International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

YIHR: Law in Serbia doesn't ban war criminals from taking part in election

June 19, 2020

The regional NGO's network of the Youth Initiatives for Human Rights (YIHR) warned on Friday that the participation of convicted war criminals in Serbia's public life, including the forthcoming election campaign, was "an insult to victims, a threat to peace in the region and the handbrake to the democratisation and Europeanisation," the Beta news agency reported.

 It added Serbia's law did not ban them, since "the article 88 paragraph 1 of the Law on Election of Deputies says that "an MP's mandate stops before its end if he or she is convicted of a crime without parole to six years at least." However, there is no ban for them to run in the next elections, YIHR says.

The same law, YIHR says, "doesn't require the candidates to provide data about prior punishments, or about current proceedings against them regarding any crime. Such data are necessary for obtaining any public duty or getting a job in public service."

"The convicted war criminals and people linked to war activities, some wanted by courts, are on three out of 21 electoral lists. Military top brass convicted of war crimes in the 1990s support some political candidates even when not on their lists," the network statement said.

It added that "the participation of war criminals and people linked to crimes in the election campaign shows they follow the same political agenda regardless of which party they support."

"They share the same values: denying crimes, delegitimizing The Hague Tribunal, resisting Serbia's European Union membership and stirring bigotry and hatred towards nations in the region," YIHR said.

It added that "the ruling parties have glorified the convicted war criminals in Serbia through the institutions and the media," while some of them had a significant role in the election process.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a611590/YIHR-Law-in-Serbia-doesn-t-ban-war-criminals-from-taking-part-in-election.html

Voting in Serbia's elections to take place in Kosovo as well

June 19, 2020

Serbia's Republic Electoral Commission (RIK) adopted rules on conducting the ballot in Sunday's general elections in Kosovo, the Beta news agency reported on Friday.

RIK hasn't specified where people in Kosovo will have a chance to cast a ballot, but it is assumed it will be possible in the northern municipalities where the Serbs create a majority.

A majority of RIK members voted for the decision, while some warned that it violated the Constitution and laws since, as they said, the voting was planned to be like abroad and not like in "the rest of Serbia."

Belgrade still officially sees Kosovo as a part of its territory, according to the UN Resolution 1244 which is neutral regarding Serbia's former province final status.

At the same session, RIK rejected 103 voters' complaints about the resumption of the electoral process in Serbia after the relaxation of measures introduced due to the coronavirus epidemic.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a611497/Voting-in-Serbia-s-general-election-to-take-place-in-Kosovo-as-well.html

Grenell says land swap not Trump’s policy on Kosovo

June 19, 2020

The American president’s special envoy for Kosovo Richard Grenell told Fox News that an exchange of territories is not President Trump’s policy.

"When it comes to Kosovo and Serbia, we're having both of those two together at the White House next Saturday to talk about a historic movement and agreement. And yet I'm fighting constantly about this rumor about land swaps between the two,” the ambassador said.  

"And that's not Trump's policy but when you dig deep, both sides say: Well, that's what John Bolton said,” he added. "And so I'm fighting all of the rumors that that persisted because Bolton was pursuing his own policy rather than President Trump's policy," Grennell said.

Grenell invited officials from Belgrade and Pristina to a June 27 meeting at the White House which is expected to focus on economy not politics.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a611739/Grenell-says-land-swap-not-Trump-s-policy-on-Kosovo.html

US: Belgrade - Pristina talks in two phases: first economy, then politics

June 19, 2020

The US is focused on the economy, while politics is the European issue and will be the next phase of the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations, Richard Grenell, the US President Donald Trump's special envoy for the talks says, the KoSSev website has reported on Friday.

 "The US policy has been to suspend our support as long as Kosovo conducted damaging politics. No one should expect us always to write blank checks. I have been clear, and I don't know how many times I have to say to all those included in this (the dialogue) that the US firmly believes that this 20-year-long conflict between Kosovo and Serbia will be solved through economic normalisation, jobs for youths, and development," Grenell told the Pristina Gazeta Express website in an interview.

He referred to the forthcoming meeting between Belgrade and Pristina delegations at White House on June 27, adding Trump would not attend.

Grenell said he had discussed "the vision of the two-phase talks" with the French and German advisors.

"The first step is economic normalization. The US is focused on the economy. All political issues are the European topics in the second phase. The vision we share with the French and Germans is that we won't succeed in political talks without creating jobs for young people and the economic normalization first," Grenell said.

According to him, the second step can be successful after the first one is made.

Washington "has made crystal clear to Paris and Berlin that as soon as the economic recovery starts, as soon as we reach agreements on air, railroad and road traffic, as soon as we see the economies are raising, it will be easier for the Europeans (to deal) with the political issues."  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a611487/US-Belgrade-Pristina-talks-in-two-phase-first-economy-then-politics.html

Entry to Montenegro via Bosnia allowed only with negative coronavirus test

June 18, 2020

The Montenegrin nationals and all foreigners arriving from Bosnia and Herzegovina can now enter Montenegro only if they deliver the proof of a negative coronavirus test that is not older than 48 hours and is provided by an accredited institution, Montenegro's National Coordination Body for Infectious Diseases decided on Thursday.

The statement issued by this institution said the measure will remain in effect until the two countries agree on a more precise procedure to exchange the information on the control of persons travelling to Montenegro via Bosnian territory.

Also, as long as the measure is in the effect, the passengers from Bosnia and Herzegovina will be able to enter Montenegro only at the border crossings Scepan Polje-Hum and Meteljka-Metaljka. 

“After the analysis of epidemiological situation during the session, it was established that most of the active coronavirus cases was imported to Montenegro from Serbia, in the way that some irresponsible individuals travelled entered via Bosnia and Herzegovina. National Coordination Body (NKT) decided that the Public Healthcare Institute exempts Bosnia and Herzegovina from the list of the countries whose citizens enter Montenegro without the measure of institutional isolation,” said national body chairman, Milutin Simovic.

Simovic said the new coronavirus cases that Montenegro has recorded over the past few days were imported via Bosnia from the countries that were not on the list of those that were allowed entry in Montenegro.

The nationals of Montenegro currently staying in Bosnia will be ordered a home quarantine upon their return until they make a coronavirus test.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a441745/Entry-to-Montenegro-via-Bosnia-allowed-only-with-negative-coronavirus-test.html

Bosnia's coronavirus tally increasing, death toll unchanged

June 18, 2020

The number of new coronavirus infections in Bosnia has continued increasing with another 58 patients recorded over the last 24 hours, 33 in the Federation (FBiH) and 25 in Republika Srpska (RS), the healthcare authorities of two semi-autonomous regions confirmed on Thursday. For the second straight day, the country recorded no deaths caused by the virus.

According to official statistics, the country's coronavirus tally stands at 3,199, while the death toll remains unchanged with 168 confirmed fatalities. The total of 2,219 patients has recovered.

The FBiH healthcare authorities have performed 778 lab tests in the last 24 hours, 46,235 since the epidemic outbreak.

To date, the region has confirmed 1,430 Covid-19 patients; 991 patients have recovered to date and 45 died.

There are 394 active cases in the region at the moment.

The RS healthcare authorities have so far tested 32,997 persons, and confirmed 1,749 Covid-19 patients; 1,212 of them have recovered to date and 119 died.

Among 25 new patients reported in the last 24 hours, 12 are men and 13 women.

Brcko District, a separate administrative unit in the north, has seen 20 confirmed Covid-19 patients, of which 16 recovered and four died.

Competent authorities have once again urged the citizens to obey the measures to prevent the virus spread.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a611253/Miroslav-Lajc%C3%A1k-the-European-Union-special-envoy-for-Belgrade-Pristina-dialogue-on-the-normalisat.html

Number of coronavirus cases in Montenegro growing again

June 18, 2020

The number of coronavirus infections in Montenegro increased to nine on Wednesday after the country's Public Health Institute confirmed seven new cases.

Earlier this week, after no cases had been reported for 42 weeks in a row, the health authorities detected the infection in two persons who had briefly visited Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"By 2100 hours on Wednesday, the Institute's laboratories had analysed 200 samples, of which 193 were negative and seven positive for the new coronavirus. Four of the newly-infected persons are contacts of a case confirmed earlier, while the source of the infection in the three other cases is yet to be established," the Institute said.

On June 1 Montenegro opened its borders to 130 countries where the number of active cases is below 25 per 100,000 inhabitants, including Croatia, and lifted most of the restrictions imposed to the contain the virus.

At the start of June, Montenegro declared the end of the coronavirus epidemic on its soil after no new cases were identified for 28 days in a row. On May 24 it became the first coronavirus-free country in Europe.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a441693/Number-of-coronavirus-cases-in-Montenegro-growing-again.html


11 new coronavirus cases identified in Croatia

June 18, 2020

Eleven new cases of infection with the novel Covid-19 coronavirus have been detected in Croatia in the last 24 hours, the government said on Thursday.

Most of the new cases are imports, but there are also cases of local transmission, Tomislav Dulibic, state secretary at the Ministry of Health, said at the government session, adding that all the cases had been promptly processed, their close contacts identified and that the situation was under control.

Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said that the latest report was "a warning that the virus is still here and that the recommendations by the Public Health Institution need to be observed."

"It is important that our citizens do not travel abroad, especially not to countries in our neighbourhood, unless necessary, and that on returning they behave responsibly. Such behaviour is a precondition for the favourable epidemiological situation in Croatia to be kept under control, which in turn is a precondition for the normal functioning of the economy," Bozinovic added.

He announced that two ships were expected from China on June 19 and 26 bringing 407.3 tonnes of purchased and donated medical and protective equipment.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a441679/11-new-coronavirus-cases-identified-in-Croatia.html

Eight new coronavirus cases confirmed in Slovenia

June 18, 2020

Eight new cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed in Slovenia in the last 24 hours, the government said on Thursday, announcing measures to prevent the virus from spreading.

This is the largest daily rise in the number of cases in the last month and a half, and the government is expected to decide at its emergency session today on how to contain the virus, Health Minister Tomaz Gantar told reporters before the meeting.

The new cases were detected in Ljubljana, Krsko and Koper and they include three foreign nationals. The total number of cases now is 1,511, of which 15 were confirmed in the first three days of this week. The government considers this to be the consequence of relaxation of restrictions and opening of the borders to people from countries where the epidemic is not yet under control.

Currently, there are 30 active cases in Slovenia, six of whom are receiving hospital treatment.

On Wednesday, infectious disease specialist Bojana Beovic called for tighter control of people entering from non-EU countries where the epidemiological situation is still not under control.

Local media said that the government would tighten requirements for Slovenian and foreign nationals entering from third countries, adding that quarantine would be mandatory for people arriving from Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia and EU member Bulgaria.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a611237/Eight-new-coronavirus-cases-confirmed-in-Slovenia.html

Coronavirus UPDATE: One Death, 94 new cases

June 18, 2020

The Serbian Health Care Ministry said in its daily 3:00 pm bulletin that one person died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 258.

It said that 6,032 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 94 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The total number of people tested to date stands at 325,613 with 12,616cconfirmed cases.

The bulletin said that there are 589 active cases, including 17 patients on ventilators.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a611275/Coronavirus-UPDATE-One-Death-94-new-cases.html

CoE warns of continued overcrowding in Serbian jails

June 18, 2020

The Council of Europe (CoE) warned on Thursday that Serbian jails continue to be overcrowded and that the number of people on probation are low.

The CoE SPACE II 2019 report said that there were 105.6 inmates occupying 100 places in Serbian jails on April 15 which is slightly less than the 107 inmates per 100 places on January 1. Serbia is still ranked among the 10 countries whose jails have more inmates than capacities, the report said.  

The country also has the lowest rate of inmates released on probation, the report said specifying that there were 26 per 100,000 people. Serbia is also one of just seven countries with the lowest ratio of inmates to people on probation (156 inmates per 100,000 people).  

A total of 626 inmates or 5.7 percent were released during the coronavirus pandemic.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a611435/CoE-warns-of-continued-overcrowding-in-Serbian-jails.html

European Parliament to debate report on Western Balkans

June 18, 2020

The European Parliament is set to debate a report on the Western Balkans which calls for the start of pre-accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia and speedier closing of chapters with Serbia and Montenegro.

The report by rapporteur Tonino Picula MEP was adopted by the EP Committee on Foreign Affairs two months ago. It was used in preparing the Zagreb Summit in May.  

According to Picula, the European Union is committed to expanding to include the Western Balkan countries but expects them to continue reforms on the road to membership. He said that the document sends the EP’s strong message of support to the expansion process and states that membership in the EU is the final goal which is in everyone’s interest.  

The report calls EU institution to engage themselve more in the region, especially in helping combat corruption, promote reconciliation and the gradual integration of those countries but warns that expansion depends on reforms and results.  

The part of the report covering the media says that smear campaigns, threats and the intimidation of journalists and media outlets must be condemned, investigated and processed in court and adds that journalists must have safe working conditions.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a611377/European-Parliament-to-debate-report-on-Western-Balkans.html

Pre-election silence in Serbia starts at midnight, lasts through Sunday evening

June 18, 2020

The pre-election silence in Serbia starts at midnight ahead of the general elections due on June 21 and will last till Sunday at 8 pm, when the polling stations close, the FoNet news agency reported on Thursday.

In that period, any campaign, public gatherings and publishing estimated results are banned.

Also, it is banned to show political parties’ insignia and other propaganda material 50 meters away for the polling stations.

In case of violation, an electoral board will be dismissed, and the voting will be repeated.

There are 6,739,441 registered voters in Serbia. They will have a choice among 21 electoral lists, and the Republic Electoral Commission is obliged to publish the official results on June 25 at 8 pm at the latest.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a611211/Pre-election-silence-in-Serbia-starts-at-midnight-lasts-through-Sunday-evening.html

Serbian opposition leader Djilas says hoax vote on Sunday

June 18, 2020

Serbian opposition leader Dragan Djilas told the Associated Press that taking part in the June 21 parliamentary and local elections amid the coronaviorus pandemic and without free media would only legitimize what he called a “hoax vote.”

Djilas said that the elections are being held despite health risks and a lack of democratic standards for the campaign. “At the start the COVID-19 pandemic, our president said all will be OK if we take a shot of brandy every day,” Djilas said Wednesday in an interview. “And then he introduced the toughest possible lockdown measures, including an 84-hour curfew…. Then the measures were lifted as if nothing has happened. It’s unbelievable,” he said.

AP recalled that Serbia went from having very strict lockdown measures to a near-total lifting of the government’s emergency rules in early June with opponents saying that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic eased the restrictions so he could hold the elections, which were originally scheduled for April but were postponed because of the pandemic, and cement his grip on power. Serbia is now seeing an infection spike after mass gatherings were allowed without people being instructed to keep social distance or wear masks.

“What led to the boycott by most of the opposition is the fact that we in reality have no elections,” Djilas said.

“For democratic elections, you have to have conditions for people to hear something different and freely express themselves.” “Not a single one of those conditions has been met,” he said and added that the media are closed for the opposition “but are used to attack people who think differently.”

Djilas said there would be no changes in Serbia without pressure on Vucic from the West. “We don’t expect them to topple Vucic, we only want them to create conditions for free and fair elections,” he said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a611407/Serbian-opposition-leader-Djilas-says-Hoax-vote-on-Sunday.html

BIRODI: PM Brnabic leading election campaigner

June 18, 2020

The Belgrade-based Bureau for Social Research (BIRODI) said on Thursday that Prime Minister Ana Brnabic is the leading public official in the campaign for the June 21 elections.

BIRODI added that President Aleksandar Vucic is “the dominant figure in non-analytical and uncritical reporting in the news”. BIRODI monitored the main news shows on the TV stations with national coverage between May 8 and June 18 and published its findings in a report on its web site.  

Reports covering Vucic’s activities violated the law on advertising because they did not specify if he was appearing as the president or leader of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS).  

The parties advocating a boycott of the elections were not given air time on the state TV (RTS) to explain the reasons behind their decision because the RTS did not report on the boycott in depth, the report said. The report said that the quality of reporting on the TV stations which are the main source of news for 60 percent of the population is lower than it was in 2012.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a611311/BIRODI-PM-Brnabic-leading-election-campaigner.html

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