International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Covic to Bundestag-Draft resolution on BiH promotes radical Bosniak positions

June 4, 2022
The Speaker of Bosnia’s House of Peoples and leader of the strongest Croat party in the country, Dragan Covic, sent a letter to Germany’s Bundestag President, Barbel Bas, in which he claims the draft resolution concerning BiH which ruling parties in Germany submitted to parliament promotes “radical” Bosniak positions.
The draft resolution, submitted by the SPD, FDP and Alliance 90/The Greens, strongly criticises Covic’s position on electoral reform in Bosnia, among other things.
The leader of the Croat Democratic Union in Bosnia (HDZ BiH) welcomed Germany's interest as one of the most important partner countries and prominent members of the European Union in the current political situation and its support for Bosnia and Herzegovina on its path to the EU and NATO.
However, he argued that, regardless of the good intentions of some German representatives, the draft “became one in a series of instruments of radical circles in Bosnia and Herzegovina advocating unconstitutional solutions and domination over Croats as the smallest of the three constituent peoples, as well as minorities such as Jews and Roma.”
He stressed that Croat symbols and monuments, as well as Catholic churches and cemeteries, are frequently attacked in BiH.
Covic noted that Croat political representatives are in favour of amending the Constitution and electoral legislation in a way that would lead to the implementation of decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and the Constitutional Court so that all citizens, regardless of ethnic group and religion, can run for political office, but also so that electoral “engineering” which he argued allows the majority Bosniaks to impose political representatives on Croats is removed.
Covic emphasised that the goal for Croats is an integral, stable and functional Bosnia and Herzegovina under the auspices of the EU and NATO, as opposed to unconstitutional unitarism and separatism.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/covic-to-bundestag-draft-resolution-on-bih-promotes-radical-bosniak-positions/

Croatia Deputy PM unaware which BiH Army operation prosecutor is looking into

June 4, 2022
Deputy Prime Minister Tomo Medved said on Saturday he did not know to which event the state attorney-general was referring when she said inquiries were being made into indications that the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina had entered Croatian territory during the Homeland War.
Zlata Hrvoj-Sipek made that statement earlier this week.
Asked by the press in Karlovac if the Army of BiH and the Croatian Army cooperated in the 1991-95 war, Medved said there had been certain elements of cooperation.
Asked if the Army of BiH had been active on Croatian territory, he said “the state attorney-general said what she said” and that he would rather not interpret it because “I don’t know exactly which area she meant or which event exactly.” He referred the press to Hrvoj-Sipek.
“During the preliminary investigation phase, we all have the obligation to watch what and how we comment on Homeland War events or activities. As an active witness and participant in the Homeland War, I know lots of details and the whole complexity of the defence as well as the circumstances related to the Croatia-BiH border area,” Medved said.
He said that with the 1995 Operation Storm, Croatia “unblocked the Bihac, enclave (BiH), thereby preventing a horrific slaughter that could have ensued.”
Medved said tens of thousands of western BiH refugees found shelter in the Karlovac area in 1994 and 1995, which was “a slightly forgotten detail,” and that Croats from Slunj, Cetingrad and Rakovica, fleeing from the Serbian aggression on Croatia in November 1991, found refuge in western BiH.
Medved said he “would like to remind the public” that “there were certain elements of cooperation between the Croatian Army and the Army of BiH in the former Slunj municipality area, given the intensity of the attacks” of the Serbs and the Yugoslav People’s Army.
“More than 15,000 people from Croatia were taken in in western Bosnia because if they hadn’t fled Croatia, the question is who would have stayed alive, because those who stayed were killed by the enemy and there is an awfully large number of mass execution sites and single graves.”
Medved said that “already then cooperation was necessary between Croatian Army commanders and certain BiH office holders.”
In his capacity as war veterans minister and the prime minister’s envoy, he was in Karlovac today to attend the 3rd meeting of female Homeland War veterans.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/croatia-deputy-pm-unaware-which-bih-army-operation-prosecutor-is-looking-into/

Opposition leader accuses Dodik of secretly allowing BiH sanctions on Russia

June 4, 2022
The leader of one of the opposition parties in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity, Branislav Borenovic, said that BiH Presidency member, Milorad Dodik, “left the decisions on BiH’s foreign policy to Bosniaks” regarding the introduction of sanctions against Russia.
Borenovic, who is the leader of the Party of Democratic Progress (PDP), made the statement after Dodik, who is also the leader of the ruling party in the Serb-majority RS entity, announced that he will meet with Sergey Lavrov in Belgrade on Tuesday.
According to the PDP leader, this proves that he allowed BiH to introduce sanctions on Russia.
He argued that this is because when Russia’s FM came to the Balkans before, he met with Dodik in the Presidency building in Sarajevo.
“Why didn't he invite Lavrov to visit and meet in Banja Luka, Sarajevo, Istocno Sarajevo or anywhere in the Republika Srpska and BiH?” Borenovic asked.
“It is now completely clear that this announced meeting in Belgrade confirms the fact that BiH joined the EU sanctions against Russia, and that Dodik secretly made it possible,” he added.
Borenovic said that Dodik “left the decisions on behalf of BiH regarding foreign policy to the Bosniak side, failing to ask the Republika Srpska.”
“He had all the mechanisms, but he simply decided not to do anything to make our voice heard in Sarajevo,” Borenovic said.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/opposition-leader-accuses-dodik-of-secretly-allowing-bih-sanctions-on-russia/

Political scientist-Vucic owns the state and Europe doesn’t seem to care

June 5, 2022
According to political scientist Cvijetin Milivojevic, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic is “the owner of the state and state institutions” and this does not seem to matter to Europe or the opposition, while professor at the Faculty of Philosophy, Jovo Bakic, noted that the president is actually a co-owner of Serbia, which he said today consists of a “combination of organised crime and politics.”
When it comes to foreign policy, Bakic noted that he would refrain from heavily criticising Vucic too much on foreign policy, arguing that he himself would not know what to do if he were in his place.
He predicted that „Russia will become a vassal state of China thanks to this, the entire European Union will become a vassal of the United States of America, and Serbia is like change that is thrown across the table.“
According to Bakic, Serbia’s room for manoeuvring will continue to get smaller, so at some point, Vucic will have to decide which way the country should go based on a healthy calculation.
Milivojevic said he believes Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is coming to Belgrade to operationalise the gas agreement concluded between Vucic and Vladimir Putin.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/political-scientist-vucic-owns-the-state-and-europe-doesnt-seem-to-care/

Petroleum Industry of Serbia can’t get Russian oil through JANAF anymore

June 5, 2022
Following the new package of EU sanctions, the Petroleum Industry of Serbia (NIS) will not have the possibility to be supplied with Russian crude oil through the Adriatic Oil Pipeline (JANAF), the Ministry of Mining and Energy confirmed for N1.
The ministry noted that Serbia is not the only European country that would be affected by the new package of EU sanctions and that it is doing everything to ensure a secure supply.
„The new package of sanctions prohibits the supply of Russian crude oil via any port, by sea, and NIS is supplied with crude oil that is delivered by tankers to the port of Omisalj (in Croatia). This means that there is no possibility to deliver more Russian crude oil to the Pancevo Refinery, but NIS could import all other types of crude oil except Russian, as it had already imported oil from Iraq and some other countries in the previous period,” the ministry said.
In the coming period, in addition to resolving the issue of supply, the ministry said it will work on increasing the stock of crude oil, which would „with stable reserves of petroleum products provide additional security in case of market disruptions.“
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/petroleum-industry-of-serbia-cant-get-russian-oil-through-janaf-anymore/

BiH Presidency member Milorad Dodik announces meeting with Russia FM in Belgrade

June 4, 2022
The Bosnian Serb member of the country’s tripartite Presidency, Milorad Dodik, announced on Saturday that he will meet with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Belgrade on Tuesday and with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia on June 17.
“We are constantly being urged to join the sanctions against Russia, but we will not do that. My obligation is to provide stability to our people,” Dodik said.
He said that he received an invitation to participate in the 25th International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg from the Russian ambassador in BiH, Igor Kalabukhov.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/bih-presidency-member-milorad-dodik-announces-meeting-with-russia-fm-in-belgrade/

Residents of Belgrade settlement say Zepter is trying to „forcibly evict“ them

June 4, 2022
Residents of the Bezanijski Zimovnik settlement in Belgrade complained to N1 that they were facing pressure from the company Zepter, arguing that it wants to "forcibly evict" them.
The residents said that the Zepter, which bought the land from Brodogradiliste, a shipyard whose buildings these people live in, believes that they have no right to stay in their homes.
However, the ‘Krov nad glavom’ association told N1 this is not true, arguing that the locals have the right to either stay there or be provided with an alternative.
Zepter plans to build a residential complex at the site, which is why the residents say they have been facing pressure from the company.
One of the residents, Dragan Vasilijevic, said he has been living there since he was born - for 69 years.
"We all lived in our houses. 40 years ago, when "Brodogradiliste" was a successful company, when it worked for Russia on a series of ships, they needed expansion. They demolished those houses, in agreement with the municipality, and constructed the houses we have now, outside the complex of the shipyard, which is the most important thing in this case," he explained.
"Now all of a sudden, in the last few years, Zepter is registering that part of the land, some 15 acres where we are living, and they are buying the land where our homes are located," he added.
"They gave us so bad deals, just so it seems that we came to an agreement,” he said.
Ivana Andjelkovic from Krov nad glavom said her association got involved in the issue precisely because the tenants here have the right to stay there.
"They got a decision on temporary accommodation until further notice,” she explained, adding that the tenants cannot be held responsible for everything that happened in the company and that Zepter does not have the right to evict them.
"We are here to insist that Zepter treats these people with respect, that it offers them a better solution than the one it offered them," she said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/residents-of-belgrade-settlement-say-zepter-is-trying-to-forcibly-evict-them/

Serbia’s govt to ask Stellantis to protect six categories of Fiat workers

June 4, 2022
Serbia’s government will insist that six categories of workers in the car factory be exempted and protected from the social program at Fiat in Kragujevac, N1 has learned from the Fiat workers' negotiating team.
“At a meeting in the Serbian government on Thursday, Labor Minister Darija Kisic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told us that in the upcoming negotiations with the management of Stellantis, which includes Fiat, they would insist that following groups be exempted from the social program which refers to working abroad and overhead – women on maternity leave, parents of children with special needs, workers with children under five years of age, disabled workers, single parents and couples who are in the IVF program,” member of the worker’s negotiating team Igor Andjic told N1.
He added that this is already defined within Serbia’s Labor Law but that workers belonging to these categories nevertheless “ended up on the list of Stelantis’ management.“
The unions and the negotiating team of Fiat workers are expecting the arrival of Prime Minister Ana Brnabic in Kragujevac at the beginning of the next working week and the announcement of what she agreed on with Stellantis.
Earlier, employee overhead was declared for 1,541 out of 2,016 employees and the workers were offered to go abroad for two years or to receive severance pay.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-govt-to-ask-stellantis-to-protect-six-categories-of-fiat-workers/

Montenegro’s PM-Extradition of Marovic would improve relations with Serbia

June 4, 2022
Montenegro’s Prime Minister, Dritan Abazovic, said that he is “trying everything possible to establish the best possible relations with the authorities in Serbia” adding that this is very important for the overall stability and peace in the region.
“At the same time, I’m convinced that the best confirmation of our renewed relations would be, hypothetically speaking, for Svetozar Marovic to appear at one of the border crossings in Montenegro so we can bring him to justice here,“ Abazovic told Nova.
He was referring to the former president of the state union of Serbia and Montenegro, Svetozar Marovic, who is still in Belgrade, despite the fact that Montenegro has repeatedly sent requests for his extradition so he can serve a prison sentence for financial embezzlement.
Marovic claims that the trial against him was rigged.
Speaking about the idea of "Open Balkan", Abazovic stated that he personally supports it but that “there are people in the government who do not share this position” and that he respects that.
He said that the Basic Agreement between the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) and the state of Montenegro "should be signed within a reasonable time” so that the narrative of mutual interest of the state and the church is brought to an end.
He praised the Serbian Patriarch Porfirije, saying that he got a good impression of him after having two conversations with the religious leader.
"In my opinion, such energy should be emitted by all religious leaders, it is the energy of reconciliation, universality, understanding, respect for all differences," Abazovic stressed.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/montenegros-pm-extradition-of-marovic-would-improve-relations-with-serbia/

Coronavirus UPDATE: 2 deaths, 271 new cases

June 3, 2022
The Serbian Health Ministry said in its daily bulletin on Friday that 2 people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 16,085.
It said that 6,040 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 271 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The total number of people tested to date stands at 9,733,841 with 2,018,216 confirmed cases.
The bulletin said that there are 105 hospitalized cases, including 10 patients on ventilators.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-update-2-deaths-271-new-cases/

Slovenian Presidents suggest EU give BiH unconditional candidate status

June 3, 2022
Slovenian President Borut Pahor, who is attending a trilateral meeting with the presidents of Croatia and Austria on the Brijuni Islands, said he had launched an initiative for the European Union to give Bosnia and Herzegovina the candidate status without any conditions. He shared this initiative, he said, with friends from the EU.
“The EU would thus invest in peace, security, prosperity and the European perspective of BiH, and because of that first move, it would subsequently ask [BiH] to meet the conditions, as we did. To get BiH out of the vicious circle in which there is no progress or status, as in any other country in the Western Balkans. If we are thinking about accelerated negotiations with Ukraine, we should also think about this problem. We need to help BiH where we can. The EU can take the first step in good faith, show confidence so that we would have a territorially coherent BiH in the EU,” said Pahor.
Speaking about the war in Ukraine, he condemned Russia for attacking that sovereign country and said for the first time he was not convinced that a solution could be reached peacefully.
“Russia had no reason to attack neighbouring Ukraine,” he concluded.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/slovenian-presidents-suggest-eu-give-bih-unconditional-candidate-status/

EU's Stano-It is crucial that October elections take place in Bosnia

June 3, 2022
European Commission for Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Peter Stano confirmed for N1 on Friday that last month EU foreign ministers discussed the political situation in BiH and they were very clear on calling all the political actors to make every effort to not only continue with reforms and resume dialogue but also to organize the elections as foreseen in October.
“It is of crucial importance that these elections take place, that the citizens of BiH are given the opportunity to vote in a free, fair and adequately funded elections and in this context we call on the members of the Council of Ministers of BiH, and especially on the Minister of Finance to use the next session of the Council, in the coming Monday to adopt the draft budget for this year,” Stano said. “We also call for a swift decision that would ensure financing of the Central Election Commission BiH and the current blockage must urgently end.”
Answering the question regarding EU’s engagement in resolving the election reform issue and the maintenance of October general elections in Bosnia, Stano said the EU is involved it will continue to be involved in the situation and that they are ready to facilitate solutions for BiH and in BiH through the Head of EU Delegation in BiH Johann Sattler.
“[EU] High Representative [Josep] Borrell fully supports the work of Ambassador Sattler and the EU Commission for Foreign Affairs strongly rejects any attacks on Ambassador Sattler which are entirely unfounded,” the spokesperson said.
He confirmed that Ambassador Sattler has steadily defended and promoted EU values and principles in BiH and he “was and is working to bring this country closer to the EU.”
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/eus-stano-it-is-crucial-that-october-elections-take-place-in-bosnia/

RS entity parliament to host Russian Ambassador and discuss world relations

June 3, 2022
The Republika Srpska entity National Assembly (RSNA) will hold a special session Monday where MP will discuss the current international political situation that is the result of the war in Ukraine and give its assessment on the subject matter, BiH Presidency member Milorad Dodik said Friday.
The address of the Russian Ambassador to BiH is planned at the session, which is why, according to him, other ambassadors withdrew from attending the session, and because of that, he noted, they were not even invited.
“We interviewed them and they said they would not come if the Russian Ambassador showed up. That's why we didn't invite them. The RSNA is the highest legislative and political body in the RS and geopolitics is under the jurisdiction of the RS. The unavoidable role of the RSNA is when a veto is reached in the Presidency of BiH. I wanted to inform the RSNA about the current situation in the international political arena that is the result of the conflict in Ukraine and to give some assessments and visions of how things will move and how to treat it,” said Dodik before the round table of the RS Academy of Sciences titled “The role of the Constitutional Court of BiH in the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement.”
Speaking about the round table, he reiterated his earlier position that he was “against the participation of foreign judges in the work of the Constitutional Court” and that this court had allegedly made “a series of unconstitutional decisions.”
“It is unacceptable that there are foreigners and that the Constitutional Court deals with issues and makes decisions outside the Constitution. It’s unacceptable that it has acquired additional powers to deal with all issues so as to become the Supreme Court in BiH,” Dodik added.
He also said that his opinion on this matter is “is not a political fad.”
The RSNA special session will be held on Monday, June 6.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/rs-entity-parliament-to-host-russian-ambassador-and-discuss-world-relations/

Serwer-Idea of legitimate representation in BiH election law is ridiculous

June 3, 2022
Speaking to N1, Washington University Johns Hopkins professor Daniel Serwer reveals what he thinks about the idea of "legitimate representation" pushed by the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH), who is to blame for the failure of BiH Electoral Law reform and what he told Croat representatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s.
Serwer said that he blames not one or the other for the failure of the electoral law reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but all the parties participating in it, both Democratic Action Party (SDA) leader Bakir Izetbegovic and HDZ BiH leader Dragan Covic as well as the international community.
When asked what he thinks about the constant demands for “legitimate representation” in BiH, Serwer said that long ago, as special envoy for the Federation entity (FBiH), he explained to Croats in BiH what would be the best strategy for their progress in the country.
As per their request, he said:
“The idea that only a Croat who wears the Croatian coat of arms every morning deserves to be in the Presidency is ridiculous,” Serwer noted.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/serwer-idea-of-legitimate-representation-in-bih-election-law-is-ridiculous/

Greek Foreign Minister in Belgrade

June 3, 2022
The future of the Western Balkans is in the European Union, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said in a statement issued by the Greek Foreign Ministry following his Friday meeting with his Serbian counterpart Nikola Selakovic.
Explaining that he understands the fatigue and frustration over the very slow pace of the Western Balkans’ accession process, Minister Dendias said that this was the only road to peace, stability and prosperity for the region. “I have to say, the region has to stay away from false promises and we have to address the issue of Revisionist powers that want to turn the clock of our region back, in order to revive old Empires and try to redraw the map of the Balkans. We cannot allow this to happen,” said the statement.
Pledging Greece’s support to Serbia on its path to the EU, Minister Dendias urged Serbia to continue its reform process as well as to align with EU’s Foreign Policy decisions.
Minister Dendias said that he discussed with Selakovic the Open Balkans and Kosovo.
“I reiterated our position on Kosovo. And the need to see progress there,” said Dendias.
Selakovic said after the meeting that both countries are committed to expanding cooperation in all areas and to principled mutual support on key issues.
A press release from the Serbian President’s Cabinet said that Vucic told Dendias in a separate meeting that Serbia attaches great significance to relations with Greece based on their firm friendship and solidarity.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/greek-foreign-minister-in-belgrade/

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