International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

EU envoy Lajcak discusses Kosovo, integration with opposition

June 30, 2022
European Union envoy for the Kosovo dialogue Miroslav Lajcak met with part of the Serbian opposition to discuss the dialogue and the country’s European integration, opposition officials said on Thursday.
Democratic Party (DS) leader Zoran Lutovac said that Lajcak told them how far along the dialogue is and which direction it has taken. “He said that his framework for the dialogue is a normalization of relations and asked us about our views of the process and what we think normalization includes,” he said, adding that his party feels that standards have to be established before discussing status. Lutovac said that nice things are said in talks with officials from Brussels but that tensions rise as soon as they turn their backs.
People’s Party (NS) official Stefan Jovanovic said that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is “a process that has got stuck”. “We expressed concern over current relations between Belgrade and Pristina and Pristina’s unilateral actions,” he said, adding that Lajcak seemed to be pesimistic over the events in the past 24 hours.
We Must (Moramo) coalition official Dobrica Veselinovic said that crucial objections about the way the dialogue is being handled were voiced at the meeting. “One of those was the claim that there is no dialogue on important issues, including attitudes on Kosovo,” he said. “We pointed out one simple thing – we the citizens of Serbia and Kosovo have no links except by car. Regulated public transport – trains, buses – would ease the situation. I keep saying that we have to make life easier before dealing with complex issues,” he said.
Party of Freedom and Justice (SSP) leader Dragan Djilas did not speak to reporters after the meeting, choosing to issue a statement saying that Lajcak’s decision to include the opposition in his meetings on the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and European integration process is a good thing.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/eu-envoy-lajcak-discusses-kosovo-integration-with-opposition/

Dacic, Lajcak agree-Compromise is the only path to an agreement

June 30, 2022
Serbian Parliament speaker Ivica Dacic and European Union (EU) Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak agreed that a dialogue is the only right path to achieving a sustainable agreement between Belgrade and Pristina.
Dacic said a dialogue and a compromise is the only right path to achieve this agreement and that Belgrade remains fully committed to a dialogue and is ready for its continuation.
“Our side is always ready to discuss many open issues in a continuation of the dialogue, but I stress that we are not prepared to accept any unilateral decisions that are not a product of an agreement in the dialogue and which directly jeopardize the rights of the Serb community in Kosovo and Metohija,” a Serbian Parliament press release quoted Dacic as saying.
Lajcak said a dialogue is the only process for the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo and reiterated EU’s stand that it is on the two sides to implement what has been agreed.
Lajcak said he was working on organizing a meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti in Brussels, adding that he wishes for their next meeting to be productive.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/dacic-lajcak-agree-compromise-is-the-only-path-to-an-agreement/

Lajcak-Pristina’s decision changes the topics, we must not allow a crisis

June 30, 2022
European Union (EU) Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak said that Pristina’s latest decision has changed the plans and topics of his visit.
The Kosovo government decided to introduce what it said were reciprocal measures for Serbian citizens and vehicles entering Kosovo.
Lajcak declined to comment Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s statement that Pristina is planning a new Storm (Croatian military operation against Serb-held areas in the war of the 1990s) in north Kosovo.
“Last night we had a very serious talk about the situation and of course we need to look for solutions through a dialogue, not through confrontation,” Lajcak told the media.
Lajcak said there was a new situation now that has changed his plans and topics. “I came to the region to prepare the next leaders’ meeting on progress and normalization of relations, now we need to resolve this situation,” said Lajcak, adding that a crisis must not be allowed.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/lajcak-pristinas-decision-changes-the-topics-we-must-not-allow-a-crisis/

UK to deploy military experts in BiH to counter Russian influence

June 30, 2022
UK military specialists will be sent to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to reinforce the NATO Mission and promote stability and security in the country, the UK Government said in a press release.
“We cannot allow the Western Balkans to become another playground for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s pernicious pursuits. By fanning the flames of secessionism and sectarianism Russia seeks to reverse the gains of the last three decades in Bosnia and Herzegovina, gains that have brought more stability to our whole continent,” said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“That is why we are stepping up support to Bosnia and Herzegovina, answering the call from our friends to help protect the peace they so rightfully deserve to enjoy,” Johnson said.
At the request of NATO Headquarters Sarajevo, a UK military counter-disinformation expert and a civilian strategic defence adviser will be deployed to support and train the Bosnia and Herzegovinian Armed Forces, said the press release.
In addition, the UK will provide £750,000 to establish a cyber-security center to bolster Bosnia and Herzegovina’s defenses against cyber attacks, the press release said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/uk-to-deploy-military-experts-in-bh-to-counter-russian-influence/

Nedimovic-Serbia has enough food staples

June 30, 2022
Serbian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Branislav Nedimovic said that Serbia has enough food staples and announced that the Government will adopt on Thursday a conclusion on purchasing 130,000 tons of wheat at 40 Dinars (1 Euro – 118 Dinar) per kilo for the needs of the goods reserves, Beta reported.
Nedimovic told the pro-regime Television Pink that the expected wheat yield will be around three million tons, and added that the harvest is almost over in the Macva region and that it will soon be completed in a greater part of Vojvodina.
“Serbia needs approximately 1.5 million tons of this agricultural crop and we will have twice more than we need,” said Nedimovic, adding that this means we will also have wheat “for our neighbors in the Balkans”.
What is most important is that we have food staples. We did an analysis yesterday and found that 97 per cent of the 1,132 biggest retail chains’ stores had sugar to sell, said Nedimovic.
He added that there are also sufficient quantities of cooking oil and that the Serbian Government is to adopt Thursday a decision on allowing exports of additional amounts of cooking oil.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/nedimovic-serbia-has-enough-food-staples/

French Ambassador-Failure to impose sanctions damages Serbia’s image

June 30, 2022
French Ambassador to Belgrade Pierre Cochard said that the fact that Serbia is refusing to impose sanctions on Russia is affecting Serbia’s image in the European public.
Cochard told Radio-Television Vojvodina that Paris is “surprised by the echo seen in the Serbian media, press, even in public opinion polls” regarding the attitude towards the Russian war in Ukraine.
It is surprising to see just how mildly the regime in Russia is perceived, which is causing so much death and destruction in a European country. It is important for Serbia to align with its European choice and to demonstrate, by its decisions, that such Russian regime’s behavior in Ukraine is unacceptable, Cochard told The Right Angle show.
Cochard said France “understands the specific character of the Serbian situation” given its friendly relations with Moscow and great energy dependence on Russia, but added that accession to the European Union (EU) “is what Serbia has chosen” which means aligning with the EU.
We want for Serbia to say that what is happening in Ukraine is absolutely unacceptable, which is what Serbia did in the UN and other international forums. There are other countries in Europe that are very much energy dependent on Russia yet which have firmly decided to find different energy sources. We are prepared to help Serbia diversify its energy sources, said the French diplomat.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/french-ambassador-failure-to-impose-sanctions-damages-serbias-image/

Coronavirus UPDATE: No deaths, 876 new cases

June 29, 2022
The Serbian Health Ministry said in its daily bulletin on Wednesday that there were no deaths of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours.
It said that 7,490 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 876 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The total number of people tested to date stands at 9,898,042 with 2,028,482 confirmed cases.
The bulletin said that there are 97 hospitalized cases, including 7 patients on ventilators.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-update-no-deaths-876-new-cases/

Sociologist-Bosnia's political parties function based on cult of personality

June 29, 2022
As a result of a transition process ongoing for the past 30 years, political parties in Bosnia function based on a “cult of personality” and this is why critical thinking is discouraged and corruption is tolerated among party members, sociologist Tomislav Tadic told N1.
Tadic is a professor at the Faculty of Philosophy in Sarajevo and the son of Bosnia’s former Chief Prosecutor, Gordana Tadic, who was sanctioned by the United States in April for “being responsible for or complicit in, or for having directly or indirectly engaged in, actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in the Western Balkans,” according to the US Treasury.
Her son publicly expressed support for the move.
“I unequivocally support US sanctions, even when they are imposed on my mother. If this is the way to a better tomorrow for all of us, to a better BiH, so be it,” he wrote on social media at the time.
Speaking to N1, Tadic reiterated this position, adding that he hopes that those who truly rule over the lives of BiH citizens and brought the country into its current situation will also end up on the list of those sanctioned by the US.
He stressed that the way political parties whose officials were sanctioned reacted was completely different from the way he did. The parties instead defended their officials and tried to find ways to justify their actions, he said.
“It speaks of the state of our society, not in a formal sense but in its essence,” he said, noting that the highest level of corruption happens at the municipal level.
“Silent corruption systematically destroys society,” he warned.
Tadic gave the example of the Party for Democratic Action (SDA), which the US Embassy recently accused of “attempting to block or disrupt corruption investigations.”
He noted that the party responded by denying the allegations and that it is obvious that parties will be much more tolerant of crimes if they are committed by their members.
“This applies to both those in power and the opposition,” he said, noting that officials can rarely be heard criticising members of their own political party.
According to the sociologist, this is because parties in BiH function based on a “cult of personality”, similar to what the late Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito used to represent.
“It is the same today. They will blindly follow their leaders. It is the result of a transition process that has been going on here for 30 years. They are interconnected through large amounts of money, the jobs they are given, and it is all built on a debt repayment system,” he said, arguing that in such a system, doing what the party leaders demand is the only option.
According to Tadic, opposition parties in BiH are no different since none of them offers an alternative to this, so “critical thinking is being systematically destroyed.”
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/sociologist-bosnias-political-parties-function-based-on-cult-of-personality/

BiH Min refuses to sign EC document mentioning Russia's aggression on Ukraine

June 29, 2022
Bosnia’s Communications and Transport Minister, Vojin Mitrovic, did not sign the proposed conclusions at the ‘Connecting Europe’ meeting of transport ministers in Lyon, France because the first paragraph mentions "Russia's aggression against Ukraine", RTRS reported.
“The submitted conclusions that arrived some four or five days ago have been changed and today we have these conclusions before us, in fact, the addition of the first paragraph in which the ‘Russian aggression’ is mentioned,” Mitrovic said.
He said that signing a document containing such a statement requires approval from Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency. He asked the participants and organisers of the meeting to allow him to sign the document after he gets consent from the Presidency.
“Please also keep in mind the sensitive situation in BiH, because we have three peoples and we really have to harmonise ojn those things so that BiH has a common position and can act in a united manner,” he said.
Mitrovic is a member of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD).
SNSD leader and one of Bosnia’s three Presidency members, Milorad Dodik, insists that BiH should be neutral on the issue of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The other two Presidency members, Sefik Dzaferovic and Zeljko Komsic, strongly condemned Russia’s activities and want to follow the EU’s policy fully regarding the issue.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bih-min-refuses-to-sign-ec-document-mentioning-russias-aggression-on-ukraine/

Dzaferovic-Croatia's President is obsessed with Bosnia's internal matters

June 29, 2022
Bosnia’s Presidency Chairman, Sefik Dzaferovic, strongly criticised Croatia’s President, Zoran Milanovic, for his statements on BiH at the NATO summit in Madrid, saying that Milanovic’s attempts to connect BiH’s electoral reform with the issue of Finland’s NATO accession failed.
Dzaferovic made the statement after Milanovic dedicated a significant part of his statements in Madrid to electoral reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina and said that this is a security issue in the region.
Dzaferovic welcomed the messages of support for BiH from the NATO Summit, saying the alliance clearly showed awareness that BiH is exposed to risks and that it is committed to supporting the country in strengthening resilience, integrity and political independence.
“The war in Ukraine should be a lesson in what can happen in BiH if the spread of malignant Russian influence is tolerated and if neighbouring countries think they can take over the right to BiH,” he said.
As for Milanovic, Dzaferovic said that the Croatian President is “obsessed” with interfering with the internal matters of BiH.
“It is evident that Milanovic is a parody of the dictator, who sees BiH as a kind of his Sudetenland or Donbas, unaware that the time has passed when the laws in BiH were decided in Zagreb. This was shown by the fiasco of his initiative by which he tried to connect Finland's accession to NATO with the Election Law in BiH “, said Dzaferovic.
He argued that Milanovic is deliberately “distorting reality” regarding the rights of Croats in BiH.
“Croats in BiH are not a national minority, but a constituent people, who have a far greater influence on the decision-making of government institutions than any national minority in Croatia,” Dzaferovic stressed.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/dzaferovic-croatias-president-is-obsessed-with-bosnias-internal-matters/

NATO to “step up” political and practical support to partners, including Bosnia

June 29, 2022
NATO Heads of State and Government issued a Declaration after their meeting in Madrid announcing that the alliance will “step up tailored political and practical support to partners, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova” in light of the changed security environment in Europe.
“We face a critical time for our security and international peace and stability. We stand together in unity and solidarity and reaffirm the enduring transatlantic bond between our nations,” the Madrid Summit Declaration says.
The participants stressed that NATO is a defensive alliance and poses no threat to any country, but the “foundation of our collective defence and the essential forum for security consultations and decisions among Allies.”
They strongly condemned “Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine”, stressing that it gravely undermines international security and stability and represents “a blatant violation of international law.”
“Russia’s appalling cruelty has caused immense human suffering and massive displacements, disproportionately affecting women and children. Russia bears full responsibility for this humanitarian catastrophe,” the Declaration said, adding that Russia must enable safe, unhindered, and sustained humanitarian access and that the international community must hold accountable all those responsible for war crimes.
The NATO leaders also accused Russia of intentionally exacerbating a food and energy crisis, “affecting billions of people around the world, including through its military actions” and noted that their countries are working together to support international efforts to enable exports of Ukrainian grain.
“We will continue to counter Russia’s lies and reject its irresponsible rhetoric. Russia must immediately stop this war and withdraw from Ukraine. Belarus must end its complicity in this war,” the Declaration said.
The alliance said it is “confronted by cyber, space, and hybrid and other asymmetric threats, and by the malicious use of emerging and disruptive technologies.”
“We face systemic competition from those, including the People’s Republic of China, who challenge our interests, security, and values and seek to undermine the rules-based international order. Instability beyond our borders is also contributing to irregular migration and human trafficking,” it said.
The NATO leaders endorsed “a new Strategic Concept” which sets out NATO’s three core tasks of deterrence and defence; crisis prevention and management; and cooperative security. They announced they will “ continue and further step up political and practical support” to Ukraine as it continues to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity against Russian aggression.
“Jointly with Ukraine, we have decided on a strengthened package of support. This will accelerate the delivery of non-lethal defence equipment, improve Ukraine’s cyber defences and resilience, and support modernising its defence sector in its transition to strengthen long-term interoperability. In the longer term, we will assist Ukraine, and support efforts on its path of post-war reconstruction and reforms,” their Declaration said.
NATO also plans to “further enhance” its partnerships and seek concrete areas for cooperation to address shared security concerns.
“In light of the changed security environment in Europe, we have decided on new measures to step up tailored political and practical support to partners, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and the Republic of Moldova. We will work with them to build their integrity and resilience, develop capabilities, and uphold their political independence. We will also enhance our capacity-building support to partners from the South,” it said.
They reaffirmed their commitment to NATO’s Open Door Policy and formally invited Finland and Sweden to become members of the alliance.
“The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them safer, NATO stronger, and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure. The security of Finland and Sweden is of direct importance to the Alliance, including during the accession process,” it said.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/nato-to-step-up-political-and-practical-support-to-parners-including-bosnia/

RS entity PM-We established RS Medicines Agency, we will implement our acts

June 29, 2022
Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity set out to establish its own drug agency after the BiH Agency for Medicines and Medical Devices banned the use of oxygen in the RS health sector in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which was an attack on the health of citizens, RS Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic said Wednesday.
“We couldn’t allow what the BiH Agency did at that time, and that is why we founded our own. And we will go further in the implementation of all our acts in that area, whether someone likes it or not,” Viskovic said, commenting on the request of BiH Presidency Chairman Sefik Dzaferovic to the Constitutional Court of BiH to review the constitutionality of the Law on Medicines and Medical Devices of the RS.
He explained that the move of the BiH Medicines Agency was aimed at the health of local patients, although it was later proven that the oxygen was absolutely correct.
The BiH Medicines Agency prevented a company from the RS from importing and delivering oxygen to the Banja Luka hospital because the oxygen was not for medical use. On the contrary, tests have shown that it was industrial oxygen, not fit for medical use because it was not as pure.
For days, the RS had no oxygen supplier until the situation on the global market improved and other companies stepped in.
“While I’m in this position, I will never allow any institution from the level of the BiH government to do something bad to the RS, and especially to patients who were treated for the virus thanks to that oxygen. And we have shown and proved that the oxygen that was used in the RS health sector was of better quality than what was called the “medical oxygen,” said Viskovic.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/rs-entity-pm-we-established-rs-medicines-agency-we-will-implement-our-acts/

Research-Six BiH football fan groups marked as security threats

June 29, 2022
Football hooliganism has received significant attention from sociologists and anthropologists who analyze its cultural aspects and police looking at how to prevent and control it.
Of the 122 fan groups in the Western Balkans, 78 belong to the “ultras” – passionate and well-organized associations, and 21 can be considered hooligans and security threats.
This was stated in the report titled “Dangerous Games: Football Hooliganism, Politics and Organized Crime in the Western Balkans” of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC), Bljesak.info reported.
However, several studies consider the relationship between football hooliganism and organized crime. Unlike studies focusing on football hooliganism in certain countries such as Croatia or Serbia, where there is extensive research into the links between football and violence, this report fills the gap by analyzing the issue from a broader, regional perspective.
The report begins by mapping the main football fan clubs in each of the Western Balkan countries. It then identifies which of these groups can be considered “ultra”.
Further analysis highlights which of these ultra groups show the attributes of football hooliganism, and how this hooliganism is related to organized crime and politics. This report carefully distinguishes between ultras and football hooligans: Ultras are understood as groups of stubborn football fans associated with a particular team; Football hooligans are involved in violence within the football milieu, and some of these hooligans are involved in organized crime.
The report recommends paying more attention to social conditions that motivate vulnerable youth to engage in football hooliganism, which can serve as a starting point for organized crime. It also suggests ways to identify and sever links between hooligan groups and organized crime.
Among the fan groups that pose a potential threat, GI-TOC analysts listed “Ultras Guerrills” and “Tirona Fanatics” from Albania, “Ultras,” “Horde zla,” “Lesinari,” “Manijaci,” “Red Army” and “Skripari” from BiH, “Shqiponjat” and “Plisat” from Kosovo, “Street Boys,” “Varvari” and “Vojvode” from Montenegro, “Ballistet Komiti” and “Svercerat” from North Macedonia, and “Delije,” “Grobari,” “Firma,” “United Force” and “Torcida Sandzak” from Serbia.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/research-six-bih-football-fan-groups-marked-as-security-threats/

Entire HDZ 1990 caucus leaves the party in a Bosnian municipality

June 29, 2022
Prozor-Rama’s entire HDZ 1990 Municipal Council caucus left the party Tuesday just before the first agenda item of the session, the FENA news agency reported Wednesday, adding that all the councillors continued their work as an independent caucus.
“Due to the new situation within the Croat Democratic Union 1990 (HDZ 1990) and the dissolution of the Municipal Board, councillors who were elected from the HDZ 1990 and who were members of the caucus, confirmed with their signatures that they left the party and act as independent councillors in the caucus of independent councillors,” Mara Andjelic, the head of the former HDZ 1990 councillors’ caucus said.
The HDZ 1990 was formed by dissatisfied Croat Democratic Party members led by Bozo Ljubic in 2006. They opposed several agreements between the HDZ and parties like the Democratic Action Party (SDA) and the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) that aimed at creating conditions for better functioning of state institutions. Following their formation, the party slowly began to support every proposal the mother party continued to make and started functioning in sync with the HDZ.
The Prozor-Rama Municipality stated that Mara Andjelic, the head of the caucus, Stanko Curcic, Gabrijel Malekinusic, Boris Faletar, Pero Kovacevic, Marinko Cvitanovic, Tomislav Dzalto, Duje Nevistic, Jure Tadic and Ilija Sarcevic signed the letter informing the Municipality of their decision.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/entire-hdz-1990-caucus-leaves-the-party-in-a-bosnian-municipality/

Together-A state without a parliament in not a state

June 29, 2022
The Together political organization said that, at its initiative, talks were held with all opposition parties and movements that are to be in the parliament, with just one aim – for the Serbian Parliament to be constituted as soon as possible.
Earlier this month members of the We Must coalition – the Open Civic Platform Action, Ecological Uprising, Assembly of Free Serbia and Together for Serbia – merged to form a new green-left political organization called Together.
It was agreed to address a single request to the Republic Election Commission (RIK) – “completion of the three-month election process and urgent forming of the National Assembly, as the most important institution of the state of Serbia,” said Together in a press release.
“As representatives of the citizens, we are obliged to carry out the people’s will and demand that we be enabled to act in the interest of the citizens and the state. Serbia must have a National Assembly because a state without a parliament is not a state, Serbia has to restore its destroyed institutions and finally start to function as a democratic society in which decisions are made by agreement and majority decision-making and not by the mere will of one man,” said Together.
Together said RIK is an institution that is obliged to carry out elections in Serbia for which it is paid by the Serbian citizens and requested that RIK secure fair elections at this polling station.
A repeat vote is under way at polling station 6 in Veliki Trnovac, in the south of Serbia. The polling station opened on time, said the Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability (CRTA). This is the fifth time that voters at the Veliki Trnovac polling station are casting their ballots in the 2022 parliamentary elections.
The process of electing a new Serbian Parliament began on April 3 and is still not over because the polling station in the village of Veliki Trnovac is set to vote again to decide if the one remaining seat goes to an Albanian minority party or to a member of the ruling coalition.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/together-a-state-without-a-parliament-in-not-a-state/

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