International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

EU Delegation Head urges BiH to amend Election Law before the next elections

March 29, 2021

Bosnia cannot afford to enter the next election cycle with the current electoral system, the Head of the EU Delegation to BiH, Ambassador Johann Sattler, stated Monday, speaking at the online conference of the “Pog Lupom” coalition dealing with free and fair elections in the country.

Speaking about the electoral reform in 2021, Sattler stated that the reform of the electoral system is also among the priorities set by the European Commission before BiH.
US Ambassador to BiH Eric Nelson stressed the need to eliminate the discrimination in the election process, reform the election law, and make technical and legal changes to ensure the integrity of the election.
He added that this non-election year is an opportunity for BiH to enable all citizens to be elected and that this opportunity must not be missed.
The Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia, Ambassador Kathleen Kavalec, emphasized that the current electoral system leaves too much room for mistakes, irregularities, and abuses, resulting in public distrust in many elements of the electoral process.
The Coalition for Free and Fair Elections “Pod Lupom” consists of six civil society organizations funded by the European Union so they could improve the electoral legislation in BiH. The coalition enables the active participation of citizens in monitoring the elections.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/eu-delagation-head-urges-bih-to-amend-election-law-before-the-next-elections/

BiH Border Police: 73 percent increase in traffic on border with Serbia

March 29, 2021

Bosnian Border Police said that they had their hands full last weekend because there was an increase in vehicle traffic by as much as 73 percent compared to the weekend earlier.

“Over past three days, from March 26 to March 28, a total of 29,737 BiH citizens were registered at the crossings with Serbia, which is an increase of 73 percent compared to the weekend before,” Franka Vican, spokesperson for the Border Police, told N1.

Vican explains that from March 19 to 21, 17,135 BiH citizens were registered to enter and leaving BiH towards Serbia.

Last week Serbia allowed all people from the region to get their coronavirus shot free of charge. Most of them were Bosnians where the authorities are still struggling to get the vaccines needed to start the inoculation process.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bih-border-police-73-percent-increas-in-traffic-on-border-with-serbia/

Fmr Montenegrin Ambassador: Peace, tranquility to Srebrenica genocide victims

March 29, 2021

Former Montenegrin Ambassador to BiH Obrad Miso Stanisic told Fena news agency that Montenegrin citizens will not allow anyone to threaten their greatest achievements: freedom, anti-fascism and civic and multiethnic character, wishing the victims of the Srebrenica genocide peace and tranquility. His reaction comes as a response to the statement of Vladimir Leposavic, Montenegrin Minister of Justice, Human and Minority Rights, saying he would "recognize the genocide in Srebrenica when it is unequivocally established."

In a message to Bosnian citizens, he said that he was extremely honored to represent Montenegro, albeit in a short time, in “your beautiful country.”

“I am also proud that I have always been against clero nationalists and chauvinists,” he stressed.

Addressing the director of the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial Center, Emir Suljagic, he said he had the pleasure of meeting him in July last year in Potocari on the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.

– I understand your concern regarding the statement of one of the members of the Government of Montenegro, who does not recognize international institutions and values of civilization. But rest assured that the citizens of Montenegro will not allow anyone to threaten their greatest achievements: freedom, anti-fascism, and civic and multiethnic character. Peace and tranquillity to the victims of the genocide in Srebrenica, as well as to all the innocent victims of the unfortunate war in BiH. Eternal glory to Montenegro and may the whole, undivided Bosnia and Herzegovina live on,” said the former Ambassador of Montenegro to BiH, Obrad Miso Stanisic.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/fmr-montenegrin-ambassador-peace-tranquillity-to-srebrenica-genocide-victims/

Local elections in Presevo end in stalemate

March 29, 2021

The local elections in the southern Serbian town of Presevo ended in a stalemate with none of the parties winning enough votes to form the local administration.

The Serbian state TV (RTS) said that 14 of the 38 seats on the municipal council went to the Alternative for Changes, nine to the Democratic Party of Albanians, seven to the Party of Democratic Action, five the Movement for Reform, and one seat to the Democratic Union of Albanians with the coalition of ethnic Serb parties For the Future of Presevo winning two seats.

The local election commission said that 40 percent of a total of some 42,000 voters cast ballots on Sunday. Election Commission President Kenan Kamberi said that 18,252 people cast votes, adding that more people turned out than in earlier elections.

The Presevo municipality has a substantial ethnic Albanian population.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/local-elections-in-presevo-end-in-stalemate/

Belgrade-Brussels memorandum of understanding signed

March 29, 2021

Deputy Mayor Goran Vesic signed a memorandum of understanding between Belgrade and Brussels on Monday.

The city Information Secretariat quoted Vesic as saying that the memorandum is the first step and will be followed by a charter of twin cities. “The agreement after our visit to Brussels was not realized because of the coronavirus pandemic… Brussels has had a Belgrade street for decades and recently the Belgrade City Assembly named a street for Brussels to show our respect,” the deputy mayor said.

The agreement between Belgrade and Brussels includes cooperation in the fields of culture, public administration, education, and other fields that the two cities deem important, Vesic said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/belgrade-brussels-memorandum-of-understanding-signed/

EU condemns Montenegro Justice Minister’s denial of Srebrenica genocide

March 29, 2021

The European Union rejects and condemns any denial, relativization or misinterpretation of the genocide in Srebrenica, Ana Pisonero, a European Commission (EC) spokesperson, has said on Monday.

Her reaction followed Montenegro’s Justice, Human and Minority Rights Minister Vladimir Leposavic, who last week told the country’s Parliament he did not know whether there was „genocidal intent in 1995 in Srebrenica“, but that he could only believe in the verdict by The Hague court which, as he said, lost its legitimacy.

He added said he was ready to admit that genocide took place in Srebrenica when it was „unequivocally established“.

On Monday, Pisonero said that „last year, we marked the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, one of the darkest chapters in modern European history. It is high time that all political leaders in the region lead the way in respecting the victims and promoting reconciliation.“

She added the European Union was a union of values. The denial of well-documented facts about war events, including war crimes, or revisionism contradicted those values’ most basic.

„Every country aspiring to join the EU is expected to respect and promote the EU values of democracy, human rights, tolerance, and justice. That includes treating the victims of genocide with the utmost respect and dignity, „Pisonero warned.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/eu-condemns-montenegro-justice-ministers-denial-of-srebrenica-genocide/

US envoy: Morava Corridor will help Serbia to become important player in Balkans

March 29, 2021

The US ambassador to Serbia Antony Godfrey said on Monday that the construction of the Morava Corridor would help the country "to became an important player in the Balkans and Europe."

Godfrey, who toured the construction site of the bride across the Southern Morava River in central Serbia built by American and Turkish companies, said the corridor would link over a half of million people and that „the optic cables along it will serve as a digital spine of the region.“

„Serbia’s economy was strong at the start of the pandemic and will remain strong after it,“ the ambassador said.

The UK ambassador to Belgrade, Sian MacLeod OBE, said her country „supports Serbia’s infrastructure development.“

„Great Britain and Serbia work together on strengthening economic ties, and I hope for stronger cooperation in the future,“ MacLeod said.

The ambassadors toured the construction site with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic, who said the works would be over by the end of March 2024.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/us-envoy-morava-corridor-will-help-serbia-to-become-important-player-in-balkans/

EP’s Bilčík: Inter-party dialogue in Serbia to resume in early April

March 29, 2021

The European Parliament (EP) chief negotiator in Serbia's inter-party dialogue Vladimir Bilčík said on Monday he expected the negotiations between the country's ruling and opposition parties about the election's conditions to secure the participation of all political organizations in the 2022 ballot would resume early next month.

„As soon as it becomes possible after the vaccination speeds up and we can travel, we’ll be in Belgrade. A final phase to reach an agreement will be held as soon as possible, hopefully in summer or early autumn. That is very important to leave enough time before the kick-off of the election campaign,“ Biličík, also the EP Rapporteur for Serbia.

He added the inter-party dialogue was „one of Serbia’s key priorities“ on its road to the EU.

„I believe that all politicians in Serbia take the dialogue seriously. I hope those who did not participate in the last elections would use the possibility to involve in the country’s politics through democratic institutions actively. Besides, those in power have a responsibility to improve the situation for political competition in Serbia,“ Bilčík said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/eps-bilcik-inter-party-dialogue-in-serbia-to-resume-in-early-april/

Serbia’s PM: EP resolution ‘beyond any truth’

March 29, 2021

Ana Brnabic, Serbia's Prime Minister, said on Monday that the European Parliament (EP) report on Serbia was 'beyond any truth' and 'speaks about the MEPs' who adopted it.

However, she told Belgrade Happy TV, „we have to be as self-critical as possible and change some things if there is a basis for that so that Serbia would be stronger and the citizens would have a better quality of life.“

„But again,“ she reiterated, „if there is a basis for it.“

Belgrade’s authorities remain defiant after the EP last week’s report in which, for the first time, the majority of MEPs directly asked the country leadership to deal with some controversial issues seriously.

The report is not compulsory, but, as some local analysts say, shows a swift in the European Union’s view of Vucic’s rule over the country.

President Aleksandar Vucic’s ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), an associate member of the EP’s People’s Party group (EPP Group), reportedly lobbied with the Group to prevent the vote on amendments about the organized crime and corruption affairs but it did not succeed.

Vucic then said the EP „is lost in space and time.“

Both President and Premier mainly commented on the report’s observations regarding the country’s response to the coronavirus epidemic, avoiding the other parts.

Still, Vucic on Friday criticized the EP for mentioning Telekom Serbia and its business dealing with the privately-owned Telenor Serbia, which the opposition and independent media and organizations in the country described as illegal and corruptive.

“The people who are criticizing say that Telekom should be resolved. What should be resolved about Telekom? Do they object to the contract with a company from the European Union and want to protect organized crime, tycoon crime in Serbia? I don’t want to believe that the European Parliament wants to protect tycoons and organized crime in Serbia,” Vucic said.

On Monday, Brnabic did not mention the issue but said that „if someone says Serbia does not test enough for the coronavirus or that there is a lack of medical equipment, you just wave your hand and say – I have a smarter job right now and will work on what makes sense.“

She added that „Vucic’s and the Government’s values’ system belongs to the European values much more than those shown by the MEPs who voted for the resolution. We’ve shown that with the vaccination of people from the region.“

Commenting on the part of the report calling on Belgrade to stop delegitimizing Kosovo’s statehood, she said Serbia did not recognize its independence.

„The European Commission (EC) is not behind those words. That’s a kind of consolation and hope for me because the EC must remain neutral regarding Kosovo’s status since five EU member states do not recognize it as an independent state,“ Brnabic said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-pm-ep-resolution-beyond-any-truth/

SNS declares victory in local vote in two towns in Serbia; Analyst: SNS’ fall

March 29, 2021

The ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) declared victory in local elections in two out of three towns early on Monday, and an analyst said 20 percent fewer votes in one of them indicated the party dwindled.

SNS won in the eastern town of Zajecar and the western place of Kosjeric.

The voting results in the southwestern town of Presevo with a majority of the Albanian population were still unknown.

Later on Monday, Djordje Vukadinovic, a political analyst, told N1 that the results of the local elections in two towns in Serbia showed the decline of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) popularity after its victory, but with 20 percent fewer votes in the eastern town of Zajecar than in the last year’s general elections.

In the second town, Kosjeric, in western Serbia, SNS, led by President Aleksandar Vucic, did much better, but Vukadinovic thought „Serbia is closer to Zajecar than Kosjeric,“ ahead of the 2022 presidential and early parliamentary elections.

“How contagious the process (in Zajecar) will be and whether it will be an endemic disease that will spread across Serbia” remains to be seen, according to Vukadinovic.

He added SNS did not celebrate the victory as it usually did because, as he said, Vucic was not happy with the Zahecar results.

“They indicate a serious commotion and crisis among the SNS ranks ahead of the 2022 elections on all levels,” Vukadinovic said.

The opposition parties, which boycotted last year’s general elections, did not participate in Sunday’s vote, saying the conditions were not fair.

Zajecar’s election commission said no irregularity was reported, while the locals recorded people who entered the buildings with lists of voters inviting citizens to cast a ballot.

Ahead of the elections, many state officials, including President Aleksandar Vucic, toured nearby places in what the opposition and NGOs described as a functionary campaign.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/sns-declares-victory-in-local-vote-in-two-towns-in-serbia/

Slovenia logs another 640 infections as government mulls 11-day lockdown

March 28, 2021

In the last 24 hours, there have been 640 new coronavirus infections in Slovenia and seven COVID-related deaths, with epidemiologists recommending an 11-day lockdown as of 1 April.

The country’s COVID-19 task force proposes to the government a complete lockdown from 1 to 11 April, which is a necessary move due to the renewed rise in the number of infections, epidemiologist Mateja Logar said ahead of a government meeting due on Sunday afternoon.

This is to protect the population and the health system, said Health Minister Janez Poklukar.

Prime Minister Janez Janša supports the lockdown proposal, saying that the vaccines against COVID-19 are coming to Slovenia “with a month’s delay”, which means that the plan to immunize most of the population by the summer will fail, although a larger quantity of the vaccine would arrive in May, when most restrictions could be relaxed again because Slovenia would epidemiologically be in the “yellow” phase.

According to Janša, the government is aware that the lockdown is a difficult decision as it has significant financial and social implications, but the effects of the new measures will be visible only if everyone complies with them.

According to the epidemiologists’ proposal, Easter Sunday would be an exception to the complete lockdown and people would be allowed to socialize even outside the otherwise closed regions. On that day, up to five adults and their children from two households would be allowed to socialize.

In addition to closing the regions, education would move online, but schools and kindergartens would still accept children of parents employed in jobs important to the state.

During the lockdown, public passenger transport would operate at a reduced capacity, as it normally does on Sundays and holidays. Institutions and companies would mainly shift to remote work.

After the lockdown, on 12 April, schools would reopen and other activities would be conducted in accordance with the government’s ‘traffic light’ system, depending on the epidemiological situation in the country.

The government said on Sunday that 640 new cases had been confirmed over the past 24 hours, as well as another seven deaths.

Such an increase in the spread of the epidemic in Slovenia is attributed to the emergence of new variants, especially the British variant of the virus, which is more contagious and causes more hospitalizations, and according to some estimates, it is now dominant and present in 60% of all confirmed infections.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/slovenia-logs-another-640-infections-as-government-mulls-11-day-lockdown/

Croatia’s coronavirus update: 1,321 new cases, 21 deaths, 998 recoveries

March 28, 2021

Over the past 24 hours, Croatia has registered 1,321 new cases of coronavirus infection and 21 deaths, the national COVID-19 crisis management team said on Sunday.

The number of active cases stands at 10,092. There are 1,201 COVID patients in hospitals, 121 of whom are on ventilators.

The death toll related to coronavirus has gone up to 5,893.

Since the start of the epidemic, a total of 267,222 people have contracted the novel coronavirus, and 251,237 of them have recovered, including 998 in the last 24 hours.

There are currently 30,327 people in self-isolation.

A total of 1,527,320 people have been tested, 7,589 of whom over the past 24 hours.

To date, 348,648 people have been vaccinated, including 266,900 of those who received one dose of vaccine and 81,748 who received both doses. A total of 430,396 doses of vaccine have been used.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/croatias-coronavirus-update-1321-new-cases-21-deaths-998-recoveries/

Another 1,056 coronavirus infections, 54 COVID-19 fatalities in Bosnia

March 28, 2021

Another 1,056 people tested positive for the coronavirus and 54 COVID-19 patients passed away in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the past 24 hours, healthcare authorities reported on Sunday.

In Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity, 775 of the 2,420 people tested for the virus since Saturday were positive and 33 COVID-19 patients died.

In the other semi-autonomous entity, Republika Srpska (RS), 795 people were tested and 193 of them were positive for the virus, while 17 died due to the disease.

Bosnia’s Brcko District also reported 88 new infections and four COVID-9 fatalities.

A total of 164,931 people tested positive for coronavirus in Bosnia since the beginning of the pandemic and 128,556 of them have recovered so far.

Bosnia’s COVID-19 death toll is 6,334.

There are currently 30,041 active coronavirus cases in the country.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/another-1056-coronavirus-infections-54-covid-19-fatalities-in-bosnia/

Serbia’s Coronavirus UPDATE: 39 deaths, 3,889 new cases

March 28, 2021

According to the Sunday report by Serbia’s Health Ministry, 39 more people passed away due to COVID-19 in the country in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 5,190.

Of the 11,442 people tested in Serbia since Friday, 3,889 were positive for the virus.

There are currently 6,967 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Serbia, 269 of them on ventilators.

A total of 585,506 infections were confirmed in Serbia since the beginning of the pandemic. The COVID-19 death rate is 0.89 percent.

The country tested 3,374,035 people so far.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-coronavirus-update-39-deaths-3889-new-cases/

United Against COVID criticizes govt over vaccination of foreigners in Belgrade

March 28, 2021

The United Against Covid association criticized Serbia's decision to invite foreign citizens without residence in the country to get vaccinated in Belgrade, arguing that no other country is doing anything similar and raising a series of questions about the way the process is being organized.

„In the last few days, and especially on March 27, 2021, the government has been practically inviting, or at least allowing and encouraging foreign citizens to enter the country in scored and massively crowding vaccination points, where they receive vaccines that were provided for citizens of our country,“ a statement by the organization said.

„There is no acceptable rational, professional, or even humane explanation for such actions of those responsible. The priority must absolutely be an organized campaign for vaccination of one’s own population (which does not exist!) and an effort toward the systematic suppression of mindless anti-vaccination statements in the media controlled by the government (which also does not exist)!” it said.
The organization said that despite “the cries of medical workers and honorable officials of certain health institutions, who testify about the critical epidemiological situation,” those responsible at the same time “consciously allow schizophrenic speeches by members of their own so-called Crisis Staff, which insults logic and common sense, and which not only serves and misinforms the population but essentially encourages the creation, maintenance and overcoming of an atmosphere of complete distrust, negation of science and profession and blindly plunging into a catastrophic epidemic scenario.“

The organization said that in this way, along with daily examples of violations of anti-epidemic measures by the highest state officials, the implementation of proclaimed anti-epidemic measures is directly systematically undermined, the vaccination process is endangered and the health system continues to be overburdened.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/united-against-covid-criticises-govt-over-vaccination-of-foreigners-in-belgrade/

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