Serbian unrest leaders hold talks over security

Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • Serbian leader holds security talks over Kosovo unrest
  • Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has met his national security council as tensions rise in Kosovo between the authorities there and ethnic Serbs.
  • On Saturday a stun grenade was thrown at EU police in north Kosovo, where Serbs form a majority, and local police exchanged fire with unknown groups.
  • Ethnic Serbs set up road blocks after Kosovan police were deployed in a dispute over car number plates.
  • Nato, which has peacekeeping troops in Kosovo, called on all parties to avoid provocations. The EU has done likewise, warning that it will not tolerate attacks on EU police or criminal acts.

Read the original article by clicking here.

CCP sends surface to air missile system to Serbia in a veiled operation

Revelations 6:3-4 “ when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • China makes semi-secret delivery of missiles to Serbia
    • Russian ally Serbia took the delivery of a sophisticated Chinese anti-aircraft system in a veiled operation this weekend, amid Western concerns that an arms buildup in the Balkans at the time of the war in Ukraine could threaten the fragile peace in the region.
    • The arms delivery over the territory of at least two NATO member states, Turkey and Bulgaria, was seen by experts as a demonstration of China’s growing global reach.
    • The Chinese missile system has been widely compared to the American Patriot and the Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile systems

Read the original article by clicking here.

Brazilian drugmaker completes first batch of Russian COVID-19 vaccine

By Leonardo Benassatto

GUARULHOS, Brazil (Reuters) -Brazilian pharmaceutical company União Quimica completed production of its first batch of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine with active ingredients and technology supplied by Russia, the company said on Thursday.

The vaccine will be exported to neighboring countries in South America, since Brazil has not yet approved the Russian shot for domestic use.

Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, which developed the vaccine, said it had seen to quality control of the vaccine ingredients, which were put into vials and packaged for shipping – a process known as fill and finish – at the União Quimica plant in Guarulhos, just outside the city of São Paulo.

The factory’s first batch of 100,000 doses were packed into boxes labeled in Spanish, although the countries receiving them have not been decided yet by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), executives said.

Fernando Marques, chief executive of the family-owned firm, said Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina are interested in buying the vaccine. União Quimica will have a capacity for 8 million doses a month, when Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa approves its use in Brazil, he told Reuters.

Anvisa approval has been delayed after the agency took issue with some documents and missing trial data that the RDIF, which is marketing the shot, has been asked to provide.

Marques hopes approval will be given by June and his company will start producing the active ingredient at its biomedical lab in Brasilia instead of importing it from Russia.

RDIF said it has signed production contracts for Sputnik V with 20 manufacturing sites in India, Argentina, South Korea, China, Italy, Serbia, Egypt, Turkey, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

So far, the vaccine has already been produced in Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Egypt and Argentina, where the first test batch was produced on April 20 by Laboratorios Richmond, RDIF said.

(Reporting by Leonardo Benassatto and Anthony Boadle; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

Hundreds in Serbia mourn medics, demand better COVID protection

BELGRADE (Reuters) – Hundreds of people held a minute’s silence in front of Serbia’s government building on Monday to pay their respects to doctors and nurses killed by COVID-19 and to demand more is done to protect health workers.

People placed white roses at the entrance to the building and lit candles.

Of the 4,245 people who have died in Serbia from COVID-19, around 2.5% or 105 were doctors, according to official figures.

The Union of Doctors and Pharmacists, which organized the protest, says the death toll among doctors is higher than in other countries in the region.

“For a small country such as Serbia, this is a huge number of people we have lost because of bad organization,” said Ferenci Tot, a respiratory diseases specialist, who was among the protest organizers.

In neighboring Croatia only one doctor has died from COVID-19, in Albania 24 doctors have died and in Bosnia 23 doctors, according to local media reports.

Doctor Dejan Zujovic, a pulmonologist who has worked in COVID-19 red zones in Belgrade, said long working hours and poor protection equipment were the main reasons for such a high death rate among doctors.

“People do not go on holidays, they are exhausted and their immunity suffers,” he said.

Government officials have said they will investigate the deaths of medical workers but little has been done so far.

The head of the government’s Crisis Committee, Predrag Kon, drew public criticism when he said doctors and nurses became infected while having coffee rather than while working with patients.

To prevent further deaths, hours spent in COVID-19 red zones should be limited to six a day, with a one-month time limit on rotas, said Doctor Gorica Djokic, a secretary general of the Union of Doctors and Pharmacists.

(Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Serbia, Kosovo agreed to normalize economic ties, Trump says

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Serbia and Kosovo have agreed to normalize economic ties, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday, hailing what he called a “major breakthrough” more than a decade after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

Trump, speaking in the Oval Office with the leaders of both countries, said Serbia had also committed to moving its embassy to Jerusalem, and Kosovo and Israel had agreed to normalize ties and establish diplomatic relations.

Serbian President Aleksander Vucic told reporters there were still many differences between Serbia and the breakaway province, but said Friday’s agreement marked a huge step forward.

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said the agreement should lead to mutual recognition between the two countries.

“Serbia and Kosovo have each committed to economic normalization,” Trump said. “By focusing on job creation and economic growth, the two countries were able to reach a major breakthrough.”

The announcement came after two days of high-level talks among the leaders and senior Trump aides, and follows close on the heels of last month’s historic agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalize ties.

Ethnic Albanian-majority Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 after a NATO-led bombing campaign to curtail ethnic warfare. Serbia, backed by its large Slavic and Orthodox Christian ally Russia, does not recognize Kosovo’s independence, a precondition for Belgrade’s future membership in the European Union.

National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, who participated in the meetings, said the agreement on expanding economic ties could pave the way for political solutions in the future.

A top EU official on Monday said EU-led negotiations, which broke down in 2018 but resumed in July, could lead to a deal within months.

The U.S. talks were previously set for June but delayed after Kosovo President Hashim Thaci was indicted for alleged war crimes during the 1998-99 guerrilla uprising against Serbian rule and its aftermath. He has denied the charges.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; writing by Andrea Shalal; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Migrants stranded in Serbia march toward Croatian border

Refugees and migrants cross the Old Sava Bridge heading in the direction of the Croatian border, in Belgrade, Serbia

BELGRADE (Reuters) – Some 150 migrants, trapped in Serbia, set out on Friday to walk about 125 km (80 miles) to the Croatian border, demanding free and secure passage toward Western Europe, police said.

Police are following the group along the highway connecting Belgrade and the border.

“We started marching toward the border with Croatia. The camps are full, we sleep in parks, we cannot stand it any more,” said a migrant from Pakistan who gave his name as Habib.

According to the U.N. refugee agency, around 6,400 migrants from countries such as Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan are currently registered in Serbia, while local non-governmental organizations say their number is close to 10,000. They mostly arrive from Bulgaria and Macedonia.

Last month another group tried a similar protest march toward the Hungarian border, but eventually decided to return to Belgrade. Hungary has practically sealed its borders to migrants.

Last year a total of 579,518 migrants and asylum seekers were registered arriving in Serbia, out of more than a million who made it to Europe by land and sea.

A deal between Turkey and the European Union, struck in March, has largely shut off the flow of people reaching Greece and the Balkans, but Austria kicked off consultations with Balkan states this month to see what measures can be taken if the deal collapses.

(Reporting by Marko Djurica, writing by Igor Ilic in Zagreb; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Serbia must improve disabled children’s care to join EU

Serbia must improve disabled children's care to join EU

BELGRADE (Reuters) – Serbia shuts disabled children away in institutions with substandard care and the European Union must make better treatment for them a prerequisite for joining its ranks, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

A report by the rights watchdog said Serbia, which has begun negotiations to join the EU, has ratified United Nations conventions on the rights of children and of people with disabilities as well as against all forms of torture.

But its investigators found that parents of children born with disabilities were pressured to put them into state-run institutions where they were mostly neglected, got little schooling and were cut off from their families.

Serbia should aim to return children to their families if possible and support their inclusion in family and community life, where research has shown their mental and emotional development progresses much better, the report said.

“The European Commission, as part of monitoring compliance with the EU accession requirements, should hold Serbia to its obligations to respect the human rights of persons with disabilities as a precondition for EU membership,” it said.

EU talks with Belgrade should stress “the absolute prohibition of neglect and discrimination against children with disabilities,” it added.

Serbia’s public health system is run down and has been short of funds since the former Yugoslavia’s wars began in the early 1990s. In this traditional Balkan society, disabled children are often not understood and rejected by their own families.

The disabled make up about 80 percent of the children in the often understaffed care-giving centers, the report said, and 60 percent of the children in institutions do not attend school.

The report, citing studies of children returned to their families, urged Serbia to stop building these care-giving centers and establish a system of services for the children and their families to help integrate them into society.

“Children who were moved from an institution into family-based environment demonstrated signs of improvement in their intellectual functioning, attachment patterns, reduced signs of emotional withdrawal, and reduced prevalence of mental health conditions,” it said.

The report recommended that EU member states make sure that respect for the U.N.’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is “part of the accession requirements”.

It called on international financial organizations including the World Bank to help with funding to organize “support services for families of children with disabilities and prevention of institutionalization of children”.

Serbia opened accession negotiations with Brussels last December and hopes to wrap up the talks by 2019.

(Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

Migrants Clash with Hungarian Police at Border

Hungarian police have used tear gas and water cannons to drive Syrian migrants away from the now closed Hungarian-Serbian border.

The migrants responded by throwing rocks, bottles and other projectiles at the police.

The Hungarian government closed the border on Tuesday and made it illegal to either enter the country or to damage the new razor-wire fencing at the border.  Serbia’s foreign ministry said that Hungary has actually closed the main border crossing between the two nations for 30 days.

Hungary also announced the fact-tracking of trials for migrants who have been arrested for illegally entering the nation.

Serbia has protested the firing of tear gas into their territory.

The same time that Hungary has shut down the borders of their nation, Croatia has said they will allow migrants to cross through their land to make their way to other EU nations.

“We heard that Hungary was closed so the police told us we should come this way,” Amadou, 35, from Mauritania told AFP news agency.  “We don’t know what we should do now. Do we have to catch a boat?”

The EU’s border agency says the total number of migrants entering their borders has passed 500,000.  Only 280,000 entered the EU throughout all of 2014.

A plan championed by Germany to force all members of the EU to take a certain amount of migrants or pay financial penalties collapsed after arguments within the EU leadership.