International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Croatian PM: Strong consensus among BiH's Croat parties on state structure

December 13, 2021
Bosnia’s House of People’s Speaker and leader of the main Croat ethnic party in BiH, Dragan Covic, and Croatia’s Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, concluded that there is a “strong consensus” among Croat parties in BiH regarding the structure of the country and that Croatia will continue to encourage the realisation of it.
Covic is the leader of the Croat Democratic Union in Bosnia (HDZ BiH), the sister party to Plenkovic’s Croatian HDZ.
The two met in the city of Mostar on Monday.
Plenkovic said that he heard from representatives of various parties within the Croat National Assembly (HNS) in BiH – an organisation of Croat political parties in the country – “a strong message of political consensus.”
“The message is clear – (Bosnia) is one state, two entities and three constituent peoples. We understood very well that this is the common line of all Croat parties,” he said, arguing that Croats must have their true legitimate representatives in Bosnia’s institutions.
“We will continue to encourage the realisation of that political consensus that would enable better functioning of BiH institutions and the election process,” he added.
Plenkovic noted that when the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement was signed it was not expected that Bosnian Croats would be in a situation where they are not “adequately represented.”
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/croatian-pm-strong-consensus-among-bihs-croat-parties-on-state-structure/

Germany urges EU to impose sanctions on Dodik

December 13, 2021
Germany urged the European Union to impose sanctions on BiH tripartite Presidency member, Milorad Dodik, because of his efforts to pull BiH's Republika Srpska (RS) entity out of the country’s armed forces, judiciary and tax system, Reuters reported on Monday.
Dodik is trying to roll back post-war reforms in Bosnia and return to the original 1995 constitution, under which most of the powers belonged to the country’s two regions – the Bosnian Serb-dominated RS and the Federation (FBiH), mostly populated by Bosniaks and Croats.
The move is seen as a step towards independence from Bosnia and Herzegovina – a move the leaders of the semi-autonomous RS entity have announced many times, primarily Dodik.
“Efforts to break away are unacceptable, and this means, too – and I have lobbied for this here – that the existing sanctions regime should also be used against Mr. Dodik now,” the agency quoted German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who spoke to reporters after meeting her EU counterparts in Brussels.
Her predecessor Heiko Maas made similar comments ahead of a meeting of EU European affairs ministers at which the situation in Bosnia will be discussed.
EU leaders will discuss the situation in the Balkans with the bloc's eastern neighbours on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/germany-urges-eu-to-impose-sanctions-on-dodik/

PM Plenkovic: Bosnia’s crisis should be solved through ‘talks and agreements’

December 13, 2021
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Monday the crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina should be solved through talks and agreements based on the Dayton peace agreement which, he added, would defuse tensions and ensure equal rights for all its inhabitants.
He was speaking to the press in Sarajevo after meeting with the leaders of both houses of the BiH parliament, including HDZ BiH party president Dragan Covic and SDA president Bakir Izetbegovic.
Plenkovic said that as a friendly country with great respect for BiH, Croatia wants to advance cooperation through political dialogue in order to support reforms leading to EU membership and to help BiH catch up with its neighbours on the EU journey.
He said Croatia would like electoral law changes to satisfy all three constituent peoples and for Croats, as the smallest people, to be equal.
If such changes were made, Plenkovic said, the relations within the Federation entity would relax and “the gentlemen’s agreement between Bosniaks and Croats” would contribute to better relations with the Serbs and all government bodies would start functioning.
The European reform processes could resume as soon as the current crisis ended, he added.
Responsibility for such an agreement is solely on the political parties in BiH and its institutions, he said, adding that it is necessary to have a feeling for nuance and reality.
“Izetbegovic understands that too. There are different models and solutions, but it’s important to keep the letter and spirit of Dayton which, until 2006, was never in question,” Plenkovic said, implying that the election of Zeljko Komsic to the BiH Presidency has undermined the substance of the peace agreement.
Responding to questions from the press, Plenkovic said that as far as he knew, EU bodies were not preparing to deploy European troops in BiH, and that this was rather the stand of some MEPs.
The stand in the EU is to condemn all actions leading to new tensions in BiH and that the Dayton agreement must be honoured, he added.
It was Greens MEP Thomas Waitz who said in Sarajevo that the EU stood ready to deploy up to 6,000 troops in case the crisis escalated.
His colleague Romeo Franz, head of the European Parliament delegation on relations with BiH, said today this body was following with great concern the secessionist threats coming from the Bosnian Serb entity.
That poses a big danger to peace in BiH as well as all of Europe, he told the press after meeting with BiH MPs which was not attended by those from the Serb entity, who refuse to communicate with Greens representatives.
Franz said their group expects High Representative Christian Schmidt to react if necessary by using his broad powers, adding that he will insist in the European Parliament on urgent sanctions against all those in BiH who jeopardise its peace and stability.
After talks with representatives of the executive and legislative branches, the Croatian prime minister laid a wreath at the monument to the first victims of the siege of Sarajevo during the 1992-95 war.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/pm-plenkovic-bosnias-crisis-should-be-solved-through-talks-and-agreements/

Dodik says Bosnia's RS entity would respond to sanctions with “countermeasures”

December 13, 2021
BiH tripartite Presidency member Milorad Dodik said that if foreign countries impose sanctions or stop investments in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity over its initiative to unilaterally withdraw from state institutions, the RS is prepared to respond with “countermeasures.”
“Maybe some will try to make fun of what I’m saying, but Republika Srpska is not without countermeasures either. If Germany imposes sanctions, we will retaliate,” Dodik told Politika.
He noted that he is well aware of “what America and Germany are” but said his message to them is “you overreacted.”
“You did everything to make us hate BiH, and we never loved it,” Dodik said.
He rejected allegations that the citizens or the entire Republika Srpska could face problems because of his political activities, arguing that he is not worried and neither should citizens be.
Dodik said that he understands the fear of sanctions among the people, but that this will not happen and that Republika Srpska “has its friends who have invested in it so far and it will not lose those investments.”
Dodik again rejected the authority of the High Representative Christian Schmidt, who is tasked with overseeing the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement in Bosnia.
He announced that the RS entity will withdraw all the funds it contributes to BiH state institutions, which he said was about 130 million Bosnian Marks, and will redistribute it within the entity.
He stressed that defence, the fiscal system and the judiciary are not defined in the Dayton Agreement as state-level competencies and that the RS will not agree to anything other than what is specifically stated in the agreement.
One of the primary issues that must be resolved is state property, Dodik said, arguing that Bosnia’s Constitutional Court, which ruled that certain RS laws on forests and agricultural land are unconstitutional, does not have the right to decide on the issue.
The Constitutional Court ruled that forests and agricultural land located in the RS are BiH state property and upheld a ban on the entity using the land without consent from the state. Dodik, however, argues that such land is the property of the RS.
He also reiterated announcements that the RS will form its own, separate judicial bodies and that those of the state will not have jurisdiction in the entity.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/dodik-says-bosnias-rs-entity-would-respond-to-sanctions-with-countermeasures/

UK foreign secretary reaffirms strong support to Bosnia's prosperity

December 13, 2021
United Kingdom strongly supports Bosnia and Herzegovina and its prosperity, Bosnian foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic said following the meeting with her British counterpart, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
She assessed the talks with the UK minister as “very significant.”
“UK reaffirms strong support to Bosnia and Herzegovina and our country's prosperity. We discussed the recent developments in BiH and the region,” Turkovic briefly tweeted.
Turkovic previously met with Miroslav Lajcak, European Union's special envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and former international peace envoy in Bosnia.
“The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the focus. I expressed concern over the blockade of European path and jeopardising of the Dayton Peace Agreement. European future of BiH has no alternative. We expect a strong response of the international community,” said Turkovic.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/uk-foreign-secretary-reaffirms-strong-support-to-bosnias-prosperity/

High Representative condemns acts adopted by Bosnian Serb entity parliament

December 13, 2021
Christian Schmidt, the international peace envoy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, strongly condemned the acts adopted last week by entity parliament of Republika Srpska, Bosnia's Serb-majority entity, stressing that the radical political activities and rhetoric of the last several days threaten stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“I strongly condemn the acts adopted by the RS National Assembly on Friday, December 10, 2021. The adopted conclusions oblige the RS authorities to take concrete legislative and other actions that would violate the General Framework Agreement for Peace. The radical political activities and rhetoric of the last several days threaten stability in Bosnia-Herzegovina and undermine the perspectives of all citizens including in Republika Srpska,” said the Office of the High Representative.
The High Representative, who oversees the implementation of the peace process in BiH, stressed that the leadership requires rationality and preparedness for constructive dialogue.
“This is what democracy is about and what is needed for the Dayton institutions to work in everyone's interest,” he added.
Schmidt, who took office in August this year, called for full respect of the General Framework Agreement for Peace, emphasising that all parties must work within this framework to reach legal decisions in the spirit of compromise.
“The citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina want a peaceful and prosperous future. I am ready to contribute to this objective in a determined and responsible way. Dialogue is preferable to any other course of action,” he said.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/high-representative-condemns-acts-adopted-by-bosnian-serb-entity-parliament/

Plenkovic: Croatia and Bosnia must improve cooperation

December 13, 2021
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said upon his arrival in Sarajevo on Monday that he is coming as a friend and partner, wishing to improve the cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina. He stressed that Croatia is Bosnia's best and truest friend, advocate and supporter on EU path.
Plenkovic arrived for an official visit to Bosnia and his first meeting was the one with Chairman of Bosnia's Council of Ministers Zoran Tegeltija.
Addressing the media after the meeting, Plenkovic said that Croatia respects the Dayton Agreement – the peace deal which established the country's constitutional setup, and reiterated Croatia's interest in the equality of ethnic Croats, one of three constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina must cooperate, they share a more than a thousand kilometres long border,” Plenkovic said, emphasising the necessity of two countries fighting together against the human smuggling.
Commenting on the ongoing political developments in Bosnia, particularly the electoral reform and the announced withdrawal of Bosnian Ser-majority entity Republika Srpska from the central institutions, he said Croatia refuses any secessionist tendencies in the neighbouring country and wants Bosnia to be functional.
Croatia is closely following the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Plenkovic stressed.
It insists on a framework where the ethnic Croats, the smallest group in Bosnia and Herzegovina – also one of its three constituent peoples, be represented in the state institutions in a quality way, he added.
“We all have to put maximum efforts to help the country function,” Plenkovic concluded.
He also commented on the recent statements by Croatian President Zoran Milanovic regarding the Srebrenica genocide, which sparked reactions in Bosnia.
“As for the Srebrenica genocide, Croatia's official stance ha never come into question. As for President Milanovic, I think he managed to explain what he tried to say. You could hear some of his statements and he has no dilemma about the genocide in Srebrenica,” Plenkovic said.
He reminded of his term as the European Parliament member and his lobbying for Bosnia's membership application.
“Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia need one another like a very few countries do. This is a strong friendly visit, which is not symbolic and is a part of systemic dialogue,” said the Croatian PM.
He also announced a joint session of the Government of Croatia and the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2022.
Chairman Tegeltija assessed the economic and political relations between the two countries as good, with the room for improvement.
The two officials discussed the issue of illegal migrations as well as the open issues of succession and construction of nuclear waste landfill that Croatia plans to build on border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“Croatia will never start building a wire fence on our borders. There are many open issues, some of them concerning succession, the property of the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Croatia,” said Tegeltija, adding that none of these topics is seriously jeopardising the relations between the two countries.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/plenkovic-croatia-and-bosnia-must-improve-cooperation/

UN expert: Denial of genocide, war crimes glorification must end

December 13, 2021
A UN expert urged Bosnia and Herzegovina to prioritise the protection of human rights over divisive political agendas in transitional justice efforts to address the serious violations committed during 1992-1995 armed conflict.
At the end of his eight-day official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Fabián Salvioli, raised concerns about increased hate speech, glorification of war crimes and denial of genocide and crimes against humanity in the country.
Salvioli urged the Government to advance a comprehensive transitional justice agenda and to curb polarization and the rhetoric of hate through a human rights based approach.
The UN expert welcomed the “efforts made by Bosnia and Herzegovina, with support from the international community, to rebuild its institutions and address certain aspects of the legacy of the conflict, in particular the prosecution of war crimes and the search for missing persons, albeit regretting a distinct decrease in the pace of such efforts in the last decade”.
“However, divisive political agendas, nationalistic rhetoric, and political bargaining driven by political elites have brought progress to a halt,” said Salvioli.
Human rights obligations of the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina are non-negotiable, as they are set in the treaties to which the country is a party, he said.
“I note with concern the insufficient progress made in the fulfilment of the country’s human rights obligations regarding the full and effective reparation to all victims of the conflict without discrimination; the memorialization of all human rights violations and the harm suffered by all victims of the conflict; the collection, preservation and transmission of records of past violations to present and future generations; the realization of rights of returnees; the adoption of effective guarantees of non-recurrence particularly in the fields of education, culture, protection of human rights and vetting of security, judicial and other institutions; and the ineffective action in the face of hate speech, the denial of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and the glorification of war criminals,” he said.
During his visit, Salvioli met government officials, civil society and human rights representatives, survivors, victims of atrocity crimes, families of victims and survivors, and representatives of the international community. He also visited mass grave sites, former concentration camps, mass grave sites, memorials and museums dedicated to remembering the past.
The expert called on the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to renew its efforts to advance a comprehensive transitional justice agenda with a view to achieving effective reconciliation, sustaining peace and preventing the recurrence of past atrocities. “Such an agenda should be anchored in the country’s existing international obligations and place the rights of all victims at the centre of any legislative and policy decisions,” he said.
“I also wish to call on the international community to resolutely support Bosnia and Herzegovina in this vital endeavour.”.
The Special Rapporteur will submit a full report on his visit to the Human Rights Council in 2022.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/un-expert-denial-of-genocide-war-crimes-glorification-must-end/

G7 ministers affirm support to Bosnia's territorial integrity, call for dialogue

December 13, 2021
Ministers of G7 countries who met in Liverpool over the weekend have expressed a “resolute support” for the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and called for the swift resuming of dialogue.
A joint statement signed by British foreign secretary Liz Truss, who chaired the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ meeting in Liverpool this meeting, condemned the divisive rhetoic and called for dialogue.
“We condemned all divisive and irresponsible rhetoric and action in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and called for dialogue to resume swiftly and for the country to refocus on a constructive agenda,” the ministers said in the conclusions of the meeting, which among other issues discussed the climate change, pandemic, relations with China and situation in Ukraine.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/g7-ministers-affirm-support-to-bosnias-territorial-integrity-call-for-dialogue/

Republika Srpska representatives refuse to attend meeting with MEPs Waitz, Franz

December 13, 2021
Representatives of Bosnia's Serb-majority entity in the inter-agency working group on electoral reform said they would not attend the meeting with European Parliament members Thomas Waitz and Romeo Franz scheduled for Monday in Sarajevo, because of their support to potential sanctions on Republika Srpska leadership.
Group member Stasa Kosarac, a member of the SNSD party – the ruling party in Republika Srpska, told Srna news agency that he refuses to attend the meeting because of “a number of incoherent and false accusations presented at the expense of the (Serb) member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik and political leadership of Republika Srpska, as well as meaningless resolution that the Greens representatives in EU adopted in which they asked for the sanctions.”
Greens/EFA in the EP: EU must take the lead in finding a solution to BiH crisis
Speaking to N1 upon the arrival in Sarajevo, MEP Romeo Franz, the member of the Greens/European Free Alliance Group, said he would ask for accelerating the sanctions on Dodik, the SNSD leader, and those who surround him.
“We'll do everything to have a society in Bosnia and Herzegovina that lives in peace and coexistence, because BiH is a part of the European Union and it belongs there,” he said.
The visit comes days after the entity parliament in Republika Srpska passed conclusions, as a step towards withdrawal from the central institutions.
Inter-agency working group members Snjezana Novakovic-Bursac, Nenad Stevandic, Sredoje Novic and Branislav Borenovic, also confirmed they would not attend the meeting with MEPs.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/republika-srpska-representatives-refuse-to-attend-meeting-with-meps-waitz-franz/

Brammertz: Genocide deniers still exist in Serbia

December 13, 2021
International war crimes prosecutor Serge Brammertz said on Monday that the mural of convicted war criminal General Ratko Mladic in Belgrade shows that genocide deniers are still present in Serbia.
The one thing that the mural of Ratko Mladic and the publications by the extremist Rwandan diaspora have in common are that they show that there are still people, 25 years later, who denying and minimize court-established facts about genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, Brammertz, chief prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, told the UN Security Council.
Brammertz spoke after Mechanism President Judge Carmel Agius presented his report and called Serbia to fulfill its international obligation by arresting and extraditing extreme nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) senior officials Petar Jojic and Verica Radeta who have been indicted for trying to intimidate witnesses in the trial of their party leader convicted war criminal Vojislav Seselj.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/brammertz-genocide-deniers-still-exist-in-serbia/

Serbian FM voiced Serbia’s views at meeting with UK counterpart

December 13, 2021
Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic said on Monday that British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’ meeting with Western Balkan counterparts was “an excellent opportunity to express Serbia’s views on important regional issues”.
A ministry press release quoted Selakovic as saying that the Open Balkan regional economic integration idea has affirmed in London where he also had unspecified bilateral meetings. The press release said that this was the first time that Selakovic appeared together with his counterparts from North Macedonia and Albania. “We are convinced that this approach and the great attention devoted to Open Balkan will be a great opportunity for the future of our region,” he said.
According to the press release, Truss’ possible first visit to Belgrade was discussed at the meeting. It added that Selakovic passed on President Aleksandar Vucic’s invitation to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to visit Serbia.
Selakovic also met with State Department and British Prime Minister’s envoys for the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar and Stuart Peach and other British officials.
Lajcak said in a Twitter post that the UK-EU-US + Western Balkans meeting was very useful. “There is no alternative to EU integration for the region. Glad this was stressed by all participants,” he wrote.
A Foreign Office press release said that Truss’ meeting with the six Western Balkan Foreign Ministers discussed strengthening economicand security ties and supporting freedom and stability in the regionm adding that the meeting was attended by Peach, Escobar and the European Union Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak.
It quoted Truss as saying that the UKis stepping up its efforts to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the region at a critical moment for the Western Balkans. “I want the UK and our allies to build closer economic and security ties with the region, which will boosts jobs and growth and help support a freer, wealthier, more secure Western Balkans… The UK will help the Western Balkans defend and advance the cause of liberty. They have our full support to not only survive, but thrive,” she said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-fm-voiced-serbias-views-at-meeting-with-uk-counterpart/

Aslyum Protection Center chief says 7,000 migrants in Serbia

December 13, 2021
The head of an asylum seeker help center said on Monday that there are more than 7,000 migrants in Serbia.
Rados Djurovic, head of the Asylum Protection Center (APC), told the Beta news agency that more than 6,000 migrants are housed in camps while an estimated 1,000 are outside government-controlled facilities. He added that APC data shows that most of the migrants outside cams are in Vojvodina along Serbia’s borders with Croatia, Hungary and Romania.
Djurovic warned of constant push-backs from those European Union member states, adding that the cold weather is making the situation worse.
According to the APC chief, the biggest problem facing migrants is the lack of information about their rights in Serbia, including asylum procedures and protection from the pandemic. “No one will die of hunger or thirst in the camps. Some conditions are being provided to most of them but there are shortcomings in some cases. Some of them want more food and some complain that doctors are not always available,” he said, adding that majority of the migrants in camps are from Afghanistan and Syria.
Djurovic said that local communities need financial aid to deal with the needs of the migrants.
He said that at least 40,000 migrants have passed through Serbia this year.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/aslyum-protection-center-chief-says-7000-migrants-in-serbia/

Kosovo Serb named by US Treasury owns yacht damaged in Montenegro

December 13, 2021
The Nova.rs portal reported on Monday that one of the yachts damaged in the fire in the Montenegrin port of Tivat belonged to one of the Kosovo Serbs named on the sanctions list by the US Treasury Department.
It said that the fire that broke out in the Navar Marina damaging several boats, including the Sara which the BIRN portal said was bought by alleged criminal Zvonko Veselinovic’s company Inkop.
That company owned the yacht under the name Kenco and renamed it after the purchase from former FRY President, Montenegrin politician Svetozar Marovic who has been indicted for corruption and other crimes. The Kenco was built with money from an Austrian leasing company but disappeared from the marina in the resort of Budva before reappearing as the Sara.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/kosovo-serb-named-by-us-treasury-owns-yacht-damaged-in-montenegro/

Serbian PM rejects reports of sanctions against president’s brother

December 13, 2021
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Monday that reports that the US Treasury could impose sanctions against the president’s brother Andrej Vucic are “simply stupid”.
Investigative journalist Drew Sulivan told the Nova.rs portal on Saturday that he “assumes that people like Andrej Vucic are high on the (US Treasury) sanctions list”. „We know that Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic has ties to organised crime like many in the Kosovo Government. We know that Vucic’s brother Andrej met with (Kosovo Serb businessman) Zvonko Veselinovic,“ Sullivan, a founder of the ‘Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) said.
Brnabic said she had no idea who Sullivan is and was told by an N1 reporter that he was part of the team that published the Pandora Papers.
“I think it’s not professional to just quote just anyone saying anything about someone else without any evidence or with no questions about his sources. Let’s see what happens. I am sure tha Andrej Vucic is scared and doesn’t know what to do. They might seize all the non-existent land in Vojvodina or Win Win (electronics retailer) which might or might not be his or the Franche restaurant which might or might not be his,” Brnabic said alluding to reports that Andrej Vucic had possession of large estates in northern Serbia and was at least co-owner of major retail outlets and restaurants.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-pm-rejects-reports-of-sanctions-against-presidents-brother/

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