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International Information Centre for Balkan Studies



Bosnia's FBiH government adopts energy consumption guidelines

September 1, 2022

Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity Government adopted the guidelines for the rational use of electricity, Thursday.

The guidelines consist of measures that can be taken by citizens, the public sector, entrepreneurs and energy entities, and they can be short-term or long-term.

The government tasked all administrative units to develop concrete programs in the case of a potential crisis, in order to implement the guidelines, inform the public and ensure the implementation of the proposed measures.

The guidelines also contain recommendations for efficient energy consumption for heating and cooling, recommendations for proper ventilation of the space, and efficient energy consumption for lighting and household appliances, as well as in transportation. There are also long-term energy efficiency measures.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnias-fbih-government-adopts-energy-consumption-guidelines/

Covic calls on Schmidt, PIC to implement electoral and constitutional reform

September 1, 2022

The president of the Croatian National Assembly of BiH and HDZ BiH, Dragan Covic, on Thursday called on High Representative Christian Schmidt to make a decision on electoral and constitutional reforms, and for the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) to support it so that Croats cannot be outvoted.

The Peace Implementation Council (PIC), which oversees the Office of the High Representative's work and is made up of the most important Western countries and Turkey, on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, is meeting on Thursday in Sarajevo. It is expected that it will discuss the imposition of a decision to amend the country's election law and constitution of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity.

In a statement to the media, Covic underscored that he expected the high representative to make a final decision to amend the Federation entity constitution and BiH's election law in accordance with a BiH Constitutional Court verdict which ensures the equality of the country's three constituent peoples and their legitimate representation.

“The equality of the constituent peoples is the basis of peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Any violation of the Dayton principle of equality leads to the unwanted destabilisation of the country. Succumbing to street pressure and threats of violence would completely undermine the credibility of the institution of the High Representative,” the statement reads.

The international community has recognised that “systematic discrimination of the Croat people cannot bring anything good to Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Covic said.

Covic added that PIC should support the intervention by the High Representative to preserve the Dayton Peace Agreement and equality of the constituent peoples as well as open the prospect of the country's Euro-Atlantic integration.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/covic-calls-on-schmidt-pic-to-implement-electoral-and-constitutional-reform/

Vucic, Rama, Kovacevski open first Open Balkan event

September 1, 2022

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic opened the first Open Balkan wine fair in Belgrade on Thursday with the Prime Ministers of Albania and North Macedonia, Edi Rama and Dmitar Kovacevski.

The fair, the first regional Open Balkan event, brought together some 400 wineries and distilleries from the region, the European Union and as far away as Australia and Argentina.

Vucic told the opening that the Open Balkan idea had a lot of opposition but added that natural things can’t be beaten. He said the fair is an important step in implementing the initative. “We will continue working harder and with greater commitment to make Open Balkan stronger and more attractive for others and so that Albanians, Macedonians and Serbians can enjoy it,” he added. “Our job is to tear down historic barriers and take the weight off the shoulders of our descendants,” he said.

US Ambassador Christopher Hill said that “it’s good to see the Prime Minister of Albania, President of Serbia and Prime Minister of North Macedonia together. This is very significant. I am encouraged by what I see,” he said.

Rama warned that a lot of time was wasted in showing each other who was best in what and who had the right to live here. “We learned that none of us will leave and our countries are her to stay… Our choice is simple – staying here and coming together in the same European neighborhood,” he said.

According to Kovacevski, the main goal of the Open Balkan initiative is to stimulate the region’s economy, as confirmed by the fair. He said the three countries’ economies were brought together at the fair which opens new markets, creates room to exchange ideas and technology. “Open Balkan shows what integration means, easier access, a practical open door policy and good neighbor relations,” the North Macedonia Prime Minister said, adding that the three countries will use every opportunity to create links and new opportunities.

The fair was attended by outgoing Montenegrin Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/vucic-rama-kovacevski-open-first-open-balkan-event/

Croatian prosecutors indict three Serbian nationals for war crimes

September 1, 2022

The Split County Attorney's Office has indicted three Serbian nationals for war crimes against prisoners of war.

One of the indictees, a 56-year-old man, is charged with acting contrary to the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War and its additional protocol relating to the protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts as well as several other additional protocols, while the other two indictees, aged 58 and 57, are charged with acting contrary to the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.

The indictment states that during the early 1990s armed conflict between Croatian armed forces and rebel Serb paramilitary forces, the 56-year-old indictee was assigned to guard Croatian police officers detained in the hospital in Knin.

He is accused of physically abusing POWs and threatening to kill them as well as allowing other people to come to the hospital and physically abuse the wounded prisoners.

The second defendant (aged 58), at the time the warden of the District Prison in Knin, is accused of failing to prevent the torture of prisoners of war, while the third defendant (aged 57) is accused of beating POWs as a prison guard.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/croatian-prosecutors-in-split-indict-three-serbian-nationals-for-war-crimes/

Teachers’ strike on first day of school

September 1, 2022

The first day of school began with teachers’ strikes in more than 500 schools across Serbia, an official of the Teachers’ Union said.

Union official Jasna Jankovic told N1 that classes were cut to 30 minutes instead of the customary 45. She said that the teachers are demanding a 20 percent pay raise among other things.

“The talks at the Education Ministry were talks with Minister Branko Ruzic but we know that the finance ministry is the one to ask… So there were no serious talks,” she said and recalled that the teachers have been insisting on pay grades whose introduction has been postponed for 2025.

In an earlier statement, the union said that the policies being implemented in educating children are disoriented.

The school year began with the mandatory intoning of the Serbian national anthem Boze Pravde in all schools which Shchiprim Musliu, a senior local official in the Bujanovac municipality of southern Serbia, called fascism.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/teachers-strike-on-first-day-of-school/ 

ID card deal implemented at border crossings

September 1, 2022

The implementation of an agreement on ID cards issued by Pristina started on border crossings between Serbia proper and Kosovo on Thursday.

The Serbian police is no longer issuing entry/exit documents to people with Kosovo ID cards under a deal reached by Belgrade and Pristina.

An N1 reporter said that the agreement is being implemented at the Jarinje crossing and added that there is no tension in the north of Kosovo apart from police patrols on the road from Mitrovica to Jarinje. The reporter said that there were few vehicles at the crossing.

Disclaimers were put up on the Serbian side of the crossings on Wednesday saying that the agreement does not mean that Belgrade recognized Kosovo.

The N1 reporter said that flyers have appeared in Mitrovica North saying No Surrender! KM (the Serbian-issued car registration) Stays! with a picture of a license plate KM 1244 UN alluding to UN Security Council resolution 1244.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/id-card-deal-implemented-at-border-crossings/

US Ambassador says Serbia should turn West

September 1, 2022

US Ambassador Christopher Hill told Belgrade weekly NIN that he has no doubts that Serbia should turn to the West.

Hill said that Serbia has to turn to the West for the sake of its children, their children and every other possible reason.

According to him, the younger generations have shown what they think in a way. Many young people are leaving Serbia to go west. I don’t see them going east and I think it’s clear where Serbia wants to go, he said.

The ambassador said that the United States appreciate Serbia as a partner and support its aspiration of becoming a member of the European Union. He said that he would also like to see Serbia perhaps deciding one day to join NATO but added that he is aware of the burdens of the past, including 1999. I know that decision would be hard for Serbia but my focus would be on efforts to bring it closer to that.

Ambassador Hill reiterated Washington’s view that Serbia should join the sanctions against Russia. It’s clear that the sanctions issue is complex for Serbia out of historic reasons but everyone has to be clear about what Russia has done, he said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/us-ambassador-says-serbia-should-turn-west/

Kurti calls Kosovo Serbs to replace license plates

September 1, 2022

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti published a video in Serbian on Thursday calling Kosovo Serbs to replace their vehicle license plates issued by Serbian institutions to Republic of Kosovo plates.

Kurti said that just 2 percent of about 400,000 cars registered in Kosovo have Serbian registration, adding that new plates are being issued in 34 local vehicle registration center until October 31. He said that owners of vehicles with Serbian-issued license plates are exempt from taxes and duties for up to 5,000 Euro.

He said that Serbian-issued plates are a “heritage of the Milosevic regime”. “That heritage should not be a burden on your backs. It keeps you isolated and in the past,” Kurti said and added that the change to RKS plates secures freedom of movement across Kosovo.

According to the prime minister, the government wants the people living in the north of Kosovo whose vehicles have KM plates to be citizens everywhere not just of those municipalities.

Kurti’s video was published on his Facebook page on the day that the agreement between Belgrade and Pristina to recognize ID cards issued in both Serbia and Kosovo and abolish the issuing of entry/exit documents.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/kurti-calls-kosovo-serbs-to-replace-license-plates/

Croatian ministers announce continuation of support for BiH Croats

August 31, 2022

Croatia's ministers of agriculture and education, Marija Vuckovic and Radovan Fuchs respectively, and State Secretary Zvonko Milas on Wednesday visited Bosnia and Herzegovina and pledged further support to Croats in that country, announcing financial support also for agricultural production.

Agreements were signed with the beneficiaries of the support program for BiH Croats for 2022 for 148 projects that Croatia will co-finance with HRK 32.5 million.

Eleven of these projects are related to healthcare, 17 to science and education, 25 to culture, 78 to agriculture and 17 projects in other fields.

The State Secretary at the Central State Office for Croats Abroad, Zvonko Milas, said that the Croatian government provides important support to Croat associations and institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, through which it strengthens and encourages the Croat people in their efforts to remain in BiH and develop and preserve their national identity.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/croatian-ministers-announce-continuation-of-support-for-bih-croats/

Bosnian Foreign Minister opens Consulate in Rijeka, Croatia

August 31, 2022

Bosnia’s Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic opened a General Consulate of BiH in Rijeka, Croatia, Wednesday, together with Zlatko Komadina, Prefect of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County and Deputy Mayor Goran Palcevski.

The official opening was also attended by representatives of Croatia’s Foreign Ministry, representatives of local authorities, the diplomatic corps, public life from Rijeka and religious communities, as well as numerous BiH citizens who live in this part of Croatia.

“Today, in Rijeka, we proudly open the eighth general consulate of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the 58th diplomatic-consular mission of our country in the world. After last week's ceremony in Novi Pazar, in the Republic of Serbia, when we opened the Consulate General, with today's ceremony in the neighbouring Republic of Croatia, we continue to expand and strengthen the diplomatic-consular network of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Turkovic said.

The Minister pointed out that, by opening new Consulates, Bosnia is sending a message that it wants to build strong and stable relations with neighbouring countries, based on mutual respect, appreciation and understanding.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnian-foreign-minister-opens-consulate-in-rijeka-croatia/

EU says Bosnia losing hundreds of millions of euros due to its politician

August 31, 2022

The EU stands ready to finance capital infrastructure projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina but the investments continue to be jeopardised by its politicians' irresponsible behaviour, the EU Delegation to BiH said on Wednesday.

It said the Corridor 5c motorway section near Doboj inaugurated yesterday was an important project that could not have been realised without EU funding.

“The 6.1km section was completed thanks to an EU grant of €15 million, which facilitated further financing in the form of favourable loans worth almost €70 million from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development,” the Delegation said.

The 330km motorway on Corridor 5c passing through BiH has been under construction more than 20 years and works in the Serb entity of Republika Srpska (RS) began with the construction of that section.

The remaining 50 km was to have been built with the EU's financial support, but Brussels has suspended everything earlier this year in order to punish the RS secessionist policy of the BiH Presidency's Serb member Milorad Dodik.

The Delegation said “the country’s authorities are not using the full potential of EU funding mechanisms, with the risk of losing out on hundreds of millions of euros in investments in transport and energy infrastructure.”

Dodik said yesterday he would not scrap his political plans and that RS would build the motorway regardless of the EU's stance, finding other financing sources.

“If and when we complete the construction of the motorway will be decided by RS and no one else,” said Radovan Višković, the RS prime minister and Dodik's party associate.

The authorities of the Federation entity plan to complete their section of the motorway by the end of 2028. Funds for its completion have been ensured.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/eu-says-bosnia-losing-hundreds-of-millions-of-euros-due-to-its-politicians/

Covic-Schmidt must prevent outvoting of Croats

August 30, 2022

The leader of the Croatian National Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the HDZ BiH party, Dragan Covic, said on Tuesday that High Representative Christian Schmidt has to impose election law reforms to prevent Croats from being outvoted in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity.

“Since he has already started imposing solutions I expect the high representative to complete the story and fully implement the verdict of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the legitimate representation of the constituent peoples when it comes to the House of Peoples. He will have to make that decision,” Covic said.

He added that the executive power in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the president and two vice presidents, and the government should be elected by an absolute majority in each club of the constituent peoples.

The House of Peoples of the Federation of BiH has 17 representatives from each of the constituent peoples — the Croats, the Bosniaks and the Serbs — and seven members from minority communities. It is just as important as the House of Representatives in the appointment of the executive power in the Federation entity.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/covic-schmidt-must-prevent-outvoting-of-croats/

Bosnia's FM warns EU that citizens no longer see their future in BiH

August 30, 2022

Bosnia’s Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic participated in one of the panels at the 17th Strategic Forum in Bled where she said that BiH citizens are desperate and the situation in the country is much worse than in 2000.

She recalled that compared to 22 years ago, when she was the BiH European Integration Minister and when the country was very interested in becoming part of the EU, Bosnia is facing many difficulties, today.

“Thessalonica offered us great hope. In 2008, research showed that 78 percent of the BiH population wanted to join the EU. We followed that desire and signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement in 2015, and applied for EU membership in 2016. Where are we today? It seems that we have not moved far and that the situation today is much worse than in 2000 or 2015. We have had a blockade of state institutions for eight months, things are just starting to move, but we’ll see how long it will last. We have the Russian influence that threatens to undermine all other hard-won achievements and the direction BiH was heading in order to become a functional state. As a result, we didn’t get the candidate status because we didn’t fulfil 14 EU prerequisites.”, Turkovic said.

Then she spoke about the problems of the Electoral Law and the (in)security of the Western Balkans.
She stated that the Electoral Law is a subject of dispute and that many judgments of the European Court of Human Rights have not been implemented.

My mother is Croatian, my father is Bosniak. What about us? In order to be elected, I have to decide whether I am a Bosniak or a Croat. Why can't I be a citizen of BiH? What about my Jewish friends or the Roma people? They are discriminated against. Are these the EU standards? Our chances of getting the candidate status, seem very weak and we are moving backwards. We have progressive forces fighting for BiH, but we also have strong opponents to those who see the future of BiH in Euro-Atlantic integration,” the Foreign Minister said.

In the end, she dealt with the question of the European Union.

“People are getting tired and desperate. They no longer see the future and are thinking of moving out of the country. We have those who don't care what the future holds. The question we ultimately come to is – is the EU really willing to help the Western Balkans, Bosnia and Herzegovina to become part of the EU family, or are we just there as part of peacekeeping and the appeasement policy? And from time to time we get some financial help. That is the image as we see it from BiH,” Turkovic concluded.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnias-fm-warns-eu-that-citizens-no-longer-see-their-future-in-bih/

Schmidt-The crucial thing is up to the citizens of BiH

August 30, 2022

Christian Schmidt, the High Representative in BiH and Gabriel Escobar, Special Envoy of the United States of America for the Western Balkans, spoke in Bled, Slovenia, on Tuesday, as part of the 17th Strategic Forum titled "The rule of power or the power of rules."

Escobar spoke about overall relations in the Western Balkans.

“We must create an atmosphere where minorities feel represented, valued, integrated. That is a task not only for governments on the ground but for civil societies, political parties, the international community,” he said.

On the other hand, Schmidt said that the region is engulfed by the so-called blame game, which he wished would change.

“We need people in BiH, as in other countries of the Western Balkans, to take matters into their own hands and decide what to do. I would really make a distinction between political parties, those who are in power and those who want to get closer to the European Union. We need help and the people need our help, but the crucial thing is up to the people, the inhabitants of BiH. Accordingly, it is not healthy that one a generation after the conflict in the Western Balkans is over, we just sit and do nothing. We must have European integration,” said Schmidt.

The greater part of the international community must understand that we are only here to support this part of Europe, not to govern it, Schmidt said.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/schmidt-the-crucial-thing-is-up-to-the-citizens-of-bih/

Christian Schmidt met with US’ Gabriel Escobar at Bled forum

August 30, 2022

High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina Christian Schmidt met with Gabriel Escobar, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State at the Strategic Forum held in Bled, on Tuesday.

Schmidt met with world and regional officials at this forum, which started on Monday in Slovenia.

Yesterday, he also spoke with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic about changes to the BiH Election Law, the Croatian PM said that he supports all Schmidt's efforts.

Schmidt also spoke with the President of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, then Miroslav Lajcak, the former high representative in BiH and the current special representative for dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, as well as Alexander Schallenberg, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria.

This time he met with Gabriel Escobar, which the Office of the High Representative confirmed on Twitter, however, the details of the meeting were not mentioned.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/christian-schmidt-met-with-us-gabriel-escobar-at-bled-forum/

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