WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY
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CORONAVIRUS – BiH: Members of the BiH Presidency are meeting today to discuss measures against COVID-19. Bosniak Member of the Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic says that combatting the virus must be “harmonized” across the country in order to be effective. By the numbers: 1,585 confirmed cases, 63 deaths.
CORONAVIRUS – CROATIA: Croatian Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic hopes to coordinate the easing of internal EU travel and relaxing travel restrictions. By the numbers: 2,047 confirmed cases, 63 deaths.
CORONAVIRUS – KOSOVO: Kosovo President Hashim Thaci spoke over the phone with Albanian counterpart Ilir Meta on ways to combat COVID-19. Former FM and current MP Behgjet Pacolli accused the Kurti government of holding a double standard for EULEX, Serbian medial personnel, and foreign diplomats after his plane was not allowed to land in Pristina calling them “Chinese style measures.” EULEX’s chief LArs-Gunnar Wigemark responded by stating his staff is required to be quarantined for 14 days since returning to Kosovo. By the numbers: 790 confirmed cases, 22 deaths.
CORONAVIRUS – MONTENEGRO: NATO HQ released a statement highlighting American, Dutch, Turkish, and other NATO allies aid provided to Montenegro over the past few weeks. Montenegro has recorded no new cases for two days. By the numbers: 321 confirmed cases, 7 deaths.
CORONAVIRUS – SERBIA: U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to discuss COVID-19 and its affect on both countries. Serbia is slowly easing restrictions by opening up parks and promenades. In addition, public transport will resume in Nis and Kragujevac on May 4. By the numbers: 8,497 confirmed cases, 168 deaths.
CORONAVIRUS – SLOVENIA: Three Slovenian soldiers from NATO’s KFOR mission in Kosovo returned to Slovenia. Parliament passed the second COVID-19 stimulus package consisting of a 2 billion euro loan guarantee. Meanwhile, the government announced it will be discussing easing lockdown measures today. By the numbers: 1,408 confirmed cases, 86 deaths.
***ALL STATISTICS AS OF 8:00PM EST ON APRIL 28,2020***
SEC. POMPEO + SLOVENIA: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Slovenian FM Anze Logar to discuss “shared commitment to global security as NATO Allies and bilateral defense partners.” In addition, the two spoke about “the mutual benefits of working together on energy diversification, development and protection of critical infrastructure, and countering disinformation that undermines trust in our democracies.”
SEC. POMPEO + MONTENEGRO: Secretary Pompeo wrote a letter on behalf of President Donald Trump to Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic thanking him for helping to repatriate 100 U.S. citizens. The letter added that the U.S. will provide $300,000 in health assistance and $15,000 in medical equipment to Montenegro to fight COVID-19. It concluded, “There is a well-known saying that when you face a crisis, you know who your true friends are. Montenegro is not just a friend to the United States, but also an important partner that honors its commitments to confront the wide assortment of threats to regional and global security. I look forward to deepening the partnership between the United States and Montenegro as we work together to defeat COVID-19 and restore security and prosperity for our people.”
COVID CORRUPTION?: Bosnia’s police are looking into who approved a raspberry farm in eastern Bosnia which won a contract to procure 100 ventilators from China. The farm paid $55,000 for each ventilator, which is far above the current market price.
EU WORRIED ABOUT SERBIA: European Parliament rapporteur for the Western Balkans, Tonino Picula, warned that “President Vucic decided to introduce a state of emergency in Serbia without a time limit, which drastically limited not only the movement of citizens but also reduced some fundamental rights.” He also discussed foreign influence in Serbia. He said, “When we mention China, Russia or Hungary, President Vucic likes to maintain a sense of intimacy with the presidents of those countries. It plays on the emotions of people who find it difficult to understand that democracy is an optimal but also demanding process.”
MEANWHILE IN PARLIAMENT: Serbian PM Ana Brnabic defended the measures Serbia took to combat COVID-19, calling them “timely, smart and purposeful.” She said there were two main goals, “first, protect the health care system and second, protect the lives of the elderly and chronically sick.”
SERBIA PROTESTS GOVERNMENT: Serbians have been protesting the government the past three nights by banging pots and pans at 8:05PM in what has been dubbed as “Noise Against Dictatorship.” Why does the time matter? Well, a loud round of applause can be heard at 8:00PM to thank medical personnel and essential workers.
CROATIAN PROTESTS: Croatian unions are planning an online protest on May Day
LDK CLAIMS POWER: Head of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) says his party now has the majority of parliament and is ready to form a government.
SUPPORTING WOMEN: USAID in Bosnia and Herzegovina and local partners have invested over $220,000 to support businesses of women in marginalized groups.
ENERGY: Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Serb dominated entity, Republika Srpska, cancelled five tenders for hydroelectric power plants because the contractors “failed to implement the terms from the concession contracts due to a lack of financial resources and their inactivity in permitting procedure.”
OP-ED: “Merchants Of Politics Leave Their People Without A soil, Without Dignity, Nor Justice” by Lisen Bashkurti in Eurasia review
ANALYSIS: “Virus Keeps Bosnian Families of ISIS Fighters in Syrian Camps” by Lamija Grebo in BIRN
ANALYSIS: “Serbia practices its four-pillar foreign policy in the coronavirus era” by Ivana Jovanovic in BNE IntelliNews
CULTURE: “A brief History of the Sarajevo cafés: 500 Years long Tradition” in Sarajevo Times
CULTURE: “Slovenian Gin Named Best in Europe” by JL Flanner in Total Slovenia News
CULTURE: “Croatian dialects: Different words, same meanings” in Croatia Week
SPORT: “From Split to Sydney: Water Polo Olympian’s Dash to Beat Flight Lockdown” by Paul Bradbury in Total Croatia News