International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Bolton: Belgrade, Pristina might be far from solution; lack of US role in Balkan

August 7, 2020

Former US National Security Advisor John Bolton told N1 Sarajevo that Belgrade and Pristina might be far from resolving their dispute and he was concerned about the lack of Washington's role in the Balkans.

In an exclusive interview with N1's Esmir Milavic, Bolton said that a possible agreement to exchange territories would not affect the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  

He said that he believes the US would support Serbia and Kosovo if they agree to exchange territories in the part of the agreement which resolves all unresolved issues bringing economic, diplomatic and other relations but that the other countries in the region, especially Bosnia-Herzegovina have to be clearly told that bilateral solutions between Belgrade and Pristina do not affect Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria or some other country.  

He also said he was concerned over the lack of American engagement in the Balkans.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627513/Bolton-Belgrade-Pristina-might-be-far-from-solution-worried-about-US-role-in-the-Balkans.html

Serbian President wants discussion of fundamental issues in Kosovo talks

August 7, 2020

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Friday that he will demand a discussion of what he said are fundamental issues when the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue continues in Brussels on September 7.

“I will demand the implementation of the 2013 agreement signed under the auspices of the European Union on the forming of the Community of Serb Municipalities so we can see concrete steps and not just paper,” Vucic told a news conference.  

He said that Serbia will not quit the EU-mediated dialogue to normalize relations between Belgrade and Pristina. “We want a true dialogue, not just them saying that we have to recognize them… I told (US State Department official Matthew) Palmer and (President Trump’s special envoy Ambassador Richard) Grenell that in front of (Kosovo President Hashim) Thaci, I told everyone. I understand them, that is the policy of their countries… But some people are obviously not interested in discussing railway and air lines,” Vucic said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627431/Serbian-President-wants-discussion-of-fundamental-issues-in-Kosovo-talks.html

Expert: EU will insist on Community of Serb Municipalities

August 7, 2020

Ivan Vejvoda, the permanent member of the Vienna Institute for Human Sciences and the 'Europe's Futures project' Director told the KoSSev website on Friday the European Union would insist on the implementation of the agreement on the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM).

"I cannot see a solution if the Serb community in Kosovo doesn't have guarantees for its safety and welfare. Otherwise, we will see a demographic outflow which is by no means a goal of a solution that is looking for," Vejvoda said.

He added that no Serb leader would recognise Kosovo's independence 'uncaringly.'

At the same time, Vejvoda said, the lack of the EU's role in the Brussels dialogue had so far been in the fact that it did not follow which side honoured the undertaken obligations.

He described the previous meeting in Brussels as "exhaustive enumeration" and returning to some of the agreed solutions.

"Some (things) have to be fixed and numbered, those that are a part of a comprehensive agreement. And, of course, every side, as in a chess game's opening, puts forward its goals and its interpretations," Vejvoda said.

According to him, the CMS is one of the most critical elements of the agreement, and that Brussels is a key to it.

"As far as I know, Brussels will insist on the creation of CSM," Vejvoda, who was an advisor to the assassinated Serbia's Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in the early '90s, said.

He added the status quo was not a solution for either the EU, the region, or Belgrade and Pristina because it prevented progress both sides wanted – the EU membership.

"The main aims of a compromise are peace and stability in the region," Vejvoda said.

He added that both societies should show they respected the major civilisation and democratic values.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627655/Expert-EU-will-insist-on-Community-of-Serb-Municipalities.html

EU: Kosovo's draft Law on Protecting KLA Values contradicts freedom of speech

August 7, 2020

The European Union's Office in Pristina said that some stipulations in the draft Law on Protecting KLA Values were not in line freedom of speech.

 "Modern democracies rely on critical scrutiny and informed debates to discuss and interpret historical events and achieve progress. The Kosovo Liberation Army is an integral part of the History of Kosovo. 

The Draft Law on the Protection of Kosovo Liberation Army's War Values, however, contains provisions which raise serious concerns as regards the right of people to have their opinion," the EU's Facebook post said.

Earlier, the US ambassador to Kosovo Phillip Kosnett said that if the draft were adopted, 'it would weaken Kosovo's democracy."
"KLA fought to widen freedoms of Kosovo people, not to limit them," he said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627661/EU-Kosovo-s-draft-Law-on-Protecting-KLA-Values-contradicts-freedom-of-speech.html

State Department: Russia meddled in Bosnian elections

August 7, 2020

According to the latest report from the US State Department's Global Engagement Centre, Russia has meddled in Bosnia's elections as well as media acquisitions in Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia through its propaganda centres like the “quasi-thinktank” Katehon and associated proxies and media outlets.

According to the State Department, the main goal of the report titled “Pillars of Russia’s Disinformation and Propaganda Ecosystem” is to expose Russia's propaganda and disinformation tactics.

“Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem is the collection of official, proxy, and unattributed communication channels and platforms that Russia uses to create and amplify false narratives,” the report states.

According to the GEC “the Kremlin bears direct responsibility for cultivating these tactics and platforms as part of its approach to using information as a weapon.”

They claim that Russia invests massively in its propaganda channels, intelligence services as well as proxies to conduct malicious cyber activity to support their disinformation efforts, leveraging outlets that masquerade as news sites or research institutions to spread these false and misleading narratives.

The most prominent proxies which the report names are: The Strategic Culture Foundation, Global Research, New Eastern Outlook, News Front, SouthFront, SouthFront, Geopolitica.ru and Katehon – which is said to be linked to elections in Bosnia.

“Katehon is a Moscow-based quasi-think-tank that is a proliferator of virulent anti-Western disinformation and propaganda via its website, which is active in five languages. It is led by individuals with clear links to the Russian state and the Russian intelligence services,” the report states.

The “think-tank” was established by Konstantin Malofeyev who is, among other things, the head of the “pro-Putin monarchist society” the Double-Headed Eagle. The United States sanctioned Malofeyev as “one of the main sources of financing for Russians promoting separatism in Crimea” and bankrolling “separatist activities in eastern Ukraine,” the report said.

The GEC recalled media reports stating that Malofeyev served as a proxy for Kremlin priorities in Europe.

“Malofeyev was involved in the purported annexation of Crimea, support for the Russian military-backed separatist militancy in Donbas, election meddling in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and media acquisition in Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia.”

His "think-tank" Katehon promotes these same overarching goals through its disinformation and propaganda activities on its website which is frequently sourced by Russian media outlets.

The report also names Serbia as one of the countries from the region for is in the focus of many of these proxies.

Namely, proxies such as Geopolitica.ru, News Front, SouthFront and Katehon all publish their content in the Serbian language, among other languages. The exception is Katehon which had removed the Serbian language section from its website.

All the proxies which the report focused on also run accounts on all major social media platforms, running profiles on English and several other languages, including the Serbian language.

The report concluded that these disinformation attempts are not unchallenged and that a counter-disinformation community comprised of governments, civil society, academia, the press, the private sector, and citizens around the world who refuse to tolerate these tactics is pushing back.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627629/State-Department-Russia-meddled-in-Bosnian-elections.html

Dacic says his party fully supports Serbian president

August 7, 2020

Serbia’s outgoing Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on Friday that his Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) fully supports President Aleksandar Vucic in his battle for state and national interests.

A press release said that hard times demand national and political unity in that battle to protect public health and the country’s economic development.  

“The SPS will fully contribute to that unity in the fight for the future of Serbia,” Dacic is quoted as saying in the press release.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627499/Dacic-says-his-party-fully-supports-Serbian-president.html

Hyseni: Kosovo-Serbia agreement within 12 months or dialogue fails

August 7, 2020

Pristina’s coordinator for the Kosovo dialogue Skender Hyseni said on Friday that Belgrade and Pristina should reach an agreement within the next 12 months or see the reconciliation process fail.

“We expect an agreement which will include mutual recognition within 12 months or the process will fail. Everything we see at international level shows that this is a moment that Kosovo and Serbia must grab to make progress. Any delay means failute. I don’t know if Serbia understands that but if it intends to join the European Union it should,” Hyseni told the Klan Kosova TV station.

Hyseni insisted on intensive talks in coordination with the European Union, US and France and added that he would never agree to allow the dialogue process to drag on and boil down to technical issues. “The main issue has to be debated – normal relations between Kosovo and Serbia which can’t happen without mutual recognition,” he said.

He said that he was satisfied with his visit to Washington a week ago because the US administration, including the president’s special envoy Ambassador Richard Grenellis completely committed to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627349/Hyseni-Kosovo-Serbia-agreement-within-12-months-or-dialogue-fails.html

Kosovo’s opposition party collects signatures for no-confidence vote in Govt.

August 7, 2020

The largest opposition party in Kosovo, Self-Determination (Vetëvendosje) started collecting signatures for filing a motion for a no-confidence vote into the Government led by Avdulah Hoti, N1 reported on Thursday.

Vetëvendosje has 30 MPs and needs the support of ten more deputies to get the vote on the agenda of the 120-seat-strong Parliament.

The party said Hoti’s cabinet was not legitimate and not capable of running Kosovo.

The remaining ten signatories might be found among the MPs of Hoti’s main coalition party, Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, led by former premier Ramush Haradinaj.

He said they were unhappy with the Government, mainly because it resumed the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations.

Haradinaj warned his party would not support Hoti if he continued the dialogue without consulting with the coalition partners.

Hoti, the leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), who is currently in self-isolation after tested positive on coronavirus, became Prime Minister on June 3.

The previous cabinet led by Albin Kurti of the Vetëvendosje which won the general elections last October was voted out on March 25, after Kurti dismissed an LDK minister, turning the coalition partner against him.    

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627279/Kosovo-s-opposition-party-collects-signatories-for-non-confidence-vote.html

Slovenia confirms 10 new coronavirus cases

August 7, 2020

Over the past 24 hours ten new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Slovenia, the government said on Friday, adding that 753 samples were tested.

The number of cases since the start of the epidemic has reached 2,233 and the death toll is now 125.

There are currently 181 active cases and 24 patients hospitalised for Covid-19, including four in intensive care.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627515/Slovenia-confirms-10-new-coronavirus-cases.html

Croatia confirms 62 new coronavirus cases

August 7, 2020

There have been 62 new cases of the coronavirus infection in Croatia in the past 24 hours, which puts the number of active cases at 533, the national Covid-19 response team said on Friday.

Among the active cases, there are 122 patients who are hospitalised, including seven who are on ventilators. There have been no new fatalities.

Since February 25, when the first case of the disease in Croatia was reported, a total of 5,466 people have contracted the virus. Of that number, 155 have died and 4,758 have recovered.

A total of 2,052 people are currently in self-isolation. To date, 126,410 people have been tested, including 1,093 in the past 24 hours.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a453653/Croatia-confirms-62-new-coronavirus-cases.html

Bosnia reports 282 novel coronavirus cases and nine fatalities over the past 24

August 7, 2020

Bosnian health authorities reported 282 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, 198 from the Federation (FBiH) entity, and 84 from Republika Srpska (RS) entity. The authorities added there were nine virus-related fatalities in the country.

The FBiH health authorities said they tested 759 samples of which 198 came back positive. The entity recorded five virus-related fatalities.

The RS health officials said they confirmed 84 positive cases of the novel coronavirus. This entity recorded four virus-related fatalities.

The city with the most reported cases was once again Sarajevo where 94 positive results were reported.

According to the Civil Affairs Ministry, the country recorded 13,687 positive cases of which 7,373 recovered and 394 had died.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a453577/Bosnia-reports-282-novel-coronavirus-cases-and-nine-fatalities-over-the-past-24.html

Coronavirus in Montenegro: One death, 69 newly infected

August 7, 2020

One patient died in Montenegro in the last 24 hours, and 69 people were confirmed infected with the coronavirus on Friday.

A total of 52 people died since mid-June.

The Public Health Institute Boban Mugosa said the level of the epidemic was "constant, relatively high, but the good thing was that the numbers were not on the rise."

The number of active cases in Montenegro is 1,192, while since the beginning of the epidemic, 3,549 people have been confirmed infected with the coronavirus.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627627/Coronavirus-in-Montenegro-One-death-69-newly-infected.html

Coronavirus UPDATE: Five patients died, 276 newly infected in Serbia

August 7, 2020

According to the anti-epidemic Crisis Team, in the last 24 hours, five more people died, and 276 were infected with the coronavirus in Serbia on Friday, N1 reported.

The death toll stands at 626, out of 9,922 tested, while a total number of confirmed cases of the infection since the outbreak of the epidemic on March 6 is 27,608. 

A total number of tested people in that period is 733,059 people.

On Friday, 230 people have been hospitalised, 118 on ventilators and 382 have been discharged from Serbia’s hospitals.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627529/Coronavirus-UPDATE-Five-patients-died-276-newly-infected.html

Coronavirus in Kosovo: Three more people died, 181 new infection cases

August 7, 2020

In the last 24 hours, three people died due to complications related to COVID-19 in Kosovo on Friday, bringing the death toll to 303 since the start of the epidemic.

Pristina’s National Public Health Institute said that 463 people were tested and that 181 were confirmed infected with the coronavirus in the last 24 hours.

A total number of recovered patients is 5,480, while currently there are 3,961 active cases.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic, 39,741 people have been tested, and 9,869 have had a positive result. 

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627553/Coronavirus-in-Kosovo-Three-more-people-died-181-new-infection-cases.html

Coronavirus in North Macedonia: Six deaths, 113 newly infected

August 7, 2020

Six more people died from complications of COVID-19 and 113 were tested positive in the last 24 hours, the country’s Health Ministry reported on Thursday.

Among the dead was a 22-year-old woman, the youngest casualty in the country so far.

The death toll stood at 517, while since the start of the epidemic, 11,399 people had been infected.

On Thursday, the number of active cases was 3,402 out of whom four were on ventilators and 49 on oxygen support.

So far, 7,480 patients have recovered.

In the last 24 hours, 1,543 people were tested, while since the epidemic outbreak, that number had reached 109,946.    

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627257/Coronavirus-in-North-Macedonia-Six-deaths-113-newly-infected.html

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