WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

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CORONAVIRUS – BiH: Police in Banja Luka took five citizens to the wrong quarantine center. The blunder meant the police took them to the center where COVID-19 positive patients are staying. The World Bank says that COVID-19 is the biggest threat to the Bosnia’s economy. Cases in Bosnia sharply rise after the easing of restrictions in the country. By the numbers: 1,677, 65 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – CROATIA: Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic says the government saved upwards of 500,000 jobs by providing companies with salary subsidies. Ledo has donated over 5 tons of medical supplies for hospitals in Zagreb. Meanwhile, expectations for Croatia’s economy hit its lowest point according to data collected by the European Commission. By the numbers: 2,062 confirmed cases, 67 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – KOSOVO: Acting Kosovo PM Albin Kurti met with KFOR Commander Michele Risi to discuss the response to COVID-19. Kosovo’s doctors are protesting the recent arrival of doctors from Serbia to treat the Serb-majority northern Kosovo saying it shows mistrust in Kosovo’s own medical personnel. By the numbers: 799 confirmed cases, 22 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – N. MACEDONIA: USAID donated $300,000 to the Macedonian Red Cross to fight COVID-19.  By the numbers: 1,442 confirmed cases, 73 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – MONTENEGRO: PM Dusko Markovic praised his country’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.  By the numbers: 322 confirmed cases, 7 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – SERBIA: Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic aims to shorten the curfew with the May 1st holiday around the corner. By the numbers: 8,724 confirmed cases, 173 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – SLOVENIA: Slovenian PM Janez Jansa is beginning to ease restrictions – inter-municipal travel will be allowed from today. Meanwhile, Slovenian schools are set to open on May 18. By the numbers: 1,442 confirmed cases, 73 deaths.

***ALL STATISTICS FROM 8PM EST ON WEDNESDAY APRIL 29,2020***

U.S. EMBASSY PRISTINA: The U.S. Embassy in Kosovo urged authorities to investigate incidents of violence against minorities on Twitter. The embassy tweeted, “Violence targeting minority communities, including recent alleged arson affecting houses owned by Kosovo Serbs, should be unacceptable to all citizens who believe in peace and justice. Such incidents should be fully investigated and prosecuted.”

EU FUNDS: The EU on Wednesday announced a 3.3 billion euro financial support package for the Western Balkans.

TRANSFER OF POWER: “Today, Brigadier General Frank Best (German Air Force) assumed his duties as new Director of the NATO Advisory and Liaison Team (NALT) from Brigadier General Michael G. Oberneyer (German Army), at a transfer of authority ceremony held at Camp Film City, headquarters of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR).” (NATO HQ)

KOSOVO COALITION: The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), led by Isa Mustafa, signed an agreement with Ramush Haradinaj’s party, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK). The agreement ensures the two parties will work in a coalition to lead the next government. Gazeta Expres reports that the LDK reached an agreement with Srpska List, as well, to support the new government.

SERBIAN OPPOSITION: Speaker Maja Gojkovic expelled three opposition MPs from Dosta Je BIlo for not wearing masks or gloves inside parliament. Meanwhile, PM Ana Brnabic branded opposition MPs as “cowards” for not attending parliament sessions. She noted, “It’s easy to have a monologue in the Parliament hall to which no one can respond. Only a coward can stand in the hall and have a monologue and take a wage. They showed their cowardly face again in the ugliest possible way,”

MEANWHILE: Serbians continued to protest the government for a fourth night in a row by banging pots and pans and making loud noise.

KOSOVO SPECIALIST CHAMBERS: ” A court investigating crimes against ethnic Serbs during and after Kosovo’s 1998-99 independence war with Serbia on Tuesday said it has initiated charges against suspects without giving details. A prosecutor of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, with headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, asked the court’s president to assign a pre-trial judge because of his “intent to initiate additional proceedings before the Specialist Chambers.” (Voice of America)

MIGRANT RELIEF: “Today, the European Commission announced €4.5 million in immediate humanitarian assistance to help vulnerable refugees and migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina access comprehensive health and protection assistance. This brings EU humanitarian assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina to €10.3 million since 2018.” (Relief Web)

ENERGY: “The Croatian Railways passenger transport operator (HZPP) has secured funding so the production of 12 electric trains for urban commuting and regional transport continues, HZPP said on Wednesday. The production of 11 electric trains by the Koncar Electric Vehicles company will be funded by a loan of €57.2 million from the European Company for the Financing of Railroad Rolling Stock (EUROFIMA), and one train will be financed by a loan of €5.2 million from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).” (Croatia Week)

IN OTHER NEWS
OP-ED: “Kosovo’s Cold War” by Ali Hoxha in Eurasia ReviewOP-ED: “Democracy and the state of emergency in Bosnia and Herzegovina” by Miroslav Zivanovic in European Western Balkans

HUMAN INTEREST: “UK climate activists stranded in historic town in Kosovo” by Visar Kryeziu in AP News

HUMAN INTEREST: “The misadventures of a sock leads to new friends” by Linda Manzon in The Province: “Or how I met Sami and Rosi in North Macedonia: We are nearing the end of a month’s journey in North Macedonia when Paul decides to bring in the laundry from a rack on the fourth floor balcony of our Airbnb accommodation in Struga, on Lake Ohrid, when he fumbles and drops one of my socks which falls to the balcony on the first floor.”

SPORT: “Jordan Brand Makes a Mindfulness-Inspired Air Jordan 1 for NBA Star Luka Doncic” in Footwear News