International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Coronavirus UPDATE: 31 deaths, 1,695 new cases

April 25, 2021

The Serbian Health Ministry said in its daily 3:00 pm bulletin on Sunday that 31 people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 6,227.

It said that 8,956 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 1,695 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The total number of people tested to date stands at 3,775,363 with 679,667 confirmed cases.

The bulletin said that there are 5,601 hospitalized cases, including 202 patients on ventilators.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-update-31-deaths-1695-new-cases/

Health ministry official: Epidemic measures and mass vaccination still necessary

April 25, 2021

Mirsad Djerlek, Serbian Health Ministry Secretary, said the daily figures showing a drop in the number of new coronavirus cases are encouraging but that epidemic measures and mass vaccination are still a necessity.

He told the state broadcaster RTS the citizens should comply with the measures that will probably remain the same, adding that the caution will be necessary for two to three more months alongside the vaccination.

“We achieved excellent results. We are visiting every town, every village, we are reaching every person to talk. We managed to calm down the citizens and disburden them from unnecessary fear,” he said, adding that the drop in the number of new cases is a result of vaccination.

So far, more than 1.2 million Serbian citizens received two vaccine shots.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/health-ministry-official-epidemic-measures-and-mass-vaccination-still-necessary/

Bertie Ahern: Accession process painstakingly slow but there are no shortcuts

April 25, 2021

The process of accession to the European Union is a slow one and having the best negotiators in your teams is very important for any country, former prime minister of Ireland Bertie Ahern said in an interview to N1, speaking of the period when his country held the EU Presidency in 2004 and when ten new member states joined the Union.

For some countries, it is a painstakingly slow process but with some other countries the process goes fairly quickly, he said, stressing that there are no shortcuts in the accession process for anyone.

He hopes that Bosnia and Herzegovina will get through the negotiating process without waiting too long.

Many countries benefited substantially from European Union, said former prime minister, adding that his own country is one of them. “We very much see ourselves as part of the world and not an insular island between America and Europe as we used to be.”

Ahern also spoke about the peace deal reached between the British and Irish governments in 1998, his cooperation with leaders such as Tony Blair and Angela Merkel, as well as about Brexit.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bertie-ahern-accession-process-painstakingly-slow-but-there-are-no-shortcuts/

Slovenian gov't on alleged non-paper: We did not deal with dissolution of BiH

April 24, 2021

The current Government of the Republic of Slovenia has never discussed and has not taken note of the so-called non-paper that you have mentioned in your reports over the last few days, the government’s communication office said in response to the recent reports and speculations about so-called non-paper dealing with redrawing of borders in the Western Balkans.

“Nor has the Government or any Government body considered, prepared or discussed any report from 2011, as stated by Mr Mustafa Ceric in the letter to former President Milan Kucan, nor the alleged non-paper referring to it, nor has it dealt in any other context with the dissolution of Bosnia and Herzegovina referred to in the alleged document. Neither the Ministry of Foreign Affairs nor any other ministry of the current Government of the Republic of Slovenia has been involved in any such activities,” the government said.

The statement comes in light of a tense atmosphere among political leaders in Bosnia which emerged after Slovenian media published an alleged non-paper containing ideas for redrawing borders in the Western Balkans.

The document, published by the Slovenian news portal necenzurirano.si, proposes Kosovo joining Albania and Serbia annexing parts of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) entity, while the mostly Croat-populated parts of southern Bosnia and Herzegovina would become part of Croatia.

So far, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, who was initially mentioned as the official who sent this document to Brussels, as well as the President of Slovenia Borut Pahor, dismissed the allegations.

“Slovenia, together with other stakeholders in the region, in the European Union and beyond, is making every effort to accelerate the integration of the Western Balkan countries in Euro-Atlantic integrations,” the government of this country said.

“In doing so, it is convinced that no step in this direction should jeopardize peace and coexistence in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the Western Balkan region in general,” it added.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/slovenian-govt-on-alleged-non-paper-we-did-not-deal-with-dissolution-of-bih/

Canada fully supports German candidate for new High Representative in Bosnia

April 24, 2021

Canada is committed to the stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it fully supports Christian Schmidt as German candidate for the post of the international community’s High Representative in BiH, said Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau.

The statement comes as a response to the letter by the expert team of the Institute for Research of Genocide Canada, sent to prime minister Justin Trudeau demanding a stronger engagement of his country in the strengthening of Bosnian state institutions, the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration, and strengthening of the institution of the High Representative in BiH.

The Institute also demanded the answer on Canada’s position regarding the appointment of the new High Rep.

Canada is one of 55 member states of the Peace Implementation Council in charge of the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA), the international deal that ended the Bosnian 1992-95 war. The Office of the High Representative is overseeing the civilian implementation of the peace agreement and represents the countries within the Council.

The current position of the High Representative is held by Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko.

“I entirely agree that the appointment of a new High Representative is an important matter that needs to be closely considered. High Representative Valentin Inzko has excellently performed this duty for years but he signaled his wish to resign. There were several talks between the members of the (PIC) Steering Board in order to see if all factors were taken into consideration and that a consensus is possible,” the minister was quoted as saying.

He stressed Canada’s commitment to the stability of BiH and the support to German candidates for the post of new High Representative, Christian Schmidt.

“Canada’s priority for Bosnia and Herzegovina is to encourage its development into a peaceful, economically sustainable, multi-ethnic democracy. The work of the OHR is of essential importance for achieving that goal,” the Institute’s official website carried Garneau as saying.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/canada-fully-supports-german-candidate-for-new-high-representative-in-bosnia/

Intellectuals ask President Biden to help remove obstacles to progress of BiH

April 24, 2021

No matter how insignificant the matter of Bosnia and Herzegovina may seem in the larger scale of things, it is in fact of paradigmatic and global relevance, said a letter sent to US President Joe Biden, in which a group of Bosnian intellectuals asks for help and support for solving the burning issues that obstruct the country’s progress.

“Grateful for your past interest in our country and the region, and conscious that in you and your great country the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina have our greatest friend, we have decided to address you directly with this request for help and support in our efforts as citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to extricate our country from political, cultural, and economic gridlock,” said the letter that was sent to the White House early March this year.

The authors emphasized five main obstacles on the country’s path towards a democratic future as well as five steps that they believe will help return the country on that path.

Among other things they warned about the abuse of the Dayton Peace Agreement – the treaty which ended the Bosnian 1992-95 war and that contains the Constitution of BiH, carried out by “political establishments of Serbia and Croatia” who, according to the letter authors, “have consistently found ways over years to abuse the agreement and deploy unacceptable and destructive interpretations of it to justify interference in our internal affairs.”

“As a result, the governments of both those countries continue consistently and constantly to undermine the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina and do what they can to keep our country weak and dysfunctional, promoting and exacerbating internal divisions and encouraging the forces that want its dissolution,” they warned.

The note further reads that the future of BiH is lying in the unity that fosters religious and other differences but that “neighboring governments and their clients within our country” consistently pursue a policy of promoting and exacerbating these divisions, thus hindering the country’s stable progress on the path of integration into the Europe and NATO.

It also stressed that de facto consociational system developed after the Dayton agreement has created three mutually reinforcing single-party ethnic constituencies, based upon the capture of institutions at all levels, which resulted “in a culture of cronyism and traded favors.”

“There remains an extensive middle ground of civic patriotism, but it is disorganized, disheartened, and ineffectual. The vast majority of the people would support civic option if they could see how it could overcome the vested interests of the ethnic camps and the divisions they have entrenched,” the note said.

As citizens of this country, the letter authors said, they consider themselves responsible for this situation and asked for the US President’s “understanding and assistance” in implementing the steps they find important to overcome these obstacles.

The first among those goals would be the reinforcement of the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which means that “consolidation and stabilization of conditions in south-eastern Europe depend on Serbia and Croatia recognizing the sovereignty of the Bosnian and Herzegovinian state both de jure and de facto.”

The next step would include the international engagement, which means the help of the United States of America and the European Union, who can alone prevent non-European interference in Bosnian and Herzegovinian affairs aimed at fomenting and widening the climate of divisiveness and fear through propaganda and prejudice.

“Most people here recognize the importance of joining the NATO alliance and want to. We hope that we are right to count on the support of the United States and the European Union, as joining NATO is the best way of putting to rest our concerns over Serbia and Croatia’s ongoing rearmament and gun-waving,” they said.

The three next steps include: restoring social trust and creating an enabling environment, combatting the ideologies of division and hatred, and establishing the meaningful rule of law.

“We are fully aware that the positions set out in this letter are general, but we also believe that setting them out is an essential first step towards building a more concrete plan with practical solutions, including the existing proposals of the European Union for political reform,” they concluded.

The letter to President Biden was signed by professors Mile Babic, Fikret Causevic, Rasim Gacanovic, Kadrija Hodzic, Tatjana Konjic, Rusmir Mahmutcehajic, Ivo Markovic, Krsto Mijanovic, Zarko Papic, political activist Jakob Finci, historian Desmond Maurer, and MP Zdenko Vukic.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/intellectuals-ask-president-biden-to-help-remove-obstacles-to-progress-of-bih/

Vucic: Serbia is a good place for investment

April 24, 2021

Serbia is a good place to invest and South Korea is a country we can learn from a lot, President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday in the central town of Smederevska Palanka, speaking in a ceremony marking the opening of South Korean company ‘Kyungshin Cable Europe’, the investment whose value was estimated at 20 million euro.

Vucic thanked the South Korean investors because they chose Serbia beside Albania, Bulgaria and Turkey, saying that Serbia will fight for this investor to stay here for a long time and make a high profit.

He promised Serbia would provide the best conditions when the company decides to expand production.

The value of the investment was estimated at 20 million euros, and it is expected to provide employment to 700 workers by the end of 2022.

The factory will produce the parts for traditional cars as well as components for car electric batteries.

Ambassador of South Korea to Serbia Hyoung-chan Choe said his country’s government will remain Serbia’s reliable partner.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/vucic-serbia-is-a-good-place-for-investment/

Vucic likely to attend dialogue with opposition that is not mediated by MEPs

April 24, 2021

President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic said he is likely to accept the invitation to join the dialogue on election conditions between the authorities and the part of the opposition which objects the mediation of the European Parliament.

This meeting has been set for April 28, and Vucic said that due to the obligations he has he is not 100 percent sure he would attend the talks “where the foreigners are not the bosses.”

“The other one (dialogue with the part of the opposition, which will be mediated by MEPs) will be led by the foreigners, and that’s where the Serbian Progressive Party will be represented. It makes no much sense to have the President of Serbia attend it,” Vucic told reporters on Saturday.

He said he expects rational talks on the improvement of electoral rules.

“There are those who believe someone else will bring them to power under the pressure of money and media they control – they won’t. All in all, we believe in the good intentions of foreigners. We’ll see how all this will develop,” he added.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/vucic-likely-to-attend-dialogue-with-opposition-that-is-not-mediated-by-meps/

Croatia logs 2,535 new COVID-19 cases, 31 deaths

April 24, 2021

Over the past 24 hours, Croatia has registered 2,535 new cases of coronavirus infection and 31 deaths, the national COVID-19 crisis management team said on Saturday.

This is slightly more infections than on Friday when 2,529 cases were confirmed, but the number of fatalities is lower as on Friday 46 deaths were confirmed.

There are 2,214 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, 224 of whom are on ventilators.

Since the start of the epidemic, 321,372 people have contracted coronavirus and 6,815 of them have died.

A total of 298,210 people have recovered, including 2,325 in the last 24 hours.

There are currently 35,382 people in self-isolation, and the number of active cases stands at 16,347.

To date, 1,752,201 people have been tested, 9,184 of whom over the past 24 hours.

As at 23 April, 770,221 doses of coronavirus vaccines have been administered in Croatia, and 611,792 people have been vaccinated, with 450,976 receiving the first dose and 158,429 receiving both doses.

For 2,387 people there is no data on how many doses they have received.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/croatia-logs-2535-new-covid-19-cases-31-deaths/

Bosnia logs 738 new coronavirus cases, 39 deaths

April 24, 2021

Bosnia and Herzegovina has reported another 738 cases of coronavirus infection and 39 more deaths among COVID patients, the healthcare authorities confirmed on Saturday.

The new results came from 2,761 lab tests performed on the samples of those who reported infection symptoms.

A total of 195,471 coronavirus cases has been reported throughout the country since the epidemic outbreak – 128,577 in the Federation entity, 60,738 cases in Republika Srpska entity, and 6,156 in Brcko District.

To this date, more than 150,000 patients have recovered from the disease, while 8,242 died.

Currently, there are more than 30,000 active cases throughout the country.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/bosnia-logs-738-new-coronavirus-cases-39-deaths/

Coronavirus UPDATE: 32 deaths, 2,068 new cases

April 24, 2021

The Serbian Health Ministry said in its daily 3:00 pm bulletin on Saturday that 32 people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 6,196.

It said that 11,555 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 2,068 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The total number of people tested to date stands at 3,766,407 with 677,972 confirmed cases.

The bulletin said that there are 5,699 hospitalized cases, including 209 patients on ventilators.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-update-32-deaths-2068-new-cases/

Montenegro opens borders for tourists from Eastern Europe

April 24, 2021

Following a further drop in the number of new coronavirus infections, Montenegrin health authorities on Friday decided to additionally relax anti-epidemic measures and let tourists from eastern Europe enter the country without any restrictions.

Nationals of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine will be able to enter Montenegro as of Saturday without a negative test for COVID-19 or proof of vaccination, and the same conditions will apply to citizens from countries in the region.

Passengers from other countries will have to have a negative PCR rests or proof that they have received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine at least seven days before entering Montenegro.

After the collapse of last year’s tourist season, Montenegro’s government this year expects €600 million in tourism revenue, which is 60% of the revenue earned in 2019, the most successful tourist season so far.

Over the past month and a half, Montenegro has managed, by introducing tight restrictions, accompanied by a rather slow vaccination campaign, to reduce the number of active cases from around 10,000 to the current 2,753.

Despite the relaxation of epidemiological restrictions, the wearing of face masks outdoors and indoors is still obligatory and a night curfew lasting from 11 pm to 5 am has been in force. A maximum of four people are allowed to sit at the same table in bars and restaurants.

So far, around seven percent of the country’s population has been inoculated while half of those vaccinated have received both doses.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/montenegro-opens-borders-for-tourists-from-eastern-europe/

Zelic: Only 841 mild side effects after 3.21 mn administered shots

April 24, 2021

A total of 841 persons reported side effects of vaccination, while a total of 3.21 million jabs were administered in Serbia, said Pavle Zelic of the Agency for Medicines and Medicinal Devices.

Speaking to TV Prva, Zelic said that those were only mild symptoms that include sore muscles, nausea, headache, and swollen skin.

“Those are expected reactions that are solved with the medicines against fever or painkillers, nothing even close to the consequences of coronavirus,” he said.

According to Zelic, only five among all those cases were more difficult but it was nothing that required hospitalization.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/zelic-only-841-mild-side-effects-among-3-21-mn-those-who-were-vaccinated/

Slovenia: Strong focus on Western Balkans during our EU Council Presidency

April 23, 2021

There will be a special focus on the Western Balkan region during Slovenia's Presidency of the Council of the European Union between July and December 2021, the Slovenian Government told N1.

“We want to continue the process of EU enlargement with countries in the region. In October, we are planning a summit at the level of heads of state and government dedicated to this region,” the Slovenian Government said.

As for internal affairs, “we will pay special attention to the fight against illegal migration and enhanced police cooperation, to achieve greater security in the region, which also has a direct impact on security in the EU.” it said.

“We will formulate the topics in more detail for the ministerial meeting as part of the Brdo process, which is expected to be organized on June 9 and 10, 2021 in Slovenia. Discussions will continue at various levels throughout the presidency, concluding with the traditional December EU-Western Balkans Justice and Home Affairs ministerial forum,” it said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/slovenia-strong-focus-on-western-balkans-during-our-eu-council-presidency/

Experts say Telekom-Telenor deal won’t bring liberalization of market

April 23, 2021

Media and investment experts told N1 on Friday that the decision to allow Telekom Serbia and Telenor to go ahead with their deal does not lead to a liberalization of the market and would not create equal conditions for all.

The Commission to Protect Competition decided earlier this week to conditionally approve the deal between the state-owned Telekom and private Telenor which, according to leaked Telekom internal documents, is aimed at destroying the SBB cable services provider along with the independent TV stations and portals N1 and Nova S, all owned by United Media. The deal includes a 15 year lease on optical cable infrastructure which is a public resource to Telekom for just 17 million Euro.

Milan Kovacevic, a foreign investments consultant, said that the decision does not bring a liberalization of the market because equal conditions were not offered to all operators. “Liberalization would mean the opposite with all market participants being allowed to cooperate among themselves under equal conditions which means that anyone who has something to offer would not make the offer to just one operator but to all. This is about certain cable, channels and if they are given to just one it is an act in opposition to the free market,” he said.

N1 Executive Producer Igor Bozic said that main problem is that the Commission did not base its decision on the content of the Telekom documents. “That basic idea under the Telekom plan could be implemented. In other words, a state agency has completely ignored what we found out and did not take that into consideration in its decision, at least that is not evident in the published decision and we can conclude that a state agency agrees with the intention of destroying some media,” he said.

Media expert Milos Stojkovic said that the whole thing could affect overall mobile phone services. “We should bear in mind that these are two important providers on the mobile phone services market and the question is how their land-line cooperation will affect mobile phone services and whether it will increase the inter-dependency of the two players and if that is the case, we can talk about the negative effects on free competition and raise the question of whether we see liberalization or not,” he said.

According to what N1 learned unofficially, the Telekom Serbia-Telenor deal was agreed at an online meeting of the Telekom Executive Board which was told several times that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban want the deal.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/experts-say-telekom-telenor-deal-wont-bring-liberalization-of-market/

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