WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

CORONAVIRUS – BiH: Medical workers in BiH have started to get sick from coronavirus. “The International Monetary Fund warned Bosnia on Wednesday it would drop assistance agreed to ease the impact from the spread of coronavirus on the health system and economy if the authorities undermine the country’s currency arrangement.” (Reuters). The number of confirmed cases rises to 459.

CORONAVIRUS – CROATIA: PM Andrej Plenkovic discussed new measures taken to stem the economic impact of coronavirus ahead of the today’s cabinet session. Croatia confirmed 96 new cases bringing the total to 963 and 6 more deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – KOSOVO: “Acting Minister of Health Arben Vitia met today the British Ambassador Nicholas Abbott and discussed the measures taken by Kosovo institutions to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections.” (RTK Live)The number of confirmed cases rises to 125.

CORONAVIRUS – N. MACEDONIA: Maternity leave has been extended during the coronavirus crisis. The state allocated around 1.3 million euro to reconstruct the outside of the Mother Teresa Clinical Center. N. Macedonia confirmed there are a total of 354 cases including another death, bringing the total to 11.

CORONAVIRUS – MONTENEGRO:  Opposition politician from the Democratic Front (DF), Milutin Djukanovic, calls for the government to pay 222 euro, the minimum wage, to each adult and create a family package. Montenegro confirmed a total of 123 cases.

CORONAVIRUS – SERBIA: Serbian State Secretary for Ministry of Environmental Protection Branislav Blazic died on Tuesday from coronavirus. Serbia confirmed 160 new cases bringing the total to 1,060 and 5 more deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – SLOVENIA: Slovenia confirmed 39 new cases bringing the total to 841 while the death toll increased to 15.

NATO RESPONSE: NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg indicates potential coronavirus aid for members will be discussed today at a meeting with FMs. Any response will be coordinated through the NATO Crisis Response Center.

U.S. REFUTES KOSOVO’S TAX REMOVAL: The 100% taxes on Serbian goods was revoked at midnight on April 1 in favor of reciprocity and will review Serbia’s derecognition campaign until June 15. Should the derecognition campaign continue, Kosovo will reinstate the 100% tariffs on Serbian goods. Kosovo unconditionally revoked tariffs on Bosnian goods. Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Pristina released a statement calling for Kosovo to “drop all tariffs and not create new barriers because these policies hurt the people of Kosovo and strangle Kosovo’s own economy.” The EU Rapporteur for Kosovo Viola Von Cramon believes the removal of tariffs should help Kosovo’s case for visa liberalization. Finally, RFE/RL went to the border and reports that there is “no trade spike yet.”

NEW ANTI-CORRUPTION HEAD: Robert Sumi takes over as the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption for a six-year term. Sumi is currently a researcher at the Police Academy.

KOSOVO PRES. MEETS PARTY LEADERS: Kosovo President Hashim Thaci on Wednesday met with party leaders to discuss next steps after a vote of no confidence in PM Albin Kurti passed parliament.

KOSOVO PRESIDENT NOT SUMMONED: Kosovo President Hashim Thaci denies he has been summoned by the Kosovo Specialist Chambers which is looking into protential war crimes committed during the Kosovo War.

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “Roma: Europe’s Neglected Coronavirus Victims” by Stephan Müller, Fikrija Tair, Bashkim Ibishi, and Dragan Gracanin in BIRNOP-ED: “Brussels Dialogue in 2019 – a lost year and missed opportunities” by the Centre for Communities Development in KosSev

OP-ED: “Despite good news, the Western Balkans are in trouble” by Dimitar Bechev in Al Jazeera

OP-ED: “Serbia’s coronavirus crackdown and a warning for America” by Cheryl Chumley in Washington Times

OP-ED: “Coronavirus is Not the Only Disease Afflicting the Balkans” by Jasmin Mujanovic in BIRN

ANALYSIS: “Beyond COVID-19, Part 4: The U.S. ‘Angers’ China and North Macedonia Joins NATO” (Roundtable) with Thomas J. ShattuckMaia Otarashvili, and Aaron Stein in Foreign Policy Research Institute

HUMAN INTEREST: “Coronavirus: Scotland’s temporary hospital to be named after Louisa Jordan” in BBC News: “She gave her life working on the front line of an epidemic that spread with such ferocity, it infected more than 1,500 people a day. Louisa Jordan is one of Scotland’s treasured nurses. Her career was brief, cut short at age 36 – her final post was tending to wounded soldiers in Serbia in 1915, during the height of a typhus outbreak. The people of Serbia gather each year to commemorate her courage and sacrifice, as well as that of her colleagues. Now she will be honoured in her home city, as a temporary hospital designed to fight the coronavirus will be named NHS Louisa Jordan.”

HUMAN INTEREST: “Foreigners Self-Isolating in Croatia: Do You Feel Safer? Jo from London on Hvar” by Paul Bradbury in Total Croatia News

CULTURE: “Zagreb Cathedral’s north tower will have to be removed by crane” by Domagoj Ferencic in The Voice of Croatia

SPORT: “Pilot in the Spotlight: Jelena Lukic and Neli Sunjic shine before season cancellation” by Ana Clyde in The Beacon (University of Portland)

SPORT: “Difficult coronavirus-related travel decisions faced Davidson, Charlotte 49ers international players” by David Scott in The Charlotte Observer

SPORT: “Heat’s Goran Dragic says he’s not going to Slovenia during layoff” by AP in ESPN

ENTERTAINMENT: “Rita Ora’s hottest moments” in NY Daily News

ENTERTAINMENT: “Tomorrowland Prvi Travnja to take place in 2021 in Croatia” by Phil Thune in We Rave You