WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

CORONAVIRUS – BiH: Citizens placed in quarantine at a student dorm in Sarajevo have gone on hunger strike. A Catholic bishop in Mostar has called for the reopening of churches. By the numbers: 1,309 confirmed cases, 49 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – CROATIA: Croatia continues to experience a positive trend in COVID-19 cases. PM Andrej Plenkovic aims to have a plan to gradually reopen the country ready by next week. By the numbers: 1,881 confirmed cases, 47 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – KOSOVOBy the numbers: 598 confirmed cases, 15 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – N. MACEDONIA: The government has restricted entering and exiting Kumanovo, Tetovo, and Prilep, three cities hit hard by COVID-19. Meanwhile, PM Oliver Spasovski aims to reduce restrictive measures by May 1. By the numbers: 1,225 confirmed cases, 54 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – MONTENEGRO:  PM Dusko Markovic asked government ministers to prepare for easing lockdown restrictions over the next 45 days. By the numbers: 312 confirmed cases, 5 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – SERBIA: PM Ana Brnabic was at the opening of the Clinical Center of Serbia which expects to double to number of COVID019 tests administered. The Serbian government eased lockdown restrictions by reopening green markets and small businesses. The Halyard Mission Foundation has teamed up with LifeLine Chicago to raise $9,500 for medical goods for the ICU in Nis. The Halyard Mission Foundation will also provide PPE to the John Kingsbury Medical Clinic in Pranjani. By the numbers: 6,630 confirmed cases, 125 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – SLOVENIA: Stores have begun opening in Slovenia as restrictions against the COVID-19 pandemic ease. A new study in Slovenia reveals that more women have died than men from COVID-19. Five Slovenian MEPs have called for protection of small Slovenian breweries in the second EU Coronavirus package. By the numbers: 1,335 confirmed cases, 77 deaths.

***ALL STATISTICS AS OF 8:00PM EST ON APRIL 20,2020***
LAJCAK ON DIALOGUE: The EU’s Special Envoy to the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue Miroslav Lajcak expects the EU to play a big role in the Dialogue. He tweeted, “With the EU-led Dialogue Kosovo and Serbia have a platform to deal with the legacy of the past and move towards a better, safer and more prosperous future for their people, communities and societies as part of our European family.”KURTI V. GRENELL: Acting Kosovo PM Albin Kurti accused President Trump’s Special Envoy Richard Grenell unseating him in a press conference Monday morning. He said, “My government was not overthrown for anything else but simply because Ambassador Grenell was in a hurry to sign an agreement with Serbia.” Kurti also said Kosovo President Hashim Thaci wanted to strike a deal to avoid the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and potentially face a jail sentence. For a full breakdown of the presser, see here.

MEANWHILE IN EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: The EU’s top foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, on Monday told the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, “We have to strengthen our capacity to explain our stabilizing role in the Western Balkans and also our will to cooperate to overcome one of the most difficult issues, the lack of a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.” He added, “If you look on the streets of Belgrade you see billboards with pictures of President Xi of China saying Thanks Brother Xi which is very funny because I have never seen a billboard saying thank you EU for the help you provided and we have been providing a lot of help for Serbia and the rest of the Western Balkans.”

EUROPARL PRESS RELEASE: After the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee issued a press release on keeping the door open for enlargement, more engagement, countering corruption and promoting regional cooperation, and its response to COVID-19.

IN OTHER NEWS
ICYMI: United Macedonian Diaspora’s Weekly Economic Brief.OP-ED: “After the Pandemic: Perils and Promise for Western Balkans” by Albana Shehaj in BIRN

ANALYSIS: “Pandemic Wreaks Havoc With Ancient Balkan Funeral Traditions” in BIRN

SPORT: Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic is opposed to required vaccinations for COVID-19.