International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Serbian President confirms purchase of Chinese drones

July 4, 2020

Serbia’s President, Aleksandar Vucic, confirmed on Saturday that the country purchased six unmanned combat aerial vehicles but added that he could not reveal how much they cost due to a clause on secrecy in the contract.

"They have a long range, they can shoot at targets from a distance of nine kilometers and record the terrain, objects of interest to Serbia deep within enemy territory," Vucic said at the demonstration of the new CH-92A drones at the Batajnica airport.  

He said that a "technology transfer" for the "Pegasus" system had been agreed with China as well.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616424/Serbian-president-confirms-purchase-of-Chinese-drones.html

Bosnian Serb parties join forces for elections in Srebrenica and Mostar

July 3, 2020

Leaders and representatives of Serb parties from Bosnia's Republika Srpska (RS) entity agreed on Friday to have joint candidate lists in the eastern town of Srebrenica and the southern city of Mostar for the country's local elections which will be held in November this year.

"Srebrenica is one of the strategic places for which we estimated that there should be a joint appearance and support for the joint appearance, and this was a kind of invitation to our political parties to sit down in the next few days and reach an appropriate agreement that will be welcomed by the leadership of all these political parties," said RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic.

She spoke after the meeting attended by the Serb Presidency member Milorad Dodik as the leader of Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD)Nedeljko Cubrilovic – the leader of Democratic Srpska (DEMOS), Snjezana Novakovic-Bursac (SNSD), Nikola Spiric (SNSD), People's Democratic Movement (NDP) leader Dragan Cavic, Socialist Party of Srpska's (SPS) leader Goran Selak, Democratic People's Alliance (DNS) leader Darko Banjac, Serb Democratic Party's deputy leader Rado Savic and Party of Democratic Progress (PDP) representative Mira Pekic.

According to Cvijanovic, the situation in Mostar is different, given that they are holding preparatory election activities, for the first time in many years.

"We have expressed our absolute dissatisfaction with the position of the Serb community in Mostar, but also the need to urgently resolve the constitutional, practical and political issues of the Serb people in certain cantons, and generally in the Federation (FBiH) entity,” she added.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616176/Bosnian-health-authorities-recorded-173-new-Covid-19-cases-over-the-past-24-hours-with-79-in-the-Se.html

Bosnia's Covid-19 cases count continues to rise - 173 new cases, two fatalities

July 3, 2020

Bosnian health authorities recorded 173 new Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours, with 79 in the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) entity and 94 in the Bosniak-Croat shared Federation (FBiH) entity. They added that the fatalities come one each from the two entities.

After testing 468 samples, the RS health authorities confirmed the presence of SARS-COV-2 in 79 persons.

The FBiH health authorities said they tested 1,383 persons of which 94 were positive.

Both entities reported one each virus-related fatality, with patients suffering from pre-existing conditions

The state Civil Affairs Ministry said that Bosnia has had a total of 4,962 confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic in the country, of which 2,550 recovered and 191 had died.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616174/Bosnia-s-Covid-19-cases-count-continues-to-rise-173-new-cases-two-fatalities.html

North Macedonia reports seven more coronavirus deaths

July 3, 2020

The North Macedonia Health Ministry on Friday reported seven coronavirus-related deaths over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths since the pandemic began to 328.

A press release said that 1,454 people had been tested in that period, including 165 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. It said that there are 3,583 active cases, including nine patients on ventilators.

A total of 64,837 people have been tested since the pandemic began, 6,787 of who tested positive.

The North Macedonia Public Health Institute said that 2,876 patients have recovered from COVID-19.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616272/North-Macedonia-reports-seven-more-coronavirus-deaths.html

Croatia reports 96 new Covid-19 cases

July 3, 2020

In the last 24 hours, 96 out of 1,464 tests performed in Croatia for Sars-CoV-2 have returned positive, the national Covid-19 crisis response team stated on Friday.

 Currently, there are 728 active cases, and of them 88 are receiving hospital treatment, including four placed on ventilators.

In the last 24 hours, there have been two more deaths in connection with this infection, bringing the death toll to 112.

Currently, 4,943 persons are placed in self-isolation.

Since 25 February, when the country reported its first confirmed case of this communicable disease, a total of 3,008 people have been diagnosed with it.

To date, 2,168 have fully recovered.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a445093/Croatia-reports-96-new-Covid-19-cases.html

Belgrade declares an emergency situation over Covid-19 pandemic

July 3, 2020

The Mayor of Belgrade Zoran Radojcic declared the emergency situation in the capital as of Friday with stricter measures in trying to curb an outbreak in coronavirus epidemic, N1 reported.

The measures include the ban on more than 100 people in closed space with mandatory face masks and physical distance and not more than 500 outdoor.

The night clubs will be closed from 11 pm to 6 am, while people without face masks in public transport will be sanctioned.

Radojicic told the state RTS TV it was not necessary to quarantine Belgrade due to the current epidemic situation.

Earlier, Serbia's chief epidemiologist Predrag Kon, a member of Serbia's anti-epidemic Crisis Team, said the coronavirus infection was at its peak in Serbia and that the intensity if virus transmission was the greatest since the start of the pandemic, the FoNet news agency reported.

He predicted that the number of newly infected would decrease later, and added the situation was not worse than in March and April, "but that it was not simple.""We must behave as we are facing the most intensive period of infection, and we will solve this in a couple of weeks," Kon told the state RTS TV.

He said the Government would adopt new stricter measures for the next 14 days, including mandatory face masks in closed space, and that those who violated that would be sanctioned."If those measures are implemented, a new increase in the number of infected is nearly theoretical."

Kon added that it was not possible to predict such a new explosion of the novel virus since it was believed it would weaken due to warmer weather.

On Thursday, Serbia reported six deaths and 359 tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The Health Ministry bulletin said 9,013 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours. The total number of people tested to Thursday stood at 418,879 with 15,195 confirmed cases.

It added there were 1,996 active cases, including 81 patients on ventilators.

The total number of deaths since March 6, when the epidemic was officially declared, was 287.

Serbia's authorities relaxed all the measures after lifting the state of emergency on May 6, ahead of the June 21 general elections.

They mostly blame people for disobeying recommendations to wear a face mask and keep a physical distance.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a444955/Belgrade-declares-an-emergency-situation-over-Covid-19-pandemic.html

Coronavirus UPDATE: 11 deaths, 309 new cases

July 3, 2020

The Serbian Health Care Ministry said in its daily 3:00 pm bulletin that 11 people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 298.

It said that 8,102 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 309 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The total number of people tested to date stands at 426,981 with 15,504 confirmed cases.

The bulletin said that there are 2,142 active cases, including 85 patients on ventilators.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616194/Coronavirus-UPDATE-11-deaths-309-new-cases.html

IMF: Serbia’s fiscal deficit 7 percent of GDP this year

July 3, 2020

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned on Friday that the coronavirus pandemic is having a significant adverse impact on the Serbian economy, adding that the fiscal deficit in 2020 will amount to more than seven percent of the GDP and that the public debt is expected to increase.

The mission, led by Jan Kees Martijn, held virtual meetings with the Serbian authorities between June 24 and July 3, 2020, to discuss the fourth review under the PCI.

“The pandemic has had a significant adverse impact on Serbia’s economic activity. The shock is affecting the economy through lower external demand, weaker foreign investment and remittances, domestic supply constraints, and disruptions in regional and global supply chains. Real GDP is projected to contract by 3 percent in 2020, compared to an increase by 4.2 percent in 2019, and is expected to rebound to 6 percent growth in 2021. Given the highly uncertain economic outlook, we recommend careful contingency planning,” Martijn said in a press release.

“Program implementation has remained broadly on track. However, the sharp deterioration in the external and domestic economic environment caused by the COVID-19 outbreak requires an adjustment of the PCI objectives for the remainder of the program, which is set to conclude in January 2021. In this context, policies should continue to focus on supporting the economy through the crisis while preserving macroeconomic and financial stability, managing risks adequately, and protecting vulnerable groups. Quantitative targets have been reset to reflect the major changes in the fiscal outlook for 2020,” he said.

Martijn recalled that the Serbian authorities implemented what he said was a “prompt and well-designed policy response” in the form of a fiscal package which is among the largest in emerging Europe and the National Bank of Serbia (NBS) cutting the key policy rate and injecting liquidity into the banking system among other measures to preserve monetary and financial stability.

“The implementation of the fiscal measures, together with the decline in revenues associated with lower economic activity, will raise the fiscal deficit in 2020 to more than 7 percent of GDP, compared with 0.5 percent of GDP in the initial budget,” he said and warned against that increases in public sector wages and pensions should be limited. “Public debt, which was declining steadily prior to the pandemic, is now expected to increase in 2020 while staying below 60 percent of GDP, but should resume a clear downward trajectory in 2021,” he added.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616306/IMF-Serbia-s-fiscal-deficit-7-percent-of-GDP-this-year.html

Serbia's President creates economic policy to fit his interest, professor says

July 3, 2020

Milojko Arsic, a professor at the Belgrade Economy Faculty, accused on Friday President Aleksandar Vucic about giving an advantage to personal and his party's interests over the healthy economy, the Beta news agency reported.

Arsic told the Direktno.rs website that Vucic's promise of Euro 900 average wage by 2025, was not sustainable even before the coronavirus epidemic, "let alone now."

"The problem is not in Vucic's understanding of the economy, but giving the advantage to his party's and his interests to stay in power as long as possible, over the long-lasting interest of the society," Arsic said.

He added that "the majority of politicians in the world want the same, but in organised countries, the institutions control them, while it's not the case in Serbia."

"The prolonged epidemic will cause additional fall in economic activities and the rise in unemployment, while the recovery will take longer than it seemed several weeks ago," Arsic said.

Asked what the state could do to prevent that scenario, he said "the fiscal possibilities for additional measures are very modest," since that this year, the Government "allocated a substantial package of some justified measures, but also some expensive, not efficient and socially not justified ones, like giving Euro 100 to all adult citizens in the country."  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616142/Serbia-s-President-creates-economic-policy-to-fit-his-interest-economy-professor-says.html

Serbian military setting up field hospital in Novi Pazar

July 3, 2020

The Serbian military is setting up a field hospital in the city of Novi Pazar to help the local hospital deal with the rising number of coronavirus cases.

The military is setting up the hospital which can take up to 150 patients with 15 doctors, as well as other necessary medical staff.

The pandemic situation in Novi Pazar in the southwest of the country has been escalating over the past few days with large numbers of COVID-19 patients reported on gurneys and chairs in the corridors of the local hospital. The hospital chiefs claim to have enough equipment but do not have enough doctors and nurses.

Some doctors and nurses at the Novi Pazar hospital protested during a visit by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar by turning their backs on them during their media conference which was accompanied by shouts of thieves, thieves by a small group of locals allowed onto the hospital grounds.

The hospital in Novi Pazar is the main medical facility for the whole Sandzak region, including the towns of Tutin and Sjenica where large numbers of coronavirus cases have been reported.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616326/Serbian-military-setting-up-field-hospital-in-Novi-Pazar.html

Serbian chief of staff discusses cooperation with NATO liaison chief

July 3, 2020

The Serbian military’s top commander General Milan Mojsilovic discussed the possible upgrading of cooperation with NATO with Brigadier General Tommaso Vitale, Chief of NATO Military Liaison Belgrade, the Defense Ministry said in a press release on Friday.

It said thatMojsilovic and Vitale also discussed how the Serbian military was tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

The press release quoted the chief of staff as saying that the Serbian military is committed to continuing cooperation with the Alliance in all areas of common interest within Partnership for Peace and joint activities with KFOR. Mojsilovic added that “professional cooperation based on mutual respect and trust which is of key importance to overall stability and security” had been established with KFOR as the only legitimate armed formation in Kosovo.

The ministry press release did not quote General Vitale.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616288/Serbian-chief-of-staff-discusses-cooperation-with-NATO-liaison-chief.html

Kosovo PM in Albania: I’m ready to meet Grenell to resume dialogue

July 3, 2020

Avdulah Hoti, Kosovo’s Prime Ministers, said in Tirana on Friday he was ready to meet Richard Grenell, the US President Donald Trump’s special envoy for Belgarde – Pristina dialogue on the normalization of relations, to discuss the resumption of talks which should end in mutual recognition between Serbia and Kosovo, the Beta news agency reported.

Hoti cancelled the previously scheduled meeting at the White House after the Specialised Prosecutors’ Office for Kosovo announced the war crime indictment against President Hashim Thaci.

“If President Hashim Thaci resigns, the ruling coalition will find a solution," Hoti told a joint news conference with his Albanian counterpart, Edi Rama.

Rama said that the Specialised Court should not be unfair to Kosovo and the 1998-1999 fight of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

Earlier, Rama described the announced indictments against Tahaci and other Kosovars as “as a shameful stain in the history of justice.”

The two premiers discussed further cooperation between Albania and Kosovo.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616166/Kosovo-PM-in-Albania-I-m-ready-to-meet-Grenell-to-resume-dialogue.html

Samantha Power: Those who deny genocide have support of Russia and Putin

July 2, 2020

It is sad to see journalists and media institutions which could be a part of creating a shared history now taking different sides of the factual story, trying to turn the facts and what was proved before international courts into just another opinion - that believing that Srebrenica genocide had happened was just another opinion, wartime correspondent and Pulitzer-Prize winner Samantha Power said in an exclusive interview for N1.

"It's not an opinion, it is deeply rooted in a systematic massacre against thousands of men and boys," she said, adding that those who deny Srebrenica genocide enjoy the support of Russia and its President Vladimir Putin.

"People of Srebrenica, the number of international institutions and NGOs, as well as the majority of people in Bosnia know what is true. The record has been kept, the bodies have been buried, the families have photos and the mementoes... and that record is going to prevail," stressed Power, who served as the 28th US Ambassador to the United Nations from 2013 to 2017.

Days prior to the 25th Srebrenica genocide commemoration, Power spoke to N1 about the Bosnian 1992-95 war, the post-war period, the battles for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Srebrenica in the United Nations, and other topics.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a444879/Samantha-Power-Those-who-deny-genocide-have-support-of-Russia-and-Putin.html

Migrant killed near Bosnia-Croatia border under still unclear circumstances

July 2, 2020

An unidentified migrant was shot dead on Friday in Bosnia's northwest allegedly as he was trying to illegally cross the border with Croatia, the police administration in Una-Sana Canton (USK) told media.

The police were informed about the incident by a local from the town of Kulen Vakuf, near the border, where a group of migrants brought the lifeless body.

“The police officers and medical team could only confirm that the migrant succumbed to injuries that were caused by a firearm. The first check showed that the fatal injury was made on his back, most probably by a rifle, a hunting rifle,” said USK Interior Ministry Spokesperson Ale Siljdedic, adding that the investigation into the murder is underway.

The identity of the shot man and the persons who brought him to Kulen Vakuf is still unknown but according to still unconfirmed information they might be the users of the Lipa migrant camp, located near Bihac, the canton's administrative centre.

“We have absolutely no information about possible suspects. The investigation is being conducted at the site where the lifeless body was found, more precisely, the investigation will determine the exact location where the incident occurred,” said Siljdedic.

The police will also interrogate the users of the Lipa centre and determine the identities of the involved migrants.

“We cannot speak about any conclusions yet nor can we tell if the murder took place on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina or Croatia,” added Siljdedic.

Bosnia is seeing a new migrant wave in the wake of the relaxed coronavirus restriction measures across the region and end of the lockdown. After entering the country's eastern border, the migrants move to the northwest hoping they would cross the border with the European Union and reach their final destinations across Europe. But as Croatia keeps its borders closed for illegal migrants, they are stranded in the towns near the Bosnia-Croatia border, mostly accommodated in a few internationally-funded migrant centres but also occupying public areas in urban zones.

An estimated 7,000 illegal migrants are currently staying in Bihac and other areas of Una-Sana Canton in northwestern Bosnia.
Of that number, 3,000 are being provided with accommodation in makeshift reception centres, and others are scattered around, staying outdoors.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a444781/Migrant-killed-near-Bosnia-Croatia-border-under-still-unclear-circumstances.html

Dodik: Nobody should be investigated for procurement under extreme circumstances

July 2, 2020

Authorities should not be investigating public procurement deals made during the pandemic as the purchases of medical equipment were conducted under extraordinary circumstances, said Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik on Thursday.

Dodik was commenting on allegations that authorities in both of Bosnia’s two semi-autonomous regions, the Federation (FBiH) and Republika Srpska (RS), had violated procedures and overpaid the ordered equipment, particularly ventilators.

Opposition MPs in Republika Srpska have recently filed criminal complaints against RS authorities after they presented documents to the public which allegedly prove that the entity government grossly overpaid companies in various procurement procedures.

Meanwhile, the FBiH Prime Minister and other officials are being investigated for alleged wrongdoing which resulted in the entity overpaying 100 ventilators from China which prosecutors determined were unfit for COVID-19 treatment.

“Some are trying to fabricate affairs throughout this time of procurements both in the FBiH and in the RS in populistic ways,” Dodik said. “They are trying to find out who is responsible for the extremely difficult conditions in which the teams that were procuring ventilators and equipment had found themselves in."

“The only address for this (procurement) was China and we could not deal with the big competition. New York at one point asked for a million ventilators, we asked for 100. That tells you how big we are,” he said.

The Bosnian Serb leader said that it will most likely turn out that those involved in the procurement procedures did not violate any rules in either of the two entities.

Dodik commented on the fact that FBiH Prime Minister, Fadil Novalic, was detained and released swiftly in the case in FBiH.

“If anyone wanted to detain the prime minister, he should have not released him after one day but should have pursued this to the very end,” Dodik said, adding that the fact Novalic was immediately released shows that there was not enough data to point to his guilt.

“I am in favour of determining the responsibility of all those involved in embezzlement but they should not be accused of extremely difficult procurement conditions,” he said, cynically targeting the opposition

.“It was easy to sit at home and wait for something to scream about while doing nothing yourself,” he said.

Novalic and everybody else who was working on procurement at the time knows how difficult it was, he added.

Dodik also commented on the EU closing its borders for Bosnian citizens due to a rise of the number of new coronavirus cases in the country.

“The pandemic came to Bosnia and Herzegovina from the EU,” he noted.          

“Bosnia and Herzegovina is no different than other EU countries and our citizens don’t deserve such treatment by the EU. It would make sense to set up a system of reciprocity,” he said.

Dodik acknowledged that the EU decision is a “blow to the economy” of Bosnia.

“The catastrophic consequences of the pandemic will reach everybody. Bosnia and Herzegovina does not have a self-defence system in the sense of a strong economy. It will suffer more difficult consequences and this move by the EU is not fair,” he said, expressing a belief that the EU will soon open its borders for Bosnian citizens.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a444779/Dodik-Nobody-should-be-investigated-for-procurement-under-extreme-circumstances.html

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