International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

EU Envoy and Kosovo’s Speaker of Parliament Discuss Resuming Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue

EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak and Kosovo’s Speaker of Parliament Vjosa Osmani have discussed preparations for resuming the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue as soon as possible.

Their phone conversation was announced by Lajcak in a tweet on Wednesday:

Osmani is one of the many senior politicians in Kosovo that are against a land swap deal with between Kosovo and Serbia.

Last week, the EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell suggested that the EU would accept such a deal if both countries agreed on it.

Osmani was quick to react against Borrell’s statement. “I call on all international actors to refrain from legitimizing backward ideas in the process of dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. Any proposed solution that doesn’t have a strong basis in the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Kosovo will be rejected decisively by our people,” she tweeted.

In a surprising move, Lajcak also contradicted his boss by stating that the issue is not and should not be part of the dialogue agenda.

Presidents of Kosovo and Serbia have been accused of having secretly negotiated a land swap deal for the last two years and of having agreed on it in principle.

Source:  https://exit.al/en/2020/05/13/eu-envoy-and-kosovos-speaker-of-parliament-discuss-resuming-kosovo-serbia-dialogue/

Albanian Prime Minister Rules Out Transitional Government Demanded by Opposition

May 13, 2020

Today, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama refused the idea of a transitional government. The opposition, Rama said, is within its rights to ask for such a government, but it will not ultimately materialize.

The Democratic Party (PD) has proposed a transitory joint government, modeled after that of North Macedonia, to be formed three months before elections. PD has insisted that it would not give up its demands for such a government that would guarantee the Electoral Code would be respected.

This is the opposition’s principal request with regards to the electoral reform.

Earlier, Socialist majority representative Damian Gjiknuri claimed that this request had nothing to do with the reform and negotiating on it was not within his authority.

Prime Minister Rama’s statement today shows the Socialist majority will not accept the opposition’s main request for the electoral reform that must be completed within two weeks.

Rama noted that the Electoral Reform will be focused on OSCE-ODIHR’s recommendations: “This is not about accepting opposition’s proposals but it’s about accepting OSCE’s recommendations.”

He stated that they put in place a nonpartisan election administration, and a requirement for judges of the Electoral College (the body that review election complaints) to be vetted before appointment, despite opposition’s disagreement on both proposals.

On a different note, Rama added that they had no plan to form a coalition between the Socialist Party and the Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) in the elections of 2021.

Source:  https://exit.al/en/2020/05/12/albanian-prime-minister-rules-out-transitional-government-demanded-by-opposition/

Sejamini: The Us Knows There Is No Democracy in Albania but Will Never Admit It

May 13, 2020

Editor of Exit.al Neritan Sejamini spoke on Euronews last night regarding American Ambassador Yuri Kim and her views on the Albanian justice reform.

Sejamini said that six years have passed since the justice reform was launched and that it is superficial in its success. He said justice should “do its job” and be allowed to continue without it becoming a political issue.

“Today, after six years we expect to at least have some institutions down on paper….the reform has remained superficial,” he said.

He said that the Interests of the US government and embassy are one and the same: they want the reform to be successful, even if it’s just on paper. The reason for this apart from saving face is the fact that it will be seen to be bringing stability to the region. Sejamini said that regional stability is a key goal of the US, even though they are well aware of all the corruption and the erosion of democracy

“The US is interested in Tirana’s political stability because of regional stability. Other than this, they have no interest…They know there is no democracy in Albania and they know the problems related to Albanian politicians but they will never admit it because they are only interested in stability.”

Unfortunately, Sejamini said, justice is not at the core of the ongoing reform.

“The main goal of an ambassador is to serve the interests of his country. Everyone wants reform, the Prime Minister loves it very much. But the problem is who loves justice? They do not want justice. The government will make a paper reform as it has it all controlled,” he added.

Sejamini also added Albanians expect a lot from foreign diplomats and look to them for solutions.

“We forget that at the end of the day, they are diplomats and behave diplomatically.”

Kim gave her first televised interview yesterday, during which she said justice reform is a priority for the US government. She added that the “reform is not perfect but the basic elements are there.”

A recent survey carried out by the Institute of Democracy and Mediation found that the majority of Albanians surveyed feel the judiciary is corrupt, and one third believe the justice reform is not working. 60% said that the courts, judiciary and prosecution are susceptible to political pressure and will.

Source:  https://exit.al/en/2020/05/13/sejamini-the-us-knows-there-is-no-democracy-in-albania-but-will-never-admit-it/

World Bank grants 33.1 million Euro loan for Bosnia's fight against Covid-19

May 13, 2020

Finance and Treasury Minister, Vjekoslav Bevanda, signed a loan agreement with chief of the World Bank's office in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Emanuel Salinas, making available 33.1 million Euro for the country's fight against Covid-19.

The minister thanked the World Bank's representatives for understanding and swift reaction in ensuring the funds to tackle the pandemic.

“The funds are intended for both entities, the users of this loan, and the amount will be allocated in a way that Federation (FBiH) gets 60 percent and Republika Srpska 40 percent. Conditions are favourable with the repayment term of 32 years and seven years of grace period,” said Bevanda.

As for FBiH, the amount of 19,859,900 Euros will be utilised by Health Ministry and Ministry for Labour and Social Policy, while the RS Ministry of Health and Social Welfare will implement the projects worth 13,240,100 Euros.

Bevanda said he expected the amount to be spent in accordance with the loan conditions, stressing the importance of such projects at moments when the whole world is facing difficult consequences of the pandemic.

Goal of the project funded by the World Bank's loan is prevention, discovery and response to the Covid-19 pandemic-related threats, strengthening the national healthcare systems and helping the most jeopardised groups hit by the pandemic, the Finance and Treasury Ministry said.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a433380/World-Bank-grants-33.1-million-Euro-loan-for-Bosnia-s-fight-against-Covid-19.html

The Guardian: Croatian border police allegedly spray-painting incoming migrants

May 13, 2020

Croatian police are allegedly spray-painting crosses on heads of asylum seekers after catching them in their attempts to cross the border into Croatia from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the British daily The Guardian reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper said in its report that it had obtained a number of photographs of what charities in the border area have described as the "latest humiliation" perpetrated by Croatian authorities against migrants and refugees travelling towards Western Europe along the Balkan route.

The United Nations has asked the Croatian government to investigate the allegations of abuse.

"It is obvious that one of the intended effects of this behaviour is to humiliate refugees and migrants attempting to cross the border," Jack Sapoch from No Name Kitchen (NNK), an NGO that operates in the Bosnian town of Velika Kladusa, 2 kilometres from the Croatian border, told The Guardian.

"As far as I see it, this is the result of either one of two motivations. Either the Croatian authorities committing these acts are using spray paint to identify and humiliate repeat border crossers or, more worryingly, they are using this as a tactic to psychologically traumatise these men - the majority of whom are Muslim - with a religious symbol," Sapoch was quoted as saying.

The Guardian's article listed two other incidents from early May in which migrants claimed they had been pushed back from the border and sprayed with orange paint. According to migrants' testimonies, some had also had their money and mobile phones stolen and several had their shoes taken.

Every night groups of asylum seekers attempt to cross from Bosnia into Croatia, where police await them at the border, armed with truncheons, pistols and night vision goggles, the daily said.

The new Balkan route, which opened up after Hungary had closed its borders during the 2015 migrants crisis, now runs from Greece, Albania, Montenegro, and Serbia, to Bosnia.

Once there, the majority of migrants continue towards the northwestern corner of Bosnia, in an attempt to cross into Croatia and walk through the mostly mountainous 50-kilometre stretch of Croatia's territory hoping to reach Slovenia and the EU's passport-free Schengen area.

Croatian border police have been regularly accused of mistreating incoming migrants and alleged pushbacks, forcing migrants and refugees back into Bosnia without giving them a chance to formally request asylum. Croatian authorities have routinely rejected these allegations.

"Aid workers, doctors, border guards and UN officials have documented systematic abuse and violence perpetrated by police, with migrants often beaten, shot, robbed and even stripped of their clothes," the Guardian said.

The Guardian quoted the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, which expressed concern about reports of violence and treatment of migrants and refugees by Croatian police.

"‘Our organisation has previously received and subsequently shared with the authorities credible reports of people who claim they have been unlawfully returned from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia... These reports highlight problems regarding the identification of asylum claims, violence and excessive use of force, identification of vulnerable individuals, treatment of unaccompanied children," UNHCR spokesman for central Europe, Zoran Stevanovic, told The Guardian.

In the period from September 2019 to January 2020 the UNHCR had reported 100 cases of alleged unlawful returns from Croatia to neighbouring Bosnia and Serbia.

"Pushbacks are illegal and the spread of Covid-19 is not an excuse to confront vulnerable people with even more violence. It is unacceptable," Sapoch told The Guardian.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a433358/The-Guardian-Croatian-border-police-allegedly-spray-painting-incoming-migrants.html

Serbia's Vucic, SPC elder concerned over arrests of priests; three MPs charged

May 13, 2020

President Aleksandar Vucic and Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Patriarch Irinej expressed “great concern” over the arrests of a group of priests in Montenegro on Tuesday night following a church service attended by thousands despite a ban on public gatherings.

SPC Bishop of Budim-Niskic Joanikije and eight priestswere detained for 72 hours after thousands attended the Church liturgy and feast on St, Vasilije Day despite the Government ban on gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic. 

A joint statement said that they also “expressed the hope that our people will be calm and collected in these moments when no reasonable person would want any unrest and conflict” in their telephone conversation.

Montenegro police filed criminal charges on Wednesday against three opposition MPs suspected of committing a crime by calling for resistance. The charges say all three have publicly asked the SPC archbishop Amfilofije, the head of the Church in Montenegro, to call on people to join the celebration of the St. Vasilije Day in Niksic.

 “Patriarch Irinej recalled that the culmination of the hostile attitude of the state of Montenegro towards the SPC started with the adopting of the law on freedom of confession which harshly ignored SPC requests for equal treatment compared to other churches and religious communities and the protection of the rights which our church has enjoyed for centuries. The fact is that the law was adopted at the huge displeasure of our people late last year and early this year and now bishops and priests are being arrested and that is proof that the Montenegrin state is persecuting the SPC,” the statement said.

It added that Vucic offered full support to the Patriarch and SPC Bishops in Montenegro and their efforts to resolve problems peacefully. Vucic is also quoted as expressing the conviction that Bishop Joanikije and the other arrested priests will be released quickly.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a598979/Serbian-President-Church-elder-concerned-over-arrests-of-priests-in-Montenegro.html

Unrest in Montenegro following arrest of SPC clergy for violating ban of rallies

May 13, 2020          

The police in Montenegro's northern towns of Niksic and Plevlja fired teargas and shock bombs to disperse protesters who flooded the streets and threw stones on police officers after the arrest of the Budimlje-Niksic bishop Joanikije and several other Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) priests, Vijesti.me website reported late on Wednesday.

The priests were detainedfor serving the liturgy and celebrated St. Vasilije Day, despite Podgorica Government's ban on gathering during the coronavirus epidemic.

The protesters yelled "We won't give up our shrines," "Set bishop free…"

The SPC in Montenegro said it didn't bless any gatherings and distanced itself from the events in the streets.

Vijesti said that children were among demonstrators in Pljevlja when the police threw teargas and shock bombs.

The police said people were throwing stones, bottles and pyrotechnics on them and that two officers were injured.

 Earlier on Wednesday, SPC Patriarch Irinej and President Aleksandar Vucic said they were concerned over the arrest.

Protest walks were held in other places in northern Montenegro – Berane and Andrijevica,  coastal town of Budva, while in the capital Podgorica people protested by driving through the streets.    

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a599267/Unrest-in-Montenegro-following-arrest-of-priests.html

Serbia’s Government replies to Freedom House – report full of contradictions

May 13, 2020

Ana Brnabic, Serbia’s Prime Minister, said on Wednesday her government had sent an 18-page detailed reply to Freedom House (FH) latest report on the situation in Serbia which downgraded the country from Partly Free to ‘hybrid regime,’ saying it was “full of contradictions with an obvious subjective approach of a single person,” the FoNet news agency reported.

 She told the state RTS TV she wondered why “Freedom House did not engage an expert team, but a person (Milos Damjanovic) who works with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN).”

Brnabic said the reportdid not show the real situation regarding democracy in Serbia, adding “the author referred to sources and references that contradicted the content of his report.”

She said that the Government would “try to publish the reply on Thursday.”

However, he reiterated President Aleksandar Vucic’s remark, that “although the report didn't show the real situation, "there are some things that are true and we will accept some of them”

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a599257/Serbia-s-Government-denies-Freedom-House-report.html

Serbia’s rightists, mostly from Levijatan group, protest outside migrant camp

May 13, 2020

Some 50 rightists, mostly members of the Levijatan movement, founded to protect the animal’s rights, gathered outside the migrant camp in the Belgrade Obrenovac suburb on Wednesday, in support of a member of the organisation who forcibly drove into the camp last Thursday and is ordered 30-day detention, N1 reported

They said they knew that what Filip Radovanovic, 20, had done was wrong, but added that thanks to the pressure from media and NGOs which declared him a terrorist, he was detained for a month.

No one was injured during the incident which was a continuation of an anti-migrant mood in Serbia, supported by claims the country would give them citizenship and jobs. The authorities denied the claim and the majority of migrants and refugees were transiting through the country on their way to the West.

The crowd said they too had the right to their opinion and that it would not have been heard if there was no protest.  

The rally went on peacefully with only a few police officers present.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a599205/Serbia-s-rightist-protest-outside-migrant-camp.html

Bosnia's Franciscans express support for Archbishop's Bleiburg commemoration

May 13, 2020

Bosnia’s Franciscans expressed support for the Catholic Archbishop and his announced Holy Mass dedicated to those killed in Bleiburg in 1945, arguing that the attacks the religious leader is facing are “attempts to endanger religious freedoms and political interference in exclusively religious issues.”

"Faced with unfounded and malicious public attacks against the exemplary Cardinal Vinko Puljic, which escalated during a days-long witchhunt over the announced commemorative Mass for all innocent victims killed during and after the Second World War, which is to take place at the Sarajevo Cathedral, the Franciscan Province of Bosna Srebrena resolutely rejects these slanderous attacks not only on the Cardinal but also implicitly on the Catholic Church and the Croat people,” a statement by the Administration of the Franciscan Province of Bosna Srebrena said.

The Mass, which is to take place on Saturday at Sarajevo’s Sacred Heart Cathedral, will be a prayer for “all the innocent victims in Bleiburg and all other victims of the Yugoslavian communist regime,” the statement said.    

Amid a Yugoslav army offensive aimed at defeating pro-Nazi and anti-communist forces, tens of thousands of mostly pro-fascist Croat soldiers and their families fled in 1945 toward Austria to seek help from the British army, only to be turned back by the Brits right into the hands of anti-fascists.    

In and around the Austrian town of Bleiburg, thousands of the so-called Ustashas were killed. The Yugoslav forces saw the slaughter they committed as punishment for the tens of thousands of Jews, Serbs, Roma and anti-fascists killed by the Ustasha during WWII.    

After the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Croatia began commemorating the Bleiburg victims with a large gathering near the Austrian town every year but it was cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The organisers of the event, the Honorary Bleiburg Platoon, said it will be held in different cities instead, among them in Sarajevo.  

“It is utterly unacceptable for anyone, for any reason, especially by threatening and blackmailing, to dictate how and where the Catholic Church may pray for its deceased and show them reverence,” the Franciscans said.

Showing reverence to victims of the past wars is the “fundamental step toward reconciliation and peaceful coexistence,” they argued, adding that the crimes committed by the Partisans should be condemned just as much as those committed by the Chetniks, the Ustashas, the Germans and the Italians.  

The Franciscans pointed out that 57 of their members were among the victims of that regime and that they were killed “out of religious and nationalist hatred,” adding that the Yugoslav communist regime killed 663 Church officials.

They argued that a lot more prisoners and civilians, including women and children, were killed, breaching the 1929 Geneva Convention on Treatment of Prisoners of War, but that the number of victims of the regime was never determined.  

They also noted that the Council of Europe has in 2006 adopted a Resolution condemning the crimes of totalitarian communist regimes, while the European Parliament has last year adopted a Resolution on the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe, which called for international condemnation of crimes of totalitarian communist regimes.  

“Both of those resolutions were completely ignored in our public,” they argued, adding that the country is dominated by “so-called ‘anti-fascists’,” whose main goals are to prevent society from learning about communist crimes and to characterize all Croats as ‘Ustashas’.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a599179/Bosnia-s-Franciscans-support-mass-for-Bleiburg-victims.html

World Jewish Congress condemns plans to hold masses honouring Bleiburg events

May 13, 2020

The World Jewish Congress (WJC), a global Jewish organisation representing Jewish communities around the world, strongly condemned plans to hold a controversial mass on May 16 in Bosnia's capital Sarajevo intended to commemorate the anniversary of the World War II events at Bleiburg, the organisation said in a press release on Wednesday.

The Catholic mass in Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina - which during World War II was part of the fascist Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia (NDH) - had been announced as a replacement for the open-air gathering normally held at Bleiburg itself, due to the restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the events at Bleiburg, a small Austrian town on the border with Slovenia, where thousands of members of the Nazi-allied fascist Ustasha regime, together with pro-regime civilians, had surrendered to the British forces in the closing stages of World War II, only to be turned over to communist Partisans who then sent them on a death march back to Yugoslavia.

In a press release sent to local media on Wednesday, the World Jewish Congress slammed these remembrance events.

"For the past 24 years remembrance events intended to commemorate those perished in the fight for Croatia's freedom and independence are not used to celebrate heroes who had contributed to the rise of a strong and moral modern Croatia. Instead, they are used to glorify individuals who supported or were actively involved in the activities of a regime which had executed hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children only because of their ethnic or religious identity," WJC said on Wednesday.

The event at Bleiburg, organised since the 1990s by a remembrance group calling itself the Honourary Bleiburg Platoon, funded in part by Croatia's Parliament, and supported by Croatia's Catholic Church, became infamous for commonly featuring far-right sympathisers who often used the occasion to sport World War II-era insignia and salutes of the Ustasha regime.

In February 2019 Austria, which already had laws banning public displays of Nazi-related insignia, added Ustasha symbols to the list of proscribed symbols over concerns about Bleiburg gatherings, and in May that year the local Catholic Church officials withheld permission for an open-air mass, which had normally been celebrated on site by Croatian priests.

This year, however, the ban on large gatherings due to the Covid-19 pandemic meant that the main event couldn't be held. Instead, the commemoration would be marked by a mass in Sarajevo and two smaller events announced to be held in Zagreb and in Bleiburg. After the announcement, the plan was condemned by the Israeli embassy to Bosnia.

WJC also referred to Croatia's law on holidays and remembrance days, which had been amended by its conservative government last year and which came into force in January 2020, which recognises May 9 - the end of World War II - as Victory Day, but also proscribes May 15, the anniversary of the Bleiburg event, as an official remembrance date, officially billed as "Day of Remembrance of Croatian Victims in the Fight for Freedom and Independence."

"It is impossible to understand why the modern Croatian Parliament had passed this law, and out of all the available dates in a given year chose the one related to the events at Bleiburg, thereby designating it as the most appropriate day to commemorate those who died in the fight for modern Croatia's freedom and independence," WJC added.

"It is horrifying to realise, in the Jewish world, how fascists who had tried to cleanse Croatia of its Jewish and ethnic Serb population - by following the model emanating from Nazi Germany - get respect, and also to see them viewed as people whose deeds have contributed to the freedom and independence of the modern Croatian state, a state whose Constitution is based on anti-fascist struggle and the fight against the Nazi regime and its associates," said Menachem Rosensaft, General Counsel of the World Jewish Congress.

The Ustasha regime, which ran the Nazi-allied NDH on the territory which comprised much of present-day Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1941 to 1945, persecuted ethnic minorities, including Serbs, Jews, and Roma. At its main extermination camp at Jasenovac, official estimates say that more than 80,000 people had perished, including some 20,000 children up to 14 years of age.

"The fact that Croatia's Parliament is sponsoring such a controversial event, under the banner of honouring and remembering those who gave their lives for Croatia's freedom is a slap in the face of all innocent victims of the Ustasha regime, all advocates of historical truth, and the Jewish community across the region whose patriotism is questioned and personal safety at risk whenever they stand up to commemorations honouring the very people who had engaged in brutally killing their ancestors," Rosensaft said.

The WJC added that they extend full support to all Jewish communities affected by this, especially to Jewish communities in Bosnia, Croatia, and Austria.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a599115/WJC-condemns-palm-to-hold-Bleiburg-mass-in-Sarajevo.html

Coronavirus UPDATE: Two more dead, 52 new infected

May 13, 2020

In the last 24 hours, according to Serbia’s Health Ministry, two more people died from COVID-19, bringing the total number of fatalities to 222 on Wednesday.

At the same time, 5,299 people were tested on coronavirus and 52 came back positive.

Since the epidemic outbreak, 156,0603 people have been tested, and 10,295 have been infected.

The mortality rate stands at 2.16 percent.

The total number of recovered patients is 3,824.

The number of hospitalised is 992 and 22 of them are on ventilators.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a599077/A-total-of-222-people-have-died-from-COVID-19-while-3-824-have-recovered-in-Serbia-since-March-6.html

Bosnia's Covid-19 curve continues to flatten with 24 new cases and 2 more deaths

May 13, 2020

Bosnia's health authorities reported 24 new cases of Covid-19 and 2 more virus-related fatalities over the past 24 hours.

The Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) entity's Health ministry said they tested a total of 550 new samples and that 23 came back positive - nine patients are male and 14 female.

According to the Health Ministry, this entity has so far confirmed 1,168 cases of Covid-19, from which 79 people have died and have 511 recovered.

They added that 19,108 people have been tested for the new coronavirus since the beginning of the outbreak in the country.

When it comes to the Bosniak-Croat shared Federation (FBiH) entity, 653 samples were tested and only 1 came back positive.
So far, this entity tested 24,668 people form the new coronavirus, Health Ministry said.

So far, 703 patients have recovered from the disease and 37 had died.

Three more fatalities have been reported in the country - two are from the RS and one from FBiH. The Banja Luka Clinical Centre said the two RS patients were in their 80 and suffered from pre-existing, chronic conditions.

According to Bosnia's Civil Affairs Ministry, a total of 2,181 cases have been confirmed to date in the country, of which 1,228 recovered and 120 had died. The Ministry added that the country's health authorities have tested 44,380 people since the beginning of the pandemic.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a599113/Two-more-deaths-form-COVID-19-in-Bosnia-and-Herzegovina.html

North Macedonia minister reports three more dead, 20 new coronavirus cases

May 13, 2020

North Macedonia Health Care Minister Venko Filipce reported three more coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total to 95.

The minister’s regular daily Facebook post said that 309 people had been tested in the previous 24 hours, including 20 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. He added that 19,739 people have been tested to date.

The total number of COVID-19 patients in the country to date stands at 1,694, 1,229 of who have recovered. The number of active cases stands at 370, the minister said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a599037/North-Macedonia-minister-reports-three-more-dead-20-new-coronavirus-cases.html

May 13, 2020 The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said in its latest Regional Economic Prospects report that Serbia’s GDP will drop by 3.5 percent in 2020 and recover at a rate of 6 percent in 2021. “In light of the Covid-19 crisis,

May 13, 2020

During the coronavirus pandemic, some 200,000 people, or eight percent of the employees in Serbia lost jobs, including those who worked informally and as self-employed in February, the Fridrih Ebert Foundation's SeConS group study showed, the Beta news agency reported on Wednesday.

The research also showed that the hardest burden and highest risk were on women who made up to 86 percent of the employed "at the frontline of the infection."

The women also had more work than usual, up to 70 percent, in households.

The study, conducted on a representative sample of 1,600 people who had a job in February, showed the labourers in Serbia well adapted to working from home: some 27 percent used that option, 90 percent of whom could work without problems, while some 15 percent were less efficient.

"The two-thirds of the polled worried about health risk, 35.6 about the looming economic crisis in Serbia, 16.2 percent about the potential worsening of freedoms, strengthening of repression and the authoritarian rule," the study showed.

Almost half of the people, up to 46.2 percent, were fired because the companies stopped working, while 20.5 percent were not offered a new contract after the previous one expired.

In most cases, the workers could not organise going to work and taking care of family members and had to quit because during the state of emergency declared on March 15, there was no public transport, the kindergartens and schools were closed, and the social services for senior citizens did not work either. 

Those working in private firms, in trade, catering, infrastructure, self-employed and informally employed and those with a temporary contract, suffered the worst.

Over five percent had to go on vacation, some with an agreement with the employers.

A quarter of employees worked part-time or in less number of shifts, while 5.6 percent had their wages reduced.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a599159/During-pandemic-on-Serbia-200-000-people-went-unemployed.html

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