International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

BiH Presidency Chair condemns death threats made against High Rep at RS rally

April 20, 2022
The Chairman and Bosniak member of BiH’s tripartite Presidency, as well as Bosnia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, strongly condemned the death threats targeting the High Representative of the international community in the country that could be heard at a protest in Banjaluka on Wednesday.
Thousands of people gathered in Banja Luka, the administrative centre of Bosnia’s Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) entity, to protest against the decision of High Representative Christian Schmidt who suspended the RS Law on Immovable Property.
The protest was organised by the Veteran's Organization of Republika Srpska (BORS).
Many officials joined the protest, including BiH Presidency member and leader of the ruling party in the RS, Milorad Dodik.
After Dodik arrived, a group of people gathered around him and began singing a song that contained death threats targeting Schmidt.
“I strongly condemn the death threats made against the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt, at today's SNSD political rally,” Dzaferovic said, implying that the protest was organised by the ruling party in the RS, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD).
“The threats targeting Schmidt are more scandalous because they were made in the direct presence of the member of the Presidency of BiH, Milorad Dodik,” he said, urging police to arrest those who made the threats.
Bosnia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Bisera Turkovic, reacted as well.
“Shocking messages from the Banja Luka demonstrations! Threats against the High representative cannot be tolerated. It is high time to put an end to dangerous radicalization in BiH and the region by following the pattern from Ukraine!” Turkovic tweeted, expressing full support for the Office of the High Representative (OHR).
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bih-presidency-chair-condemns-death-threats-made-against-high-rep-at-rs-rally/

Dodik after protest in BiH's RS entity-We won't let them take away our property

April 20, 2022
“Not a single word of hatred” could be heard at the massive protest in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity, BiH Presidency member, Milorad Dodik, said only moments after witnessing a group of people singing a song containing death threats targeting the High Representative of the international community in BiH.
Thousands of people gathered in Banja Luka, the administrative centre of the Serb-majority RS entity, to protest against the decision of High Representative Christian Schmidt who suspended the RS Law on Immovable Property.
According to the Veteran's Organization of Republika Srpska (BORS), which organised the gathering, nearly 18,000 people were present.
Some of the participants carried nationalist symbols. One of them flashed a banner displaying Ratko Mladic, who was sentenced to life in prison by an international court for war crimes, including the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide. The banner was, however, quickly put away.
The Law on Immovable Property of the RS was previously adopted by the National Assembly and was later signed by RS President, Zeljka Cvijanovic, who also attended the protest on Wednesday.
Schmidt, who is tasked with overseeing the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement in BiH, suspended the controversial law on April 12 until the BiH Constitutional Court hands down a ruling on the matter.
“This decision makes it clear that only the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina can dispose of state property or regulate property,” Schmidt said.
The BORS said the Wednesday protest was organised because of the attempts by international community officials to “create the constitutional and legal order for the Republika Srpska.”
After Dodik arrived, a group of people gathered around him and began singing a song that contained death threats targeting Schmidt.
Dodik, who never accepted Schmidt’s authority as the highest-ranking official in BiH, said at the gathering that the issue of the property has already been decided on in the Dayton Peace Agreement, arguing that “the territory of RS makes 49 percent of BiH and everything that belongs to BiH is explicitly provided by the Constitution.”
“Nobody can object to this, the fact that BORS organized such a magnificent gathering, and I supported it together with my associates,” Dodik said.
“This is not up for discussion. This is a clear message from the people, the property belongs to RS and it will remain that way,” he said, adding that no “foreign interventions” or “false representatives” will change that.
He then praised the organisers of the protest.
“I think this is magnificent. I am really proud of the people who organised this, without a single word of hatred, without a single provocation,” Dodik said.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/dodik-after-protest-in-bihs-rs-entity-we-wont-let-them-take-away-our-property/

Massive protest in BiH's RS entity over High Rep's decision to suspend RS law

April 20, 2022
Thousands of people in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity gathered to protest against the decision of the High Representative of the international community in the country who suspended the RS Law on Immovable Property.
The protest, organised by the Veteran's Organization of Republika Srpska (BORS), is taking place in Banja Luka, the administrative centre of the Serb-majority entity.
The Bosnian Serb member of the country’s tripartite Presidency and leader of the ruling party in the RS, Milorad Dodik, as well as RS President, Zeljka Cvijanovic, joined the protest as well.
There is a heavy police presence at the event and snipers are securing it from the roofs of buildings in the area. Some of the protesters are carrying nationalist symbols.
The Law on Immovable Property of the RS was previously adopted by the National Assembly and was later signed by Cvijanovic.
Christian Schmidt, who is tasked with overseeing the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement in BiH, suspended the controversial law on April 12.
“I suspended the application of the Law until the assessment of the Constitutional Court in order to avoid negative legal reprisals for citizens and potential investors. Today, I am extending the ban on disposing of state property in order to harmonize it with the decisions of the Constitutional Court. This decision makes it clear that only the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina can dispose of state property or regulate property,” Schmidt said.
Dodik, who never accepted Schmidt’s authority as the highest-ranking official in BiH, stated that the High Representative’s decision will not be respected.
BORS said the protest was organised because of the attempts by international community officials to “create the constitutional and legal order for the Republika Srpska.”
N1’s team was threatened at the gathering, as persons told the team to “watch what they say” while reporting from the event. The threat was reported to the police.
After Dodik arrived, a group of people gathered around him and began singing a song that contained death threats targeting Schmidt. Dodik did not join in but smiled as the group sang the song glorifying him.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/massive-protest-in-bihs-rs-entity-over-high-reps-decision-to-suspend-rs-law/


April 20, 2022
This is a “worrying” moment in Bosnia and Herzegovina and political leaders should elevate the interests of the country above their grievances while it is also important that BiH, as well as all countries, condemns Russia’s activities in Ukraine, US Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Chris Murphy said after meeting with BiH’s three Presidency member.
According to the BiH Presidency, Presidency members Sefik Dzaferovic, Zeljko Komsic and Milorad Dodik met with US Senators Jeanne Shaheen, Chris Murphy, Thom Tillis and US Ambassador Michael Murphy.
“It's important for all of us to condemn what’s happening in Ukraine and I hope that democracies in the world will also look at what’s happening there and take a position, an opposition to what Vladimir Putin has done in Ukraine. I appreciate that BiH is a sovereign country and you need to make your own decisions about that,” Shaheen said after the meeting.
She said that she is “disappointed and disagrees” with the Bosnian Serb member of the BiH Presidency, Milorad Dodik, who has insisted that BiH should remain neutral on the matter of Ukraine.
Senator Chris Murphy said that “this is a very worrying moment for BiH.”
“There are lots of people in the US who care deeply about the future of this country, about the people of this country, who are worried about loose talk about shattering state-level institutions. So our message today was one of friendship. We have a long, deep history of friendship and cooperation with BiH. There is probably not another nation that has dedicated more resources to trying to make this complicated nation successful”, he said.
“But we delivered a firm message, which is one of hope that the leaders here will elevate the interests of the country ahead of a list of grievances,” he added.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/us-senators-meet-with-bosnias-presidency-members-amid-bih-political-crisis/

RFE-European Parliament to call Serbia to align with EU policies

April 20, 2022
Radio Free Europe said on Wednesday that the European Parliament will debate a resolution calling the Serbian authorities to align with European Union decisions and stands on foreign and security policy, including sanctions against Russia.
RFE said it had access to the draft resolution authored by rapporteur Vladimir Bilcik MEP which will be debated by the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday.
The draft resolution expresses deep concern for the spread of misinformation on the Russian aggression against Ukraine and called the Serbian authorities and the European Commission to support the fight against misinformation and other hybrid threats. It will also call official Belgrade to stop glorifying war criminals and stop undermining the integrity of neighboring countries and jeopardizing regional stability and reconciliation.
It expresses regret over the continuing pressure on the judiciary and public denial of international war crimes sentences. It calls the new parliament to strengthen guarantees of the efficiency and independence of the judiciary.
The draft resolution recalls that Serbia’s progress in the EU accession talks will depend on progress in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.
The draft resolution also expresses regret over the limits on freedom of the media and abuse of the media for unfair political advantage, attacks on political rivals and the spreading of misinformation.
It expresses concern over the limited progress in fighting corruption and organized crime.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/rfe-european-parliament-to-call-serbia-to-align-with-eu-policies/

Serbian government allows limited exports of some foods

April 20, 2022
The Serbian government decided on Wednesday to allow limited exports of grain, flour and cooking oil.
A press release said that the government decided to introduce quantitative restrictions on the export of wheat, wheat flour, corn, groat and sunflower oil on a monthly basis and for a specific period of time.
“The Government of Serbia decided at today’s meeting on a temporary restriction of export of basic agri-food products in order to successfully respond to the danger of market disturbances caused by a considerable growth in demand on the world and local markets,” it said.
The government imposed a ban on exports of those foodstuffs following the Russian invasion Ukraine to prevent possible shortages.
The wheat farmers association Zita Srbije demanded export quotas of 350,000 tons each for wheat and corn for all export destinations on contracts signed before the export ban was introduced on March 9. It also demanded a quota for exports of sunflower oil.
The Sloga unions said the government decision was “impudent” and demanded a ban on the exports until an investigation determines how wheat and other strategic products disappeared from the goods reserves.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-government-allows-limited-exports-of-some-foods/

Lajcak, Vucic discuss Belgrade-Pristina dialogue

April 20, 2022
European Union envoy Miroslav Lajcak said on Wednesday that he discussed the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and its next high-level meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade.
“Today in Belgrade, I had an in-depth discussion with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic about the issues currently on the agenda and the way forward in the Dialogue, including the next High-level meeting,” the EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue wrote in a Twitter post after the meeting.
A press release from the Serbian president’s cabinet said that they discussed the dialogue with focus on the significant of the Brussels agreement which was signed nine years ago. It quoted Vucic as saying that there has been no progress on the obligations that Pristina accepted when the Brussels agreement was signed, primarily the forming of the Community of Serb Municipalities. He said Serbia expects the full implementation of agreements.
Vucic said that Serbia supports Lajcaks activities, efforts and intention to find a solution through compromise without ultimatums and imposed solutions and his desire to show understanding for its state and national interests not just the national interests of the Albanians.
The press release quoted Lajcak as saying that he will continue to engage on continuing the dialogue under EU auspices without delay and adding that the EU expects to see both sides implement everything agreed in the dialogue.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/lajcak-vucic-discuss-belgrade-pristina-dialogue/

Serbian government body says gas supplies stable

April 20, 2022
The Serbian government working group monitoring energy supplies said on Wednesday that the country’s gas supplies were stable and that the Banatski Dvor storage facility was 40 percent full.
A press release from the Mining and Energy Ministry said that Banatski Dvor was among the storage facilities in Europe with the highest level of gas in it. The meeting said that there were no problems with central heating and heard a presentation of the latest data on the Serbian energy system, production and distribution of electricity, heating oil stores and shipment of coal to power production facilities.
The working group said the hydro power sector was performing well but that the availability of coal was limiting thermal power production. Officials from the power grid and electricity companies said there are no problems with the system.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-government-body-says-gas-supplies-stable/

Dodik-BiH State Property Law would mean death for Republika Srpska entity

April 20, 2022
BiH Presidency member Milorad Dodik stated that he will attend Wednesday's rally "Sloboda" in Banja Luka, which is formally organized by the Veterans' Organization of the Republika Srpska (RS) entity, however, the RS opposition claims its organizers are Dodik’s political party, which was also confirmed by the European peacekeeping force in the country.
Dodik told Federalna TV that he would talk to the representatives of veterans’ categories and that he believes that it would be a peaceful, dignified gathering from which messages would be sent.
“There will be those who, with their engagement in the Army of the Republika Srpska, gave their contribution and defended the RS, and those who feel threatened by the loss of the property, because they fear they are losing the RS,” said Dodik.
If you lose the property, Dodik asked, what’s the point of the RS?
The rally was announced just days after the international community’s High Representative in Bih, Christian Schmidt, in charge of overseeing the implementation of the civilian aspect of the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the 1992-1995 war in BiH, suspended the RS Law on Immovable Property, which gave this entity the right to dispose of the country’s property, including forests, rivers, land and all the resources on the territory of that entity, without the permission of the state.
Dodik warned that the Law on State Property would be the death penalty for the Republika Srpska, because regulating that issue at the BiH level would mean taking away property from the RS, which would lose a significant part of its subjectivity.
“Seizure of property means the transfer will be regulated by the BiH Law. This would mean that BiH is considered competent or is competent for property. Thus, the RS would lose a significant part of its subjectivity. The property is not the property of BiH, but the property of the entities,” Dodik told Federal Television.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/dodik-bih-state-property-law-would-mean-death-for-republika-srpska-entity/

Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens allowed entry into Russia without visa

April 20, 2022
 Russia has included Bosnia and Herzegovina among 20 countries whose citizens can enter the country on regular flights without a visa, the Russian Embassy in Sarajevo said on its website on Wednesday.
Based on a special Russian government decision of 14 April, citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina can enter Russia by air without a visa and stay for up to 30 days, provided they come from any of the countries with which Russia has renewed direct flights.
Never since the end of the 1992-1995 war has Bosnia and Herzegovina had direct flights to any of Russia's cities, yet it is among the few European countries that Russia has not declared hostile after it came under sanctions over its military invasion of Ukraine.
According to the Russian Embassy website, citizens of Montenegro, Serbia and countries such as Cuba, Thailand, Mozambique and Turkey can also enter Russia without a visa and stay for a maximum of 30 days.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has not imposed sanctions on Russia because of the refusal by the Serb member of the state presidency, Milorad Dodik, to support such action. Dodik has said he will never do that because he regards Russian President Vladimir Putin as “a great statesman of a great country and a powerful person who has always been fair.”
On the other hand, following instructions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the country's ambassadors to the United Nations and the Council of Europe voted in favour of Russia's expulsion from the two organisations..
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnia-and-herzegovina-citizens-allowed-entry-into-russia-without-visa/

US senator tells Dodik-Nice to see you, again

April 20, 2022
BiH Presidency members welcomed the delegation of the United States Congress (USA) Wednesday in the Presidency building in Sarajevo.
The delegation, consisting of Senator Jeanne Shaheen (Democrat), Chris Murphy (Democrat) and Thom Tillis (Republican), was welcomed by all three Presidency members including Milorad Dodik, on whom the US imposed and extended sanctions.
Accordingly, it was not certain that he would be present in the Presidency of BiH.
A particularly interesting moment in the context of sanctions against him was his meeting and greeting with Senator Shaheen, who led the US delegation.
Namely, during the handshake and greeting, Shaheen told Dodik that she was glad to see him again.
Dodik found himself on the American black list for the first time in 2016, and the sanctions, among other things, include a travel ban to the United States, as well as a blockade of possible assets and accounts in that country.
For the second time, the US sanctions were extended to Dodik and introduced to the Alternativna Television (ATV) from Banja Luka because of its links to Dodik, more precisely, because he has significantly increased the financing of this media, recently.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/us-senator-tells-dodik-nice-to-see-you-again/

MEP Rangel in the EU Parliament: Elections must be held, EU should use sanctions

April 20, 2022
The European Parliament's rapporteur for BiH, Paoulo Rangel, presents the report on BiH to the Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday.
“Thirty years ago, a tragic war began in BiH and three decades later we are witnessing tensions that make it impossible for the country to move towards Euro-Atlantic integration. They threaten the territorial integrity of the country and the constitutional order and equal rights of all citizens,” said Rangel, adding that electoral reforms must be implemented.
“In this report, we highlighted two key issues that are the main obstacles that are the main obstacle to meeting the 14 priorities:
The first priority is the secessionist rhetoric of representatives of the political elite in the RS and their withdrawal from the institutions and the fact that there is no will to reach an agreement on the reform of the Election Law. Addressing these issues would allow for the further reforms sought in the text.” he said.
“That is why in the draft report we ask all actors to reach an agreement on the Election Law. Elections must be held according to a defined calendar. The report also calls on the European Union to use all the tools at its disposal, including targeted sanctions against destabilizers. EU IPA funding must be strictly defined, provided that RS representatives return to state institutions. Amendments to the Criminal Code that will punish genocide denial must be included in the Criminal Code,” he said in his introductory speech, after which the debate in the European Parliament began.
Dietmar Koster, MEP, had an amendment to Rangel's Draft Report on BiH for which he said “I am sorry that you mention the concept of constituent peoples in the report. We want every person to have the same rights, regardless of ethnicity. One man, one vote.”
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/mep-rangel-in-the-eu-parliament-elections-must-be-held-eu-should-use-sanctions/

Freedom House-Serbia and BiH declined the most in the Western Balkans

April 20, 2022
The Freedom House NGO published its latest report, titled 'Countries in Transition - From Weakening Democracy to Authoritarian Aggression,' which, along with Serbia, saw Bosnia and Herzegovina lag the most in the Western Balkans.
Of the seven Western Balkan countries that include Albania, BiH, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia and Serbia, the biggest setbacks in general, ie in the fields of civil society, media independence and corruption, were recorded in Serbia (46% in total), and immediately behind Serbia is Bosnia and Herzegovina with a decline in the areas of civil society and democratic governance at the national level (a total decline of 38%).
Despite some progress made by Croatia and Montenegro in the areas of democratic governance at the local level, ie national governance, the two countries have not made any overall progress, unlike Kosovo, the only country in the region to has made overall progress in the report. ie, progress in the areas of democratic governance at the national level and the judiciary.
In its report, Freedom House stressed that eight countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, entered the category of hybrid regimes in 2004, and none of those countries has made progress outside that category. BiH has also been described as “partially free”.
Freedom House singled out the amendments to the law banning the denial of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in general, imposed by former High Representative Valentin Inzko, as one of the key events in 2021 in BiH. It pointed out that the law was welcomed by some politicians and activists in the fight against genocide denial, but that it provoked strong opposition among Serbian nationalist leaders in the Republika Srpska (RS) entity.
It is further stated that Milorad Dodik, a Serb member of the BiH Presidency, announced the withdrawal of the RS from state institutions, including the Armed Forces, the highest judicial bodies and the tax administration, which caused fear of the crisis caused by secession.
The third key event of the past year is the failure to negotiate changes to the country’s electoral legislation. The report recalled that the United States mediated in the negotiations, and the goal of the initiative was to resolve court rulings against provisions on the ethnic representation that exclude certain segments of the population from certain positions, including the Presidency.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/freedom-house-serbia-and-bih-declined-the-most-in-the-western-balkans/

Former Kosovo PM-Serbs integrated thanks to dialogue

April 20, 2022
Former Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa said on Wednesday that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue led to the integration of the Serbs into Kosovo’s institutions.
Speaking to the media in Pristina on the 9th anniversary of the signing of the Brussels Agreement, Musa said that “the dialogue with Serbia was not Kosovo’s wish or demand, it was a task set by the European Union and United Nations”. According to him, one of the results of the dialogue is the fact that “Kosovo institutions spread to the north”.
“The dialogue managed to integrate the Serbs in the north into Kosovo institutions, spread the courts, customs, police and administration to the north. There is a series of agreements which Serbia has not implemented,” he said.
Mustafa said that Kosovo has no interest in continuing the dialogue. “The status quo suits Serbia which is an internationally consolidated state, a UN member,” he added.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/former-kosovo-pm-serbs-integrated-thanks-to-dialogue/

Minister says gas supply diversity priority for Serbia

April 20, 2022
Mining and Energy Minister Zorana Mihajlovic said on Wednesday that gas supply diversification is a priority for Serbia.
Supplier diversification is important because Serbia is completely dependent on Russia gas, she said adding that gas could be supplied from Azerbaijan once the interconnection with Bulgaria is completed in September 2023.
The minister said that oil and gas supplies have not been interrupted, adding that the government has plans to deal with a possible supply crisis.
“We get oil through the Adriatic gas pipeline, gas through Bulgaria via the Balkan Stream. We have sufficient supplies of derivatives and gas but we are being cautious because this is not up to us. We are behaving responsibly, taking care and we will have a solution for every unpredictable situation,” she said speaking live on the pro-regime TV Happy.
According to Mihajlovic, the only way to secure long-term energy stability is through an energy transition and green agenda. She said Serbia needs new electricity production capacities, primarily renewable sources to maintain energy security in future. Serbia urgently needs investments in hydro power plants, wind farms, solar power while still using but reducing production from thermal power plants.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/minister-says-gas-supply-diversity-priority-for-serbia/

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