International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Serbia's and China's police forces in joint exercise in steel company

November 28, 2019

The joint activity of Serbia's Interior Ministry officers and China's special unit from Henan, a province in Central Yellow River Valley, was held in the Chinese-owned "HBIS GROUP SERBIA" steel plant in Smederevo, an eastern country's town on Thursday, N1 reported.

The 180 police officers from the two countries showed their skills to Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic, Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic, the head of the civilian secret service (BIA) Bratislav Gasic, Chinese ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo and other dignitaries.

Serbia's officers that who part in the exercise came from the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit, Gendarmerie, Helicopter's Unit, the Ministry's negotiating team and the Crime Police Directorate.

At the end of the exercises, Stefanovic said Serbia and China were strategic partners and that the two interior ministries' cooperation "was excellent." 

"Although this exercise was prepared in a short time, the members of the two police forces showed how ready they are in fulfilling the most difficult and most complex tasks," Stefanovic said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a547840/China-and-Serbia-hold-joint-police-exercise.html

Private Megatrend University sold to German funds, after N1's documentary

November 28, 2019

Only two days after N1 aired a documentary about the role of the private Megatrend University in nostrifying Serbia's Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic's diploma, and its non-existent schools and lecturers, Mica Jovanovic, the owner, told reporters on Thursday he sold the University to the German funds' consortium, N1 reported.

Jovanovic added he would end his career and left Serbia to live in France, after, as he said, N1's documentary was a peak of a negative campaign against him and his UNiversity.

He said he sold 100 percent of the Megatrend ownership to Dejan Djordjevic, the German consortium representative in Serbia for 56.1 million Euros, adding he considered the move as another German investment in the country.

Jovanovic said the contract stipulated that the new owner had to invest another 150 million Euros in the development of the University in the next five years. "

"I'm withdrawing; I won't live here anymore. I have a home in southern France, in Cannes. I'll soon move there, hoping to be outside the reach of some nice journalists and TV stations," Jovanovic said.

He added his decision came after "a media lynch and a five-year-long negative campaign which ended in fall of students' enrolment for 400 percent.

"The reasons are media lynch and campaign, with N1's film as a peak," Jovanovic said.

Jovanovic added he also had enough of the accusations by the members of the opposition Alliance for Serbia group, during the rule of some of its members, as he said,  "Megatrend was flourishing."

He said he refused the offered state financial and moral help because that would have "exploded like a bomb," and "the spitting (on him) would have intensified."

Jovanovic added he was not a member of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party but its leading coalition partner the Socialist Party of Serbia.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a547820/Megatrend-University-sold-after-N1-s-film-which-owner-says-is-a-peak-of-negative-campaign.html

North Macedonia’s PM in phone conversation with false Greta Thunberg

November 28, 2019

Zoran Zaev was again a victim of a “hybrid attack”, a phone call by someone who said was Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist on climate change whose campaigning has gained international recognition, Serbia’s state RTS Tv reported on Thursday, quoting Skopje’s A1 website.

 Zaev’s PR advisor Marjan Zabrcanec, said the call was suspicious in some parts, but that it was decided that Zaev should continue to talk to discover the false call.

“Immediately after the end of the call, we did all to verify the identity of the caller, and we can say it was a hybrid attack on the Prime Minister. We then contacted Greta’s family and informed them about the call. They said they were upset and thanked us for letting them know. They added they would report the abuse,” Zabrcanec said.

He added that this call was more sophisticated than the previous attack when two Russian comedians called Zaev, pretending to be Ukraine former President Petro Poroshenko and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

However, Zabrcanec said the careful communication enabled the disclosure.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a547802/North-Macedonia-s-PM-under-new-hybrid-attack.html

Joseph: West to reconsider relations with Vucic after Pentagon report

November 28, 2019

The report by the US Department of Defence about the intensified cooperation with Russia since President Aleksandar Vucic and his Serbian Progressive Party came to power in 2012 proved what was suspected for some time and showed that the West attitude toward Serbia’s President should change, Edward Joseph, a lecturer at John Hopkins University in Washington DC told the Voice of America (VOA).

Primarily due to the Belgrade – Moscow cooperation in intelligence matters, Joseph said.

Radio Free Europe (RFE) had access to the Pentagon report from May this year, which described Serbia as the most indulgent environment for the Russian influence over the Western Balkans.

The Pentagon reports says, among other things, that Serbia was the only regional country which purchased Russian weapons worth over a million Dollars since 2012, including MIG-29 jet fighters and helicopters.

 "The reasons are clear, and that relationship is symbiotic. The key issues in the report, though we haven’t seen the original, are already known: we know about the MIG-29 and other forms of cooperation. But the fact it has been officially reported is important and suggests that the relations are beneficial for both Serbia and Russia,” Joseph said.

He added that the report also challenged “President Aleksandar Vucic’s sincerity in saying he is interested in the European Union membership. How can he be leading such a policy? It should also be said that Serbia has recently signed a trade agreement with the Euro-Asian Union sponsored by Russia. Though a bit reluctantly, Serbia signed the agreement.”

“This report is a warning to the diplomats who talk to Vucic to be careful about his cooperation with Russia since we now know that the US is aware of how deep and widespread that cooperation is,” Joseph added.

"Cooperation with Russian intelligence services does not go together with the EU.”

The Pentagon report also pointed out the cooperation between Moscow’s and Belgrade’sintelligence services, adding Serbia was the only country covered by the document which cooperated with Russia in that area.

"That’s probably the most interesting single element in this report and should not be ignored and say that Vucic only balances in relationships. The cooperation between the intelligence services goes beyond that. Once you enter the spying zone and collaboration in that field, it is incompatible with the West and the EU. The diplomats should not ignore that. However, that’s not a huge surprise since there are doubts that the humanitarian centre in ( Serbia’s southern city) Nis, in fact, is used for collecting intelligence data. But, since we now have the official confirmation about the intelligence cooperation, it should be a crossroad in the international community relations with Belgarde,” Joseph said.

"The talks with President Vucic must be more open, and he should not be begged any longer to find a solution to Kosovo’s issue and to be somehow compensated for that. No one should think about compensating the leader who has such broad cooperation with an enemy as Moscow is and who works against his people and eliminates the freedoms they are entitled to,” Joshep said."

Commenting on the affair involving a Russian spy and Serbia’s retired army officer,Joshep said the most logical explanation was that the event was Serbia’s Government deliberate move, maybe in cooperation with Russia, to divert the attention from a more serious scandal,” with Serbia’s Interior Minister and his father and dubious arms trade deals.

Commenting on the US report, Vucic said that such but also quite the opposite accusations were coming daily, proving the strength of Serbia's politics based on independence. "No one in Washington, Brussels or Moscow will decide on my behalf. Serbia's people decide on the country's politics. I've seen many such articles saying Vucic and Serbia should be threatened. You can threaten, we will work and build. We'll always work with everyone, but will always respect Serbia's interests," he said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a547704/US-professor-urges-West-to-reconsider-relations-with-Serbia-s-Vucic.html

BIRN: Krusik’s whistleblower offered end of procedure to keep silent

November 27, 2019

Two men approached a relative of Aleksandar Obradovic, a whistleblower from the the western town of Valjevo ammunition factory Krusik, asking him to pass on a message to Obradovic who has been under house arrest that they could end the legal procedure against him in exchange for his silence about wrongdoings in the company which he linked to the father of the Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) reported on Wednesday.

The men identified themselves as Serbia’s secret service agents, adding that if he refused, he ‘would be screwed up.’

They told the relative who they knew from before that “everything will end well” if Obradovic stopped speaking about the dubious arms trade deals.

Obradovic’s lawyer Vladimir Gajic informed the Deputy Prosecutor for organised crime Jasmina Milanovic Ganic about the offer and about the identity of the people who were supposed to pass the message and a threat to Obradovic.

He told her he doubted they were secret agents, “since they never threaten, they work in darkness,” but that the men probably were some people from the underground who passed on the information from the Minister “who is directly affected by the Krusik affair.”

The lawyer said he received a reply 20 days later saying the case was transferred to the Higher Public Prosecutors’ Office since it led the proceeding against Obradovic.

"As I know who runs that prosecutors' office, it’s clear to me I was naive hoping to push the case through legal institutions. They don’t exist in Serbia. That’s crystal clear,” Gajic said, adding the country became “(President) Aleksandar Vucic’s califate in which he does what he wants.”

On Wednesday, Serbia's Prosecutors' Office for Organised Crime demanded the Military Counter-Intelligence Agency (VBA) and civilian secret service (BIA) to launch a probe into arms trade deals of the ammunition Krusik factory with private companies, the Belgrade NIN weekly reported.

Gajic nevertheless said he would lead Obradovic defence before both domestic and foreign institutions.

"The scope of the damage Vucic’s regime will suffer will be seen in the days to come," Gajic said.

BIRN said they tried to get answers about the case from all relevant courts and agencies, but no one replied.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a547552/Krusik-s-whistleblower-receives-indecent-offer.html 

SNS, Kosovo Serb List officials appointed to University, faculties’ councils

November 27, 2019

Aleksandar Martinovic, the chief of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) Deputy Club, added another ‘title’ to his portfolio – the Government appointed him to the Council of Pristina University currently based in northern Mitrovica, the Insajder reported on Wednesday.

Besides him, ten officials of the Belgrade-supported Serb List, a Kosovo Serbs’ political party, including Goran Rakic, Northern Mitrovica Mayor, and two former ministers of Kosovo’s Government from the Serb community, were also appointed members to the University and several faculties’ councils, the independent Insajder production website said.

Serbia’s Education Minister Mladen Sarcevic said all appointments were legal.

Apart from his political duty, Martinovic is a professor at the Law School in the northern city of Novi Sad, a professor at the High Medical School in the central town of Cuprija and is reported to have been allowed to teach at the Medical Sciences Faculty in the central city of Kragujevac.

The members of Pristina University have the same status as those in Serbia and are paid from Serbia’s budget and have a ‘Kosovo bonus.’

Insajder said there are no public data how much money was allocated for that bonus, but President Aleksandra Vucic said in 2018 it was 71 million Euros per year.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a547524/Kosovo-Serbs-and-SNS-official-appointed-members-to-Serb-Univrsity-and-faculties-in-Mitorovica.html

Another Serbia's minister diploma under suspicion

November 26, 2019

After the Belgrade University said that Finance Minister Sinisa Mali plagiarised his doctorate, N1's Adam Santovac followed the story from last June and published it in a documentary 'Mega Diplomac' about the Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic who studied "at the faculty without professors, but Belgrade-based Megatrend private faculty recognised his diploma," which he earned after two instead of four years of study.

The Megatrend Rector Mica Jovanovic also the director of Megatrend International Expert Consortium Limited based in London, where Stefanovic reportedly finished his basic studies, refused to comment the N1's findings of the non-existent London school and the professors who were said to have lectured there.

After several attempts, N1 received Jovanovic's answer: "You are selling your honesty for lots of money. You're paid to unscrupulously ruin lives with your so-called investigative journalism, without thinking about the consequences."

Jovanovic is a long-term member of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), the main coalition party of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) led by President Aleksandar Vucic.

The President of the Megatrend University Council, Ljubisa Rakic, an academician, also refused to talk to N1.

The access to Stefanovic's school record was allowed only to the state Tanjug news agency. Rakic told the agency that everything was done in line with the law.

The professors who N1 contacted since were listed as lecturers at the London Megatrend branch, said they never taught at that school.

Besides, the only students who are known to have attended the non-existent Faculty are Stefanovic and Petar Djokic, a Minister in Republika Srpska, Bosnia's Serb entity.

Megatrend Faculty nostrified Stefanovic's diploma in February 2005, in line with the then Law on University from 2002. However, even that was not regular because it stipulated the University was in charge of nostrification while in Stefanovic's case, the Faculty did it.

The current Law on High School Education allows the Education Minister to annul a diploma since the unauthorised institution issued it.

Asked whether he would annul Stefanovic's diploma issued by a company from the UK and not by an accredited faculty, Mladen Sarcevic, Serbia's Education Minister, told N1 that "when the Minister graduated the University was in charge of the authenticity. After that, the jurisdiction went to the Ministry. As of this year,  the Agency for Qualifications is in charge and there is also a court for appeals."

In the meantime, Megatrend deleted its network of high education institutions from its website.

"The network included schools in Japan, the US...," Natasa Miletic , a journalist who investigated Megatrend business, told N1.

She said she investigated only London branches, the so-called Megatrend University Worldwide. Miletic said she found out that "those campuses did not exist, they were made up, and I named them Megatrend Potemkin's universities."

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a547296/Yet-another-Serbia-s-Minister-diploma-under-suspicion.html

Serbia's opposition MP: Ruling SNS official behind mine export ending in Ukraine

November 26, 2019

The Deputy leader of the Freedom and Justice Party (SSP) and an MP, Marinka Tepic said on Tuesday that behind the export of Serbia-made mortar mines that ended in Ukraine was "a member of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) Main Board Milorad Pusica," the Beta news reported.

Tepic told reporters in the Parliament that "high-ranking SNS officials and close associates of President Aleksandar Vucic, also the party's leader, like Milorad Pusica and Slobodan Tesic, were involved in all arms export from Serbia.

"Vucic is saying for days that the (ammunition company) 'Krusik' whistleblower Aleksandar Obradovic's mother was behind the mines trading, while this document clearly says that it was Pusica and that the Polish 'Natan", i.e., 'Tehnopromet', its representatives here, were only a flow boiler," Tepic said.

She also rejected Vucic's accusations that a part of Serbia's opposition "destroys the country and arms industry," and called on him to explain "how a member of SNS Main Board was a direct middleman in the trade of 30,000 mines from 'Krusik' which ended in Ukraine?"

"No one is against the development of the arms industry and its legal business, but what we have here are typical examples of influence peddling, abuse of office and over five corruption-related crimes," Tepic said.

She added that "we are not destroying the arms industry, we are guarding it against Vucic and his clique, and against a manoeuvrer to destroy and then privatise the arms industry, especially 'Jugoimport SDPR,' by brokers close to SNS," Tepic added.

She showed reporters a Government suggestion to form Serbia's defence industry group, which, according to her, should "move the entire arms trade into the hands of SNS people."

"That's the way to integrate all arms-producing companies into one called 'Defence Industry Group' controlled by a Government's Council with a president and members," Tepic said, adding that there was a strong resistance to the adoption of such a document, "especially within the Army of Serbia (VRS)."

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a547202/Opposition-MP-accuses-oficial-of-President-Vucic-s-SNS-of-being-behid-arms-trade.html

Serbia’s fmr VBA boss: Many trust friends and relatives to control arms export

November 26, 2019

Momir Stojanovic former chief of Serbia’s Military Counterintelligence Agency (VBA) said on Tuesday that many officials in the current regime trusted the arms trade with relatives and friends to oversee the export and “keep the thing under control,” and added that “that’s how the Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic’s father Branko strayed into GIM company,” the Beta news agency reported.

 Stojanovic said the information Marinika Tepic, an opposition leader and an MP, received about the ammunition Krusik company, couldn’t come from “an ordinary citizen. Probably some powerful systems whom the current regime promised something briefed her."

“Those systems now want to warn Serbia’s authorities what will happen if they don’t meet promises,” Stojanovic told a presentation of the “People’s Bloc,” a new pre-election coalition in Serbia.

He said that “Jugoimport SDPR” was the key company for trading in weaponry and military equipment and that "after the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) came to power and appointed incompetent people to lead 'Jugoimport,' the problems begin.”

Stojanovic added that another problem was that in transactions in arms export the European Union’s list of countries and movements which were under arms embargo was not respected, and then Serbia’s arms ended in the Middle East.

He said many companies that used to be “of the VBA interest” became some of the largest arms exporters because of “fast earnings” in the arms trade and added he didn’t believe that President Aleksandar Vucic would “sacrify” some of his associates involved in that.


Opposition leader to take President Vucic before European Court of Human Rights November 26, 2019

November 26, 2019

The leader of the opposition "That's Enough" movement (DJB) Sasa Radulovic said on Tuesday he would file charges against Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic since the country's Constitutional Court rejected his appeal in which he accused Vucic of insults and slender, the Beta news agency reported.

 "A serious question was put before the Constitutional Court concerning the equality of all citizens before the law, but also one of the violations of freedom of expression and the President's and his ruling Serbian Progressive Party's (SNS) position above the law," a DJB statement said.

It added the Constitutional Court "didn't want to decide on Sasa Radulovic's appeal," what, according to the movement, "means it transferred such an important issue to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg as it has done several times before, bringing the state at risk to be subjected to humiliation and mockery before the international institutions."

The statement said that "Radulovic, advocating the preservation of democratic institutions in the country, had to turn to the court in Strasbourg after domestic courts legitimised those violations."  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a547148/Opposition-leader-to-take-Serbia-ssident-to-Strasbourgr.html

Suspicion of mass grave prompts excavations in Pristina’s center

November 26, 2019

On the ground around the Pristina University the experts started the excavation under doubt that there might be a mass grave with the remains of killed Albanians during 1998-1999 war in Kosovo, the Kosovo online website reported on Tuesday.

Pristina officials are not sure the excavation in the area between the Art Faculty and the Serbian Orthodox Church of Jesus the Savior in the Kosovo capital’s centre, will result in finding the remains, but say they have to check on every information since there are 1,647 missing people from all ethnic communities 20 years after the conflict ended.

“There were many cases of moving the remains from place to place, and that makes our job in finding the missing people more difficult,” Drita Hajdari, a Special Prosecutor said.

She added a witness provided information about the locality, and that despite an uncertain outcome, they had to check since the families of the missing people deserved to know what happened to their loved ones.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a547102/New-suspected-mass-grave-in-Kosovo-being-excavated.html

Bosniak party in Serbia asks for international conference about SW region

November 26, 2019

The Party of Democratic Action of Sandzak (SDA Sandzak) called on the international community to hold a conference about that south-western region in Serbia with a significant Bosniak majority, the FoNet news agency reported on Tuesday.

The SDA leader Sulejman Ugljanin said that Serbia's state institutions denied genocide ( in Boisnia's town of Srebrenica in 1995) and crimes against Bosniaks and that "special status for Sandzak would be an answer to all the issues of its population."

Ugljanin called on the European Union, the Council of Europe, UN and OSCE to schedule a conference and "in line with historical facts," solve the status of Sandzak.

The region belongs to both Serbia and neighbouring Montenegro. Its name derives from the Turkish word for Sanjak of Novi Pazar, a former Ottoman administrative district.

Serbia's official name for the part of Sandzak belonging to the country is Raska Oblast (the Region of Raska.)

The Sandzak Bosniaks have often complained that Belgrade doesn't respect its own Constitution regarding the equal representation of the ethnic communities in local institutions.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a547054/Bosniaks-in-Serbia-aske-about-intl-conference-on-its-status.html

Serbia’s FM: Nothing to be optimistic about dialogue with Pristina

November 26, 2019

Ivica Dacic, Serbia’s Foreign Minister, said on Tuesday, there was nothing good which would produce a bit of optimism for the resumption of the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations, accusing Kosovo of sending the wrong mesages, the Beta news agency reported.

According to him, without the international community’s pressure on Pristina, any success in the dialogue cannot be expected and that it won’t continue before the 100 percent import tariffs on goods from Serbia, introduced a year ago, are lifted.

“I think that not many people did so much good for Serbia as did (outgoing Kosovo Prime Minister Ramus) Haradinaj and (his most likely successor Albin) Kurti by showing to everyone that the Albanian side is a problem,” Dacic told the state RTS TV.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a547048/Serbia-s-FM-says-no-optimisam.html

Kosovo’s Kurti secures majority to form government

November 25, 2019

The leader of the Self-determination (Vetëvendosje) party Albin Kurti said he had secured a majority for form a new government following the October 6 general elections, the FoNet news agency reported.

 Kurti, the most likely new Prime Minister, said the three representatives of the minority parties of Gorani, Ashkali and Roma people agreed to unconditionally vote for him as prime minister, providing the necessary 61 out of 120 MPs support.

That, Kurti said, created conditions to form a cabinet without including the third ethnic Albanian party.

According to the agreement Kurti made, his Vetëvendosje, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and three minority parties will make up the next Pristina government.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a546786/kosovo-s-Kurti-secures-61-MPs-support-for-forming-cabinet.html

Miroslav Lajčák, new special rapporteur for Western Balkans, daily reports

November 25, 2019

Slovakia’s Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák is the most likely new special rapporteur for Western Balkans, the Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti, reported on Monday.

The daily wrote its sources said that Lajčák, an experienced politician, familiar with the regional situation, who already had several duties in the Western Balkans, fulfilled all conditions for the post.

The daily sources added that Lajčák had two-hour talks behind closed doors with the next chief of the European Union diplomacy Josep Borrell regarding the new duty.

“The US has two envoys to the Western Balkans, and we only one. That's why the things go as they do,” Lajčák reportedly told Borrell, referring to the slowness of the enlargement process and an increasing regional distancing from the EU, the daily quoted its source.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a546766/Slovakoian-Foreign-Minister-to-be-next-EU-rapporteur-for-Western-Balkans.html 

isn eth zurichBSAdsNATOCentral and Eastern European Online LibraryEurActiv | European Union Information Website