International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Fiscal Council opposes decision on payment of 100 Euro to all citizens

April 28, 2020

The Serbian Fiscal Council spoke out on Tuesday against the decision by the authorities to pay 100 Euro to every adult citizen, calling it the biggest mistake in the amended budget.

The Fiscal Council said that the decision was “the biggest and irreversible” mistake in the budget but added that it includes economic and fiscal projections for this year which it said are the best possible given the current circumstances.

“We see the amended budget as a forced, transitional solution whose goal is to implement the anti-crisis package of state measures,” a Council report said. “The biggest and irreversible mistake in the amended budget is the payment of 100 Euro to each adult citizen of Serbia.

The Fiscal Council warned in its assessment of the anti-crisis measures that the payment of 100 Euro to adult citizens inflicts multiple damage,” the report said and called the government to abandon the decision as economically inefficient.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a593860/Fiscal-Council-opposes-decision-on-payment-of-100-Euro-to-all-citizens.html

1 in 5 Million activists protest in front of Serbian Parliament


April 28, 2020

Activists of the opposition 1 in 5 Million Movement organized a protest in front of the Serbian Parliament building, demanding that the authorities revoke the announced May Day weekend curfew.

The government has decided to impose a curfew over the May Day weekend starting at 6:00 pm on Thursday and ending at 5:00 am on Monday as part of efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. May 1 is traditionally a day for outdoor gatherings in picnic areas.

“We are demanding an end to this sick experiment. This is the result of their schizophrenic divisions or the result of a desire to see how far they can manipulate the people by bending their spine,” movement activist Valentina Rekovic said while MPs were in session for the first time since the state of emergency was declared on March 15.

She said that no other country had imposed a curfew that long.

She said that the authorities are “insulting the intelligence of the people” and intimidating the public instead of just telling them to stick to the measures.

About a dozen movement activists stood in line in front of parliament, maintaining the required distance between them.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a593840/1-in-5-Million-activists-protest-in-front-of-Serbian-Parliament.html


New indictment at Kosovo war crimes court

April 28, 2020

The prosecutor at the Kosovo war crimes court in the Hague filed another so-called secret indictment, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers said in press release on Tuesday.

The press release said that Chambers President Judge Ekaterina Trendofilova had assigned a pre-trial judge to review the new indictment whose contents remain confidential under the regulations of the specialized court. The pre-trial judge has a six month deadline to confirm or reject the indictment.  

“Following his notification to initiate proceedings in February 2020, the Specialist Prosecutor again notified the President of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers on Thursday, 23 April 2020,of his intent to initiate additional proceedings before the Specialist Chambers and requested that a Pre-Trial Judge be assigned in accordance with the Law,” the press release said.  

The first indictment were filed by the Specialist Prosecutor early this year but none have been released to the public pending reviews by judges. Prosecutors and investigators at the Specialist Chambers have questioned more than 250 people, most of them Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) veterans, either as witnesses or suspected war criminals, including former Kosovo Parliament Speaker Kadri Veseli and former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj.  

The court has jurisdiction for crimes committed in Kosovo between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 2000 and will investigate and process claims made in a report to the Council of Europe (CoE) Parliamentary Assembly by rapporteur Dik Marti in January 2011 about “serious cross-border and international crimes”.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a593716/New-indictment-at-Kosovo-war-crimes-court.html

Belgrade coronavirus hospital children’s ward full

April 28, 2020

The head of a children’s ward at a Belgrade hospital for coronavirus patients told the Serbian state TV that the ward has been filled to capacity, with an increase in the number of kids being treated there since last week.

Ward chief Dr Olivera Ostojic told the Serbian state TV (RTS) that 44 children and 26 mothers, including six babies, were being treated at the Dragisa Misovic Clinical Hospital Center. She said that the ward has been filled to capacity with a third of the patients from Belgrade and the rest from other parts of Serbia.  

The doctor said that two of her patients are new-born babies with four more up to the age of six months. All of them are tested positive for the coronavirus but are not showing any symptoms, she said and added.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a593676/Belgrade-coronavirus-hospital-children-s-ward-full.html

COVID-19 Death Toll Rises to 30 in Albania

April 27, 2020

A 50-year-old patient diagnosed with COVID-19 has died this morning, bringing the total number of deaths to 30.

The Ministry said that in addition to COVID-19, they suffered from other underlying conditions which exacerbated his condition. He had been intubated for several days at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Tirana.

Last night, another patient, a 73-year-old with a number of underlying health problems passed away.

4% of those infected with COVID-19 in Albania have died and 57% have recovered so far.

Source:  https://exit.al/en/2020/04/28/covid-19-death-toll-rises-to-30-in-albania/

CORONAVIRUS Update: Six dead, 233 test positive in Serbia in 24 hours

Serbia’s Crisis Team said on Monday that six people, three men and three women, died from COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of dead to 162, with a mortality rate of 1,96, N1 reported.

The number of recovered patients reached 1,209 since the official start of the epidemic on March 6.

They said that 3,214 people were tested in the last 24 hours, and 233 patients were infected with the coronavirus until 3 pm on Monday, while since the epidemic outbreak, 8,275 people were tested positive.

To date, 67,919 people have been tested for the coronavirus.

A total of 2,701 COVID-19 patients are being treated in hospitals, including 85 who are on respirators. 

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a593474/Death-toll-from-COVID-19-in-Serbia-162.html

Second night of loud noise against 'dictatorship' across Serbia

April 27, 2020

For the second night on Monday, people cross Serbia responded to a call from Don't Let Belgrade Drawn Initiative protest named 'Raise your voice: Noise against Dictatorship' by blowing whistles, trumpets, yelling, playing music and pounding pots, N1 reported.

The Initiative invited people to express dissatisfaction with the current political situation by making noise in different ways.

The event is scheduled for 8:05 pm, five minutes after people traditionally applaud to medical staff for their brave fight against coronavirus epidemic.

The noise in New Belgrade, a modern part of Serbia's capital, lasted for about 15 minutes and sounded louder than on Sunday night.

The similar protests were held during the rule of Serbia's late strongman Slobodan Milosevic, when people in the country ponded pots at 7:30 pm every night.

They were trying to deafen the state RTS TV main news programme which they saw as 'lies and propaganda' by the national broadcaster.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a593624/People-in-Serbia-stage-loud-noise-protesting-dictatorship.html

Slovenia has 8 new COVID-19 cases, gov't calls for staying home for Workers' Day

April 27, 2020

Eight new cases of the novel coronavirus infection have been confirmed in Slovenia, seven fewer than in the last 24 hours, and the total number of infections now stands at 1,396, the Slovenian government said on Sunday.

One patient has died, which puts the death toll at 82.

Eighty people are receiving treatment in hospitals, including 23 who are in intensive care units.

The government said that some of the most stringent restrictions introduced to fight the coronavirus infection, such as a ban on leaving one's place of residence, would stay in force until after Workers' Day, May 1, at least.

The newly appointed head of the Public Health Institute, Milan Krek, warned that one must not allow the situation that happened during the Easter holidays to happen again, when a significant number of people violated restrictions, which 14 days later resulted in a new surge in the number of infections.

Prime Minister Janez Jansa said that intensive activities were under way at EU level to determine standards for the relaunching of various activities such as education, tourism and public transportation so that they could resume at least in a limited scope.

He said that Slovenia was one of the most successful European countries in terms of results in the fight against COVID-19 but that one would have to get used to the fact that restrictions such as physical distancing and wearing masks in indoor spaces would stay in force.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a428843/Slovenia-has-8-new-COVID-19-cases-gov-t-calls-for-staying-home-for-Workers-Day.html

Bosnia's Serb-majority region objects relaxation of border procedures

April 27, 2020

Top officials from Bosnia’s Serb-majority region blasted a decision by the other semi-autonomous entity to relax the procedure for people entering the country and stop holding them in quarantine, saying it was not a coordinated step and could pose a threat to efforts to control the coronavirus.

Both of Bosnia’s semi-autonomous regions had introduced a set of coordinated measures at the state border to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, which included placing all those who enter the country into quarantine for 14 days. The Armed Forces set up quarantine tents at a number of border crossings and authorities emptied student dormitories to keep the newcomers isolated in separate rooms.

Curfews had already been introduced in both of Bosnia’s semi-autonomous entities and a series of other measures, such as closing all non-essential businesses, schools and public transport.

However, the Civil Protection Headquarters in the Federation (FBiH), one of Bosnia’s two entities, decided to lift the curfew and changed the order regarding the procedure for those entering the country.

This means that whoever enters Bosnia and Herzegovina at a border crossing on FBiH territory is obliged to report to authorities and will be handed a movement ban, sent home and be monitored for 14 days, while anyone entering the country via the other region, Republika Srpska (RS), will still be sent to a quarantine facility.

The head of the RS Administration for Inspection Activities, Dragutin Skrebic, called the FBiH decision “surprising.”

“We will not achieve anything if we protect the territory of Republika Srpska while having FBiH border crossings open,” he argued, adding that the decision is even more surprising when considering that it was made just ahead of May 1, Labour Day.

Advisor in the FBiH Health Ministry, Goran Cerkez, defended the decision, arguing that similar measures are in place in Croatia, “our closest country within the EU.”

RS Health Minister, Alen Seranic, strongly criticised the decision in an interview for N1 on Monday, arguing that relaxing the measures was done too abruptly.

He stressed that the World Health Organisation emphasised the need for strict border controls and that the decision to place all who enter the country into quarantine was an excellent way to maintain control over the situation.

“Such a decision by our colleagues in FBiH, regarding the issuing of self-isolation orders, will result in more difficulties in our work. We will not have control over people unless they report to their local quarantine facility,” he said, arguing that the new situation also endangers the RS.

People who may be infected could “stop at gas stations, go to grocery stores, meet with family members,” he explained.

Similar reactions came from a meeting between top Bosnian Serb officials, among them Presidency Member Milorad Dodik and the Chairman of Bosnia's Council of Ministers, Zoran Tegeltija, in the city of Banja Luka earlier on Monday.

They argued that the decision also was not a coordinated activity both entities agreed on.

Bosnia’s Security Minister, Fahrudin Radoncic, also told N1 on Monday that he was not in favour of the way FBiH authorities relaxed the procedure.

“The measures of the Crisis Headquarters of the FBiH and the RS must be coordinated because of the flow of people crossing the borders,” he said.

Radoncic also argued that a lot of members of the FBiH Crisis Headquarters were against lifting some of the restrictions and that it would have been a lot better if epidemiologists were consulted before the decision was made.

“It seems to me that experts, epidemiologists, were not even asked about it in the FBiH Crisis Headquarters,” he said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a593604/Bosnian-Serb-entity-objects-border-relaxation.html

Attack on Serb journalist in northern Kosovo

April 27, 2020

According to the Director of RTV Plus from the village of Silovo in Eastern Kosovo Nenad Milenkovic, four masked attackers beat him outside the municipality building where he went to submit project documents related to a public procurement, news agencies reported on Monday.

 The Association of Serbia's Journalists (UNS) condemned the attack and demanded an urgent investigation into who were the perpetrators and masterminds behind the beatings.

"I arrived at the municipal building where four masked people waited for me, took my documents, and hit me in the head, asking who sent me and why did I come," Milenkovic said.

He added that "someone didn't like" that he came to submit those documents.

Milenkovic went for medical treatment and then to the police station where he gave a statement.

The police confirmed they received the information about the attack and said an investigation was ongoing.

Northern Mitrovica is mostly populated by local Serbs, while Silovo has ethnic Albanian majority.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a593528/Four-masked-attackers-beat-Serb-journalist-in-Northern-Kosovo.html

Media: LDK will have PM, deputy and seven ministries in Kosovo new cabinet

April 27, 2020

Kosovo new Prime Minister will be Avdulah Hoti from the Democratic Leauge of Kosovo (LDK), and the party will have a deputy and seven ministers, the Beta news agency reports on Monday.

Pristina media published the names of new officials, but deputy LDK leader Lutifu Haziri said those mentioned as new ministers were not the candidates, described media reports as 'speculations.'

He added there were no concrete candidates for ministerial posts, but that the names could be expected soon after the coalition agreement with the Alliance for Future of Kosovo, Social-Democratic Initiative and the Alliance for New Kosovo was finalised.

Avdulah Hoti has been earlier reported to have been the LDK candidate for PM-designate.

The outgoing Kosovo Government, headed by Albin Kurti of the Self-Determination party, the winner in the general elections held last October, was voted out by the Parliament on March 25.

He failed to nominate his successor after several requests by President Hashim Thaci who then called on LDK leader Isa Mustafa to name his candidate.

 LDK was the main Kurti’s partner in the government but withdrew its support during a non-confidence vote.    

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a593596/Pristina-media-publish-names-of-New-Kosovo-PM-ministers.html

EULEX continues working on destiny of missing in Kosovo

April 27, 2020

The European Union Mission for the rule of law in Kosovo, (EULEX) said on the occasion of the National Day of Missing says on Monday it will continue to search for what has happened to 1,640 people that are still missing in Kosovo, the Beta news agency reports.

EULEX chief Lars-Gunnar Wigemark said that the EU Mission had conducted 651 ground operations so far to find the missing persons and identified 456 people, including 311 missing persons.

"We have over 1,640 reasons to continue working on finding out the destiny of missing people together with local colleagues to offer answers to their families and loved ones whose lives have changed forever," he said.

Wigemark added that EULEX would help Kosovo's authorities to solve the issue of 300 bodies currently at Pristina morgue.

EULEX will also switch off the lights in its headquarters in support of marking the Day of Missing called 'For 20 Years of Darkness, Switch the Light for Two Minutes at 20:00 Hours', joining the call by the Youth Initiative for Human Rights.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a593582/EULEX-to-join-marking-of-National-Day-of-Missing-in-Kosovo.html

EC will present investment package for WB at Zagreb Summit

April 27, 2020

The European Commission (EC) will present an investment package for the Western Balkans during the joint Summit in Zagreb on May 6, despite earlier reports that it might not happen, N1 reported on Monday

EC spokesperson Ana Pisonero told N1 that the Commission did not give up that plan.

"The commission works on securing a significant contribution to the video conference of the European Union leaders and their Western Balkans' partners. It's difficult to predict which way the discussion will take. We are focused on fighting coronavirus, but at the same time, we work on the economic investment plan," she told N1.

She added that the EC "put a significant package on the table. We speak about 410 million Euro, plus an additional 290 million which should secure the liquidity through the cooperation with the international financial institution."

The details of the plan will be published in autumn.

The EU-WB Summit in Zagreb on May 6 will be held via conference link and will last one instead of previously planned two days due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The main topics are expected to be the new EU enlargement methodology and the economic package for the Western Balkans.

Diplomatic sources told Radio Free Europe (RFE) that a declaration about the investment package for the region would be brought at the end of the Summit. The Western Balkans could count on aid from two sources – EC and European Investment Bank (EIB). The exact amount isn't known, but RFE says billions of Euro are mentioned.

The declaration draft which RFE had access to said the investments would be crucial to incent a long-time recovery of the whole region and support the reforms in the regional countries.

"The Western Balkans should become a functional market economy capable of joining the EU common market, creating new jobs, improving the business and investment climate and promoting the rule of law," the declaration said, according to RFE.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a593566/EC-will-present-economic-package-for-WB-in-Zagreb.html

Transparency Serbia calls on MPs to ask about donations and purchases

April 27, 2020

The Transparency Serbia (TS) called on the country’s Parliament deputies on Monday to ask the Government to publish information about the procurements carried out without the implementation of the respective law during the state of emergency declared on March 15, and about the donations during that period, the Beta news agency reported.

Serbia’s Parliament will hold its first session on Tuesday since the epidemic outbreak on March 6, and all the measures, including the declaration of the state of emergency, were introduced without the chief legislative body meeting.

The opposition and some legal experts have said the way those measures and decisions had been taken were not in line with the Constitution.

The Parliament Speaker Maja Gojkoviccalled the session to confirm the declaration of a state of emergency imposed to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

In a memo to all deputies’ clubs, TS called on MPs to demand data about the financial and other aid from the international organisations, foreign countries, the business community, individuals and companies which they had documents while protecting the details about donors who demanded anonymity.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a593538/TS-calls-on-Serbia-s-MPs-to-seek-data-on-donation-purchases-during-state-of-emergency.html

Nine new cases with COVID-19 infection, four more fatalities in Croatia

April 27, 2020

In the last 24 hours, there have been nine new infections with the novel coronavirus in Croatia, bringing the total number to 2,039, whereas the death toll has risen by four to 59, Croatia's COVID-29 crisis management team said at a daily news conference on Monday.

As for the latest fatalities, those were four elderly women, born in 1937, 1934, 1923 and in 1931, and they had had underlying health conditions, according to information provided by Health Minister Vili Beros.

There are currently 21 COVID-19 patients on ventilators.

Since the outbreak of the disease in late February, Croatia has tested 32,817 samples, and of them 1,195 samples have been tested in the also 24 hours. Also, the percentage of positive tests stands at 6.23%.

Currently 303 people are being treated in hospitals due to this disease, 11 fewer than on Sunday, and also 517 patients have been discharged after the recovery, nine more than on Sunday. The number of those who have recovered at home has increased by 54 to 649.

Since the outbreak of the disease, a total of 1,166 people who have caught the virus have recovered.

The average age of the patients in Croatia is 51.24, with 53.8% of patients female, and 46.2% male.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a593502/Nine-new-coronavirus-case-in-Croatia-four-deaths.html

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