International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Albanian flags flying in southern Serbia

November 28, 2023

Albanian flags are flying on the municipal administration buildings in Bujanovac and Presevo, southern Serbia, to mark the Albanian public holiday - Albanian Flag Day.

The Bujanovacke portal reported that the Albanian flags were put up a day earlier, on Monday evening, because the heads of both municipalities left for the holiday celebration in Tirana, Albania.

Over the past few years Bujanovac Mayor Nagip Arifi personally put up the Albanian flag on the balcony of the municipal administration building on November 28, which was welcomed with applause by the Albanian councilors, but the ritual was skipped this year.

The Albanian flag was placed next to the European Union (EU) flag and that of the state of Serbia.

Presevo Mayor Shqiprim Arifi did this personally in his municipality.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/albanian-flags-flying-in-southern-serbia/

Borrell to Kurti-Take steps to de-escalate

June 14, 2023

European Commission spokesman Peter Stano published European Union High Representative Josep Borrell’s reply to Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti in which he urges Pristina to take resolute steps to de-escalate the situation.

Borrell said in the letter that he appreciates the fact that Kurti acknowledged the need for de-escalation but added that he did not address some key elements that triggered the current crisis and that must be addressed to restore calm in the north of Kosovo.

“I urge you to adopt more resolute steps to de-escalate the situation along the lines of measures requested by EU member states and our US partners. Only after peace and stability are restored in the north of Kosovo can we focus on normalization through the full implementation by both parties of the Agreement on the path to Normalization and Implementation annex; the work to establish the Association/Community of Serb Majority Municipalities needs to start without any further delay or precondition,” the letter said and warned that failure to de-escalate will result in negative consequences.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/borrell-to-kurti-take-steps-to-de-escalate/

Coronavirus UPDATE: 52 deaths, 4,388 new cases

February 23, 2022

The Serbian Health Ministry said in its daily 3:00 pm bulletin on Wednesday that 52 people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 15,010.

It said that 18,037 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 4,388 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The total number of people tested to date stands at 8,688,491 with 1,896,575 confirmed cases.

The bulletin said that there are 3,260 hospitalized cases, including 129 patients on ventilators.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-update-52-deaths-4388-new-cases/

Viktor Orban to visit Sarajevo next month

December 10, 2021
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban will pay an official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina on January 25, the office of Bosnian prime minister Zoran Tegeltija told N1.
Orban is coming to Sarajevo at Tegeltija's invitation, after he recently met with Serb member of Bosnia's tripartite Presidency Milorad Dodik in Banja Luka.
The Hungarian official announced the trip to Banja Luka as a “friendly and working visit,” where he was accompanied with Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.
The meeting that lasted approximately two hours was held behind closed doors.
“We are grateful to Hungary for understanding it has for Republika Srpska (Bosnia's Serb-majority region where Dodik's SNSD is the ruling party),” Dodik told media after the meeting.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/viktor-orban-to-visit-sarajevo-next-month/

Polls: 14 pct of Serbia’s ruling parties’ supporters back anti-laws protests

December 2, 2021
Four opinion polls conducted over four months showed that 14 percent of Serbia's ruling coalition supporters were in favour of environmentalist protests in the country, the Investigative and Publishing Center Demostat said on Thursday.
On the other hand, 68 percent of the opposition coalition led by the Party of Freedom and Justice (SSP) and 65 percent of the Green-Left grouping supporters back protests against the two controversial laws – on referendum and expropriation – passed by Serbia’s Parliament.
Srecko Mihailovic, a Demostat’s sociologist and researcher, told the Belgrade Vreme weekly the political potential of the support of the environmentalist protests deserved attention since the two-fifths of Belgraders, over a third of Serbia’s population, and every seventh supporter of the ruling parties backed them.
The poll on the 2022 early general elections showed 55 percent support for the ruling parties, 16 percent for the SSP opposition coalition, nine percent for the Green-Left bloc, seven percent for a rightist coalition and five percent for the Dveri nationalist movement.
As far as the Belgrade vote is concerned, the ruling coalition currently has 46 percent of support, the SSP opposition bloc 22 percent, the Green-Left grouping 13, the rightist coalition four and nationalists five percent.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/polls-14-pct-of-serbias-ruling-parties-supporters-in-favour-if-anti-laws-protests/

Coronavirus UPDATE: No deaths, 332 new cases

July 28, 2021

The Serbian Health Ministry said in its daily 3:00 pm bulletin on Wednesday that no deaths of coronavirus-related ailments were reported over the previous 24 hours.

It said that 9,709 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 332 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The total number of people tested to date stands at 4,643,835 with 720,975 confirmed cases.

The bulletin said that there are 357 hospitalized cases, including 11 patients on ventilators.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-update-no-deaths-332-new-cases/

Serbian Patriarch prays for COVID patients, Serbs in Kosovo

April 29, 2021

The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) said in his Easter message that his prayers go out to people sick with COVID-19 and their doctors and nurses, the Serbs in Kosovo, and the faithful in Montenegro.

“We are praying for the recovery of all the sick and the souls of all the deceased” in the coronavirus pandemic, Patriarch Porfirije said in the message. The SPC celebrates Easter on Sunday, May 2 this year. “Our thoughts and prayers got out to all the sick, especially those infected with COVID-19, and all the doctors and medical staff who are risking their lives to save the sick from the coronavirus and other diseases,” the message said, adding that “by respecting the recommendations of medical experts we are saving ourselves and each other”.

The Patriarch said that Kosovo “is a symbol of dignity, honor, the just fight for life in freedom on age-old hearths”. “|Today we are recalling in prayer our suffering brothers and sisters in Kosovo and Metohija. We encourage them to be firm in their faith, hope and love,” he said, adding that “all the Serb people are with you as are all the Orthodox people of the world and all justice and truth-loving people”. “Nothing has so powerfully united the Christians of the world as Kosovo,” Easter message said.

The message also wished “the faithful sons and daughters of proud Montenegro… the blessings of all the saints in their battle of good over evil”. He also mentioned the Orthodox faithful in the Republika Srpska and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and North Macedonia. “I have no doubt that you and your priests, monks, and nuns will celebrate the Resurrection of Christ in the best possible way with open hearts to your neighbors of other faiths,” the Patriarch’s message said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-patriarch-prays-for-covid-patients-serbs-in-kosovo/

Bosnia records 116 new coronavirus cases, more than 700 patients recover

February 15, 2021

Bosnia and Herzegovina recorded another 116 coronavirus infections and 18 fatalities among Covid-19 patients, the healthcare authorities confirmed on Monday.

The new results came from 1,369 lab tests performed among those who reported infection symptoms.

The country has to this date reported a total of 126,139 Covid-19 patients, of which 105,140 have recovered.

Only in the last 24 hours, the authorities reported more than 700 recoveries.

Bosnia's coronavirus death toll stands at 4,916.

Currently, there are a little above 16,000 active cases throughout the country.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnia-records-116-new-coronavirus-cases-more-than-700-patients-recover/

Cases mount as Bosnia confirms 1,922 new Covid-19 infections and 43 deaths

November 5, 2020

Bosnian health officials reported 1,922 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, along with record 43 virus-related fatalities.

The country's Federation (FBiH) entity reported 1,262 new cases after testing 3,704 samples for the new coronavirus. The entity's Public Health Institute said they recorded 24 deaths caused by the virus.

The Republika Srpska (RS) region said they registered 622 new cases of the disease after testing 1,431 suspected samples. This entity also reported having 18 fatalities over the last 24 hours.

The hardest-hit city is Sarajevo once again with a total of 850 confirmed cases, however, some cases are from seven days due to a backlog in testing.

Brcko District reported 38 new Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours and one fatality.

Yesterday the country recorded 1,777 coronavirus cases.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a668616/Cases-mount-as-Bosnia-confirms-1-922-new-Covid-19-infections-and-43-deaths.html

Bosnia's Orthodox Church to cut ties with Catholic Church over Bleiburg Mass

May 11, 2020

The Serbian Orthodox Church in Bosnia said on Monday that the “doors for cooperation and any kind of relationship” with Bosnia’s Catholic Church are “permanently closed” because of the announced mass in Sarajevo commemorating Nazi supporters killed in Bleiburg in 1945.

The Metropolitan of the Dabar and Bosnia, Hristozom Jevic, told the Srna news agency he feels “betrayed” and that the decision to hold the mass is worrying.

“We hoped that we could begin the path of togetherness. But how can we go together? I would go to Stari Brod at the Drina river to cry and mourn the victims of (Jure) Francetic, while the Cardinal is bringing Bleiburg to Sarajevo. Well, that doesn’t go together!” he said.

Amid a Yugoslav army offensive aimed at defeating pro-Nazi and anti-communist forces, tens of thousands of mostly pro-fascist Croat soldiers and their families fled in 1945 to Austria to seek help from the British army, only to be turned back by the Brits right into the hands of anti-fascists.

In and around the Austrian town of Bleiburg, thousands of the so-called Ustashas were killed.

The Yugoslav forces saw the slaughter they committed as punishment for the tens of thousands of Jews, Serbs, Roma and anti-fascists killed by the Ustasha during WWII.

After the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Croatia began commemorating the Bleiburg victims with a large gathering near the Austrian town every year.

Croatian nationalists perceive the controversial annual event as a symbol of their suffering under communism.

Austrians, however, see it as a glorification of Nazism and have banned Ustasha flags and insignia at the gathering.

The Catholic Church in Carinthia rejected last year a request from Croatia’s Bishops’ Conference to hold a Mass during the event, labelling it as a promotion of nationalist ideas.

The event in Bleiburg was cancelled this year due to the pandemic and the organisers of the event, the Honorary Bleiburg Platoon, said it will be held in different cities instead, among them in Sarajevo.

The program will include a mass at the city’s Sacred Heart Cathedral on May 16, delivered by Bosnia’s Catholic Archbishop, Vinko Puljic.

Hristozom pointed out that there was no mass organised for Easter due to the coronavirus pandemic but that the Church decided that it should take place for Bleiburg.

“Distorted values! Can this be possible in a Church?” he asked.

He also asked why someone would want to organise the Bleiburg commemoration in Sarajevo.

“For good? No! We’re afraid it’s for evil!” he said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a598371/Serbian-Orthodox-Church-says-will-cut-ties-with-Catholic-Church-over-Bleiburg-Mass.html

Occasional papers: volume 425 (2019) The Berlin process and the West Balkans. Interview with Luisa Chiodi and Gentiola Madhi, two researchers studying the Berlin process. Interviewer: Mario Giagnorio

Authors:Gentiola Madhi Luisa Chiodi Mario Giagnorio - Interviews

First published in:http://neweasterneurope.eu/2019/04/30/the-berlin-process-and-the-west-balkans/

The Berlin process and the West Balkans. Interview with Luisa Chiodi and Gentiola Madhi, two researchers studying the Berlin process. Interviewer: Mario Giagnorio

A famous landmark in Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina, one of the participants of the Berlin Process Photo: Maxim Bonte (cc) flickr.com

MARIO GIAGNORIO: The diplomatic initiative aimed to support EU enlargement in the Balkans, known as the “Berlin process”, started in 2014 and continued as a series of annual meetings. What has this process achieved so far? What has changed since the Berlin Summit in 2014?

LUISA CHIODI and GENTIOLA MADHI: The Berlin process (BP) succeeded in bringing back attention to the region in times of multiple crises in the EU and after years of so-called enlargement fatigue. The achievements of the process are mostly of a political nature: to start with the proactivity of major EU member states pushed the Juncker Commission to engage more consistently with the region. Second, the BP improved communication at the diplomatic level between West Balkans (WB) leaders, as for instance with the dialogue between Albania and Serbia. Moreover, the WB leaders signed the declaration on the resolution of bilateral disputes, avoided the mutual blocking of the European path, solved three bilateral disputes (the Kosovo-Montenegro border demarcation; Macedonia’s name issue; and the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) – Montenegro border agreement) and now a positive rapprochement is taking place between Bulgaria and North Macedonia.

What is the main goal of this process? What strategies have been adopted to achieve it?

The BP was launched as a four-year framework under German leadership, with the clear focus on physical connectivity and economic growth and with the ultimate aim to relaunch the EU integration process that was at a dangerous stalemate. The process blended together different running initiatives and available funds and streamlined them, ensuring better coordination and coherence among different interventions.

In addition, the BP launched a connectivity agenda to improve standards in the field of transport and energy, economic growth, higher competitiveness and trade exchanges, and new employment opportunities, in view of the region’s integration into the EU space. The agenda seeks to enhance competitive advantages and provide tangible results for the local populations. 20 connectivity projects have been approved so far, out of which four have commenced work on the ground. In the next few years, these projects might have significant spillover effects also in other policy areas, like procurement procedures, where the national authorities must comply with the donor’s rules and regulations. As for people-to-people connectivity, the BP launched the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), the first regionally-owned organisation aiming to fight prejudices and bring together WB youth.

However, over the years the process suffered from an overexpansion of policy areas while the level of EU committed resources did not change (one billion euros for the period 2015-2020). As has already emerged from past experience, WB governments show slow reactivity and preferences for surface-restyling rather than in-depth reforms. Indeed these countries still cope with limited national administrative capacities, but what is worse is that they coupled this with persistent illiberal tendencies.

Why are the Balkans important to the EU?

Nowadays the importance of the Balkans for the EU is seen primarily in security and stability terms. There is a dominance of geopolitical considerations over the region, as other key players like China, Russia, Turkey and the Gulf countries show a growing interest in what is often described as the Union’s traditional backyard. Moreover, even if the EU presents itself as a normative power, nowadays it tends to act according to concrete medium- and short-term interests, such as the managing of the migrant crisis on the Balkan route, the fighting of transnational organised crime and terrorism, etc.

However, the Balkans are geographically, historically, culturally and politically part of Europe, and there exists a mutual interdependence. What is more, the Union represents a fundamental opportunity for overcoming the consequences of post-communism and the wars in the 1990s and starting a sound reconciliation process in the region.

But even in pure geopolitical terms, financial and trading relations, geographical position and political ties already make the Western Balkans a de facto part of the EU. Yet one of the fundamental problems is that for now their GDP is one-fourth of most advanced Western European countries (EBRD 2018). Full convergence could take decades, and the best scenario estimates that it will take 40 years to catch up to EU living standards. Currently industries are unable to withstand competition; foreign debt is growing; and unemployment remains high, with almost half of those under the age of 30 out of work. Instead, a bloated administration and service sector is emerging, with a low intensity of value creation. Investment is also inadequate, especially in education, research and development. The region’s external debt and all its consequences ultimately stem from the trade deficit. This deep imbalance needs to be addressed by consistently investing in convergence if we really want to ensure regional stability.

What role does civic society, and youth in particular, play in the dialogue among the Balkans states, and between the EU and the Balkans?

The Balkan civil societies may play a crucial role in the democratisation of the region. The recent protests in WB countries demonstrate the people’s ambition and willingness to fight against structural problems such as corruption, nepotism, abuse of power, and human rights violations.

On its side, the Commission regularly stresses the importance of creating an enabling framework for civil society in each country, along with their participation in the policy-making processes. Moreover, it has revisited to a certain extent its approach to membership-seeking countries and direct consultation mechanisms have been put into place between the Commission and local civil society actors. The bottom-up emergence of Civil Society Forum within the BP shows the will of these actors to engage in region-wide discussions and produce joint advocacy tools to the national/regional authorities on various policy areas.

However, the actual relationship between Brussels and Balkan social movements and bottom-up initiatives is complex. People feel that they are not backed up while confronting the misuse of power in their country and this fuels frustration. Euroscepticism in the region differs from the one we are experiencing in EU member states: it is often the reaction of a jilted lover. Civil society organisations in many cases consider the EU as an overwhelmingly important actor, and when they criticise the EU, they refer to its absence, not to its presence.

But what make things difficult is that beyond urban elites, there are wide sections of the population, especially in the countryside, that are marginalised. The rural-urban divide in the region is still very deep. Here the BP and the EU are not even in sight.

According to the 2018 Eurobarometer, enlargement is supported by a minority of EU citizens, about 44 per cent. Has this attitude affected the process so far?

The attitude of European citizens has an impact on political elites that justify their caution with popular hostility towards new enlargement. This has been the case for instance in 2018 when the Council decided to postpone the opening of negotiation with North Macedonia and Albania. The Commission had advocated in favour of the two countries but few member states pulled the brake.

Therefore, the popular support of member states is central for enlargement, but it has been long neglected. The last time the EU invested in public information campaigns on the enlargement process was 2011. Based on the Brexit experience, information is key, so the EU should change its current approach.

At the moment the WB are involved in a few funding programmes such as Horizon 2020, the Europe for citizens programme, the Right, Equality and Citizenship Programme (REC) . Additional opportunities should be created so as to build multiple bridges between WB and EU civil societies and professional categories. Human connectivity can be simultaneously encouraged both at the regional and European levels as a mutually reinforcing process.

We are now nearing elections to the European Parliament. Do you think changes within EU institutions will have an effect on the process?

I still hope that the EU will not be deeply affected by the result of the coming elections but the problem for the WB is deeper anyway: there are many political actors belonging to the whole political spectrum that show hostility towards new enlargements.

The fact that the Commission decided to postpone the publication of the WB country reports from April to 29 May in order not to influence the voting process is not a good sign. Similarly, the exclusion of the Western Balkans from the Sibiu Summit (which will take place in May 2019 and was arranged by the Romanian EU presidency) confirms once again that the hour for building momentum in this region has already passed.

Is the Balkan region at risk of being a victim of the problems that are now affecting the EU?

For sure the weakening of the European project does not help the Balkans. The rising debate among the populist, radical and extremist political parties on threats deriving from migration and organised crime in the Balkans contributes to the alienation of the region and certainly does not help to improve its image in the eyes of EU citizens. This undermines their future EU perspective as well as the achievements that the EU has built so far in the region.

On the other hand, the increased debate around a multi-speed EU paradoxically can help the enlargement process in the short run. The six WB countries have a long way to go before they can be integrated and in the meantime they could be involved in more programmes, policy areas, agreements, etc.

The widespread opposition towards the new enlargements is associated with the member states’ failures to implement certain EU policies, such as the relocation of asylum seekers in 2016. If agreements reached via qualified majority voting are ruled out, then only enhanced cooperation, coalitions of the willings and the like can be used to take the EU out of its crisis. In this context the WB countries might be able to join single policies, to establish agreements and to get out of the ghetto in which they are confined.

On the other hand, South Eastern European member states such as Romania and Bulgaria already lament their condition as second-class members and a multi-speed EU will worsen their situation, risking the creation of a ring of non compliant states, something that in turn might continue to weaken the Union.

The so-called migration crisis has had a very large effect on the EU. It also had a strong Balkan component with the “Balkan route”. What do you think will happen in regards to this in the near future?

On the one hand, the crisis in the Middle East as well as the migration flow along the Balkan route changed the lenses through which the EU looks at the Balkans and contributed to their return to the stage of EU foreign policy for security reasons.

On the other hand, what is worrisome is the outsourcing of the management of migration that condemns fragile countries such as BiH to the role of border fence. The current situation on the Croatian-Bosnian border needs to be urgently tackled: here the Croatian authorities illegally and brutally push back to BiH thousands of the people, denying them the right to seek international protection. But BiH cannot possibly deal with this dramatic situation alone. It is clearly irresponsible but also stupid on the side of the EU as a whole to leave the burden on the most precarious country among the post-war Balkans.

Gentiola Madhi has graduated from the College of Europe (Bruges), University of Florence and European College of Parma in International Relations and European Studies. She works as policy researcher, with a particular focus on regional cooperation and Europeanisation of the Western Balkan countries. Since 2015, she has been engaged in monitoring and advocacy activities within the Berlin Process framework.

Luisa Chiodi has a PhD from the European University Institute of Fiesole (Florence), a degree in Political Science at the University of Milan and is the director of Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso since 2006. She has lectured at universities both in Italy and abroad. Her research interests focus on civil society and the transnational social dynamics of post-communism.

Mario Giagnorio is an Italian MA student at the Centre for European Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and an editorial intern with New Eastern Europe.

China "has 10 projects for Serbia worth 100s of millions"

China has a package of at least 10 major infrastructure projects ready for Serbia, worth dozens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars.

 MARCH 25, 2019

Belgrade daily Srpski Telegraf reported this on Saturday.

The Ikarbus investment, which will make Serbia one of the first European countries to produce electric buses and electric vans, is just the beginning, the article, quoted by Tanjug, continued. 

The Chinese investments will be agreed in detail when the presidents of China and Serbia Xi Jinping and Aleksandar Vucic meet in Beijing at a global Belt and Road conference in late April. 

"They (China) have inquired very cautiously and in great detail for months, picking projects, negotiating, laying the groundwork and sending expert teams until they made sure their millions will be in safe hands in Serbia," a source in the Serbian government told Srpski Telegraf. 

The source added that Serbians could witness the seriousness of China's approach to business when they invested in RTB Bor (copper mines and smelter) and the Smederevo steel mill. 

"Good economic relations, as well as the friendship between the two countries' presidents have contributed to investors entrusting us with as many as ten new investment projects. Everything is ready, they just remain to be signed," the newspaper's source said. 

The Chinese have announced earlier that they will invest as much as USD 10 billion in South-Eastern Europe within the said Belt and Road conference.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/business.php?yyyy=2019&mm=03&dd=25&nav_id=106479

Russia adopts document on NATO's 1999 attack against Serbia

Russia has adopted a document on the 20th anniversary of the start of the NATO bombing of the the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro).



Tanjug is reporting on Wednesday, citing Sputnik, that the text states that "the initiators of this crime must be held responsible."

According to the document adopted by the Federation Council (Upper House) of the Russian Parliament, NATO's military operation reflected negatively on further development of mutual relations and confidence of European states, while the impunity of those responsible has led to new tragedies: in Syria, Iraq, and Libya. 

Unfortunately, the lessons have not been learned, and NATO continued to use military force against other sovereign states - Iraq, Libya and Syria, today threatening Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua with the same. 

Russian senators recall that NATO used ammunition filled with depleted uranium in the bombing of Yugoslavia, which caused numerous casualties among civilians. 

In addition, the recognition of Kosovo's independence, which followed in 2008 by a series of western countries, "represented only a continuation of what NATO had begun - support of separatism and conflict in the territory of the former Yugoslavia." 

The Federation Council also claims that the de facto secession of Kosovo and Metohija is a precedent in international relations, which has made it extremely complicated to resolve existing conflicts in cases involving unrecognized states, especially given the fact that the West is acting in a completely opposite manner when it comes to Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. 

It is also added that the NATO military operation was an act of aggression against a sovereign state and that therefore the initiators of this crime should be held accountable. 

In this regard, the Council called on parliaments of countries all over the world, as well as international organizations such as the UN, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the OSCE and the European Parliament to condemn NATO's aggression and take all steps to remedy the consequences.


Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/world.php?yyyy=2019&mm=03&dd=13&nav_id=106403

Serbia to hold military parade on anniversary of NATO attack

Aleksandar Vucic says the 20th anniversary of the start of NATO's bombing will be marked with a special religious prayer, moleban, and a military parade.



"It's been 20 years since NATO's aggression on one sovereign country, which was not guided only by bombs from the air, it was done almost by any means - political, media," the president told RTS on Tuesday.

He pointed out that it was not only a matter "bombing" - because that was just a technical term. Instead what happened was an aggression on a sovereign country, which did not deserve it any way, but suffered terrible sacrifices. 

"Serbia, despite the fact that it was not conducting the smartest and the wisest of policies, did nothing to deserve that and is not responsible for NATO's aggression," while the terrible suffering the country faced - "from (killed toddlers) Milica and Sara, to many soldiers and policemen who died only for protecting the law." 

"We will (on March 24), in a dignified manner, in the evening ,be in Nis, which was attacked several times, exactly on the anniversary, to address the citizens. It will be a state manifestation, with a moleban that will be led by Patriarch Irinej and the bishops of the Serbian Church," he stressed. 

He added that before that, a military parade will be organized in Nis, where citizens will be able to see 1,500 special purpose soldiers, equipped according to the latest standards, eight to ten MiG-29s, and 19 new helicopters. 

"Serbia is seriously strengthening, its security, its safety. That is the foundation of further consolidation of our state," Vucic said, adding that the program of building new housing for members of the military, the police, and the BIA will continue, as well as work on increasing their wages. 

The president called on the residents of Nis, and those living in the south and south-east of Serbia, to "come and see their army" on the day.


Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=03&dd=12&nav_id=106397

Serbia and EAEU harmonize free trade deal

A Serbian delegation headed by Minister of Trade Rasim Ljajic is in Moscow.

 TUESDAY, MARCH 12, 2019 

Ljajic is expected to finalize a deal on free trade between Serbia and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), Vecernje Novosti daily writes.

If a deal is reached, Serbia will be able to export certain quotas of cheese, cigarettes and fruit brandies duty free. 

A deal has been thwarted by Belarus, which opposed a 1,000 ton quota for cheese. 

Ljajic on Tuesday meet with EAEU Minister of Trade Veronika Nikishina for a final round of talks on an FTA. 

He later said that in the deal harmonized today, Serbia "did not get everything it wanted, but will have more duty free goods than before." 

Ljajic specified that quotas of 2,000 tons of cigarettes, 87,000 liters of vinjak (liquor) and 500 tons of semi-hard and hard cow milk cheese had been approved - while other kinds of cheeses are already in the duty-free regime. 

EAEU members include Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kazakhstan.


Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/business.php?yyyy=2019&mm=03&dd=12&nav_id=106396

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