International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

DPS denies organising rally in Podgorica on Sunday

September 1, 2020

The Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) led by Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic, which lost the weekend’s elections after three decades in power, denied on Tuesday it called on supporters to gather on Podgorica’s Independence Square this Sunday.

The calls were published on DPS websites and social networks, reading ‘No Excuse,’ ‘Show Them There is Lot of Us’ and ‘Montenegro Above Everything.’

However, later in the day, the DPS spokesperson Milos Nikolic said the party was not the organiser of the rally.

He added some patriotic organisations with no links to DPS called people to gather.

DPS emerged as the strongest single party with 35 percent of the votes, but without a coalition capacity, while the opposition group ‘For Montenegro’s Future,’with two percent less support manged to agree on coalition a day after the elections.

Djukanovic’s presidential mandate expires in three years, and he will have to cohabitate with political opponents who will form a government.

His last appearance was last Sunday at DPS headquarters just before midnight, four hours after the polling stations closed. He said there was a fight for the crucial 41st mandate in the 81-seat Parliament.

After the opposition had managed to get it, he did not comment on the election’s outcome.

However, the OSCE issued a statementsaying the elections in Montenegro were transparent, but that the ruling party, country’s president and high-ranked officials abused state resources in the campaign.

Analysts agree that Djukanovic and his party scored own goal by adopting the Law on Religious Freedom last December despite protests organised by the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) and pro-Serb Montenegrins that shook the country and became a main topic in the campaign.

SPC and its supporters claimed the Law aimed to take over the church's properties and organised public gatherings despite the rule saying that a hundred people are allowed to rally due to the coronavirus epidemic, with mandatory 2-meter physical distance and face masks.

Besides, the measures were disrespected in celebrating the opposition victory, though the leaders of the winning parties and SPC called on supporters to stay at home, and sporadic clashes between the DPS and opposition supporters occurred late on Monday 

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a635359/DPS-organises-rally-in-Podgorica-on-Sunday.html

ISIS terrorist cell arrested in North Macedonia

September 1, 2020

The police in North Macedonia arrested a terrorist group in the city of Kumanovo, the Internal Affairs Ministry said in a press release on Tuesday.

The three young men aged 22 to 28 were reported to have been planning terrorist attacks. The press release said that they had all served jail sentences after returning from conflict zones in the Middle East for serving in foreign military organizations.

The ministry said that one of the three men formed a terrorist cell modeled on the ideology of the Islamic State to launch terrorist attacks across North Macedonia, adding that the members of the cell secured money, assault weapons and military equipment and an Islamic State flag which the police found in a weapons cache.

The police also found two suicide vests in the home of one of the men along with mobile phones, computers and two way radios. The police operation was launched with the Agency for National Security and Organized Crime Prosecution.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a635317/ISIS-terrorist-cell-arrested-in-North-Macedonia.html

Serbian Orthodox Church head happy with changes in Montenegro

September 1, 2020

The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church told the Nova.rs portal that he is glad to see the political changes in Montenegro.

“I am very happy with the results of the elections and the changes in Montenegro. I am especially glad that the people coming in have a much wider view of problems. I think that they will solve problems in that country in the right way and that Montenegro will get back to the right path where it should be,” Patriarch Irinej told the portal.  

Montenegro has been the site of protests against the law on freedom of confession introduced several months ago which critics claim would allow the authorities to seize church property. The opposition sided with the church and Bishop Amfilohije in the protests against President Milo Djukanovic’s government over the law leading to a huge turnout for last Sunday’s parliamentary elections which ended with the opposition wining a majority of seats allowing it to form a new government.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a635281/Serbian-Orthodox-Church-head-happy-with-changes-in-Montenegro.html

OSCE: Montenegro's elections transparent; DPS' broad abuse of state resources

September 1, 2020

OSCE's International observing said Montenegro's parliamentary elections were transparent and efficient, the widespread abuse of office and state resources gave the ruling party an undue advantage against the backdrop of an intensely polarized debate over issues of church and national identity.

The observation mission, a joint undertaking of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) said that while the elections were competitive, the ruling party (Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, led by the head of state Milo Djukanovic) profited unjustifiably through various forms of misuse of office and state resources and dominant press coverage."

Djukanovic and other high-ranking officials were extensively involved in the campaign, blurring the line between the state and the ruling party.

"This was a hard-fought campaign, but the ruling party benefited from an uneven playing field. COVID's impact on the campaign and yesterday on election day was undeniably strong, but even this took a back seat to the major debates related to church and national identity," OSCE PA Vice-President Margareta Cederfelt, special coordinator and leader of the OSCE short-term observers.

The statement added that a total of 540,026 voters were registered and the legal framework generally allowed "democratic elections to take place, but needs to be improved, as legislative gaps and ambiguities undermine legal certainty and make it easy to sidestep the rules.

"Election day was orderly, and the process was generally transparent and well administered, while health protocols were not implemented consistently."

"It is most regrettable that the gaps in the legislation and lack of independent media scrutiny make the misuse of office and state resources possible," Tamás Meszerics, head of ODIHR's limited election observation mission, added.

"Strong political will is needed across the political spectrum to improve the law and practice of elections through an inclusive reform process."

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a635233/OSCE-Montenegro-s-elections-transparent-DPS-broad-abuse-of-state-resource.html

Serbian opposition Democratic Party expels leading members

September 1, 2020

Four leading members of what is considered to be the largest and strongest opposition party in Serbia – the Democratic Party (DS) - have been expelled for what the party leadership said was an attempt to take over illegally.

The DS executive board decided to throw out long-time members Radoslav Milojicic Kene, Slobodan Milosavljevic, Balsa Bozovic and Branislav Lecic citing what is alleged to be their attempt to take over the party at a meeting on June 21. They are alleged to have brought in a private security company to keep some members out of the Madlenianum hall where the party’s top body was meeting, a DS press release said adding that they also stopped main board from holding its meeting.  

DS leader Zoran Lutovac said that the officials expelled from the party wanted it to be what he called a constructive opposition to the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) “perhaps even a partner”

The battle between rival factions in the DS has been going on for months with party leader Zoran Lutovac and his followers claiming that everything their rivals were doing was against the statute. The clash came to a head at the June 21 meeting when the party leadership brought in private security guards to keep out rival officials who brought in a second group of security guards. The party main board meeting broke off with a large part of its members holding a meeting to call internal party leadership elections for September 26 which Lutovac and his followers reject.  

The disciplinary proceedings were launched on July 9, 2020 against the four party officials who are alleged to have violated the statute and code of ethics.  

The DS was the leading opposition party during the Milosevic regime and its activists and party infrastructure helped in large part to topple Milosevic. The party’s ratings have dropped steadily after then leader Serbian President Boris Tadic fell from power. It was one of the party’s that boycotted the June 21 parliamentary elections.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a635225/Serbian-opposition-Democratic-Party-expels-leading-members.html

Clashes between political rivals reported in Montenegro

September 1, 2020

Clashes broke out between supporters of rival political factions in at least two Montenegrin cities overnight leaving several people injured, the media in Podgorica reported on Tuesday.

Vijesti daily said that supporters of President Milo Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and opposition followers clashed in the center of the Montenegrin capital throwing stones and bottles with the police stepping in to prevent more massive fighting. The police said that several small-scale clashes had been reported across the city.  

The daily said that the police in the northern city of Niksic reported a fight between opposition and Djukanovic supporters with six people arrested.  

In a separate incident, a Montenegrin state TV (TVCG) crew was assaulted by opposition followers celebrating in the center of Podgorica. TVCG said that the vehicle the TV crew was in was damaged.

Opposition leader Zdravko Krivokapic called his followers to stay at home, citing reports of attempts to provoke incidents. His Facebook post said that “the outgoing regime should not be given any excuse to overturn the undeniable results of the elections and the will of the people”.

The opposition won a majority of seats in the 81-member Montenegrin parliament at Sunday’s elections and is set to form a new government with Djukanovic’s DPS going into the opposition for the first time in some 30 years but remaining the single strongest party with 30 MPs.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a635171/Clashes-between-political-rivals-reported-in-Montenegro.html

EU believes Belgarde-Pristina talks in US will focus on economy only

August 31, 2020

The European Union's Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajčák told the 15th Bled Strategic Forum in Slovenia on Monday the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations was currently the most crucial issue in the Balkans, adding the process would intensify.

Commenting on the forthcoming meeting at White House due on September 4 between Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo's Prime Minister Avdulah Hoti, Lajčák said Europe would accept the help of any third party, including the US if it offered a concrete solution.

However, he said that his colleagues from Washington only informed him about the meeting.

"We have not been consulted about the date or the content of the meeting; we have only been informed that the meeting will be held and will be strictly economic. It will not be part of the process, but only the meeting and I have no reason to doubt it," RFE quoted Lajčák as saying.

Earlier, he tweeted that the Bled Strategic Forum showed the two sides’ talks were a serious process, not a single act.

"Both sides understand that dialogue and normalisation cannot be avoided. Europe has been at the forefront of that process since 2011 because both Serbia and Kosovo have a European future. It is a question of our neighbours and future members, not some PR activity," he said.

He added there were no deadlines in the negotiations, because "if you set a deadline, you already have something that can affect the process", but there were "red lines" that the EU did not want to cross.

"We have red lines. It is not right to say that whatever the two sides agree, is OK with us because my mandate is to keep the process in line with international law and acceptable to the EU member states. It should ease the situation in the region, "Lajčák said.

Vucic and Kosovo and Hoti are due to meet again in Brussels on September 7.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a635141/EU-believes-Belgarde-Pristina-talks-in-US-will-focus-on-economy-only.html

Montenegrin opposition agrees on expert government, revision of disputed laws

August 31, 2020

The leaders of three opposition parties that won the slim majority of 41 out of 81 seats in the Montenegrin Parliament in Sunday’s elections agreed to form an expert government and continue to work on the country’s European Union integration process.

The Sunday’s election outcome sent President Milo Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) into the opposition after almost three decades he and the party were in power.

Djukanovic has another three years as the president.

In a joint statement, the leaders of ‘For Montenegro’s Future,’ “Peace Is Our Nation,’ and ‘Black on White,’ coalition also said they would work on changing, what they described as ‘discriminatory laws,’ including the Law on Religious Freedom.

The regulation became the main topic in the country since last December and dominated the 2020 election campaign. Analysts agree the issue has decided the elections’ outcome to a great extent since the Law deepen the division among Montenegrins, who are Orthodox Christians by the majority but differ in political affiliation to the West or East.

Many objected Montenegro’s NATO membership and kept close ties with Belgrade and the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) which launched a series of protests against the Law that lasted for months.

The new coalition promised to carry out all international obligations the country undertook under the previous regime.

They also said they would implement all reforms necessary for the country to join the EU as soon as possible, adding their government would consist of experts in all areas regardless of their political, racial, national or any other characteristics.

They added they welcomed the representatives of the minorities and whished to build “more beautiful and more prosperous Montenegro together.”  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a635113/Montenegrin-opposition-agrees-on-expert-government-revision-of-disputed-laws.html

Bilčík hopes Montenegro's new government will stay on EU path

August 31, 2020

The head of the European Parliament (EP) delegation for Montenegro Vladimír Bilčík said on Monday he hoped a new country's parliament and a new government would maintain a strategic focus on Montenegro's European future, and speed up the reform process and show a strong commitment to the pro-European values.

He added the 76 percent voters' turnout voters was impressive, the state RTCG TV reported.

"Voting on election day during the pandemic required adherence to health recommendations. Montenegro had managed to conduct competitive elections in these difficult times, and I would like to congratulate both the citizens and the Montenegrin authorities for responsibly in taking their roles," he said.

Bilčík added the MEPs closely followed the election cycle, the campaign and the election day, and that they would wait for the publication of the OSCE / ODIHR election observation mission final report.

"Citizens wanted political changes. Therefore, we strongly hope that the new parliament and the new government will maintain a strategic focus on Montenegro's European future, accelerate reform process and demonstrate a strong commitment to pro-European values in political practice," he said.

"I am looking forward to cooperating with the new members of the Montenegrin parliament and providing support to Montenegro on its European path," Bilčík said.  

Three opposition coalitions won the majority of seats in the Montenegrin parliament in the Sunday's elections and after 30 years, President Milo Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) would no longer be in power, according to the official election results.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a635101/Bilc%C3%ADk-hopes-Montenegro-s-new-government-will-stay-on-EU-path.html

Zaev: North Macedonia will close accession talks with EU in six years

August 31, 2020

Zoran Zaev, North Macedonia'sMacedonia's Prime Minister, said on Monday he intended to close the accession negotiations with the European Union in six years.

He was again elected premier on Sundayafter his Social=Democrats managed to secure the majority in the country's Sobranie (parliament) after July 15 early elections following Zaev'sZaev's resignation in January in a protest of the European Union'sUnion's failure to set a date for the negotiations with Skopje.

The technical Government ruled the country until the early vote."In the next four years,

"We'll open 80 percent of the negotiating chapters, and the aim is to close all of them in six years," Zaev said at the reception for new cabinet organised by North Macedonia's President Stevo Pendarovski.

The EU leaders gave the green light to the start of the Brussels – Skopje negotiations in March, and the first inter-governmental session is due by the end of the year."

The Government'sGovernment's first priority will be the extension of anti-crisis measures (due to coronavirus epidemic) and larger help to the people and the economy. The overcoming of the coronavirus crisis and returning to the previous rate of the economic growth will be the focus of this Government," Zaev said.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a635051/Zaev-North-Macedonia-will-close-accession-talks-with-EU-in-six-years.html

Serbia’s DefMin first to congratulate Montenegro’s opposition; Vucic waits

August 31, 2020

Aleksandar Vulin, Serbia’s Defence Minister, was the first Belgrade official who congratulated Montenegrin opposition for an excellent result in the Sunday’s elections, i.e., the victory which the opposition coalition ‘For Montenegro’s Future’ declared last night.

“Montenegro’s citizens voted to take their destiny in their own hands and that neither (Kosovo’s President Hashim) Thaci and (Albania’s Prime Minister Edi) Rama will tell them who they will live with. Montenegro went back to itself, the tide changed, nothing will be the same anymore,” Vulin said.

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic said in Bled on Monday he hoped “for decent and good cooperation” with Podgorica, following the Sunday’s elections in Montenegro. He added he would send congratulations “to the winners and those who say they have managed to secure the parliamentary majority after the final results.”

 He added that as of now, everything depended on the conscience and honour of those who won mandates to reconcile and get together.

Montenegro’s Election Commission published the preliminary results on Monday which showed the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) winning 35.06 percent of the all votes counted, followed by the opposition coalition ‘For Montenegro’s Future’ with 32.55 percent.    

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a634957/Serbia-s-DefMin-first-to-congratulate-Montenegro-s-opposition-on-election-result.html

Four more Covid-19 patients die, 37 newly infected in North Macedonia

August 30, 2020

Four patients died in North Macedonia as a consequence of the coronavirus infection, the Health Ministry said on Sunday, adding that 39 new Covid-19 patients have been reported in the country.

The country’s death toll now stands at 600, with 14,330 confirmed infection cases since the epidemic outbreak.

According to the Public Healthcare Institute, 48 more patients recovered over the last 24 hours, 11,062 in total.

The healthcare authorities performed 817 lab tests since the last update, 147,819 since the epidemic outbreak.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a634713/Four-more-Covid-19-patients-die-37-newly-infected-in-North-Macedonia.html

Coronavirus UPDATE: One death, 83 newly infected in Serbia

August 30, 2020

The official data showed on Sunday that out of 4,356 people tested 83 were confirmed infected with the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, while one patient died from COVID-19-related complications.

The Health Ministry said the death toll stood at 711 and that a mortality ratio was 2.27 percent.

It added that a total of 626 patients were hospitalised on Sunday, 48 of them on ventilators.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic in Serbia on March 6, a total of 925,208 people have been tested, and coronavirus infection has been confirmed in 31,365 cases.      

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a634685/Coronavirus-UPDATE-One-death-83-newly-infected-in-Serbia.html

Bosnia reports 243 new Covid-19 patients, four deaths

August 30, 2020

Bosnia and Herzegovina has recorded another 243 Covid-19 patients in its two regions, 170 in the Federation (FBiH) and 73 in Republika Srpska (RS), the healthcare authorities confirmed on Sunday.

According to official statistics, the country’s coronavirus total now stands at 19,793 with 12,968 patients who have recovered to date.

With four new fatalities reported in the two regions over the last 24 hours, Bosnia’s Covid-19 death toll increased to 598.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a458371/Bosnia-reports-243-new-Covid-19-patients-four-deaths.html

Croatia reports 262 new COVID cases, one more death

August 30, 2020

In the period from 1215 hours Saturday to 0745 hours Sunday, 262 persons in Croatia were diagnosed with the coronavirus infection, and one more COVID patient died, the national COVID-19 crisis response team stated on Sunday morning.

The country's COVID tally shows that since the outbreak of the infection, there have been 10,123 cases.

Of them, 2,727 are still active, of whom 229 are being treated in hospitals, including 13 patients on ventilators.

So far, 184 persons have succumbed to the infection, and 7,212 have fully recovered.

Since 25 February when Croatia registered its first COVID case, 166,638 tests have been performed for this infectious disease.

Currently, 8,879 people are self-isolating.

As of this Sunday, the national COVID-19 management team starts issuing press releases on the daily new coronavirus infection cases every day at 10 am. Until now, press releases on COVID-19 numbers have been issued at 2 pm every day since the onset of the coronavirus outbreak.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a458375/Croatia-reports-262-new-COVID-cases-one-more-death.html

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