International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Officials agree to strengthen cooperation between Republika Srpska, Serbia

November 24, 2022

Bosnia Presidency Chair Zeljka Cvijanovic and President of Bosnia's Serb-majority region Milorad Dodik met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Thursday to discuss joint projects planned by Serbia and Bosnian entity as well as strengthening of their "integration through joint programmes," as emphasized by Dodik.

“It is important to stress the commitment we heard about here. It was emphasized that cooperation on projects will continue,” said Dodik addressing the media after the meeting.

He welcomed Serbia’s stance on supporting the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but said it was important that Serbian President knows that “Republika Srpska is in jeopardy when it comes to its constitutional rights.”

Dodik stressed the need to return to “original Dayton,” referring to the peace deal that ended the 1992-95 war and established Bosnia’s constitutional system.

“Until that happens, we see no reason to give our contribution to Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he stressed.

Dodik, who assumed the post of Republika Srpska President after the victory in the October 2 elections, said he would work in the upcoming period on the “integration of Republika Srpska and Serbia through joint programmes in education and culture sectors, within the special relations.”

He also announced a joint session of governments of Serbia and Republika Srpska early next month.

Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency Zeljka Cvijanovic said she would like to contribute to better relations between the two countries.

“It does not depend on me only. I wish we could shift from the stage where we in BiH have querulous stance towards the external world to the path where we would see the benefits of implementation of certain projects, where we wouldn’t use them as a way to block things or something,” she said and thanked Serbia for being a partner in various projects.

Vucic also addressed media, stressing that Bosnia and Herzegovina is an important foreign trade partner, and that Serbia has a goal to become a number one foreign trade partner to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“I thank to the people of Republika Srpska for standing next to its Serbia at every moment,” said Vucic.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/officials-agree-to-strengthen-cooperation-between-republika-srpska-serbia/

Vucic-We don’t want Kosovo in UN – will you bomb us, make threats?

November 24, 2022

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that Kosovo Serbs will not be returning to Kosovo’s institutions before the Community of Serb Municipalities is established, which was their second condition, in addition to the one regarding the license plate fines. He said people will be able to extend their Serbia-issued license plates as usual. Commenting the European Union’s (EU) proposal for a final agreement, Vucic said Serbia has its own “red lines.”

“We say we don’t want Kosovo in the UN and then what – you bomb us, threaten us with sanctions, what?” Vucic told a media conference in Belgrade, adding that “it is not a problem” to immediately suspend negotiation, but “how do you think you will resolve those problems then.”

Asked what will happen with the snap elections for mayors of four Serb-majority municipalities in north Kosovo, scheduled for December 18, which the Kosovo Serbs have said they would boycott, Vucic said that the Kosovo Serbs have stipulated their condition – the establishment of the Community of Serb Municipalities.

He noted that this was one of their conditions for their return to the institutions, in addition to their request not to be fined for using Serbia-issued license plated.

“Even if I wanted to – and I don’t – I couldn’t convince Serbs in Kosovo to do something like that,” said the Serbian President.

He said that “not an easy period of time lies ahead,” but that he believes “we will manage to preserve peace and stability.”

Vucic said the KM (Serbia-issued) license plates in Kosovo “are staying and surviving,” and that they can be extended as usual because “there is no obligation attached to this.”

“Two days ago they (Pristina) had a better deal than the one they got yesterday,” said Vucic, adding that there are 7,000 KM (Serbia-issued) license plates in Kosovo and about 2,000 in “central Serbia.”

It is of key importance that the statement issued after the Wednesday meeting reads that all previously reached agreements need to be implemented, said Vucic.

He said the situation among the Serbs in Kosovo is “heated” and that “people are fed up with the Pristina authorities’ terror,” adding that the Serbs are fed up with blackmail, harassment, bullying and do not want to be a national minority.

EU Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell said Wednesday evening that the chief negotiators of Serbia and Kosovo agreed on the measures to avoid further escalation. “Serbia will stop issuing license plates with Kosovo Cities’ denominations and Kosovo will cease further actions related to re-registration of vehicles,” Borrell explained.

Belgrade’s chief negotiator Petar Petkovic said that the agreement reached with Pristina’s negotiator Besnik Bislimi means that there will be no punitive policy towards Kosovo Serb drivers whose Serbia-issued license plates will remain valid.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/vucic-we-dont-want-kosovo-in-un-will-you-bomb-us-make-threats/

Serb List-Agreement confirms KM plates remain

November 24, 2022

The Serb List welcomed the agreement reached by negotiators from Belgrade and Pristina saying that it confirms that Serbian-issued license plates will remain in place.

A press release said that the KM (Kosovska Mitrovica) license plates will not be seized nor will the police issue fines for drivers with those plates on their vehicles.

The Belgrade-backed Kosovo Serb party said the public has been informed that owners of vehicles with KM plates will be able drive around normally and will be able to extend their KM registration. “All drivers with KM plates will be able to freely use them and extend their vehicle registration,” it said.

“We asked to keep the KM plates in place, not increase their number,” the Serb List said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serb-list-agreement-confirms-km-plates-remain/

Petkovic-Serbian license plates still valid

November 23, 2022

Belgrade’s chief negotiator Petar Petkovic said in Brussels late on Wednesday night that the agreement he reached with Pristina’s negotiator Besnik Bislim means that there will be no punitive policy towards Kosovo Serb drivers whose Serbian-issued license plates will remain valid.

“We managed to reach an agreement after seven hours of hard talks an in line with what Belgrade insisted on. This agreement means that there will be none of (Kosovo Prime Minister) Albin Kurti’s punitive policies against Serbs driving with KM (Kosovska Mitrovica) license plates. There will be no 150 Euro fines that Kurti planned on nor any punitive policy in all other stages which were part of Kurti’s decision on re-registration,” Petkovic said.

According to him, the one thing that is especially important is that the KM plates will remain in place. “Those are plates which are legal, which the Serbs can use and will continue to be in use as they have to date. That means owners of cars with KM Plates will be able to register them normally. We will only stop issuing new license plates until we reach an agreement,” the head of the Serbian government Office for Kosovo said. “We have saved our Serbian KM plates,” he said.

He said that the peace was maintained and the Serbs in north Kosovo have been protected.

Petkovic said that Kurti accepted everything he rejected in the past few days.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/petkovic-serbian-license-plates-still-valid/

Borrell-We have a deal

November 23, 2022

European Union (EU) Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell wrote Wednesday evening on Twitter that the chief negotiators of Serbia and Kosovo agreed on the measures to avoid further escalation. “Serbia will stop issuing license plates with Kosovo Cities’ denominations and Kosovo will cease further actions related to re-registration of vehicles,” Borrell added.

“We have a deal! Very pleased to announce that chief negotiators of Kosovo and Serbia under EU-facilitation have agreed on measures to avoid further escalation and to fully concentrate on the proposal on normalization of their relations,” Borrell wrote on Twitter.

We have a deal!

Very pleased to announce that Chief Negotiators of #Kosovo & #Serbia under EU-facilitation have agreed on measures to avoid further escalation and to fully concentrate on the proposal on normalisation of their relations.

— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) November 23, 2022

He thanked EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak for his “hard work” and said he will invite the parties in the coming days to discuss next steps.

Borrell said he and Lajcak will continue to facilitate the process of normalization of relations and update the EU Member States and partners regularly about the progress achieved by the Parties..

Pristina negotiator Besnik Bislimi said that, following the agreement reached Wednesday evening, “we should continue our intensive talks on the proposal of the EU, backed by Germany and France, for full normalization of relations.

After today's agreement, we should continue our intensive talks on the proposal of EU, backed by Germany and France, for full normalization of relations. https://t.co/iQHv97Hqgk

— Besnik Bislimi (@BislimiBesnik) November 23, 2022

Lajcak thanked the Serbia and Kosovo negotiators for their constructive engagement, and the US Department of State and the US diplomacy for “their invaluable support.”

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/borrell-we-have-a-deal-2/

Vucic-I’m jealous of Aliyev, I only get called about Kosovo

November 23, 2022

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev arrived in Belgrade on Wednesday for talks with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic.

The two presidents had a bilateral meeting before the two delegations signed seven documents that are intended to upgrade the strategic partnership between the two countries.

The documents include a memorandum to form a Strategic Partnership Council, a readmission agreement, a social security agreement and memorandums of understanding between the two countries development agencies and chambers of commerce.

An N1 reporter said that both delegations include the ministers of foreign and internal affairs, economy and energy.

Vucic and Aliyev told a joint media conference following the signing of the documents that the two countries support each other in the international arena because they both have to protect their territorial integrity.

Aliyev said that four UN Security Council resolutions that called for the Armenian army to leave Nagorno-Karabakh were not implemented for 28 years, because of which Azerbaijan had to restore sovereignty over those territories by force.

Azerbaijan’s President said natural gas and electricity are the new opportunities for cooperation with Serbia.

Vucic said Aliyev has become the most popular president in Europe and that now everyone has time for him because they need Azerbaijani natural gas.

„I’m a little jealous of him. They only call me about Kosovo, when someone needs to hit me on the head,“ said Vucic.

The Serbian President used the opportunity to lobby for lithium: „Serbia is small and has no gas. We have lithium. But we are the geniuses who are the only ones in Europe who have abandoned lithium at this moment.”

Vucic announced that he would pay an informal but working visit to Azerbaijan by the end of the year, when he will continues talks with Aniyev on cooperation in the field of energy.

Aliyev last visited Serbia in 2011.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/vucic-im-jealous-of-aliyev-i-only-get-called-about-kosovo/

EP-Serbia to align with EU sanctions policy

November23, 2022

The European Parliament adopted a recommendation on Wednesday to continue accession talks with Serbia only if it aligns with the European Union sanctions policy against Russia.

“Underlining the importance for the EU of prioritizing the alignment of accession countries with the EU’s common foreign and security policy, MEPs say that accession negotiations with Serbia should advance only if the country supports EU sanctions against Russia and makes significant progress on EU-related reforms,” a press release said after the recommendation was adopted by majority vote.

The Serbian authorities have avoided introducing sanctions against Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. Official Belgrade has had close relations with the Kremlin because Russia has supported its stand on Kosovo.

The European Parliament also adopted a resolution “recognizing Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism” and calling for the isolation of that country, a press release said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/ep-serbia-to-align-with-eu-sanctions-policy/

Kurti-Going to Brussels only for final agreement

November 23, 2022

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said on Wednesday that he will return to Brussels only for a final agreement to normalize relations between Belgrade and Pristina which will include mutual recognition.

Radio TV Kosovo report him as saying that an agreement might be reached within 48 hours. Kurti agreed to postpone the implementation of the decision to fine drivers with Serbian-issued license plates for 48 hours following the failure of top level talks to resolve the issue in Brussels.

Kurti spoke after a cabinet meeting he called to inform the government of his talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and European Union High Representative Josep Borrell. The Kosovo Prime Minister claimed that a document was sent from Brussels with just four paragraphs which included a call to focus on the EU proposal to normalize relation and immediately start high-level talks to reach an agreement before March 2023 as well as guarantees for the Serb community and the license plates issue.

Kurti said that the condition to resolve the license plates issues was to stop the activities of the Kosovo government, not put a ban on issuing plates by Serbia.

“We agreed, in order to make room for talks about the EU proposal, to stop the second stage of the decision on license plates but only when Serbia stops issuing illegal plates,” Kurti is reported to have said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/kurti-going-to-brussels-only-for-final-agreement/

No visa liberalization for Kosovo yet

November 23, 2022

Radio TV Kosovo (RTK) said on Wednesday that the European Union will not approve a liberalization of the visa regime for Kosovo because of the heightened tensions following the failure of top political leaders to resolve the license plates dispute.

RTK said that the Czech EU presidency decided not to put visa liberalization on the agenda of today’s meeting at ambassador level “due to the political events in the north of Kosovo”. The EU presidency decided to move the debate on the liberalization of the visa regime to th next meeting on November 30.

According to RTK, this is the first time that the visa liberalization process for Kosovo has been linked to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/kosovo-media-no-visa-liberalization-for-kosovo-yet/

Dodik's SNSD to have four seats in BiH House of Peoples

November 22, 2022

The Pokret za Drzavu (PZD) a pro-Bosnian group of political parties bringing together Bosniak and civic parties, will not support the opposition candidate from Republika Srpska (RS) entity for the House of Peoples of BiH, which will allow the SNSD to have four delegates, and in return, they will receive seats in the Government and Parliament of the RS. 

According to the Srpskainfo portal, this agreement was reached ten days ago by the representatives of the PZD with the leader of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), Milorad Dodik.

According to that agreement, PZD should receive the post of Bosniak Deputy Speaker in the RS Parliament and a ministerial seat in the RS Government.

The Srpskainfo’s source pointed out that the position of one of the Deputy Speakers in the RS Parliament should be given to Mirsad Duratovic from PZD, while Sevlid Hurtic should be given the chair of the RS Minister of Trade and Tourism. In return, PZD will not support the opposition candidate during the election of Serb delegates to the House of Peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

These allegations were confirmed on Monday by Duratovic himself, who told N1 that the PZD MPs in the RS Parliament would vote for their candidate, Vojin Mijatovic.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/dodiks-snsd-to-have-four-seats-in-bih-house-of-peoples/

Presidency member Denis Becirovic-High Rep's role in Bosnia is unquestionable

November 18, 2022
In his first interview after taking over the post of the Bosniak member in BiH’s tripartite Presidency, Denis Becirovic said he will focus on addressing the “existential issues” citizens face and stressed the importance of the High Representative of the international community in the country.
Becirovic told BHRT that he is well aware of the responsibilities of the presidency, but also urged authorities on all government levels to “work together and solve the existential issues of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
“All of us in Bosnia and Herzegovina have common problems, we all have common enemies. The enemies of the people in Bosnia and Herzegovina are unemployment, disenfranchisement, poverty, and the mass emigration of people, especially young people, and for this reason, I persistently call on all representatives of the authorities, at all levels, to start solving existential issues and to keep in mind the competences of certain institutions,” he said.
As for foreign policy, Becirovic emphasised the importance of BiH progressing on its path towards the European Union and NATO.
“We must respect the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We must respect the adopted decisions. The state of Bosnia and Herzegovina has clearly defined, as well as its competent authorities, what the strategic foreign political priorities of BiH are, namely full membership in the European Union and full membership in NATO,” he said.
He also the importance of developing good regional relations, urging political leaders in Serbia and Croatia to “stop with inflammatory messages and arguments” and turn toward solving open issues between their countries and BiH.
Becirovic stressed the importance of the role of the High Representative, Christian Schmidt, who oversees the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement.
However, he added that while the High Representative’s role is “important and unquestionable”, this does not mean that he always makes the best decisions.
“On October 2, on election night, I clearly said that I disagree with both the timing and the content of the High Representative's decisions,” Becirovic said, referring to the decision of the High Representative, Christian Schmidt, to impose amendments to Bosnia’s Election Law and the Constitution of the country’s Federation (FBiH) entity.
“However, we must cooperate, we must build a European Bosnia and Herzegovina. The High Representative must know that we need to build a Bosnia and Herzegovina in which European principles and European standards will apply,” he said.
The newly elected Presidency member expressed hope that BiH will soon be granted EU candidate status, arguing it would serve as an impetus for further reforms in the country.
“I have to say that in my first address at the inauguration, I pointed out the importance that in these weeks, until December 20, we all try to make the maximum effort so that Bosnia and Herzegovina gets candidate status. This is very important for our country. That would be a strong impetus for us to continue with the reforms,” he said.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/presidency-member-denis-becirovic-high-reps-role-in-bosnia-is-unquestionable/

More money for military, police in 2023 budget

November 18, 2022
Nova Ekonomija magazine said on Friday that the proposed Serbian budget for 2023 has increased funding for the military and police and cut the budgets of the health and economy ministries.
It said that the budget bill adopted by the government earlier this week raised the Defense Ministry budget by 15 percent compared to this year’s budget. It said that the Internal Affairs Ministry (MUP) is getting 7 percent more money and the Finance Ministry 12 percent. That means that the Defense Ministry will have a budget of 160.9 billion Dinars (1 Euro – 117 Dinars) compared to 139.3 in this year’s amended budget with 60.2 billion Dinars to be spent on buying equipment.
The Finance Ministry got 1,171 billion Dinars this year and will get 1,336 billion next year while the MUP got 101.8 billion this year and will get 109.2 billion in 2023.
The Health Ministry budget was cut from last year’s 44.3 billion to 31.7 billion next year with the funding to combat COVID more than halfed from 5.3 billion in 2022 to 2 billion in 2023.
The Economy Ministry saw its budget drop for 35.3 billion Dinars this year to 30.9 billion in 2023.
Overal budget revenue is higher by 7.8 percent compared to 2022 with expenses rising by almost 6 percent. The government’s proposal for the 2023 budget has to be adopted by parliament.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/more-money-for-military-police-in-2023-budget/

Minister says projects with KfW bank worth 1.4 billion Euro

November 18, 2022
Serbia’s Mining and Energy Minister Dubravka Djedovic said on Friday that joint projects with the German KfW Development Bank are worth some 1.4 billion Euro with more investments planned.
A press release quoted her as saying in a meeting with KfW Belgrade office Director Rudiger Hartmann that cooperation with the bank is successful on projects to increase energy efficiency, rehabilitate the central heating system and build new biomass power plants.
She said new investments are being planned primarily in the construction of the Trans-Balkan Corridor which provides electricity supplies to the entire region as well as investments in solar power plants and wind farms.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/minister-says-projects-with-kfw-bank-worth-1-4-billion-euro/

Serbian FM-Kosovo delegation at conference does not mean recognition

November 18, 2022
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said that the presence of Pristina’s delegation at the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) ministerial conference does not mean recognition of Kosovo by Serbia.
A ministry press release quoted him as telling the conference that the presence of the Kosovo delegation “does not in any way prejudice recognition of the independence of Kosovo by Serbia nor does it have any influence on Serbia’s consistent respect for UN Security Council resolution 1244”.
“On the contrary, the participation of Serbia today, despite this circumstance which deeply enters into our vital interests, actually shows the huge importance that we attach to cooperation with the OIF,” Dacic told the ministerial conference.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-fm-kosovo-delegation-at-conference-does-not-mean-recognition/

Brnabic-Pristina must implement signed agreements

November 18, 2022
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that no agreement has been reached with Pristina on license plates and stressed that Kosovo Serbs and Belgrade want to see the already signed agreements implemented and honored.
Brnabic said Belgrade is concerned because it does not see any results of Pristina’s talks with the European Union (EU) and US.
“Albin Kurti is saying that the Brussels Agreement does not exist. Those are bad signs. This agreement exists and what has been signed should be honored,” Brnabic told the Tanjug agency, Serbia’s state TV (RTS) reported.
The Prime Minister said she expects Pristina’s talks with the EU and US to produce results.
She noted that the rule of law is a European principle, one that is also reflected in the implementation of signed agreements, and that Belgrade met its obligations a long time ago.
Brnabic said that, under the 2021 agreement on license plates, a sticker regime had been introduced and an agreement reached that it would not be changed without mutual consent but that Pristina has unilaterally breached the deal.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/brnabic-pristina-must-implement-signed-agreements/

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