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International Information Centre for Balkan Studies



Opposition leader: Regime brings people from Bosnia to vote in Belgrade election

February 7, 2022
"We have given unequivocal evidence that people from Republika Srpska (Serb-dominated semiautonomous entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina) are being brought not to claim citizenship to what they have the right to, but residence permit in Belgrade, to influence and reshape the will of those people who live in Belgrade," the leader of the opposition Party pf Freedom and Justice (SSP) Dragan Djilas told N1.
He added that „the Government has turned everything upside down so that we now talk about who loves or hates them, and not about the big problem which is directly the theft of the election.“
In the past few days, Djilas published two videos which, as he said, showed the scheme of registering new „residents“ of Belgrade.
The video, made on February 3, explains how the issuance of citizenship and residence for people who were not from Belgrade was organised and how the entire process was coordinated.
At the same time, a dialogue was recorded with one of the coordinators, who, according to his confession, was in charge of doing the job and taking over the taxes payment slips.
The video published by Djilas said that the condition for obtaining Serbia's citizenship for people who appeared at police stations throughout Serbia at the end of last year and the beginning of this month was to vote for the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS).
"Vans bring people to police stations throughout Serbia, and mostly in Belgrade," Djilas said. "When asked where they are from, the citizens said they were 'across the border, from Sarajevo, Bijeljina, from Bosnia'". According to the SSP, each group has its coordinator.
After the first video, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said it was a shame and proof of what Đilas thought about the people from Republika Srpska. He said he did not insult the citizens of the Republika Srpska because he was originally from those parts, but that he showed and would continue to show what the Government was doing ahead of the April 3 presidential, early general and Belgrade elections.
The opinion polls suggest the opposition stood a chance of winning in Belgrade.
Rasa Nedeljkov from the CRTA NGO told N1 earlier on Monday that the videos showed "a scheme for registering new 'residents' of Belgrade to vote in the upcoming elections", as "many other situations that are suspicious and will have the consequences. People will lose trust in institutions because the institutions do not react or react badly. And such things upset the public."
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/opposition-leader-regime-brings-people-from-bosnia-to-vote-in-belgrade-election/

Montenegro’s President to DW: DPS’ll be back; It prevented Belgrade influence

February 7, 2022
The most significant interest of Montenegro is to get a responsible government, and the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) will offer support to a minority government - with certain reasonable political conditions, Milo Djukanovic, the country's President, told Deutsche Welle in an interview on Monday.
He said he believed „that thanks to us, thanks to the state-building opposition, Montenegro managed to resist Belgrade’s offensive. After August 30, 2020, we went through a very aggressive offensive from Belgrade. Greater Serbian nationalism from Belgrade realised that the victory of their favourites opened the door for a new annexation of Montenegro, this time through the ‘Serb World’ project. That did not happen because we had a state-responsible opposition led by the DPS.
The ‘Serb World’ is a term invented by Serbia’s Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin to express the need for unity among the Serbs living anywhere. He denied it had roots in the ‘Greater Serbia’ idea.
Djukanovic's DPS lost elections in 2020 after three decades in power. Still, the winning coalition mandate lasted until this month. It was now to agree on a minority cabinet to avoid early vote after the post-election government led by Zdravko Krivokapic did not survive a no-confidence vote on Friday.
Montenegro's President told DW his country was now "in the process of consolidating power." " He ruled out DPS' participation in a new cabinet but said the party would come back. "…there is no doubt about that. Will it be now? In a year, two, three? There is no hurry… But we also show responsibility from the opposition benches."
The statement could strengthen fears among the former coalition partners, some of which had already said that since DPS supported the ouster of Krivokapic's cabinet, it meant the party's whose opponents joined to defeat would return to power.
"We will support any government that will preserve the civic and secular character of Montenegro, promote multiethnic democracy and contribute to dynamic economic development, so that Montenegro, as a democratically and economically developed country, will be part of the European Union soon," Djukanovic told DW.
He recalled that DPS had offered support to a minority government even after the last elections, believing that "it will be hazardous for Montenegro if the ruling coalition becomes so dependent on Greater Serbian nationalism."
According to Djukanovic, the previous government consisted of three coalitions, "one of which was pro-Serbian and that if it were to determine the state policy, it would be perilous for Montenegro."
Djukanovic reiterated his party's support of a future minority government. "(A minority cabinet) of civic coalitions, that want to help Montenegro move towards Europe. We will not participate in it."
"It took time to understand that not every change means a change for the better. Change can be worse. Montenegro has now undergone one positive change. But that does not mean that the DPS will automatically return to power… We understood the message of the voters very clearly; we have been working hard for a year to eliminate weaknesses and reform the party," Djukanovis said.
He added he thought "Montenegro has learned another lesson and that now, after that experience, it will decide smarter its future." .
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/montenegros-president-to-dw-dpsll-be-back-it-prevented-belgrade-influence/

Montenegrin parliament relieves speaker

February 7, 2022
The Montenegrin parliament relieved Speaker Aleksa Becic in an open vote on Monday, three days after passing a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic.
The vote was by roll call.
Becic was speaker for just under a year and a half. The initiative for his dismissal was signed by 38 of the total of 81 MPs. It said that there was no fundamental political dialogue while he held the post “because of which we are witnessing the greatest ever social and political divisions which threaten to destabilize the state”.
The MPs recalled the European Commission’s negative annual report on Montenegro’s progress on integration into the European Union. “A significant contribution to that report came from parliament under the leadership of this speaker,” they said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/montenegrin-parliament-relieves-speaker/

WWF Adria, environmentalists, complain about EIB financing harmful MHP in Serbia

February 7, 2022
The Rzav Environmental Association from western Serbia and the CEE Bankwatch Network, supported by the World Conservation Organisation WWF Adria, filed a complaint against the European Investment Bank (EIB), whose investment in two micro hydropower plants, as they said, had caused great damage to the Crni Rzav and Ribnica rivers in Serbia, WWF Adria said.
The complainant said those projects violate European national legal frameworks and the Council of Europe Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.
The WWF Adria statement added that both plants were interconnected by the so-called bypass, taking water from two rivers.
The EIB finances the project with loans for small and medium enterprises and through priority projects of the financial intermediary Credit Agricole Srbija AD Novi Sad.
The investor is the company 'Zlatiborske elektrane d.o.o,' registered in the central town of Cacak, which planned to build a third facility, SHPP Peta.
The plants are located in western Serbia's Nature Park' Zlatibor' area. Before their construction, no study was done on assessing the impact on the environment, which allowed those two micro-hydroelectric power plants to destroy 9.2 kilometres of river flow.
Adverse impacts with severe consequences for protected species in the area are also noticeable, as evidenced by the hydrobiological research conducted by WWF Adria in 2020.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/wwf-adria-environmentalists-complain-about-eib-financing-harmful-mhp-in-serbia/

VSS condemns Belgrade Red Star’s fans for chauvinist insults

February 7, 2022
The Water Polo Association of Serbia strongly condemned on Monday the behaviour of Red Star fans during the match against Sabac when they insulted the water polo's team new coach based on his ethnicity.
Dissatisfied with the appointment of Croatian coach Mirko Vicevic, they posted a banner insulting Kosovo Albanians, Croats and Bosniaks during the match on Saturday.
The Red Star officials have not reacted yet, neither have its water polo team players.
"The Water Polo Association (VSS) condemns and distances itself from the events at the match between Red Star and Sabac. We are against all divisions in sports, be they political or national, religious or of some other nature. We are open to everyone. Considering that sport is a general, common good of all and those who practice it and enjoy watching it. VSS will initiate disciplinary proceedings against the responsible persons, believing that such events will not happen again," the Association's statement said.
Vicevic was born in Montenegro to a Croatian family. He was the best water polo player globally, won the Olympic gold in Seoul in 1988 with Yugoslavia, worked as the selector of the Qatar water polo team and coached the junior categories of Montenegro. He is the President of the Croatian Civil Society of Montenegro.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/vss-condemns-belgrade-red-star-fans-for-chauvinist-insults/

Activists: If Rio Tinto is still in Serbia by February 20, we’ll force them out

February 7, 2022
Aleksandar Jovanovic, one of the most prominent environmentalist activists in Serbia, called on Monday on his colleagues and people from the western village of Gornje Nedeljice, the centre of Rio Tinto's planned lithium mine, to physically force the company employees and their equipment out if they did not leave the country through February 20.
„What is Rio Tinto doing in Gornje Nedeljice after everything? If the Government annulled its decree and disbanded its working group to implement Rio Tinto’s ‘Jadar Project,’ why it still buys land from the villagers? Why do its jeeps still patrol the village? Rio Tinto doesn’t have anything more to do in Gornje Nedeljice,“ Jovanovic told nova.rs website.
He added he called on „all people from Gornje Nedeljice, Serbia’s Association of Environmentalist Organisations (SEOS) and citizens to give Rio Tinto the February 20 deadline to leave the village. If not, to physically force the staff and their equipment out and set up guards at the village’s entrance.“
Last week, Savo Manojlovic' the director of the 'Go-Change' Campaign, said that if the Parliament did not adopt the ban on mining lithium and boron in Serbia, his organisation would stage a new protest, the Gornje Nedelljice villagers would camp outside the Government seat and the activists would obstruct the forthcoming elections process.
Environmentalists in Serbia have been protesting for months against the RioTinto plans to mine lithium in western Serbia. The Government said it annulled all contracts with the Anglo-Australian company, but the activists and villagers said Rio Tinto continued its activities and accused the regime of a pre-election manoeuvre.
They want a permanent ban on lithium and boron exploration in the country to Rio Tinto and all other companies doing or planning to do that. Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said there was no time for such a decision since the Parliament has to be dissolved on February 15, due to the elections scheduled for April 3.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/activists-if-rio-tinto-is-still-in-serbia-by-february-20-well-force-them-out/

US professor: Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine bad for Balkans

February 7, 2022
If Russia invades Ukraine, its activities on destabilisation of the Balkans will intensify, Daniel Serwer, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University, told Kosovo's media on Monday.
He told the Koha daily that Russian success or failure in Ukraine would decide Moscow’s fate in Europe
„If Russia’s intervention were successful, it would encourage the growth of its activities aimed at ethnic division and destabilisation in the Balkans. If it fails, it could be the beginning of the end of Russia’s reawakening in Europe,“ Server said.
He added he appreciated the pro-Ukrainian position by Kosovo.
"Serbia has already supported Russia in Ukraine, and I agree with Kosovo's position favouring Ukraine," Server said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/us-professor-russias-potential-invasion-of-ukraine-bad-for-balkans/

Serbia’s Prosecutors dismiss criminal charges against President and Int Min

February 7, 2022
Serbia Prosecutors' Office rejected without explanation the charges against Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic and Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin, filed by their parties last August over alleged links to arrested members of the criminal group.
The criminal charges were filed by the deputy leader of his ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) on behalf of Vucic and by an MP of Vulin’s Socialist Movement, SNS partner on behalf of Vulin following media reports of the criminal group leader Veljko Belivuk statement after the arrest.
„The state leadership is accused of connection with organised crime, and we ask the prosecutors to investigate the accusations,“ Vucic’s lawyer Milos Vucevic said.
The Prosecution kept silent until Sunday night when, at the request of a lawyer of the mother of one of the people believed to be a victim of the Belivuk clan, it said it had dismissed the charges as unfounded and archived.
The lawyer did not get an insight into the explanation of the Prosecution's decision.
There is no information on whether Vucic and Vulin were questioned. "If they didn't, that report was the most common political performance, and that is why the results of the investigation cannot be made available to the public," lawyer Ivan Ninic said.
Former Ombudsman Rodoljub Sabic said that "even when you report yourself, it is a crime. That situation in which close associates of President Vucic or some of his associates file criminal charges against them, claiming they know very well that their clients are honest people, is a crime of false reporting."
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-prosecutors-dismiss-criminal-charges-against-president-and-int-min/

Croatia reports 6,001 new coronavirus cases, 59 deaths

February 6, 2022
Croatia has recorded 6,001 new coronavirus cases and 59 deaths in the last 24 hours.
The national coronavirus response team said on Sunday that 4,780 new infections with the SARS-CoV-2 virus had been detected by PCR tests, while media reported that another 1,221 had been identified by rapid antigen tests.
Currently, 2,140 COVID patients are being treated in hospitals, 178 of whom are on ventilators, while 25,006 people are self-isolating.
Since 25 February 2020, when the first case was confirmed in Croatia, 983,780 people have been registered as having been infected with the novel coronavirus, of whom 14,137 have died and 917,608 have recovered, including 8,706 in the last 24 hours.
A total of 4,328,022 people have been tested to date, including 10,787 in the last 24 hours.
To date, 5,132,763 vaccine doses have been administered, with 56.64 per cent of the total population, or 67.39 per cent of the adult population, having been vaccinated.
A total of 2,298,364 people have received at least one dose and 2,212,347 of them have been fully vaccinated, which is 65.02 per cent of the adult population.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/croatia-reports-6001-new-coronavirus-cases-59-deaths/

Bosnia logs 436 new coronavirus cases and 22 deaths

February 6, 2022
Bosnia and Herzegovina reported 436 new coronavirus cases and 22 Covid-19 deaths, the healthcare authorities said on Sunday.
The new results come from 1,773 lab tests performed on those who reported the infection symptoms.
With 310 new Covid-19 patients that were confirmed in the Federation entity out of 1,348 tests for the coronavirus, the region's Covid-19 total now stands at 233,828 and its death toll is at 8,199. A total of seven Covid-19 patients died over the past 24 hours and three fatalities were reported retroactively.
Republika Srpska entity confirmed 73 new coronavirus cases, out of 278 lab tests performed, bringing the coronavirus total to 108,618. With 13 Covid-19 deaths, the region's death toll stands at 6,016.
Brcko District reported 53 new Covid-19 patients and two fatalities.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnia-logs-436-new-coronavirus-cases-and-22-deaths/

Serbia’s coronavirus update: 63 deaths, 10,602 new cases

February 6, 2022
A total of 63 COVID-19 patients passed away and out of 22,013 people tested, 10,602 were confirmed infected with the coronavirus in Serbia in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Sunday.
To date, COVID-19 has officially claimed 13,991 lives in the country.
The mortality rate is 0.79 percent.
Currently, 4,295 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, 15 of them on ventilators.
Since the coronavirus outbreak in Serbia in March 2020, 8,324,359 people have been tested and 1,768,343 infections have been confirmed in the country.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-coronavirus-update-63-deaths-10602-new-cases/

Bosnian FM signs decision concerning display of BiH's state symbols

February 6, 2022
Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic signed a decision that regulates and closely coordinates the actions of employees in Bosnia and Herzegovina's diplomatic-consular offices abroad in line with relevant laws, in regard with the display of the flag and other insignia of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Diplomatic-Consular Offices of Bosnia and Herzegovina use the coat of arms, flag and anthem of Bosnia and Herzegovina in accordance with the laws of Bosnia and Herzegovina, taking into account laws, other regulations, practices and current opportunities in the state of reception,” reads that statement, noting that all employees of the aforementioned institutions are “obliged to inform the competent personnel of the Foreign Affairs Ministry if they notice any irregularities with the country's insignia during events.
Also, the minister prescribed “a reaction” in case if the coat of arms or the flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina are publicly used, exposed or displayed” contrary to the Law on the Coat of Arms of BiH or the Law on the Flag of BiH, or if the anthem is performed in a way that is contrary to adequate law.
The assistant minister and chief of the diplomatic-consular offices are obliged to immediately launch procedures to fix inappropriately used insignia and inform the foreign minister about the coat of arms or the flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina being inappropriately displayed or exposed during bilateral or multilateral meetings, international competitions and other related events.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnian-fm-signs-decision-concerning-display-of-bihs-state-symbols/

OSCE condemns announced formation of RS Judicial and Prosecutorial Council

February 4, 2022
The OSCE Mission to BiH warned on Friday that withdrawal from state institutions such as the top state judicial institution, as announced by the authorities in the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) entity authorities, would go against the Dayton Peace Agreement, undermining the fight against organised and other forms of serious crime.
“The OSCE BiH reaffirms support for the Dayton Peace Agreement, its values and the rule of law. The High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council BiH (HJPC BiH) reinforces the independence of the judiciary, promotes legal harmonisation, and reduces legal fragmentation.
Withdrawing from the HJPC BiH goes against the letter and spirit of the Dayton Peace Agreement and will undermine the processing of serious crimes as it will establish parallel judicial structures – widening space for criminal impunity,” the OSCE BiH tweeted.
The British Embassy to BiH also recently condemned one other step in withdrawing from BiH state institutions – the formation of the RS Agency for medicinal products and medical devices.
“The United Kingdom rejects all attempts to undo 26 years of progress. Practical steps towards withdrawing from state institutions are a dangerous and deliberate attempt to divert public attention from the failure to improve the living standards of the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the fight against corruption. As the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board said on December 8, it is necessary to return to state-level institutions, where one can discuss and work to address the many challenges facing the country. The focus must be on making progress on reforms and on the Euro-Atlantic path.”
Representatives of the parties of the ruling coalition in the RS submitted the Draft Law on the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of the RS to the RS National Assembly Speaker Nedeljko Cubrilovic.
A request was also sent that the Draft Law be considered at the next session of the National Assembly, which is scheduled for February 8.
This Draft Law envisages that it will be applied one year after its entry into force. The proponents explained that this period was necessary due to the formation of the Council.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/osce-condemns-announced-formation-of-rs-judicial-and-prosecutorial-council/

Expert: Number of missing persons in BiH manipulated for political gains

February 4, 2022
Almost thirty years after the war in BiH, we still do not know the exact number of killed, missing, and how many people are being searched for – the victims have not been counted, Jasmin Odobasic, an expert who worked on finding mass graves in BiH told N1, Friday, adding that there is no precise list or mass graves, for which he blames all political leaders in BiH.
“The number of missing is being manipulated with, and the real truth is the following, for every missing Serb, there are eight missing Bosniaks and there are 30 missing Bosniaks per one missing Croat – and that’s the only exact number,” said Odobasic.
It is estimated that 30,000 people are missing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but there are no names, which is why, among other things, Odobasic demanded the closure of the Missing Persons Institute.
“In 2004, an interim verdict was issued against (former Serbian President) Slobodan Milosevic, saying that there was enough evidence for seven Bosnian cities that genocide had been committed there, four of which were in Krajina – Prijedor, Sanski Most, Kljuc and Bosanski Novi, when neither Tomasica nor Stari Kevljani was discovered, but there was enough evidence to pass an inter-verdict that Milosevic committed genocide,” Odobasic said.
Odobasic claims that everything was done to cover up the genocide against Croats, adding that the Krajina region was the only place in Bosnia where Bosniaks and Croats never fought against each other but, in fact, were killed together by Bosnian Serb forces.
“Unfortunately, [it was done] with the help of Bosniaks – shame on those who participated in it. It’s easy for Bosniaks, we do not have a single verdict for genocide, individually, and now the statement that [Bosnian Serb Presidency member Milorad] Dodik is trying to impose every day, ‘let's not mention any genocide,’ doesn’t stand,” N1’s interlocutor concluded.
In the end, Odobasic believes that there is an agreement not to condemn genocide anywhere, except in Srebrenica.
He pointed out that, Bosniaks are also involved in all this, and of all the politicians, he said Zeljko Komsic is the only Croat politician who visited all the Croat mass graves.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/expert-number-of-missing-persons-in-bih-manipulated-for-political-gains/

BiH Parliament receives Bill on Prohibition of Abuse of Term of Genocide

February 6, 2022
The chairman of the House of Representatives of the BiH Parliamentary Assembly, Denis Zvizdic, said on Friday that the Bill on banning the abuse of the term genocide had been submitted to this institution by representatives from the Republika Srpska (RS) entity, namely the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) caucus and their coalition partners.
Zvizdic noted that the Bill represents yet another form of genocide denial “because there is no ‘idea of genocide’ as stated in the Bill – there is only the crime of genocide. Turning the convicted genocide into the ‘idea of genocide’ is a denial of genocide,” Zvizdic said on Twitter, where he posted a photo of the bill.
The text of the Bill on Prohibition of Abuse of the Term of Genocide states, among other things, that it “regulates the prohibition of abuse of the term of genocide in a way that it is prescribed as a new criminal offence, as well as a criminal sanction for the said offence.”
It is further clarified what this abuse of the term genocide should mean, so it reads:
“Whoever speaks or writes or otherwise makes publicly available texts, images or any other presentation of genocide ideas, belittling or exposing Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republika Srpska (RS), the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) and the Brcko District of BiH, as well as a group of individuals or members a group determined on the basis of race, colour, religion, origin, national or ethnic origin, and in a manner that could incite violence or hatred directed against BiH, RS, FBiH, Brcko District, as well as such groups of individuals and a member of that group shall be punished by imprisonment for a term between six months and five years.”
The second paragraph of Article 3 refers to the punishment of appointed and elected officials who commit the said act.
“The perpetrator of the criminal offence referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article, who is appointed or elected official or responsible individual or an employee of the institutions of BiH, RS, FBiH and Brcko District, or anybody or organization financed through the public budget shall be punished by imprisonment of at least three years.”
Three days ago, the RS National Assembly (RSNA) passed a resolution asking the representative of the RS in the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina to propose this law, which was done this Friday.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bih-parliament-receives-bill-on-prohibition-of-abuse-of-term-of-genocide/

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