WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY
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CORONAVIRUS – CROATIA: Another seventy-six tons of aid arrived from China. Croatia has initiated phase 1 of its plan to reopen the economy which includes reopening of public transport. By the numbers: 2,039 confirmed cases, 59 deaths.
CORONAVIRUS – KOSOVO: President of the European Commission Ursala von der Leyen wrote a letter to acting Kosovo PM Albin Kurti outlining how EU institutions have assisted and will assist Kosovo fight COVID-19. By the numbers: 780 confirmed cases, 22 deaths.
CORONAVIRUS – MONTENEGRO: By the numbers: 312 confirmed cases, 7 deaths.
CORONAVIRUS – SLOVENIA: Slovenia discovered its first case of COVID-19 through its random testing of the population. Only intramunicipal movement will be allowed during the May 1 holiday, according to PM Janez Jansa. By the numbers: 1,402 confirmed cases, 83 deaths.
POMPEO + PENDAROVSKI: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke by phone with President of N. Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski “to congratulate him on North Macedonia’s accession into NATO and on the EU’s decision to open accession negotiations — two historic events that the 2018 Prespa Agreement made possible.” The two also discussed “worldwide efforts to combat COVID-19; the Secretary expressed continued U.S. support to the people of North Macedonia during the crisis.”
MEJE MASSACRE: U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo Philip Kosnett attended the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Meje massacre. Ambassador Kosnett’s remarks focused on the U.S. and allied role in the defense of the people of Kosovo and the depth and resilience of the U.S.-Kosovo friendship. He encouraged “the people of Kosovo, and (its) neighbors, to forthrightly acknowledge and discuss the darker moments of your shared history.” Full remarks can be found here.
LAVROV SLAMS DJUKANOVIC: Russian FM Sergey Lavrov slammed Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic while speaking via video to students of Moscow’s prestigious MGIMO University. He called Djukanovic “Russophobic” and noted that he was “accused of smuggling and other things in some European countries.” Lavrov also was “convinced that the vast majority of people in Montenegro do not share these (Russophobic) feelings.”
KURTI + MOORE: Acting Kosovo PM Albin Kurti spoke with the U.K’s Director General for Political Affairs at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office Richard Moore over the phone. The two discussed COVID-19 and the political situation in Kosovo. Kurti wrote on Twitter, “I expressed my concerns regarding the constitutionality of steps taken by the President following the motion of no-confidence.I stressed that the process must be transparent & in line with election results of 6 October & we must not forget we are a democracy where transfer of power is legitimate only if it is legal and constitutional.”
W.BALKANS SUMMIT: The European Commission will present an investment package at the Western Balkans Summit on May 6.
NOISEY PROTEST: “For the second night on Monday, people cross Serbia responded to a call from Don’t Let Belgrade Drawn Initiative protest named ‘Raise your voice: Noise against Dictatorship’ by blowing whistles, trumpets, yelling, playing music and pounding pots, N1 reported.The Initiative invited people to express dissatisfaction with the current political situation by making noise in different ways.” (N1)
ATTACKED: Journalist Nenad Milenkovic, Director of RTV Plus in Kosovo, was attacked outside of the municipality building in North Mitrovica. He was dropping off documents for a public procurement project in a personal capacity. Mileknovic thinks the attackers were sent by the Municipality of North Mitrovica.
VIRTUAL MARATHON: Nearly 8,000 Chinese citizens participated in a virtual Belgrade Marathon on April 26, the date of the Belgrade Marathon.
EXPELLED: Three Serbian citizens were expelled from Bosnia and Herzegovina, two of whom are banned from entering the country, for posing a threat to public order and security.
REPORT: “China’s ‘Hub-and-Spoke’ Strategy in the Balkans” by CSIS
CULTURE: “Sarajevo lockdown: Incredible drone footage shows silent streets of Bosnian capital” in Yahoo UK
SPORT: “Toni Kukoc talks about Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, ‘The Last Dance’ and the Chicago Bulls” by Zach Lowe in ESPN