WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

We would like to remember all those affected by the Siege of Sarajevo which started on April 5, 1992, and lasted until February 29, 1996.

CORONAVIRUS – BiH: BiH Presidency Chairman Sefik Dzaferovic announced aid from Azerbaijan. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina passed legislation to save its economy.Two members of the Bosnian Army were diagnosed with coronavirus. By the numbers: 654 confirmed cases, 21 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – CROATIA: People in Croatia whose visas are set to expire will not face a penalty. American Airlines has cancelled its non-stop service in summer from Philadelphia to Dubrovnik amidst the coronavirus crisis. By the numbers: 1,182 confirmed cases, 15 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – KOSOVO: Kosovo’s economy is set to shrink by 2-4% as a result of coronavirus. By the numbers: 145 confirmed cases, 1 death.

CORONAVIRUS – N. MACEDONIA: Slovenia has donated110,000 euro worth of protective assistance to N. Macedonia. The Open Society Foundation has donated $100,000 in assistance to Roma families in N. Macedonia. A mobile military hospital is set to open next week in Skopje. By the numbers: 555 confirmed cases, 18 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – MONTENEGRO:  Businessman Petros Stathis donated over 600,000 medical masks and 100,000 medical gloves to Montenegro – a plane totaling 3.5 tons of aid landed in Podgorica on April 3. The Montenegrin Ministry of Foreign Affairs has donated 109,000 euro to fight coronavirus. Turkey has flown 479 of its citizens back from Montenegro. Evacuees were put in dormitories for monitoring. By the numbers: 197 confirmed cases, 2 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – SERBIA: The EU, UN, and Serbia have signed a 4.9 million euro grant to combat coronavirus. Serbia closed the border for citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. RFE/RL was in Belgrade to film the effect of coronavirus on the Serbia’s capital. It described the Belgrade as a “ghost city.” Serbian soccer player Aleksandar Prijovic has been sentenced to three months of house arrest after violating curfew. A member of the Serbian Interior Ministry passed away from coronavirus. The Russian Ministry of Defense sent 87 military doctors, medical equipment, and military hardware to help Serbia combat coronavirus as a part of eleven aid planes. Their first action was to disinfect healthcare centers.  By the numbers: 1,908 confirmed cases, 51 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – SLOVENIA: NBA star Luka Doncic has teamed up with other Slovenian pro athletes to donate masks. He also personally has made a $500,000 contribution to a local hospital in Texas. PM Janez Jansa has rejected criticism that his government isn’t listening to medical experts. Slovenian Parliament passed legislation for a $3.25 billion stimulus package to support Slovenia’s economy during the coronavirus. is set to be locked down for another 2-4 weeks. By the numbers: 997 confirmed cases, 28 deaths.

SERBIA’S TWITTER BOTS: Twitter removed 8,000 “fake accounts” from Serbia that were used to promote Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and his party, the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). It was a part of a larger operation that took down over 20,000 accounts from Egypt, Honduras, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Serbia.

KOSOVO’S NORTH: Kosovo’s Acting PM Albin Kurti addressed (video in Albanian) citizens of Kosovo and warned them not to fall for the antics of Serbian politicians and Kosovo President Hashim Thaci who he said could try to start a conflict in the Serb-dominated northern Kosovo after Kurti ordered two towns in the north to be locked down after a large number of coronavirus cases emerged. Kurti warned, “Yes, there are politicians and senior officials in Belgrade who want conflict in Kosovo, especially in the north of the Ibar [River]. There are also politicians and senior officials in Pristina who want a conflict in Kosovo, especially in north of Ibar. They want to incite tensions because they want incidents. If it were implemented, their project for territorial exchange would have provoked new conflicts and bloodshed. That project failed. Now they want conflicts and bloodshed on the ground in order to return to the territorial exchange, namely the partition of Kosovo. The same is true of the intention to declare a state of emergency at any cost. Since they failed to declare it, they now want to cause [an emergency situation and then] declare it.”

SOUTHERN GAS CORRIDOR: Slovenian Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Pocivalsek said his country supports Azerbaijan’s Southern Gas Corridor project. He said, “Slovenia supports efforts to strengthen EU energy resources diversification. In this respect, we see the Southern Gas Corridor as part of strengthening EU’s security of supply as gas will continue to be an important source of energy on the path to decarbonization and as a great opportunity to increase energy cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan.”

KURTI APPOINTS ADVISORS: Kosovo’s acting PM Albin Kurti announced the appointment of two new advisors, Nenad Rasic and Aleksandar Stankovic.

ALBANIANS ABROAD: Albanian Ambassador to the US Floreta Faber shared the sad news that nine ethnic Albanians living in the US have died to COVID-19. This includes two Montenegrin citizens and four from N. Macedonia.

CROATIANS PRAY VIRTUALLY: Father Ike Manduric organized Croatians worldwide to pray the rosary at the same time. Roughly 30,000 joined from North and South America, across Europe and Australia. (VIDEO)

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “Washington fiddles in the Balkans while COVID flames engulf the world” by James Pardwe in The HillOP-ED: “US Burns Credibility in Grenell Quest for Foreign Policy Win, as Kosovo Government Falls” by Kurt Bassuener and Bodo Weber in Just Security

OP-ED: “Coronavirus gives NATO a chance to demonstrate its worth” by Dov S. Zakheim in The Hill

OP-ED: “Can coronavirus achieve elusive unity in Bosnia and Herzegovina?” by Semir Dzebo and Shelby Magid in Atlatnic Council

ANALYSIS: “Migrants in Bosnia learning to cope with disruption caused by COVID-19” in Devidscourse

ANALYSIS: “China Is Not Replacing the West in Serbia” by Jelena Milic in The Diplomat

ANALYSIS: “Gender-based violence spikes amid pandemic, shelters need support” in United Nations Population Fund

ANALYSIS: “Serbia’s COVID-19 Lockdown Takes an Authoritarian Turn” by Milica Vojinovic in OCCRP

HUMAN INTEREST: “Army major returns to Middletown family as neighbors welcome him home” in News 12 New Jersey: “It was a hug 11 months in the making. Army Major Matt Zilinski embraced his three young daughters and his wife, Brie, at their Middletown home on Saturday after returning safely from a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.”

HUMAN INTEREST: “I was quarantined in Montenegrin student halls – this is what I learnt” by Mary Novakovich in The Telegraph (UK)

HUMAN INTEREST: “Rehoboth man happy in Croatia” by Shannon McNaught in The Dover Post

HUMAN INTEREST: “Corona Voices in the Croatian Diaspora: Emanuela in Vietnam” by Paul Bradbury in Total Croatia News

HUMAN INTEREST: “Foreigners Self-Isolating in Croatia: Do You Feel Safer? Rene from Holland in Zumberak” by Paul Bradbury in Total Croatia News

HUMAN INTEREST: “Foreigners Self-Isolating in Slovenia: Do You Feel Safer? Šepetalec Pašte, from Australia” by JL Flanner in Total Slovenia News

CULTURE: “Why Ostrog Monastery is a Shining Beacon for Pilgrims” in Ancient Origins

CULTURE: “Wine from Kosovo – Not Costco” in E Turbo News

SPORT: “Documentary series ‘Heroes of our era’ to screen on HRT from 6 April”  in Croatia Week: “A documentary series about Croatia’s incredible run at the 2018 FIFA World Cup will start screening on Croatia’s HRT tomorrow night. From Monday, 6 April, on HRT 1, the documentary series Junaci našega doba (Heroes of our era) will start screening. The series looks back at the 2018 FIFA World Cup where Croatia were runners-up and features match footage, behind the scenes footage, player stories, interviews and footage shot across Croatia whilst the matches were going on. ”

SPORT: Serbia’s Red Star Belgrade cut players wages in half for the next three months.

SPORT: “Scouting the Globe: The Five Best Prospects From Croatia” by Shawn Bitter in Cageside Press