International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Vucic closer to coalition govt. with one party instead of national unity govt.

August 14, 2020

Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic said on Friday he was considering two concepts for the country's new government – a simple coalition of his ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and the other party, or a national unity government (with all Parliamentary parties), and that he was closer to the first option.

Speaking to the pro-regime Pink TV morning programme, he said he would present both ideas to his party on Friday, but did not mention which party might be SNS' partner if opted for the coalition government.

Slavica Djukic Dejanovic, deputy leader of Serbia's Socialists, Vucic's SNS main partner for the last eight years, said on Friday there were no talks with Vucic about the participation in the new cabinet.

 The idea of the national unity government would mean new general elections in 18 months.

After the June 21 general vote, only three national parties - SNS, Socialists and the Patriotic 'Spas" movement -  and some minority political organisations won mandates in the  250-seat Serbia's Parliament.

Vucic said he would made his suggestion public soon.

Referring to the epidemic situation in Serbia he said that if a positive trend continued, the working hours of cafes and restaurants might be extended to 1 am as of next weekend. 

Vucic said that the epidemic in the country was almost under control.

"The economic situation in Serbia isn't easy due to the coronavirus epidemic, but is better than elsewhere," Vucic said, adding that according to the current data, Serbia, followed by Hungary, had the best perspective in the region.

Commenting on Marinika Tepic, an opposition leader, accusations of the wrongdoings in the state Telekom Serbia company, Vucic charged she was "destroying" it by saying it "is the SNS richest cashbox."

Vucic added the politicians "working for tycoons" were trying to destroy Telekom and claimed that the leader of the opposition Party of Freedom and Justice (SSP) Dragan Djilas took 29.7 million Euro from the company on behalf of his two firms from 2004 and 2012.

"Telekom is a shareholding company with Serbia's as the major shareholder. The question is whether the job of a politician is to devastate the state capital belonging to all the citizens, or to help it," Vucic asked.

He said Telekom aimed to enter the Kosovo market, as well as the Albanian one, and that it was the number one company in Montenegro and the second in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a629636/Vucic-closer-to-coalition-govt.-with-one-party-instead-of-national-unity-govt.html

Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Serbia arrested

August 13, 2020

The Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Serbia Eldar Hasanov was arrrested for embezzling budget funds, the RIA news agency reported.

It quoted the Azeri state security services which said that the ambassador had been under investigation. “The Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina Eldar Hasanov was arrested on suspicion of embezzling a large amount of money and wrongfully spending budget funds. He was arrested during the investigation and criminals proceedings are underway,” a statement said.  

The Ambassador was arrested in Azerbaijan during an investigation against a number of officials launched by the Foreign Ministry.  

Serbian Internal Affairs Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic was on a visit to Baku this week following recent protests by the Azeri authorities over sales of weapons and munitions to Armenia which were used in a border incident.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a629470/Azerbaijan-s-ambassador-to-Serbia-arrested.html

Kosovo’s Parliament fails to pass Law on KLA

August 13, 2020

In its first reading, the Law on Protecting Values of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) did not get the support of the MPs in the 120-seat Pristina’s Parliament due to the lack of quorum. Despite the Government’s support of the Law, only 35 deputies voted in favour, one was against, but since there was no quorum, the Law could be on the Parliament’s agenda for new voting, Radio Free Europe (RFE) reported.

The Democratic Party of Kosovo suggested the draft Law, but both the EU and the US warnedthat it curbed the freedom of speech and could intimidate the potential protected witnesses in the trials of some former KLA members.

The draft law stipulates that “in case of arrests or detentions of the KLA veterans based on the international warrants issued by Serbia for political reasons, Kosovo’s Government takes all necessary measures to protect them.”

It also says that “it’s the institutional and civil obligation to protect the KLA fight’s values,” and the disrespect will be treated as a crime.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a629350/Kosovo-s-Parliament-fails-to-pass-Law-on-KLA.html

Zoran Zaev named North Macedonia’s PM-designate

August 13, 2020

North Macedonia’s President Stevo Pendarovski nominated former premier Zoran Zaev as the Prime Minister-designate as candidate of the ‘Mozemo’ (We can) coalition which won the majority of the seats in Sobranie (the Parliament).

Zaev has 20 days to form a coalition government since the negotiations on a new parliamentary majority are still ongoing.

He said he was “convinced it will be a stable government with the full four-year mandate and it will continue to lead the country towards the European Union, creating the ‘One Society for All’ concept, free of nationalism and ethnic prejudices.”

Zaev, the leader of the North Macedonian Social-democrats, was the Prime Minister from May 3, 2017, to January 4 this year, when he resigned in a protest against the EU failure to set a date for the start of the accession talks with Skopje.

After the resignation, the country was led by a transitional government and the early vote was held on July 15, with Mozemo winning 46 and the nationalist opposition VMRO DPMNE 44 mandates in the 120-seat Parliament.

The largest Albanian party DUI has 15 deputies, the coalition of the Alliance for Albanians - Alternative won 12, while the Leftist has two MPs and the Democratic Party of Albanians one.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a629334/Zoran-Zaev-North-Macedonia-s-PM-designate.html

Croatian Serbs' leader: Relation with Vucic as possible and necessary

August 13, 2020

The President of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) in Croatia Milorad Pupovac said on Thursday his relation with Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic "is as possible and necessary."

"That has resulted in different kinds of help to Serb community in Croatia, and I hope it will contribute to a new kind of relations between Serbia and Croatia," Pupovac told the Belgrade Nedeljnik weekly.

Asked if the Serbs in Croatia were bringing decisions independently or in agreement with Belgrade Pupovac said that "there is no need for a mentor from Belgrade and even less for accusations from Zagreb of having one."

"In the same way, Zagreb should not patronise us, nor Belgrade should worry that will happen. We have been building, not destroying, the bridges between Zagreb and Belgrade for three decades," Pupovac said.

He added there were no regrets about Boris Milosevic, an SDSS deputy leader and an MP in Croatian Parliament, decision to witness the anniversary of the 'Storm'military operation in Knin.

"We are only more convinced that he has made a great sacrifice for what has not happened in the past 25 years to happen in his presence: the celebration of 'Storm' is not a source for new fears and intolerance towards Serbs (anymore); the empathy for Serbs' suffering is expressed; the crimes committed against them are condemned, and the call for their equal and dignified life, as well as for the return of those who want to live in Croatia, are heard," Pupovac said.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a629220/Croatian-Serbs-leader-Relation-with-Vucic-as-possible-and-necessary.html

Kosovo's fmr official: Over 70 pct of medical material form Serbia in 2016-2019

August 12, 2020

Kosovo's former secretary-general of the Health Ministry Naim Bardiqi said late on Tuesday that over 70 percent of medical equipment came to Pristina from Belgrade between 2016 and 2019, the FoNet news agency reported.

"As far as the handsel of PCR tests from Serbia, the communications was led by the president of Kosovo's United Medical Federation Vjosa Osmani. And regarding the medical equipment, the Health Ministry receives it once or twice a month," Bardiqi told the Kosovo online website.

He added he believed the Health Ministry had a permit to accept a 1,000 coronavirus tests but asked if that was an illegal move, he said he did not know. 


Bolton: Belgrade, Pristina might be far from solution; lack of US role in Balkan

August 7, 2020

Former US National Security Advisor John Bolton told N1 Sarajevo that Belgrade and Pristina might be far from resolving their dispute and he was concerned about the lack of Washington's role in the Balkans.

In an exclusive interview with N1's Esmir Milavic, Bolton said that a possible agreement to exchange territories would not affect the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  

He said that he believes the US would support Serbia and Kosovo if they agree to exchange territories in the part of the agreement which resolves all unresolved issues bringing economic, diplomatic and other relations but that the other countries in the region, especially Bosnia-Herzegovina have to be clearly told that bilateral solutions between Belgrade and Pristina do not affect Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria or some other country.  

He also said he was concerned over the lack of American engagement in the Balkans.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627513/Bolton-Belgrade-Pristina-might-be-far-from-solution-worried-about-US-role-in-the-Balkans.html

Serbian President wants discussion of fundamental issues in Kosovo talks

August 7, 2020

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Friday that he will demand a discussion of what he said are fundamental issues when the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue continues in Brussels on September 7.

“I will demand the implementation of the 2013 agreement signed under the auspices of the European Union on the forming of the Community of Serb Municipalities so we can see concrete steps and not just paper,” Vucic told a news conference.  

He said that Serbia will not quit the EU-mediated dialogue to normalize relations between Belgrade and Pristina. “We want a true dialogue, not just them saying that we have to recognize them… I told (US State Department official Matthew) Palmer and (President Trump’s special envoy Ambassador Richard) Grenell that in front of (Kosovo President Hashim) Thaci, I told everyone. I understand them, that is the policy of their countries… But some people are obviously not interested in discussing railway and air lines,” Vucic said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627431/Serbian-President-wants-discussion-of-fundamental-issues-in-Kosovo-talks.html

Expert: EU will insist on Community of Serb Municipalities

August 7, 2020

Ivan Vejvoda, the permanent member of the Vienna Institute for Human Sciences and the 'Europe's Futures project' Director told the KoSSev website on Friday the European Union would insist on the implementation of the agreement on the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM).

"I cannot see a solution if the Serb community in Kosovo doesn't have guarantees for its safety and welfare. Otherwise, we will see a demographic outflow which is by no means a goal of a solution that is looking for," Vejvoda said.

He added that no Serb leader would recognise Kosovo's independence 'uncaringly.'

At the same time, Vejvoda said, the lack of the EU's role in the Brussels dialogue had so far been in the fact that it did not follow which side honoured the undertaken obligations.

He described the previous meeting in Brussels as "exhaustive enumeration" and returning to some of the agreed solutions.

"Some (things) have to be fixed and numbered, those that are a part of a comprehensive agreement. And, of course, every side, as in a chess game's opening, puts forward its goals and its interpretations," Vejvoda said.

According to him, the CMS is one of the most critical elements of the agreement, and that Brussels is a key to it.

"As far as I know, Brussels will insist on the creation of CSM," Vejvoda, who was an advisor to the assassinated Serbia's Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in the early '90s, said.

He added the status quo was not a solution for either the EU, the region, or Belgrade and Pristina because it prevented progress both sides wanted – the EU membership.

"The main aims of a compromise are peace and stability in the region," Vejvoda said.

He added that both societies should show they respected the major civilisation and democratic values.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627655/Expert-EU-will-insist-on-Community-of-Serb-Municipalities.html

EU: Kosovo's draft Law on Protecting KLA Values contradicts freedom of speech

August 7, 2020

The European Union's Office in Pristina said that some stipulations in the draft Law on Protecting KLA Values were not in line freedom of speech.

 "Modern democracies rely on critical scrutiny and informed debates to discuss and interpret historical events and achieve progress. The Kosovo Liberation Army is an integral part of the History of Kosovo. 

The Draft Law on the Protection of Kosovo Liberation Army's War Values, however, contains provisions which raise serious concerns as regards the right of people to have their opinion," the EU's Facebook post said.

Earlier, the US ambassador to Kosovo Phillip Kosnett said that if the draft were adopted, 'it would weaken Kosovo's democracy."
"KLA fought to widen freedoms of Kosovo people, not to limit them," he said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627661/EU-Kosovo-s-draft-Law-on-Protecting-KLA-Values-contradicts-freedom-of-speech.html

State Department: Russia meddled in Bosnian elections

August 7, 2020

According to the latest report from the US State Department's Global Engagement Centre, Russia has meddled in Bosnia's elections as well as media acquisitions in Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia through its propaganda centres like the “quasi-thinktank” Katehon and associated proxies and media outlets.

According to the State Department, the main goal of the report titled “Pillars of Russia’s Disinformation and Propaganda Ecosystem” is to expose Russia's propaganda and disinformation tactics.

“Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem is the collection of official, proxy, and unattributed communication channels and platforms that Russia uses to create and amplify false narratives,” the report states.

According to the GEC “the Kremlin bears direct responsibility for cultivating these tactics and platforms as part of its approach to using information as a weapon.”

They claim that Russia invests massively in its propaganda channels, intelligence services as well as proxies to conduct malicious cyber activity to support their disinformation efforts, leveraging outlets that masquerade as news sites or research institutions to spread these false and misleading narratives.

The most prominent proxies which the report names are: The Strategic Culture Foundation, Global Research, New Eastern Outlook, News Front, SouthFront, SouthFront, Geopolitica.ru and Katehon – which is said to be linked to elections in Bosnia.

“Katehon is a Moscow-based quasi-think-tank that is a proliferator of virulent anti-Western disinformation and propaganda via its website, which is active in five languages. It is led by individuals with clear links to the Russian state and the Russian intelligence services,” the report states.

The “think-tank” was established by Konstantin Malofeyev who is, among other things, the head of the “pro-Putin monarchist society” the Double-Headed Eagle. The United States sanctioned Malofeyev as “one of the main sources of financing for Russians promoting separatism in Crimea” and bankrolling “separatist activities in eastern Ukraine,” the report said.

The GEC recalled media reports stating that Malofeyev served as a proxy for Kremlin priorities in Europe.

“Malofeyev was involved in the purported annexation of Crimea, support for the Russian military-backed separatist militancy in Donbas, election meddling in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and media acquisition in Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia.”

His "think-tank" Katehon promotes these same overarching goals through its disinformation and propaganda activities on its website which is frequently sourced by Russian media outlets.

The report also names Serbia as one of the countries from the region for is in the focus of many of these proxies.

Namely, proxies such as Geopolitica.ru, News Front, SouthFront and Katehon all publish their content in the Serbian language, among other languages. The exception is Katehon which had removed the Serbian language section from its website.

All the proxies which the report focused on also run accounts on all major social media platforms, running profiles on English and several other languages, including the Serbian language.

The report concluded that these disinformation attempts are not unchallenged and that a counter-disinformation community comprised of governments, civil society, academia, the press, the private sector, and citizens around the world who refuse to tolerate these tactics is pushing back.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627629/State-Department-Russia-meddled-in-Bosnian-elections.html

Dacic says his party fully supports Serbian president

August 7, 2020

Serbia’s outgoing Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on Friday that his Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) fully supports President Aleksandar Vucic in his battle for state and national interests.

A press release said that hard times demand national and political unity in that battle to protect public health and the country’s economic development.  

“The SPS will fully contribute to that unity in the fight for the future of Serbia,” Dacic is quoted as saying in the press release.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627499/Dacic-says-his-party-fully-supports-Serbian-president.html

Hyseni: Kosovo-Serbia agreement within 12 months or dialogue fails

August 7, 2020

Pristina’s coordinator for the Kosovo dialogue Skender Hyseni said on Friday that Belgrade and Pristina should reach an agreement within the next 12 months or see the reconciliation process fail.

“We expect an agreement which will include mutual recognition within 12 months or the process will fail. Everything we see at international level shows that this is a moment that Kosovo and Serbia must grab to make progress. Any delay means failute. I don’t know if Serbia understands that but if it intends to join the European Union it should,” Hyseni told the Klan Kosova TV station.

Hyseni insisted on intensive talks in coordination with the European Union, US and France and added that he would never agree to allow the dialogue process to drag on and boil down to technical issues. “The main issue has to be debated – normal relations between Kosovo and Serbia which can’t happen without mutual recognition,” he said.

He said that he was satisfied with his visit to Washington a week ago because the US administration, including the president’s special envoy Ambassador Richard Grenellis completely committed to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627349/Hyseni-Kosovo-Serbia-agreement-within-12-months-or-dialogue-fails.html

Kosovo’s opposition party collects signatures for no-confidence vote in Govt.

August 7, 2020

The largest opposition party in Kosovo, Self-Determination (Vetëvendosje) started collecting signatures for filing a motion for a no-confidence vote into the Government led by Avdulah Hoti, N1 reported on Thursday.

Vetëvendosje has 30 MPs and needs the support of ten more deputies to get the vote on the agenda of the 120-seat-strong Parliament.

The party said Hoti’s cabinet was not legitimate and not capable of running Kosovo.

The remaining ten signatories might be found among the MPs of Hoti’s main coalition party, Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, led by former premier Ramush Haradinaj.

He said they were unhappy with the Government, mainly because it resumed the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations.

Haradinaj warned his party would not support Hoti if he continued the dialogue without consulting with the coalition partners.

Hoti, the leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), who is currently in self-isolation after tested positive on coronavirus, became Prime Minister on June 3.

The previous cabinet led by Albin Kurti of the Vetëvendosje which won the general elections last October was voted out on March 25, after Kurti dismissed an LDK minister, turning the coalition partner against him.    

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627279/Kosovo-s-opposition-party-collects-signatories-for-non-confidence-vote.html

Slovenia confirms 10 new coronavirus cases

August 7, 2020

Over the past 24 hours ten new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Slovenia, the government said on Friday, adding that 753 samples were tested.

The number of cases since the start of the epidemic has reached 2,233 and the death toll is now 125.

There are currently 181 active cases and 24 patients hospitalised for Covid-19, including four in intensive care.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a627515/Slovenia-confirms-10-new-coronavirus-cases.html

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