the minister has harshly violated basic working rights. “There is a will to protest. The only obstacle is the fact that our people are engaged on several jobs: security at migrant camps, in COVID hospitals, the Ground Safety Zone (along the border of Kosovo) and on security detail for several buildings in Belgrade and other places as of a few days ago. That was someone’s goal to have as few of our people as possible at the protests,” he said.  

Antic said that Vulin never met with VSS officials since he became minister in 2017.  

Asked if he thinks Vulin will remain Defense Minister in the new government, he said that he doesn’t see who would benefit from “Vulin holding any public office” adding that he has “violated the law a number of times”.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a619790/Serbian-Military-Union-official-says-protest-coming-against-Defense-Minister.html

Bosniak minority party rejects talks about new Serbia's government

July 14, 2020

The Party of Democratic Action (SDA) from Serbia's southwestern Sandzak region, mostly populated by Bosniaks, has said it won't accept President Aleksandar Vucic's invitation for talks about the formation of a new government, the Beta news agency has reported.

Vucic said he would start negotiations on forming the new government with minority parties on Tuesday, and in the coming days with the other two national political organisations who won mandates in a new parliament

SDA said the reason for rejecting the negotiations was because it saw the June 21 elections as unfree, undemocratic and irregular and called for them to be held again.

The party's statement added it had a meeting with Vucic on May 4, asking for the postponement of the elections for September 6 at earliest.

It also said the state of emergency was lifted although there was no official proof that the danger for people's health and lives was over.

"Belgrade regime and their obedient local authorities in Sandzak were hiding information about the danger, deceiving people that everything was all right with an aim to hold the rigged elections at any cost," the SDA, a Bosniak minority party's statement said.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a619530/Bosniak-minority-party-rejects-talks-about-new-Serbia-s-government.html

'No to BiH in NATO' billboards show up in Istocno Sarajevo

July 13, 2020

Billboards saying ‘No to BiH in NATO’ have emerged in Istocno Sarajevo (East Sarajevo), the city in Bosnia’s Serb-majority region consisting of suburban parts of pre-war Sarajevo.

NATO remains unpopular with Serbs in both Serbia and in Bosnia's Serb-majority semi-autonomous entity of Republika Srpska (RS) since the alliance launched airstrikes against the Bosnian Serbs during the 1992-95 Bosnian war and against the Serbian military in 1999 during

“We don’t agree to the path toward NATO and membership in NATO. That is the consensus of all political parties in Republika Srpska, those in power and the opposition,” Serb member of the tripartite Presidency and leader of the ruling party in the Republika Srpska semi-autonomous entity, Milorad Dodik, said recently.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a447605/No-to-BiH-in-NATO-billboards-set-up-in-Istocno-Sarajevo.html

Consultations on new government start on Tuesday, Vucic says

 July 13, 2020

Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia’s President and the leader of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) said on Monday he would begin talks about forming a new government as of Tuesday, the FoNet news agency reported.

Vucic headed SNS’ list in the June 21 general elections and scored a sweeping victory, securing an absolute majority in the Parliament and could form a new cabinet without any of two other parties that crossed the reduced threshold of three percent, and several minority political organisations which had mandates based on a natural threshold.

However, Vucic said he would try to include as many other parties as possible into the government.

On Tuesday, he will talk to the representatives of the Party of Democratic Action from Sandzak and the Albanian Democratic Alternative.

The next day, Vucic will meet Muamer Zukorlic, the head of the Party for Justice and Reconciliation and Istvan Pastor, the leader of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians.

Next Friday, Vucic will talk with Aleksandar Sapic, the leader of the Serbian Patriotic Alliance, while on July 20, he will meet Ivica Dacic, the head of Vucic long-time coalition partner, the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS).

The last meeting is scheduled for July 21, a month after the elections were held, with his SNS leadership.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a619177/Consultations-about-new-government-start-on-Tuesday-Vucic-says.html

Serbian DefMin: Military contracts delivery of more armor, guns

July 13, 2020

Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said on Monday that the military has contracted the purchase of domestically produced Lazar 3 armored cars and Nora B52 self-propelled howitzers.

A ministry press release said that Vulin toured a military industry plant in Velika Plana. It quoted him as saying that the Serbian military will primarily buy arms and equipment from the local industry.  

“The Army of Serbia (VS) secured sufficient quantities of the Nora and, to make our all our citizens happy, the Ministry acting in line with orders from supreme commander Aleksandar Vucic secured enough money for a second shipment of Nora,” he said and added that the military would buy more of the self-propelled gun and armored vehicles “making it stronger than ever”.  

Vulin said that he would present new weapons systems to the public soon and added that they will make the VS stronger and help Serbia be a free and independent country which takes decisions on its own. “No senseless protests will upset us, we won’t be stopped by hooligans setting fire to parliament nor by anyone who thinks they should be deciding about Serbia,” he said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a619418/Serbian-DefMin-Military-contracts-delivery-of-more-armor-guns.html

Kosovo's Thaci arrives in The Hague, welcomed by KLA supporters

July 13, 2020

Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci arrived in The Hague for a hearing before the Specialised Chambers after Prosecutors announced a war crime indictment against him last month, receiving a warm welcome by the supporters of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) which he was a commander of in 1998-1999 war, the FoNet news agency reported on Monday.

Thaci told reporters he came to The Hague "because of what he dreamed about and fought for."

On June 24, the Special Prosecutors Office for Kosovo based in The Hague wrote the 10-point charges against President Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli, former Parliament speaker, and sent it to the Specialised Chambers of Kosovo for confirmation.

His supporters carried banners with messages about crimes, which according to them, Belgrade forces committed during the 1998-1999 war in the then Serbia's province.

"I fought for an independent, free Kosovo, based on equal rights, multiethnic society and the rule of law. I'm ready to face a new challenge and win for my son, family, people and my state. No one can change history. This is a price of freedom. I believe in peace, truth and justice," Thaci said.

He added he also believed "in dialogue and good neighbourly relations. Kosovo is a success story, and I'm proud of it." 

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a619294/Kosovo-s-Thaci-arrives-in-The-Hague-welcomed-by-KLA-supporters.html

EU’s Borell satisfied with continued Belgrade-Pristina talks

July 13, 2020

The European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borell expressed satisfaction on Monday with the continued dialogue to normalize Belgrade-Pristina relations.

Speaking at a news conference after EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels, said that the two sides had agreed on the main elements of the process. “I gave an important briefing to the Council about the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue. The talks are on track again, with agreement on the main elements of the process,” he said and recalled that the next meeting will be face to face and is scheduled to take place in Brussels on Thursday.  

“I am very happy to announce that the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue is back on track. The talks have already resumed, with the first meeting [yesterday] and the second one next Thursday with a broad agenda and an agreement about what we have to discuss to get a legally-binding agreement normalizing the relation between Pristina and Belgrade,” the EU’s top diplomat told the media.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a619470/EU-s-Borell-satisfied-with-continued-Belgrade-Pristina-talks.html

Vucic: Kosovo situation almost hopeless; meets Russian envoy

July 12, 2020

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Sunday that the Kosovo situation is almost hopeless, adding that “a hard battle is coming” in the negotiations with Pristina.

Speaking live on the pro-authorities TV Pink, Vucic said that Belgrade’s goal is to lose as little as possible in the dialogue with Pristina. “The goal is to get something, lose as little as we have to and get some of what was lost between 2000 and 2008,” he said.

Later on Monday, Vucic briefed the Russian ambassador to Serbia Alexander Bocan – Harchenko about the resumption of the dialogue with Pristina. Vucic's office statement said the two discussed the situation in the Western Balkans, especially concerning Kosovo's issue."

 He refused to discuss Belgrade’s negotiating position claiming that could harm Serbia’s interests in Europe and the world. According to Vucic, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel showed great interest in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue for geopolitical reasons and because “they know that a frozen conflict can’t be maintained indefinitely”.

“Conflicts and wars are not in anyone’s interest,” he said.                                  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a619127/Vucic-Kosovo-Situation-almost-hopeless.html

SPS ostracizes members who support anti-regime protests in Belgrade

July 13, 2020

The Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), a current part of the ruling coalition, excluded two members from a northern town of Indjija for ‘violating the party’s discipline’ by taking part in protests outside the Parliament building in Belgrade, the Beta news agency reported on Monday.

In its statement, SPS said the two were expelled because of the damage inflicted to the party by publishing inappropriate comments on Facebook about the participation in aggressive, anarchist protest and calling people to join.”

The SPS leader Ivica Dacic, the key partner of the President Aleksandar Vucic’s party, announced on Sunday that everyone linked to the party who took part or supported the anti-government protests would be held responsible, ousted and expelled.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a619266/SPS-ostracizes-members-who-support-anti-regime-protests-in-Belgrade.html

Serbia's doctor: Epidemic peak by mid-week, restrictive measures possible

July 13, 2020

Srdja Jankovic, and infectologist and a member of the state health Crisis Team said on Monday that the coronavirus epidemic's peak was expected by mid-week and that restrictive measures were not excluded, the FoNet news agency reported.

 "We expect the peak this week. We earlier thought we had it and then allowed the situation to worsen," he told the Belgrade Prva TV.

Jankovic said that trust into the Crisis Team was necessary, but that currently there was "a certain crisis in confidence."

"There are active hotbeds… an overwhelming optimism is not a good ally, and we have to take the situation very seriously," he said.

Zoran Radovanovic, a retired epidemiologist and the most outspoken critic of the official communication during the coronavirus epidemic, said on Monday that the situation could improve in 20 days in case the most restrictive measures were introduced, or those in place were respected. However, he said he doubted it would happen in Serbia because, among other reasons, people lost trust in the Crisis Team.

 "The restrictive measures are not excluded when the situation is so difficult and severe. No one on the Crisis Team doesn't want the most restrictive measures, but if it is about saving lives, we will have to opt for them," Jankovic added.

He also said that a new epidemic strike could be expected in autumn, but could not predict how strong it might be.

Commenting on the current epidemic situation, Jankovic said some estimates were that in a few weeks the virus might weaken, but warned that wherever it was it managed to develop and that was what had to be prevented.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a619227/Serbia-s-dr-Epidemic-peak-by-mid-week-restrictive-measures-possible.html

Early ballot starts in North Macedonia; infected with coronavirus to vote first

July 13, 2020

People in North Macedonia started voting in early general elections on Monday, with 706 people positive on the coronavirus to cast ballot first, the Beta news agency reported.

A number of the so-called active case was over 3,000, according to the Skopje authorities.

Those 706 infected would vote at home in front of election boards and a doctor.

Due to the epidemic, the voting in North Macedonia will last three days, with immobile patients and prisoners casting a ballot on Tuesday, and other people on Wednesday at the polling stations which will be open two hours longer than usual – till 9 pm – to avoid too many people voting at the same time.

The election boards’ member will wear face masks and gloves, and a number of people who will be allowed to vote at the same time will have to be equal to the number of screens at polling stations, with mandatory protective gear and disinfection.

Fifteen parties and coalitions run in the early elections called after former Prime Minister Zoran Zaev resigned. The electorate numbers 1,814,263 voters.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a619209/Early-elections-start-in-North-Macedonia-with-coronavirus-infected-to-vote-first.html

Hoti: We are entering final phase in Pristina - Belgrade dialogue

July 13, 2020

Avdulah Hoti, Kosovo's Prime Minister, said on Monday that the United States and the European Union should "complement each other," in the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations which, as he put it, "is entering the final phase," the FoNet news agency reported.

"Whenever we had close cooperation between the US and the EU during different phases of the talks, we had clear and concrete results," Hoti told the Associated Press agency.

He reiterated that the dialogue should end in mutual recognition, the condition which Belgrade had been vehemently rejected so far.

Hoti and Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic are due to resume the dialogue under the EU auspices in Brussels on Thursday, after November 2018 when Belgrade decided to stop talking after Pristina introduced the 100 percent import tariffs on goods from Serbia and Bosnia in retaliation for Serbia's campaign against Kosovo's Interpol membership. 

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a619197/Hoti-We-are-entering-final-phase-in-dialogue-between-Pristina-and-Belgrade.html

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