International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

China's Ambassador in BiH thanks Dodik for supporting Beijing on Taiwan issue

August 4, 2022
The Chinese ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ji Ping, thanked BiH Presidency member, Milorad Dodik, for expressing support for Beijing in regard to the issue of Taiwan and his “firm and clear position and insistence on the policy of a unified China".
Ji Ping said that the recent official visit of the US House of Representatives Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to Taiwan has resulted in increased tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
He accused the US of breaking its promises to respect the One China principle and to refrain from official contact with Taiwan.
“They not only had official contact but also sold weapons to Taiwan,” he said, expressing concern about what he said are plans by Taiwanese authorities to try to secede by relying on foreign powers.
Ji Ping said that the Chinese people resolutely protect their sovereignty, as well as the unification of the country, which he argued is the common desire of the entire Chinese nation.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/chinas-ambassador-in-bih-thanks-dodik-for-supporting-beijing-on-taiwan-issue/

Migrant situation in Bosnia significantly improved, some 1,600 in the country

August 4, 2022
The spokesperson of Bosnia’s Security Ministry, Admir Malagic, told the Fena news agency that the migrant situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina has improved significantly and that there are currently around 1,600 migrants in the country.
Malagic said all of the migrants are accommodated in four temporary migration centres – the Usivak and Blazuj centres in Sarajevo, and Lipa and Borići in the Una-Sana Canton, where families with children are located.
He said the number of migrants is much lower than before and that the presence of migrants in cities and towns decreased significantly and that the institutions of BiH, the Ministry of Security of BiH and the Service for Foreigners Affairs are responding to the situation well.
“Even according to these trends of entry and exit of migrants, there are no large inflows. We expect that the currently favourable situation will continue in the coming period, that migrants, those who are there, have adequate accommodation, but also to comply with everything necessary from the security aspect so that all citizens feel good in the places where they live,” he concluded.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/migrant-situation-in-bosnia-significantly-improved-some-1600-in-the-country/

Man armed with Kalashnikov shoots at crowd in Grude, killing two people

August 4, 2022
Two people were killed and another two wounded when a local in the southern Bosnian municipality of Grude shot at a group of people in front of a cafe, local media reported.
According to Hercegovina info writes, Mate Grizelj (34) and Velimir Busic (60) were killed, while one of the persons wounded had his leg amputated in the hospital in Mostar.
The shooting reportedly occurred after a traditional village celebration. An argument broke out in the cafe “Zmaj”, so a man with a Kalashnikov fired at the crowd of people who were in front of the cafe.
Police arrested the suspect, who will be charged with murder and illegal possession of weapons.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/man-armed-with-kalashnikov-shoots-at-crowd-in-grude-killing-two-people/

Bosnia's ex senior official back in politics as a coalition leader

August 3, 2022
Bosnia's former senior official and ex leader of the Social Democratic Party Zlatko Lagumdzija has announced the return to the politics eight years after leaving the political stage in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Lagumdzija was presented as the leader of the Social Democrats of BiH – The Green Movement Coalition, which will compete in the upcoming October elections for seats in the cantonal, entity and state parliaments.
Speaking to N1, Lagumdzija talked about the reasons for his return to the politics and the goals of the coalition he leads.
“Eight years after I withdrew from the Bosnian political stage I can see that we're heading towards a gradual and deeper disintegration of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a state and as a society of common values, without which we have no future here,” he said.
According to him, more than 50 percent of the social democrats and the greens candidates are not affiliated with any political party and were all connected through a “very clearly defined the Programme 7 Priorities the Manifest 2030.”
“I am not a member of any political party either but only one of the ordinary people who, all together, are in an, non-ordinary mission,” Lagumdzija noted.
Speaking about current challenges regarding the electoral reform that lie ahead of political parties, Lagumdzija expressed pessimism about any agreement.
“The ruling parties and part of the opposition will not agree on anything except to continue the campaign based on fears and divisions in which they act as exclusive protectors of ‘their” people or citizens. They will do this for the next two months and in the end leave us to the international protectors to impose new decisions,” according to Lagumdzija, who served as Bosnia's foreign minister and prime minister.
According to him, the ruling parties “have no capacity or desire” to come before voters with specific programmes to get out of the crisis in all sectors, whcih is threatening us.
Lagumdzija also foresees an “unpleasant election campaign” but he is positive that the public will “turn their back” to the politics that did not manage to benefit from the many friends of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As for the coalition he represents, its programme named the Programme 7 Priorities the Manifest 2030 has a “clear vision of changes in the next eight years.”
“A vision that must stop the backlash and open the way to Bosnia and Herzegovina, a state and society of common values, in harmony with its neighbours as part of the Euro-Atlantic integration. This clear programme is only a road map that contains an achievable and desirable goal,” Lagumdzija said.
He also conveyed a message for religious leaders.
“I would recommend religious leaders to gather believers around the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a state and society with common values, and not to fall into political divisions among them. Unfortunately, today many false statesmen from state and budgetary positions deal with the faith they abuse instead of dealing with their work. Perhaps this is the reason why sometimes religious leaders have to come to the defend the state institutions,” said Lagumdzija, expressing hope that everyone will start dealing with their own work.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnias-ex-senior-official-back-in-politics-as-a-coalition-leader/

Ambassador Hovenier-I reminded Rakic that Radoicic is under sanctions

August 4, 2022
US Ambassador to Kosovo Jeffrey Hovenier reminded Serb List leader Goran Rakic that his party’s deputy leader Milan Radoicic is on the US Department of Treasury “black list”.
Hovenier told the media that Radoicic is associated with international criminal groups.
The Ambassador said he reminded Rakic that Radoicic has been placed on the list of sanctions by the US Department of Treasury and that, according to their information, he is associated with international criminal groups and corruption. I informed him about America’s position regarding this person, Hovenier said.
The Belgrade-backed Serb List rejected Ambassador Hovenier’s allegations of its deputy leader’s alleged involvement in illegal activities, adding it expects the Ambassador to provide evidence for his allegations.
At the end of last year the US imposed sanctions SAD against “the organized crime group” operating in Kosovo “led by Zvonko Veselinovic”.
In addition to Veselinovic, the group also includes his brother Zarko Veselinovic, Zeljko Bojic, Milan Mihajlovic, Sinisa Nedeljkovic, Radovan Radic, Milan Radisavlevic, Milojko Radisavlevic, Milan Radoicic, Marko Rosic, Radule Stevic and Milivoje Vulovic.
The US said that this group was engaged in largescale bribery scheme with Kosovo and Serbian security officials who facilitate illicit trafficking of goods, money, narcotics, and weapons between the two countries.
The Serbian List confirmed that its deputy leader Radojcic, wanted by the Kosovo authorities, was at the barricades in northern Kosovo during the recent unrest.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/ambassador-hovenier-i-reminded-rakic-that-radoicic-is-under-sanctions/

EU insists on Community of Serb Municipalities but cannot “force” Kosovo

August 4, 2022
From European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell’s answer to an MP question about what will be done regarding Kosovo’s refusal to set up a community of Serb municipalities, it stems that the EU insists that Pristina set up a Community of Serb Municipalities, in line with the 2013 Brussels agreement, but that it cannot “force” Kosovo to do so.
“The establishment of the Association/Community of Serb-Majority Municipalities was agreed by both Parties, Kosovo and Serbia, in the 2013 Brussels Agreement. The Agreement was ratified by the Kosovo parliament and Kosovo needs to fulfil its legal obligation and implement it without delays. Both Parties need to fulfil all their international legal obligations and implement the pending agreements. They also need to make further substantial efforts in order to reach a comprehensive legally binding agreement on normalization of relations, which is key to their European paths,” Borrell said in his written reply.
Borrell added that “addressing the needs of the Kosovo Serb non-majority community is an important element for EU actors in Kosovo” and that Brussels is closely monitoring all developments in these areas.
“The EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX Kosovo) is actively supporting Kosovo’s law enforcement institutions in strengthening the rule of law, including their efforts to investigate security incidents related to religious and cultural sites. The EU has continuously reminded Kosovo institutions to swiftly and fully implement the judgment of the Constitutional Court on Deçan/Decane Monastery land ownership without any further delay” said Borrell when asked about the protection of Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo, especially the Serbian Orthodox (SPC) churches and about the Pristina authorities’ earlier requests to UNESCO to remove these monasteries from the endangered world heritage list, but also to put them down as “Kosovan” rather than as “Serbian”.
“The EU attaches great importance to the rule of law, the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, including rights of non-majority communities and religious freedom, and closely monitors all developments in these areas in Kosovo,“ Borrell added.
EU representatives have said a number of times that they do not have the mechanisms to “force” the two sides to honor the signed agreements but that they only remind them of this obligation and of the fact that their progress on the EU path depends on the fulfillment of obligations.
The reaching of a comprehensive legally binding agreement between the two sides remains a key requirement for their accession to the European Union.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/eu-insists-on-community-of-serb-municipalities-but-cannot-force-kosovo/

German Ambassador to Pristina-Measures compliant with agreements

August 4, 2022
German Ambassador to Pristina Jorn Rohde said that the Kosovo Government decisions on the re-registration of vehicles with Serbian license plates and on the issuance of declaration sheets to Serbian citizens entering Kosovo are legitimate and fully compliant with the agreements signed in Brussels.
The beginning of these decisions’ implementation has been postponed to September 1 in coordination with the US and European Union, said Rohde in a Twitter post.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/german-ambassador-to-pristina-reciprocal-measures-compliant-with-agreements/

DPS files no-confidence motion in Abazovic’s Government

August 3, 2022
The MP caucuses of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), Social Democratic Party–Liberal Party (SDP-LP), Social Democrats (SD), and Democratic Union of Albanians (DUA) filed a no-confidence motion in the 43rd Montenegrin Government, Vijesti reported.
In their joint statement the MP caucuses said that the motion was filed because the Government failed to produce results in achieving the priorities defined at the time of its election “which concern the judicial system reform, strengthening the system of the rule of law, intensifying the process of European integration, consolidation of the economic policy in the country and reorganization of the health care system in conditions of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.”
The statement said “this Government has lost legitimacy” because of Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic’s “ignorant behavior towards the positions of the most important scientific institutions in the country, prominent experts and civil society organizations, and the placing of relations with the Serbian Orthodox Church in the foreground”, adding that Abazovic’s “irresponsible behavior” has raised tensions in the society and caused an irreparable loss of time needed for quality fulfillment of obligations from the European agenda, Vijesti reported.
The statement said it was necessary to file the no-confidence motion “in order to protect the vital state interests of Montenegro and preserve the chance for the country to take the path of European integration.”
We note that the fundamental agreement between the Montenegrin Government and the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) was signed Wednesday in Podgorica.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/dps-files-no-confidence-motion-in-abazovics-government/

Vucic and Stoltenberg-Dialogue must continue, peace of vital importance

August 3, 2022
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had a telephone conversation Wednesday with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg about the worrying situation in the north of Kosovo and Metohija (the official name for what the Serbian authorities consider to be the country’s southern province), said a press release from the President’s Office.
They agreed that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue needs to continue and that peace and stability are of vital importance not only for Serbia and the region, but also for all those living in Kosovo and Metohija, the press release said.
Vucic presented Serbia’s position on the extremely difficult situation in Kosovo and Metohija and informed Stoltenberg about Pristina’s activities causing additional fear and unrest among the citizens of Serbian nationality, the press release said.
“President Vucic once again underlined that Serbia took did not take a single step that would constitute a violation of the Brussels Agreement and Resolution 1244, as it did not jeopardize the preservation of peace in any way, but rather continues to act responsibly and seriously in resolving the problems and outstanding issues related to Serbia’s southern province,” the press release said.
Vucic and Stoltenberg agreed to continue their direct communication aimed at preserving peace and stability in the entire region, and the President thanked the NATO Secretary General for his correct attitude and willingness to listen to the Serbian side, the press release said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/vucic-and-stoltenberg-dialogue-must-continue-peace-of-vital-importance/

Borrell on Turkey’s extradition requests-W. Balkans must respect rule of law

August 3, 2022
The European Union is aware of the activities of Turkey in seeking the extradition of Turkish citizens accused of membership in the movement of Fetullah Gulen, said EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, stressing that the rule of law is “a fundamental principle of the EU and lies at the heart of the EU’s relations with the Western Balkans.”
In her recent question to the European Commission, MEP from the Identity and Democracy Group, Dominique Bilde, noted that Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said in January: “We sincerely hope that Albania will take more tangible, decisive and rapid measures against FETO in Albania.”
She noted that, in 2018, six Turkish nationals were arrested in Kosovo, under conditions which became the subject of a parliamentary committee of inquiry.
In 2019 Turkey also asked Bosnia and Herzegovina to effect similar extraditions, “and may well have made support for a planned motorway conditional upon this happening, according to a source cited by Oxford Analytica,” she said.
Bilde alleged that Turkey has established “strong relationships with majority Muslim bodies in the Balkans,” and gave the example of Bosnia’s Party for Democratic Action (SDA), led by Bakir Izetbegovic.
Turkey’s Foreign Affairs Minister was awarded honorary citizenship of Bosnia and Herzegovina in December last year, she added.
Bilde then went on to ask whether the EU Commission would investigate the allegations surrounding these extraditions “and their possible link with the aforesaid motorway plan?”
She asked the Commission to express its opinion on the proposal by the Turkish President to organise crisis talks on the tensions in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
“Will the Commission investigate Turkey’s role in the equipping of Kosovo’s security forces?” was the third question.
On behalf of the Commission, Borrell responded that “the EU is aware of the activities of Turkey in seeking the extradition of Turkish citizens accused of membership in the movement of Fetullah Gulen. The rule of law is a fundamental principle of the EU and lies at the heart of the EU’s relations with the Western Balkans.”
“The EU expects all Western Balkans partners to act in full respect of the rule of law, and in universal respect for and observance of international conventions for human rights and fundamental freedoms,” it says.
Borrell stressed that the EU “continues to engage to promote a resolution of the political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina through dialogue, allowing the country to refocus on a constructive agenda in line with its EU perspective.”
“As was pointed out in the previous answer (E-003709/20212), the EU, like the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), continues to share the view that the mandate of the Kosovo Security Force should only be changed through an inclusive and gradual process in accordance with the Kosovo Constitution,” the EU High Representative said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/borrell-on-turkeys-extradition-requests-w-balkans-must-respect-rule-of-law/

Bilcik congratulates speaker, deputy speakers-More pluralism in Parliament

August 3, 2022
European Parliament Rapporteur for Serbia Vladimir Bilcik congratulated Vladimir Orlic on his election as the new speaker of the Serbian Parliament.
Bilcik also congratulated the deputy speakers who, as he said, will represent a more pluralistic Parliament.
The European Parliament is ready to engage in democratic dialogue with its partners from Serbia, Bilcik said in a Twitter post.
Vladimir Orlic was elected Parliament speaker with 154 votes in favor and 76 votes against.
Serbian MPs also elected seven deputy speakers.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/bilcik-congratulates-speaker-deputy-speakers-more-pluralism-in-parliament/

Abazovic-Signing of agreement an honor and a pleasure

August 3, 2022
Following the signing of the fundamental agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Montenegrin Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic said he was honored and pleased to have had the opportunity to sign this document and to close the issue in a very nice, appropriate and dignified manner, Beta reported.
Abazovic said the process took too long.
“The idea to sign the Fundamental Agreement with the SPC is an old one. I am sorry it was not realized earlier, however, this Government is determined to give identical rights to all religious communities,” said Abazovic, adding he believes that this sends a message of peace and tolerance and turns a new leaf.
Everything the Government does is guided by its desire to build a society of justice and equality „and to give others the right that we seek for ourselves,“ he said.
“I believe that we have put an end to the challenge, I am proud of that and I want to thank everyone who participated in the process, all the ministers and the people from the SPC,” said Abazovic, adding he believes they will always be prepared to stand up for a society of tolerance and reconciliation.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/abazovic-signing-of-agreement-an-honor-and-a-pleasure/

Petritsch-Conflict won't erupt in Western Balkans, but incidents are possible

August 3, 2022
There will be no new conflicts in the Western Balkans, but there is a potential for terrorist attacks due to the tense situation in Kosovo, Former European Union envoy for Kosovo and former High Representative of the international community in Bosnia, Wolfgang Petritsch, told N1.
On Sunday, shots were fired in Kosovo after roads were blocked at several different locations in the north of Mitrovica in the direction of the two border crossings, Jarinje and Brnjak, which were closed to traffic.
The tensions were fueled by Pristina's decision to introduce a ban on the entry of citizens with Serbian identification documents at midnight on August 1 and to issue them three-month “entry-exit documents” instead, as well as to replace license plates issued in Serbia for cities in Kosovo with plates registered in Kosovo.
This decision was postponed for a month, and the strained relations between the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, and the Prime Minister of Albania, Albin Kurti, represent an additional concern which makes it difficult to reach a successful agreement.
Petritsch said that this is an indication of several problems that are interconnected.
“It's about the whole dialogue process not working. We haven't seen any progress in that dialogue, for months nothing has been initiated or changed,” Petritsch said.
The former EU envoy said he believes it is possible to reach an agreement.
He pointed out another issue, the war in Ukraine, arguing that the nervousness of the international community in Washington is increasing.
“And that is the reason that these two elements, the war in Ukraine and the lack of dialogue, led to this situation happening in Kosovo,” he added.
Petritsch said that, throughout the year, the President of Albania, Bajram Begaj, established good relations with Vucic, but that this is not the case with the Prime Minister of Albania, Albin Kurti.
“The way I see this dialogue process is that it is first necessary to establish mutual trust and respect. I think there is a lot of respect and political influence on both sides,” said Petritsch.
He warned that tensions may flare up again if no agreement is reached and that the EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, as well as EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, should make additional efforts to start a dialogue.
“Also, both sides should understand that now the EU is extremely engaged in Ukraine and that it simply cannot allow the situation in the Balkans to get out of control,” he stressed.
He also noted that the USA played a decisive role in Kosovo and sent one of its best ambassadors, Christopher Hill, to the country.
“The USA plays a very important role in both Pristina and Belgrade”, he stated.
Petritsch stressed that, at this point, it is most important to implement the agreements that have been reached so far and that Washington should mediate talks to determine what is needed to establish a Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo.
However, the instituted that the Republika Srpska (RS) entity in Bosnia “cannot serve as an example for that.”
“Neither Brussels nor Washington want a new Republika Srpska and that is, unfortunately, a big problem. In Kosovo, we need to strengthen the position of the Serbs, so that the minorities get more rights and feel safe. So they use their own language and all their rights are ensured”, he stressed.
He said he does not believe that a new war could erupt in Kosovo or in BiH.
“What could happen now are terrorist attacks, but I am convinced that NATO is present, we have EUFOR in BiH. The geopolitical situation in the Balkans is now different. There are conflict countries that are surrounded by NATO and this is a positive change that positively affects the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo,” he said.
The EU must mediate in resolving issues in the region, he said, stressing the importance of BiH achieving EU candidate status.
“We saw that Ukraine got it and we need a repeated offer for Bosnia and Herzegovina and the other five countries of the Western Balkans to join the EU. This is something that needs to be worked on so that the conflicts that are happening on the border between Kosovo and Serbia do not happen again,” Petritsch said.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/petritsch-conflict-wont-erupt-in-western-balkans-but-incidents-are-possible/

Stoltenberg on Kosovo-All sides must maintain calm

August 3, 2022
All sides must maintain calm and avoid unilateral actions, Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg said following his talk with Kosovo Prime Minster Albin Kurti.
I spoke with Albin Kurti about the resent tensions in Kosovo and the continued importance of our KFOR mission. All sides must maintain calm, avoid unilateral actions and support the EU-mediated dialogue, I remain in close contact with both Pristina and Belgrade, Stoltenberg said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/stoltenberg-on-kosovo-all-sides-must-maintain-calm/

SPC and Montenegro sign fundamental agreement

August 3, 2022
The fundamental agreement between the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) and Montenegro has been signed, the Montenegrin Government said.
The Podgorica daily Vijesti previously reported that SPC head Patriarch Porfirije arrived in Montenegro and that the agreement would be signed in Villa Gorica, in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica.
Some media earlier announced that the signing would take place on August 3, but that information was rebutted at the time by Montenegrin Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic.
The Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) announced that will launch an initiative for a vote of no confidence in the Montenegrin Government.
The initiative is open to all those who believe that the Government’s attitude towards Montenegro’s national interests is irresponsible, said the DPS in a Twitter post.
In last week’s exclusive interview with N1, DPS leader Milo Djukanovic said that the Montenegrin Government will fall if Abazovic signs the fundamental agreement.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/spc-and-montenegro-sign-fundamental-agreement/

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