International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Bosnia reports 924 new coronavirus cases and 51deaths

November 26, 2020

Bosnian health officials reported 924 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, along with 48 virus-related fatalities.

The country's Federation (FBiH) entity reported 443 new cases after testing 1,665 samples for the new coronavirus. The entity's Public Health Institute said they recorded 27 deaths caused by the virus.

The Republika Srpska (RS) region said they registered 423 new cases of the disease after testing 1,024 suspected samples. This entity also reported having 21 fatalities over the last 24 hours.

Brcko District health officials said they recorded 58 new coronavirus case along with three fatalities.

According to the state Civil Affairs Ministry, the country reported 84,252 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, of which 48,780 recovered and 2,480 had died from the disease.

The Ministry added that there are currently 32,992 active cases in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a676645/Bosnia-reports-924-new-coronavirus-cases-and-51deaths.html

Montenegro reports nine deaths and 508 new coronavirus cases

November 26, 2020

The Public Health Institute in Podgorica said on Thursday that over the last 24 hours, nine patients died from COVID-19-related complications, while out of 1,627 tested people 508 were infected with the coronavirus.

The death toll stood at 469 since the beginning of the year while on Thursday, there were 11,126 active cases.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a676837/Montenegro-reports-nine-deaths-and-508-new-coronavirus-cases.html

Coronavirus in Kosovo: 15 patients died, 775 new cases of infection

November 26, 2020

The Public Health Institute in Kosovo said on Thursday that over the last 24 hours, 15 more patients died due to COVID-19-related complications and out of 1,903 tested people, 775 were confirmed infected with the coronavirus.

The death toll stood at 963, while 22,690 patients have recovered since the outbreak of the epidemic.

At that time, 137,872 people have been tested, and 37,028 samples have come back positive for the virus.

The Institute said that there were 13,375 active cases in Kosovo on Thursday.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a676773/Coronavirus-in-Kosovo-15-patients-died-775-new-cases-of-infection.html

North Macedonia: 30 deaths, 1,160 new coronavirus cases

November 26, 2020

The Health Ministry in Skopje said on Thursday that over the last 24 hours, 30 patients died and out of 2,864 tested people, 1,160 were positive for the coronavirus.

The death toll in North Macedonia stood at 1,630, while 36,064 patients have recovered since the outbreak of the epidemic.

At the same time, out of 322,875 tested people, 58,608 have been confirmed infected.

On Thursday, there were 20,914 active cases.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a676957/North-Macedonia-30-deaths-1-160-new-coronavirus-cases.html

Media: Head of Bosnia's top judicial body accused of trading in influence

November 26, 2020

The Istraga.ba investigative journalism portal released an audio recording on Thursday which allegedly features the head of Bosnia’s top judicial institution, Milan Tegeltija, discussing the possibility of naming the sister of a former member of the institution to the post of judge in the Banja Luka Basic Court.

Tegeltija is the head of Bosnia’s High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC), which appoints judicial officials in the country. According to Istraga.ba, the conversation featured in the recording was between him and former HJPC member Miljana Buha.

Buha allegedly insisted on the appointment of her sister, Sanja Cegar, to the post of judge in the Banja Luka court and Tegeltija can allegedly be heard saying that the "tactic" should be left to him.

However, Tegeltija told N1 that this recording proves the opposite of the allegations, that “everything is clean.”

He called the allegations “manipulations” and attempts to discredit him, which are coming investigative journalist Avdo Avdic.

He said that Avdic has constructed an affair by pulling his statements out of context and argued that the conversation was illegally acquired.

He also said that Cagar is currently an expert assistant at the District Commercial Court of Banja Luka and that talks between him an Buha about a possible conflict of interest in Cagar’s candidacy took place “about a year or two ago.”

Tegeltija said that he told Buha that if her sister was appointed judge it would represent a conflict of interest.

“As we can see, a year or two after these conversations, Sanja Cegar is still an expert assistant at the District Court in Banja Luka where she also worked when these conversations took place,” he argued.

Buha also told N1 that she never insisted on the appointment of her sister to the post of a judge and that Tegeltija never promised it to her.

She said that Avdic and Istraga.ba are falsely insinuating that she used her official position to influence the appointment of her sister, although Cegar is still serving the same post at the Banja Luka Commercial Court.

“She still did not apply nor was chosen for the post of a judge in any court,” Buha said of her sister, adding that it is only natural that she would want to apply for the post of judge.

“All my conversations with the president of the HJPC were exclusively on the problem of conflict of interest, the issue of her applying for the job considering that I am a being a member of the HJPC. The President of the HJPC has repeatedly told me that this is a problem from the perspective of conflict of interest and that it would mean my resignation from the position of a member of the HJPC,” she told N1.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a490152/Media-Head-of-Bosnia-s-top-judicial-body-accused-of-trading-in-influence.html

Inzko: BiH Croats' rights should be protected, but they could live better now

November 26, 2020

The rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats should be protected because they are the smallest constituent people but there is no reason why in areas where they are in the majority the situation shouldn't be much better than it is now, a high-level international official has said.

In an interview with Radio Free Europe, High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina Valentin Inzko referred representatives of the country's Croat community to examples of Bavaria or California in the USA.

Everything those regions do could be copied in cantons with the Croat majority in the BiH Federation entity, they could have the best possible health system and schools and no one would have anything against it, said Inzko.

Commenting on demands by local Croat parties to change the country's election law to make it possible for Croats to elect on their own their representatives to government bodies, including the collective state presidency, Inzko said he fully understood Croats' frustrations and that they should be seriously addressed.

He added, however, that the leader of the HDZ BiH party, Dragan Covic, should have asked himself if his defeat in the elections two years ago was not only due to provisions of the election law but also due to the fact that he had lost the confidence of a part of the Croat electorate.

Inzko suggested that once the final amendments to the election law were discussed, they should also include provisions that would put an end to discrimination against some 300,000 Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens who are denied their active or passive voting rights because they are members of ethnic minorities or do not want to declare their ethnicity, as well as those who cannot run in elections because of their place of residence, on which the European Court of Human Rights has made a ruling.

Asked how he sees Croatia's policy towards Bosnia and Herzegovina and its Croat community, Inzko said that he understands Zagreb's need to care for Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats but that it should not treat them as diaspora.

They are not a minority. They are a constituent people and should be treated accordingly. Naturally, any help is necessary and welcome. I would be glad if Croatia made mass-scale investments also in the Posavina region in the Republika Srpska entity. The 150,000 Croats who used to lived there are gone, but their land is still there. If that land was used, or big farms were built, if Herzegovina flourished, and investments were made in Zepce and elsewhere, that would be the biggest help, said Inzko.

He reiterated that the Office of the High Representative would not close down, a demand coming from the Serb entity, and announced that next year the international community could enhance its engagement in Bosnia and Herzegovina, notably in light of Joe Biden's election as US President.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a490096/Inzko-BiH-Croats-rights-should-be-protected-but-they-could-live-better-now.html

NALED: 200,000 people fired in Serbia during epidemic, Ministry denies

November 26, 2020

The first wave of COVID-19 pandemic led to the dismissal of about 200,000 people, or eight percent of employees in Serbia, the National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED) said on Thursday, but the Labor Ministry denied the data.

The Alliance, which gathers some 300 companies, added the uncertainty in the labor market had a significantly negative impact on Roma, Roma women and other marginalized groups. 

However, after the conference "Inclusion - Solidarity and Potential for Development," organized in cooperation with GIZ, the Ministry of Labor said the National Employment Service's data showed that 44,105 people lost jobs from the beginning of the pandemic.

"The unemployment rate is 7.3 percent, which is the lowest so far," the Ministry statement said, adding the Government helped prevent "mass layoffs" by paying salaries to more than a million employees.

German Ambassador Thomas Schieb told the conference the COVID- 19 pandemic "brought uncertainty into the daily life of local communities" and that marginalized groups were particularly vulnerable and suffered "significant consequences of that situation."

"There is an obvious need for a better-coordinated response by local governments to help their communities, especially those most affected by the current situation," Shib said.

NALED Executive Director Violeta Jovanovic said that, according to official data, about 150,000 Roma live in Serbia, and that unofficially that number is up to four times higher.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a676965/NALED-200-000-people-fired-in-Serbia-during-epidemic-Ministry-denies.html

Kosovo's Constitutional Court's Specialist Council rejects Thaçi's amendments

November 26, 2020

The Specialist Council of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo in The Hague rejected on Thursday, the proposal of constitutional amendments the then Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi submitted last summer, ruling they were contrary to Kosovo's Constitution.

"The proposed constitutional amendments violate the rights and freedoms guaranteed by Chapter II of the Constitution," the Council, a part of the Specialists Chambers for Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) war crime headquartered in The Hague, said.

The Council also said that according to Article 162 (13) and (14) of the Constitution, the mandate of the Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor's Office continues until the EU Council was notified of its completion.

The statement reminded that the then President of Kosovo proposed the Constitutional Amendments on August 24, 2020, and the President of the Assembly of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, then sent them to the Constitutional Court for a preliminary assessment, as required by Article 144 (3) of the Constitution.

Thaçi's suggested amendments of two paragraphs of Article 162 of the Constitution of Kosovo, adopted in 2015, which regulated the mandate of the Court.
Paragraph 13 reads: "The mandate of the Specialist Chambers and the Office of the Specialist Prosecutor shall last for five years unless notice of termination of the mandate is given earlier by the Law."

Paragraph 14 reads: "In the absence of a notice of termination of office ... the mandate of the Specialist Chambers and the Office of the Specialist Prosecutor shall continue until the notice of termination of office, following the Law ... and in consultation with the Government."

According to the law, to which the paragraphs refer, the termination of the work of the Court is determined exclusively by the EU Council with a consultation with Pristina.

Thaçi's suggested that paragraph 14 would be deleted, and section 13 would read: "The mandate of the Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor's Office will continue until the end of the notification is sent by the EU Council, in consultation with the Government of the Republic of Kosovo."

The chief prosecutor of The Hague tribunal for KLA crimes, Jack Smith, warned that Thaçi's amendments represented an attempt to "end, or otherwise devalue, the work" of that Court.

Smith called the proposed amendments "unnecessary", as the Kosovo Constitution in its current form adequately determined the mandate of the KLA crimes tribunal.

The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, as well as the head of EULEX, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, also opposed Thaçi's amendments.

Thaçi was arrested on November 5 on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes against Albanians, Serbs and Roma in 34 illegal KLA detention facilities in Kosovo and Albania, during the 1998-99 war.

He and three co-defendants are in custody in Scheveningen, awaiting the start of the trial. They all pleaded not guilty during the pre-trial appearance before the Court.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a676917/Kosovo-s-Constitutional-Court-s-Specialist-Council-rejects-Tha%C3%A7i-s-amendments.html

EU's Lajčák writes to Kosovo's PM after FM bans Vucic's visit; content unknown

November 26, 2020

The European Union's envoy for Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations Miroslav Lajčák wrote on Thursday to Kosovo's Prime Minister Avdulah Hoti after his foreign minister said Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic would be banned from visiting Kosovo.

The content of the letter has not been published.

Meliza Haradinaj-Stuble said on Wednesday Vucic would not be allowed to Kosovo until he apologised "for crimes" Serbia committed in its former province.

Hoti confirmed he received the letter but did not reveal its content. He said that every request for the visits by officials from Serbia would be considered in line with "the sensitivity of the timing for visits."

"We respect the agreements and advocate free movements; we work on closing all open issues with Serbia, but sometimes, some issues are extremely sensitive. Every request will be solved, bearing in mind the sensitivity context," Hori said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a676817/EU-s-Lajc%C3%A1k-writes-to-Kosovo-s-PM-after-Pristina-s-ban-of-Vucic-s-visit.html

Balkan to solve issues like Europe if it wants to join it, North Macedonia's PM

November 26, 2020

Zoran Zaev, North Macedonia's Prime Minister, said on Thursday that Europe resolved its problems in a European way and that the Balkans should do the same if the region wanted to join Europe.

"To forgive, not to forget. To extend the hand and look through the prism of the future. Because we have to live now, but also to secure the future to new generations," Zaev told reporters, explaining his interview to the Bulgarian Bgnes news agency which infuriated the main opposition VMRO DMPNE part and some other people.

He told the agency that Bulgaria was not an occupier but an administrator in Macedonia during WW II.

Zaev said he understood the negative echo his words had in a part of the public but added the leaders should lead the state and make another step.

"I do understand some people's feelings. But we share the same history. The anti-fascist fight is a part of my family as well, a part of the city I live in, a part of my homeland. But, that past should not limit us in paving the road to our European future," Zaev said.

He added it had been known that the tzarist Bulgaria sided with the 'Axis Pact, in 1941, but that did not justify today's qualification of the whole country as a fascist state.

Zaev asked if it was forgotten that in then Macedonia and Yugoslavia there also were the enemy's collaborators, fascists, and traitors at the time.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a676787/Balkan-to-solve-issues-like-Europe-if-it-wants-to-join-it-North-Macedonia-s-PM-says.html

GRECO: Serbia fails to fully implement anti-corruption recommendations

November 26, 2020

The Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body GRECO, said in its latest report that Serbia had only partly implemented anti-corruption recommendations that the body made in 2015, adding that the situation is “globally unsatisfactory”.

“GRECO acknowledges the efforts undertaken by the Serbian authorities since the Interim report in 2019 and notes that several recommendations cannot be fully implemented because of the current parliamentary situation which hinders the adoption of the new Constitution. However, as the vast majority of the recommendations remain partly implemented, GRECO has no choice but to consider the situation as “globally unsatisfactory” and asks the Head of the delegation of Serbia to provide a report on the progress made in implementing the outstanding recommendations by 31 October 2021,” the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body said in its new compliance report.

According to the report, Serbia has implemented satisfactorily only two of GRECO’s 13 recommendations made in 2015, - “those on the interaction of parliamentarians with lobbyists and on strengthening the role of the Anti-Corruption Agency. Ten recommendations have been implemented only partially, and the recommendation on the adoption of the Code of Conduct for parliamentarians has not been implemented at all,” a press release said.  

“The fact that the constitutional reforms are still underway in Serbia remains an obstacle for the implementing a number of GRECO’s recommendations concerning judges and prosecutors,” the press release said addind that GRECO encourages the Serbian authorities “to make sure the constitutional amendments have the broadest base of support possible and that they are in line with GRECO’s recommendations, in particular as regards the composition of the High Judicial Council”.

The report said that progress had been made on the law drafting process increasing public participation in the process and added that the use of the urgent procedure in parliament appears to have decreased but that the use of urgent procedure still leaves the way open to introduce amendments which have not undergone public debate.

It welcomes the normative framework and the methods to improve the objectivity and transparency of the recruitment of judges and prosecutors and added that the adoption of guidelines for the prevention of undue influence on judges is a step in the right direction, but that the Ethics Committee of the High Judicial Council has not started implementing its mandate on judicial ethics and that the Code of ethics for prosecutors has not been adopted yet.

GRECO also welcomed the new Law on Corruption Prevention which it said improves the rules on conflicts of interest that apply to parliamentarians, judges, and prosecutors and provides appropriate guarantees for the independence of the Anti-Corruption Agency.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a676575/GRECO-Serbia-fails-to-fully-implement-anti-corruption-recommendations.html

US Ambassador in Pristina says Embassy supports agreement implementation

November 26, 2020

The US Ambassador in Pristina Philip Kosnett expressed support for the implementation of the Washington Agreement by both Kosovo and Serbia.

He told an online AmCham Kosovo meeting that his embassy and its partners support the fast implementation of the agreement signed by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti at the White House. He said that the economy and its benefits to the population should not be ignored because that makes progress more difficult, the Serbian state TV reported.  

The ambassador said that the American embassy in Pristina and its partners in Washington are providing support to Kosovo and Serbia in implementing the agreement because improving the lives of ordinary citizens is crucially important to the regional economy. He added that the regional economy is one of the reason why the agreement focuses on upgrading infrastructure which makes the cross-border movement of people and goods easier.  

According to Kosnett, Kosovo is in the center of the Balkans and its neighbors need Kosovo as much as Kosovo needs its neighbors to build a regional economy and infrastructure. He said that Kosovo has to get past its reservations towards the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) and the mini-Schengen initiative and start working with its regional partners.    

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a676537/US-Ambassador-in-Pristina-says-Embassy-supports-agreement-implementation.html

Coronavirus: Slovenia reports 2,226 new cases, 43 deaths

November 25, 2020

Over the past 24 hours 2,226 new coronavirus infections have been confirmed in Slovenia after 8,063 tests and 43 patients have died due to Covid-19, the government said on Wednesday.

The death toll stands at 1,199. Media said that according to international data, Slovenia ranks first in terms of mortality over the past seven days.

On Thursday, the government will decide on epidemiological measures. Its Covid-19 response team has suggested that all restrictions and the lockdown, which have been in force for nearly a month, be extended to next week.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a676129/Coronavirus-Slovenia-reports-2-226-new-cases-43-deaths.html

Coronavirus: Croatia reports 3,603 new cases, 56 deaths

November 25, 2020

In the past 24 hours a record 3,603 coronavirus infections have been registered in Croatia and 56 Covid-19 patients have died, the national Covid response team said on Wednesday.

There are 20,691 active cases, including 2,136 hospitalized patients, 240 of whom are on ventilators.

Since February 25, when the first case was registered in Croatia, 111,617 persons have been positive for the novel coronavirus, 1,501 have died, and 89,425 have recovered, including 2,017 in the past 24 hours.

Currently 45,518 persons are self-isolating. To date, 702,242 persons have been tested for the virus, including 10,194 in the past 24 hours.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a676131/Coronavirus-Croatia-reports-3-603-new-cases-56-deaths.html

Coronavirus UPDATE: 41 patients died, 7,579 newly infected in Serbia

Coronavirus UPDATE: 41 patients died, 7,579 newly infected in Serbia

November 25, 2020

Serbia's Health Ministry said on Wednesday, that over the last 24 hours, 41 patients died of coronavirus-related ailments, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,315 while out of 22,231 tested people 7,579 were confirmed infected with the coronavirus.

A mortality rate stood at 0,93 percent.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic, 1,682,416 people have been tested, and 140,608 samples have come back positive.

The Ministry said 6,597 patients were hospitalized, and 223 of them were on ventilators on Wednesday.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a676255/Coronavirus-UPDATE-41-patients-died-7-579-newly-infected-in-Serbia.html

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