International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Serbian military gets new generals, commanders

March 9, 2023

The Serbian Defense Ministry said on Thursday that eight officers had been promoted to the rank of General.

A press release said that the promotion decrees signed by President Aleksandar Vucic were presented to the new general officers by Defense Minister Milos Vucevic along with orders posting others to new duties.

The press release said that newly promoted Brigadiers Boban Djorovic and Jovica Matic were posted to head the Defense University and to the position of deputy commander of the Training Command respectively. Brigadier Muharem Fazlic is the new head of the General Staff Training and Doctrine Department with Colonel Predrag Kraljevic appointed head of the President’s Military Cabinet.

Colonel Dragan Arsenijevic was made head of the General Staff Intelligence-Recon Department and Colonel Milan Lazic was made the new commander of the Military Police Department.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/serbian-military-gets-new-generals-commanders/ 

124,000 migrants in Serbia in 2022

March 5, 2023

A little over 124,000 migrants were registered in reception and asylum centers in Serbia in the course of 2022, while some 13,000 people have passed through the country since the beginning of 2023, shows the data of the Serbian Commissariat for Refugees and Migration.

The Commissariat told the Beta news agency that 2,249 persons are currently accommodated in reception and asylum centers in Serbia.

Since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine over 148,000 Ukrainian nationals have passed through Serbia, of whom 26,000 have registered their residence, said the Commissariat.

“There are currently 74 people at the Vranje asylum center for the accommodation of Ukrainian nationals, and 19 children are attending school,” said the Commissariat.

According to Asylum Office, a total of 1,231 persons from Ukraine have been granted temporary protection status.

“At the Commissariat accommodation facilities they are provided with food, health care, clothing, shoes, hygiene products, occupational and educational activities, help with integrating children in the regular education system, internet, psychological support, as well as access to other rights and services,” said the Serbian Commissariat for Refugees and Migrations, adding that they are in also touch with and look after the 4,500 Ukrainian nationals who are in private accommodation.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/124000-migrants-in-serbia-in-2022/ 

Dacic-No weapons exported to Ukraine or Russia since the beginning of war

March 3, 2023

Serbia’s Internal Affairs Minister Ivica Dacic said that, since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, no weapons have been exported from Serbia to either of the two sides in the conflict.

„Serbia, and I can claim this because my Ministry issues export permits, does not export military equipment to any country that we consider to be problematic and controversial in any way,“ Dacic told the media.

He said he was referring to legal institutions that are allowed to export arms.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow has asked Belgrade to state its official position regarding information on deliveries of Serbian weapons to Ukraine.

Telegram channels and Russian media outlets recently alleged that Serbia had delivered 3,500 rockets manufactured at the Valjevo-based Krusik factory to Ukraine, via Turkey and Slovakia.

The Krusik company denied the reports saying that it is not in any way involved in the sale of weapons to the end-user in Ukraine.

Serbia’s Defense Minister Milos Vucevic denied the claims that Serbia was exporting weapons to Ukraine.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/dacic-no-weapons-exported-to-ukraine-or-russia-since-the-beginning-of-war/

Vijesti-Explosion in Podgorica court

March 3, 2023

A man (39) died in an explosion of a hand grenade that he activated at the entrance to the Basic Court in Podgorica, Montenegro, Vijesti unofficially learns.

The daily reported that four people were wounded, adding that the police and medical teams are at the scene.

Initial police findings suggest that a person activated a hand grenade at the court’s entrance, reported the Montenegrin state TV (RTCG).

At the time of the explosion there was a large number of people inside the court building, reported RTCG.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/vijesti-explosion-in-podgorica-court/

State Department-Serbia cooperating in counterterrorism, but there are problems

March 1, 2023

Serbia continued efforts to counter terrorism and cooperate with the United States and international partners, said the US Department of State annual report on terrorism for 2021.

The report reads that there were no terrorist attacks in Serbia in 2021 but the main terrorism concerns in Serbia remained the movement of money and weapons through the region.

It voices concern over the need to repatriate terrorists and their family members from Syria, and terrorist self-radicalization through racially or ethnically motivated ideologies often related to nationalism.

The report notes that Serbian laws outlaw unauthorized participation in a foreign war or armed conflict, prescribing incarceration from six months to 10 years for such activities.

Serbia has sentenced individuals for participating in terrorist-related activities in Syria and for participating in the Russia-Ukraine conflict in eastern Ukraine, said the US Department of State.

Serbia lacks legislation that more broadly covers conduct related to receiving terrorist training, funding terrorist organizations, and terrorist recruitment activities, reads the report.

It notes that, in the 2020 Washington Commitments, Serbia pledged to designate Hizballah in its entirety as a terrorist organization and implement measures to restrict its operations and financial activities in Serbian jurisdictions, adding that this was not done by the end of 2021.

The State Department added that Serbia is engaged in regional cooperation on counterterrorism issues, and that the Ministry of Interior and the Security Information Agency (BIA) cooperate with INTERPOL and Europol.

It said that Serbia is a participant in NATO’s Partnership for Peace, and routinely participates in international law enforcement training.

The report reads that Serbia has well-developed bilateral border security cooperation programs with Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania and well as that it has a tri-border partnership with Bosnia and Herzegovina and with Croatia, and that Serbian law enforcement agencies routinely engage with counterparts in Albania, North Macedonia, and Montenegro.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/state-department-serbia-cooperating-in-counterterrorism-but-there-are-problems/

Journalist-Talks of purchase of weapons intended for internal propaganda

February 26, 2023

The acquisition of weapons is an entry into the large arms trade, which is one of the most lucrative things in the world due to the war in Ukraine, according to Filip Svarm, the editor of the Vreme weekly, while editor of the European Western Balkans web portal Nemanja Todorovic Stiplija deems that the story about the purchase of weapons is intended for internal propaganda.

Speaking to FoNet news agency, Stiplija said that Serbia is surrounded by NATO member countries and that there is no one to show power to.

On the other hand, he pointed out the far-reaching significance of the financial situation in the army and the police, recalling that on October 5 it was the army and the police that sided with the citizens, which this government does not want to allow itself.

According to him, “a very similar situation existed in North Macedonia during the time of Nikola Gruevski, when financial resources for the army and police, as well as their salaries, were enormously increased, which led to the fact that Gruevski did not have to worry that some of the armed force in the country to turn against him.”

The President of Serbia fears and mentions a coup the most, and investing in the army and the police is the way to prevent a coup, Stiplija assessed and noted that “all undemocratic, populist and autochthonous governments do the same.”

Svarm about the reasons for buying weapons

In contrast, Svarm does not see the possibility of a coup, because the army “is so deeply influenced by the Serbian Progressive Party” and he does not know who could carry it out.

He believes that one of the reasons for buying weapons is propaganda, another is corruption, and the third is subservience to the great powers.

Svarm reminds that Serbia bought weapons from Russia, China, Turkey and now from Arab countries, which indicates that political connections are being made this way.

„For Serbia, this means that they will have weapons that they will not be able to use, that are different, that are difficult to maintain, where there are many manufacturers“, he said, adding that this is about the “reality of the politics of this regime.”

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/journalist-talks-of-purchase-of-weapons-intended-for-internal-propaganda/

Serbian DefMin denies forming party army

February 24, 2023

The Serbian Defense Ministry denied media reports that it was forming a party army by recruiting personnel for special forces units.

The ministry statement comes after former Military Security Agency chief Momir Stojanovic said that the Defense Ministry set a precedent when it formed the Human Resources Management Council in an attempt to put the military fully under the control of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS).

The Defense Ministry said the Council is an advisory body formed in 2008 but which changed its name several times before taking its current name in 2014 but always with the same powers. “Under the law on the Army of Serbia, professional personnel cannot be members of political organizations nor can they be elected to political posts which means that only professional qualifications, abilities and results and the needs of the service will be taken into account for decisions on promotions, appointments and various orms of schooling and training…. Insinuations that this orderly institutional process has anything to do with political affiliation are senseless and ill-intentioned,” the ministry said.

  • Defense Minister Milos Vucevic is a high-ranking official of President Aleksandar Vucic’s SNS.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/serbian-defmin-denies-forming-party-army/

KFOR commander says situation volatile but calm

February 24, 2023

KFOR Commander Angelo Michele Ristuccia told the KoSSev portal that the situation in Kosovo is volatile but calm and significantly better than in December.

He said that KFOR’s biggest concern is the dangerous vacuum created in the north after Kosovo Serbs withdrew from the institutions. “This vacuum is very dangerous, especially from the security point of view,” said adding that the tension is still too high. Ristuccia called for the return of Serbs to institutions.

According to the general, the authorities in Belgrade and Pristina launched unilateral activities which challenged earlier success. “Pressure comes from the approach used by both parties – Serbia and Kosovo, based on the principle of action-reaction-counteraction, which is very dangerous. Both parties see not a win-win solution, but a zero-sum game solution,” Ristuccia said. He added that each new crisis required more effort by the international community and KFOR, order to create conditions for both sides to come back to the table.

The KFOR commander said the Kosovo Security Forces cannot be deployed in the north without his consent and added that Pristina did not demand his permission to date. Ristuccia said that the special police forces do not need permission to stay in the north. “The Brussels agreement was also signed by Serbia and clearly identified the Kosovo Police as the only authority to deal with law enforcement. Regardless of the type of police – ROSU units, special forces – they must deal with crime, and organized crime groups. There is no constraint or limitations for the Kosovo Police to do that job across Kosovo,” he said.

The KFOR commander denied claims that the police bases built in the north could be turned into military barracks. “We have clear evidence that there are only Kosovo police officers there. It’s clear. These are not military bases,” he said.
KFOR has no evidence to confirm the presence of the Russian military company Wagner in Kosovo, the general said.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/kfor-commander-says-situation-volatile-but-calm/

Almir Dzuvo appointed as new head of Bosnia's intelligence agency

February 23, 2023

The newly elected Bosnian government appointed Almir Dzuvo as the new head of the Intelligence and Security Agency (OSA), one of the ministers confirmed this information to N1, on Thursday.

This officially ends the mandate of Osman Mehmedagic as director of this agency.

The Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as the government is called officially, held its third extraordinary session in Sarajevo, on Thursday, which was convened by the Chair Borjana Kristo, and it had only one item on the agenda – the dismissal and appointment of the director general, deputy director general and chief inspector of the Intelligence and Security Agency of BiH (OSA BiH).

Risto Zaric was appointed as Dzuvo's deputy and Damir Bevanda as chief inspector.

Dzuvo was the director of OSA until 2015, and after that, he was appointed ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the NATO mission in Brussels.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/almir-dzuvo-appointed-as-new-head-of-bosnias-intelligence-agency/

KFOR commander only concerned with stability

February 21, 2023

The commander of NATO-led KFOR told Klan Kosova TV on Tuesday that his only concern is keeping the situation in Kosovo stable and enabling the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue to continue.

Major General Angelo Michele Ristuccia said that KFOR knows exactly what is happening on the ground, adding that it gets intelligence from NATO’s 27 member states and seven partner countries.

The general said that Belgrade’s request for the return of some of its security forces to Kosovo was expected. He said it was analyzed before he replied to it. According to him, KFOR made it clear that it was fully equipped and organized to implement its mandate and increase its troop numbers if the situation deteriorates.

It is more than clear that we are fully committed to implementing our mandate, he said.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/kfor-commander-only-concerned-with-stability/

Serbia to purchase kamikaze drones from UAE

February 21, 2023

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced Tuesday that Serbia will sign within 48 hours an agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to purchase UAE-made kamikaze drones.

Vucic told the media in Abu Dhabi that he hopes the first drones will be delivered to the Serbian Armed Forces in five to six months.

“We will sign within 48 hours the first agreement with the UAE to purchase their kamikaze drones and they will soon be in Serbian territory,” said Vucic who is attending the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi.

The President said that 30 percent of what the Serbian defense industry manufactures will “a priori” have to remain in the country.

“We are not shipping anything out of Serbia except what we have in excess. Our military has priority. We have not started any war, we will not go to war if we are not attacked, and for the weapons, what I am interested in the most right now is our military and how much we will earn,“ said the President.

He added that he expects an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine in the coming days, which, he said, will make Serbia’s position even more difficult.

“A challenging period is ahead of us, it is clear from (Russian) President Vladimir Putin’s statements that he will continue the fight in Ukraine fiercely. I expect major changes on the battlefield in a few days’ time and in further political actions towards Serbia by the West and other international factors,” said Vucic.

The President said he will meet Tuesday evening in Abu Dhabi with the UAE Foreign Affairs Minister and have a phone conversation with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

“Geopolitics is dominant here. This exhibition is amazing because everyone came. The West sees it as its territory, and the Russians and Chinese consider it their friendly territory,” said Vucic.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/serbia-to-purchase-kamikaze-drones-from-uae/

BiH prosecutors indict group that allegedly smuggled marijuana to EU countries

February 16, 2023

BiH prosecutors filed an indictment against members of a suspected organised crime group who allegedly smuggled large quantities of marijuana to EU countries and coordinated their activities by using the encrypted messaging applications Sky and Anom.

The prosecutor of the Special Department for Organized Crime, Economic Crime and Corruption filed an indictment against Sako Bibic, born in 1973 in Skopje, citizen of BiH and North Macedonia, Eldar Hujic, born in 1979 in Sarajevo, citizen of BiH, Admir Halimanovic, born in 1985 in Sarajevo, citizen of BiH, Alem Zukic, born in 1991 in Sarajevo, citizen of BiH and Djoko Komar, born in 1993 in Niksic, citizen of BiH and Montenegro.

“The defendants are accused of having, from the end of 2019 to the end of 2021, acting within the framework of a joint plan and mutual agreement, and in order to obtain illegal property benefits by committing several criminal acts, become members of an organized crime group and operated in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, as well as EU countries, and committed criminal acts of organized crime, illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and money laundering”, the Prosecutor’s Office said.

The indictment states that the accused used encrypted applications to communicate with each other and arrange the transport of illegal drugs to EU countries and BiH.

They allegedly dealt with large quantities of marijuana, usually in quantities of around 100 kilograms, which were smuggled into the territory of Croatia, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland, and would then launder the proceeds through investing in real estate and expensive motor vehicles.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/bih-prosecutors-indict-group-that-allegedly-smuggled-marijuana-to-eu-countries/

Kosovo snipers training in Jordan

February 7, 2023

Kosovo Defense Minister Armend Mehaj said on Tuesday that personnel from the Kosovo Security Forces are going through sniper training in Jordan.

“Professional snipers are being added to our ranks. Our commandos from the Special Operations Unit are attending specialist sniper training in Jordan with their colleagues from that country’s Special Operations Forces,” Mehaj wrote in a Facebook post.

He thanked Jordan for the opportunity and wished the Kosovo commandos success.
Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/kosovo-snipers-training-in-jordan/

Serbian military chief meets US Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff

February 7, 2023

Serbian Chief of Staff General Milan Mojsilovic, who is paying an official visit to the United States, had several bilateral meetings with senior officials of the US Ministry of Defense in Washington at which they discussed the current security situation in the world and challenges in the region, as well as bilateral military cooperation between Serbia and the US.

General Mojsilovic had separate meetings in the Pentagon with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Armed Forces, General Mark Milley, and other officials of the US Department of Defense and described the talks as “open, meaningful, professional and focused on the future,” said the Serbian Defense Ministry.

Serbian Ambassador to Washington Marko Djuric also attended the meetings.

The Chief of the Serbian Armed Forces General Staff is also to meet with the Chief of the US National Guard Bureau, General Daniel Hokanson, with whom he will discuss bilateral military cooperation in areas of mutual interest, with an emphasis on the cooperation of the Serbian Armed Forces with the Ohio National Guard, said the press release.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/serbian-military-chief-meets-us-chairman-of-joint-chiefs-of-staff/

Chief of NATO MLO in Belgrade-We respect Serbia’s military neutrality

February 6, 2023

The new chief of the NATO Military Liaison Office (MLO) in Belgrade, Italian Brigadier General Giampiero Romano, said the Alliance fully respects the proclaimed policy of military neutrality of Serbia and its sovereign right to choose its own path.

Romano told the daily Kurir that NATO and Serbia are not only partners but also neighbors since, as he noted, all countries in the Balkans are members of the Alliance and some of them are also members of the European Union (EU).

For the past 16 years NATO and Serbia have been developing a mutually beneficial partnership, with full respect for Serbia’s policy of military neutrality, he said, adding that everything that is being done is based on Serbia’s requests and “tailored to its needs.”

Romano said that the KFOR mission in Kosovo is fully capable of continuing to carry out its mandate, in accordance with the 1999 UN Security Council Resolution 1244, and that is to ensure a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all the communities in Kosovo.

He added that KFOR contributes to security in Kosovo and stability throughout the region “in an impartial and reliable manner.”

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/chief-of-nato-mlo-in-belgrade-we-respect-serbias-military-neutrality/

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