International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Readmission Agreement between BiH and Pakistan comes into force

June 23, 2021

Pakistani President Arif Alvi signed the Readmission Agreement between this country and Bosnia and Herzegovina, creating the conditions for its implementation, BiH Presidency told Fena news agency on Wednesday.

This important document has now been ratified by both countries, which means that it has entered into force. The BiH Presidency ratified the document on April 16.

By concluding this agreement, BiH and Pakistan confirm their readiness to join international actions to prevent illegal migration, because the Agreement regulates the issues of admission of their own citizens, third-country nationals and stateless persons residing in the territory of a contracting party contrary to their laws.

Last year, Bosnia's Security Minister Selmo Cikotic and Pakistani Interior Minister Ijaz Ahmed Shah signed a Readmission Agreement and an accompanying Protocol that will enable the return of illegal migrants from BiH to Pakistan.

The agreement was signed in a short period of time, although the procedure was initiated in 2011 but it was passive and the work on it was subsequently reactivated. It allows migrants to return to Pakistan in an organized manner.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/readmission-agreement-between-bih-and-pakistan-comes-into-force/

Sec Min: ‘Coordination 2021’ exercise tests BiH's response to natural disasters

June 23, 2021

The military exercise ‘Coordination 2021’, which is taking place according to the bilateral cooperation programme between BiH and the United States between June 21 and 25 in Sarajevo, has the goal to test the internal procedures, efficiency and effectiveness of Bosnia’s institutions in terms of response to natural and other disasters, Security Minister Selmo Cikotic said on Wednesday.

“This exercise is designed today as a test of the state’s ability to respond to an earthquake disaster. A similar scenario is used for many disasters caused by climate change and many other natural disasters, as well as man-made disasters,” he explained.

“Good coordination, preparedness and mutual cooperation of various institutions is very important for the function of saving people's lives, but also reducing damage and other negative consequences of disasters,” he said.

A team of experts from the United States participates in the exercise, as well as institutions of Bosnia’s two semi-autonomous entities, the Federation (FBiH) and Republika Srpska (RS), representatives of lower government level institutions, international organisations and local NGOs.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/sec-min-coordination-2021-exercise-tests-bihs-response-to-natural-disasters/

Defence ministers of Serbia & Russia plan 91 joint activities this year

June 23, 2021

Russia' Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu told his Serbia's counterpart Nebojsa Stefanovic in Moscow on Wednesday his country was committed to the further development of bilateral cooperation and support in empowering the Army of Serbia (VS) capacities.

Stefanovic, who is on a visit to Russia upon Shoygu’s invitation, said that the two countries planned 91 joint activities this year and invited his counterpart to visit Serbia.

He added that the bilateral cooperation in defence policy has been on a historical maximum, Serbia’s MOD said.

Shoygu said that „Serbia today runs its policies.“

„Only powerful armed forces guarantee country’s independence. We are committed to the continuation of bilateral cooperation of our countries,“ he added.

The strengthening of Serbia’s links with Russia and also China raises some eyebrows in the region and the West, particularly in Brussels, since Belgrade is obliged to adjust its foreign policy to those of the European Union if it wants to join.

Belgrade maintains it runs its independence policies and says the adjustment with the bloc’s rules would be necessary at the end of the accession negotiations.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/def-min-of-serbia-russia-plan-91-joint-military-activities-this-year/

Police: Ninety illegal migrants discovered in Belgrade

June 21, 2021

Serbia's Interior Ministry (MUP) said on Monday its police officers discovered 90 illegal migrants in three of Belgrade's central municipalities and transferred them to the southern town of Presevo Migrant Reception Centre.

„During regular controls of the movement and stay of migrants, members of the police… take care of migrants, whose rights, medical care, nutrition and adequate accommodation will be respected,“ MUP said in a statement.

Last week, Serbia’s Interior Minister said his country would not be a parking lot for illegal migrants.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/police-ninety-illegal-migrants-discovered-in-belgrade/

Serbian DefMin says military to show readiness at war games

June 21, 2021

Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said on Monday that the Serbian military will show its readiness and training at this weekend’s exercises.

According to the minister, the war games will show that all the investments in the military are paying off. “The Serbian public will have an opportunity to see our special forces, ground forces and air force acting together to show their equipment, training and commitment to the security of the citizens of Serbia,” a press release quoted him as saying.

He added that the exercises are the biggest in the country over the past few decades. Troops will deploy for the war games on several sites with the final segment on the Pester training grounds.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-defmin-says-military-to-show-readiness-at-war-games/

Fire outside Sloboda munitions plant

June 21, 2021

A fire broke out just outside the Sloboda munitions plant in the western Serbian city of Cacak, days after explosions rocked the facility.

The local fire brigade dealt with the fire that engulfed a forested area just outside the plant grounds. Local media reported that the residents of the area around the plant were anxious, fearing a repeat of the recent explosions, especially the blast a day earlier which injured three plant workers and forced the evacuation of dozens of local residents.

The incidents caused a group of Cacak residents to protest in front of the town hall. The Sloboda plant has been plagued with similar incidents which led to injuries and some deaths over the past 25 years.

The plant management told employees to stay away until further notice.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/fire-outside-sloboda-munitions-plant/

Army of Serbia starts training for ‘Lightning Strike 2021’exercise

June 15, 2021

The Army of Serbia (VS) started on Tuesday training for the combined 'Lightning Strike 2021'exercise due on June 27, Defence Ministry (MOD) statement.

The exercise aims to check the VS Chief-of-Staff’s operational capabilities and started by alerting more than 15,000 soldiers, it added.

„This morning’s training is an introduction into the combined ‘Lightning Strike 2021’ exercise with live ammunition at eight locations across Serbia in cooperation of Ground Force, Air and Air Defense, 72nd Special Operations Brigade and 63rd Parachute Brigade,“ MOD said.

People in the central town of Kragujevac will have a chance to see the VS most modern equipment during an open day on June 28.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/army-of-serbia-starts-training-for-lightning-strike-2021exercise/

Belgrade and Paris on strengthening military cooperation

June 10, 2021

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and François Lecointre, the French army chief-of-staff discussed the cooperation in the defence area in Belgrade on Thursday.

The meeting’s topics included military-economic and technical cooperation, improvement of joint training and those in operations under the European Union auspices.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/belgrade-and-paris-on-strenghtening-military-cooperation/

Balkan Chiefs of Staff end 14th Conference

June 9, 2021

The 14th Conference of the Chiefs of Staff of the Balkan countries on military cooperation (Forum B-9) ended Wednesday with informal mutual contacts, Bosnia's Defence Ministry said.

A three-day gathering aimed at improving the Balkan military cooperation and responding to security challenges in the region resulted in a joint statement, signed on Tuesday (June 8th) by the Chiefs of Staff of nine B-9 Forum member states. The statement concluded that the current cooperation was very successful and meaningful, and pointed out that in the coming period the forum will strive to further improve cooperation.

“This Forum presented an extremely important initiative for strengthening multinational military cooperation in the region, which confirms the desire to strengthen cooperation between the armed forces of the Balkan countries, whose purpose is to promote regional stability and security, as well as strengthening the already established and seeking new cooperation mechanisms. Ultimately, this will result in a better security environment for all our countries,” said the main host of the conference, Chief of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces of BiH, Colonel General Senad Masovic.

The main topic of the conference was – “Integration: Cooperation and Partnership – Factors of regional and global stability and security – perspectives, challenges and the response to COVID-19”.

The members of the B-9 Forum are Albania, BiH, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Greece, Romania, Northern Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey.

In addition to representatives of member states, high-level representatives of the NATO Military Committee, the EU Military Committee, the Joint Forces Command in Naples, the US Armed Forces Command in Europe, as well as representatives of observer countries, ie the highest representatives of the Croatian and Slovenian Armed Forces also took part in the Conference.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/balkan-chiefs-of-staff-end-14th-conference/

Another explosion at Serbian defense industry plant

June 7, 2021

Another explosion rocked the Sloboda munitions plant in western Serbia, following a bigger incident a few days earlier, the Serbian state TV (RTS) reported on Monday.

It said that the explosion was heard from the plant in the city of Cacak at around 9 pm on Sunday, adding that smoke was reported to be billowing out of one of the plant buildings. Local media quoted local residents who confirmed that they heard the blast and saw smoke but could not say whether a fire broke out.

The police blocked off the plant within minutes and was not allowing plant employees onto the grounds early on Monday morning.

A series of explosions followed by a fire shook the Sloboda plant and surrounding area on the night of Thursday-Friday. Firefighters and Serbian military helicopters managed to put the fire out on Friday.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/another-explosion-at-serbian-defense-industry-plant/

Serbian, Russian military rebuilding mountain road

June 4, 2021

Serbian and Russian military engineering units are working side by side to rebuild a road on Mt Golija as part of a humanitarian project, the Serbian Defense Ministry said on Friday.

The Humanitarian Assistance project is part of bilateral military cooperation between the two countries, the press release said adding that the 13 kilometer road is being rebuilt as part of efforts to deal with the fallout of the extreme weather which hit the in southwestern Serbian Ivanjica municipality last year.

The road is being rebuilt by 24 Serbian military personnel and 15 of their Russian counterparts using heavy machinery.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-russian-military-rebuilding-mountain-road/

KFOR remains in Kosovo as long as needed, NATO official says

June 4, 2021

NATO Assistant Secretary-General for Public Diplomacy Baiba Braje said on Friday the KFOR mission would remain in Kosovo and act in line with the provisions of the UN Security Council 1244 to guarantee a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all communities in Kosovo.

In a video address to the conference ‘Serbia and NATO – Partnership for the Future,’ she added that would be the case for as long as needed,’ recalling NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s statement during his recent meeting with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic.

The conference was organised by the Strategic Policy Council in cooperation with the Bulgarian Embassy as a contact country for Serbia-NATO relations.

Braje said that NATO fully supported the dialogue and normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina under the EU auspices, adding Vucic reaffirmed his commitment to the dialogue.

She added that NATO had always been committed to peace and stability in the Western Balkans and said that no vision of peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic region could exist without peace and security in the Western Balkans.

Braje said that most countries in the region were NATO members, but some countries, like Serbia, had made a different decision, and the Alliance respected it, adding the country was a respected and vital partner of the Alliance.

„Serbia and NATO have a developed relationship full of respect, and we are cooperating very well. Serbia is a respected and important partner of the Alliance; it is important for NATO, and NATO is important for Serbia,“ Braje added in a video message.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/for-remains-in-kosovo-as-long-asneeded-nato-official-says/

Serbia’s Def Min: Croatia buys arms looking at relations with us

June 1, 2021

Nebojsa Stefanovic, Serbia's Defence Minister, said on Wednesday his country "is not particularly interested" in the fact that Croatia, as he said, "when it gets howitzers or helicopters, looks at it through the prism of its relations with Serbia."

„We are here to protect our country, guarantee our freedom and independence. And as far as others are concerned, I would advise them to take care of their people, their country, and economy,“ Stefanovic said while touring the construction site of a new COVID hospital in the northern city of Novi Sad.

Asked about a possibility of compulsory military service reintroduction in Croatia, a NATO member state, and arms procurement in Serbia, he said Belgrade was not buying weapons „to endanger anyone.“

„We are a militarily neutral country which only wishes to have a powerful army to guarantee its freedom and independence,“ Stefanovic said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-def-min-croatia-buys-arms-looking-at-relations-with-us/

US SFAB unit in military exercise in Balkans to curb Russian, Chinese influence

May 31, 2021

he US military Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFAB), also known as 'brown berets,' formed to cooperate with armies around the world in Washington's attempt to curb Moscow and Beijing influence in the regions critical for the US, took part in the "Defender Europe 21" military exercise in the Balkans.

According to the Balkanska bezbednosna mreza (the Balkan Security Network) website, the unit is made of instructors’ teams with the task to support the allies. The company was not much reported on but was part of the „Immediate Response 21“ exercise held at the training grounds at Manjaca in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Babaj Boks in Kosovo and Krivolak and Biza in Albania.

Three SFAB teams were sent to North Macedonia and Albania, while one to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo each. Their job is to support the allies’ combat units, police, customs, and other services’ security structures.

„SFAB teams are important for the Balkans to increase a potential significance of the advisory role. In the new global environment, they can be seen as a part of the US policy of limiting the Russian and Chinese influence,“ the website wrote.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/us-military-sfab-unit-exercises-in-balkans-to-curb-russian-chinese-influence/

Serbian military chief says KFOR only legitimate force in Kosovo

May 28, 2021

Serbia’s top General Milan Mojsilovic told KFOR commander Major General Franco Federici on Friday that the international forces are the only legitimate armed formation in Kosovo.

An Army of Serbia press release quoted Mojsilovic as saying that the Military Technical Agreement which ended the Kosovo war and the agreements signed with KFOR recognize only Serbian security forces and KFOR which, he said, holds the greatest responsibility for the safety of the population and protection of Serbian national, cultural and religious heritage.

It said that they discussed the current situation in Kosovo and activities to keep the peace.

A KFOR press release said that Federici informed Mojsilovic about the activities of the forces under his command.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-military-chief-says-kfor-only-legitimate-force-in-kosovo/

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