International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Greek PM says Western Balkans should join EU by 2033

June 11, 2022
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in Thessaloniki at the summit of the South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) that 2033 should be the deadline for all Western Balkan countries to join the European Union.
That is an ambitious goal for the Western Balkans but I think it could be realistic if the idea of enlargement returns as a basic value of the European Union, Mitsotakis said.
Following the SEECP summit, chaired by Greece, the Greek prime minister called on Southeast Europe to promote the path of peace and international law, common security and prosperity.
That, as he said, is the basis of the Thessaloniki Declaration, which was unanimously adopted.
As a part of the Summit of the Process of Cooperation in Southeast Europe in Thessaloniki, President Aleksandar Vucic attended a working dinner hosted by Mitsotakis for the heads of states and governments, according to the state TV RTS.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/greek-pm-says-western-balkans-should-join-eu-by-2033/

Vucic-Scholz called Serbia to impose sanctions on Russia

June 10, 2022
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told reporters on Friday that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called Belgrade “in a determined and sharp manner” to join in the sanctions against Russia.
“The Chancellor asked Serbia in a determined and sharp manner to join in the sanctions against the Russian Federation, that is to support the restrictive measures that the European Union introduced and I spoke of our position and the specific situation with Kosovo, energy and traditional relations with Russia,” Vucic said at a joint news conference.
According to Vucic, “Scholz brought a new energy and new hope for everyone in the Western Balkans”. “He wants to hear everyone in the Western Balkans and wants real prospects for EU expansion which is an important, excellent message for everyone in the Western Balkans,” he said.
Vucic said that Serbia will have to achieve faster progress in terms of rule of law, human rights and all other issues important for European integration. “We spoke of other important issues which are not always in full agreement on and that is Kosovo and the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue,” he added.
Scholz pledged Germany’s support for Serbia in the EU accession process.
The German Chancellor said that the focus is on Ukraine and the “senseless war for Russia’s imperialistic vision which is why it’s important for the EU and everyone else to show solidarity with Ukraine and help defend it,” he said adding that the sanctions are part of that effort. “It’s important for as many countries as possible to join the sanctions because that helps Ukraine …. sanctions are very efficient,” Scholz said. “We expect all EU candidate countries to join the sanctions,” he added.
He said Germany’s stand on Kosovo is well known. “What we need now is more engagement in the process to achieve progress,” he said, adding that both sides have to contribute without blocking anything and taking the series of step leading to goal.
Scholz said that Germany can contribute to achieving the ambition of EU membership. “That is something that I am committed to. It won’t be possible in six months, it will take time but it would be good to help it along with great courage. The accession process has brought great changes to every country… I want to encourage you and say that you can count on us for support,” he said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/vucic-scholz-called-serbia-to-impose-sanctions-on-russia/

USAID, ICT HUB launch pilot superclusters

June 10, 2022
USAID said on Friday that the ICT HUB's project Serbia Innovates launched pilot superclusters organized around four technological domains with the most significant potential for sustainable growth in Serbia.
It named those domains as web3 and blockchain technologies; gaming and virtual reality; advanced solutions in medical technology and biotechnology, and high technology in agriculture and the food industry.
“The consortia from all four domains will now start working towards fulfilling their ambitious goals to set the foundations for accelerating the Serbian economy. The gaming pilot supercluster will focus on export growth and cross-sectoral cooperation, including fields like education, art, video production, and virtual reality. The web3 and blockchain team has an ambitious goal to create a Free Zone in Serbia that will attract the most extraordinary engineering talents worldwide and establish Serbia as a hub for innovation. The agro-tech supercluster will incorporate cutting-edge technologies and digital transformation to increase yields and productivity in traditional agriculture. Finally, the most significant companies and organizations from the health-tech industry will focus on technology transfer and positioning Serbia as a regional center for clinical trials,” the press release said.
“We want Serbia’s talented workforce to contribute to developing Serbia’s economy by creating a highly innovative, technologically advanced ecosystem that cutting edge companies recognize as a smart place to work and do business. We want to help keep the country’s best and brightest here, while also attracting people who have succeeded abroad to come back to Serbia and invest” US Ambassador Christopher Hill told the launch.
“The goal of each pilot supercluster will be to work together on the most significant challenges in their fields - on infrastructure, collaboration, and regulation, and to create new values and new opportunities. We wish them luck," it quoted Aleksandra Popović, Serbia Innovates project director, as saying.
The press release recalled that the ICT Hub launched the Serbia Innovates Project In February 2021, in partnership with USAID to stimulate cooperation in the most promising domains of the economy, spur technological innovation and foster the entire economy through the superclusters model.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/usaid-ict-hub-launch-pilot-superclusters/

Mali says gas agreement signed

June 10, 2022
Serbian Finance Minister Sinisa Mali said Friday that he signed with Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto "important agreements and contracts that guarantee the citizens secure gas supplies”.
Mali said that an agreement has been reached with Hungary on the purchase and storage of gas and that, as of October 1, Serbia will be able to take gas from two warehouses of a total volume of 500 million cubic meters. „We will fully secure the necessary quantities of gas,” Fonet quoted Mali as saying.
Minister Szijjarto also met in Belgrade with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic who said that unhindered transit of fuels is yet another proof of exceptional, responsible and friendly cooperation between Serbia and Hungary.
„I thanked Minister Szijjarto and Prime Minister Orban on Hungary’s consistent and strong support to Serbia’s European integration which they emphasize always and everywhere,” Vucic said in an Instagram post.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/mali-says-gas-agreement-signed/

Nis gets new bomb threats

June 10, 2022
Bomb threats were sent Friday to several locations in the southern city of Nis, the state television (RTS) reported.
Constantine the Great airport, the Medical Faculty and the Delta Planet mall received emails with bomb threats and were evacuated.
Bomb squads are inspecting the sites, the RTS reported.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/nis-gets-new-bomb-threats/

Scholz, Kurti meet in Pristina

June 10, 2022
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Friday in Pristina that countries refusing to recognize each other have no place in the European Union (EU) and that Kosovo’s path to the EU is linked with its dialogue with Serbia, Fonet reported.
It is important for Kosovo to move the EU-facilitated dialogue forward, Scholz told a news conference following his meeting with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti.
Scholz is currently on a Balkans trip and is also scheduled to visit Serbia, Greece, North Macedonia and Bulgaria.
Kosovo and Serbia should arrive at political solutions by means of a comprehensive agreement. A dialogue is the path that paves the way for Kosovo’s European prospects. A political agreement between the two countries is an important prerequisite to the future of Kosovo’s youth. The agreement should, in the end, also solve the Kosovo issue because it is inconceivable for two countries that do not recognize each other to become part of the EU. Rapprochement is expected from both sides, Scholz is reported to have said.
The German Chancellor said that Kosovo is a reliable partner which was proved by its response to the Russian aggression on Ukraine and that his visit to Kosovo, which marks the beginning of his Balkans tour, speaks of the close Berlin-Pristina relations.
Announcing that Kosovo will apply for EU membership candidate status this year, Kurti said he asked Scholz for support in the process, Fonet reported.
The Kosovo PM thanked Scholz for Germany’s continued support, adding that Kosovo will continue to be its loyal ally.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/scholz-kurti-meet-in-pristina/

Serbian FM-Region can develop only if stable

June 10, 2022
Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic said on Friday that theBalkan region can only develop if its stability is preserved.
Selakovic told a South-East European Cooperation Process ministerial meeting in Thessaloniki that the development of the region is not possible without preserving stability and improving good neighbor relations, to which Serbia is fully committed, a government press release said.
Montenegro is taking over the chair of the South-East European Cooperation Process, the country’s Foreign Ministry said.
It quoted him as saying that the enlargement policy is one of the most important instruments of the European Union, “not only for ensuring the stability of the region and its further economic prosperity, but also for the stability and security of the entire EU”.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-fm-region-can-develop-only-if-stable/

US Ambassador says Serbians chose path to EU

June 10, 2022
US Ambassador Christopher Hill said on Friday that he thinks the Serbian people have chosen the path to the European Union.
Hill told a news conference at the ICT Hub in Belgrade that the Serbian people have to decide whether to join the EU or not. From what I have seen here, I think that the poepl have decided to take the path to Europe, he said.
The ambassador said that it’s clear that Serbia belongs in the EU.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/us-ambassador-says-serbians-chose-path-to-eu/

Russian Ambassador blasts western counterparts over op-ed piece

June 10, 2022
Russia’s Ambassador in Belgrade on Friday accused the ambassadors of the UK, Canada, Norway and Poland of misrepresenting events in Ukraine.
The four ambassadors warned in an opinion piece for Politika daily on June 3 that a lot of false information was being released about the situation in Ukraine on a daily basis and detailed known facts about Russia’s invasion. “There is a lot of intentionally released false information from daily lies (such as that they had no intention of attacking Ukraine to science fiction – bats, birds and biological weapons),” the four ambassadors wrote.
Ambassador Alexander Botsan-Harchenko said that the four ambassadors “twisted the current events in Ukraine and around it to the point that they are not recognizable” adding that he was forced to react to their opinion piece in the pro-government daily “for the sake of Serbian readers who deserve to know the truth”.
“We feel that the authors should look to their own attitudes towards the shameless violation of international law by their states,” he wrote, recalling the 1999 NATO air campaign against FR Yugoslavia in which the UK, Canada and Norway took part with the support of Poland.
“I regret that, in describing the Ukraine crisis, diplomats with surprisingly selective memories, intentionally overlooked the coup d’etat in Kyiv in 2014 (Poland was one of the guarantors of the implementation of an agreement between the Ukrainian authorities and opposition which the opposition violated immediately). No mention was made of the fact that the Kyiv regime sabotaged the Minsk accord for seven years which included the reintegration of the Donbas (also, in the case of the Serbian Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija they forgot that their protegees in Pristina have obstructed the Brussels agreement for nine years),” Botsan-Harchenko said.
He accused the ambassadors of not caring about the true situation in Ukraine and wanting to demean Russia and glorify “the criminal Kyiv regime”, “ignoring the crimes of Ukrainian armed forces and neo-Nazi armed formations … and marginalizing the issue of military bio-labs in Ukraine which is embarrassing for the West”.
The Russian ambassador claimed that the global food crisis was not Russia’s fault but was linked to the COVID crisis and blamed official Kyiv for mining its ports and not allowing passage to merchant ships.
According to him, there is no dependence in relations between Belgrade and Moscow and no inequality. He expressed confidence that the West will not be able to force the Serbs to impose sanctions on Russia.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/russian-ambassador-blasts-western-counterparts-over-op-ed-piece/

Brnabic discusses investments, cooperation with Styria delegation

June 10, 2022
Prime Minister Ana Brnabic met in Belgrade with Austrian Provincial Minister Eibinger-Miedl and her delegation to discuss investments and cooperation, a government press release said.
Barbara Eibinger-Miedl, the Styrian Provincial Minister of Economy, Tourism, Region, Science and Research, is quoted as saying that “Styria is a region with a very developed IT sector that recognizes Serbia as a good partner”.
“She assessed that, considering that Austria is the second country in terms of investment in Serbia, it is necessary to use these potentials to establish stronger cooperation. Also, bearing in mind that digitalization and green transition are priority areas for the province of Styria, the Minister expressed confidence that cooperation will develop in this direction as well,” said the press release.
“Prime Minister Brnabic said that Serbia is working intensively on the development of artificial intelligence and biotechnology, and that these would be areas in which successful cooperation could be achieved,” said the press release.
“The Prime Minister stated that she is satisfied with the fact that there is interest from Styrian businessmen to invest in the Serbian market, for which, as she explained, there are great potentials, especially when it comes to science and the IT sector,” the press release said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/brnabic-discusses-investments-cooperation-with-styria-delegation/

Kurti turns down Vucic’s exchange offer

June 10, 2022
Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti rejected Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s offer to trade electricity for coal.
“This is the Serbian authoritarian president’s attempt to move on from a failed project of exchanging territories to an exchange of coal”, said Kurti.
“So, instead of Kosovo’s territory, he now wants Kosovo’s coal. But he needs to recognize Kosovo’s independence first, he has to accept the crimes committed by the Milosevic regime in Kosovo and distance himself from the despotic regime of President Putin and (former President Slobodan) Milosevic during whose regime he was a minister,”, said Kurti.
Vucic said at the Open Balkan Initiative summit in Ohrid that Kosovo would be offered an agreement under which Serbia would give Kosovo electricity in exchange for lignite or money.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/kurti-turns-down-vucics-exchange-offer/

Coronavirus UPDATE: No deaths, 277 new cases

June 9, 2022
The Serbian Health Ministry said in its daily bulletin on Thursday that there were no deaths from coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 16,096.
It said that 6,096 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 277 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The total number of people tested to date stands at 9,772,203 with 2,019,706 confirmed cases.
The bulletin said that there are 92 hospitalized cases, including 11 patients on ventilators.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-update-no-deaths-277-new-cases/

Charles Michel invites Bosnian political leaders to Brussels

June 9, 2022
Charles Michel, the European Council President, has invited the leaders of Bosnian parliamentary parties for a meeting in Brussels, learns N1.
Reportedly, the meeting is set to take place on Sunday, June 12.
The European Union's senior official and political leaders will discuss the country's European path, how to make progress on that path and the solutions to reduce the political tensions among the political parties, in order to reach functionality and stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Also, participants of the meeting will try to improve dialogue and reaching of compromises, which should build better relations among the politicians and help the country reach the progress.
Michel was in a visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina last month within his tour of the Western Balkans. On that occasion he spoke to the Presidency members and told them Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of the EU's top priorities.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/charles-michel-invites-bosnian-political-leaders-to-brussels/

Turkovic urges institutions to create a plan to mitigate consequences of crisis

June 9, 2022
Deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bisera Turkovic has called on competent institutions to draft a plan of actions to mitigate the consequences of energy crisis and inflation.
She asked that the plan is prepared in cooperation between the state and entity institutions.
“The citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina have been struggling for weeks with heavy economic blows and consequences of the global energy crisis. The state must have an answer and create a plan with competent institutions at other levels (of authority) to mitigate those consequences,” said Turkovic.
She also said that, according to the Indirect Tax Authority, the incomes from indirect taxes in the first five months of 2022 have increased by 739 million marks (approx 377 million euro) or 23.88 percent compared to the same period in 2021.
Turkovic noted it was necessary to pass urgent measures so that the surplus of incomes is used for the planned and systemic support to citizens and economy in fighting the consequences of economic crisis.
“Expert bodies of the Bosnian Council of Ministers and other institutions should, in cooperation with the entity governments, the World Bank and other international institutions that have already offered assistance, develop an analysis, followed by a strategy and plan. The surplus of income collected from citizens and the economy must not be spent only on current consumption. Part of the funds needs to be reinvested in projects of energy diversification and reduction of energy dependence on one supplier. Surplus income comes directly from taxpayers and the state is obliged to return it to citizens through direct, targeted and systemic support and investments in the general interest,” Turkovic stressed.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/turkovic-urges-institutions-to-create-a-plan-to-mitigate-consequences-of-crisis/

Croatian President hopes PM Plenkovic will be his ‘ally’ regarding Bosnia

June 9, 2022
Croatian President Zoran Milanovic on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic of a lack of unity in Croatia's policy on the ways to solve the problems of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, adding however that he still has hope that "the Prime Minister will become my ally on the issue."
Speaking to the press while on a visit to the northern Croatian Medjimurje region, Milanovic said those problems would be solved quickly if he and Plenkovic were united. “Everything would be different if Plenkovic and I… spoke, wrote and did the same, but he doesn’t want that.”
“If the two of us had the same stance, that we won’t allow the oppression of Croats (in Bosnia), that would immediately reach the ears of… the highest officials of those states who would realise at once that trouble with Croatia isn’t worth it,” Milanovic claimed. “We have to tell them we won’t allow that. We are in the EU and NATO, and we must tell them that nothing will pass with which we don’t agree.”
He said the problems of others were respected, alluding to Finland’s and Sweden’s feeling of being under threat by Russia, while Croatian problems were ignored. He said, “I have nothing against (Finland and Sweden), but I’m not being paid to fulfill their wishes.”
Milanovic said Croatia wanted very little in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Only compliance with the Bosnia’s Constitutional Court’s decision which has been in force six years already and orders stopping the robbing of Croats, which has turned in the meantime into abuse and oppression, and that they be allowed to elect their own representatives, instead of Bosniaks doing it for them.”
“Croats in Bosnia want what I’m advocating,” Milanovic said, adding that “why Plenkovic is resisting that (is) unfathomable (and) cowardly.”
“To us, it’s a thousand times more important what is going on in Bosnia and Herzegovina than in Sievierodonetsk,” he said.
According to him, the nominal Croat representative in the Bosnia’s Presidency, Zeljko Komsic, and the president of the strongest Bosniak party, Bakir Izetbegovic, are the ones “trampling on the Dayton agreement,” not the president of the Federation entity, Marinko Cavara, whom the United States has sanctioned over breaching Dayton and ethno-centric behaviour.
Milanovic said Cavara “behaves like the representative of those who elected him” and called out the Croatian government for “keeping quiet” about it. “What kind of message is that to Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats? Frightening.”
President and PM united on Serbia
Two days ago, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic commented on Plenkovic’s statement that Serbia must choose between the EU and Russia by saying that he was not fascinated by such threats and commanding tone.
Milanovic said Vucic’s criticism of Plenkovic was “irrelevant” and agreed with Plenkovic’s words. “Serbia must decide where it wants to go. If it wants the EU, it will have to behave according to European criteria, and Croatia will advocate those criteria.”
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/croatian-president-hopes-pm-plenkovic-will-be-his-ally-regarding-bosnia/

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