WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

CORONAVIRUS – BiH: In Bosnia, the EUFOR multinational battalion surveyed three border crossings –  Zvornik, Karakaj and Sepak. They inspected preventative measures against the COVID-19 virus. A member of EUFOR has been transferred from Sarajevo to Vienna after contracting coronavirus. Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska, declares a state of emergency. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in BiH is over 320.CORONAVIRUS – CROATIA:  The EU has announced plans of a 37 billion euro investment across the continent including 1.16 billion euro earmarked for Croatia. PM Andrej Plenkovic tweeted that the investment plan “requires the responsibility and unity of the European Union…the priority is to preserve health and jobs.” Croatia received 12.5 tons of aid from China. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Croatia reaches 713.

CORONAVIRUS – KOSOVO: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at 97 in Kosovo.

CORONAVIRUS – N. MACEDONIA: There are two more deaths in N. Macedonia and the number of confirmed cases reaches 259.

CORONAVIRUS – MONTENEGRO: A FlyDubai passenger plane with 3.5 tons of medical equipment landed in Podgorica. This included 600,000 medical masks, 100,000 medical gloves, 79,000 N95 masks and 21,700 face masks. A Montenegrin diplomat in Brussels tests positive for coronavirus. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases reaches 91.

CORONAVIRUS – SERBIA: The UAE sent 10 tons of medical aid to fight coronavirus of Serbia. A part of the 93 million euro funds for Serbia to fight coronavirus paid for transport of medical assistance purchased by Serbia. The Serbian Orthodox Church says it will continue to distribute communion and hold liturgy.Serbia sentenced a man to three years in jail for breaking Serbia’s coronavirus curfew, and it wasn’t Real Madrid star Luka Jovic who was caught breaking quarantine last week. Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic and his wife have donated 1 million euro to purchase medical equipment in Serbia. The number of confirmed cases rises to 741 in Serbia.

CORONAVIRUS – SLOVENIA: The Slovenian government puts forward a 3 billion euro stimulus plan to stem the affects of coronavirus. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at 684 with nine confirmed deaths due to the virus.

U.S. POLICY ON KOSOVO & SERBIA: The U.S. State Department released a joint statement from Joint Statement of Special Presidential Envoy Richard Grenell, Ambassador Philip Kosnett, and Special Representative for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer on Kosovo that called for Kosovo to politicians to “follow Kosovo’s Constitution and rule of law.” The statement urges, “Kosovo’s leaders to lift the tariffs completely.” It dismissed “secret plan for land swaps between Kosovo and Serbia, as some have speculated. Special Presidential Envoy Richard Grenell has never seen nor discussed such a plan.”

MEANWHILE: Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is pushing for visa liberalization for Kosovo.

BRAVO ALBANIA: Albania sent 30 doctors to help fight the coronavirus in Italy. They left from Tirana destined for Bergamo.

CONGRATS!: We would like to congratulate N. Macedonia for officially joining the NATO alliance as its 30th member.

CONFIRMED: Miroslav Lajcak has been confirmed as the EU’s Special Envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue and Western Balkans.

CAMP BONDSTEEL: “U.S. Army Col. Eric Riley took command of Kosovo Force Regional-Command East at a change of command ceremony March 17, 2020, at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo. Riley is a member of the Oregon Army National Guard’s 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team and will command RC-E’s maneuver battalion, effects battalion and a series of support task forces charged with ensuring the safety, security, and freedom of movement for all the people of Kosovo.” (DVIDS)

CRIME: Croatia released convicted war criminal Dragan Vasiljkovic, also known as “Captain Dragan,” after serving a 13-and-half-years in prison. He was expelled to Serbia and banned from entering the European Economic Area for 20 years.

IN OTHER NEWS

ANALYSIS: “Serbia’s coronavirus diplomacy unmasked” by Janka Oertel and Majda Ruge in European Council on Foreign Relations

ANALYSIS: “Kosovo’s Ousted Government, Secret Deals and War Crimes Charges” by Marija Ristic in BIRN

OP-ED: “Pandemic journal” by Milkra Krasniqi in Prishtina Insight

HUMAN INTEREST: “Meet KLM Foundation scholarship winner Aida Pehlic” by Rob Cardwell in Channel 6 News (Richmond, VA)

HUMAN INTEREST: “Girl Rania from Iraq living in Bosnia and Herzegovina: When I grow up, I want to be a Doctor” in Sarjaevo Times

HUMAN INTEREST: “Restarting Croatian Tourism from the UK After the Homeland War: a Travel Agent’s Tale” by Paul Bradbury in Total Croatia News

MIGRANTS: “Bosnia: Decision to confine thousands of migrants into camp inhumane and puts lives at risk” in Amnesty International

MIGRANTS: “Bosnia crams thousands of migrants into tent camp to ‘halt Covid-19 spread’” by Lorenzo Tondo in The Guardian (UK)

SPORT: “The day Nikola Jokić won MVP” by Alex Labidou for the Denver Nuggets

SPORT: “Slovenian Federation President: We’re in contact with Itoudis but basketball is not a priority now” by Stefan Djordjevic in Euro Hoops

SPORT: “The 4 Talents Helping North Macedonia Shine At International Level” by Tom Caldwell in World Football Index

SPORT: “Billy Baron: Basketball takes a backseat to everything” in Euro Hoops: “Crvena Zvezda guard Billy Baron is currently in Florida, USA with his family while the EuroLeague and ABA League are in an indefinite hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.Baron talked about the situation with the coronavirus in Florida, how he spends his days and his prediction for the rest of the 2019-2020 season. Here’s what the American sharpshooter said to Serbian network Arena Sport.”

ENTERTAINMENT: “Dua Lipa says leaving Kosovo was a ‘massive learning experience’ before finding fame” by Ashleigh Rainbird in The Mirror (UK)

ENTERTAINMENT: “Dua Lipa opens up to Miley Cyrus about returning to Kosovo, ‘I didn’t realize how difficult it would be’” in ABC News Radio ONline

TRAVEL: “Lockdown escapes: where I’ll visit when this is over” in The Guardian (UK): “Goriska Brda, Slovenia: There is a sun-soaked corner in the far west of Slovenia, where Hemingway set A Farewell to Arms and where the border was drawn with Italy after the first world war. Goriška Brda is Slovenia’s cradle of wine. It is actually a cluster of many tiny villages embowered by the Alps to the north and the Adriatic to the south, each photogenically situated upon soft-rolled hilltops and flysch soil, with a unique terroir that has been named one of the best in the world for white wine.”