On March 26th, the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs called on the government to ask Russia for assistance in combating the COVID-19 epidemic, RIA reported.
“At today’s meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia, it invited the government to ask for help from the Russian Federation because of the situation with the coronavirus,” a representative of the Serbian Interior Ministry told RIA.
According to him, the Serbian government will accept this proposal.
The number of coronavirus victims in Serbia on March 26th reached 7 people, with a total of 457 patients in the country.
According to a note circulated in Serbia, at the cabinet meeting headed by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, the Ministry of the Interior presented the proposal to seek Russian support on specific issues, based on the cooperation agreement between the two countries in emergency situations.
The media highlights that in a recent telephone conversation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov promised the first deputy prime minister and head of Serbia’s foreign affairs, Ivica Dacic, help in providing additional medical equipment needed in case of an increase in Covid-19 cases.
Among other agreements is the elimination of Value Added Tax (VAT) on the protective masks that the National Health Insurance Fund provides to the wholesale market.
On March 24th, the Serbian army deployed a reception center in the Belgrade Fair and Exhibition Center to isolate 3,000 infected people.
Serbian President Aleksandr Vučić called for strict adherence to self-isolation rules for arrivals from abroad and emphasized that criminal liability for violation of the regime could result in 3 to 12 years in prison.
Reception centers in Belgrade, Novi Sad and Nis have been prepared to isolate the newly infected.
Serbia has been under curfew since March 18th. By decision of the government, city transport was stopped, cafes, restaurants and shopping centers were closed.
Only grocery stores and pharmacies continued to operate. Citizens are also forbidden from gathering in parks and recreational areas.
The Serbian authorities closed the borders for foreigner, who are not registered as Serbian residents, and citizens who came from abroad were ordered to undergo home isolation.
The army joined the protection of borders and medical facilities. Kindergartens, schools, cultural and sports institutions are closed. The government has limited prices for food, protective products and hygiene. All mass gatherings are also banned.
Serbia, earlier called for assistance from China, and it received help in the form of 6 doctors, ventilators and medical masks.
“A big thank you to President Xi Jinping, the Chinese communist party and the Chinese people,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on March 21st.
Vucic was very vocal in the EU’s inability to offer any assistance to Serbia, in addition to even limiting exports of medical supplies, so that they can be used by the countries in the bloc.
It is no surprise that Serbia will ask for assistance from Russia, since the swift response Italy received.
As the Russian military specialists that arrived in Italy are already in Bergamo and are beginning to operate, the Italians were “dumbstruck” by their speed of action and the scope of their response, so it is not surprising that potentially many other European countries, and especially those in the Balkans, could request assistance from Russia.
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