WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

CORONAVIRUS – BiH: Bosnia and Herzegovina is set to reopen its borders on June 1. NBA player Jusuf Nurkic donated 125 tons of food to people in Bosnia. Humanitarian aid donated by Qatar is arriving in Sarajevo today. Poland donated 50,000 masks and 1,000 liters of disinfectant to Bosnia.By the numbers: 2,304 confirmed cases, 1,464 recovered, 133 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – CROATIA: Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic told Die Welt that he is still hopeful for a successful tourist season. Coca-Cola donated just over $360,000 to the Croatian Red Cross of which $245,000 is earmarked to fight COVID-19. By the numbers: 2,228 confirmed cases, 1,946 recovered,  95 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – KOSOVOBy the numbers: 955 confirmed cases, 29 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – N. MACEDONIA: The Ministry of Interior extended all visas and permits for foreigners until August 31. By the numbers: 1,817 confirmed cases, 1,301 recovered, 104 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – MONTENEGROBy the numbers: 324 confirmed cases, 311 recovered, 9 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – SERBIA: PM Ana Brnabic called a meeting with the Crisis staff to discuss reopening the border with Kosovo and the current state of COVID-19 in Serbia. By the numbers: 10,699 confirmed cases,  4,799 recovered, 231 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – SLOVENIA: The majority of COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted including the opening of schools. By the numbers: 1,466 confirmed cases, 104 deaths.

CROATIAN PARLIAMENT DISSOLVED: Croatia’s lawmakers on Monday voted to dissolve the ninth parliament. The count: 105 voted for dissolution, 4 abstained, and 8 voted against. Elections must be held between 30 and 60 days from the date of dissolution.

BUT FIRST…: Croatian lawmakers revised the budget to decrease revenue due to the COVID0-19 crisis.

MONTENEGRO + SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH: Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic warned that the Serbian Orthodox Church is trying to run Montenegro. He noted, “Is Montenegro capable of establishing rule of law which is not just the imperative for European integration but primarily for normal and civilized life in our state or are there parts of society which have exclusive rights, like the SPC, who want to run Montenegro, define her character and future development.” But also recognizes “misunderstandings” of relations between church and state. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department wrote to Voice of America that the U.S. supports the right to free speech and assembly, but noted that the states must maintain public order in the best interest of their citizens.

LAJCAK + KURTI: The EU’s Special Representative to the Western Balkans Miroslav Lajcak held a phone conversation with acting Kosovo PM Albin Kurti. The two discussed “progress made on containing spread of COVID19, current political situation & possible developments, expectations for resumption of Dialogue with real European perspective, (and the )need for visa liberalization.”

KURTI ON AIR LINK TO SERBIA: On a visit to the Kosovo Civil Aviation Authority, acting Kosovo PM Albin Kurti noted, “We are in favour of regional cooperation, but this regional cooperation should have two components: first; constitutionality and legality, and second; economic rentability. All our cooperation should be sustainable profitable and sustainable. This is not an agreement, but expression of interest, it should pass many steps before becoming fully-fledged agreement, but we are facing COVID-19 pandemic and a wide range of activities and processes have been halted, and it seems that one of these activities is also the air-link agreement.”

NEW CROATIAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Croatia appointed Zlata Hrvoj Sipek as its new attorney general. She is the first woman to hold the post.

MP in SARAJEVO TAKES ON PROTESTERS: “Samra Cosovic-Hajdarevic, an MP in Sarajevo Canton’s Parliament from the strongest Bosniak party in the country, the Democratic Action Party (SDA), is seeking penalties for protesters who flooded the streets of Sarajevo during the Catholic mass for Bleiburg killings.’I call on all those responsible for maintaining public peace and order to identify and punish all persons who committed a misdemeanour and violated a banning order, based on video recordings,’ said Cosovic-Hajdarevic during an online session, arguing they thus threatened the epidemiological situation in the canton.” (N1)

VUCIC ON ELECTIONS: Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic said that elections would go ahead as planned on June 21 if the conditions allow, but warned that they wouldn’t be the main issue if COVID-19 worsens. He said, “The elections won’t be postponed if the situation is under control. But if there are problems with more infected which we cannot control, the people’s health will be the priority. The state will react with readiness and responsibility in protecting the people’s lives.”

MEP TANJA FAJON WEIGHS IN: MEP Tanja Fajon expressed concern ahead of Serbia’s elections. She noted, “We see all that as we follow the situation in the country. People are angry, divided, society is polarized. I am concerned about the situation before the elections” in an interview with N1. She added, “Politicians are using the media for hatred, divisions or political manifestations. My feeling is that the media are very much divided. There aren’t enough independent media, nor safety for journalists, nor conditions for the media to operate normally especially in the election campaign.”

ELECTIONS IN N. MACEDONIA: The ruling SDSM party has called for parliamentary elections in June while the opposition, VMRO-DPMNE, still aims for September elections.