International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Serbia signs contract to produce Russian Sputnik V vaccine

April 05, 2021

Serbia's Torlak Institute of Virology, Vaccines and Sera signed a contract on Monday on technology's transfer with the Russian Fund for Direct Investments and the Generium pharmaceutical company to start the production of the Sputnik V vaccine in the country, Nenad Popovic, Minister without portfolio in charge of innovations and technological development, said.

„As of now, Torlak has access to data about the production of the Sputnik V vaccine. Those are sensitive and classified data that only the partners with huge mutual trust can exchange,“ Popovic said.

He added Torlak would produce three validation series of the vaccine this month.

The samples would be sent to Russia for the quality check, Popovic said. After that, the production was expected to begin by May 20.

That would make Serbia the first country in Europe to produce the Russian vaccine, Popovic said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbia-signs-contract-to-produce-russian-sputnik-v-vaccine/

North Macedonia starts mass vaccination with shots donated by Serbia

April 05, 2021

The health authorities in Northern Macedonia began the mass immunization of its population against COVID-19 on Monday with 20,000 Sputnik V vaccines donated by Serbia.

So far, the country had received a total of 78,000 shots, of which 48,000 came from Serbia.

The first to get the shots on Monday will be North Macedonia’s police, army, firefighters, teachers and journalists.

Skopje authorities expect the first 10,000 Pfizer vaccines by mid-April, while 76,000 AstraZeneca shots are due by the end of the month from the COVAX program.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said on Friday that 2.6 million vaccines should be available and that he did not expect any break in the population’s immunization.

Besides, an estimated 10,000 people from North Macedonia have been vaccinated in Serbia, and they will receive the second dose at home.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/north-macedonia-starts-mass-vaccination/

Magazine: Urgent vitamins purchase worth € 94 mill without public call in Serbia

April 05, 2021

The vitamins' packages, President Aleksandar Vucic announced for Serbia's pensioners to help them build the immune system amid the coronavirus epidemic, cost 9.4 million Euro and was agreed without a public call, the Nova Ekonomija (New Economy) magazine wrote on Monday.

On Sunday, Vucic showed a bag with vitamins D3, C and Zinc mineral, „important for strengthening organisms and immunity.“

On Monday, the magazine said that the bags were bought in an urgent procedure through negotiations without a public call.

The Health Ministry invited five companies and then chose one instead of announcing a public call to which all interested firms could have answered.

Nova Ekonomija added that the Hungarian Goodwill company owns most stakes in its company in the northern city of Subotica. Zoltan Tamash, who became known after Vucic said he received „a beautiful New Years’ gift from my a good acquaintance Zoltan Tamash…“ is said to own 29 percent of the shares.

A year ago, in November 2019, Vucic posted a photo of his visit to the company, accompanied by the Vojvodina province’s President Istvan Pastor.

Later on Monday, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic defended the choice, saying the claims about a conflict of interest were „lunatic“ and „crazy.“

„We do not have many vitamin producers in Serbia, and I can hardly imagine that if that was procured from any of them, you would not find a conflict of interest. Serbia is a small country; everyone knows everyone. When you start to draw side links, everyone can be linked to everyone,“ Brnabic said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/magazine-urgent-vitamins-purchase-worth-e-94-mill-without-public-call-in-serbia/

Thousands of Serbia’s students gather without respecting anti-epidemic measures

April 05, 2021

Several thousand students rallied in Belgrade and the northern city of Novi Sad on Sunday night to celebrate April 4, the Students’ Day, dancing to the loud music and without face masks and physical distance, but neither the police nor communal militia and the Students’ City security reacted.

The gathering was agreed via students’ Facebook page with some 60,000 members who discussed whether to rally and then did it spontaneously, some of them told N1.

Students are among those who avoid the anti-coronavirus vaccination although Serbia provided enough shots of four producers.

They say they are not sure about the vaccines’ safety since “they have not been sufficiently tested.”

The anti-vaxxers are increasingly active in Serbia despite pledges from the authorities and public figures to get immunized amidst an increasing number of deaths and infection cases in the last weeks.

Despite all of that, Serbia’s Government relaxed the anti-epidemic measures as of Monday morning.

Last Thursday, the police searched a flat of one of the most outspoken anti-vaxxers, a physiatrist, interrogated her and then released her.

Her supporters later gathered in Belgrade’s center in a protest against her detention, also disrespecting mandatory anti-epidemic measures.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/thousands-of-serbias-students-gather-without-respecting-anti-epidemic-measures/

Relaxed anti-epidemic measures in Serbia as of Monday

April 05, 2021

As of Monday morning, Serbia's Government abolished the partial lockdown in Serbia, introduced on March 16, and outdoor cafes and restaurants would be open till 10 pm, with mandatory respect of the current regulations, while shopping malls and indoor catering remained close until further notice.

Live music is banned, a maximum of five people is allowed at one table, and two meters distance between two tables must be respected with a minimum of nine square meters per person.

The Government announced stricter control of the relaxed measures.

Predrag Kon, the epidemiologist and a member of the Crisis Team, said that a face mask would be a must in outdoor cafes and restaurants.

In spa, fitness centres and gyms, a minimum of 16 square meters per person must be secured.

The number of allowed people per single object includes the employees.

Food stores, pharmacies, petrol stations, veterinary clinics and delivery services can work as usual.

The Government and its anti-epidemic Crisis Team decided to relax the existing measures to help the economic survival despite dozens of deaths and thousands of newly infected daily.

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that a slight decrease in the number of new coronavirus cases on Sunday made such a decision possible.

However, the decision was already announced on Friday, after weeks of a partial lockdown despite almost 5,000 a day, while the number of death cases was above 30.

On Sunday, Serbia officially reported 36 deaths and 3,304 newly infected, but the weekends usually showed smaller numbers due to fewer people tested.

On Saturday and  Sunday, 13,909  and 11,711 samples were taken respectively, while on Friday, 16,910 were tested.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/relaxed-anti-epidemic-measures-in-serbia-as-of-monday/

Peter Zalmayev: Russia trying to keep Ukraine from drifting closer to Europe

April 05, 2021

Russia is trying to use the breakaway republics in Ukraine to keep the country from moving closer towards the EU, but also to divert attention from internal issues, the director of the Eurasia Democracy Initiative, Peter Zalmayev, told N1.

“There are a lot of problems Vladimir Putin is facing at home. The standards of living have continued to decline, he’s facing another round of sanctions from the Americans, Alexey Navalny is stirring up trouble again, while in prison – he went on a hunger strike and he called for a new wave of protests around the country,” Zalmayev listed.

So Ukraine is, once again, being used to divert attention from this, he argued.

“The Russians are claiming that the Ukrainians are making all sorts of violations, that's not the case,” he said, adding that the OSCE in the country has also denied this.

He said that “there have been more than 500 provocations just in the month of March” and that the vast majority, some 90 percent of them, “came from Russia.”

“This is clearly a tactic to try to intimidate the Ukrainians into concessions,” he said, explaining that Putin is trying to use the breakaway republics in Ukraine to prevent the country from drifting closer to Europe.

He also commented on the issue of the 300-year-old gilded icon which Bosnia’s Presidency member from the Republika Srpska (RS) entity, Milorad Dodik, had gifted to Russia’s Foreign Affairs Minister.

According to Ukrainian institutions, the icon is part of Ukraine’s cultural heritage and was likely stolen. Russia meanwhile returned the artifact to Bosnia.

The issue “caused a minor scandal” in Ukraine and the government is asking for it to be returned, Zalmayev said.

“It just goes to show, that’s just how the Kremlin operates,” he said, adding that he suspects the scandal was created on purpose to serve as another distraction.
The full interview can be seen in the video above.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/peter-zalmayev-russia-trying-to-keep-ukraine-from-drifting-closer-to-europe/

BiH Gas files criminal complaint against importer for switching to TurkStream

April 05, 2021

Bosnia’s state gas company, BH Gas, said it submitted a criminal complaint against the importer of Russian gas for unilaterally changing the route to the new Turkish stream, accusing the company of letting neighbouring Serbia be in complete control of Bosnia’s gas supply.

BH Gas said in a statement on Monday that the importer, Sarajevo company Energoinvest, has enabled Transportgas Srbija and Gas Promet Pale from the country's Republika Srpska (RS) entity to control the supply for the country's Federation (FBiH) entity as of April 1.

Energoinvest claimed earlier that the Russian partner Gazprom requested a re-routing and that the old route over Hungary and Ukraine will not be operational for Bosnia.

Gazprom started on January 1 using its new pipeline route across Turkey and Bulgaria – an alternative to the existing pipe passing through Ukraine and Hungary.

This caused a row in Bosnia between companies involved in the gas distribution with BH Gas accusing importer Energoinvest of causing a cancellation of long-term contracts with Serbia and Hungary which may cost Bosnia some USD 23 million in penalties.

BH Gas argues that Gazprom did not request a re-routing for “economic but for political reasons,” and Energoinvest agreed to the change without consulting the government or BH Gas.

Effectively, Energoinvest has eliminated BH Gas from certain parts of the deal which will cause an unstable supply that will be dependent on other countries, the company argued.

“The sovereignty of BiH was violated with all these events and Energoinvest put the gas system in the hands of another country and its dispatch center,” the statement said.

BH Gas has therefore decided to take the case to judicial institutions, saying it has attached all the evidence to its criminal complaint.

The FBiH government has on April 1 requested all documentation from both companies to be submitted to the prosecution office and “BH Gas is eagerly awaiting all players to be processed and the events regarding the transportation system and contractual obligations to be analyzed,” the company said.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bih-gas-files-criminal-complaint-against-importer-for-switching-to-turkstream/

Greece, Cyprus & Serbia Foreign Ministers will meet every six months

April 05, 2021

The foreign ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Serbia, Nikos Dendias, Nikos Christodoulides and Nikola Selakovic, respectively, agreed on Monday to respect the international law, exchange opinion, support each other and meet every six months.

The talks’ agenda included energy, migration, coronavirus pandemic, the strengthening of political and economic relations, digital market, tourism, agriculture and connecting academic communities and diasporas.

Selakovic thanked the two ministers for supporting Serbia’s integrity and sovereignty, adding Belgrade backed Athens in the borders’ dialogue with Ankara and Albania.

Christodoulides said the meeting focused on „anyway strong links between our three countries.“

„Our relations are strong, based on history, civilization, culture, and politics, and we aim to deepen our cooperation in those areas in which we have a common interest,“ he said, confirming his country’s decision not to recognize Kosovo’s independence.

Dendias told reporters that the tripartite meeting’s logic was to gather the countries that respect the international law.

He added Athens strongly supported Serbia’s road to the European Union and that the country belonged to Europe.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/greece-cyprus-serbia-foreign-ministers-will-meet-every-six-months/

Montenegro’s PM suggests dismissal of minister due to Srebrenica genocide denial

April 05, 2021

Zdravko Krivokapic, Montenegro's Prime Minister, said on Monday he would initiate the dismissal of Vladimir Laeposavic, the Minister of Justice, Human and Minority Rights, after he denied Serbrenica genocide and failed to withdraw the statement.

Leosavic had said he would recognize the Srebrenica genocide after it „is undoubtedly confirmed“ and that the Hague Tribunal, which processed the genocide, „has lost its legitimacy.“

He faced much condemnation, including the European Union’s one.

„I first requested Leposavic’s resignation, but since he failed to do that, I brought a difficult decision – a suggestion for his dismissal,“ Krivokapic said.

„No one’s biography can justify any activity. Only deeds speak about us,“ he added, praising Leposavic’s intelligence and his knowledge of human rights, which made his statement even less understandable.

Krivokapic recalled that Montenegro’s Parliament was the first in the region to adopt the European Parliament (EP) Resolution on Srebrenica.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/montenegros-pm-suggests-dismissal-of-minister-due-to-srebrenica-genocide-denial/

YUKOM sues Serbia’s Interior Minister for hate speech

April 05, 2021

A preparatory hearing on the Committee of Lawyers for Human Rights, Jukom's lawsuit against Aleksandar Vulin, Serbia's Interior Minister, who the Committee accused of hate speech, was held in Belgrade on Monday.

Before the hearing, Yukom’s President Katarina Golubovic told N1 Vulin had continuously called Albanians „Shiptars“ (a pejorative term for Kosovo Albanians in Serbia) and insulted the dignity of the Albanian national minority in his former capacity of Defence Minister during the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalization of relations.

She said Serbia’s policy should not be based on hate speech.

„We believe that we must point out that Serbia’s policy cannot be based on hate speech, especially towards the Albanian national minority. And particularly in the period when it is necessary to find a solution between Belgrade and Pristina,“ Golubovic told N1 outside the Belgrade Palace of Justice.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/yukom-sues-serbias-interior-minister-for-hate-speech/

Vjosa Osmani Kosovo new president; No peace until Serbia repents

April 05, 2021

Vjosa Osmani became Kosovo’s new president late on Monday after three rounds of voting in Pristina’s Parliament with 70 out of 120 deputies in her favor, promising to strengthen the state, the rule of law and protect every inch of its territory, but warned there would not be peace before Serbia repented.

“The justice would not be served until Serb criminals face it,” Osmani said.

Her elections ended the formation of all Kosovo’s top institutions, the parliament, government, and the head of state, following February early vote.

Petar Petkovic, the head of Serbia’s Government Office for Kosovo, accused later on Monday Osmani of starting a new cycle of relations with Belgrade with hate and hostile campaign, instead of with messages about the dialogue and joint solution of the problems. He added Osmani and Prime Minister Albin Kurti should “find the strength to overcome the anti-Serbian obsession and turn to dialogue, compromise, conversation, joint search for a solution and fulfillment of internationally recognized obligations.”

The first congratulation for Vojsa’s election came from Josep Borell, The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign and Security policy.

Vjosa called on all Kosovo politicians “to build the spirit of cooperation and tolerance” and described the US, EU and Albania as Pristina’s “three pillars.”

Regarding the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalization of relations, she said it was the right way but should be fair and equal.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/vjosa-osmani-kosovo-new-president-no-peace-until-serbia-repents/

Croatia logs 1,376 new coronavirus cases, 33 deaths

April 04, 2021

In the past 24 hours 1,376 new coronavirus cases and 33 COVID deaths have been registered in Croatia, the national COVID-19 response team said on Sunday.

Currently, there are 13,432 active cases, including 1,511 hospitalized patients, of whom 158 are on ventilators, while 33,342 people are self-isolating.

To date, Croatia has registered 280,026 coronavirus cases, 6,058 deaths and 260,536 recoveries, including 1,664 in the past 24 hours.

To date, 1,582,500 people have been tested for the virus, including 6,580 in the past 24 hours, and 425,971 people have been vaccinated against it, including 98,322 with both doses. For 1,648 people there is no information as to whether they have received one or both doses.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/croatia-logs-1376-new-coronavirus-cases-33-deaths/

Bosnia logs 931 new coronavirus cases, 84 fatalities

April 04, 2021

Bosnia and Herzegovina reported another 931 coronavirus cases and 84 deaths among Covid-19 patients, the healthcare authorities confirmed on Sunday.

Out of 2,570 test for the novel coronavirus in Bosnia’s Federation region over the last 24 hours, 673 came out positive. The region also reported 50 deaths, bringing the death toll in this part of the country to 3,889.

Currently, there are 21,065 active cases in the Federation entity.

Over the last 24 hours, Republika Srpska performed 811 lab tests on those who reported infection system and confirmed 208 new cases.

With 31 more deaths reported in this part of the country, the region’s death toll is now 2,777.

There are 1,393 hospitalized patients in the Republika Srpska region with 110 those on ventilator support.

Brcko District reported 50 new cases and three fatalities.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/bosnia-logs-931-new-coronavirus-cases-84-fatalities/

Coronavirus UPDATE: 36 deaths, 3,304 newly infected in Serbia

April 04, 2021

Over the last 24 hours, 36 patients died from COVID-19-related complications and out of 11,711 tested people, 3,304 were infected with the coronavirus, Serbia's Health Ministry said on Sunday.

To date, COVID-19 claimed a total of 5,458 lives in Serbia.

Currently, there are 7,794 hospitalized patients, of whom 292 are on ventilator support.

Since the epidemic outbreak in March 2020, 3,483,666 people have been tested, and 617,669 samples have returned positive for the new virus.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-update-36-deaths-3304-newly-infected-in-serbia/

Expert: Mandatory vaccination for health workers should be taken seriously

April 04, 2021

Serbia’s chief epidemiologist and member of the COVID response team Predrag Kon said that the proposal to make vaccination mandatory for health workers should be taken seriously.

„I certainly support something like that. Vaccination is the way out of this situation. Vaccination should be supported,” Kon told TV Prva.

The epidemiologist also said that it is true that some health workers refuse to be vaccinated but that it remains unknown for what reason they do that.

According to him, there is no reason to resist vaccination.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/expert-mandatory-vaccination-for-health-workers-should-be-taken-seriously/

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