WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

CORONAVIRUS BiHBy the numbers: 2,524 confirmed cases, 1,888 recovered, 154 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – CROATIA: Croatia is looking to preserve jobs by shortening work hours, though the idea is still being flushed out. By the numbers: 2,246 confirmed cases, 2,077 recovered, 103 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – KOSOVO: By the numbers: 1,064 confirmed cases, 829 recovered, 30 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – N. MACEDONIA: The number of fines for people not wearing face masks has risenBy the numbers: 2,315 confirmed cases, 140 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – MONTENEGRO: Montenegro opened its borders with 131 nations, but Serbia still does not meet standards to enter the country. By the numbers: 324 confirmed cases, 315 recovered, 9 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – SERBIA: Serbia’s Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin awarded additional members of China’s medical response team that arrived to help combat COVID-19.  By the numbers: 11,430 confirmed cases, 6,726 recovered, 244 deaths.

CORONAVIRUS – SLOVENIA: All hotels, spas, and fitness centers are allowed to be open in Slovenia. Slovenia provided over 380 million euro on subsidies for social security contributions and laid off workers during COVID-19. By the numbers: 1,473 confirmed cases, 109 deaths.

U.S. + SERBIA: “The latest decision by Pristina’s authorities to condition import of goods from Serbia with ‘Kosovo’ as its destination is damaging and make the resumption of the dialogue with Belgrade on the normalisation of relations more difficult, Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said in his Monday’s meeting with the US ambassador to the country Antony Godfrey, the FoNet news agency reported. Both Dacic and Godfrey said they were disappointed with the move. (N1)

THE U.S. EMBASSY IN BOSNIA wrote on Twitter, “The fight against corruption is of vital importance for the citizens and future of BiH. Police and prosecutors have a responsibility to act professionally, without political influence, and in accordance with the law to investigate corruption allegations. At the same time, threats and pressures against police and prosecutors are unacceptable.”

IN ADDITION…Ambassador Godfrey met with Serbia’s Deputy PM and Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic to discuss COVID-19 response.

THACI CALLS FOR NEW GOV’T: Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci called for a quick formation of a new government after the Constitutional Court ruled in favor of creating a new government without going to elections. Thaci said, “Today, I have received the ruling of the Constitutional Court on assessing the constitutionality of my decree after proposing MR. Avdullah Hoti for prime minister. The ruling proved once again that democracy in Kosovo is mature and independent institutions are working successfully. [The ruling] paves the way on formation of the Government. Let us hope this is a new chapter of stability.”

TURKSTREAM: Bulgarian PM Boyko Borissov hopes to finish the Bulgarian section of the Balkan Stream natural gas pipeline by the end of the year. The Balkan Stream is an extension of the TurkStream and will go from Russia to Hungary through Turkey, Bulgaria, and Serbia. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic toured the construction site with PM Borissov by helicpoter.

UNREST IN RS: A small skirmish broke out in the National Assembly of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska, between lawmakers of the ruling SNSD and opposition SNS.

ELECTIONS IN ALBANIA: “Ruling and opposition parties in Albania did not meet the deadline set to finalise the electoral reform, which was 31 May, Albanian Daily News reports. On Sunday, ruling and opposition parties held a four-hour meeting, which was finally abandoned by the representative of the opposition Democratic Party, who said that the Socialist majority is not ready to give up on its privileges. According to the Albanian Daily News, Ambassadors of EU, United States and the United Kingdom will meet with the Democratic Party Leader Lulzim Basha later today.” (European Western Balkans)

ELECTIONS IN MONTENEGRO: Speaker of Parliament Ivan Brajovic said the meeting with leaders of parliamentary parties was aimed to bring about a new round of talks on transparency in future elections. The meeting was not attended by opposition leaders.

IN OTHER NEWS
ANALYSIS: “How rebel football helped keep Kosovan identity alive during the Yugoslav War” by Robert O’Connor in GQ (UK)CULTURE: “I joined a club to read an old book and found a new story” by Arlene Stolnitz in Forward: “Geraldine Brooks’ ‘People of the Book’ was the inspiration for a creative musical work entitled “The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book.” Created by Bosnian composer and accordion player, Merima Kljuco, the work uses accordion, piano, and video to trace the unique travels of the haggadah from medieval Spain to 20th century Bosnia.”

SPORT: The Slovenian Olympic Committee announced Janez Kocijancic passed away at age 78. He last served as the head of the European Olympic Committee.