International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Serbian academic warns of possible violence after elections

February 15, 2022
Serbian academic Dusan Teodorovic warned of possible violence if the authorities lose the coming elections in April on Tuesday because the president is not prepared to lose his grip on power.
Teodorovic told the N1 morning show that the Serbian President could use force to remain in power. “I think that Aleksandar Vucic is a person prepared to use force to remain in power,” he said.
“He simply can’t lose the elections. He can’t imagine his life without being in power, deciding our fate, not being the father of the nation and not having the apparatus he has created,” the university and member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) said.
Teodorovic said that he supports the environmental activists protesting in a makeshift tent camp in front of the Serbian Presidency building, adding that they should recall the 1804 Serbian uprising on this date when the people rose up and launched what he said was a Serbian revolution against the Ottoman Empire. “After all these years, we are living in a moment when, perhaps, a revolution should be started. Metaphorically speaking, I like the idea of the Ecological Uprising (environmental organization) marching and protesting on this day as the best way to remember what happened in 1804 when they rebelled against an occupier. We now also have an occupier because I view these authorities as occupiers,” Teodorovic said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-academic-warns-of-possible-violence-after-elections/

Coronavirus: Case count in Slovenia continues to fall

February 14, 2022
The number of new coronavirus cases continues to decrease in Slovenia, as do all other indicators of the epidemic, and the government has announced that it will discuss a partial easing of restrictions.
In the past 24 hours, 3,601 cases have been confirmed, out of 50,045 tests, and seven COVID patients have died, the national public health institute said on Monday.
There are 140,334 active cases, 4,938 fewer than on Sunday, including 782 hospitalised patients, of whom 133 in intensive care.
The seven-day average of daily new infections is 7,310 and the 14-day incidence is 6,665 per 100,000 population.
Slovenia has fully vaccinated 57.7% of the total population.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-case-count-in-slovenia-continues-to-fall/

Coronavirus: Croatia reports 1,061 new cases, 64 deaths

February 14, 2022
Croatia has registered 1,061 new coronavirus cases and 64 COVID-related deaths in the last 24 hours.
The number of active cases in the country currently stands at 31,000, and 2,097 of them are being treated in hospitals, including 146 who are on ventilators, while 16,642 persons are self-isolating, the national coronavirus response team said on Monday.
Since 25 February 2020, when the first infection with the new SARS-CoV-2 virus was confirmed in Croatia, 1,018,367 people have been registered as having contracted the virus, of whom 14,537 have died and 972,830 have recovered, including 6,477 in the last 24 hours.
So far, 4,409,465 people have been tested for the virus, including 2.081 in the last 24 hours.
By 13 February, 5,159,918 COVID vaccine doses had been administered, with 56.72 per cent of the total population, or 67.48 per cent of adults, having been vaccinated. A total of 2,301,799 persons have received at least one dose and 2,219,165 of them have been fully vaccinated, which is 65.21 per cent of the adult population.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-croatia-reports-1061-new-cases-64-deaths/

Bosnia logs 617 new coronavirus cases and 49 deaths

February 14, 2022
Bosnia and Herzegovina has recorded 617 new coronavirus cases and 49 deaths, the healthcare authorities confirmed on Monday.
The new results came from 1,628 lab tests performed on those who reported the infection symptoms.
The Federation entity confirmed 576 new cases out of 1,430 test samples, bringing the coronavirus total in this part of the country to 240,413. With 36 new Covid-19 fatalities, the death toll in this region now stands at 8,418.
As for Republika Srpska entity, its healthcare authorities performed 145 lab test over the past 24 hours of which 27 turned out positive for the novel coronavirus. The coronavirus total in this part of the country now stands at 110,116 and with 11 new fatalities, the Covid-19 death toll is at 6,158.
Brcko District has reported 14 new coronavirus cases, 14,081 since the epidemic pandemic, and two Covid-19 deaths (520 in total).
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/bosnia-logs-617-new-coronavirus-cases-and-49-deaths/

Coronavirus UPDATE: 67 deaths, 7,030 new cases in Serbia

February 14, 2022
Over the last 24 hours, 67 patients died from COVID-19-related complications and out of 19,145 tested, 7,030 were infected with the coronavirus in Serbia, the Health Ministry said on Monday.
To date, COVID-19 has officially claimed 14,494 lives in the country. The mortality rate is 0,78 percent.
Currently, 4,522 people are in hospitals, of whom 190 are on ventilators.
Since the epidemic outbreak in March 2020, 8,527,011 people have been tested, and 1,848,040 have been confirmed positive for the coronavirus.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-update-67-deaths-7030-new-cases-in-serbia/

Reuters: EU document says sanctions against BiH's RS entity should be considered

February 14, 2022
Reuters reported that an internal EU document calls on EU foreign affairs ministers to consider imposing sanctions on Bosnia's semi-autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) entity and withholding financial support if the political crisis in the country continues to worsen.
The document, seen by Reuters, was reportedly prepared by the EU's foreign service for EU foreign ministers and said that the EU should consider travel bans and asset freezes on RS officials in case they continue the initiative to transfer competencies from the state level to the entity.
The latest step in these efforts was made last week, when the National Assembly of the RS adopted a draft law which, if passed, would establish a parallel High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council in the entity which would operate separately from the one at the state level.
The document reportedly also said sanctions could be widened to “other activities that represent a threat to the state”, but should remain as a last resort.
“The EU could decide to use its financial assistance as leverage,” it said, noting that the EU had some 1.5 billion euros invested in and provided to BiH.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/reuters-eu-document-says-sanctions-against-bihs-rs-entity-should-be-considered/

MEP Paolo Rangel concerned about “series of escalatory steps” in BiH

February 14, 2022
The Standing Rapporteur for Bosnia and Herzegovina in the European Parliament, MEP Paulo Rangel, expressed concern over “the series of escalatory steps” in the country and called for “disruptive activities to be urgently reversed.”
The statement comes after the National Assembly of Bosnia’s semi-autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) entity adopted a draft law that, if passed, would establish a parallel High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) in the entity which would operate separately from the one
The move is the latest step in an initiative to withdraw the RS from a number of BiH institutions, which is at the centre of the ongoing political crisis.
“I am deeply concerned by the series of escalatory steps, including the Republika Srpska National Assembly’s latest vote on 10 February in favour of a law establishing a separate High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council,” Rangel said.
“This action undermines the rule of law, the legal order and the independence of the judiciary, violates the constitution and the Dayton Agreement, threatening the constitutional order of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It also further reverses the country’s path towards EU integration and the implementation of necessary reforms, defined in the 14 key priorities,” he said, referring to the reforms the European Commission defined for BiH to achieve EU candidate status.
“I call upon the political actors to urgently reverse disruptive activities, de-escalate the situation and to fully re-engage in state institutions, working to preserve peace and enhance the democratisation of the country for the benefit of Bosnian citizens,” Rangel stressed.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/mep-paolo-rangel-concerned-about-series-of-escalatory-steps-in-bih/

Russian Embassy: PIC SB statement represents interference in Bosnia’s judiciary

February 14, 2022
Russia strongly criticised the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board (PIC SB), the international body overseeing Bosnia’s peace process, arguing that, instead of encouraging dialogue and seeking compromise on issues in the country, some of its member states deliberately incite tensions.
The criticism comes after the PIC SB issued a statement last week condemning the initiative to establish a parallel High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity.
“Some members of the Steering Board have once again shown their tendency to slip into the vicious practice of ignoring Russia's position. So, the statement issued after the emergency meeting is nothing but another exercise of frightening rhetoric, which can hardly scare anyone,” a statement by Russia’s Embassy in BiH said, also criticising the PIC SB statement for emphasizing the issue of EU integration.
“The mandate of the Steering Board must be limited exclusively to the General Framework Agreement for Peace in BiH,” it said.
Russia repeated its previous statements concerning the appointment of the High Representative of the international community, Christian Schmidt, last year.
Russia never accepted Schmidt’s appointment.
“Despite our numerous calls to adhere to established legal practices in the work of the Steering Board, our partners believed in the infallibility of their appointment of a “new High Representative”. They think he can use some extraordinary tools. He cannot – because the so-called “High Representative” does not have the necessary legitimacy: the UN Security Council has not approved the candidacy of Mr. Christian Schmidt for this position,” the statement said.
Russia also said that the PIC SB statement represents interference in Bosnia’s judiciary.
“From this point of view, the step of the National Assembly of the Republika Srpska can be interpreted as a desire to create a judicial system that will be truly independent and serve the interests of ordinary citizens,” the statement said.
It also said that, instead of encouraging dialogue, seeking compromises, reaching mutually acceptable agreements, some member countries of the PIC Board are deliberately creating tensions.
“In this regard, we declare that the alleged “interpreters” of the Peace Agreement will bear all responsibility for the eventual destabilization of the situation in BiH and for undermining the Dayton system,” the statement said.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/russian-embassy-pic-sb-statement-represents-interference-in-bosnias-judiciary/

Fmr Srebrenica mayor: Dual citizenship law being abused for election purposes

February 14, 2022
Dozens of citizens were spotted at the veterinary clinic in Srebrenica on Saturday where they were reportedly applying for Serbian citizenship ahead of the election in the neighbouring country and, according to the former mayor of the eastern town, this is the result of a joint effort between authorities in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity and Serbia to preserve their power.
“That’s not something unknown here. You know that in every election cycle, we have an influx of organized professional voters who come from Serbia under these facilitated procedures and receive confirmations within one day so they can vote,” Camil Durakovic said, arguing the dual citizenship rules are being abused.
He argued that what happened on Saturday is probably returning the favour to the neighbouring country because Serbia’s ruling regime has supported the BiH Presidency member and leader of the rulings party in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity for years.
“Unfortunately the laws of BiH (Citizenship Law and Election Law) allow this. These are the omissions and of course, someone skillfully uses this systematically,” he said.
The situation is the result of a joint effort between the administrative centre in the RS, Banja Luka, and Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, he said.
“We have seen similar things in Serbia, that is, there has been talk in the public of people getting citizenship under the accelerated procedure, and that is essentially a problem. However, we have learned about such phenomena here and we really can't do anything against it,” Durakovic added.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/fmr-srebrenica-mayor-dual-citizenship-law-being-abused-for-election-purposes/

‘Go-Change’ says will block part of Belgrade and ‘Palace of Serbia’ on Tuesday

February 14, 2022
The director of the 'Go-Change' campaign, Savo Manojlovic, said late on Monday that the environmentalists would block parts of New Belgrade city's district and the 'Palace of Serbia' "where President (Aleksandar Vucic) would decorate people on the Statehood Day" on Tuesday.
The blockade will be organised from several directions in small groups of 20-30 people at noon, Manojlovic wrote on his Twitter account.
Representatives of the Association of Environmental Organisations of Serbia (SEOS) and the ‘Go-Change’ initiative seek a legal ban on the exploitation of lithium and boron and are camping outside Vucic’s office in central Belgrade on the fifth day.
Prince Philip, 40, the son of Serbia’s last crown prince of the former Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Alexandar Karadjordjevic, joined activists camping outside President Aleksandar Vucic’s seat in central Belgrade on Monday, accompanied by his wife, Princess Danica.
Philip wrote on his Twitter account his ancestors “built our state side by side with our peasants, without whom there is no state.”
He is the second son of Alexander and Princess Maria da Gloria of Orléans-Braganza.
Manojlovic told the Belgrade independent Beta agency on Sunday evening that no one from the Government had addressed them, adding it was possible for it to adopt the citizens' request urgently.
Earlier on Monday, Vucic said that he did not plan to meet with the protesters and fulfilled the wishes "of self-proclaimed leaders and those who are protesting for their promotion."
Activists said that regardless that the Parliament would be dissolved on Tuesday and the elections on April 3 called, they would continue to pressure the authorities.
Manojlovic on Sunday said the Government had until February 15 to adopt a law on a permanent ban of the exploitation of lithium and boron in the country or face a new mass protest on Tuesday.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/go-change-says-will-block-part-of-belgrade-and-palace-of-serbia-on-tuesday/

Belgrade says will continue helping Serbs with projects in BiH town of Mostar

February 14, 2022
The Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabic, talked to the 'Association of Coordination of Serbs Mostar,' a town in southern BiH federation about joint projects and the recent donation of materials for testing coronavirus.
She underlined that it was essential for her to have constant communication with the Serbs from the entire region and added that her Government would, to the extent possible, continue to support the projects being implemented in Mostar, the Government.
The Serbs from Mostar told Brnabic that the help and support they received from Serbia was valuable and hoped that it would continue.
According to them, the Serbs in Mostar have all the preconditions to be equal with the other two nations, Croats and Bosniaks. They say they are ready to cooperate in political, economic and cultural areas.
Cooperation with Mostar intensified after Brnabic visited the town in October 2021.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/belgrade-says-will-continue-helping-serbs-with-projects-in-bih-town-of-mostar/

Serbia’s CRTA: Checking voters list by place of residence to prevent abuse

February 14, 2022
The Monitoring Mission of the Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability (CRTA) said on Monday that it sent a request to the State Administration and Local Self-Government Ministry to enable residents to review voters registration at their addresses on the Ministry's website.
By entering the unique ID number, a voter would get an insight into how many other voters were registered at his residential address and the full names of the registered persons.
„A search would be possible only for the place of residence of the voter conducting the verification, but not for other addresses to protect personal data,“ CRTA said.
The request followed recent opposition accusations about the authorities’ attempt to manipulate the voters list, the so-called „import of voters,“ or registering new residents in municipalities and cities. CRTA said that implementing that additional control would remove suspicions of abuse and compromise of the voters’ list.
"For a long time now, there has been great distrust among citizens in the voters' list," CRTA recalled.
According to a CRTA survey, "60 percent of citizens believe something wrong happening with the voters' list and doubt its correctness. That is why every effort has been made to increase the transparency of the voters' list, taking into account that the general and presidential elections will be of great importance in assessing the quality of the election process in Serbia," the CRTA statement said.
After the 2020 elections, the OSCE / ODIHR highlighted the need to present the voters' list to the public for inspection and control as a priority recommendation.
Controlling voters data by place of residence, restricting their publication and taking into account the protection of personal data, CRTA believes that the possibility for speculation on voters list abuse would be significantly reduced and contribute to building citizens' trust in the voters' list.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-crta-checking-voters-list-by-place-of-residence-to-prevent-abuse/

Putin to Vucic: Strengthening our ties contributes to Europe’s security

February 14, 2022
Vladimir Putin, Russia's President, congratulated on Monday his Serbia's counterpart Aleksandar Vucic on the country's Statehood Day, saying that relations between Russia and Serbia were dynamically developing in the spirit of strategic partnership, Vucic's cabinet said.
„A substantial bilateral dialogue has been established, and cooperation in various fields is bringing good results. I am sure that the further development of the entire complex of constructive Russian-Serbian ties fully corresponds to the interests of our fraternal peoples and contributes to strengthening stability and security on the European continent,“ Putin said.
„I sincerely wish you good health and success, and well-being and prosperity to all your fellow citizens,“ he added.
Serbia marks February 15, locally known as Sretenje, as its Statehood Day to commemorate the outbreak of the First Serbian Uprising in 1804.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/putin-to-vucic-strengthening-our-ties-contributes-to-europes-security/

MEP to N1: Democracy in Serbia not at EU level

February 14, 2022
Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield MEP told N1 that democracy and standards in Serbia are not at the level of European Union member states.
“I knew about the situation in Serbia before my visit and I have confirmed my views that there isn’t enough room for civil society, that democracy is not at the expected level and that standards are not at the level of EU member states and not at the level we hope for but it’s good that civil society is expert and wants to change things. You have democratic forces trying to enter parliament and those are good things that should be directed in a positive direction for Serbia to advance in terms of democracy,” she said.
Delbos-Corfield is an MEP of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance in the European Parliament. She met with officials of green parties during her recent trip to Serbia.
The MEP said that Serbian green parties enjoy her support, adding that she was impressed with their efforts. “This is not just about parties but also about the people advocating certain values, who want a democratic Serbia which advocates social values and the values of a green agenda, who face things like air pollution and waste problems. … It think they’re doing a great job which will be long and hard because the system does not allow them to demonstrate their full power. I expect them to achieve a lot,” she said.
Delbos-Corfield said that the attempt by the Serbian Alliance 90/Greens Serbia (Savez 90/Zelenih Srbije) to steal the identity of the European Greens is shameful. “That shows that their policies are bad. Copying ideas from the German Greens shows that they have no ideas and are not engaged on the right things. This is also disinformation because they are trying to say that they belong to the European Greens and we do not recognize them,” she said commenting the fact that the European Greens are considering a law suit against the Serbian party.
According to the MEP, the media problems in Serbia include the fact that there is no room for the opposition, civil society and media pluralism, adding that pluralism of thought is important for democracy to function. “It is one of the most important pillars of democracy along with judiciary independence, the fight against corruption and free elections. Media pluralism is in the center of good democracy,” she said and added that Serbia has a huge problem in the context.
Delbos-Corfield said that the pre-election atmosphere in Serbia is more positive than in other countries such as EU member Hungary where, she said, the situation is tense prior to elections. “If there are no free media then the elections are not fully free. … Serbia has to solve this problem if you want democratic standards,” she said.
She expressed concern about pollution levels in parts of Serbia. “You have the right to good water and air. The right to freedom is important and you have a problem there which is why the protests are important for everyone… You have to protect the environment because that is the future of your children,” she said. According to her, Serbia needs protests as messages of warning over climate change.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/mep-to-n1-democracy-in-serbia-not-at-eu-level/

Belgrade city assembly adopts record high amended 2022 budget

February 14, 2022
Deputy Mayor Goran Vesic said that the Belgrade City Assembly adopted an amended 2022 budget which stands at a record 1.411 billion Euro on Monday.
City Assembly councilors adopted the budget of 166 billion Dinars or 1.411 billion Euro. Vesic said that the budget was amended a little over a month after it was adopted because the original budget was “conservative” and based on the assumption that public income would be low. “Once we saw in January that there was no danger of restrictions on the economy because of the pandemic a decision was taken to propose an amended budget,” he said. According to Vesic, last year’s deficit was covered by a surplus.
He said that the amended budget includes more money for street cleaning to help reduce pollution, as well as for lighting and communal services. He added that the city will pay for laptops and tablets for elementary school children along with text books.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/belgrade-city-assembly-adopts-record-high-amended-2022-budget/

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