International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

BiH Presidency members: Croatian gas pipeline violates Bosnian sovereignty

March 26, 2021

The Bosniak member of Bosnia and Herzegovina's tripartite presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic, said on Friday that connecting the refinery in Bosanski Brod to Croatia's gas network was a violation of BiH's territorial integrity and that the project was never agreed to between the two countries.

“If pipes are placed across the border, that constitutes a violation of BiH's territorial integrity. This is a very serious issue for the border police, State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) and BiH's state attorney,” Dzaferovic said in Banja Luka during an official visit.

He said that anyone who is responsible for that act has to answer for it because the gas pipeline was placed without the approval of the BiH Presidency, the Council of Ministers or the country's parliament.

“That is anarchy and abuse and someone will have to answer for it, someone from BiH and from elsewhere,” he said.

A gas pipeline was placed under the Sava River on Thursday evening connecting the refinery in Bosanski Brod to Croatia's gas network.

The project was agreed in 2017 with the mediation of Croatia's then-president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and in coordination with the authorities of the Bosnian entity called Republika Srpska (RS).

Russia's Zarubezhneft oil company is the owner of the Bosnian refinery and the objective was to have the refinery run on natural gas for production processes rather than on liquid fuel so as to help reduce air pollution which has been a problem for the two cities on either side of the Sava River, Bosanski Brod and Slavonski Brod.

The decision to connect only the refinery to the gas network is a result of the fact that RS authorities have been rejecting for years the idea of Bosnia and Herzegovina connecting to Croatia's gas network at Slavonski Brod.

The incumbent Serb member of BiH's Presidency, Milorad Dodik, has personally blocked that project, making it clear that he wants the Republika Srpska entity to be connected to Serbia's gas pipeline, which is supplied with Russian gas.

In an effort to resolve the problem of air pollution in Slavonski Brod, Croatia agreed to supply the refinery in Bosanski Brod with gas from its network because RS has still not started building a pipeline that would connect it to Serbia's gas network.

Bosnian Croat Presidency member also condemned the installation of the pipeline, calling it an act of aggression by Croatia.

“The secretive installation of gas pipelines across the Sava River without the knowledge of state institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is obviously another act of aggression against our country, within a new type of joint venture between the domestic and foreign actors,” Zeljko Komsic said.

According to him, the BiH Foreign Ministry said they had no information on the installation, nor did they receive any document initiating the signing of a protocol or a memorandum on cooperation or an international agreement between the two sovereign countries, Bosnia and Croatia on a project like this.

Komsic claims that the BiH Border Police Director Zoran Galic must provide answers on how such a thing could have happened without their knowledge?

The Croat Presidency member also expects the Security Ministry to contact Bosnia’s Border Police immediately and do everything to prevent and stop “the illegal construction of a gas pipeline.”

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/presidency-members-croatian-gas-pipeline-violates-bih-sovereignty/

Montenegrin Minister: I will recognize Srebrenica genocide once it is proven

March 26, 2021

Montenegrin Justice, Human and Minority Rights Minister Vladimir Leposavic said Friday that he is ready to recognize that the crime of genocide was committed in Srebrenica "when it gets proven unequivocally."

Leposavic, who is a doctor of law, became known to the general public as a member of the legal team of the Metropolitanate of the Montenegrin-Primorje Serbian Orthodox Church, added that the Court in The Hague, where the Srebrenica genocide was tried, “had lost its legitimacy.”

Leposavic stated that the decision of the International Court of Justice, which qualified the crime in Srebrenica as genocide, was based on the findings of the Hague Tribunal, which, according to him, had almost completely lost its legitimacy „when the Council of Europe rapporteur's evidence on the removal and trafficking of organs from Serb civilian victims in Kosovo were destroyed in that court.”

Speaking at the Montenegrin Parliament, Leposavic said that he did not know whether the criminals in Srebrenica had genocidal intent or not, but that he could only trust the judges from The Hague.

The Minister noted that he would not dispute the feelings and beliefs of Bosniaks and Muslims who will not stop experiencing this crime in their hearts as their permanent suffering and tragedy.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/montenegrin-minister-i-will-recognize-srebrenica-genocide-once-it-is-proven/

Kosovo PM says missing persons a priority in relations with Belgrade

March 26, 2021

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said on Friday that missing persons will be a priority in Pristina’s relations with Belgrade.

“We have certainly given a priority to missing persons and crimes committed during the war in our relations with Serbia because we can’t have a future, peace, justice and progress unless we deal with those horrific crimes committed against our people,” Kurti said during a visit to a memorial center in Velika Krusa.

His words were echoed by Vjosa Osmani, candidate for Kosovo president. She said that “lasting peace and the freedom and independence of Kosovo make no sense without justice for the victims of the genocidal Serbian regime”.

The missing person issue is part of the Washington Agreements which were signed by then Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in September 2020. The issue is also on the agenda of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/kosovo-pm-says-missing-persons-a-priority-in-relations-with-belgrade/

Vulin: Serbia should review policy towards European Union

March 26, 2021

Internal Affairs Minister Aleksandar Vulin said on Friday that Serbia should review its policy towards the European Union following the latest European Parliament report.

Vulin, leader of the Movement of Socialists, said that official Belgrade should review its policy of military neutrality and expand it to political neutrality.

A party press release quoted him as saying that the European Parliament report on Serbia does not paint a picture of Serbia but is an image of hypocrisy and prejudice that guided the authors of the report. “They don’t need the truth, they need an excuse not to accept Serbia into their company,” he said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/vulin-serbia-should-review-policy-towards-european-union/

AP: Vucic uses undiplomatic language to describe European Parliament report

March 26, 2021

The Associated Press said on Friday that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic used “highly undiplomatic language” to describe the latest European Parliament report.

“Serbia’s president lashed out on Friday at a European Parliament report which called on his country to fight corruption and organized crime and work on the rule of law if it wants to join the European Union… Using highly undiplomatic language, Aleksandar Vucic said that parts of the report are a “naked lie” and the European parliamentarians are apparently “lost in time and space,” the AP said.

Vucic also said that he “can’t sleep from fear” that the report could slow down Serbia’s accession to the European Union by pressuring the country to recognize the independence of its former province of Kosovo.

“Citing parts of the report on Serbia’s health care, Vucic praised his own handling of the coronavirus crisis and the acquisition of vaccines, mainly from China, which made Serbia one of Europe’s top countries per capita in the number of people inoculated,” the AP report said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/ap-vucic-uses-undiplomatic-language-to-describe-european-parliament-report/

Vucic comments European Parliament report’s mention of Telekom

March 26, 2021

President Aleksandar Vucic on Friday criticized the European Parliament for mentioning Telekom Serbia and that state-owned company’s business dealings in its latest report on Serbia.

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

Telekom Serbia made a deal with the Telenor allowing that mobile services provider to use its network infrastructure. Documents on the deal included a section which said that the goal of the deal is to destroy the SBB cable services provider which is part of United Group. The contract between Telekom and Telenor is being reviewed by the Commission for the Protection of Competition and the president’s comments could be viewed as an indication of the view of the authorities about the deal.

The European Parliament draft resolution “urges Serbia to deliver convincing results, including a sustainable track record with effective investigations in areas of concern such as the judiciary, freedom of expression and the fight against corruption and organized crime, especially in cases with a high level of public interest, including the cases of Krušik, Jovanjica and Telekom Srbija, and to improve its track record in investigations, the pressing of charges and convictions in high-level corruption cases, including the seizure and confiscation of criminal assets; reiterates its call for justice from 2018 with regard to the unlawful demolition of private property in the Savamala neighborhood in Belgrade; notes that the new law on prevention of corruption has been in force since 1 September 2020”.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/vucic-comments-european-parliament-reports-mention-of-telekom/

Bogic Bogicevic stands by earlier decision, rejects mandate for Sarajevo Mayor

March 26, 2021

Bogic Bogicevic, a prominent war-time politician rejected his unanimous election for Sarajevo Mayor in a letter to the Chairman of the City Council, Jasmin Ademovic, standing by his earlier decision to withdraw from the race due to political disagreements.

The following is the full letter Bogicevic send to Ademovic:

Dear Mr Chairman, do not expect my statement on today's ‘election’ for the Mayor of Sarajevo because that vote was completely pointless. Two days ago, I publicly and IRREVOCABLY withdrew my candidacy and informed both the proposer and the public. An IRREVOCABLE withdrawal means a final decision, which cannot be discussed any further.

Therefore, I did not agree to remain a candidate, so I could not have been elected. It is very unfair that no one at today's session even mentioned my IRREVOCABLE withdrawal of the candidacy.

In order to stop further manipulations with my name, please inform the public about the real facts, primarily about the fact that I withdrew my candidacy on March 24, IRREVOCABLY, and that today's vote on me in the Sarajevo City Council was completely pointless and superfluous.

It would only be fair for you to take responsibility for today's events in the City Council, instead of trying to shift the blame on to me, giving me some new deadlines to declare on something I have already IRREVOCABLY declared myself.

I wish you all the best in your further work,” Bogicevic wrote.

During Friday’s session of the Sarajevo City Council, Bogic Bogicevic was unanimously elected for the position of City Mayor.

Earlier this week, Bogicevic withdrew his candidacy for Mayor of Sarajevo in a letter to Nermin Niksic the leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), informing him of the decision.

He then clarified that he did not want inter-party relations to be disrupted because of him, nor did he want his name to be used in inappropriate political and election games, which, according to him, were evident during the Sarajevo City Council session.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bogic-bogicevic-stands-by-earlier-decision-rejects-mandate-for-sarajevo-mayor/

Civil Society activist arrested over Tweet

March 26, 2021

A civil society activist told N1 that he was arrested for tweeting about an assault on opposition leader Dragan Djilas’s daughter.

Milan Vujic told N1 that he was arrested on Friday morning by two plain clothes policemen who took him to his local police station in Novi Sad without a word of explanation. He was told at the station that they were waiting for officers from the High-Tech Crime Department in Belgrade. When they arrived, he was told that he had been arrested because of a Tweet about an assault on Djilas’ daughter. He said that he was asked if he knows anything about the assault on the girl and answered that he knows what the media reported.

He was released after about six hours. His neighbors told him that uniformed police also came to his apartment.

Opposition leader Dragan Djilas told this week’s issue of Vreme magazine that his children had been assaulted in school three times in the past six months.

Milan Vujic was assaulted while riding his bicycle through Novi Sad in August 2020 by a man who later confessed to the assault. Vujic said at the time that the assault was politically motivated.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/civil-society-activist-over-tweet/

AP: Serbia becomes first European country vaccinating refugees

March 26, 2021

UN officials told the Associated Press on Friday that Serbia became the first European country to vaccinate people living in its refugee camps and asylum centers.

It said that some 530 migrants and asylum-seekers across Serbia have signed up to get vaccinated. “The first recipients had their initial jabs of the AstraZeneca vaccine Friday at a drab camp on the outskirts of the Serbian capital, Belgrade,” the AP said.

“Today is a very, very special day because we have vaccination of refugees and asylum-seekers in the centers,” Francesca Bonelli, a U.N. refugee agency representative in Serbia, said. “It is really an important sign of support that Serbia provides to refugees, and it is a very good example of inclusion of refugees in Serbian society.”
Thousands of refugees and economic migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia are stuck in Serbia and neighboring Bosnia while awaiting opportunities to cross a border into European Union member Croatia and continue on to wealthier Western nations.

Serbia has administered the most coronavirus shots per capita of any country in Europe, a distinction it holds in part because the government worked to secure vaccine supplies from Russia and China. But the Balkan country, like the rest of central and eastern Europe, is facing another onslaught of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Migrants, many of whom live out in the open or under conditions at camps where the virus is easily spread, are considered one of the most vulnerable risk groups in the pandemic. A camp in neighboring Bosnia experienced a major outbreak this month, the AP said.

“Vaccination is really important because they are living in the collective centers and keeping the physical distancing is very hard and very difficult to truly control the outbreak, so this is really a great opportunity for the migrant population to receive this vaccination,” Abebayehu Assefa Mengistu, a World Health Organization representative in Serbia, told the AP.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/ap-serbia-becomes-first-european-country-vaccinating-refugees/

Bosnia's Brcko District introduces strict curfew, measures to curb pandemic

March 26, 2021

Bosnia's Brcko District Crisis Staff ordered a curfew over the next 15 days from 10 pm to 5 am, Fena news agency reported.

During the curfew, only the on-duty pharmacies, and petrol stations are allowed to remain open and only in the part that deals with refueling.

It is mandatory to wear a protective mask in a group of two or more people outdoors and to maintain a physical distance of two meters.

Over the next seven days, the working hours of all catering facilities in the Brcko area will be restricted after 8 pm, and a maximum of four people are allowed to sit at one table.

The new measures also restrict the operation of sports betting shops, casinos, and other games of chance, as well as gyms, fitness centers, sports schools, recreational activities that are carried out indoors for the next seven days. The restriction means limited activities are allowed only until 8 pm.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnias-brcko-district-introduces-struct-curfew-measures-to-curb-pandemic/

Citizens of neighboring countries getting vaccinated in Serbia

March 26, 2021

Belgrade media have been reporting that people from neighboring countries have been coming to Serbia to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

According to those reports, people from Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and North Macedonia are being inoculated in several places in Serbia after having applied for vaccination on the government eUprava portal.

People from Serbia’s southern neighbor North Macedonia have been going to the southern cities of Vranje and Nis with some people from Skoplje planning to come to Belgrade this weekend to get inoculated. They have been invited to get vaccinated at the Belgrade Fair, the first large inoculation center set up in Serbia several months ago. A North Macedonian national told the Beta news agency that he applied for vaccination in Vranje but was told to go to Belgrade instead. “It’s a little far but this is still an excellent opportunity provided by the Serbian government,” the unnamed man said.

People from Bosnia-Herzegovina, which has a substantial Serb population many of who hold dual BiH-Serbian citizenship, have also been coming to Serbia to get vaccinated. They also applied via the eUprava portal.

Belgrade media reported that the AstraZeneca vaccine has been readily available at the Belgrade Fair without having to apply through the government portal or call center.

The first report of someone from a neighboring country coming to Serbia for vaccination was about Croatian writer Vedrana Rudan who was vaccinated in Belgrade as well. She told N1 that her vaccination was organized by a Belgrade theater where her plays have been on the repertoire for years.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/citizens-of-neighboring-countries-getting-vaccinated-in-serbia/

Coronavirus on March 26: Montenegro

March 26, 2021

The Montenegro Public Health Institute said that four people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 1,234.

It said that 1,692 people had been tested for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, including 372 who tested positive. There are 7,926 active cases. Another 592 patients were reported to have recovered from COVID-19. A total of 89,363 people tested positive since the pandemic broke out.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-pandemic-daily-regional-update-on-26-2021/

Coronavirus on March 26: Kosovo

March 26, 2021

The health authorities in Pristina said that six people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 1,819.

A total of 4,138 people were tested for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, including 860 who tested positive. There are 13,106 active cases. Another 682 patients were reported to have recovered from COVID-19. A total of 86,194 people tested positive since the pandemic broke out.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-pandemic-daily-regional-update-on-26-2021/

Coronavirus on March 26: North Macedonia

March 26, 2021

The North Macedonia Health Ministry said that 33 people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 3,607.

It said that 4,277 people had been tested for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, including 1,422 who tested positive. There are 17,472 active cases. Another 457 patients were reported to have recovered from COVID-19. A total of 124,910 people tested positive since the pandemic broke out.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-pandemic-daily-regional-update-on-26-2021/

Over 27,500 Bosnians currently infected with coronavirus

March 26, 2021

A total of 27,571 Bosnian residents are currently infected with coronavirus, 6,220 have died and 128,241 have recovered since the beginning of the pandemic in the country, the Civil Affairs Ministry said Friday.

Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity has 15,815 currently infected patients, the Republika Srpska (RS) entity has 10,760 infected while the Brcko District has 996.

The virus killed 3,476 people in the FBiH, 2,550 people in the RS, and 194 in Brcko.

So far, 769,406 people have been tested in BiH, 527,472 in the FBiH, 226,104 in the RS, and 15,830 in the Brcko District.

To date, 106,306 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the FBiH, 51,321 in the RS, and 4,405 in the Brcko District

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/over-27500-bosnians-currently-infected-with-coronavirus/

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