International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

United Media takes over Belgrade Danas daily

March 5, 2021

United Media (UM), a leading media company in South-Eastern Europe, has become the owner of the Belgrade Danas daily and its website, the company said on Friday.

After necessary permits by the regulatory bodies, UM was allowed to take over the daily, which existed since 1977.

The United Media said that the first print outlet in Serbia would be in the company portfolio, joining 45 TVs, five of which with national frequencies, 15 websites, magazines, and radio stations.

„Danas daily has been resisting all pressures for two decades and is an example of professional and independent journalism. I’m pleased that it became a part of United Media, within which N1 and Nova S TV channels already operate. In difficult and challenging times, as nowadays, true and timely informing of the public is of key importance, and that is the basic motive by which all our media are guided. Danas will continue to be what its audience is used to – the daily where they can read the most important news, which asks questions, analyses situation, opens space to a civilised dialogue; the outlet which respects the highest professional standards and doesn’t yield to sensationalism,“ Aleksandra Subotic, the United Media CEO, said.

She recalled that free media are of the utmost importance for the development of any society.

„In Serbia, we face the state’s influence which doesn’t support the media freedom. On the one hand, it uses the state Telekom to suffocate independent media; on another, new media under the authorities’ control are being created. In such an atmosphere, the people have limited access to news and truth, and it seems even more important to preserve the media freedom,“ Subotic added.

She said that Danas daily could serve as an example to everyone how to, despite threats, blackmail and pressure, remain consistent with the truth, how a media house and journalists with integrity look, and how credibility has been built and maintained for many years.

The United Media company, with the headquarters in Luxembourg, has been operating in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Croatia for years and has recently entered the Bulgarian market. It employs 2,600 people.

The media operating within the United Media are N1 website and TV, Nova S TV and its portal, Sport Klub, Grand Production, children’s TVs Pikaboo and Vavoom, music IDJ channel, Cinemania, Hunting and Fishing channel and the science Brainz TV.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/united-media-takes-over-belgarde-danas-daily/

United Group completes mandatory tender offer for shares in Greece’s Forthnet

March 5, 2021

United Group (UG), the leading provider of telecommunications services and media in Southeast Europe, said on Friday it had completed a Mandatory Tender Offer (MTO) for shares of Greek telecommunications and pay-TV provider Forthnet S.A., bringing its stake in the company to 96.83 percent of ordinary share capital.

UG, majority-owned by international investment firm BC Partners, announced in June 2020 that it had agreed to acquire an initial stake of approximately 36 percent in Forthnet.

Forthnet is a provider of home entertainment and communications services in Greece, with around 1,000 employees and nearly 1.4 million revenue-generating units (RGUs). Forthnet offers its customers more than 60 direct-to-home (DTH) channels via its Nova brand.

The United Group launched the MTO for Forthnet shares after triggering minimum mandatory tender offer requirements under Greek law.

Following the relevant regulations, the Group intends to initiate a squeeze-out to acquire the remaining shares in Forthnet, which is expected to close in May 2021.

The Group’s entry into the Greek market was an important milestone in its European growth strategy, further cementing the UG’s position as an industry leader, with operations across eight countries in the region.

United Group has approximately 11 million customers and more than 12,500 employees. Its media arm United Media operates 45 channels and produces tens of thousands of hours of original content each year, making it one of Southeast Europe’s largest and most important production houses.

The Group has the widest network coverage in the region and offers users the most attractive selection of TV content from around the world.

N1 is a part of United Media which operates within the United Group.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/united-group-completes-mandatory-tender-offer-for-shares-in-greeces-forthnet/

United Group: Serbian state institutions and Telenor ignoring Telekom plans

March 5, 2021

United Group said on Friday that both Serbian state institutions and the privately-owned Telenor mobile services company are ignoring Telekom Serbia documents detailing plans to destroy the SBB cable services provider and the N1 and Nova S TV stations and portals.

“United Group would like to inform the public that official Telekom documents about its goal to destroy the SBB company and throttle the N1 and Nova S media outlets are being ignored not only by institutions in Serbia but also by Telenor which is continuing its practice of ignoring reality for the sake of its own interests,” a statement said.

“Namely, we have received another letter from the Telenor company with an offer of cooperation and the distribution of N1 and Nova S programs as well as other United Media companies with which Telenor is once again prejudicing the decision of the Competition Protection Commission whether to grant it a license to become a new cable operator using Telekom infrastructure,” it said.

“We reminded Telenor in public several times, since they don’t or won’t see, that United Group is subject to persecution, obstruction, and threats in Serbia and that the Telenor company’s decision to take part in a cartel with Telekom Serbia contributes to that pressure. The media published Telekom company documents several times and they clearly state that cooperation with Telenor allows it to put an end to United Media and its channels but Telenor never distanced itself from that. Instead, Telenor, unfortunately, decided on an unusual strategy, playing innocent before the public in Serbia and not abandoning its anti-competition goals which could result in the suppression of free media and the persecution of the SBB company,” United Group said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/united-group-serbian-state-institutions-and-telenor-ignoring-telekom-plans/

Ambassador says France committed to supporting Western Balkans

March 5, 2021

France’s Ambassador Jean Louis Falconi said on Friday that his country is committed to supporting the Western Balkans on the way to membership in the European Union.

“We intend to fulfill that promise and these are not just words but a promise which has not been made to other regions,” he told the online conference on France and the European integration of the Western Balkans organized by the Belgrade Center for Security Policy.

The ambassador said that the talks on EU membership do not leave much room for negotiation, adding that a country that wants to join the Union is told what it has to do and should know that the EU does not want to weaken itself. He said that the candidate countries like Serbia and Montenegro are expecting to be told how to adapt to the new methodology for expansion but that there is no word from Brussels yet.

Falconi said progress will be achieved if there is a will to progress but that depends on the region.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/ambassador-says-france-committed-to-supporting-western-balkans/

Kosovo police arrest eight of their own

March 5, 2021

Eight Kosovo police officers were arrested on Friday and charged with a number of crimes, the KoSSev portal reported.

The charges include torture, pressuring others, and the illegal possession and sales of drugs and document forgery. The arrests were part of an operation launched by the police in coordination with the Basic Prosecution in Pristina and the Kosovo Police Inspectorate (PIK). A press release said that the operation was conducted in three locations in Pristina, adding that the police seized evidence at all three sites.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/kosovo-police-arrest-eight-of-their-own/

Croatia reports 667 new coronavirus cases, 9 deaths

March 4, 2021

Over the last 24 hours, Croatia has conducted 6,965 coronavirus tests, and 667, or 9.58 percent, have returned positive, the country's Covid-19 crisis management team reported on Thursday.

In the same period, there have been nine deaths linked to Covid-19, bringing the total death toll to date to 5,564.

Currently, Croatia has 3,558 active cases, of whom 740 are hospitalized patients, including 69 placed on ventilators.

Since 25 February 2020, when Croatia recorded its first case of infection with coronavirus, 1,368,448 tests have been performed, showing that 244,872 people have contracted the virus. Of them, 235,750 have recovered, including 422 in the last 24 hours.

There are now 14,456 people self-isolating in the country.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/croatia-reports-667-new-coronavirus-cases-9-deaths/

Coronavirus UPDATE: 17 deaths, 3,866 newly infected in Serbia

March 4, 2021

Over the last 24 hours, 17 patients died from COVID-19-related complications and out of 15,769 tested, 3,866 people were infected with the coronavirus, Serbia's Health Ministry said on Thursday.

To date, COVID-19 claimed a total of 4,508 lives with a mortality rate of 0.95 percent.

On Thursday, 4,109 patients were hospitalized of whom 173 on ventilators.

Since the epidemic outbreak in March 2020, 3,002,480 people have been tested, and 474,807 samples have returned positive for the new virus.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-update-17-deaths-3866-newly-infected-in-serbia/

Coronavirus on March 4: Montenegro

March 4, 2021

Montenegro’s Public Health Institute said on Thursday that over the last 24 hours, eight patients died from COVID-19-related complications, and that out of 2,024 tested people, 567 were infected with the coronavirus.

Also on Thursday, 490 patients recovered, while there were 8,844 new coronavirus cases.

Since the epidemic outbreak, 1,039 patients have died and  78,060 have been confirmed infected.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-pandemic-daily-regional-update-on-march-4-2021/


Coronavirus on March 4: Kosovo

March 4, 2021

Kosovo’s Public Health Institute said on Thursday that in the last 24 hours seven patients died from COVID-19-related complications, while out of 3,674 tested people 591 were infected with the coronavirus.

The death toll stood at 1,627 and 61,014 patients have recovered since the epidemic outbreak.

At the same time, 319,338 people have been tested and 71,344 have been positive for the coronavirus.

On Thursday, there were 8,703 active cases of the infection.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-pandemic-daily-regional-update-on-march-4-2021/

German FM: Serbia will get 300,000 vaccines from COVAX program

March 4, 2021

During the visit to Berlin by Serbia's Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic, his German counterpart Heiko Maas said Belgrade would get 300,000 vaccines from the European Union's COVAX program by the end of May.

Selakovic described the news as important for the further immunization of Serbia’s people.

Maas added he did not criticize Serbia for procuring vaccines from Russia and China.

„I think we in the EU should talk more about how we will send vaccines to more than 140 countries, over a million to the Western Balkans alone and 300,000 to Serbia. Our problem is that we are not loud enough about it,“ Maas said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/german-fm-serbia-will-get-300000-vaccines-from-covax-programme/

India's Covaxin vaccine is 81% effective, early data shows

March 4, 2021

India's home-grown Covaxin vaccine is 81% effective against Covid-19, according to early data released Wednesday.

The vaccine was jointly developed by the company Bharat Biotech and the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research.

The clinical trial involved 25,800 participants between 18 and 98 years old, according to Bharat Biotech. The efficacy figure is based on an early analysis of 43 Covid-19 cases. Some 36 cases occurred in participants who got a placebo, compared to seven participants who got the vaccine.

Data indicates the vaccine can also effectively combat the variant first spotted in the UK, according to an analysis by India's National Institute of Virology.

“Today is an important milestone in vaccine discovery, for science and our fight against coronavirus,” said Bharat Biotech chairman Dr. Krishna Ella. “Covaxin demonstrates high clinical efficacy trend against COVID-19 but also significant immunogenicity against the rapidly emerging variants.”

About the vaccine: Covaxin is a two-dose vaccine. It is the first Covid-19 vaccine that has been developed in its entirety in India.

More than 40 countries have expressed their interest in Covaxin, including Mongolia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Bahrain, Oman, Maldives, and Mauritius.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/indias-covaxin-vaccine-is-81-effective-early-data-shows/

EU agency starts review of Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine

March 4, 2021

European Medicines Agency (EMA) has started a rolling review of the Russia-made Sputnik V vaccine based on results from laboratory studies and clinical studies in adults, it was confirmed on Thursday.

According to the agency, these studies indicate that Sputnik V triggers the production of antibodies and immune cells that target the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and may help protect against COVID-19.

“EMA will evaluate data as they become available to decide if the benefits outweigh the risks. The rolling review will continue until enough evidence is available for formal marketing authorization application,” said the European Union's medical authority.

It added that the assessment will include Sputnik V’s compliance with the usual EU standards for effectiveness, safety and quality.

“While EMA cannot predict the overall timelines, it should take less time than normal to evaluate an eventual application because of the work done during the rolling review,” said the agency.

The EU applicant for Sputnik V vaccine developed by Russia's Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology is R-Pharm Germany GmbH

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/eu-agency-starts-review-of-sputnik-v-covid-19-vaccine/

Bosnia's coronavirus daily count on the rise, officials discussing new measures

March 4, 2021

Bosnia and Herzegovina has recorded another 910 cases of infection with the novel coronavirus - the highest daily count in weeks, and 26 fatalities among Covid-19 patients, the healthcare authorities confirmed on Thursday.

The new results came out of 4,232 lab tests performed among those who reported infection symptoms.

Bosnia is seeing another surge in new infections that some healthcare experts call the country's third pandemic wave. The situation is particularly worrying in the Sarajevo Canton, which is recording three-digit figures in coronavirus cases during the past week – averagely, 357 cases a day.

The situation prompted cantonal authorities to react and announce new measures to contain the virus spread. The Canton Government is in a meeting on Thursday and is expected to present the new conclusions on the epidemiological situation in the afternoon.

The country reported a total of 134,892 coronavirus cases since the epidemic outbreak. To this date, 117,643 patients recovered – 247 in the last 24 hours.

The coronavirus death toll stands at 5,200.

Currently, there are 12,049 active cases throughout the country.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnias-coronavirus-daily-count-on-the-rise-officials-discussing-new-measures/

Council of Ministers meets additional condition for COVAX vaccine delivery

March 4, 2021

Bosnian state government endorsed on Thursday the amendments to 'Commitment agreement – committed purchase arrangement' with the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), unblocking the arrangement with the COVAX system for the vaccine delivery.

The Council of Ministers convened on Thursday and adopted the proposed amendments, specifying the compensation details to the agreement, and authorising Civil Affairs Minister Ankica Gudeljevic to sign the deals with AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech.

“While expecting to get the first doses of previously arranged and paid vaccines through COVAX system, BiH was set a new condition in mid-February and asked to sign amendments to the agreement,” the Council of Ministers recalled following the Thursday session.

Bosnia and Herzegovina allocated two million marks (approx 1mn Euro) to cover the costs of the vaccine procurement through COVAX, which among other things included the delivery, import and distribution of vaccines against Covid-19 as well as the costs of transportation, storage and quality insurance.

The amended agreement has been sent in an urgent procedure to the Presidency of BiH for confirmation.

“This is, I hope, the last condition, although we met all necessary conditions beforehand,” said Council of Ministers Chairman Zoran Tegeltija, recalling that Bosnia secured 1,230,000 vaccines through COVAX but has not received a single dose yet.

According to him, it was earlier confirmed that BiH would first get the delivery of Pfizer/BioNTech and then AstraZeneca vaccines.

“I want to believe that this system will meet the deadline and that's the end of March 2021. I am sure we can start a regular vaccination process through the procurements we have with Russian and Chinese producers and through this system, and that the quantities of the delivered vaccines will increase day by day,” stressed Tegeltija.

Commenting on the allegations about a possible lawsuit by AstraZeneca over the statement of Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic, who said AstraZeneca vaccine produced in India is “mainly used in poor countries,” Tegeltija said this was an arrogant attitude of the company.

“I don't agree with Minister Turkovic's statement, I don't agree with how she spoke about other countries and producers we depend on, but I agree the least with the stances of AstraZeneca about suing a country they have to deliver more than 165,000 vaccines because of one statement in media,” he concluded.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/council-of-ministers-meets-additional-condition-for-covax-vaccine-delivery/

Sarajevo Canton PM: Capacities are full, we must save our healthcare system

March 4, 2021

Due to a dramatic increase in daily confirmed coronavirus cases since recently, the Sarajevo Canton (KS) Government adopted a series of measures on Thursday and is working on securing more capacities for accommodating COVID-19 patients.

“Capacities are full, manpower is lacking. If we want to survive as a society, we must save our health system,” KS Prime Minister Edin Forto, said at a press conference.

He explained that the local government is considering asking private healthcare institutions to take over “a large number” of patients. The government would check whether there are any such private facilities that meet the requirements for treating the patients available. If not, other facilities, such as sports and concert halls, could be used for it, he said.

According to KS Health Minister and head of the Crisis Headquarters, Haris Vranic, “we are practically entering the third wave of the epidemic.”

He said the KS Government is dealing with the problem “on its own,” accusing the Government and Crisis Headquarters of the higher government level, that of Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity, of abandoning KS.

“As the Government and the Ministry, we are doing everything we can to acquire vaccines. A large number of young people are hospitalized, which indicates that the British and probably the South African strain that affects young people has arrived,” said Vranic.

The KS Government adopted several new measures, ordering that public healthcare facilities employ a number of doctors and medical professionals who are registered at the unemployment office and asking the Health Ministry of Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity for information on which facilities could be used to treat COVID-19 patients.
According to the KS Public Health Institute, 484 new coronavirus infections were confirmed among the 1,336 samples tested in KS in the past 24 hours, while seven COVID-19 patients died.

A total of 338 patients are hospitalized, of which 214 are at the Sarajevu University Clinical Centre and 124 at the Dr. Abdulah Nakas General Hospital.
Since, Wednesday, 348 people have recovered from the disease in KS.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/sarajevo-canton-pm-capacities-are-full-we-must-save-our-healthcare-system/

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