International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Kurti: I will meet with Serb List

December 16, 2019

Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti said on Monday that he would meet officials of the Serb List to discuss the constitutional obligation of handing them one of the ministries in his future cabinet.

Kurti said that he would meet with the party that he said was Belgrade’s long arm in Kosovo because there are no other Serb MPs. “We were hoping that some other Serb would have won a set in parliament up to the final election results. My problem with the Serb List is not that it’s Serb,” he said.

The Serb List won all 10 parliament seats reserved for the Kosovo Serb community at the recent elections.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a553031/Kurti-I-will-meet-with-Serb-List.html

Vucic: Campaign ban for officials does not mean not doing my job

December 16, 2019

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Monday that the ban on state officials campaigning for their parties at elections does not mean that he should not be doing his job.

“I did not say that campaigning by officials should be banned. I don’t know what that means. Stop me from working for 45 days, from meeting (Chinese President Xi Jinping) at the 17+1 Summit? You want the country to stop breathing so that someone could win a few more votes,” Vucic said when asked by reporters about the ban. “I’ll disappoint you, that won’t happen,” the president said.

Vucic was invited to attend the 17+1 Initiative summit in China in the first half of 2020. The president confirmed that China’s Ambassador in Belgrade Chen Bo handed him an invitation from President Xi, the president’s cabinet said in a press release.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a553011/Vucic-Campaign-ban-for-officials-does-not-mean-not-doing-my-job.html

Fajon: No time to be angry with Brnabic

December 16, 2019

Tanja Fajon MEP reacted to Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic’s accusation of bias saying on Monday that she doesn’t have the time to be angry with people who don’t like her.

Fajon was a member of the European Parliament delegation which mediated in the talks on improving election conditions between the Serbian ruling coalition and part of the opposition.

Speaking on a talk show on the pro-regime TV Pink, Brnabic said that Fajon was not objective because her European Parliament group invited officials of the opposition Alliance for Serbia (SzS) to a debate where, the prime minister claimed, no different opinions were expressed “only semi-information and pure lies”.

“I don’t have the time, nor do I want to be angry or hate people who do not like me or do not have a good opinion of me. I have too much to do to respond well to the people who support me and give me energy. My advice for all of December is – a little more positive energy and respect,” Fajon wrote on her Twitter account.

She re-tweeted the video clip of Brnabic saying she was biased. The two also debated on Twitter over the NIN weekly front page which was changed under pressure late in November.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a552893/Fajon-No-time-to-be-angry-with-Brnabic.html

Civil initiative submits 25,000 signatures for release of Serbia's whistleblower

December 16, 2019

“Freedom for Aleksandar” civil initiative and the Association for Protection of Constitution and Laws submitted to the Public Prosecutor’s Office on Monday 25,000 signatures from people who demanded the release of the Krusik ammunition factory whistleblower Aleksandar Obradovic from the house arrest, the FoNet news agency reported.

The organisations said that the additional 5,000 signatures, late due to the Post Office’s employees strike, would be submitted later.

Savo Manojlovic of the Association called upon the people to gather outside the Palace of Justice on Wednesday at 3 pm when a decision whether Obradovic would be released from house arrest was expected.

 Obradovic published information on shady arms trade business in Krusik, involving the father of Interior Minister and Serbia’s top leadership.

He has been in jail or under house arrest for three months.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a552813/Petition-for-release-of-Serbia-s-whistleblower.html

Dveri leader Obradovic: 35 organizations back boycott

December 16, 2019

Dveri movement leader Bosko Obradovic said on Monday that more than 35 political organizations support the oppostion Alliance for Serbia (SzS) decision to boycott the coming parliamentary and local elections.

According to Obradovic, the opposition is largely “absolutely united about the boycott”. “A few opposition parties are still thinking about it and I hope that (Movement of Free Citizens (PSG) leader) Sergej Trifunovic and (Nova Stranka leader) Zoran Zivkovic will decide to boycott and realize that everything that was agreed at the talks in parliament is a farce and trick and that there will be no improvement in the election conditions,” he said.

He warned that whoever in the opposition decides to run in what he said will be false and irregular elections will be giving legitimacy to the deception imposed by the authorities and would become one of the greatest trump cards for Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a552887/Dveri-leader-Obradovic-35-organizations-back-boycott.html

Explosive device damages Bulgaria's embassy in Podgorica, Montenegro

December 16, 2019

An explosive device was thrown at a pub in the center of Montenegro's capital Podgorica, during last night damaging the nearby Bulgarian embassy, Montenegro's state RTCG TV reported.

The windows and a door to the Bulgarian Counsel's office were broken.

The police came to the scene and later said the Counsel would repair the damage without further investigation.

There was no information on any injuries.

The TV said the loud explosion upset people living in the neighborhood.                  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a552831/Explosion-damages-Bulgarian-embassy-in-Montenegro-s-capital-Podgorica.html

NATO commander: Level of cooperation with us depends on Serbia

December 16, 2019

US admiral James Foggo III, the NATO Commander in Napoli, told the European Western Balkans (EWB) that the cooperation between the Alliance and Serbia was on the rise, but that it was up to Belgrade how deep that collaboration would be, EWB reported on Monday.

The website said that Serbia adopted its second Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) which confirms its close relationship with NATO.

"I mean ultimately it would be great to see Serbia desire to become a member of NATO. Right now, they are partners, and your country is very happy with that, and that’s great. We are fine with that too. As a partner, you have a choice of an à la carte menu of things which numbers training, opportunities, exercises, exchanges, study days, bands, chaplains, you name it. There are 1,600 things you can choose from that you can do with NATO," Foggo told EWB.

Speaking about Kosovo where the NATO-led KFOR is stationed, the admiral said the Alliance carried out "the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 which tells us that it is our mandate to maintain a safe and secure environment and provide for avenues to conduct freedom of movement throughout Kosovo. That means North, South, East and West. We show no favorites. We are strong. We are 3,600 strong."

He added that the NATO mandate in Kosovo would be “conditions-based” and that was a topic in his meeting with Serbia’s armed forces.  

Also on Monday, Zoran Zivlovic, an MP and the leader of Serbia’s opposition New Party told reporters the draft of Serbia’s defence strategy stipulated that armed aggression on the country could not be completely excluded and asked President Aleksandar Vucic why the country was afraid of NATO attack? He said that since Serbia bordered the states already in NATO or candidates for the membership, the Alliance could be the only attacker.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a552759/Cooperation-with-NATO-depends-on-Serbia-admiral-says.html

Serbia's lawyer: PM violates presumption of whistleblower's innocence

December 16, 2019

Vladimir Gajic, the defence lawyer of a whistleblower, accused on Monday Serbia's Prime Minister Ana Brnabic of violating the presumption of innocence, the European Convention of Human Rights, the country's Constitution, Criminal Code Procedure and the Law on Whistleblowers' Protection, the FoNet news agency reported.

Brnabic said over the weekend that Aleksandar Obradovic, who revealed details about shady arms trade at the Krusik ammunition factory involving the father of Interior Minister, did not meet the condition of the Law on Whistleblowers' Protection because he did not follow the required procedure.

Brnabic said that "the fact that someone likes what Aleksandar Obradovic is, gives them the idea to call him a whistleblower, even though the legal conditions for that were not met. This was also confirmed by the people from Pistaljka (Whistle) Association and called on him to register as a whistleblower. The rule of law is the rule of law. We abide by the laws."

Serbia’s Ombudsman Zoran Pasalic said on Monday the 60-day deadline for establishing the facts the Interior Ministry was obliged to provide to him in the case of Obradovic’s arrest had still not expired. He added the deadline was too extended, and that changes in the law should make it shorter.

Obradovicsent documents he said proving the illegality in arms trade to a foreign journalist and the news exploded in the media at home and abroad. He has been in jail and under house arrest for almost three months, and no procedure has started yet. He said he was offered end of the case to keep silent. 

Gajic added he would not comment on Brnabic's statement in legal terms since "she is not a legal expert and should not give legal statements."

However, he said that "the Prime Minister who violates all of that in one statement shows in the most obvious way in what disappointing state the rule of law in Serbia is."

Brnabic also called on all relevant institutions to follow the law and not to yield to the pressure "wherever it comes from."

The German Der Spiegel daily's website published an article titled "Whistleblower Puts Serbia's Regime Under Pressure," saying the corruption and organised crime supported by the top leadership were a usual practice in Serbia and that the country, a candidate for the European Union membership, was a security risk which should not be underestimated.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a552737/Lawyer-accuses-Serbia-s-PM-of-violating-European-convention-on-human-rights-and-two-local-laws.html

Serbia's FM says ready to testify in The Hague

December 16, 2019

Commenting on accusations from Pristina that his Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) discussed the covering up of the persecution of Kosovo's Albanians, Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on Monday they were "a lie," the FoNet news agency reported.

He added that the accusation "is credible as much as Kosovo is a state," Dacic told the Belgrade Vecernje Novosti daily.

Belgrade does not recognise Kosovo's independence declared in 2008 and still considers it as its province.

Jeltiy Zyberaj, an advisor to Beghjet Pacolli, Kosovo's outgoing Foreign Minister, said he had the minutes from SPS Executive Board session from February 1999 which showed the intention of covering a massacre and mass persecution of Kosovo's Albanians.

Zyberaj said The Special Court in The Hague should summon Dacic.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a552747/Pristina-accuses-SNS-of-attempting-to-hide-massacre-in-Kosovo-in-1999.html

Opposition leader: Vucic wants boycott to create illusion of democracy

December 16, 2019

Zoran Zivkovic, the leader of the New Party (Nova stranka), told the Belgrade Blic daily his organisation had decided on the participation in elections on the day they were called for the last six years since he had founded it.

He added his party was preparing for the elections since the authorities could be dethroned in two ways – in an election or revolution. He did not exclude the latter, but said that "before that, all other ways of struggle should be tried."

"Whether we will take part in the next elections depends on the atmosphere and conditions, on whether all agreed and written in a dialogue is implemented (terms set during the talks between a part of the opposition and ruling coalition mediated by the European Parliament representatives), Zivkovic said.

He told the daily he understood the reasons for the boycott, "but I believe (President Aleksandar) Vucic wants that  the most to create an illusion of democracy and that the real fighters for Serbia stay out of the parliamentary life."

Zivkovic said if New Party would boycott the elections that would mean there were no conditions for a regular vote.

"But, even then we have to be on alert. We have to create a campaign and plan for the boycott, to know what will happen months or a year after. It's naïve to think that a day after the boycott Vucic will lose power just like that," Zivkovic said.

The largest opposition coalition Alliance for Serbia (SzS) has already decided not to take part in the next general elections.

The EP representatives held three rounds of negotiations with the ruling coalition and some minor opposition parties, but the results did not change the SzS decision.

SzS demands the postponement of the regular elections due in March next year, but, according to the Constitution, that is possible only if a state of emergency is declared.

However, on Saturday, the Parliament speaker Maja Gojkovic said the vote would not be called for March, but that Vucic would decide on the new date.

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said she asked Vucic to extend the election deadline for as long as possible "in line with the Constitution and laws," which should be in May.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a552723/Opposition-leader-Vucic-wants-boycott-to-create-illusion-of-democracy.html

Vucic: Government gave the opposition more than was asked for

December 15, 2019

The government gave the opposition more than they asked for because it was not afraid of competition, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said answering questions about the dialogue on election conditions and remarks that he had relented to the opposition.

"Because I'm an indulgent man," Vucic told reporters at the start of work on the construction of the Moravian Corridor, adding that "the government gave more for everything they asked for."

Vucic said that such moves were good for Serbia and the development of democracy in the country.

"Those who don't want to work can never defeat those who do. And that's all I can say," Vucic said, adding that he did not want to answer any accusations of political opponents at the opening ceremony on the Moravian Corridor, held in the Krusevo village of Jasika, because the ceremony was "too beautiful and festive."

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a552593/Vucic-Government-gave-the-opposition-more-than-was-asked-for.html

Belgrade protest demands release of whistleblower

December 14, 2019

The 1 in 5 Million protest in Belgrade demanded the release of whistleblower Aleksandar Obradovic who revealed dubious deals at the Krusik munitions plant, adding that a petition signed by 30,000 people would be handed to Serbia’s top prosecutor Zagorka Dolovac on Monday.

The gathering was not reported in advance to police as required by law in protest over the fact that the police have not identified a man who assaulted 1 in 5 Million activist Srdjan Markovic two weeks ago.

The regular Saturday protest gathering, whose organizers marked the 1st anniversary of the 1 in 5 Million gatherings earlier this month, was not reported last week. The police were not present at both protests as they have been to date to regulate traffic along the route taken during the protest march.

A press release from the organizers earlier on Saturday said that “since the police, headed by Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic, can’t or won’t provide security for the protest column, the next protest won’t be reported and the organizers and protesters will do their job instead”. The 1 in 5 Million Association said that the deadline they gave the police to react to the assault on Markovic and their videographer had expired.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a552427/Belgrade-protest-demands-release-of-whistleblower.html

Jeremic: Vucic bargains with MEPs over election weekend

December 14, 2019

The Alliance for Serbia (SzS) welcomed, Saturday, the involvement of European parliamentarians (MEPs) in establishing conditions for regular election in Serbia and added that the regime of Aleksandar Vucic (Serbian President) offers deception.

"Repression, abuse of the judiciary and suppression of media freedoms intensify after each round of talks," Vuk Jeremic said in a statement.

He added that Vucic is bargaining with MEPs over the spring election weekend and the number of members of the State regulatory body, whom, Jeremic claims, Vucic will control a little more covertly than he does others.

Jeremic noted that the SzS will continue to fight for normal and European elections.

Dveri movement leader Bosko Obradovic said "who ever believes Aleksandar Vucic and Maja Gojkovic should go to the polls" and added that, as far as Dver and the SzS are concerned, election boycott is the only answer to the "farce of negotiations in the Serbian Parliament."

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a552377/Jeremic-Vucic-bargains-with-MEPs-over-election-weekend.html

Serbian Prime Minister: President agreed to postpone election

December 14, 2019

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Branabic said Saturday that she personally asked Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to postpone the election date as much as possible but in accordance with the law and the Constitution.

Brnabic added that the president was against it, but that he accepted her request.

Speaking at a press conference, she noted that Vucic felt it was better for the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) to have the election as soon as possible and that it was better for the citizens, but that they wanted to meet part of the opposition and MEP's demands.

She explained that calling the elections was the exclusive right of the President of Serbia and that she sought the postponement as a show of goodwill to the opposition so they would have extra time, but added that a nine-month delay was not in accordance with the Constitution.

The Prime Minister said that since the beginning of the EU-mediated inter-party dialogue, the Government did everything the partners or the opposition asked for. According to her, improving the election conditions is not an empty promise, but that there are 17 recommendations from the dialogue that are yet to be implemented and that more than 70 percent of earlier recommendations have been fully implemented.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a552369/Serbian-Prime-Minister-President-agreed-to-postpone-election.html

EP mediators call for widest participation in elections

December 13, 2019

The European Parliament officials mediating the talks on election conditions in the Serbian parliament on Friday called for the widest possible participation in the elections to ensure that the voters have a democratic choice.

They said in the conclusions after the third round of the talks that a new stage of the dialogue would be held after the 2020 elections.

The final round, of the first phase, of the European Parliament facilitated Inter-Party Dialogue was held on 12 and 13 December in the National Assembly of Serbia. It took-stock of the achievements since November’s 2nd Inter-Party Dialogue (IPD) and called for urgent final steps to fulfill the commitments (in the annexed “Implementation Table”) to improve the conditions for holding 2020 Parliamentary Elections.

“The Dialogue welcomed steps taken in the short timeframe of three rounds of Dialogue. However, they insisted that the follow-up and concrete implementation of these commitments must be the focus between now and the beginning of the election campaign in order to deliver tangible improvements on the ground, particularly in the area of freedom of the media and on the role of the regulation of the public broadcasters,” they said.

“Although there has been progress in the improvement of the work of the Republic Electoral Commission (REC), turning commitments into concrete deliverables according to a strict timeline is still needed in the following key areas:

- improving the work of the Electronic Media Regulator (REM) by appointing “3+2” new REM Members to be confirmed in a vote by the end of the year.

- adoption of a new Regulation for the public broadcasters and its effective implementation,

- creation of the Supervisory Board in the Parliament and assure a transparent, timely and impartial work under its competences well before elections,

- implementation of the new amendments of the relevant laws for improving the electoral conditions in practice.  

 “All the announced progress and shortfalls remain dully noted in an updated “Implementation Table” which is available for the public to consult and represents a part of the Conclusions of the Dialogue. The 3rd Dialogue introduced a strict timeline for the implementation of each outstanding commitment. It is imperative that this timeline is respected and that all commitments are implemented in full before the election campaign in order for all stakeholders, especially Serbia’s citizens, to have greater confidence in the integrity of the electoral framework.

Under current Serbian law, the elections for parliament have to be called by the president 90 days before the current parliament’s term in office expires and the vote has to be held no less than 45 days and no more than 60 days after the elections are called. This parliament was constituted on June 3, 2016.

 We have also had a discussion on the possibility, in full respect of the Constitution of Serbia, of holding the elections as late as possible, not in March, at a date to be determined by the President of the Republic. This will give time for all the commitments to be implemented and for all stakeholders, especially the people of Serbia, to feel the full effects of the improvements in the electoral conditions,” they added.  

They underlined the need to continue to monitor the implementation of all the commitments and welcomed the European Parliament Facilitator’s offer to continue to monitor progress on the implementation and noted their willingness to provide any further support should it be requested by the National Assembly.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a552226/EP-mediators-call-for-widest-participation-in-elections.html

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