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International Information Centre for Balkan Studies



Deputy clinic chief says doctors fear easing of measures

April 12, 2021

The deputy chief of the Belgrade Infectious Diseases Clinic said on Monday that doctors fear the easing of the anti-pandemic measures.

“We fear every easing of the measures because we are the ones who feel them the most,” Dr. Ivana Milosevic told the Serbian state TV (RTS). She said that the good news is that the number of admissions and releases from hospitals is about equal but warned that her clinic is still full of patients. “We now have eight patients on ventilators but we never know when a patient’s health state will change,” she said.

According to Milosevic, vaccination is the only way out of the pandemic. “The warm weather will not bring improvements. The vaccine is the only good thing but we won’t get back to normal life before half the population is vaccinated,” she said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/deputy-clinic-chief-says-doctors-fear-easing-of-measures/

Serbian doctor says anti-pandemic measures are mandatory

April 12, 2021

Serbian epidemiologist Predrag Kon said on Monday that the public does not realize that the recommended anti-pandemic measures are mandatory.

“The problem is that people believe that the recommended measures are not mandatory and people sit outside in restaurants without face masks. They are violating regulations. Masks can only come off to drink and have to be worn the rest of the time,” he told the pro-government Happy TV.

Kon said that the anti-pandemic measures would be eased gradually, adding that the doctors on the crisis response team have been insisting on slowing things down from the start. The doctor warned that the number of coronavirus cases could rise easily. “We have seen that the measures are not being followed,” he said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/serbian-doctor-says-anti-pandemic-measures-are-mandatory/

Travnik and Foca elect new mayors

April 12, 2021

Residents of two municipalities in Bosnia's Federation (FBiH) entity elected on Sunday their new mayors, after the initially elected officials from October 2020 died as COVID patients.

Central Bosnian town Travnik will be as of now led by Kenan Dautovic, the SDA party candidate, who according to the Central Election Commission and its preliminary results won 6,817 votes, followed by joint candidate of the parties People and Justice, the Social Democratic Party and Our Party who won 5,709 votes.

The election winner from October 2020, late Mirsad Peco, was also the SDA candidate.

In Foca, Bosnia's east, independent candidate Mijo Sofradzija took the victory with 246 votes. Residents of this sparsely populated municipality with only 1,605 eligible voters were choosing between two independent candidates, a candidate of the SDA, and a joint candidate of the NBL and A-SDA parties.

Esed Radeljas, Foca mayor who died in January this year, won the post with 490 votes in October 2020.

According to the Central Election Commission, the voter turnout in Travnik was 21.17 percent and 62.87 percent in Foca.

Both candidates who were elected mayors of these two towns in October 2020 died from Covid – Peco on the election day and Radeljas only months after he took office.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/travnik-and-foca-elect-new-mayors/

Anniversary of Srebrenica playground massacre: 74 pairs of shoes for 74 victims

April 12, 2021

To mark the 28th anniversary and honor the victims of a massacre that took place when the Army of Republika Srpska bombarded a school playground in the eastern town of Srebrenica, the Srebrenica Memorial Center organized an exhibition titled ‘74 pairs of shoes for the 74 lost lives of the youth of Srebrenica’.

“On April 12, 1993, Bosnian Serb forces besieging Srebrenica shelled a school playground on the outskirts of town. Seventy-four people were killed. More than 100 wounded. Later that year I met Colonel Cvjetin Vuksic who claimed responsibility for the attack personally,” the Director of the Memorial Center, Emir Suljagic, tweeted.

“We do not forget the children of Srebrenica who were killed, we do not forget that only after their killing did the international community react and establish ‘safe zones. We do not forget all the betrayal that came later,” a statement by the Memorial Center said, referring to the 1995 genocide that took place in the town after it was declared a safe zone.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/anniversary-of-the-srebrenica-playground-massacre-74-shoes-for-74-victims/

Mostar citizens protest over police brutality after video of incident goes viral

April 12, 2021

Locals in the southern Bosnian city of Mostar gathered on Monday in front of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton’s (HNK) Interior Ministry for a protest to condemn police brutality after a video of officers brutally beating a young man for violating curfew went viral.

The incident took place on Saturday evening when the police stopped Slaven Blazevic because they found him outside after the curfew introduced in light o the coronavirus pandemic.

The public strongly condemned the brutal behavior of the two officers featured in the video.

The HNK Interior Ministry issued an apology and the officers were immediately suspended.

“Such behavior and such persons cannot and must not have a place among police officers,” said the ministry.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/mostar-citizens-protest-over-police-brutality-after-video-of-incident-goes-viral/

Human rights watchdog condemns police brutality in Mostar

April 12, 2021

Helsinki Committee for Human Rights strongly condemned the behaviour of police officers in the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, Bosnia and Herzegovina's southern region, who reportedly severely beaten a man the last weekend because he violated the epidemic restrictions. The organisation said this is yet another example that proves further reform and professionalisation of police structures is a necessity.

“We are shocked with the frightening violence by police officers who behaved in a completely unacceptable manner and inappropriate to police standards, and we expect the HNC Interior Ministry and competent police bodies to take all measures foreseen by law and remove from duty the perpetrators of this horrible act, which damages already a low degree of trust of citizens to the police and judicial bodies,” the Helsinki Committee said.

The reaction comes days after the video showing disturbing content appeared on online media outlets and social networks. Reportedly, the incident took place Saturday night in the southern city of Mostar, and the man who was beaten and whose identity was not unveiled asked for medical assistance at the Mostar University Clinical Hospital.

The Helsinki Committee asked the prosecutor in charge to immediately react and urged all institutions and organizations protecting human rights to condemn this “heinous act.”

“Numerous examples show, and this one has proved it, that further reform and professionalization of police structures is a necessity as well as strictest sanctioning of all those police officers who break the law and perform their work unprofessionally,” the organization added.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/human-rights-watchdog-condemns-police-brutality-in-mostar/

Pahor concerned about ideas of ‘redrawing of borders’, supports Bosnia's EU path

April 12, 2021

President Borut Pahor advocates territorial integrity, European perspective and peaceful development of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which he consistently emphasises, the Slovenian President's cabinet told N1, following the allegations that he brought up the topic of peaceful dissolution of BiH during his recent Sarajevo visit.

“President Pahor wants BiH to become a part of the European Union as soon as possible. He always emphasises the importance of the geopolitical approach to the European Union's enlargement that would also include Bosnia and Herzegovina, which currently has the weakest formal connection with the EU. President Pahor is regularly warning against the ideas about the fall of BiH and redrawing of borders in the Western Balkans. In that context, due to his concern over these ideas, he did ask his collocutors about this, all three members of Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, during his Sarajevo visit in March,” Pahor's office told N1.

The statement comes hours after media published an interview with Croat member of Bosnia's tripartite Presidency Zeljko Komsic, who said their Slovenian counterpart asked the Presidency members if the peaceful dissolution of Bosnia and Herzegovina was possible.

Bosniak Presidency member Sefik Dzaferovic also confirmed this was a topic of the conversation.

“I said the process of dissolution of Yugoslavia is over. It is true that President Pahor asked if a peaceful dissolution of BiH is possible, to which Mr Komsic and I replied that those advocating such ideas are leading this country and the region in a new war. He agreed with that and added, which he also confirmed in the press conference, that a strategic decision on the accelerated path of the whole Western Balkans to the EU is very important for the peace and security of whole Europe, EU and Western Balkans,” Dzaferovic said.

Some media outlets also alleged that Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Jansa handed over a non-paper document to European Council President Charles Michel, which allegedly reads that “finishing the fall of Yugoslavia” is one of the priorities.

Jansa dismissed such allegations, stressing that Slovenia is “seriously seeking for solutions towards the development of the region and the EU perspective of the Western Balkan countries” and that such claims are “trying to prevent such goals.”

The media headlines prompted Bosnia Presidency member Komsic to summon the Ambassador of Slovenia to BiH Zorica Bukinac for a meeting. She also denied the allegations, saying that the policy of the Republic of Slovenia towards BiH has not changed and that her country supports Bosnia's European path.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/pahor-concerned-about-ideas-of-redrawing-of-borders-supports-bosnias-eu-path/

Komsic: Slovenian President asked us if peaceful dissolution of BiH is possible

April 12, 2021

Bosnia Presidency member Zeljko Komsic said that President of Slovenia Borut Pahor asked the Presidency members during his recent visit to Sarajevo if a “peaceful dissolution” of Bosnia and Herzegovina was possible.

Speaking to Fena news agency, Komsic said that Pahor told the Presidency members that the talks about the need to finish the fall of Yugoslavia are more and more often in Europe and he asked: “Can you do a peaceful dissolution in Bosnia and Herzegovina?”.

Komsic, who is the Croat Presidency member, and Sefik Dzaferovic, the Bosniak member, replied this was not a possibility, while Serb member Milorad Dodik responded in the opposite manner than the other two.

According to Komsic, this was one of the reasons why he recently sent a non-paper on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina to Brussels.

Speaking before the entity parliament of Bosnia's Serb-majority region Republika Srpska on March 10, Dodik, who openly advocates secession of RS, said he was asked by a representative from “an important group from EU if a peaceful dissolution is possible in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” without unveiling any names.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/komsic-slovenian-president-asked-us-if-peaceful-dissolution-of-bih-is-possible/

Sarajevo's new mayor Benjamina Karic: I must not let this city down

April 12, 2021

Sarajevo’s new mayor, Benjamina Karic, told N1 after her first day in office that the City Administration is full of enthusiasm to work for the benefit of the citizens and that her guiding principle is that she “must not let this city down.”

The Sarajevo City Council unanimously elected Benjamina Karic, a member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the new mayor of Bosnia’s capital on Thursday.

Karic, born in 1991 in Sarajevo, is known to the public as the youngest doctor of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the first post-war doctor of classical Roman law.

“I think that in the beginning, we should all work hard, to see what the situation is in the City Administration. It is inhumane to judge someone’s work before you meet them. I have a good team, quality people around me,” she said.

The transition of office went by in a good atmosphere, she said, adding that the previous mayor, Abdulah Skaka, “will be proud” of the projects she will be working on.

Karic praised Skaka for finishing the cable car project his predecessor had started.

The project entailed the reconstruction of a prewar cable car that connects Sarajevo’s Old Town with Mt Trebevic.

She also noted that during Skaka’s term the Sarajevo Olympic museum was refurbished.

“These are projects that show our city in the most beautiful light. Citizens can be proud,” she said.

Karic previously announced she will sell the car – a VW Passat – her office is using and explained why.

“The citizens of Sarajevo are in a difficult situation. I wouldn’t feel good driving in an expensive car. This is only a drop in the ocean, nothing even close to how much needs to be done,” she said, adding that “the biggest things start with a small step.”

The new mayor announced that the city will from now on support an NGO established by late former General Jovan Divjak, who spent his post-war days helping war orphans and poor children get an education.

“I will work for the association to grow into a foundation that will not have to worry about funding. That is my plan,” she said.

Karić said she is a lawyer and that she will have “a zero-tolerance toward unlawful acts.”

She has already requested from her staff to submit reports about their activities over the past four years, adding that “anything that is not in accordance with the law and is illegal will be made public.”
“I must not let the citizens down.

“If I am ever in a situation to choose, I must not let the citizens down, I will always choose them,” she said.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/sarajevos-new-mayor-benjamina-karic-i-must-not-let-this-city-down/

Serbia’s event industry protest over ban on gatherings

April 12, 2021

Dozens of people working in Serbia’s event industries protested outside the Government main building in Belgrade on Monday, under the ‘Protest for Survival’ banner, after 380 days ban on organizing weddings, corporative celebrations and other ceremonies, without any state help.

They blocked the main street near the building and caused a traffic collapse in the city’s center.

The protesters demand direct financial aid for the most endangered industries for the period of the ban on work until they start working in total capacity and the exact date when they will be allowed to go back to work.

They suggest weddings with face masks, without buffet, with a maximum of five people per table and musicians behind the plexiglass sheets. They added it would be better than the current uncontrolled weddings in small indoor premises, which are organized en masse.

The event industry, according to its representatives, employs some 30,000 people.

They said the last meeting with the Government was three weeks ago and called on it look around and see opened shopping malls, crowded public transport, “everything that functions except us.”

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-event-industry-protest-over-ban-on-gatherings/

Life imprisonment requested for ex top Serbian Security Officials for war crimes

April 12, 2021

Prosecutors at the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) have requested life in prison for former top officials of Serbia's State Security Service (SDB), Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic 'Frenki', arguing that they have proven the two were part of a joint criminal enterprise that involved war crimes committed in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1991-1995 war in former Yugoslavia.

The former head of the SDB, Stanisic, 70, as well as his former deputy, Simatovic, 71, are being retried for allegedly participating in a joint criminal enterprise that entailed the persecution, murder and forcible transfer and deportation of non-Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia during the war.

According to BIRN, Prosecutor Douglas Stringer argued that the crimes committed in Skabrnja and Vukovar in Croatia in the autumn of 1991 and in Bijeljina in Bosnia in the spring of 1992 “shared common perpetrators and had the same outcome – the forcible removal of the non-Serb population.”

The purpose of this “campaign of violence” was to create ethnic Serb-controlled territory in Bosnia and Croatia, he said.

“The accused in this case, Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic, were without question members of that enterprise who made an important contribution to its goal,” BIRN quoted Stringer.

At least 340,000 non-Serbs were removed from the area as part of the criminal enterprise and Stringer said that the then president of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, was at the helm of it.

In addition to Milosevic, Stanisic and Simatovic, those criminally associated were Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic, Momcilo Krajisnik, Biljana Plavsic, Milan Martic, Goran Hadzic, Milan Babic, Zeljko Raznatovic, Vojislav Seselj, officials and military commander in Serbia, Republika Srpska and former Republic of Serbian Krajina, which existed on some 25 percent of Croatia’s territory before 1995, were said to be members of the criminal enterprise.

Stanisic and Simatovic did not attend the hearing because they are temporarily in Serbia.

The retrial of Stanisic and Simatovic is the latest trial before The Hague tribunal to determine whether Serbia’s officials were responsible for war crimes in Croatia and BiH.

After the first trial, the Hague Tribunal acquitted the two in May 2013.

Both pleaded not guilty in their first court appearance. In the following years, during the first and repeated trial, Stanisic and Simatovic spent long periods of temporary freedom in Serbia.

Prosecutors filed an appeal, and in December 2015, the Appellate Chamber of the Tribunal annulled the first instance verdict and ordered a new trial.

The retrial began on June 13, 2017.

The prosecution continues closing arguments on Tuesday.

Stanisic and Simatovic were arrested by Serbian authorities after the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in March 2003 and were transferred to The Hague in May that year.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/life-imprisonment-requested-for-ex-top-serbian-security-officials-for-war-crimes/

Hague prosecutors: Serbia’s wartime DB chiefs indictments proved

April 12, 2021

Prosecutors at the retrial of former leaders of Serbia's State Security Service (SDB) of Serbia, Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic-Frenki, before The Hague Tribunal, said at the beginning of closing arguments on Monday that they had proved the two were guilty of crimes in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1991-1995 war in former Yugoslavia.

Stanisic, 70, a former head of the Serbian SDB, and Simatovic, 71, chief of its operative, are charged with persecution, murder, forcible transfer, and deportation of Croats and Muslims in Croatia.

Four counts of the indictment charged them with crimes against humanity and one with violations of war laws and customs.

„The prosecution’s evidence has, without any doubt, established the responsibility of Stanisic and Simatovic. The inevitable conclusion is that they are guilty of the crimes they are accused of,“ Douglas Stringer, a prosecutor, said.

According to Stringer, these crimes against „thousands of victims in two countries“ were committed as part of a joint criminal enterprise aimed at „establishing a territory with Serbian domination“, forcibly and permanently removing non-Serbs from large areas in Croatia and BiH.

At least „340,000 non-Serbs“ were removed from the area during the violent ethnic secession, the prosecution said.

According to Stringer, the then president of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, was at the head of that joint criminal enterprise.

In addition to Milosevic, Stanisic and Simatovic, those criminally associated were Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic, Momcilo Krajisnik, Biljana Plavsic, Milan Martic, Goran Hadzic, Milan Babic, Zeljko Raznatovic, Vojislav Seselj, officials and military commander in Serbia, Republika Srpska and former Republic of Serbian Krajina, which existed on some 25 percent of Croatia’s territory before 1995, were said to be members of the criminal enterprise.

Stanisic and Simatovic did not attend the hearing because they are temporarily in Serbia.

The retrial of Stanisic and Simatovic is the latest trial before The Hague tribunal to determine whether Serbia’s officials were responsible for war crimes in Croatia and BiH.

After the first trial, the Hague Tribunal acquitted Stanisic and Simatovic in May 2013.

Both pleaded not guilty in their first court appearance. In the following years, during the first and repeated trial, Stanisic and Simatovic spent long periods of temporary freedom in Serbia.

Prosecutors filed an appeal, and in December 2015, the Appellate Chamber of the Tribunal annulled the first instance verdict and ordered a new trial.
The retrial began on June 13, 2017.

The prosecution continues closing arguments on Tuesday.

Stanisic and Simatovic were arrested by Serbian authorities after the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in March 2003 and were transferred to The Hague in May that year.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/hague-prosecutors-serbias-wartime-db-chiefs-indictments-proved/

Controversial ‘Day of Russian Volunteers’ celebration takes place in Visegrad

April 12, 2021

To honor some 700 Russians who fought alongside the Army of Republika Srpska, local authorities in Visegrad organized on Monday the controversial ‘Day of Russian Volunteers’, which Bosniak victims of the atrocities that took place in the eastern town say represents an insult to them.

The Minister of Labor, War Veterans, and Disabled Persons’ Protection of Bosnia’s Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) entity, Dusko Milunovic, attended the gathering, and wreaths were laid at the central memorial at the Megdan Military Cemetery.

About 700 Russian volunteers fought alongside the Army of Republika Srpska during the war and 38 of them were killed.

The ‘Association of Women Victims of War’ asked the BiH Prosecutor’s Office to ban the celebration, and the institution said it formed a case regarding it.

The Association said that the celebration represents an insult to them because the Russian volunteers were involved in the atrocities that were committed against Bosniaks in Visegrad.

Milunovic said that he does not see a reason for banning the celebration and that if there is proof that any of those Russian nationals committed any war crime, their name would be removed from a monument erected to honour them.

According to the head of the Serb-Russian Community ‘Zavet’, Savo Cvijetinovic, “these are the names of honest and fair people, among whom were students, workers, even a monk who came as a volunteer.”

“Russian volunteers among Serbs are not new, it is a tradition that has lasted for more than 200 years. There is no war in which Serbs participated without Russian volunteers,” he said.

However, Bakira Hasecic, the head of the Women Victims of War Association, argued that nobody is asking the question “whether these are volunteer or fighters on a foreign battlefield and terrorists.”

She stressed that those Russian fighters should be identified and prosecuted.

“This offends the victims, family members of those killed, displaced persons, and returnees. That is really unacceptable. This sends a message that they have never given up on their project of creating a greater Serbia,” she said.

She expressed hope that the BiH Prosecutor’s Office will determine what exactly the role of those Russian fighters was.

“This is very difficult for me today because these Russians waving the Russian flag were in my Visegrad from the very beginning to the end of the war under the command of Luka Dragicevic, who is being tried today in the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina alongside nine others,” Hasecic said.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/controversial-day-of-russian-volunteers-celebration-takes-place-in-visegrad/

US allocates $ 22 million additional aid to Serbia’s reforms

April 12, 2021

Jadranka Joksimovic, Serbia’s Minister of European Integrations, and Shanley Pinchotti, director of the Office for Democratic and Economic Development within USAID, signed an extended strategic partnership in which the US allocated another 22 million dollars in aid to Serbia’s reforms.

The money is meant to help the economy’s competitiveness, improve administration in providing services to citizens, media environment, energy safety, and support of fighting against the COVID-19 epidemic.

Antony Godfrey, the US ambassador to Serbia, said that a lot was done to improve the country’s economy in 2021.

Pinchotti said the new USAID five-year Strategy would help Serbia to improve in the European integrations.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/us-allocates-22-million-additional-aid-to-serbias-reforms/

UN: Dialogue crucial for European aspirations of both Serbia and Kosovo

April 12, 2021

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday that lasting peace, stability and social-economic development in Kosovo and the region depended on improving the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalization of relations.

Guterres told the UN Security Council’s video session about the sixth-month report on the UN mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, that „though I welcome clear statements about the dialogue’s importance, I highlight the importance of a true commitment to the resumption of the talks at the high level under the European Union auspices soon.“

The Secretary-General praised Kosovo’s institutions, political parties, and voters for well-organized early general elections, calling on Pristina leaders to use that élan.

Guterres also said that despite three rounds of negotiations at the expert level and both sides’ readiness to meet and solve pending issues, Belgrade and Pristina have to reconcile views, including the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/un-dialogue-crucial-for-european-aspirations-of-both-serbia-and-kosovo/

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