International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Belgrade weekly: Ministry reported drop in arms exports in 2018

August 6, 2020

According to the Serbian Trade Ministry, exports of weapons and military equipment were 16 percent lower in 2018 compared to the year 2017, Belgrade weekly NIN said quoting a report published in the Official Gazette.

The ministry report specified that the 2018 arms and military equipment exports were 87.51 million Dollars lower than a year earlier.  

NIN said that the report disclosed that some of the arms deals were routed through Cyprus, the Virgin Islands and the Marshall Islands.

According to the ministry the biggest exports were to the United Arab Emirates – 147.05 million Dollars or 32 percent of the total exports – but that the goods were re-exported to Burkina Faso and Saudi Arabia. It said that Serbia imported arms and equipment worth 13.2 million Dollars from Saudi Arabia and added that arms from Serbia were exported to the kingdom via the Virgin Islands (34.06 million Dollars) and Cyprus (24.5 million Dollars) as well as Bulgaria (33.95 million Dollars). The weekly said that Bulgaria also imported arms for itself, South Koreao, Algeria and Azerbaijan.  

“Very strangely, part of the exports from Serbia to Bulgaria were intended for Serbia as the final destination. The report does not disclose who exported and then imported to Serbia nor does it specify who operated through the tax havens,” NIN said.   The arms exported to Armenia which caused a diplomatic row with Azerbaijan were routed through the Marshal Islands.  

NIN reported earlier that one of the financiers of President Aleksandar Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), Slobodan Tesic and Internal Affairs Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic’s late father Branko exported arms through the GIM company via tax havens, making a profit at the expense of the Serbian military industry.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627037/Belgrade-weekly-Ministry-reported-drop-in-arms-exports-in-2018.html

Serbia's ammo factory accuses N1 and Nova S of 'negative campaign'

August 4, 2020

The Holding Cooperation' Krusik,' state ammunition factory, charged on Tuesday that N1 and Nova S TVs were conducting a negative campaign against the company, thus preventing it from becoming a strong and stable firm.

The company used a statement explaining why it did not extend a contract with a single mother, accusing her of irresponsible work, to comment on N1 and Nova S reporting about insider information wrongdoings in the factory.

 "To minimise such occurrences, 'Krusik' put a lot of efforts in creating a robust, stable and market-oriented company. That doesn't mean a charitable company in which the work discipline and basic economic logic can be violated," the company said.

It added that N1 and Nova S "with their negative campaign put the obstacles on its road to creating such a company, owned by all Serbia's people."  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a626511/Serbia-s-arms-factory-accuses-N1-and-Nova-S-of-negative-campaign.html

Belgrade daily says DefMin refused to comment purchase of Chinese AA system

August 4, 2020

Belgrade daily Politika said on Tuesday that the Defense Ministry refused to comment reports that the Serbian military was buying a Chinese anti-aircraft system.

“Serbia has resolved the issue of long-range anti-aircraft defense by buying the Chinese FK-3 system and the Defense Ministry did not want to comment the purchase of the modern Chinese weapon nor did it deny the reports which it would have if they were incorrect,” the daily said.

According to the specialized Balkanska Bezbednosna Mreza (www.balkansec.net not to be confused with Balkan Security Network) portal, the state-owned arms trade company Jugoimport-SDPR’s annual report for last year says that one of the signed contracts was for the purchase of the chinese anti-aircraft system. The Serbian-language portal said that the purchase was a sign of deepening Belgrade-Beijing relations and added that the sale would take the Chinese military industry into a new market. Serbia is also the first European country to acquire Chinese-made combat drones.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a626303/Belgrade-daily-says-Defense-Ministry-refused-to-comment-purchase-of-Chinese-AA-system.html

Military Union declares Serbian defense minister undesirable employer

August 3, 2020

The Serbian Military Union said on Monday that it had declared Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin an undesirable employer.

A press release said that Vulin had been awarded the Black Plaque of Undesirable Employer, adding that it is the only award he deserves.  

The decision to award the plaque was taken following what the union called a show of servility by high ranking officials in the defense system, saying that was being done only for political reasons and to raise the minister’s personal ratings while demeaning the military profession. The award is criticism of Vulin during his tenure as employer of the Serbian military, it added.

The union said that the reasons behind the decision include the fact that the military lost more personnel under Vulin than during the wars of the 1990s, the persecution of union members and the fact that military resources were used for a celebration of Vulin’s Movement of Socialists, dubious procurement deals and publicly advocating the secession of a part of the country’s territory.

The union also criticized Vulin for wearing Army of Serbia (VS) insignia on a private black uniform in violation of the law.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a626087/Military-Union-declares-Serbian-defense-minister-undesirable-employer.html

Trade Min: Serbia's three firms allowed to export arms to Armenia in 2017

July 30, 2020

Rasim Ljajic, Serbia's Trade Minister, said on Thursday that three companies got permits to export arms to Armenia in 2017: private 'Vektura Trans', 'Partizan Tech' and the state-owned 'Zasatav Oruzje.'

He said that the export of weapons to Armenia was not illegal, but that the friendly relations with Azerbaijan should have been taken into account.

Answering questions by Marinika Tepic, an opposition deputy, Ljajic said that export started there years ago, that 19 permits for the arms worth 33 million Euro have been issued so far and that 20 million Euro have so far been paid.

Ljajic added that one company was denied the export permit but did not specify which one.

He said that 'Vektura Trans' received 15, 'Partizan Tech' three and Zastava Oruzje one permit out of total issued for the arms export.

Ljajic said that according to the international 'Small Arms Survey' organisation, Serbia had held high place concerning its transparency in arms trading. In 2017, the country shared the third and fourth places with the Netherlands, in 2018 was at the fifth place and in 2019 shared the fourth and fifths places with Great Britain.

According to the Minister, since a total of 2,589 permits for exporting arms and military equipment have been issued since 2015, but that not all of them have been realised.

In that period, Serbia was exporting arms and military equipment to 113 countries, mainly to Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Saudi Arabia.

"All permits were issued after being authorised by the Interior Ministry, civilian secret service BIA, Defence and Foreign ministries. No company without all necessary consents ever received a permit, and no firm was rejected if provided the necessary agreements," Ljajic said, adding that 29 requests have been rejected at the same time.

To date, Serbia's Trade Ministry has 240 companies registered for the arms trade.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a624932/Trade-Min-Serbia-s-three-firms-allowed-to-export-arms-to-Armenia-in-2017.html

Vucic announces investments in Serbian Air Force

July 27, 2020

President Aleksandar Vucic said that “certain initiatives” to strengthen Serbian Air Force and Air Defence, especially its bombardier aviation.

“We have significantly recovered the bombardier aviation, today we have ten 'Eagles', we also have 'Super Seagulls G-4' that we can use in those operations, but this has to be much stronger. We will try to buy attack bombers, which are capable of close combat in the air but also to attack targets on the ground,” Vucic told reporters following the visit to the 15th Tank Battalion of the Army of Serbia in Sremska Mitrovica.

In two to three months, Serbia will have 14 MiG-29 fighter aircrafts after the delivery of rfour such models from Russia, he added.

“It is unbelievable how everyone in the region is securing the money for arms, despite their increasing public debt. We will as a military neutral country invest significant, so far the largest amounts, into our military industry, and I believe we will always be able to guarantee the peace, security and stability, without getting involved in any arms race,” he said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a623568/Vucic-announces-investments-in-Serbian-Air-Force.html

Serbian Minister says arms export to Armenia had approval from authorities

July 21, 2020

Serbia’s outgoing Trade Minister Rasim Ljajic said on Tuesday that the weapons exported to Armenia by a private company which had permits from four ministries, including his own, and the country’s top civilian intelligence and security agency the BIA.

Ljajic’s comments came after the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry expressed disappointment following claims that large quantities of weapons, including mortars, were exported to Armenia and used to attack Azerbaijani police on the two countries’ border. Foreign Minister Kalaf Kalafov is reported to have informed Serbian Ambassador Danica Veinovic, telling her that the allegations “cast doubts on the two countries’ friendly relations and cooperation”.  

“Arms were exported to Armenia in 2020 by a private company, state-owned companies had no part in that. I can’t name the company but we know that it exported mainly rifles and pistols worth less than a million Euro in two shipments in May and June,” Ljajic told the Nova.rs portal. He explained that the final export permit comes from the Trade Ministry but that the Foreign, Internal Affairs and Defense Ministries have to give their approval first as well as the BIA.

“Every one of them gives their view and only once the four of them have approved can we issue an export permit,” he said and added that there are no European Union, EU, US or Russian sanctions imposed on Armenia making it hard to refuse requests from that country.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a621964/Serbian-Minister-says-arms-export-to-Armenia-had-approval-from-authorities.html

Vulin visits Special Operations Brigade

July 11, 2020

Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin visited the 72nd Special Operations Brigade during a training operation on Mt. Tara just a day after he visited the 63rd Parachute Brigade in Nis.

Vulin said during the visit that the 72nd is capable of getting through the most difficult obstacles and is always at the disposal of its country and its personnel always there for all of the country’s citizens.  

A Defense Ministry press release said that the brigade is on rock climbing training.  

“All personnel of our special brigade have to be equipped like their counterparts in the most developed armies. No part of our country and no capability of our military can be left unattended, unprotected and without promotions,” it quoted Vulin as saying.  

Vulin visited the 63rd Parachute Brigade in Nis following claims that the brigade refused orders to deploy in that southern Serbian city during anti-government protests.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a618750/Vulin-visits-Special-Operations-Brigade.html

Serbian DefMin Vulin sees new armored vehicle

June 17, 2020

The Zastava TERVO company organized a presentation of a prototype of its M-20 MRAP 6x6 armored vehicle for Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin and chief of staff General Milan Mojsilovic, a ministry press release said on Wednesday.

The press release said that the personnel transport vehicle can is armored to withstand fire and landmine blasts, adding that personnel can open fire from within the vehicle making it one of the best solutions in its category”.

Vulin told the presentation that the new vehicle is a huge step forward because it can safely transport personnel protected from infantry weapons fire and landmines. “There are few countries in the world that can make a vehicle like this, about 10. We have joined the club of high-technology nations,” he said adding that the entire vehicle was developed and made in Serbia.

“This army is simply no longer the same. Things are changing for the better. Thanks to the great trust and personal contribution by supreme commander Aleksandar Vucic and the ability to save his soldier, make sure he is safe and secure,” Vulin said, adding that he hopes the new vehicle will be in use by the military soon.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a610976/Serbian-DefMin-Vulin-sees-new-armored-vehicle.html

Serbian military armored car in road accident

June 11, 2020

A Serbian military armored vehicle overturned on a road outside Belgrade on Thursday morning, the Defense Ministry said.

The press release said that the M-86 armored car overturned on the Pancevo-Belgrade road, adding that no one was injured in the incident. It said that the vehicle was on a regular operation.  

The incident is being investigated.  

The M-86 is in use by the Army of Serbia (VS) military police. It is one of the vehicles which were first introduced into the Yugoslav National Army (JNA) and is in use by the military in at least two of the former Yugoslav republics.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a608860/Serbian-military-armored-car-in-road-accident.html

Serbian Defence Ministry suspends purchase of razor wire

May 31, 2020

Serbian Ministry of Defense has suspended the purchase of razor wire for fencing camps for migrants and asylum seekers, Radio Free Europe reported on Sunday.

According to the explanation published on the Ministry's website, the reasons for the suspension of the procedure are "objective and verifiable reasons, which could not have been foreseen at the time of initiating the procedure, which prevent the procedure from ending, meaning that the party that ordered the procurement has lost interest in it and the procurement will not be repeated during the same budget year, or in the next six months," Radio Free Europe reported.

"Since the Army's obligation to secure migrant reception and asylum centres on the territory of the Republic of Serbia has ended, in accordance with the Decision on ending the state of emergency, the need for the procurement has also ceased," the Ministry said.

On May 15, Serbian Defence Ministry announced on its website that a public procurement procedure had begun, in which almost 2.5 tons of 700-millimetre-thick razor wire, 1,521 meters of ribbed iron in 20-millimetre-thick bars and 50 kilograms of galvanized binding wire was ordered.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a605229/Serbian-Defence-Ministry-suspends-purchase-of-razor-wire.html

Spike in US gun sales spells good times for Croatia's largest arms exporter

May 29, 2020

The surge in US gun sales during the coronavirus pandemic set Croatia's largest handgun maker on track to recovery after three years of falling sales and revenue, Vecernji List daily reported on Friday.

Croatia's arms industry exports totalled 493 million kuna (€65 million) last year - 50 percent down from 2018, and more than three times less than in 2016, the best year on record, when Croatia's arms manufacturers had exported nearly 1.7 billion kuna (€224 million) worth of weaponry, Vecernji List daily said, citing a report presented by Economy Minister, Darko Horvat, in a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

The daily claims that the report did not break down industry revenues by company or type of product.

But by far the most successful arms company in Croatia is the Karlovac-based HS Produkt, which makes handguns, rifles, and military-grade helmets. Its line of handguns has proven to be especially popular in the US, where it is marketed to law enforcement and civilians by Springfield Armory.

HS Produkt alone usually accounts for about half of the country's entire arms industry exports, illustrated by the fact that in the industry's best-ever year of 2016, HS Produkt sold 575,000 handguns on the American market, which made Croatia the third largest exporter of firearms to the United States that year, behind Austria and Brazil. 

CEO of HS Produkt, Zeljko Pavlin, said that his company's revenues in 2019 have dropped 50 percent year-on-year, to 340 million kuna (€49 million), a far cry from 921 million kuna (€121 million) in 2016.

Vecernji List attributed the falling sales to the election of Donald Trump, saying that arms sales in the US are generally down whenever the country is led by a Republican president.

However, HS Produkt is expecting a very good year in 2020. Although the company refused to speculate on the reasons for the uptick, this is attributed to the unprecedented surge in gun sales amid the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns imposed throughout the US over the last few months.

According to an industry report cited by Fox Business earlier this month, nearly 1.8 million guns were sold in that country in April 2020, a 70 percent increase from April 2019. In March, the surge was even larger, with more than 2.5 million guns sold, or 85 percent up from the same month the year before.

And the surge seems to have a ripple effect this side of the Atlantic, as HS Produkt said they recently hired 50 more people at their plant in Karlovac - its workforce now totalling 1,700 - who now work around the clock to meet the increased demand.

"Fortunately, in 2020 our handgun production has increased so much that by July this year we will probably post better results than for the whole of last year," Pavlin told Vecernji List.

(€1 = 7.58 kuna)

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a437215/Spike-in-US-gun-sales-spells-good-times-for-Croatia-s-largest-arms-exporter.html

Military plane crash kills two airmen, defence minister Krsticevic resigns

May 7, 2020

Croatian Air Force trainer plane carrying an instructor and a trainee crashed near the southern city of Zadar on Thursday, killing both servicemen. In a news conference held only hours later, Defence Minister, Damir Krsticevic, expressed his condolences to families of the men killed, and announced his resignation.

The aircraft, a small Czech-made Zlin-242 twin-seater, crashed near the 93rd Air Force Base in Zemunik, just east of the coastal city of Zadar. Military investigators said that the cause of the crash is yet to be determined.

"Today around 4 pm a Zlin trainer aircraft crashed during a regular training flight, near the village of Donje Biljane. Immediately after the accident, search and rescue teams were dispatched and after arriving at the crash site they confirmed that both airmen, First Lieutenant Marko Novkovic, and Lieutenant Luka Jagetic, had been killed. The cause of the crash is unknown at this moment," Chief of Staff of Croatia's Armed Forces, Vice Admiral Robert Hranj, told reporters in a news conference.

Hranj added that the plane has been in use with no problems since 2007, when Croatia had purchased five Zlin-242 trainers. The nearby Zemunik air base is the main base used by Croatian Air Force (HRZ) for training pilots.

First Lieutenant Marko Novkovic was an experienced pilot, and a member of the HRZ aerobatic display team Wings of Storm, and his trainee, Lieutenant Jagetic, had already performed solo flights prior to the fatal crash.

At the same news conference, Defence Minister, Damir Krsticevic, expressed condolences to families of the airmen killed, and made a suprising announcement announcing his resignation.

"Our job is to be with families (of the killed) now, and we will extend all the help and support that we can to them. I would like to express my condolences to all members of the Croatian Air Force and Croatian Army... As of today, I am resigning my post as deputy prime minister and defence minister," Krsticevic said.

This is the second crash of a military aircraft in little over three months. In late January, an American-made OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter crashed into the Adriatic near the island of Zlarin, killing two airmen on board.

Croatian Air Force had grounded the remaining 15 Kiowa helicopters for three weeks following the crash, and the investigation - which experts said could take as long as a year - has not yet released a report on the cause of the crash.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a431964/Military-plane-crash-kills-two-airmen-defence-minister-Krsticevic-resigns.html

Serbian Defense Minister says soldiers fired warning shots at migrant camps

April 30, 2020

Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin confirmed on Thursday that soldiers fired warning shots to prevent migrants from leaving the camps where they are being quarantined.

Vulin told Belgrade daily Politika that soldiers guarding migrants camps fired warning shots on two occassions. The Serbian military was deployed around the camps where migrants have been quarantined since the state of emergency was declared as part of efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.  

Pandemic Crisis Staff member, Dr Darija Kisic Tepavcevic said that residents at an old age center in Nis were infected with the coronavirus before soldiers were deployed to guard the facility. “COVID-19 appeared at the facility after unauthorized visits and before the Army of Serbia was deployed,” she said.

Vulin said that soldiers “used minimal force” to secure 20 camps housing more than 8,000 people who do not want to be in them”. “We are protecting the migrants and our population. If that wasn’t the case, 8,000 people would be wandering around Serbia during the pandemic and curfew,” the minister said, adding that all the people responsible for attempts to leave the camps and assaults on soldiers have been held accountable.  

He said that he was in the camp in the Belgrade suburb of Krnjaca when migrants tried to get out. “I told our troops that no one can take their rifles from them and no one can injure our soldier,” Vulin said and added that the soldiers showed “humanity but not weakness”.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a594483/Serbian-Defense-Minister-says-soldiers-fired-warning-shots-at-migrant-camps.html

Security Minister: Entities can not make decisions on Bosnia's border regime

April 29, 2020

Bosnia’s Security Minister ordered the Border Police to not implement the latest decision by authorities in the Serb-majority semi-autonomous region which allows farmers who own agricultural land near the Drina river to cross the border with Serbia in order to work in their fields.

The decision was adopted at a session of the Republika Srpska (RS) Headquarters for Emergency Situations on Wednesday.  

“The issue of the border is exclusively under the competency of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Minister Fahrudin Radoncic said, referring to the county’s government.  

He also criticised Serbia’s Government, saying it was “unacceptable” that the neighbouring country did not inform Bosnia’s security and foreign affairs ministries about its intention to open some border crossings, but directly dealt with the Centre in the town of Trebinje about it.  

“If this request from Republika Srpska is officially submitted to Bosnia’s Security Ministry, it will be considered and, if the opinion is positive, it will be sent to Bosnia’s Council of Ministers to decide,” he said.

“The Government of the Republic of Serbia must also first send a note regarding its intention to Bosnia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, which will forward it to the Security Ministry for further procedure,” he added.

Radoncic stressed that there can be no compromise regarding border issues and that all must be done according to law and in a spirit of good neighborly relations, with complete respect for Bosnia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a429661/Security-Minister-Entities-can-not-make-decisions-on-Bosnia-s-border-regime.html

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