International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Kosovo's Hoti: No agreement with Belgrade without mutual recognition


December 19, 2020

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said the statement by President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic on recognition of Kosovo do not contribute to the dialogue and that the agreement between Belgrade and Pristina cannot be finalized without mutual recognition.

Vucic said Serbia would not recognize Kosovo as long as he is the President and Hoti commented that the final agreement cannot be reached without mutual recognition.

“Kosovo remains committed to all open issues with Serbia that must conclude in the Brussels-based dialogue with the mediation of the European Union. The dialogue has resumed under clear principles of the final agreement on normalization of relations and mutual recognition, and there will be no partial deal,” Hoti wrote on his Facebook.

“Kosovo will continue its road to the European Union,” he added.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a685449/Kosovo-s-Hoti-No-agreement-with-Belgrade-without-mutual-recognition.html


Coronavirus: Slovenia registers 1,512 cases, 41 deaths

December 18, 2020

In the past 24 hours Slovenia has confirmed 1,512 new cases of coronavirus and another 41 infected people have died, the Slovenian government reported on Friday noting that there has been a significant decline in the number of hospitalized patients.

The share of positive cases among 5,869 tests conducted in the past 24 hours is 25.79%, the same as yesterday, although there is still a large number of people contracting the disease. The government expressed encouragement due to the number of hospitalized patients falling significantly.

There are currently 1,212 hospitalized patients, 17 fewer than the day before and there are 207 patients in intensive care, one fewer than on Thursday.

For six days now there has been a decline in the number of new cases. The 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 people is 967 and is fairly stable.

Nevertheless, the number of people dying each day is still high and the country's COVID death toll now stands at 2,274.

The government has decided that the country will not go into complete lockdown over the holidays and, as previously announced, some measures will be relaxed.

It is still not certain whether midnight Masses will be allowed on Christmas Eve as a curfew from 9 pm to 6 am is still in force.

In an effort to reduce the number of possible infections during the holidays, the government has decided that all public services that can, should work from home from December 24 to January 4.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a685009/Coronavirus-Slovenia-registers-1-512-cases-41-deaths.html

Croatia registers 3,272 new coronavirus cases, 68 deaths

December 18, 2020

In the past 24 hours Croatia has registered 3,272 new cases of coronavirus after testing 10,849 people, while 68 people have died, the national COVID response team reported on Friday.

There are currently 2,918 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 and 294 are on ventilators.

The total number of active cases stands at 21,297.

Since February 25, when the first cases were confirmed in Croatia, a total of 190,235 people have been infected with the novel virus, of whom 3,023 have died and 165,915 have recovered, with 4,352 recovering in the past 24 hours.

Currently, there are 54,587 people in self-isolation.

So far 931,358 people have been tested for the virus, including 10,849 in the past 24 hours.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a685011/Croatia-registers-3-272-new-coronavirus-cases-68-deaths.html

Coronavirus UPDATE: 51 deaths, 4,910 new cases

December 18, 2020

The Serbian Health Ministry said in its daily 3:00 pm bulletin on Friday that 51 people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 2,580.

It said that 16,740 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 4,910 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The total number of people tested to date stands at 2,118,129 with 292,640 confirmed cases.

The bulletin said that there are 9,544 active cases, including 349 patients on ventilators.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a685066/Coronavirus-UPDATE-51-deaths-4-910-new-cases.html

Bosnia records 784 new coronavirus cases and 33 fatalities

Source:  Bosnian health officials reported 784 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, along with 33 virus-related fatalities.

The country's Federation (FBiH) entity reported 548 new cases after testing 2,349 samples for the new coronavirus. The entity's Public Health Institute said they recorded 19 deaths caused by the virus.

The Republika Srpska (RS) region said they registered 208 new cases of the disease after testing 861 suspected samples. This entity also reported having 14 fatalities over the last 24 hours.

Brcko District health officials said they recorded 28 new coronavirus case and no fatalities.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a685065/Bosnia-records-784-new-coronavirus-cases-and-33-fatalities.html

Montenegro reports six more coronavirus deaths

December 18, 2020

Montenegro’s Public Health Institute said that another six people had died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total to 620 since the pandemic broke out.

It said that 1,414 people had been tested for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, including 395 who tested positive.

The Institute said that there are 9,279 active cases and added that 43,390 people had tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic broke out.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a685237/Montenegro-reports-six-more-coronavirus-related-deaths.html

Kosovo reports eight more Covid-19 deaths, 345 new patients

December 18, 2020

Eight more Covid-19 patients died in Kosovo and 345 new coronavirus infection cases were reported in the last 24 hours, according to news agencies.

The National Public Healthcare Institute of Kosovo said it has performed 1,501 lab tests since the last update, while a total of 171,154 persons has been tested since the epidemic outbreak.

Kosovo reported a total of 48,682 patients to date and 1,248 fatalities.

A total of 36,226 patients has recovered in Kosovo, 436 in the last 24 hours.

Currently, there are 11,208 active cases.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a685417/Kosovo-reports-eight-more-Covid-19-deaths-345-new-patients.html

North Macedonia reports 29 more coronavirus-related deaths

December 18, 2020

The North Macedonia Health Ministry reported 29 coronavirus-related deaths over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total to 2,254 since the pandemic broke out.

It said that 2,827 people had been tested in that period, including 883 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.  

The Public Health Institute said that another 536 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries to 52,949. It said that there are 21,931 active cases.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a685231/North-Macedonia-reports-29-more-coronavirus-related-deaths.html

North Macedonia steps up anti-pandemic measures

December 18, 2020

The North Macedonian government has shortened opening hours for cafes and restaurants and has banned all open-air New Year celebrations in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Opening hours for cafes and restaurants have been shortened from 9:00 pm to 6:00 pm and they along with hotels have been ordered not to organize any holiday celebrations. Hotel restaurants can be open to 9 pm but their bars have to close at 6 pm.  

All scheduled celebrations have to be canceled. Religious communities have been asked not to organize gatherings of the faithful.  

The government also banned the rental of houses in rural areas to groups of people who are not all part of the same household.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a685177/North-Macedonia-steps-up-anti-pandemic-measures.html

EU Special Representative: No discount on the rule of law

December 18, 2020

The Head of the EU Delegation in BiH, Johann Sattler, told N1 that he saw the country make significant progress on several fronts in the past 15 months since he came to Bosnia, but on some it made none, pointing out “the rule of law and the fight against corruption.”

“I think this country not only can do better, but it must also do better,” said the Austrian diplomat who since September 2019 serves as the EU Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Changes are a matter of urgency for the younger generations and “they are impatient,” he said, adding that young people compare their lives in BiH to what life looks like in Vienna or Hamburg.

“We are losing people here, we are losing 30-40 thousand people every year. This country is emptying out and this needs to stop,” he stressed.

Apart from politicians realizing the urgency of changes, citizens themselves can do more than just vote in elections, he said. They need to get involved, find their cause, he proposed.

“You must get off from behind your screen or your cell phone and become active and voice your concerns and be a force for change in this country,” he said, adding that the EU will continue to be there to help the citizens of BiH.

“But without this stronger involvement of people, of citizens, going out there, finding their cause and helping us, we will not make the progress we want to make,” he stressed.

Sattler said that he senses that there is a little bit more of an interest in engaging in such processes among citizens now, mentioning that some 35,000 people joined a recent online conference on the rule of law.

“That gives me hope that there are people out there willing to get engaged,” he said.

A burning issue, he said, was people’s lack of trust in judicial institutions. About 70 percent of citizens have expressed dissatisfaction with the judiciary, he noted.

The country needs “amendments to the law that allow for integrity checks of the highest office holders” in Bosnia’s top judicial institution, the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC), as the first step in order for people to start trusting the judiciary again, he said.

He argued that the judicial reform needs a "radical" approach and a change in the "judicial culture".

“There will be no discounts when it comes to the rule of law,” Sattler said.

As for the loopholes created by the imperfect Dayton Peace Agreement that ended Bosnia’s war in 1995, Sattler said that the EU integration path is the best way to correct some of the anomalies of the Dayton system, such as the blocking mechanisms.

“Part of the problem here is a lack of functionality and this is to a large extent because you can block each other along the way,” he said.

He compared the birth of the EU with the reconstruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina because it was also built on “the ruins of WWII.”

Only five years after the war in which 50 million people were killed, Germany and France started their economic cooperation and their reconciliation process, he said.

“We need to see something similar here in BiH. And we see it, when we go outside, every day 100 good projects happen, when representatives of communities reach out to the other side,” Sattler said.

The EU representative praised the fact that the southern city of Mostar will hold elections on Sunday after 12 years and called the event a “feast for democracy.”

“This is what this city needs, but equally important is the next day, the next week, the next month so that people see a change,'' he said, reminding of the problems that piled up in the city over the past decade, such as potholes, the sewage system, and garbage recycling.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a496541/EU-Special-Representative-No-discount-on-the-rule-of-law.html

Komsic urges Dodik to reveal how he got the Ukrainian icon he gave to Lavrov

December 18, 2020

The Bosnian Croat member of BiH’s tripartite Presidency, Zeljko Komsic, urged on Friday his Bosnian Serb colleague and Chairman of the institution, Milorad Dodik, to reveal how he obtained the gilded Ukrainian icon which he gave Russia’s Foreign Affairs Minister as a gift on Monday, causing an international diplomatic scandal.

Russia’s Sergey Lavrov received the 300-year-old gilded icon during his visit to Bosnia from Dodik on Monday.

However, the icon appears to be from Luhansk, Ukraine, as it has a seal proving its originality, as shown in the photo published by the SRNA news agency.

The Ukrainian Embassy in Sarajevo has already sent a note to the BiH Ministry of Foreign Affairs asking for detailed information on the origin of what it suspects is a piece of Ukrainian cultural heritage.

Bosnia's Prosecutor's Office said on Friday that it formed a case regarding the matter.

“I call upon Mr. Dodik to reveal to the public who gave him the stolen icon!” Kosmic said.

“If it’s true that (the icon) is from Ukraine and that it was brought to Banja Luka during the war in Ukraine - in other words, that it was stolen - then somebody has to go to jail if we are trying to be a real country,” he said.

“The Chairman of the BiH Presidency, Dodik, should reveal where he got that from, who gave it to him, who set him up,” he insisted, adding that the case would end up being investigated in every normal country.

“This must end up at court, someone must go to prison if it’s true,” he said.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a496421/Komsic-urges-Dodik-to-reveal-how-he-got-the-Ukrainian-icon-he-gave-to-Lavrov.html

Vucic: no recognition of Kosovo, or membership in NATO

December 18, 2020

President Aleksandar Vucic said on Friday that Serbia would not recognize Kosovo as long as he is in office, nor would it become a member of NATO.

Speaking on a live talk show on the pro-authorities TV Prva, Vucic said that “Belgrade certainly will not recognize Kosovo” by April 2022 when the next presidential elections are to be held.  

Vucic said that Serbia also won’t join NATO because it is a militarily neutral country. “I think that is the best position, safeguarding our country ourselves, as well as the skies and the people and we will continue to do that,” he said.

The Serbian President said that any changes to the Dayton Agreement can only be decided by the three constituent nations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and its two entities (the Republika Srpska and BiH Federation) and not by the president of Serbia. He said that the pressure to create a functional state of Bosnia-Herzegovina “is pressure leading in the other direction” and is essentially about “reducing the competencies of the Republika Srpska”. “The essence lies in taking away powers and jurisdiction from the Republika Srpska, not making Bosnia-Herzegovina a functional state,” he said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a685265/Vucic-No-recognition-of-Kosovo-nor-membership-in-NATO.html

Gendarmerie deployed following two shooting incidents in western Serbia

December 18, 2020

The Gendarmerie has been deployed to the western Serbian city of Novi Pazar following two shooting incidents, Radio Free Europe reported on Friday.

It quoted an NGO activist who said that Gendarmerie troopers were patrolling the city alongside the local police, checking vehicles. The Gendarmerie were deployed from their base in nearby Kraljevo.  

Internal Affairs Minister Aleksandar Vulin said earlier that the security forces in the city which has a large Moslem population would be reinforced. Vulin visited Novi Pazar on December 17, the day of the second shooting incident in which one person was wounded. Two people were wounded in the first shooting incident in front of the local Police Department building.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a685227/Gendarmerie-deployed-following-two-shooting-incidents-in-western-Serbia.html

Kosovo PM Hoti confirms mass graves found in two places


December 18, 2020

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said on Friday that human remains had been found in the Orahovac and Prizren areas but did not specify who they are thought to be, the KoSSev news portal said.

“As part of the maximum commitment to finding out the fate of the missing during the recent war in Kosovo, excavations were conducted in two locations and remains were found,” a press release quoted him as saying.

Hoti said that local people provided information to the government missing person commission and the police war crimes department. “I am calling every citizen who might have information about missing persons to inform the proper authorities,” the prime minister said.

KoSSev said that the Kosovo missing person commission is listing 1,638 people as missing. It recalled that the fate of missing persons is the focus of the Washington agreements and the new stage of the Belgrade-Pristina talks. European Union special envoy Miroslav Lajcak said during his recent visit to Pristina that the chapter on missing persons in a future comprehensive agreement to normalize relations has already been written.

KoSSev said that more attention has been devoted to the missing person issue since then, adding that excavations have been done outside Raska in Serbia proper, at the Moslem cemetery in Kosovska Mitrovica, and several locations south of the Ibar river inside Kosovo.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a685223/Kosovo-PM-Hoti-confirms-mass-graves-found-in-two-places.html


Serbian Defense Ministry buys equipment, weapons from local companies

December 18, 2020

The Serbian Defense Ministry signed contracts on Friday to buy equipment and weaponry from local defense industry companies.

A ministry press release said that contracts had been signed with the Zastava TERVO and Zastava Firearms companies to buy a new all-terrain armored vehicle and new modular rifles which would be equipped with optical sights made by the Teleoptik company and new ammunition developed by the Prvi Partizan company.  

Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said that the MRAP 6x6 armored vehicle would be put into service next year. “Our Prva Petoletka Trstenik company developed the prototype and built the first series of the artillery-missile system Pasars which will be a procurement priority for the ministry next year. This is the best way to make use of domestic know-how, employ domestic companies, and give our soldiers modern weapons and equipment,” he is quoted as saying.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a685205/Serbian-Defense-Ministry-buys-equipment-weapons-from-local-companies.html

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