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International Information Centre for Balkan Studies



Secession from Bosnia is the red line for use of Bonn powers, Inzko told N1

February 17, 2020

Secession would mean that the red line has been crossed, but I am sure that such a referendum would not be held because of what happened in the past, Bosnia's international administrator Valentin Inzko told N1 on Monday, adding that even if such a referendum was held, it would be legally void.

“We'll insist on respect for the Dayton Peace Agreement. The Dayton guarantees Bosnia's sovereignty and integrity, it contains the country' Constitution and according to the Dayton Agreement, the entities don't have the right to secede,” Inzko told N1's Adisa Imamovic.

Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of two semi-autonomous entities – the Bosniak-Croat shared Federation (FBiH) and the Serb dominated RS. Both entities have their institutions and competencies. The international community had set up the Office of the High Representative (OHR) as the international administrator's office in charge of overseeing the civilian implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement which ended the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia.

After the Constitutional Court decided that Article 53 of the Republika Srpska (RS) Law on Agricultural Land, as well as Articles 3 and 4 of the RS Law on Inland Navigation, unconstitutional – RS leaders decided to boycott the decision-making process in State institutions by attending the sessions and meetings, but not taking part in the voting process, thus blocking the process completely.

Further discussing their decision, some – most notably the Bosnian Serb leader and leader of the strongest party in the RS, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) Milorad Dodik, even went so far as to, once again, repeat his statements and threats of RS' secession, saying that Serbs do not feel welcome in Bosnia nor its institutions.

This was not the first time Dodik called for the RS secession and the implementation of the referendum on the territory of that entity, which would ask if the RS residents would support the entities secession.

“Secession would cross the red line. Entity borders are no more than the lines between counties in Croatia and provinces in Germany. All that is part of Bosnia which continued its territorial sovereignty and we mustn't forget that Bosnia was accepted into the UN as a united country in 1992, together with Slovenia and Croatia. They were all accepted on the same day and that the backbone and foundation of Bosnia. Only the internal borders were changed by the Dayton Accords,” Inzko told N1.

He said he was aware that some citizens are disappointed by the fact that he no longer takes a firm stand.

"I know some citizens are disappointed that I am not taking a firm stand, they remember Ashdown. There was a different atmosphere back then, the international community was much more present. When domestic solutions are good, they are the best and most durable. I get a lot of letters, especially from Una-Sana Canton (USK) when one a lady asked me if she should move with her son to Tyrol. I told her that the situation is politically unstable but the security situation is stable and that she should not move with her son," the international community's High Representative said.

Speaking about the RS officials' request to remove foreign judges from Bosnia's Constitutional Court, who serve the balancing role within the Court by preventing any of the three constituent peoples from being out-voted by other two peoples, Inzko recalled that they are part of the “original Dayton” which was signed by all the parties.

The notion of the “original Dayton” was first introduced by Dodik himself, who claims that reforms which were implemented after the signing of the Agreement and whose goal was to make Bosnia into a more functional state, were enforced onto the RS entity with the aim of making it weaker.

Inzko asked why anyone would have anything against some foreigner if they all want to join the EU.

If the foreign judges ever were removed, it would change the balance of powers in the Court and that would require a change of the Dayton Peace Agreement. It would lead to the 'Dayton 2',” Inzko added, hinting at another notion Dodik is against.

Asked about the use of his Bonn powers which allow him to impose laws and even punish Bosnian politicians if he deems them acting against Bosnia's interests, Inzko said he would love to use them for some of his ideas.

“My great wish was to use them and impose the law of at least 40 percent of women in politics. Local politicians took to that law but they never implemented is. Women would change things, they are not as big nationalists and they would change things,” he concluded.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a410748/Secession-from-Bosnia-is-the-red-line-for-use-of-Bonn-powers-Inzko-told-N1.html

Bosnian Serb region instructs its representatives to block state institutions

February 17, 2020

After a Monday session, Bosnia’s Serb-majority region instructed its representatives in state institutions to halt any decision-making processes until the adoption and implementation of a law that would remove foreign judges from the Constitutional Court and reject any “undemocratic” and unconstitutional decisions by the Court and Bosnia’s international administrator.

The conclusions are leading Bosnia into a new political crisis.

Bosnia is composed of two semi-autonomous entities - the Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) and the Federation (FBiH), mostly populated by Bosniaks and Croats.

The state Constitutional Court recently ruled that an RS law which defines all agricultural public property as the ownership of Republika Srpska is unconstitutional, arguing that the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina should be the owner of such land.

The ruling caused outrage among Bosnian Serb leadership, which has been accusing the Constitutional Court of working against Republika Srpska for years.

The Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency and the leader of the strongest Bosnian Serb party, Milorad Dodik, argued that the problem is the composition of the institution.

The Constitutional Court is composed of nine judges - two Bosniaks, two Serbs, two Croats and three foreigners.

According to Dodik, the foreign judges must leave because they always side with the Bosniaks and outvote the Croat and Serb judges.

“The National Assembly of Republika Srpska obligates RS representatives of in institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina to halt any decision making processes in state bodies until a Law on ending the mandate of foreign judges and on electing domestic judges in the Constitutional Court is adopted and enters into force and until the disputed decision by Bosnia’s Constitutional Court regarding agricultural land of Republika Srpska is annulled,” one of the conclusions said.

Another one said that the Constitutional Court and High Representatives - the diplomats named by the international community who have been overseeing the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement - have been breaching that agreement and the Constitution by changing Bosnia’s political system.

“The Republika Srpska National Assembly obligates all institutions of Republika Srpska to reject and not to implement any future anti-Dayton Agreement and undemocratic decisions of the High Representative and the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the RS National Assembly adopted.

RS representatives were tasked with proposing a law on removing foreign judges from the Constitutional Court to Bosnia’ Parliament, as well as to “continue previously initiated negotiations” with the Government of FBiH on defining the border between the two entities.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a410804/Bosnian-Serb-region-instructs-its-representatives-to-block-state-institutions.html

Minister: Migrant crisis is not a humanitarian but the issue of security

February 17, 2020

The Ministry of Security made a significant result by making everyone realise that the migrant crisis the country struggles with is not a humanitarian but the issue of security, said Security Minister Fahrudin Radoncic, warning that nearly 100,000 migrants are waiting in Greece to continue their journey to the European Union – via Bosnia.

“We, as a society, must be aware that this is a huge challenge and I warned all our European friends that they have to help Bosnia and Herzegovina, because we lack border police officers, material-technical tools, drones, thermal cameras,” stressed the minister.

“Our border is very attentive and I expect that after three-year long sleep we will understand as a society that this is not a process such as the natural disaster that lasts for a few months but a process that is likely to last several decades. In that sense, Bosnia and Herzegovina must utilise all capacities – from the local to the state level, use the international assistance and face that crisis,” said Radoncic.

Bosnia's Border Police chief, Zoran Galic, recently said the agency was facing a serious lack of staff and equipment to cover the border and protect it from illegal migrations.

He also warned the country could face another wave of migrants this spring.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a410694/Minister-Migrants-crisis-is-not-a-humanitarian-but-the-issue-of-security.html

Bosnia's Foreign Ministry starts implementation of goals from Reform Program

February 17, 2020

The Foreign Ministry has started the active implementation of obligations stemming from the Defence Review of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the part that falls under the jurisdiction of this institution, the ministry said on Monday.

The ministry also said it has formed task groups that are in charge of the implementation of the goals set by the 2019-2020 Reform Programme. 

Minister Bisera Turkovic recalled that the document was recently accepted by NATO authorities in Brussels. 

“This document is believed to be fully operative and NATO expects Bosnia and Herzegovina to fully implement it, i.e. to meet what Bosnia and Herzegovina obliged to by sending this document to NATO seat in Brussels. NATO Political Committee accepted the proposed Reform Programme in its conclusions from January 16, 2020, and NATO representatives will not be declaring on it but will actively be following its implementation,” said the statement.

The ministry called on all competent institutions in the country to start the implementation of the goals set by the document, in order to timely inform the public and NATO officials about the achieved progress.

“The Ministry would also like to inform the institutions that are participating in the Commission for NATO Integration Process that this commission will resume the regular activities in its scope of work, and it urges the institutions that delegated its own members for this body to send a timely note if they have made changes to their representatives in the commission,” said the ministry.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a410660/Bosnia-s-Foreign-Ministry-starts-implementation-of-goals-from-Reform-Programme.html

Bihac authorities fear escalation of migrant crisis

February 17, 2020

The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is critical due to the problem of illegal migration and it will certainly be even worse as there is still no coordination in taking the necessary measures nor any indication that the new Council of Ministers might take more resolute action, said Nermin Kljajic, the Interior Minister of the Una-Sana Canton, Bosnia's westernmost region bordering Croatia.

"There is no coordination whatsoever between the state and the lower-level government. Although the Council of Ministers was formed two months ago, there is still no serious response regarding the protection of Una-Sana Canton when it comes to illegal migration,"  Kljajic was quoted as saying in Monday's Nezavisne Novine daily.

Una-Sana Canton is the hardest hit by the migrant crisis. Bihac city authorities estimate that there are about 5,000 illegal migrants in that region. Precise data indicates that 3,500 are accommodated in reception centres, while the rest are left to their own devices, staying in private accommodation if they can afford it, while others sleep in abandoned and dilapidated buildings in urban areas.

Kljajic says all reception centres have been full for a long time and that the situation is critical as Bosnia has no consolidated migration management plan.

Local police are having a hard time dealing with the challenges as the number of criminal offences is rising and there is no money to hire more officers.

A mild winter has already encouraged illegal migrants to attempt to continue towards BiH's western border, with more and more arriving in Una-Sana Canton every day. According to local police, at least 80 arrive every day and there is no room to accommodate them.

The canton's prime minister, Mustafa Ruznic, has said Bihac fears a likely escalation of the problem. "The worst is yet to come."

According to Ruznic, the cantonal government has asked that the Bira reception centre in Bihac and Miral in Velika Kladusa be dismantled and that a larger transit centre, where all illegal migrants would be accommodated, be set up outside residential areas. A location has been proposed but the state authorities have not taken the time to consider the initiative.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a410640/Bihac-authorities-fear-escalation-of-migrant-crisis.html

Serbian president says he will replace party officials and ministers

February 17, 2020

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that half the officials from his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) would be replaced at local level and in the national parliament along with 70 percent of government ministers.

He said that there are several mayors who he can’t reach by telephone and wondered whether the people in their communities can get to them and added that he feels shame to see empty seats in parliament during sittings. “I will show no mercy,” the SNS leader said in a live appearance on the pro-government TV Happy.  

He said that the public is more interested in how much money they have in their wallets than in politicians who invited TV crews to their events.  

Speaking about the coming elections, the president said he would call them early in March. “The SNS alone can guarantee a good future,” he said and added that “it will be a changed SNS”.  

Vucic said that the opposition’s boycott is meant to hide the amount of money spent senselessly, adding that the opposition cannot deny his legitimacy. The president said he does not have a good opinion of the opposition but thinks that they should stand in the elections.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a570316/Serbian-president-says-he-will-replace-party-officials-and-ministers.html

Russian Def Min happy with military cooperation, Vucic gives him hunting rifle

February 17, 2020

Sergey Shoygu, the Defense Minister of the Russian Federation, came to Belgrade for one-day visit on Monday upon the invitation from his Serbia’s counterpart Aleksandar Vulin, and the two discussed the cooperation in the area of defense, and the agreed that both countries wanted that collaboration to additionally improve, his cabinet said in a statement.

Shoygu, whose visit to Belgrade is his first trip abroad since reappointed Defense Minister, was greeted by his country’s ambassador to Serbia Alexander Bocan-Harcenko and Serbia’s Defense Ministry representatives.

“Serbia wants strong military,” Vulin said, “since it is a guarantor for peace and neutrality, but also the country’s progress.”

He thanked Shoygu for the Russian military-technical aid, especially in equipping the Army of Serbia.

Shoygu was quoted as saying he was happy about the level of cooperation between the two countries in the area of defense, adding the joint military exercises were the proof of that.

“The realization of six exercises of the two armies showed a high level of professionalism and top training of all participants. Also, the friendship was demonstrated on the ground,” Shoygu said.

After lunch, Vucic and Shoygu exchanged gifts. Serbia’s President greeted his guest with quince brandy and then gave him a hunting rifle as a gift. The Russian Defense Minister presented Vucic with the collection of his drawings and graphic arts.

 He invited Vulin for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s meeting in June.

Some media reports suggested that Shoygu would announce the delivery of Anti-aircraft 'Pancir' S-1 System which Serbia had bought for 600 million US Dollars according to the Russian media.

After his meeting with Vulin, Shoygu had lunch with President Aleksandar Vucic.

Vulin and Shoygu are later due to pay wreaths to the monument of the Liberators of Belgrade and the Monument to Red Army soldier.

The University of Defense presented Shoygu with an honorary doctorate.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a570146/Russia-s-Defence-Minister-reportedly-annunces-delivery-of-AA-Pancir-S-1-System-to-Serbia.html

Server to VOA: Kosovo achieves much in 12 years of independence

February 17, 2020

There are not many countries that have achieved more in 12 years of existence as Kosovo has, Daniel Server, a professor at the Washington John Hopkins University, has told the Voice of America (VOA) on the occasion of the anniversary of former Serbia’s province’s declaration of independence on Monday.

Adding that no country can be described as completely stable, Server said that Kosovo has recently formed a new democratic leadership.

“The leadership was elected in a free vote. The media in Kosovo are mostly free. The Constitutional Court constantly demonstrates its independence. The civil sector is developed, as is the opposition. The economy records a growth compared to the slower improvement in the European Union,” Server, considered an expert in the Balkans, told VOA.

He said that the corruption, as in other Western Balkans countries, was Kosovo’s chief problem, adding he expected the new authorities to deal with that issue in the best possible way.    

Also, he says, Kosovo faces Serbia's active attempts to undermine its institutions.

“The (Belgrade) campaign to get the withdrawals of Kosovo’s independence recognition, and efforts to preserve the influence over the Serbs in Kosovo, are serious obstacles,” Server warned.

He said that Kosovo’s membership in the international organisations like Interpol, UNESCO and the United Nations was “pretty much uncertain due to opposition from Moscow and Belgrade.

“The Interpol and UNESCO membership can be over in an hour if Serbia agrees. I think it should do it. When it comes to the UN, it becomes a tougher issue because regardless of Belgrade, Moscow will try to get something in return from Washington what it won’t be ready to give,” Server said.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a570100/Kosovo-s-UN-membership-will-depend-on-Moscow-s-demands-from-Washington.html

Pristina marks 12th anniversary of declaration of independence, US congratulates

February 17, 2020

Vjosa Osmani, Kosovo's Parliament Speaker, said on Monday, on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of Pristina's declaration of independence, that Kosovo "today is not only breathing freely but is creating a new image and values for the world," the Beta news agency reported on Monday.

 During the Parliament special session, which started with Kosovo's national anthem, she said that "today, small flags and big hearts flutter in all parts of Kosovo."  

The distinguished guests included the best sportsmen, culture activists and artists. The MPs from the Serb List, Kosovo's Serbs party, supported by Belgrade, did not attend the session.

The head of Serbia's Government Office for Kosovo Marko Djuric said that "12 years ago on this day the construction of a building of injustice, slander and Serb people expulsion started on the bloody foundation."

Sulejman Ugljanin, the leader of the party of Democratic Action (SDA), a sister party of the Bosnian SDA, from Serbia's region of Sandzak, congratulated Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci and Prime Minister Albin Kurti the anniversary of the declaration of independence. He said that "thanks to the efforts of the freedom spirit of its citizens, Kosovo is today a modern state based on the rule of law, legal safety and equality before the law."

He added that "pictures of the murdered and missing Serbs are the ID of the so-called Kosovo state."

Osmani paid tribute to sportsmen and students, as well as those who, according to her, "sealed the fight for freedom, and independence," especially mentioning Kosovo's former President late Ibrahim Rugova and the guerilla leader, the first commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army Adem Jasari, who died in a shoot-out with Serbia's forces during the 1998-199 war in Kosovo.

Congratulating Pristina for its anniversary, Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, said on Monday Kosovo’s independence and sovereignty remained crucial to safety and stability of the Western Balkans. "Our two states have a strong partnership based on common values. The US supports Kosovo on its way to the Trans-Atlantic integrations and will continue to work on the improvement of the rule of law, fighting corruption and improving the economic prosperity for all Kosovo’s citizens," Pompeo wrote in his congratulatory note.

 "Today, on the 12th anniversary of independence, we must pledge that every day we will strive to strengthen the state, the rule of law, the protection of basic human freedoms and a life of dignity for all. We must again pledge that we will protect every inch of our Kosovo, ensure the inviolability of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country and that not only our words but also our actions prove that February 17, 2008, is irreversible and that the Republic of Kosovo is permanent," Osmani told the session.

She also said that Kosovo went along the independence road in cooperation with the international community partners.

"We plead with them today to stay with us and next to us in implementing the will of the people in the economic development and European integrations. We are grateful to the US, the country we have an unbreakable friendship," she said.  

Pristina unilaterally declared independence from Belgrade on February 17, 2008, based on a referendum held in 1991, which according to the then Constitution was illegal since organised only on the part of the country during the break-up of Yugoslavia. Serbia does not recognise Kosovo as an independent state and opposes its memberships to the international institutions, including the United Nations.

Almost half of the UN members have recognised Kosovo as an independent state so far, among which the most influential countries like the US and all but five European Union member states.

Belgarde has conducted a campaign for the withdrawal of decision on recognition, based on the UN 1999 Resolution 1244 which is neutral regarding the status of Kosovo.

Source: http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a570136/Kosovo-marks-12th-years-of-declaration-on-independence.html  

Bosnia for sale: How Arabs bought land around Sarajevo

February 16, 2020

Unable to personally buy land in Bosnia as there is no bilateral agreement with their countries, citizens of middle-eastern and northern African countries have still managed to purchase millions of square metres of land in the Sarajevo Canton thanks to hundreds of companies they have registered, investigative journalists revealed last week.

About 160 companies, founded by citizens of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Libya and other countries, whose citizens can not purchase land in Bosnia, have since 2012 bought 15,3 millions of square metres of land around the capital thanks to Bosnian citizens these firms hired to represent them.

Who exactly bought the land and whether it was bought with ‘clean’ money is in a lot of cases unknown.

Many have started construction on that land but have then abandoned the construction sites.

“The investors intended to continue the construction of resorts, buildings, hotels, and individual objects. However, things didn’t go as they planned and they concluded they should leave,” Mirjana Popovic, from the Centre for Investigative Reporting, told N1.

“Many of them are now in a difficult situation because they lack the paperwork needed to legalise continuing construction,” she said.

Amarildo Gutic, a reporter from ‘Zurnal’, investigated the purchases and made the film ‘Arab Spring in the Golden Valley’.

“We still don’t know whether this land and property was bought with ‘clean’ money or if it is an attempt to launder money, (we don’t know) who is behind those companies, who the owners are (...) And if you go to those places today and try to contact the owners - it will be very difficult,” Gutic said.

In most cases, finding the owners of the land is impossible, and a large number of the companies owning it can not be found at the addresses where they are registered, according to the results of checks the Service for Foreigner’s Affairs made.

Of the 692 companies CIN checked, 469 were not at the addresses mentioned in their registration papers. The owners of 158 such companies did not have their residence status regulated and 113 founders or co-founders of companies were never registered as entering the country.

“We found several foreign nationals and their companies which owe this state millions in taxes. Then we included the tax authority and then security agencies, primarily the State Investigation and Protection Agency,” said the head of the Foreigner’s Affairs Service, Slobodan Ujic.

According to academic Esad Durakovic, the problem could have far-reaching consequences.

“Those are not investments, as many refer to them, it is not tourism either - but the land under our feet is being sold off. Meanwhile, there is an invasion of migrants from Asian and African countries into Bosnia. At the same time, tens of thousands of young people are leaving Bosnia for Europe, while we sell off land and accommodate migrants here,” Durakovic said.

“The result of it will, if not today, be fatal in the future without a doubt,” he said.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a410552/Bosnia-for-sale-How-Arabs-bought-land-around-Sarajevo.html

Komsic meets with Pope: The Vatican supports Bosnia as a multi-ethnic country

February 16, 2020

The Vatican will continue supporting Bosnia as a multi-ethnic state and its efforts to join Euro-Atlantic organisations, Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency said after its Croat member and current Chairman, Zeljko Komic, met with Pope Francis on Saturday to discuss the situation and status of the Church in the country.

Komsic told the Pope that the only solution for Bosnia and Herzegovina is membership in NATO and the EU. The need to ensure respect for the basic human rights of all Bosnian citizens was also emphasised at the meeting.

Komsic also presented Pope Francis with a gift - a crucifix with Jesus Christ created by Sarajevan sculptor Enes Sivac and a replica of Sarajevo’s St. Joseph’s Church.

The Croat Presidency member also met separately with the Holy See's Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. The two discussed the ratification and implementation of the Basic Agreement between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Holy See.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a410528/Komsic-meets-with-Pope-The-Vatican-supports-Bosnia-as-a-multi-ethnic-country.html

EU High Rep.: We are working on appointing envoy for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue

February 16, 2020

The EU is working on appointing a special representative or envoy to deal with the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue directly, said EU High Representative Josep Borrell on Sunday, adding that an experienced diplomat who is well-aware of the situation in the region and is prepared to get engaged is needed for the job.

"This is a job that requires engagement 24 hours a day, every day. It's not a one-weekend issue," Borrell told Radio Free Europe.

He would not mention names but said “maybe” when asked whether that person could be someone from Slovakia.

Borrell stressed that the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina has no alternative and that it requires engagement from both sides.

"We will not dictate the dialogue. They need to talk to each other in order to reach an agreement. We can help them, create incentives, but we cannot take the place of negotiators," Borel said in Munich, where he participates in the Munich Security Conference.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a569886/EU-High-Rep.-We-are-working-on-appointing-envoy-for-Belgrade-Pristina-dialogue.html

Dodik: Republika Srpska will eventually be independent

February 16, 2020

There is a way to solve the emerging political crisis in Bosnia through state institutions, but Bosnia's Serb-majority will nevertheless become independent sometime in the future and can then find a way to enter a union with Serbia, Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said on Sunday.

Dodik’s statement comes at the end of a turbulent week.  

Bosnian Serb leadership announced that representatives of the RS semi-autonomous entity would not participate in the decision-making processes until a law removing foreign judges from Bosnia’s Constitutional Court is passed.

The decision, which would block state institutions, is to be discussed by the RS National Assembly on Monday.

The move came after the Constitutional Court declared an RS property law unconstitutional.  

Dodik, who is the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency and the leader of the strongest Bosnian Serb party, has been accusing the foreign judges of the Constitutional Court of siding with Bosniaks too often and working against Bosnian Serb interests.  

He has also been advocating for the RS to secede and join neighbouring Serbia for years.  

“There is no place for Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where they don’t want a Republika Srpska,” Dodik said.

“Republika Srpska is a wonderful and big national idea of the Serb people and is the only place of our survival here,” he said.  

But he stressed that the RS will not defend itself using force, guns and tanks, but with the will of its people and its institutions which should be built up through unity in the Parliament of the RS and through activities in the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“I am no war leader, I will not lead the people into war and there will be no war, but I will surely be capable and ready to fight for political rights, as I want our children to not have to fight our battle, but to enter the stability of a loved and accepted Republika Srpska, integrated with Serbia, primarily,” Dodik said.  

“I will stay and do this work exclusively so that Serbs are never again expelled from their homes and so we stay on our own territory,” he said.

Although he said that an institutional solution to the crisis is possible if the Constitutional Court regulated by a new law, Dodik stressed that Republika Srpska will be independent in a matter of decades and that it could find a way to unite with Serbia after some time.

Serb and Croat representatives will propose a law on the Constitutional Court together in the Parliament, he announced.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a569858/Dodik-Republika-Srpska-will-eventually-be-independent.html

Belgrade weekly: Def Min comments on unpublished article, Ministry apologises

February 16, 2020

Serbia's Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin has commented on an article in the Belgrade Nedeljnik weekly that has never been published by the newspaper, or anyone else, the weekly reported on Sunday night.

Later, the Defence Ministry, apologised, blaming its PR, which said the article was published by Nedeljnik instead of the Kurir tabloid. Nevertheless, it added, "all the Minister said was true."

Nedeljnik says the state Tanjug news agency has published on Sunday afternoon Vulin's statement in which he has said that "the former Defence Minister and ex-head of the Democratic Party (DS) Dragan Sutanovac always uses any opportunity to attack Serbia when the Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu come for a visit."

"Whenever I meet with the Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu someone pushes a button and Sutanovac attacks Serbia. While the DS was in power and headed the Defence Ministry, some 600 combat vehicles and artillery pieces were destroyed along with over 9,000 Arrows 2M. At the same time, not a single tank, aircraft or helicopter was bought," Vulin said.

The agency added Vulin said that "answering to an article by Dragan Sutanovac, published by Nedeljnik in which he criticised the cooperation between Serbia and Russia."

"Almost all media in Serbia carried the statement, and it was read on the pro-government Pink TV in its prime time National News," Nedeljnik said.

It added that such a statement would not be any different from the usual ones in Serbia's political life if it were not for a single fact – the article has never been published by Nedeljnik.

And that, the weekly says, raises more serious question than it is a comment on an unpublished article – where from Vulin obtained the piece and where has he read it from?

Sutanovac reacted on his Twitter account describing Vulin's statement as senseless, because "I know that there is no my article in Nedeljnik."

"After that," as the weekly said, "Sutanovac talked to the Nedeljnik editor-in-chief, realising that someone intercepted their communication."

"Someone is tapping Sutanovac's or Nedeljnik's editor-in-chief's phone. Or both," the weekly warned in the statement.

It added that Sutanovac, as some times before, asked the editor-in-chief Veljko Lalic if Nedeljnik would publish his column in a part of the weekly where public figures express their views.

"Sutanovac sent the column on Monday, and Lilic told him on Tuesday afternoon that the weekly wouldn't publish it. It hasn't been either published in the print issue nor has it been posted on the website. It remained in Sutanovac's and Lalic's e-mails and in the correspondence with the other editor Marko Prelevic whom Lalic sent the article. After that, Sutanovac said he would offer the article to other media. And that will be all as far as we are concerned," Nedeljnik said in the statement.

It added that the weekly officially asked how Minister Vulin knew what was in the article which besides Sutanovac only the editor-in-chief and other editor saw in their e-mails.

In a statement to Nedeljnik on Sunday night, Sutanovac said that "if anyone doubted Vulin's use of secret services' resources to intercept communications, in this case, the electronic mail, today's statement in which Vulin responded to the unpublished article, absolutely proved that."

"The debate with the unpublished article undoubtedly confirms that Vulin has illegally obtained the e-mails exchange between the Nedeljnik's editor and me. Is Serbia becoming the country of 'Big Brother' in which the state resources are used to intercept the communication between the former Defence Minister and media editor, is now doubtless," Sutanovac said.

The weekly informed the journalists' associations and officially demanded an investigation into ways in which Minister Vulin found out what was the content of the article which only Sutanovac and Nedeljnik knew about.

The weekly recalled that a few months ago a tabloid published that the Lalic was 'under surveillance'. Nedeljnik then asked the secret service for some reaction but hadn't received any.

"It's symptomatic that last month Nedeljnik was a target of a hacker attack which destroyed almost our complete archive. We contacted the Prosecutor's Office for High-Tech Crime. They told us we would be invited to give an official statement. However, they never called us back. That's why we demand urgent answers from Minister Vulin and Defence Ministry's PR, as well as from the investigative institutions," the weekly's statement said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a570016/Serbia-s-Defence-Minister-comments-on-unpublished-article-Ministry-appologises.html

Bosnian Croat parties support removing foreign judges from Constitutional Court

February 15, 2020

Bosnian Croat parties urged political representatives of the country's three ethnic majorities to find a compromise to overcome the emerging political crisis and expressed support for the demand by Bosnian Serb representatives to remove foreign judges from the Constitutional Court.

“It is time for Bosnia and Herzegovina to show political responsibility and democratic maturity and accept the Opinion of the European Commission on Bosnia’s request for membership in the EU, which emphasizes that Bosnia must, as part of its path toward the EU, reform its Constitutional Court, particularly regarding foreign judges,” Bosnia’s Croat National Assembly (HNS), an organization of Croat parties, said in a statement.

Political leadership in Bosnia’s Serb-majority region announced this week that its representatives in state institutions would block all decision-making processes until a law that would remove all foreign judges from the Constitutional Court is passed.

Bosnia is composed of two semi-autonomous entities - the Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS), and the Federation (FBiH), shared mostly between Bosniaks and Croats. The regions have their own governments and parliaments but are linked into one state by joint institutions, distributed among representatives of all three groups.

The decision that could block state institutions, which will be officially discussed in the RS National Assembly next week, came after the Constitutional Court declared an RS land bill law unconstitutional.

The bill declared agricultural land located in the region the state property of Republika Srpska.

The country’s Constitutional Court, however, ruled at its last session that this law is unconstitutional and that Bosnia and Herzegovina, as the state, should be the owner of such land.

For years, the leader of the strongest Bosnian Serb party, Milorad Dodik, has kept accusing the Constitutional Court of working for the interests of the Bosniaks and against Republika Srpska.

The Court is composed of nine judges, two for each major ethnic group in the country and three foreigners. Dodik has been accusing the foreign judges of siding with the two Bosniak judges too often, at the expense of the two Serb and two Croat judges.

Earlier this week, Dodik met with his political ally, the President of the HNS and the leader of the strongest Bosnian Croat party in the country, Dragan Covic.

Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs in Bosnia must come to an agreement through consensus, the HNS said.

“Today, on the anniversary of the submission of the request for EU membership, more than ever, we must remain strongly committed to European values and further integration into the EU and NATO, but also to the removal of foreign judges,” it said.

It also repeated that Bosnia must change its election law in accordance with a Constitutional Court decision to ensure legitimate political representation at all levels of government.

“Any attempt at blocking is detrimental to the functionality, stability, security and sustainability of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the HNS said, adding that it will continue “its responsible political behavior” as a “leader and protector of openness and progress.”

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a410386/Bosnian-Croat-parties-support-removing-foreign-judges-from-Constitutional-Court.html

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