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International Information Centre for Balkan Studies



Greeks start patrolling sky over North Macedonia

By flying over North Macedonia for two hours, Greek planes have carried out the initial test flights in order to start patrolling the airspace of that country.

May 21, 2019

North Macedonia-based Plus Info website is reporting on Tuesday that the goal of the flyovers was to check the communication and radar coverage of the North Macedonia airspace.

This serves to prepare and fulfill the conditions of North Macedonia's future full-fledged membership in NATO and its "collective security system," the North Macedonia Ministry of Defense has announced.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/region.php?yyyy=2019&mm=05&dd=21&nav_id=106873

Military parade was "message to our friends, and enemies"

The military-police parade "Defense of Freedom" was a clear message to friends and enemies, everyone should interpret it as they see fit, says Aleksandar Vulin.

May 13, 2019

Asked to comment on the claim made by some Western media that Serbia was engaging in "saber-rattling" during a time of instability in Kosovo and Metohija, the defense minister said Belgrade did contribute to that instability.

Instead, Pristina has done that by not implementing even the basic obligations it had accepted under the Brussels agreement.

"Instability is not something that suits Serbia. President Aleksandar Vucic is the only serious statesman in the entire region whose policy is peace. I am not sure that there are interlocutors for this peace policy every time and I am not sure they approach sincerely his offer for peace and reconciliation in the whole region," Vulin told TV Pink.

According to him, the parade in Nis was supposed to be a reminder that Serbia was the winner in the fight against Nazism and fascism, that it has safeguarded its freedom, and can defend it.

Asked to comment on the reaction of the US ambassador in Belgrade to the participation of retired Yugoslav Army (VS) General Vladimir Lazarevic - who has been found guilty by the Hague Tribunal - in the May 9 Immortal Regiment march in Nis, Vulin said that it would have been better for Kyle Scott not to speak about this, since he has never condemned crimes committed against Serbs.

"Be quiet. Nobody's saying anything about proven war criminals running Kosovo and Metohija, about the creation of Greater Albania - but you must forbid the Serb people the right to remember?," he said.

Vulin added that Vucic is not that president who will be apologizing or who will push warriors who defended this country to the sidelines, or extradite them to anyone.

"Victory Day is marked by those who fought against fascism. To fight against the KLA ("Kosovo Liberation Army"), against terrorism, is to fight against fascism, and I see no the reason why General Lazarevic and all who fought against fascism, who are ideologically against fascism, would not be in the street on that day," stressed Vulin.

He added that Scott's statement - describing the general's participation as "disgraceful" - shows he doesn't care about the country where he works, where he came to represent the policy of a great power. "To utter the word 'disgrace' about Nis, and not to condemn the NATO bombing, not to condemn the pilots who killed 26-year-old Ljiljana Spasic, three-year-old Milica Rakic, Bojan Tosovic...," he stressed, mentioning some of the victims of NATO's 1999 war against Serbia.

As for an advisor to Ramush Haradinaj tweeting that it was General Vladimir Lazarevic was also at the helm of the military parade in Nis a day after the Immortal Regiment, Vulin said this claim had not been made in error.

"The veterans were led by General Zarko Lazarevic during 'Defense of Freedom'. Vladimir Lazarevic is appearing to them. It's no mistake, they are lying just as they are lying about mass rapes and genocide," Vulin concluded.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=05&dd=13&nav_id=106815

NATO backs efforts to resolve S-400 row: Stoltenberg

NATO is ready to give support in finding a solution to the current disagreement between Turkey and the U.S. on the issue of the Russian-made S-400 defense systems, NATOSecretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said, stressing that potential U.S. sanctions will also harm the alliance.

NATO is ready to support if the U.S. and Turkey agree on establishing a technical committee for the evaluation of possible S-400 influences on F-35 fighter jets, the secretary-general told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Read more: NATO backs efforts to resolve S-400 row: Stoltenberg

Sputnik: US bombers that attacked Serbia are back in region

North Macedonia will from May 20 to July 15 be the training range for NATO's biggest international exercise held in that country.

April 24, 2019

As Sputnik has learned, US bombers B-1B will participate in the drills. These aircraft were used in the NATO bombing of Serbia (FR Yugoslavia) 20 years ago, and will now be dropping bombs at the Krivolak ranges.

Military analyst Aleksandar Radic explains that the "Decisive Strike 2019" exercise is part of "Guardian Angel" , which is organized and financed by the US command in Europe, which will involve as many as 27,000 soldiers.

"The primary objective of the exercise will be to train the forces of the United States and its allies from NATO to respond to a crisis in an area that gravitates towards the Black Sea and the Balkans, therefore there is special exercise dynamic in the territory of Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and North Macedonia. It's very important to Macedonians because for internal political reasons they need a message for the region, some great activity that will establish their entry into NATO and a solid alliance with the United States," Radic says.

He adds that the exercise scenario in Macedonia envisages participation of up to 2,000 domestic and as many US soldiers, allies from Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria and Lithuania, and it should show the peace-building process.

According to Radic, the curiosity of the exercise is the fact that US strategic bombers B-1B will appear in this region for the first time after attacking Serbia in 1999. They were also used in Iraq and Afghanistan, and rarely appear in exercises in Europe. And it is in general is a precedent for our region that strategic bombers would be showing off their power, says this military analyst.

"The two planes, however symbolic in military in terms, nevertheless represent a strong political message of US domination in this area. The bombers will probably fly from the base in the United Kingdom, where they have logistics, and there will arrive their from their home base in the United States. They will enter Macedonia's airspace, drop bombs and return, but this will probably trigger very strong reactions among our public," Radic said.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/region.php?yyyy=2019&mm=04&dd=24&nav_id=106689

US urges Turkey against drilling operations off Cyprus

 

The U.S. has urged Turkey to reconsider its decision to start offshore drilling operations in Cyprus, according to a statement.

Read more: US urges Turkey against drilling operations off Cyprus

Greek DM refers to prospect of Larissa base hosting 'Global Hawk' UAV detachment

Greek Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis this week referred to the prospect of the 110th combat wing, based in the central Greece city of Larissa, hosting the USAF's "Global Hawk" UAV detachment.

Read more: Greek DM refers to prospect of Larissa base hosting 'Global Hawk' UAV detachment

Italy will ratify the accession of North Macedonia to NATO

March 19, 2019

 Budva - The Upper and Lower Houses of the Italian Parliament should by the end of March or early April ratify the Protocol on the Accession of Northern Macedonia to NATO.

It was announced today by Paola Taverna, the Vice-President of the Italian Senate, and Etore Rosato, Vice-Chairman of the House of Representatives, at the meeting with the Speaker of the North-Atlantic Parliament, Talat Jafari, who is participating at the 16th Conference of the Parliaments of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative (IJI) Parliaments in Budva.

Italy will continue to support the countries of the Western Balkans in their efforts to become full members of the EU, Taverna said at the meeting.

The Adriatic-Ionian Initiative was founded in 2000, with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.

Northern Macedonia joined the initiative in May 2018.

The Budva conference was chaired by the President of the Parliament of Montenegro, Ivan Brajovic, as the host of the initiative, Tanjug reports.

Participants of the conference discussed tourism and culture, as a common advantage and strategic goal of the countries of the SAI, as well as parliamentary bodies, which are considered to be a significant resource for strengthening cooperation in areas that are considered crucial for the SAI countries.

Unofficial translation from Source:     http://www.politika.rs/scc/clanak/425373/Italija-ce-ratifikovati-pridruzivanje-Severne-Makedonije-NATO-u

Stoltenberg: NATO does not plan to reduce forces in Kosovo and Metohija

March 18, 2019

HATO has no plans to reduce the presence of its forces, nor the KFOR mission in Kosovo and Metohija, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with TV Prva, adding that the reason NATO is in KiM is to protect all people, and thus Serbian community.

When asked why it happened in 2004, if KFOR guarantees security, Stoltenber responded that KFOR is here to protect the Serbs and to be active, if necessary, and reminded them of their great powers from the United Nations, adding that they will try to they have a large number of armed forces that will remain there.

Speaking of NATO bombing in 1999, Stoltenberg said that "the task was to end the war and humanitarian catastrophe, while simultaneously preventing the loss of life of civilians," adding that "he did not ask Serbs to forget what happened in 1999" but that "he wants Serbia and NATO to cooperate".

Stoltenberg said the 1999 mission was a painful issue, but the same was the case with all other wars in Europe, adding that the countries that were fighting were able to move into the future.

He reminded that last year with President Aleksandar Vucic was watching a joint exercise on how to deal with natural disasters and added "we are now working together and helping to destroy dangerous ammunition in Iraq"

"Serbia has stressed that it does not want to be a member of NATO and we respect that we decide on our own future. You have to decide, we have excellent partners who have decided to be neutral, such as Sweden, Finland or Austria, "said Stoltenberg.

He estimated that Europe is full of countries that have a complicated past and who have fought each other like Norwegians and Swedes and are now best friends, as well as Germany and France, adding that "it is important not to forget history, but it is important to look to the future and through that cooperation, to progress together ".

Commenting on the declaration on Kosovo from Russia, Stoltenberg said that NATO does not want a confrontation with Russia "and does not want a new cold war, but a dialogue," and the resolution, he says, is part of the usual messages coming from Russia.

"He is forgetting about the humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo and Metohija, which we tried over a year to stop diplomatically, but the violence continued and that's why we had to stop this killing," Stoltenberg said.

He assessed that NATO has been working with Serbia all the time in order to strengthen our partnership and cooperation, as well as to help Serb communities in Kosovo.

"I think that many NATO allies closely cooperate with Serbia. Invest in various projects and companies in Serbia. NATO and EU allies invest together with Serbia, so I think there is great potential for doing even more together, and if you are able to look into the future and see potential ... Many European countries have just succeeded offices. They did not forget the past but have overcome it, "said Stoltenberg.

He said that he would never urge Serbia to make a decision on joining NATO and, as an advantage of joining, states that these countries protect NATO.

"But there is also the promotion of economic prosperity for stability and security that are preconditions for it. We saw on the case of Montenegro, which has been a member since 2017, that investments from NATO members have doubled in the meantime, "Stoltenberg said, adding that there is a great potential for cooperation with Serbia, Tanjug reports.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg cited the challenges of terrorism and instability as an important issue for NATO's annual report, "which used force against Ukraine and Georgia" and added that all of the issues "to which we have to react, in a defensive, defensive way , NATO is a defense alliance, we do not want to provoke conflict, we want to prevent them. "

 

Unofficial translation from Source: http://www.politika.rs/scc/clanak/425221/Stoltenberg-NATO-ne-planira-smanjivanje-snaga-na-Kosovu-i-Metohiji

"Logical for future Belgrade-Pristina deal to go through UN"

Ivica Dacic on Thursday reiterated that the UN Security Council would be "a logical instance that should follow if Belgrade and Pristina reach an agreement."

THURSDAY, MARCH 14, 2019

 "That's a logical sequence of events. Everything we agree on must go through some foreign body in order to gain international legitimacy, in order to verify what we have agreed," the Serbian foreign minister and first deputy PM has told Happy TV.

Dacic was commenting on EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, saying this week a future agreement between Serbs and Albanians would have to be accepted by the UN Security Council. 

Dacic explained that this implies that "all members agree." 

"It seems that America is interested in participating, but together with Russia. America always asks what Russia thinks, and vice versa. (US National Security Adviser John) Bolton asked me what Russia thinks, (Russian Foreign Minister Sergei) Lavrov told me that he later asked Putin in Moscow (the same)," Dacic explained. 

The minister also claims that this "momentum" should be used, i.e., that this is an ideal moment for stabilizing the situation in the region. 

Speaking about "America's mood," he said that the US "never participate in something they cannot not extract some plus from." 

"On the other hand, everyone is in a hurry, nothing can be solved without America, and it currently has its internal problems," Dacic said, adding that the current administration is "more favorable for us - but we will hardly manage to solve the problem before the US elections." 

According to the minister, Pristina will look for ways to react, to abolish the taxes (on products from central Serbia), without "losing face." 

Dacic also commented on (Kosovo President) Hashim Thaci's recent statement - that delimitation could only happen "over his dead body" - to say, "Now it's getting ridiculous." 

"He's first to be in favor of correcting borders, because he wants to take Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja municipalities (in central Serbia)," Dacic added.

 

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=03&dd=14&nav_id=106414

Army chief: Kosovo's tense, military monitoring situation

TUESDAY, MARCH 12, 2019 

Serbian Army Chief of Staff Milan Mojsilovic says the situation in Kosovo and Metohija is very complex.

But Serbia is not currently considering the option of a military response, the general said, Beta agency reported on Tuesday.

Mojsilovic told the public broadcaster RTS that the situation in Kosovo is "filled with tension and unilateral moves." 

"The state of security is stable, but by all parameters it is very unpredictable," Mojsilovic said, adding that the Serbian Army is in constant contact with KFOR units and is concerned about the northern and southern parts of Kosovo. 

He said that the Serbian Army would monitor the situation on the ground and excludde the use of military force in that area. 

"You are witnesses to the president of Serbia and the government being committed to a peaceful state of affairs and resolving the situation in Kosovo and Metohija. The option of military intervention is excluded, that is, it is not currently being considered," Mojsilovic said. 

He added that he cannot say that the situation is regular, because there is an open security issue in Serbia, but that there is visible progress in equipping the army that currently has ten MiG-29 aircraft, while four more are being overhauled. 

"We count the days until the first helicopters enter service he Serbian Armed Forces," Mojsilovic said, adding that the state of the Air Force reflected on overall capability. 

He announced that the start of (NATO's) bombing of Serbia in 1999 will be marked in the town of Nis, on March 24 at 11:30 hours CET. 

"The Serbian Army is ready, equipped, trained and motivated to perform all its tasks," Mojsilovic said.

 

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=03&dd=12&nav_id=106390

Serbia: Council for National Security meets after Pristina platform

The session of the Serbian Council for National Security, convened by President Aleksandar Vucic, started a little after 08:30 hours CET on Friday (08.03.2019) in Belgrade.

Read more: Serbia: Council for National Security meets after Pristina platform

S-400 issue from a historical perspective

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has declared that the Russian S-400 air defense system will be delivered by July this year (2019), and the cooperation with Russia, including technology transfer, will continue as planned. 

Read more: S-400 issue from a historical perspective

Erdogan, Putin Strike Deal on Idlib Demilitarized Zone

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin say they have reached an agreement that averts a looming military offensive on the Syrian rebel-held Idlib enclave.

Read more: Erdogan, Putin Strike Deal on Idlib Demilitarized Zone

US defense interest goes beyond Souda Bay

While US interest in boosting defense ties with Greece remains strong, there is little scope for expanding the US naval base in Souda Bay on Crete, so authorities are considering other options, Kathimerini understands.

Read more: US defense interest goes beyond Souda Bay

US Expands Romanian Air Base Facilities for Reported Drone Deployments

The US Air Force is pouring $40 million into new construction at an air base in Romania in addition to prior infrastructure projects that may provide housing for combat drones, reports suggest.

Read more: US Expands Romanian Air Base Facilities for Reported Drone Deployments

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