WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

CORONAVIRUS – BiH: The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina suspended the head of the Civil Protection Administration Fahrudin Solak over the procurement of medical aid from China. By the numbers: 2,158 confirmed cases, 1,168 recovered, 117 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – CROATIA: The head of Split’s hospital offered his resignation over the misidentification of a patient. By the numbers: 2,207 confirmed cases, 1,808 recovered, 91 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – KOSOVOBy the numbers: 919 confirmed cases, 671 recovered, 29 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – N. MACEDONIA: Health Minister Venko Filipche said says life will gradually return to normal with restrictions such as people wearing face masks in shops. By the numbers: 1,674 confirmed cases, 92 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – MONTENEGRO: Montenegro is set to receive 110 million EUR in aid from the EU. By the numbers: 324 confirmed cases, 298 recovered, 9 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – SERBIA: By the numbers: 10,243 confirmed cases, 3,600 recovered, 220 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – SLOVENIA: Slovenia began flights on Tuesday after being suspended for eight weeks during COVID-19. By the numbers: 1,461 confirmed cases, 102 deaths.

EU DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET: EU Defense ministers met virtually to discuss the impact of COVID-19. The EU’s head of foreign policy, Josep Borrell, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, among others, attended the video conference.

DON’T MISS: N1 held an extensive interview with PM of Albania on EU expectations. He noted, “I think the best ideas for the future of Europe are in the Balkans, there is no doubt. Because they are genuine, and frankly, not influenced by any vested interest. There is only one vested interest in the Balkans, which is to be part of this family and to give everything to this family.”

BLEIBURG MASS IN SARAJEVO: Grand Mufti of the Bsonian Islamic Community Husein Kavazovi said, “The Catholic Church has the right to make decisions autonomously and when religious rights are concerned, nobody has the right to prevent it from doing anything. The reactions in Sarajevo show that the blame is sent to the wrong address, which is not good.” He added, “There is political responsibility on Croatia’s part and the easiest thing is to blame the Church.”

MEANWHILE: Bosnia’s Cardinal of the Catholic Church Vinko Puljic told news outlets in Bosnia and Herzegovina that the mass had nothing to do with Ustasha or criminals and that only family members of innocent civilians would be allowed to attend the mass.

GRAND MUFTI + HAZAN: “Bosnia’s Grand Mufti Hussein Kavazovic and the hazan of the Sarajevo Synagogue, Igor Kozemjakin sent a clear message of a joint fight against Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, but also against the denial of genocide in Srebrenica and the Holocaust in the country, region and the world by being among the first to support the Srebrenica Memorial Centre’ video project titled ‘Reading for Srebrenica,’ the Centre said.” (N1)

ELECTIONS IN N. MACEDONIA: Leaders of political parties on Tuesday could not come to a conclusion on when to hold parliamentary elections. The bright spot – the OSCE’s Office for Democracy and Human Rights (ODIHR) will send monitors if the health conditions allow it.

ELECTIONS IN MOSTAR: High Representative Valentin Inzko on Tuesday was vocal that there have been no local elections in Mostar for 10 years. And he added the Sejdi-Finci case and other human rights have not been implemented in the last decade.

MINISTER DISMISSED: The government of caretaker PM Albin Kurti sacked the Director of the Kosovo Civil Aviation Authority Eset Berisha for violations of professional work. According to Gazeta Express he was one of the signatories to restore the Belgrade-Pristina flight line.

SLOVENIA’S BUDGET: “The National Assembly passed in a 50 to 5 vote on Monday changes to a document capping public finance spending, so as to allow the government to draft a supplementary budget for this year to accommodate measures to help the nation overcome the ongoing coronavirus epidemic. The government plans to have the supplementary budget ready before summer.Total public finance spending is to increase from EUR 21.48 billion to EUR 23.63 billion. The additional funds will go into social security and the economy, Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj told the MPs.” (Slovenia Times)

MIGRANTS: “Croatian police are allegedly spray-painting the heads of asylum seekers with crosses when they attempt to cross the border from Bosnia. The Guardian has obtained a number of photographs of what has been described by charities as the ‘latest humiliation’ perpetrated by the Croatian authorities against migrants travelling along the Balkan route. The UN has asked the Croatian government to investigate all the allegations of abuse.” (The Guardian)

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “A Proposed Kosovo-Serbia Land Swap Intensifies Europe’s Integration Challenges” by Nick Lockker in Charged AffairsANALYSIS: “Is Bulgaria the next serious hurdle on North Macedonia’s EU path?” by Valentina Dimitrievska in BNE Intellinews

ANALYSIS: “In Kosovo, Distrust of Hague War Crimes Court Simmers” by Serbeze Haxhiaj in BIRN

HUMAN INTEREST: “Diary of a Split Tour Guide in the Age of Corona – Part 6” by Ivica Profaca

SPORT: “7-Footer Aleksej Pokusevski Declares for NBA Draft

ENTERTAINMENT: “Slovenian TV Series Bridges Between Us Resumes Shooting” by Damijan Vinter in Film New Europe

TRAVEL: “Leading German travel operators show interest in Croatia for this summer” by Mark Thomas in The Dubrovnik Times