International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Coronavirus on March 15: Montenegro

March 15, 2021

In the last 24 hours, seven patients died and out of 1,645 tested people, 470 were infected with the coronavirus, Monetnegro’s Public Health Institute said on Monday.

The death toll stood at 1,136, while since Sunday, 697 patients recovered.

On Monday, there were 8,737 active epidemic cases.

Since the epidemic outbreak, 84,163 people were tested positive for the coronavirus.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-pandemic-daily-regional-update-on-march-15-2021/

Coronavirus on March 15: Kosovo

March 15, 2021

Over the last 24 hours, 13 patients died from COVID-19-related complications, and out of 3,570 tested people, 574 were infected with the coronavirus in Kosovo, data on Monday showed.

The death toll stood at 1,715, while 65,060 patients have recovered since the epidemic outbreak.

At the same time, 358,537 people have been tested, and 77,827 have been infected.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-pandemic-daily-regional-update-on-march-15-2021/

Coronavirus on March 15: North Macedonia

March 15, 2021

North Macedonia’s Health Ministry said on Monday that over the last 24 hours, 21 patients died from COVID-19-related complications while out of 1,258 tested people 284 were infected with the coronavirus.

The death toll stood at 3,340, while 112,930 people have been infected since the epidemic outbreak.

At the same time, 98,133 patients have recovered.

On Monday, there were 11,457 active cases.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-pandemic-daily-regional-update-on-march-15-2021/

Serbia’s Ombudsman: No need to react to attacks on KRIK website

March 15, 2021

Zoran Pasalic, Serbia’s Ombudsman, told N1 on Monday he didn’t see a need to react to the attacks on journalists working with Crime and Corruption Reporting Network, KRIK, because he did not seek popularity and because his statement would not prevent such attacks.

The attacks on KRIK reporters linking it to a criminal gang prompted several media organizations to leave the Government’s Working Group for Protection of Journalists since it failed to condemn that.

Pasalic said that if those attacks were a crime, it wasn’t his job; if that was slander, courts should deal with it.

He added that everybody’s right was to take part or leave any group or job. His role was to finish the platform that would register all pressures, attacks, and discrediting attempts against journalists and media outlets.

Vukasin Obradovic, former head of the Independent Association of Serbia’s Journalists (NUNS), described Pasalic’s reaction as ‘unbelievable.’

“I think it is simply beyond comprehension that a man who wants to protect journalists believe he should not react in this case. A man who organizes media organizations for their protection thinks he should be silent about everything regarding the attacks on KRIK,” Obradovic told N1.

Many media organizations from the world and diplomats condemned the statements linking KRIK journalists to the criminal group led by recently arrested Veljko Belivuk, suspected of abductions and murders.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-ombudsman-no-need-to-react-to-attacks-on-krik-website/

Company importing Sputnik V vaccines into FBiH requests additional 48 hours

March 15, 2021

The company MGM Kakanj, which is one of the two selected companies for the import of Sputnik V vaccines into Bosnia's Federation (FBiH) entity, requested an additional deadline of 48 hours for the signing of the contract, Company director Mensu Musija told N1 Monday.

“Due to immense pressure from the public, and especially the media, we asked for an additional 48 hours to sign the contract. We don't want to make a mistake that could jeopardize anyone's work and put anyone in an awkward situation. Please understand. It would be too much for us to produce another affair,” said Musija for N1.

Sources from the FBiH Government confirmed earlier that the FBiH Public Health Institute director Davor Pehar would sign the procurement contract Monday, despite being given a deadline by the Government to sign it by 10 am Monday.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/company-importing-spuvnik-v-vaccines-into-fbih-requests-additional-48-hours/

Vaccine procurement contract for Bosnia's FBiH entity to be signed Monday

March 15, 2021

Despite the deadline given by the Government of Bosnia’s Federation entity (FBiH) to the director of the Public Health Institute Davor Pehar to sign contracts regarding the procurement of coronavirus vaccines has expired, the signing will still happen Monday, N1 has learned from the FBiH Government.

A source close to the Prime Minister's Office confirmed that all the work will be completed after the Monday's session of the Ad Hoc team for the procurement of vaccines.

“It will mean that Pehar will sign it,” the source said.

It was announced earlier that the Government is considering removing Pehar if he does not sign the contracts by ten o'clock Monday.

The director of the Institute of Public Health announced in writing on Saturday, that “so far the Institute has not received the necessary documentation from the wholesaler MGM Farm d.o.o. Kakanj, as well as complete documentation from the wholesaler Krajina group, thus not yet meeting the conditions for signing the contract with the Institute for Public Health of the Federation of BiH.”

The FBiH Government opted for the procurement of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/vaccine-procurement-contract-for-bosnias-fbih-entity-to-be-signed-monday/

Serbian PM, Minister differ on vaccination numbers

March 15, 2021

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic proclaimed success in efforts to vaccinate the population against the coronavirus while a minister in her cabinet warned that the numbers were not yet high enough.

Brnabic said in an Instagram post that two million people had been vaccinated, declaring that the authorities had successfully shown that it was capable of getting the vaccine and implementing mass inoculation and that the public had shown responsibility. “We have to be aware that this is not the end but just a big step in the right direction,” the Prime Minister wrote and called the public to follow the recommended measures to combat the pandemic.

The claims in the post differ from what State Administration and Local Government Minister Marija Obradovic told the Serbian state TV on Monday morning. Obradovic said that 1.36 million people had registered for vaccination through the eUprava portal and call center, adding that this is not enough. “More people need to register for vaccination,” said the minister who is part of the government pandemic Crisis Team. She said that the registry gives the authorities an idea of which vaccine needs to be sent where.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-pm-minister-differ-on-vaccination-numbers/

Croatian A1 to stop airing N1 and Sport Klub channels

March 15, 2021

Viewers using the services of A1 provider in Croatia will no longer be able to watch United Media channels N1 and Sport Klub from March 29, as the companies have not reached an agreement on continued cooperation.

We were very surprised by A1’s decision to not extend the contract on channel distribution, especially keeping in mind that they were offered the exact same conditions as before.

We have cooperated with them for many years and we are saddened to hear that this cooperation will not continue, in spite of goodwill on our side.

Starting at the end of March, users of the provider will not be able to access the most important news of the day on the leading news channel N1, nor will they be able to watch top-quality sports content on Sport Klub, including Formula 1 races which are set to begin soon, and are broadcasted in Croatia on Sport Klub.

N1 TV, an exclusive partner of CNN, reports on the most important news of the day in real-time. Their professional team has for years prepared renowned talk show and political programmes, spoken to relevant players, analyzed situations, and offered to their viewers timely, accurate, and objective information.

Sport Klub has over the years become synonymous with the best sports TV channel. On top of Formula 1 races, a novelty in Croatia, their program also includes German Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2. Standard offer also includes Premier League and FA Cup, and Sport Klub viewers can also watch MOTO GP races, EuroLeague and EuroCup, ATP tournaments and Wimbledon, as well as the NFL.

A1 users will also no longer be able to watch channels for children, Pikaboo and Vavoom.

All United Media channels remain available via Croatian Telekom and Total TV.

Operating in Croatia as part of United Group are the telecom operator Telemach Hrvatska, as well as channels and portals Sport Klub and N1, Nova TV, Doma TV, and dnevnik.hr.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/croatian-a1-to-stop-airing-n1-and-sport-klub-channels/

NGOs condemn ruling party MP for calling for violence against critics

March 15, 2021

Several NGOs called condemned a ruling party MP for threatening beatings for any criticism of the authorities.

The Belgrade Center for Security Policy, YUCOM, Center for European Policy and Civic Initiative called their partner organizations to support their demand for the dismissal of Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) MP group chief Aleksandar Martinovic as head of the powerful Parliament Administrative, Budget and Immunity Committee for saying in a March 11 parliament session that anyone who criticizes the authorities “will be beaten in a sack” because, they said, it was an open call for violence.

The invitation to support the demand was sent to the working groups of the National Convent on the European Union and inter-sector groups for political criteria and freedom of expression and the media.

A statement expressed support for the CRTA watchdog organization and all others who Martinovic accused of taking part in what the authorities are calling an attempted coup d’etat.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/ngos-condemn-ruling-party-mp-for-calling-for-violence-against-critics/

Turkey condemns Kosovo decision to open Jerusalem embassy

March 15, 2021

Turkish media said on Monday that official Ankara condemned Kosovo’s decision to open its embassy in Jerusalem, calling it an irresponsible and lawless step.

Daily Sabah quoted a Foreign Ministry statement that condemned “in the strongest terms” and expressed concern over the opening of the embassy on Sunday. Kosovo pledged to open its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem under the 2020 Washington Agreements. The Foreign Ministry statement was released just hours after the embassy was opened.

The Foreign Ministry “noted that the leaders of a country that suffered great pain have ignored the situation of the Palestinian people, who have been subjected to occupation and human rights violations for decades”, Sabah reported. “By acting in such a manner, Kosovar leaders have violated relevant UN resolutions regarding Jerusalem’s status, as well as the status quo under the scope of the peace process and have damaged the vision of a two-state solution and hopes for peace in the region,” the ministry statement is quoted as saying. It urged the authorities in Pristina to “use common sense and renounce its irresponsible and lawless step”.

The Anadolu news agency reported the Foreign Ministry as saying that Pristina’s decision was “extremely unfortunate”. It recalled that Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize Kosovo.

Daily Sabah recalled that Kosovo established diplomatic relations with Israel following that country’s agreements to normalize relations reached with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. The Palestinians insist that East Jerusalem should be the capital of a Palestinian state.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/turkey-condemns-kosovo-decision-to-open-jerusalem-embassy/

US’ Palmer and Serbia’s Vucic discuss main topics and mutual differences

March 15, 2021

Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic and Mettwe Palmer, the US State Department special envoy for the Western Balkans, discussed on Monday the main issues related to the region, the reaction to coronavirus pandemic and those topics on which the two disagree.

Vucic’s cabinet quoted the President as describing the video link talks as „open and substantial as always.“

According to the cabinet’s statement, the discussion included the general situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery, the resumption of the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalization of relations and the significance of media freedom in the region.

„We talked all important issues and all differences between us,“ Vucic was quoted as saying.

He added that one of Serbia’s foreign policy priorities would be to find solutions for better and more intensified bilateral relations with the US.

Palmer was quoted as saying Washington supported the European Union’s dialogue, adding it expected the negotiations to resume soon.

The US envoy also said that one of his country’s priorities was stability and safety in the Western Balkans and praised Belgrade’s initiatives like the ‘mini Schengen visa regime.

Palmer praised Serbia’s anti-coronavirus vaccination process.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/us-palmer-and-serbias-vucic-discuss-main-topics-and-mutual-differences/

Serbia’s Interior Min: Vucic hasn’t talked to any drug pusher

March 15, 2021

Aleksandar Vulin, Serbia's Interior Minister, said on Monday that President Aleksandar Vucic "did not talk" to any drug dealer during 1,572 intercepted phone calls the authorities said were illegal and aimed at wiretapping the President.

Vulin reacted to Marinika Tepic, an opposition leader’s statement, about Vucic and his brother Andrej being caught in a wiretapped conversation of Misa Vacic, an extreme rightist under surveillance from 2017 to 2019 for terrorism and illegal possession of firearms.

„Vucic’s phone calls were intercepted as part of an investigation into a right-wing organization’s chief, „Tepic said last Wednesday, adding, „Vucic and his brother Andrej were recorded as part of the legal wiretapping operation.“
She showed an official police minute on the recording.

However, Vulin said Vucic was wiretapped because the police put under surveillance people the Vucics could talk to under a false explanation. He added that no one from 26 wiretapped people was arrested or convicted and that neither the Interior Ministry (MUP) nor the prosecutors found anything criminal in 1,572 intercepted calls.

He added that any surveillance, including the wiretapping, served to enable somebody’s arrest and conviction, not to record the President and his family members’ conversations.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-interior-min-vucic-hasnt-talked-to-any-drug-pusher/

Remains of 16 people to be identified, Kosovo official says

March 15, 2021

The identification of remains of some 16 people believed to have been killed during the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo started, Ram Manay, the head of Pristina’s Commission for Missing People, said on Monday.

The remains were discovered last year at ten locations, nine in the territory of Kosovo and one in southwestern Serbia.

The DNA of the discovered remains was sent to the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), whose results were still waited for.

Manay told the KoSSev website he could not be precise but that it was believed that remains of five, six bodies were discovered at Krizevak in Serbia’s Raska municipality.

He said Pristina expected an answer from Belgrade for excavation in some other parts of Serbia.

Belgrade is also waiting for Pristina’s approval to check some locations in Kosovo.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/remains-of-16-people-to-be-identified-kosovo-official-says/

SBB: RTS did not air response to groundless accusations

March 15, 2021

The Serbia Broadband (SBB) cable services provider said on Monday that the Serbian state TV (RTS) did not publish its statements in response to the public broadcaster’s accusations, hiding them from the public.

“Radio TV Serbia (RTS) recently accused the SBB company of failing to abide by Serbian law by allegedly illegally broadcasting RTS programs on the EON platform, invoking a ruling by the Economic Court which has not taken effect. SBB recalled in today’s statement that it replied to those RTS claims in two statements “but the editors of the public broadcaster decided not to publish those statements and hide them from the public, showing that the basic professional standard of hearing the other side is not important to them”.

“SBB said in its statement that the Economic Appeals Court overturned the ruling that the RTS is citing and ordered a review of the ruling “because the initial proceedings did not determine all the circumstances of the concrete case which were important for a correct decision, including the nature of SBB’s legal obligation to distribute and broadcast basic programs from the public media service free of charge in the zone it covers.

“It added that the Economic Appeals Court ruled that the lower court did not take into account the right of all citizens to have access to the programs of the public broadcaster and that operators are under obligation to distribute without compensation the public service’s basic programs in the zone they cover which includes the obligation of the RTS to allow that distribution.

“If the RTS can set the condition of its approval for the distribution of those programs, that would mean that SBB would not be allowed to meet its obligations under the law and that would mean that the essence would not be fulfilled – providing equal access to RTS public broadcaster programs for all citizens without discrimination,” SBB said and added that the obligation to distribute basic RTS programs by the SBB company “is actually a regulation in the public interest, that is the interest of all citizens, and its fulfillment cannot depend solely on the will of the RTS”.

“Since the decision that the RTS invoked in its groundless attacks on SBB is actually non-existent, we are calling them to publish the fact that the Economic Appeals Court overturned the Economic Court decision and ordered a review of the ruling because the citizens of Serbia, for the money they pay the RTS, have the right to complete information which has been withheld from them because the RTS refused to allow them to hear the other side,” SBB said.

It said that the Appeals Court ruling “is a good reminder to the RTS that its basic role is to meet the public interest which includes informing our citizens living abroad and members of the Serbian people living outside the territory of the Republic of Serbia”.

“Unfortunately, the unreasonable decisions by the RTS and Telekom Serbia mean that more than a million of our citizens outside the country have not been allowed the right to watch public broadcaster programs. We hope that the court decision is a step in the right direction which will help the RTS to meet the public interest of all citizens, without discrimination, which is why it was formed,” SBB said in its statement.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/sbb-rts-did-not-air-response-to-groundless-accusations/

Media watchdog official files complaint over pictures of mutilated bodies

March 15, 2021

A member of the Serbian electronic media watchdog organization REM said on Monday that a complaint had been filed over the publication of photographs of people killed by an organized crime group at a news conference by President Aleksandar Vucic.

Vucic and Internal Affairs Minister Aleksandar Vulin showed pictures of bodies mutilated by the organized crime group headed by recently arrested Veljko Belivuk aka Velja Nevolja. The Organized Crime Prosecution told the Serbian Center for Investigative Journalism (CINS) that the photographs were shown at the news conference to determine their identity.

REM Council member Judita Popovic said that she had also filed a complaint about the constant violence in reality shows. “I waited all last week to see what would happen and whether there would be any reaction but there was silence and as a member of the Council I filed my own complaint to the REM,” she told the Nova.rs portal.

Popovic said that the REM Council would meet on Tuesday and added that she expects her complaint to be discussed along with other issues. “The REM has a lot of things to pay attention to,” she said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/media-watchdog-official-files-complaint-over-pictures-of-mutilated-bodies/

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