WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY
CORONAVIRUS – BiH: Croatia donated medical equipment to Bosnia and Herzegovina to fight COVID-19. Bosnia’s prosecutor’s office says that ventilators procured from China for the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina do not meet necessary requirements. By the numbers: 2,141 confirmed cases, 1,114 recovered, 113 deaths.CORONAVIRUS – CROATIA: Croatia received 86 tons of medical equipment from China . It was the seventh shipment thus far. EU residents who own property in Croatia can travel there without a 14 day quarantine. By the numbers: 2,196 confirmed cases, 1,784 recovered, 91 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – KOSOVO: Acting Kosovo PM Albin Kurti is in self isolation after coming in contact with a European Integration official who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. By the numbers: 884 confirmed cases, 655 recovered, 28 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – N. MACEDONIA: Qatar Airways suspends flights from Skopje to Doha, Tel Aviv, and Izmir due to COVID-19. By the numbers: 1,642 confirmed cases, 1,136 recovered, 91 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – MONTENEGRO: Citizens gathered in Berane to protest police actions against five monks on St. George’s Day for holding a liturgy, defying COVID-19 restrictions. By the numbers: 324 confirmed cases, 294 recovered, 9 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – SERBIA: Serbian Traffic Minister Zorana Mihajlovic says that Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport is ready to resume flights after coming to agreements with other governments. By the numbers: 10,176 confirmed cases, 3,290 recovered, 218 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – SLOVENIA: Public transport resumed on Monday. Face masks and using hand sanitizer are required to travel. Air transport may be restored this week. By the numbers: 1,460 confirmed cases, 102 deaths.

EU SPECIAL REP ON KOSOVO-SERBIA DIALOGUE: The EU’s Special Representative to the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak weighed in on any potential final agreement. He wrote on Twitter, “Last week, I spoke to APA about the (Europe)-facilitated Dialogue, which aims at achieving a legally binding normalization agreement between Kosovo & Serbia. This must be in line with international law & contribute to stability in the region. The idea of land swaps does the opposite.”

VON CRAMON ON FINAL DEAL: Kosovo’s Rapporteur in the European Parliament, Viola Von Cramon, says any final deal between Kosovo and Serbia should be voted on in a referendum.

BLEIBURG MASS IN SARAJEVO: The Serbian Orthodox Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina will cut ties with the Catholic Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina after it said it will host a mass for the Bleiburg massacre. Meanwhile, Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik weighed in and said, “Without wishing to dispute the right of any church or religious community to serve, I have to say that we are deeply disturbed even by the announcement of such a Mass.” Both the Serbian Orthodox Church and Dodik fear that commemorating the massacre will rehabilitate members of the Nazi-backed Ustasha movement.

GENERAL COUNCIL OF CROAT PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY (HNS) backed the mass. It released a statement saying, “We call on Bosniak political officials, and especially Bosniak members of the BiH Presidency Komsic and Dzaferovic, to refrain from commenting on issues for which they are completely incompetent, as well as to refrain from insulting the sacred religious rites of the Croat people in BiH.” It added, “The Croat people reject all fascist and communist ideologies and their modern forms, which we still face these days, when we Croat Catholics, but not only Catholics, are being forbidden to pray for hundreds of thousands of killed innocent civilians, and soldiers without trial and with unmarked graves. Not only has no one been held accountable for these crimes of the communist army, but we are also being forbidden to remembering them. We are sending a message to everyone that we will no longer allow for it.”

CORRUPTION IN N. MACEDONIA?: “Four new audio recordings titled ‘Facts and Figures’ were released on Youtube, where the VMRO-DPMNE’s President Hristijan Mickoski can be heard as he is making an agreement for the elections in Ohrid and Western Macedonia with Zoran Milevski – Kicheec, who admitted his guilt in the Racket case. The agreement referred to the period when the presidential elections took place in 2019.” (Meta)

RALLIES IN BELGRADE: Supporters of President Aleksandar Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and supporters of opposition parties held separate rallies outside of Serbia’s Parliament. Vucic condemned the rallies. He said, It’s inadmissible to expose our people to a health risk before we are done with the epidemic. The gathering of mostly (his Serbian Progressive Party) SNS supporters and the opposition Dveri (movement) rallied and I would ask them not to do that…I love those people (SNS supporters) and call on them to wait until the end of May when we will have a chance to gather in big numbers. Until today, the most infected (with Coronavirus) are in Belgrade; we have to protect lives.”

SERBIAN MPs ON HUNGER STRIKE: “Four members of parliament have gone on hunger strike in Serbia. Two opposition MPs are protesting over Kosovo, while two others from the ruling party are taking a stand because they are dissatisfied with the opposition’s behaviour. It all began in the middle of a National Assembly session on 10 May, when MPs debated and then adopted amendments to a set of laws on parliamentary and local elections, and disease controls, all in order for elections to be held on 21 June.” (Euraktiv)

ELECTIONS (N. MACEDONIA): Party leaders are meeting today to discuss a potential date for parliamentary elections. Zoran Zaev’s SDSM is aiming for June 14 while the opposition party VMRO-DPMNE will reveal his proposal at the meeting.

EU REMOVES TESLA NOTE: The EU has removed a note on its website that referred to scientist Nikola Tesla as Croatian after Serbia sent a letter of protest.

ENERGY: Bosnia’s Elektroprivreda began construction on the first of 15 wind turbines of the 48 megawatt farm near Mostar. The farm is expected to be completed in 2021.

MEANWHILE IN CROATIA: “The first wind power plant built by the national power producer is scheduled to enter full operation in August. HEP finished the construction of Korlat, the biggest wind park in Croatia, and connected it to the grid for a test run. Croatian Energy Market Operator Ltd. (HROTE) has announced it signed a contract with wind power plant Energetski park Korlat doo and temporarily included it in the electric power system. The 58 MW facility thus began its trial run, which is planned to last until August. When Hrvatska elektroprivreda or HEP Group commissions Korlat, it is set to be the first wind park in Croatia operating without feed-in tariff incentives.” (Balkan Green Energy News)

BITCOIN + CROATIA: “Croatia’s financial regulator, Hanfa, said on Thursday it has approved the establishment of open-end alternative cryptocurrency investment fund Passive Digital Asset by Osijek-based company Griffon Asset Management. The period of initial offering of the fund’s units will remain open 15 days after the announcement of Hanfa’s decision, or until its manager collects a minimum asset value of 1 million kuna ($142,000/132,000 euro), the regulator said in a statement.” (SEE News)

IN OTHER NEWS
OP-ED: “A burning issue: How to restart the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo” by Vessela Tcherneva in European Council on Foreign RelationsOP-ED: “America’s Destabilizing Involvement in Serbia-Kosovo Talks” by Gordana Grgic in War on the Rocks

ANALYSIS: “Serbia, Bosnia Spend €3.6 Million on Acquitted War Suspects” by Milica Stojanovic and Emina Dizdarevic in BIRN

ANALYSIS: “Many Issues Face Schools & Kindergartens Before Re-Opening 18 May” in STA (Slovenia

HUMAN INTEREST: “Older Couple paid all Debts to other People at Local Pharmacy in Bosnia and Herzegovina” in Sarajevo Times

CULTURE: “Serbia’s fractured history is reflected in Belgrade’s museums” by Luke Bacigalupo in New Eastern Europe

CULTURE: “Valuable piece of Croatian warrior heritage found at Krka National Park” in Croatia Week

SPORT: “Every Euro 96 home kit ranked from Croatia to England, including iconic goalkeeper top and grey shirt worn in penalty shoot-out loss to Germany” by Joely Chilcott in Talk Sport