International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Coronavirus: Croatia reports 2,007 new cases, 41 deaths

April 30, 2021

Over the last 24 hours, Croatia's health authorities performed 9,282 coronavirus tests with 2,007, or 21 percent, returning positive, the national coronavirus task force said on Friday. During the same period, 41 new Covid-related deaths were reported, bringing the country's total death toll to date to 7,081.

Currently there are 14,507 active cases in Croatia, including 2,237 hospitalized patients – 253 of whom are breathing with the help of ventilators.

To date, as many as 1.8 million tests have been performed in the country, confirming 332,183 cases. This includes 310,595 recoveries to date – including 2,337 recoveries over the past 24 hours. Nearly 34,000 Croatians are currently in self-isolation.

Under the vaccination rollout plan, 872,726 shots against this infectious disease have been administered. The national Covid-19 task force said on Friday that 682,757 Croatians had got vaccinated. Exactly 490,230 people have received the first shot, and almost 190,000 have been inoculated by both doses so far.

Croatia has a population of about 4 million.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-croatia-reports-2007-new-cases-41-deaths/

Coronavirus UPDATE: 25 deaths, 1,613 new cases

April 30, 2021

The Serbian Health Ministry said in its daily 3:00 pm bulletin on Friday that 25 people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 6,362.

It said that 10,837 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 1,613 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The total number of people tested to date stands at 3,839,381 with 689,557 confirmed cases.

The bulletin said that there are 4,644 hospitalized cases, including 169 patients on ventilators.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-update-25-deaths-1613-new-cases/

Another 595 coronavirus infections, 39 COVID-19 fatalities in Bosnia

April 30, 2021

A total of 595 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and 39 COVID-19 patients passed away in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the past 24 hours, healthcare authorities reported on Friday.

In Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity, 288 of the 2,236 people tested since Thursday were positive for the virus and 20 people died from the disease.

In the other semi-autonomous entity, Republika Srpska (RS), 844 tests were performed and 275 new infections confirmed, as well as 16 COVID-19 fatalities.

Bosnia’s Brcko District registered 32 new infections and three COVID-19 deaths.

A total of 198,461 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Bosnia since the beginning of the pandemic and 159,223 of them have recovered so far.

The COVID-19 death toll is 8,551.

There are currently 30,687 active coronavirus cases in Bosnia.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/another-595-coronavirus-infections-39-covid-19-fatalities-in-bosnia/

Coronavirus on April 30: Montenegro

April 30, 2021

The Montenegrin Public Health Institute said that 3 people died of coronavirus-related ailments in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to xxx since the pandemic broke out.

It said that 1,390 people had been tested for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, including 132 who tested positive. There are 2,637 active cases. Another 162 patients were reported to have recovered from COVID-19.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-pandemic-daily-regional-update-on-april-30-2021/

Coronavirus on April 30: Kosovo

April 30, 2021

The authorities in Pristina said that 11 people died of coronavirus-related ailments in Kosovo in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 2,173 since the pandemic broke out.

It said that 2,810 people had been tested for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, including 202 who tested positive. There are 8,841 active cases. Another 646 patients were reported to have recovered from COVID-19.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-pandemic-daily-regional-update-on-april-30-2021/

HDZ BiH leader: 2022 election could take place according to new election law

April 30, 2021

The 2022 General Elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina could take place according to a new Election Law, the leader of Bosnia’s Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH), Dragan Covic, said on Friday.

Covic, who is Deputy Speaker of Bosnia’s House of Peoples, said he expects the negotiations between his party and the main Bosniak party in the country, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), and institutions to intensify mid-May.

“I believe it will be a two-day or three-day gathering, after the Eid holidays. It would be desirable if what we manage to agree on to be discussed in Parliament by the end of the sixth month. We have also created an inter-ministerial group in which all parties are represented, “Covic said, talking about the election law.

“If anything needs to be changed in the Constitution, that should also be done,” he said, adding that he is optimistic about the process.

“I am sure that it will pass smoothly in the House of Peoples because we have that capacity, but in the House of Representatives we need broad consent,” he said.

“As I see it, we will have elections under a new election law that will be adopted in a non-election year,” he said.

Covic also said he expects the laws on conflict of interest and public procurement also to be amended by the end of June.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/hdz-bih-leader-2022-election-could-take-place-according-to-new-election-law/

Dodik: Komsic embarrassed Bosnia at meeting with Borrell

April 30, 2021

The Chairman of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, Milorad Dodik, said that his statement that his colleague in the Presidency, Zeljko Komsic, is not a legitimate representative of Croats in BiH is what prompted Komsic to leave a recent online meeting with the EU High Representative.

In the online meeting, Bosnia’s three Presidency members discussed numerous topics with the EU’s Josep Borrell, including the pandemic, vaccine procurement, and the recently published controversial alleged non-paper which caused an uproar as it proposes redrawing borders in the Western Balkans.

At a certain point, Komsic left the meeting.

He told the media that the reason for it was that Dodik, the Presidency member from Bosnia’s Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) entity, was presenting things that are not true about Bosnia “in a rude way.”

“Dodik denies the genocide, denies the state where he is the Chairman of the Presidency, talks about ‘peaceful separation’, insults people on a personal basis, etc. and sometimes the only way to resist his primitivism is to keep from falling into it,” Komsic told the public broadcaster in Bosnia's Federation (FBiH) entity.

Dodik, however, told the Srna news agency that there was no mention of the Srebrenica genocide or the dissolution of Bosnia at the meeting, arguing that Komsic is now trying to justify his actions.

He said that Komsic “never misses the chance to embarrass himself personally and with that, to embarrass Bosnia and Herzegovina, which he supposedly advocates for.”

Dodik said he told Borrell at the meeting that Komsic is not a legitimate representative of Bosnian Croats because Bosniaks, who are more numerous in Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity, elected him to the post.

“His behavior in this meeting shows that he never should have been doing the job he is doing and that is something Bosniaks, who brought him to that post, should think about,” Dodik said.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/dodik-komsic-embarrassed-bosnia-at-meeting-with-borrell/

Komsic says he left meeting with Borrell because of Dodik's statements on BiH

April 30, 2021

The Croat member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, Zeljko Komsic, said that he left a recent online meeting with EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, because his colleague in the Presidency, Milorad Dodik, was talking about BiH "in a primitive way" and presenting things that are not true to the EU official.

In the online meeting, Bosnia’s three Presidency members discussed numerous topics with Borrell, including the pandemic, vaccine procurement, and the recently published controversial alleged non-paper which caused an uproar as it proposes redrawing borders in the Western Balkans.

At a certain point, Komsic left the meeting.

“Dodik denies the genocide, denies the state where he is the Chairman of the Presidency, talks about ‘peaceful separation’, insults people on a personal basis, etc. and sometimes the only way to resist his primitivism is to keep from falling into it,” Komsic told the public broadcaster in Bosnia's Federation (FBiH) entity.

He said Dodik presented his points on Bosnia and Herzegovina to EU officials “in a primitive way” and accused him of arrogance and lying.

“So should one respond to it? If you respond, you run the risk of provoking an argument in front of the foreigners, which is then uncomfortable and disgraceful not only for Dodik but for the entire Presidency,” Komsic said.

Komsic said him leaving the meeting was also meant to serve as a message to foreign officials.

“They do not react to some things that concern this country,” he said, criticizing them for not reacting to Dodik’s statements which advocate for the dissolution of Bosnia.

“If our international friends want to listen to such a Dodik, there he is, let them listen to him,” Komsic said.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/komsic-says-he-left-meeting-with-borrell-because-of-dodiks-statements-on-bih/

High Rep in BiH will take further steps “when the moment is optimal”

April 30, 2021

The parliament of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity has not annulled the decorations it awarded to convicted war criminals within the three-month deadline Bosnia’s international administrator set for it to do so, and when the moment is right, the High Representative will take action, his office told N1 on Friday.

In early February, High Representative Valentin Inzko, tasked with overseeing the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, sent a letter to the RS National Assembly leadership, asking the institution to annul honors it awarded to convicted war criminals within three months.

In the letter, he pointed out that in 2016, the organizing committee which was established to mark the 25th anniversary of the existence and work of the RS National Assembly awarded special charters and recognitions to “numerous institutions, organizations, and individuals.”

“Among those who received them were all former speakers of the National Assembly and members of the First Presidency of the RS, including Radovan Karadzic, Momcilo Krajisnik and Biljana Plavsic, whose actions shocked the world during the armed conflict [in Bosnia] and caused unimaginable human suffering,” it said.

The Austrian diplomat stressed that “the glorification of war criminals, including glorification in the form in which we witnessed on October 24, 2016, directly hurts and provokes those who suffered the consequences of the war and damages the memory of the victims” and that it “destabilizes the region and threatens the prospects for reconciliation in BiH.”

He urged the RS Assembly to “show political maturity, moral responsibility and moderation towards the future, by revoking the charters with decorations awarded to convicted war criminals Karadzic, Krajisnik and Plavsic.”

“I am giving you and the RS National Assembly a period of three months, until the end of April 2021 [to do so],” Inzko stated in a letter addressed to RS National Assembly Speaker, Nedjeljko Cubrilovic.

However, the RS National Assembly did not meet the deadline. The request from the letter was on the agenda of its last session, but lawmakers did not discuss it. The session is set to continue in May.

The Office of the High Representative (OHR) told N1 that the international office is “following all activities of political entities as well as institutions” regarding his request.

“When he estimates that it is the most optimal moment, for the benefit of the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the function of reconciliation, he will take additional necessary steps,” the OHR said.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/high-rep-in-bih-will-take-further-steps-when-the-moment-is-optimal/

United Media: Government should not ignore refusal to print newspaper

April 30, 2021

United Media said on Friday that it had contacted every company in Serbia that can print newspapers and magazines while planning to launch the new Nova daily but that none of the printers accepted the job not even for more than market price.

The state-owned Politika and Borba printworks and the private Ringier Axel Springer, Color Press and Grafoprodukt did not agree to print the new newspaper, giving various explanations which are not realistic, United Media said. It added that all the printers that have the capabilities of printing the new daily are refusing the job out of fear of consequences.

“There is no printer in Serbia whose management has the courage to accept the printing of the independent Nova daily,” the statement said adding: “the Serbian government should not ignore the fear among printers because that reflects the alarming situation of a lack of media freedom in Serbia”.

“We informed Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Culture and Information Minister Maja Gojkovic of this 10 days ago and called them to do everything to allow media to operate under equal conditions on the market,” United Media said.

“The Culture and Information Minister who should logically be interested in why a high-circulation newspaper with an independent editorial concept can’t be printed in Serbia did not think it important to speak up or answer the letter sent by United Media. Prime Minister Brnabic did respond but only when reporters asked her and she told the public that she does not know what she can do in this case,” the statement said.

United Media said that it wants to inform the public, prime minister and minister that companies which own printing presses have refused to print the Nova daily not because they do not have the capabilities or due to inadequate financial offers but because this is an independent media outlet whose editorial concept is not to the liking of the authorities.

“When we informed you of the prevailing fear over the publication of the Nova daily we did not ask you to personally order printers to accept the job but to do everything legally possible to stop the atmosphere of support to single-mindedness and persecution of free editorial policies in the media. Do not ignore the facts that we warned you of and turn your head away from the fear and self-censorship which is obviously so wide-spread in Serbia that no printers dare print an independent newspaper,” United Media added.

It recalled that reports by European institutions and international organizations have been warning Serbia for several years of the state monopoly over the media, the constant pressure by the authorities on the independent media and the bad situation in terms of media freedom and rule of law.

“United Media is once more calling Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and her deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture and Information Maja Gojkovic not to turn a blind eye to the shocking fact the no one dares print independent newspapers in Serbia fearing consequences. We are appealing to the top state bodies to allow the media to do their job freely and create an atmosphere in which the public can hear different views and choose freely what they want to read or watch as guaranteed under the Serbian Constitution. Media freedom is not a question of the goodwill of the authorities but a right of the public to timely and true information,” United Media said.
N1 is part of United Media.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/united-media-government-should-not-ignore-refusal-to-print-newspaper/

Bilcik: EU looking for way to help Montenegro repay debt to China

April 30, 2021

Vladimir Bilcik MEP, chair of the Delegation to the EU-Montenegro Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee, said on Friday that the European Union is looking for ways to help Montenegro repay a loan to a Chinese state-controlled bank.

He said that the EU is not a bank and can’t repay a foreign debt but was looking at ways to help repay the loan in order to reinforce the country’s financial stability. The previous Montenegrin government took a loan from the Chinese Ex-Im bank to finance the construction of a highway which it is having serious difficulties repaying amid fears that China could take over one of the country’s ports to settle the debt.

Bilcik warned of the danger of China trying to take or Montenegro’s property or territory and raise the political stakes, adding that ways have to found to prevent that. “The EU stands with Montenegro and we have to find a response in line with the country’s European path and its institutional frameworks to reinforce the responsibility of all politicians in Montenegro,” he said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/bilcik-eu-looking-for-way-to-help-montenegro-repay-debt-to-china/

Croatia pledges help to Kosovo in turning its security forces into standing army

April 30, 2021

Croatia is willing to help Kosovo in its efforts to transform its security forces into a regular army, Defence Minister, Mario Banozic, said on Friday.

After meeting with Kosovo Defence Minister, Armend Mehaj, in Zagreb, Banozic told reporters that the talks with Mehaj were “an opportunity to point out the importance of (turning) Kosovo’s security forces into a regular army.”

“The cooperation in this process will reinforce the connections between our countries in the political, military and economic sense,” Banozic said.

So far, 60 members of the Kosovo Security Forces have attended military education in Croatia. Furthermore, two helicopters and 34 soldiers Croatian Army soldiers are currently deployed in Kosovo as part of the NATO-led KFOR mission. Banozic also announced that Croatia’s KFOR contingent would increase to 150.

Mehaj thanked Croatia for support.

“We can achieve regional security and stability only if we cooperate,” Mehaj said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/croatia-pledges-help-to-kosovo-in-turning-its-security-forces-into-standing-army/

Hague court schedules final ruling in Ratko Mladic’s war crimes case for June 8

April 30, 2021

The final verdict in the war crimes trial of Ratko Mladic, the top Bosnian Serb wartime commander in the 1991-95 Bosnian war, will be handed down on June 8 in the Hague, the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) confirmed on Friday.

The International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) had sentenced Mladic in November 2017, in a first-instance verdict, to life imprisonment.

Mladic was the top Bosnian Serb military leader during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and trial judges found that he was responsible for overseeing the murder of more than 8,000 Muslim Bosniak men and boys in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica in 1995 after the town – declared a UN “safe area” – had been captured by his forces.

ICTY judges had determined that Mladic was responsible for ethnic cleansing campaigns against Bosnian Muslims and Croats, and also for the violence and terror campaign against civilians in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo during his forces’ 43-month siege of the city, as part of a plan to carve out a “Greater Serbia” in the territory of former Yugoslavia.

Mladic was arrested in Serbia and immediately extradited to stand trial in the Hague in May 2011, 16 years after the war had ended. In 2017 he was sentenced to life imprisonment for one count of genocide, five counts of crimes against humanity, and four counts of violations of the laws or customs of war, and was cleared of one more count of genocide.

Both the prosecution and defense attorneys had filed appeals to the original verdict.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/hague-court-schedules-final-ruling-in-ratko-mladics-war-crimes-case-for-june-8/

Vucic says Serbia recorded 1 percent growth in Q1

April 30, 2021

President Aleksandar Vucic said on Friday that Serbia’s economy grew by more than one percent in the first quarter of the year.

That growth is “enormously different” to the expected -1.3 percent, he wrote in an Instagram post. “Citizens of Serbia, I want to inform you that we planned a growth rate of minus 1.3 percent in the first quarter of the year, reaching an economic growth rate of six percent by the end of the year. I have excellent news for you – I can’t hide my happiness and pride because I am heading a country that managed this. Serbia has achieved a growth of more than one percent in the first quarter. That is an enormous difference compared to what we expected,” Vucic said in the video post.

He said that Germany expected a rate of -1.5 percent and had 1.7 percent in the same period. “Serbia is advancing at great speed thanks to you the people and citizens of Serbia. If we have 11.5 percent in the second quarter and I believe we can because we planned 10 percent, we will be the champions in Europe in terms of economic growth. We can do all that if you help us and get vaccinated so we can get back to work,” Vucic said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/vucic-says-serbia-recorded-1-percent-growth-in-q1/

Serbian President says stable economy confirmed EBRD support

April 30, 2021

President Aleksandar Vucic told the outgoing European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Regional Director for the Western Balkans Zsuzsanna Hargitai the bank’s support for Serbia was confirmed by the stable economic situation.

A press release quoted Vucic as emphasizing the importance of joint Serbia-EBRD projects which helped economic growth during the coronavirus pandemic. It said that they discussed support to develop entrepreneurship and agreed to continue work on reforms and the modernization of state-owned companies.

“They agreed that, despite the severe consequences for the economy, this year represents an exceptional opportunity to attract new investments to Serbia, since our healthy and stable public finances have contributed to us being more resistant to the impact of the pandemic than other countries in the region,” the press release said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-president-says-stable-economy-confirmed-ebrd-support/

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