WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

CORONAVIRUS – BiH: The Minister of European Integration and European Cooperation of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska entity, Zlatan Klokic, is a confirmed case of coronavirus. Bosnian PM Zoran Tegeltija on Tuesday declared a nationwide state of emergency in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The two entities separately declared a state of emergency on Monday. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity allocated around $18.5 million to hospitals. Businesses in Mostar on Tuesday met to discuss the effects that coronavirus will have on its toursim industry and ways to mitigate the damage. The meeting happened the same day the first confirmed case of the virus hit Mostar. The overall number of cases rises to 34.CORONAVIRUS – CROATIA: The Croatian government launched www.koronavirus.hr for information on where the virus has spread and all vital information. Croatia postponed tax payments for up to three months and will make loans available for businesses affected by the coronavirus. These were two of 63 measures the government took to combat the virus. Croatia’s number of cases stands at 69.

CORONAVIRUS – KOSOVO: Kosovo President Hashim Thaci has declared a state emergency. He also asked the Kosovo Security Forces (KSF) to mobilize to maximum capacity to respond to the coronavirus. The number of cases in Kosovo rises to 16 after three citizens returned from London. Eight citizens have been arrested for raising prices of goods.

CORONAVIRUS – N. MACEDONIA: Parliamentary elections set for April 12th have been officially postponed. The Health Minister of N. Macedonia expects the number of cases to reach 2,000 in a month. The number of cases has risen to 31.

CORONAVIRUS – MONTENEGRO: Montenegro was the last country in Europe to confirm coronavirus cases – A 72 year old woman and a 47 year old woman were confirmed. They travelled to Spain and the United States before returning to Montenegro. UK Ambassador to Montenegro Alison Kemp told the leader of the Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) Branimir Gvozdenovic that the UK is ready to assist and coordinate with Montenegro in its coronavirus response. The country has taken all preventive measures – schools closed, no public gatherings, and international borders closed. Montenegrin citizens are allowed to return but will be quarantined for two weeks.

CORONAVIRUS – SERBIA: Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo says that Beijing has approved an aid package for Serbia. Serbia has restricted movement for migrants and asylum seekers and will allow only “justified cases” to leave camps. Serbia has banned people over 65 in cities and 70 in rural areasfrom leaving the home and instilled a curfew. A hospital worker in Cacak tested positive which prompted 50 medical professionals into quarantine. The number of cases has jumped to 72.

CORONAVIRUS – SLOVENIA: New PM Janez Jansa is preparing to introduce legislation to mitigate the effects of coronavirus.

W. BALKAN CORONAVIRUS MEETING: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz organized a Western Balkans Conference on coronavirus that was chaired by EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhely.

N. MACEDONIA A GO FOR NATO: The upper chamber of the Spanish parliament passed N. Macedonia’s NATO Accession Protocol and was endorsed by 259 of 264 senators. Spain’s was the last NATO member to pass the accession protocol that will see N. Macedonia become the 30th member of the alliance.

CONTOUR NO MORE: Contourglobal announced the Kosova e Re project “will not proceed” due to the “political situation in Kosovo since July (2019).” The company planned to build the coal-fired power plant on a EUR 1.3 million contract.

BiH EURO INTEGRATION: “On 16 March, Bosnia and Herzegovina decided to participate in the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees. Bosnia and Herzegovina joins Armenia, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom and becomes the 10th country to promote the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees as practical tool for better and faster integration of refugees in their new societies. The EQPR helps refugees to rebuild their lives in their host countries by giving them the opportunity to have their qualifications assessed even when they cannot provide complete documentation to prove that they hold such qualifications.” (Council of Europe)

PRES. MILANOVIC DECLARES ASSETS: Amidst the coronavirus chaos, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic declared his assets to the Conflict of Interest Commission.

INCIDENT IN MITROVICA: “An incident took place today between the two groups of residents of North and South Mitrovica. The confrontation occurred in the middle of the Ibar River towards the settlement of Suvi Do, at a new footbridge under construction. No one was injured, the Kosovo Police confirmed for KoSSev. The situation was quickly stabilized as soon as the police arrived with reinforcements, after which the residents pulled back.” (KosSev)

ELECTRIC CAR SUBSIDIES: “The Serbian government is introducing purchase premiums for electric and hybrid vehicles, including electric mopeds and motorcycles. The budget for the grants is one million euro this year. Any individual or company may claim the subsidy on the day of purchasing an electric vehicle. However, the Ministry of Environmental Protection wrote it excludes firms and entrepreneurs that have received support in line with the decree for the renewal of the taxi fleet from last year.” (Electrive)

IN OTHER NEWS

HUMAN INTEREST: “KFOR RC East’s Task Force MP reflects on its deployment” by Sgt. Lynnwood Thomas in DVIDS

HUMAN INTEREST: “Cub Scouts explore Camp Bondsteel” by Sgt. Lynwood Thomas in DVIDS

CULTURE: “Culture in the time of coronavirus” in Slovenia Times

ENVIRONMENT: “Croatia’s ginkgo runner-up in prestigious European Tree of the Year awards” in Croatia Week

ENVIRONMENT: “In Pictures: How Slovenia’s monsters came back from the dead” in National Geographic