International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Vucic condemns killing of Kosovo policeman, blames „Kurti’s terror“ for escalation

September 24, 2023

Serbia’s President, Aleksandar Vucic, strongly condemned the killing of a Kosovo police officer, adding that there is no justification for it. However, he said that the incident was caused by Serbs revolting because they "do not want to suffer under (Albin) Kurti's terror anymore" and that it was only a matter of time before something like this happens.

„I don’t want to justify the killing of an Albanian policeman, nor is it possible to justify it. That is absolutely reprehensible“, he said.

He then, however, went on to say that the only culprit for everything that is happening in Kosovo and Metohija is Albin Kurti, „although he also has the help of those from the international community”.

„Albin Kurti is the only one who wants conflicts and war, his life’s desire is to drag us into conflicts with NATO“, emphasised Vucic.

At the beginning of his address, he said that it is one of the most difficult days for Serbia since 2004 and 2008. He apologized for not being able to address the public earlier in the day because it was necessary to determina what was happening in Kosovo and Metohija and make appropriate decisions.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/vucic-condemns-killing-of-kosovo-policeman-blames-kurtis-terror-for-escalation/

Dodik-No progress until issues of Constitutional Court and Election Law are resolved

September 24, 2023

The President of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, said today in Mostar that all partners in the government at the BiH level are in favour of achieving progress, but that this will not be possible until the issues of the Constitutional Court of BiH and the Election Law are resolved. Dodik spoke ahead of his meeting with the coalition partners at the state level which will take place on Monday, and he used the opportunity to again insult the US ambassador and the High Representative of the international community in the country.

“The epicentre of all discussions will be the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Election Law. We will not be able to move forward until we resolve these two issues. We are all in favour of some progress, but what we have to do is to solve problems, not just those which one side has an interest in,” Dodik told reporters.

“I think we have shown through the support of the five laws we have had recently that we are serious about it. Our attitude towards the international factor in BiH is clear, but it is equally bad that part of the structure in BiH thinks that they can solve some things with interventionism”, said Dodik.

He said that the High Representative Christian Schmidt should leave and that he is not a relevant factor, and that the US no longer has the power to solve things through phone calls. He called the American ambassador Michael Murphy a liar and blamed him for the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“I will propose a declaration on the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina to be adopted at the Parliament. There are no more high representatives, no foreign judges in the Constitutional Court,” Dodik said.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/dodik-no-progress-until-issues-of-constitutional-court-and-election-law-are-resolved/

MP in Bosnia's Republika Srpska entity urges RS government-Stop discrimination of Bosniaks

September 23, 2023

Ramiz Salkic, a member of the National Assembly of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity, called on the Prime Minister of the RS to stop discrimination against Bosniaks in employment in the RS education sector, as well as in local and entity-level institutions and public enterprises.

Salkic was responding to a statement by RS Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic, who said that “allegations about frequent attacks on returnees in the RS are not true” and that certain politicians are trying to fabricate this and turn it into a “political issue”.

Salkic said that, instead of “deceiving the public”, Viskovic should respect and implement the Dayton Peace Agreement and the RS Constitution.

“The President of the entity Government should know that it is the Government's obligation under Annex VII of the Dayton Peace Agreement to ensure the return of the expelled without any form of discrimination and to create a safe environment for those who returned”, he stressed.

The RS Government is behaving “contrary to this”, he argued, adding that it is “carrying out general targeted systemic discrimination against Bosniaks” and that, “with its narrative, denial of genocide, glorification of war criminals, denial of the continuity of the statehood of Bosnia and Herzegovina, denial of identity and the Bosnian language, it encourages intolerance towards Bosniaks among citizens of Serb nationality”.

“The government is obliged according to the Dayton Peace Agreement and the Constitution of the entity to provide access to education under equal conditions for all children, national representation in entity and local bodies according to the 1991 population census, as well as the right to free language use”, he stressed, noting that, today, the RS Government implements an education process which glorifies convicted war criminals for the committed genocide against Bosniaks and prevents Bosniaks from studying the Bosnian language.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/mp-in-bosnias-republika-srpska-entity-calls-on-rs-government-stop-discrimination-of-bosniaks/

Peace Implementation Council urges Dodik to stop noncooperation with High Representative in BiH

September 22, 2023

The Ambassadors of the Peace Implementation Council’s Steering Board (PIC SB) reiterate their firm and consistent support to the mandate of the High Representative Christian Schmidt and to the Office of the High Representative in overseeing the civilian implementation of the General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP).

The Steering Board of the PIC decisively rejects any attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the OHR and the High Representative and reminds of its decision of 27 May 2021 to appoint Christian Schmidt as High Representative. The Steering Board of the PIC also recalls that on 14 July 2023, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reaffirmed in a letter to Ms Zeljka Cvijanovic, the Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, that the Steering Board of the PIC is the relevant body for the appointment of the High Representative.

Any attempt to restrict the ability of the High Representative to execute his mandate under Annex 10 of the GFAP on the entire territory of the country is an act of non-compliance with the GFAP. The High Representative will continue to fulfil his mandate throughout the whole territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The PIC SB urges Republika Srpska (RS) entity President Dodik to immediately stop his policy of non-recognition of and non-cooperation with the High Representative which is detrimental to the interests of the RS.

The PIC-SBA calls on all parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina to work consistently towards the European perspective of the country and to spare no efforts on the reforms necessary for BiH to advance on its Euro-Atlantic path, instead of fueling unnecessary tensions.

The PIC SB also reiterates that the International Community is fully committed and retains the necessary instruments to uphold the GFAP, including the territorial integrity of BiH.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/peace-implementation-council-urges-dodik-to-stop-noncooperation-with-high-representative-in-bih/

Protesters block another highway in support of RS President Milorad Dodik

September 22, 2023

Several hundred citizens arrived in the town of Lapisnica in Istocni Stari Grad for a rally in support of Republika Srpska (RS) entity President Milorad Dodik and RS Official Gazette acting director Milos Lukic, blocking the main road.

Large traffic jams were formed, considering that it is a fairly busy road. Among those present were Bosina’s Foreign Trade Minister Stasa Kosarac, the spokesperson of the ruling Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) party Radovan Kovacevic as well as some mayors from the RS, N1 reporter said.

The rally called “The Border Exists” was held last week in Foca and Ribnik. Previous rallies were held in Istocno Sarajevo, Doboj, Ostra Luka and Vlasenica.

The title of the series of protests falsely implies that the Inter-Entity Boundary Line is actually a “border” – an easily disputed claim by simply reading the original of the BiH Constitution, which is part of the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the 1992-1995 war in the country, which was originally written in English and then translated in Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian language. In the original, it is clearly stated that the line between the entities is only a boundary line.

Earlier, EUFOR, the European peace-keeping force in Bosnia, announced that it was monitoring the security situation in the country, and their vehicles were seen in certain locations.

All the previous rallies were peaceful and they were secured by the RS Interior Ministry.

The Office of the High Representative (OHR), the international community’s envoy in charge of overseeing the implementation of the civilian aspect of the Dayton Peace Agreement announced previously that “there are no internal borders in Bosnia and Herzegovina”:

“High Representative Christian Schmidt reminds that it is irresponsible to stage divisive political events at the Inter-Entity Boundary Line. The Inter-Entity Boundary Line is not a border between the RS and the FBiH, but purely administrative line,” the Office of the High Representative said in a statement posted on social platforms.

The protest is a response to the indictment against Dodik and acting director of RS Official Gazette Milos Lukic over their refusal to implement decisions of the High Representative in BiH on the RS entity territory.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/protesters-block-another-highway-in-support-of-rs-president-milorad-dodik/

Minister in Bosnia and his family have property worth 18 Million Bosnian marks

September 21, 2023

Ramo Isak, the Minister of Internal Affairs in Bosnia's Federation (FBiH) entity, and his family own two companies and 15 real estate properties in Zenica and Sarajevo. More than half of these properties were acquired over the past six years.

In tandem with his political career advancement, Ramo Isak, the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), has seen substantial growth in his assets. Since entering politics in 2006, Isak and his family have acquired at least 10 real estate properties and a company. Additionally, they own four cars and have cash assets, all estimated to be worth more than 18 million Bosnian marks (some €9 million).

The property in Lukovo Polje, a suburb of Zenica, where three houses now stand, he inherited from his father in 2008 when he served as a representative in the Assembly of the Zenica-Doboj Canton (ZDK) and a delegate in the House of Peoples of the Federation Parliament. One of these houses is used as the headquarters of Condor, his wife Amela’s Agency for the Physical and Technical Protection of People and Property.

At the end of his parliamentary term in 2010, Isak declared that he and his wife owned land in Bugojno, an apartment, commercial space, BMW and Toyota vehicles, and cash, all valued at 1.3 million marks (some €700,000).

Twelve years later, the reported assets of the Isak family have increased by 17 million marks (around €8.5 million). The inherited property with houses is again valued at 600,000 marks (around €300,000), and the land at 30,000 marks (some €15,000). Isak has reported that his wife owns a house, an apartment, two commercial spaces, garages, a warehouse, and land, with a total value of 4.45 million marks (nearly €2,2 million), as well as two companies valued at 10.5 million marks (around €5.2 million). He also stated that his sons own three houses and an apartment worth 1.38 million Bosnian marks (around €650,000).

“Allah has given me more than I need. I am grateful to Him for that,” Isak said in a previous interview. However, he declined to speak further when contacted by the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN).

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/minister-in-bosnia-and-his-family-have-property-worth-18-million-bosnian-marks/

Standoff continues-Two more armed attackers in northern Kosovo killed

September 24, 2023

Two more persons who clashed with Kosovo police at Banjska village were killed and one of the uniformed heavily armed attackers was arrested, Kosovo police said.

The ongoing standoff in northern Kosovo began in the night between Saturday and Sunday, when “heavily armed attackers” with what seem to be military uniforms killed a police officer and injured another one.

According to Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, at least 30 „heavily armed professionals“ were involved in an attack which he was „financed and orchestrated“ by Serbia. However, he admitted that it is still unclear who the attackers are.

At the press conference, he showed footage of persons armed with heavy weapons in six vehicles without licence plates and one armoured vehicle, wearing camouflage uniforms, around and inside the Banjska monastery.

Meanwhile, KFOR said it is closely monitoring the situation in Banjska, and that troops are present in the area and ready to react if necessary, while numerous international officials reacted on social media.

According to RTK, the ambassadors of the USA, Great Britain, France and Italy arrived at the government building to meet with Kurti over the incident.

Earlier, Kosovo police confirmed that one of the attackers was killed.

„The situation in the north of Kosovo, more precisely in the area of the village of Banjska, is still tense, criminal groups from time to time attack police units in the field,” police said.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/standoff-continues-two-more-armed-attackers-in-northern-kosovo-killed/

Osmani calls EU to lift measures against Kosovo

September 22, 2023

Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani said on Friday that the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue could continue in a constructive manner if the European Union lifts the measures it imposed on Pristina.

A press release said that she told US deputy National Security advisor Johnathan Finer that Kosovo is committed to implementing the 2023 Brussels Agreement. “Lifting the EU measures on Kosovo will allow the dialogue to continue constructively because the role of the US is decisive in the dialogue,” Osmani said.

Osmani met with Finer as part of her activities on the margins of the 78th UN General Assembly session.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/osmani-calls-eu-to-lift-measures-against-kosovo/

Kosovo FM condemns Vucic speech at UN General Assembly

September 22, 2023

Kosovo Foreign Minister Donika Gervalla condemned Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s speech at the UN General Assembly, calling his claims a distortion of history.

“As the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora of the Republic of Kosovo, I strongly condemn and reject entirely as untruths and attempt to distort history the statements concerning the Republic of Kosovo, made by the President of Serbia in his presentation before the UN General Assembly where he, among other things, sees the origins of the Russian aggression on Ukraine in the independence of Kosovo, and shamelessly claims that in 2008 what happened to Serbia is happening to Ukraine today.

Vucic said in his speech that the break up of Serbia is ongoing and blamed the 19 countries involved in the 1999 military campaign for the declaration of independence of Kosovo which he said was a brutal violation of the UN Charter.

Gervalla said in her reaction that the declaration of independence was not a violation of the UN Charter or international law.

“With this slander and attempts to distort history, the President of Serbia has severely abused the UN General Assembly,” she said and accused Vucic of violating an agreement on the path to normalization which said that Serbia should not oppose Kosovo’s membership in international organizations.

“Some people are horrified by my speech and some are thrilled but no one can dispute the facts… We Serbs are not always rational but in any case I spoke from the heart and the mind. I told the truth and spoke for the sake of history,” Vucic told reporters in New York commenting criticism of his speech at the UN General Assembly.

The Kosovo Foreign Minister also accused Belgrade and Vucic of blocking the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue. According to her, the Serbian President continues to hold the entire Western Balkan region hostage, including the Serbian people.

“We call on the international community, especially the EU and the US to condemn the language used by the President of Serbia at the UN, and to remind him of the obligations he made with the agreement expressed in Brussels and Ohrid,” she said.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/kosovo-fm-condemns-vucic-speech-at-un-general-assembly/

Albania’s Rama-Kosovo PM’s path does not lead to goal

Commenting on Pristina’s accusations against European Union (EU) Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said this is the kind of thing that “leaves people speechless” and causes damage instead of rectifying the situation, and noted that the path chosen by Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti is not one that leads to the goal.

In an interview with the Albanian ABC News, Rama said Pristina’s approach actually helps Serbia because it is becoming a victim in the eyes of the entire international community and Kosovo’s friends and partners, reported Kosovo Online.

“The reaction of Prime Minister Kurti from a few days ago was unprecedented. I don’t recall a similar case, one of a senior Kosovo official directly accusing an EU representative and saying he sent a letter of complaint to (German Chancellor Olaf) Scholz and (French President Emmanuel) Macron. These are things that leave you speechless and additionally harm what they are supposedly trying to rectify, because the conspiracy theories revealed about cooperation between Serbia and the EU special envoy are not something that is advisable to do,” said Rama.

He said he has no doubt that Kurti is trying to do what is best for Kosovo, but added that strong desire and good will are never enough, and that it takes strategic vision to achieve a goal, which Kurti fails to see.

Commenting on a remark that is somewhat of a paradox that Albania chairs the Security Council yet that it seems unable to influence Pristina, Rama said he does not want to exert influence on Pristina because it has a government elected by the people, and its responsibility is to lead Kosovo and chose the path to the goal.

“The point is that we think the path they have chosen does not lead to achieving this goal, but to collision with the US and EU. This is sad, but I believe it is temporary,” said Rama.

Asked if he thinks Serbia is benefiting from the current situation, he said it was sad that Pristina’s approach is helping Serbia instead of Kosovo, because paints the picture of Serbia as a victim.

“Serbia is playing a game, because Pristina’s short-sighted politics is handing it the opportunity,” said Rama.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/albania-s-rama-kosovo-pm-s-path-does-not-lead-to-goal/

Srbijagas CEO says natural gas prices to go up as of November

September 22, 2023

The CEO of the state gas company Srbijagas, Dusan Bajatovic, said on Friday that all those who use natural gas for heating would see higher prices as of November, but added that the hike would not exceed 10 percent.

If we calculate the average invoice in December, the increase will be somewhere between 850 and 1,600 dinars (1 euro – 117 dinars), depending on consumption, Bajatovic told the Serbian state TV (RTS).

The Energy Agency has consented to raising the price of gas for public supply, and so a kilowatt-hour will cost 4.54 dinars, or 5.02 dinars with VAT.

Bajatovic said the decision will come into force on November 1, meaning that higher bills will start coming in starting December 1, “thus the price increase has practically been postponed to next year.”

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/srbijagas-ceo-says-natural-gas-prices-to-go-up-as-of-november/

Meeting on ex-Yugoslavia succession issues held in Serbia’s absence

September 22, 2023

On the sidelines of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, Slovenian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Tanja Fajon hosted the first ministerial level meeting of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) successor states.

Slovenia initiated the meeting in the light of the 20th anniversary of the Agreement on Succession Issues in an effort to encourage talks on resolving the outstanding succession issues of former Yugoslavia.

In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and North Macedonia said they discussed ways to speed up the implementation of the Agreement on Succession Issues.

They agreed to closely cooperate on resolving the outstanding issues and to meet on a regular basis for this purpose.

The ministers also expressed regret that Serbia did not attend the meeting, said the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/meeting-on-ex-yugoslavia-succession-issues-held-in-serbias-absence/

Vucic to UN General Assembly-Attempt to break up Serbia ongoing

September 21, 2023

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told the UN General Assembly that attempts to break up Serbia are ongoing, adding that the aggressors are saying don’t look back, the state TV (RTS) said on Thursday.

The attempt to break up my country, started formally in 2008 with the unilateral declaration of the independence of Kosovo and Metohija is still ongoing. The trampling of the UN Charter in Serbia’s case was one of the visible precurors to the many problems we are facing today, surpassing the borders of my country or the region I come from, Vucic said in his speech to the UN General Assembly.

Serbia respects the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all UN member states and it’s hard to understand why Serbia’s right to respect for its territorial integrity is not respected. BY safeguarding our borders you are safeguarding yours, Vucic said, adding that everyone who committed aggression against Serbia are lecturing the world about the territorial integrity of Ukraine. He said that Serbia respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity despite the centuries of traditional friendship with Russia.

“When we ask about the territorial integrity of Serbia and what was done to my country, the answer is what all you representatives of small country have heard countless times – don’t look back at the past look to the future because that is the only way for your country to achieve progress,” he said.

He accused the western power of violating the UN Charter and Security Council Resolution 1244 and recalled that a German minister said her country would never give up on the UN Charter and UN documents. That would be nice if it were true. Almost all the great Western power brutally trampled on the UN Charter and Resolution 1244, denying the very principles they are defending today and that happened 24 years ago and again 15 years ago, he said.

According to him, 19 of the most powerful countries decided without the UN Security Council to attack a sovereign European country to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. They weren’t laughing when the Russian President used their very words to justify his assault on Ukraine. They forgot that they used the same narrative, same words and explanations, Vucic said.

He added that 70 percent of the Kosovo Serbs have left their homes and that there are 300,000 more Albanians in Kosovo than ever before.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/vucic-to-un-general-assembly-attempt-to-break-up-serbia-ongoing/

KFOR conducts ROBUST RAM Exercise in northeast Kosovo

September 21, 2023

KFOR said on Thursday that its Joint Logistic Support Group (JLSG) would be conducting the ROBUST RAM exercise in the northeast of Kosovo until September 27.

The exercise is being conducted to test operational readiness during freedom of movement operations in support of the local population, the press release said.

The exercise will include Crowd and Riot Control (CRC) troops and a Freedom of Movement Detachment (FOM-D) deployed to clear roadblocks in the Camp Novo Selo area. “PSYOPs, Reconnaissance and KFOR air assets will also be deployed throughout the exercise,” it added.

“KFOR seeks to ensure minimal impact to the civilian population throughout this activity,” it said.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/kfor-conducts-robust-ram-exercise-in-northeast-kosovo/

Stano on arrests in Kosovo-We are following the situation closely

September 21, 2023

The European Union (EU) is in close touch with the authorities in Pristina in order to obtain all the necessary information regarding the latest arrests of the Serbs in the north of Kosovo who are suspected of war crimes.

“We are following the situation very closely and we are in close touch with the relevant counterparts and authorities (in Kosovo) to have a complete understanding about the developments and we will react if and when appropriate publicly,” said EU Diplomatic Service spokesperson Peter Stano.

Replying to a reporter’s question, Stano said the EU is not denying Kosovo the right to prosecute for war crimes, but he did not wish to elaborate on the matter.

He reiterated that the path to normalization of relations between the two sides is clear and, when repeatedly asked about the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo, Stano said this was an international obligation that Kosovo has undertaken to implement.

“Work to establish the Association/Community of Serb Municipalities needs to start without any further delay and without any preconditions. The issue of how to do it, in what way and in what form – is to be discussed within the dialogue – the dialogue is the platform to sort out the issues. The process should and will be conducted in the dialogue, not out in the open, not in public, not in the media,” said Stano.

EU’s expectations were very clearly phrased earlier this week in a joint statement signed by all 27 member states – work needs to start without any further delay and without any preconditions, said Stano.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/stano-on-arrests-in-kosovo-we-are-following-the-situation-closely/

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