International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Croatia’s coronavirus update: 2,055 new cases, 42 deaths, 4,491 recoveries

February 20, 2022

In the last 24 hours, there have been 2,055 new cases of the infection with SARS-CoV-2 in Croatia, and another 42 COVID patients have died, the country's COVID-19 crisis management team reported on Sunday.

Croatia currently has 24,954 active cases of the infection, and of them, 1,720 are receiving hospital treatment, including 125 placed on ventilators.

Roughly 4.47 million tests for coronavirus have been conducted in the country since the outbreak of the pandemic, detecting 1,041,212 cases of the infection. So far, 1,001,443 patients have recovered, including 4,491 recoveries in the last 24 hours.

To date, 65.37% of adult Croatians have fully been vaccinated against this disease.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/croatias-coronavirus-update-2055-new-cases-42-deaths-4491-recoveries/

Serbia’s coronavirus update: 62 deaths, 3,876 new cases

February 20, 2022

Over the last 24 hours, 62 COVID-19 patients passed away and out of 12,239 people tested, 3,876 were confirmed infected with the coronavirus in Serbia, the Health Ministry said on Sunday.

To date, COVID-19 has officially claimed 14,849 lives in the country. The mortality rate is 0,79 percent.

Currently, 3,851 people are in hospitals, including 137 on ventilators.

A total of 8,633,493 people have been tested in Serbia so far and 1,883,113 have been confirmed positive for the coronavirus.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-coronavirus-update-62-deaths-3876-new-cases/

Hungary's FM: We do not support EU sanctions against Dodik

February 20, 2022

Hungary opposes the idea of the European Union imposing sanctions on democratically elected leaders in the Western Balkans, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told Milorad Dodik, one of the three members of Bosnia’s Presidency, in a phone conversation on Sunday.

Szijjarto wrote on Facebook that he had a phone conversation with Dodik as part of the preparations for the meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, where the situation in BiH will also be discussed.

“We have reaffirmed our commitment to the country's territorial integrity and respect for international agreements, including the Dayton Accords,” Szijjarto said.

He said that there are enough tensions at the moment and that Hungary continues to appeal to the EU to stop threatening democratically elected leaders in the Western Balkans with sanctions and to rather engage in dialogue with them.

“The policy of sanctions has failed, it only encourages hostility. Instead, the European integration of the Western Balkans must be accelerated and that will be the right solution,” Szijjarto wrote on Facebook.

He added that peace and stability in the Western Balkans is a fundamental national interest of Hungary.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/hungarys-fm-we-do-not-support-eu-sanctions-against-dodik/

Komsic: Territorial reorganisation of BiH based on ethnicity will not happen

February 20, 2022

The Croat member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, Zeljko Komsic, strongly condemned the conclusion the umbrella organisation of Bosnian Croat parties adopted on Saturday, calling them “political blackmail.”

Parties within the Croat National Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HNS BiH) said that the conditions for the October general election have not been met and that, if electoral reform is not completed to ensure “legitimate representation” of Bosnian Croats, they would initiate steps “for a new institutional and territorial organisation of BiH on the principles of federalism and consociational democracy.”

“Conclusions of the so-called HNS, apart from being an expression of another political blackmail under the auspices of HDZ (Croat Democratic Union), are not acceptable to the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina for at least two reasons “, said Komsic he said, elaborating:

“First, there will be elections, no matter how hard someone tries to avoid, postpone or block them. The reasons for such actions of the HDZ are clear to every citizen of this country,” he said.

Komsic argued that the HDZ BiH has been blocking the functionality of all government levels “to enforce an election law on the basis of apartheid and contrary to the Strasbourg verdicts.”

The party is abusing the concept of “legitimate representation” in order to remain in power at all times, he said.

Komsic argued that the party may boycott the elections but that blocking or preventing the process would be a crime.

“That is why the HDZ, (Dragan) Covic and their team need to hide behind the HNS NGO so that possible criminal responsibility is shared between them,” he said.

He also commented on the “territorial reorganization” of Bosnia and Herzegovina the conclusions mentioned.

“There will be no federalization of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on ethnic or any other basis,” he stressed.

“Bosnia and Herzegovina already suffers from a poor internal organisation, so any reorganisation can only be on rational grounds, such as regionalization of the country, but those regions must not be based on ethnicity and should not have the power to exercise legislative, executive and judicial powers. The reorganization of the country through its ethnic federalization in order to achieve wartime goals in the time of peace by realising what the International Court in The Hague (ICTY) has established as a joint criminal enterprise will simply never happen,” he said.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/komsic-territorial-reorganisation-of-bih-based-on-ethnicity-will-not-happen/

EU's Josep Borrell: We will not accept dissolution of BiH

February 20, 2022

The situation in Bosnia is “more worrying than ever” and the European Union clearly stated it will not accept a dissolution of the country, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, said at the Munich Security Conference.

“The situation in Bosnia is certainly worrying, more worrying than ever. It’s never been easy, but now there are really centrifugal forces to be found,” Borrell said.

He said that Bosnia’s political leaders must reach an agreement to implement constitutional and other reforms in order to avoid discrimination in the country and continue its EU integration process.

The process of constitutional and electoral reform in BiH “will be a long one,” he said.

“I can only appeal to the responsibility of the political leaders in BiH to implement the reforms and I can assure you that we are in close coordination with the US, also concerning Serbia,” he said.

“We issued a serious warning, we will not accept the dissolution of this republic,” Borrell stressed.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/eus-josep-borrell-we-will-not-accept-dissolution-of-bih/

Croatia’s Foreign Minister: Civic state concept ended Yugoslavia

February 19, 2022

Yugoslavia broke up because of the civic state concept which is now being advocated for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman said on Saturday, adding that Croatia's authorities have made the international community see that such an approach is harmful.

He was speaking in Munich, where he is attending a security conference which is also discussing the future of the Western Balkans and BiH.

Grlić Radman was commenting on a recent initiative by three members of the last Presidency of the former Yugoslavia, Stjepan Mesic, Bogic Bogicevic and Vasil Tupurkovski, who propose abandoning the Dayton agreement and the ethnic concept of governance for BiH.

“They are comfortably making recommendations, yet are actually among those the most to blame for this situation,” he said. “It was such a civic concept, coming from Belgrade that cost the former state and the consequence was the Great Serbian aggression.”

“Slobodan Milosevic wanted to create a unitary, centralised state that would be governed from Belgrade. It was because of such a narrative that the former state broke up,” he said, adding that Mesic, Bogicevic and Tupurkovski are pushing that narrative, which would have “horrible consequences” for BiH.

Grlic Radman said previous Croatian governments had failed to inform the international community about the BiH situation and that the incumbent government had changed that.

“It is because of all those missed opportunities by the former governments that we have the situation we have,” he said, adding that Zagreb has “made international partners see that BiH’s prospects depend on the spirit and letter of the Dayton agreement.”

Grlic Radman took part in the security conference along with Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu in a GLOBSEC debate on the situation in eastern Europe, the Western Balkans and the Three Seas Initiative.

He said the LNG terminal off Krk island, inaugurated at the start of 2021 and “entered onto the energy map of the world,” was Croatia’s contribution to the Initiative and Europe’s energy independence.

Grlic Radman also took part in a debate organised by Google on new digital technologies, cyber security and the fight against disinformation.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/croatias-foreign-minister-civic-state-concept-ended-yugoslavia/

HNS BiH: Territorial reorganisation of BiH if Croat rights are not ensured

February 19, 2022

The Croat National Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HNS BiH), an organisation of Croat ethnic parties in the country, said that if the constitutional rights of Bosnian Croats to continue to be violated, it will initiate steps “for a new institutional and territorial organisation of BiH on the principles of federalism and consociational democracy.”

The HNS BiH discussed the political situation and electoral reform in BiH in an extraordinary session on Saturday and adopted a set of seven conclusions.

“I am convinced that my fellow Bosniak politicians will understand what we have concluded today. With that, we have opened the door to talk about the future of our homeland BiH. If the behaviour of some of these politicians is the same as before – I am afraid that there will be no reason for optimism that something will change “, said the head of the HNS BiH and leader of Bosnia’s strongest Croat ethnic party, Dragan Covic.

In its first conclusion, the HNS BiH noted that its negotiating team has implemented the political agreement of17 June on the principles and the election law in the negotiations so far.

The second one says the HNS regrets that those negotiations have not been concluded successfully and that it offered a number of proposals and is ready to continue negotiations on amendments to the Election Law in order to create the preconditions for holding general elections.

The third one states the HNS will consistently advocate the original principles enshrined in the 1994 Washington Agreement and Dayton Peace Accords as established by Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs and others.

The fourth one says that the HNS BiH considers all political positions advocating the blocking of the implementation of the political agreement from Mostar and thus preventing the Croats from legitimately representing themselves in the House of Peoples and the Presidency of BiH unlawful.

The fifth conclusion says that the HNS BiH will consider that the conditions for the 2022 general elections have not been met.

In its sixth conclusion, the HNS BiH says that the Central Election Commission is not and cannot act as a legislator, nor does it have the right to take over competencies. If the Election Law is not amended and elections are called despite that, the HNS BiH says it will consider the process contrary to the Dayton Peace Agreement.

If the process of violating the constitutional rights of Croats in Bosnia continues, “the HNS will initiate all legal procedures and political steps for a new institutional and territorial organisation of BiH on the principles of federalism and consociational democracy, which will ensure full constitutional equality of all three constituent peoples in BiH,” the final conclusions says.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/hns-bih-territorial-reorganisation-of-bih-if-croat-rights-are-not-ensured/

Bosnian Serb ambassadors to FM: We will not mark BiH Independence Day

February 18, 2022

Bosnian Serb ambassadors and consuls sent an open letter to the Foreign Affairs Minister, Bisera Turkovic, informing her that they will not accept her instruction on observing Bosnia’s Independence Day on March 1.

In the letter, 18 ambassadors and consuls say that Turkovic instructed them on February 16 to “mark this non-existent holiday on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of BiH Independence Day, March 1 this year.”

They argued that “with this instruction, as well as previous similar actions, Turkovic is continuously undermining the constitutional order of BiH, abusing the position of minister and usurping the Dayton (Peace Agreement) competence of the BiH Presidency over foreign policy.”

They stressed that March 1, 1992, is the day of the Sarajevo Wedding Attack – the attack of a wedding procession which resulted in the death of the father of the groom and the wounding of a Serbian Orthodox priest. According to the 18 diplomats, this was “the reason for the start of the war in BiH.”

The open letter was signed by Aleksandar Vranjes, Biljana Gutic Bjelica, Bojan Vujic, Bojana Kondic Panic, Boro Bronza, Vera Sajic, Dragan Jacimovic, Dusko Kovacevic, Zeljko Samardzija, Zdravko Begovic, Koviljka Spiric, Marko Milisav, Milica Ristovic Krstic, Milorad Zivkovic, Sinisa Bencun, Sinisa Berjan, Sinisa Mihailovic and Slavisa Ceranic.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnian-serb-ambassadors-to-fm-we-will-not-mark-bih-independence-day/

Croat ethnic parties in BiH to present conclusions on electoral reform

February 18, 2022

The Croat National Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HNS BiH), an organisation of Croat ethnic parties in the country, started an extraordinary convention in Mostar on Saturday to draw up a document calling for the continuation of electoral reforms and warning that conditions have not been met for an election this autumn.

In a statement to the media prior to the convention, HNS BiH leader Dragan Covic said that the aim for Croat parties to gather was to “ensure complete constitutional equality of the Croat people with the other two constituent peoples in BiH.”

“We want to make sure that Croats can elect legitimate political representatives at all levels of government in BiH,” said Covic.

Asked whether HNS BiH would insist on the establishment of a third entity if the election law is not amended, he said that he did not wish to comment on speculation.

“Our message will be a sign of unity by representatives of the Croat people in BiH,” he added.

The leader of the HDZ 1990, Ilija Cvitanovic, who is also a member of the HNS BiH leadership, said that the conclusions of the convention would be in line with the country's Constitution.

“With this, we are giving BiH a chance and offering our hand in an effort to define our relations on the basis of equality,” he stressed.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/croat-ethnic-parties-in-bih-to-present-conclusions-on-electoral-reform/

High Rep: Genocide denial can indicate signs of preparation of future crimes

February 18, 2022

Genocide and war crimes denial is not only offensive to the victims and their loved ones, but can also "indicate signs of preparation of future crimes," said the High Representative of the international community in Bosnia, Christian Schmidt, and UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu.

Schmidt, who is the international official overseeing the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, met with the UN Special Adviser on the margins of the Munich Security Conference.

They discussed “the importance of addressing and countering genocide and war crimes denial as an imperative to advance trust-building and strengthen social cohesion in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the Office of the High Representative (OHR) said.

“Denying genocide and war crimes committed in the past and adjudicated by courts of justice constitutes not only an affront to victims, their relatives and friends, but can also indicate signs of preparation of future crimes, stated the High Representative and the Special Adviser,” it said.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/high-rep-genocide-denial-can-indicate-signs-of-preparation-of-future-crimes/

German Foreign Minister for N1: Dodik's behaviour is unacceptable

February 18, 2022

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said at the Munich Security Conference that Bosnian Serb Presidency member Milorad Dodik's behaviour is unacceptable and that she could not reveal her future moves, but that she could say that she would be coming to the region soon. Baerbock told N1 that Germany has a responsibility towards Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also the Balkan region.

“We mustn’t close our eyes and turn our backs on the Balkans. I must honestly say here that this is what the former government headed by Chancellor Merkel did. We have a responsibility to the Balkans. We have a responsibility to Bosnia. The worst crimes and human rights violations have taken place there in recent decades. It is our responsibility not to allow everything we have done well over there in recent years to be destroyed. What I have to say is that if we leave that region, then we open the space for the engagement of other parties, and that is not only Russia but Turkey as well,” said Annalena Baerbock.

Special instructions issued to associates for the Balkan region

Baerbock pointed out that she issued instructions to her associates to pay special attention to the region.

“One of the first things I did when I became a minister was to make it clear that the things Dodik is doing are not acceptable. It is a violation of everything we have agreed on. We must ensure that the people there live in peace and that there are no new divisions in the region. What am I doing about it? I can't tell you that yet… but I can say that we are investing a lot of energy and my ministry is working on it. I will travel there soon and they will repeat the message that we will stand very close with the region,” Minister Baerbock pointed out.

Speaking about the EU enlargement, the German chief of diplomacy said the EU must be very clear in that process.

“We can't just say here are the basic rules. And then when it comes to the entry of North Macedonia and others to say that we change our minds. If we are talking about a responsible partnership, then we must be reliable and secure partners and help the citizens of the region. We must support countries that follow a democratic path and share the values of the European Union,” Baerbock concluded.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/german-foreign-minister-for-n1-dodiks-behaviour-is-unacceptable/

Lord Dannatt: Serbia must know that RS will never be part of ‘Greater Serbia’

February 18, 2022

The international community must find a new model for Bosnia and Herzegovina and persecute all those who disagree with it. That means they will have to put pressure on the Republika Srpska (RS) entity leadership because it is hampering Bosnia and Herzegovina's development, the former British army chief Lord Richard Dannatt said in an exclusive interview with N1.

He also believes that glorifying war criminals and denying genocide in BiH is inadmissible in the country and the world today.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/lord-dannatt-serbia-must-know-that-rs-will-never-be-part-of-greater-serbia/

Croat parties suggest territorial recomposition of BiH if election reform fails

February 18, 2022

The Croat National Assembly in Bosnia and Herzegovina (HNS BiH), an organisation made up of Bosnian Croat political parties, suggested their members should initiate legal and political procedures for the new institutional and territorial organization of BiH which will ensure full constitutional equality of the three constituent peoples should the BiH Election Law reform fail, news portal Bild.ba published what they say are the conclusions of Saturday’s HNS BiH session.

In their final, seventh, conclusion the HNS sets a clear ultimatum:

“The Croat National Assembly obliges its members to initiate legal and political procedures for the new institutional and territorial organization of BiH which would ensure the full constitutional equality of the three constituent peoples, should they not be able to fully exercise their constitutional rights to legitimate representation and constitutional equality with the other two constituent peoples guaranteed by the Dayton Peace Agreement and the BiH Constitution,” the HNS’s final conclusion allegedly stipulates.

Bild.ba portal noted that their source from the HNS BiH told them that some minor corrections are possible, but that the document they received is, more or less, complete.

The first conclusion, ie what was determined by the members of the HNS BiH, says: “The Croat National Assembly concludes that the negotiating team of the HNS of BiH in the negotiations has so far consistently implemented amendments to the BiH Election Law and limited amendments to the Constitution of BiH, especially in the part related to the legitimate representation of constituent peoples at all administrative and political levels of government.”

The second conclusion of the HNS BIH concerns Bozo Ljubic Court decision and the lack of conditions for holding elections.

“The Croat National Assembly confirms that the formal and legal conditions for holding the 2022 General Elections have not been met. The current Election Law is not in line with the BiH Constitution and is anti-Dayton. Its amendments should enable the implementation of the decision of the Constitutional Court of BiH U-23/14 and all judgments of the European Court of Human Rights,” reads the conclusion.

In the third conclusion, the HNS BiH pointed out that it is ready to continue negotiating the Election Law.

“The Croat National Assembly is ready to continue negotiations on amendments to the Election Law and limited constitutional changes, following the already agreed changes to the BiH Constitution with the Venice Commission and representatives of the international community to create preconditions for holding general elections.”

The fourth conclusion is interesting because it characterizes practically all “pro-Bosniak parties as usurpers of Croat political rights and threats of Croat national interests, adding that they are not partners of the HNS.”

The fifth conclusion concerns the Central Election Commission (CIK).

“The Croat National Assembly believes that the CIK was established outside the law and the envisaged procedures, and as such does not have the authority of a legislator. In an attempt to call the General Elections, that is unconstitutional and anti-Dayton, without the agreed changes to the Election Law, the Croat National Assembly will call on its members to oppose this by all legitimate legal and political means,” it said.

The sixth conclusion states the following: “The Croat National Assembly will consistently respect the existing constitutional and legal order of BiH established by Croats, Bosniaks and Serbs as three constitutionally equal constituent peoples until initiatives to amend the BiH Constitution and its laws violate such relations to the detriment of the Croat constituent people.”

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/croat-parties-suggest-territorial-recomposition-of-bih-if-election-reform-fails/

Komsic to Milanovic: BiH institutions will decide on elections, not Zagreb

February 18, 2022

"Gentlemen (Croatian President Zoran) Milanovic and (Prime Minister Andrej) Plenkovic must know that the matter of holding elections is an internal issue of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina and it will not be decided in Zagreb but by the institutions of BiH that are responsible for conducting the elections BiH Presidency Chairman Zeljko Komsic said Friday, responding to Milanovic’s statement that he would try and prevent the upcoming general elections in Bosnia.

“Any further interference in the electoral process in Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be understood otherwise than as an attack on democracy in a sovereign and internationally recognized state. As far as NATO is concerned, Bosnia and Herzegovina and its institutions have made relevant decisions in that sense, and BiH's membership in NATO will not be decided in Milanovic's ‘little Moscow,’ but in much more important places.”

Speaking about Bosnia's aspirations for NATO membership, Milanovic suggested Croatia would not allow it because all member states must give their consent to new members, including Turkiye as well as Croatia.

“If Plenkovic and Milanovic think that by humiliating the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, they will realize their interests in BiH, then they are mistaken,” Komsic concluded in reaction to the allegations of Andrej Plenković and Zoran Milanovic.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/komsic-to-milanovic-bih-institutions-will-decide-on-elections-not-zagreb/

Croatian President to try and prevent BiH elections if agreement is not reached

February 18, 2022

If the agreement on amendments to the BiH Election Law is not reached, the general elections of 2022 should not be held and I will do everything to prevent them from happening, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said Friday.

“If no agreement is reached, the elections should not be held, I will do everything to prevent them from happening. That may not be much. At the same time, the diplomatic branch of the famous EU advocates a position that is completely contrary to Croat national interests. I am not an interpreter of Bosnian Croat interests but their position is that in case the lies and obstructions continue, elections should not be held,” said Milanovic.

He added that there is a systemic obstruction regarding the BiH Election Law talks.

“The Brussels bureaucracy is against them. You can see exactly the systemic obstruction that brought the representatives of Croats and the Democratic Action Party (SDA), the Bosniak side, to Neum for two days. And then they pressured (the Croat Democratic Union – HDZ BiH leader, Dragan) Covic, to give in. Any concession of the Croat side, not Covic, means doom. They have been brought to the edge of a gorge, to ask for alms.”

“And then who is to blame? The Croat element is to blame, why? Because it stands in the way of the success of these bureaucrats, otherwise they would return on a white horse as people who solved the problem. But what do you offer? They offer spoiled goods. Croat representatives are saying: “You have been cheating and cheating on us for years, we cannot agree to it anymore,” Milanovic said.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic also called on Bosnia and Herzegovina's Croat and Bosniak leaders on Thursday to make the extra effort to agree on a fair Election Law in that country.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/croatian-president-to-try-and-prevent-bih-elections-if-agreement-is-not-reached/


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