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International Information Centre for Balkan Studies



Coronavirus: Slovenia reports 1,081 new cases, 4 deaths

October 14, 2021

Slovenia on Thursday confirmed 1,081 new coronavirus cases and four Covid-19-related deaths in the last 24 hours.

One in five persons tested was positive, which is fewer than on Wednesday when 1,227 new infections were registered, with a test positivity rate of 21.6 percent, the Slovenian Health Ministry said.

Currently, there are 11,581 active cases in the country. The average daily number of new cases over the past week is 816, and 1,055,042 people have been immunised, which is half of the population.

A total of 406 Covid patients are being treated in hospitals and 117 of them are in intensive care.

Several thousand people rallied in Ljubljana on Wednesday to protest against the introduction of mandatory Covid certificates, demanding the government’s resignation. Although no major cases of violence were reported, the police arrested several people, but did not use water cannon or teargas as they had at some of the previous demonstrations.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-slovenia-reports-1081-new-cases-4-deaths/

Coronavirus: Croatia reports 1,851 new cases, 18 deaths

October 14, 2021

Croatia has registered 1,851 new coronavirus cases and 18 Covid-19-related deaths in the last 24 hours, the national coronavirus response team said on Thursday morning.

Currently, there are 9,620 active cases in the country. These include 871 infected people who are receiving hospital treatment, of whom 122 are placed on ventilators.

Since 25 February 2020, when the first case was confirmed in Croatia, 422,908 people have been registered as having contracted the novel virus, of whom 8,847 have died and 404,441 have recovered, including 1,305 in the last 24 hours. 18,890 people are currently self-isolating.

A total of 2,944,660 people have been tested for coronavirus to date, including 9,484 in the last 24 hours.

As of 13 October, 3,503,116 doses of vaccines have been administered, with 45.88 percent of the total population, or 55 percent of adults, having been vaccinated. A total of 1,861,783 persons have received at least one dose and 1,744,717 have been fully inoculated (1,641,333 persons have received two doses and 103,384 have received the single-dose Jannsen vaccine), which makes up 51.64 percent of the adult population.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-croatia-reports-1851-new-cases-18-deaths/

Bosnia registers 751 new coronavirus infections and 31 COVID-19 fatalities

October 14, 2021

Another 751 people tested positive for the coronavirus and 31 COVID-19 patients passed away in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the past 24 hours, healthcare authorities said on Thursday.

In Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity, 494 among 2,494 people tested since Wednesday were positive for the virus and eight people died due to the disease.

In the other semi-autonomous entity, Republika Srpska (RS), 232 of 699 people tested were positive and 23 patients died.

Bosnia’s Brcko District registered 25 new infections.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnia-registers-751-new-coronavirus-infections-and-31-covid-19-fatalities/

Coronavirus UPDATE: 54 deaths, 6,786 newly infected in Serbia

October 14, 2021

Over the last 24 hours, 54 patients died from COVID-19-related complications and out of 22,710 tested, 6,786 were infected with the coronavirus in Serbia, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

To date, COVID-19 has officially claimed 8,946 lives in the country. The mortality rate is 0.87 percent.

Currently, 6,643 people are in hospitals, of whom 286 are on ventilators.

Since the epidemic outbreak in March 2020, 5,943,113 people have been tested, and 1,031,283 have been confirmed positive for the coronavirus.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-update-54-deaths-6786-newly-infected-in-serbia/

Austria's Interior Minister expresses support for High Representative in BiH

October 14, 2021

International community's High Representative (HR) in BiH Christian Schmidt met in Sarajevo with Austrian Minister for European and International Affairs, Michael Linhart, Thursday, and exchanged views on the current political developments in the country and the Western Balkans, with particular focus on Bosnia's challenges to the functionality, territorial integrity, and sovereignty.

The High Representative outlined the international community’s commitment to assist Bosnia and Herzegovina in fulfilling its EU integration goals, and readiness to help alleviate pressing economic issues but underscored this also presupposes domestic stakeholders doing their part.

“Strengthening of state institutions, functionality, and rule of law are requirements to achieve BiH’s graduation from international supervision and movement down the EU path. Thus, efforts to undermine the state’s effectiveness would mean working directly against the interest of citizens,” the High Representative said.

He thanked Minister Linhart for Austria’s unwavering support for BiH's EU aspirations, as well as for Austria’s invaluable role in the international community’s efforts in the country. including the significant contributions to the European peace-keeping force EUFOR.

Minister Linhart underscored that: “the High Representative and the Office of the High Representative can count on Austria’s continued, steadfast support. The HR’s mandate remains crucial for the stability and consolidation of the country and its path towards EU accession.”

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/austrias-interior-minister-expresses-support-for-high-representative-in-bih/

Position of the Netherlands remains unchanged: Genocide took place in Srebrenica

October 14, 2021

The Netherlands recognizes that genocide took place in Srebrenica in 1995 and this position will not change, Chair of the Netherlands Compensation Commission Potocari, Sylvia Wortmann, told N1.

In 2019, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands ruled that the country is partially responsible for the deaths of 350 Srebrenica genocide victims, which led to the formation of the Netherlands Compensation Commission Potocari, an independent executor of the ruling.

Relatives of the victims of the genocide in Srebrenica, the men who died at the base of the Dutch battalion in Potocari in the afternoon of July 13, 1995, are entitled to compensation of 15,000 and 10,000 euros.

The former High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, tasked with overseeing the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, imposed a law making war crimes and genocide denial illegal in July.

When asked what the significance of this law could be for BiH, as well as for international law, Wortmann said that she sees this as mainly an “internal issue.”

“It is difficult for me to express a personal position on this issue, but the Netherlands recognizes genocide and the Netherlands is very aware of the outcome of the genocide and there will be no change of position on this issue,” she stressed.

Wortmann then explained how relatives of the victims can exercise the right to compensation.

A contract must be signed by the Netherlands and the person seeking the compensation.

“Of course we want to know who the victim is, we also want to know how the victim died, or how he lost his life. An identity document of the applicant is required. It is a simple copy of the ID card, with both sides of the document, which should be stamped,” she said.

If the documentation is sent together with the completed and signed form, a certified ID card, a certified birth certificate in the case of the applicant being the child of the victim, or a certified marriage certificate if the applicant is the spouse, that is all that is needed, she explained.

So far, the commission has processed 200 claims and paid compensation in 70 cases. The commission's office will close in 2023.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/position-of-the-netherlands-remains-unchanged-genocide-took-place-in-srebrenica/

DPC: Dodik not deterred by sanctions, EUFOR/NATO in BiH should be reinforced

October 14, 2021

Bosnian Serb Presidency member Milorad Dodik’s escalating challenge to Bosnia’s statehood and territorial integrity by threatening to call on his “friends” if NATO “intervenes” in the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) entity is the result of a foreseen deterrence failure on the part of the EU and NATO, the Democratization Policy Council (DPC) concluded Thursday.

“Of course, EUFOR BiH, the European peace-keeping force in the country, backed by NATO – has the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Chapter 7 mandate under Dayton’s Annex 1A to ensure a ‘safe and secure environment’ throughout BiH,” the Council tweeted, adding that both “EUFOR and NATO HQ in Sarajevo are both authorized under that mandate, which comes up for renewal in the UNSC next month. A veto by Russia and perhaps #China was foreshadowed last July.”

The Council members argue that it was quite clear that sanctions alone are not deterring Dodik. Nor did EUFOR’s Quick Response military exercise. The question has never been about the NATO / EU capability, but will, they said, adding that years of appeasement, current policy priorities in BiH, the Balkans, and globally have all called this into question.

“It is imperative that the standing EUFOR BiH force be reinforced by NATO (and other EU member states) NOW to underscore that BiH’s territorial integrity – and security for all its citizens – will be defended. This is a question of first-mover advantage. Dodik is trying to invert deterrence: deterring NATO/ EUFOR from operating throughout BiH – and prevent action to ensure deterrence beyond a veto by Russia,” the Council wrote, warning that this also happens to assist ‘Dodik’s ally, the leader of the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH) Dragan Covic.

“It cannot be stated enough that forestalling such a foreseen challenge as today posed by Dodik should have been the international priority, while they have chased the white whale of electoral reform in response to Dragan Covic and Dodik’s joint blackmail. Statements have long since ceased to be enough. Action is needed with a rapid investment of NATO and EU member state forces to demonstrate resolve to defend BiH’s internal security and integrity,” warned the initiative for accountable democratization policy worldwide.

According to them, this is not only a moral but legal obligation undertaken by the EU and the Alliance recalling that they warned last month – and for years – about this vulnerability.

Dodik said Wednesday night that Republika Srpska is prepared to defend itself in case of a potential armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina and would ask its “friends” to protect them in such a scenario.

“If that is necessary, we will defend ourselves with our own forces. If it happens that they say NATO will intervene, we will ask our friends – who told us clear and loud they never abandon their friends – to help us,” he told public broadcaster RTRS, without specifying who the friends are.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/dpc-dodik-not-deterred-by-sanctions-eufor-nato-in-bih-should-be-reinforced/

Peace Implementation Council: Threats of secession in BiH must stop

October 14, 2021

The Ambassadors of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), the international body overseeing the implementation of Bosnia’s 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, stressed the importance of the functioning of state institutions and called on all leaders to reject destabilizing and divisive rhetoric and any actions “calling into question the existence of BiH as a single, sovereign state comprising two entities.”

“The PIC Steering Board Ambassadors (SBA) reaffirm the critical importance for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina of functioning institutions at all levels of government, including the Armed Forces of BiH, and the responsibility of all political representatives to participate in order to serve those who elect them. Without commitment and cooperation, much needed reforms – in particular those related to the Rule of Law, which are of key importance to allow BiH to move forward on its EU path – are impeded and the citizens of BiH will never be able to fully realise their right to a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future,” it said.

The statement came in light of recent statements by the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, Milorad Dodik, who is also the leader of the ruling party in Bosnia’s semi-autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) entity.

Dodik said that the RS will withdraw its previous agreements which led to the creation of the BiH Armed Forces, leave state institutions and ban the activities of the BiH Indirect Taxation Authority and BiH’s state police in the RS as a response to the law banning genocide denial in BiH which the former High Representative in the country imposed in July.

“The SBA expects all leaders to reject destabilizing and divisive rhetoric, and to cease any actions in this regard, including threats of secession and calling into question the existence of BiH as a single, sovereign state comprising two entities. We are steadfast in our support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and constitutional order of BiH. Attempting to undo 26 years of hard-won progress and peace is the opposite of what all political leaders have committed to and where BiH needs to go,” the PIC Steering Board Ambassadors said.

It also said it firmly supports the “authority, mandate and vital role” of the High Representative who is tasked with overseeing the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement.

The Russian Federation, however, added that it does not agree with this statement.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/peace-implementation-council-threats-of-secession-in-bih-must-stop/

EU's Peter Stano: All 27 EU member states support BiH's sovereignty, integrity

October 14, 2021

Putting the integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina into question is not acceptable for the European Union, EU Spokesperson, Peter Stano, said at a press conference on Thursday, responding to questions regarding recent statements of BiH Presidency member, Milorad Dodik.

Dodik, the Serb member of the tripartite Presidency member and leader of the ruling party in Bosnia’s semi-autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) entity, said recently that “at least seven” EU member states support a peaceful dissolution of BiH.

But according to Stano, this is not true and all EU member states oppose it.

“This is the clear position of all 27 EU members – we are committed to the sovereignty and integrity of BiH,” he said.

Dodik has recently also said that the RS will withdraw its previous agreements which led to the creation of the BiH Armed Forces, leave state institutions and ban the activities of the BiH Indirect Taxation Authority and BiH’s state police in the RS as a response to the law banning genocide denial in BiH which the former High Representative in the country imposed in July.

“Steps, efforts, actions and statements that call into question the integrity of BiH are not acceptable. We call for an end to the use of inflammatory rhetoric and divisive rhetoric, including questioning state institutions. That is not acceptable,” Stano said.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/eus-peter-stano-all-27-eu-member-states-support-bihs-sovereignty-integrity/

Serbia willing to hand over war crimes cases against 26 BiH citizens to BiH

October 14, 2021

Serbia’s Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said that 26 citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina were indicted by the judicial authorities in Serbia for war crimes committed against Serbs and that the country is ready to hand over the cases to the BiH judicial authorities.

Vulin argued that this decision, which Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic agreed on with judicial officials on Thursday, shows how much Serbia cares about peace.

“We have some 26 people in our indictments, citizens of BiH, and we are ready to hand over their cases to the competent judicial bodies of BiH,” Vulin told Pink TV.

“I live in the hope that someone will be convicted,” he said, calling on BiH authorities to prosecute those indicted in Serbia for crimes against Serbs in BiH.

“Now they will have the opportunity, when they receive indictments from Serbia that they can act on immediately, to interrogate war criminals, put them on trial, keep them in custody, decide on everything and show how much they care about peace and truth,” Vulin said.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/serbia-willing-to-hand-over-war-crimes-cases-against-26-bih-citizens-to-bih/

US President nominates Christopher Hill new ambassador to Serbia

October 14, 2021

The US President Joseph Biden nominated Christopher R. Hill as a new ambassador to Serbia, the White House said on Thursday, replacing Antony Godfrey, who had served in Belgrade since October 2019.

Hill is “a career member of the foreign service. Most recently, he has been the 2021 George Ball Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs,” the statement said.

It added that “before retiring from the Foreign Service in 2010, Hill served as US Ambassador to Iraq, Korea, Poland and Macedonia, as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and as Head of the US delegation to the 6 Party Talks on North Korea. Earlier in his diplomatic career, he was a member of the negotiating team whose efforts led to the Dayton Peace Agreement, ending the Bosnian war. For ten years, Hill was Dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and then Chief Advisor to the Chancellor for Global Engagement and Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy at the University of Denver. He earned a BA at Bowdoin College and an MS at the Naval War College. The recipient of numerous honors, including the Robert S. Frasure Award for Peace Negotiations and the Secretary of State Distinguished Service Award, Hill speaks Serbian, Polish, Macedonian and French.”

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/us-president-nominates-christopher-hill-new-ambassador-to-serbia/

Albin Kurti: Serbia’s illegal structures trying to destabilise Kosovo

October 14, 2021

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said in Skopje on Thursday that Pristina is not a source of destabilisation but that some of Serbia's illegal structures financed by Belgrade tried to undermine Kosovo to show that it was not a functional state.

„Kosovo is not a source of destabilisation. Whenever our police act, you have security and safety. More than 13,400 temporary plates were placed on Serbia’s vehicles at our border crossings, and no incidents occurred in 13 days. „Where our police are, there are no incidents,“ Kurti told reporters.

Commenting on Wednesday’s clashes between Serbs from northern Mitrovica and the Kosovo police, Kurti said Belgrade needed to stop looking at reality in a chauvinistic way.

„I think they have don’t see well when they look at reality. If they looked at facts without nationalist-chauvinist glasses, they could see the truth. And that is that the new democratic government in Kosovo is indeed uncompromisingly fighting corruption, „Kurti said in Skopje.

He added that „according to international organisations, Serbia is unfortunately at a quite high position regarding corruption and organised crime.“

„I think our fight against corruption and organised crime in Kosovo probably worried some people in Belgrade. But that is not our problem, but theirs,“ Kurti said.

He added that the Serb and Albanian criminals „cooperate perfectly“ on the territory of Kosovo and that the police should fight against those groups, what Wednesday’s operation was about.

„It must not be politicised. It was a well-prepared police operation against organised crime and smuggling, conducted after an intensive investigation. People of different ethnicities were arrested, and police officers, judges and prosecutors who ordered and carried out the action also had different ethnicities,“ Kurti said.

He added that „those who give a national connotation to the operation or politicise it“ were wrong.

„This has nothing to do with the ethnicity of criminals, but exclusively with the fight against organised crime and smuggling,“ Kurti reiterated.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/albin-kurti-serbias-illegal-structurs-trying-to-destabilise-kosovo/

Vaccination or tests’ certificates mandatory for entering Kosovo

October 14, 2021

As of Wednesday, Kosovo introduced mandatory anti-coronavirus vaccination or tests' certificates for entering its territory.

The KoSSev website reported on Thursday that the same rule would apply to all state institutions’ employees.

The negative PCR test should not be older than 72 hours, while the antigen test would be valid for 48 hours.

Kosovo’s Government earlier announced the measure but published them only after local media reported that some people who received only one dose were not allowed entry to Kosovo.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/vaccination-or-tests-certificates-mandatory-for-enetring-kosovo/

Dodik tells ambassadors RS will secede from Bosnia in case of sanctions

October 14, 2021

There will not be a new war in Bosnia and Herzegovina but in case of sanctions Bosnia’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) entity will declare its independence from Bosnia, Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of the country’s tripartite Presidency said Thursday following the meeting with a number of EU ambassadors in Istocno Sarajevo, but no Quinta member states.

“I told this to ambassadors today because I heard some things that they claim are not threats but warnings, and one of them is that the RS could be isolated. I bet you one thing, and that is that the European Commission will not impose sanctions on the RS or any individual [from the RS]. I cannot guarantee whether Germany or some other country do that,” Dodik said.

“The RS will implement measures to return its constitutional competencies and in the following days we will hold an RS National Assembly (parliament) session where we will decide on the withdrawal of [the RS’] consent on the military reform, the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (state judiciary), fiscal system, and the establishment of the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA),” the Serb Presidency member and leader of the ruling Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) in the RS said Thursday evening.

As they adopt the said decisions, the RS parliament will regulate these areas with appropriate acts.

He added that he will give the state judges and prosecutors a deadline by which they should leave the RS and if they do not, they will “take appropriate measures.”

“We’ll take over the BiH Armed Forces’ barracks just as Slovenians did in 1992,” he added.

Dodik also said the RS will pass laws abolishing the laws “that were ever imposed by the High Representative,” making them void.

“That’s some 140 laws on public procurements, prosecution, judiciary, state police (SIPA) and there will be no negotiations about this,” Dodik noted.

“Our actions are not breaking the country’s territorial integrity, but no one can force us to accept a High Representative who will impose something on us. He can brag as much as he wants here and come from any country. Everything that the high representatives did was in favour of the Muslim people and politics, and Croats and Serbs do not want such a violation of rights, and I now declare that this is over and that we will resolve it at the next RSNA session,” the SNSD leader pointed out.

He stressed that there will be no war in Bosnia but that the RS will be independent in case of sanctions.

“Should the EU decide to impose sanctions against the RS – they will remember that date as the date of Republika Srpska’s independence. No one will threaten us with sanctions. I am not threatening secession, I am not threatening anyone,” Dodik said.

He concluded by saying “this can neither be stopped by the European Commission, nor the United States, or the British who have been creating this mess for years. The British and others have been playing with them all the previous years and instead of letting the politicians do everything together they (the British) did everything to create a Muslim state. That is why the RS politicians reject all of that and do not accept the discrimination of anyone, not even the Croat people in BiH.”

Earlier last week, Dodik said the RS has already formed expert teams that would deliver legal remedies through which the RS would pull out of agreements it signed years ago forming the state-level judiciary, tax administration and army. According to him, the competencies given to the state level must be returned to the RS as the Constitution does not provide for such institutions.

The move came after several of his and RS initiatives were rejected by the State or Constitutional Court and other state-level institutions as unconstitutional or illegal, and after the international community’s High Representative overseeing the civilian implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the 1992-1995 war in the country, imposed a genocide denial ban.

The ban prompted all Serb ministers and state officials at the state level to boycott the work of state institutions until the ban was repealed.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/dodik-tells-ambassadors-rs-will-secede-from-bosnia-in-case-of-sanctions/

US Secretary of State: Looking forward to strengthening partnership with Serbia

October 14, 2021

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted on Thursday, Washington was looking forward to strengthening the partnership with Belgrade.

Ahead of the 140th anniversary of the establishment of the US – Serbia diplomatic relations, Blinken said the two countries shared friendship and deep cultural ties.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/us-secretary-of-state-looking-forward-to-strengthening-partnership-with-serbia/

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