International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Farmers continue road block protests

November 20, 2023

Farmers in Vojvodina blocked a major road on Monday, allowing only ambulances and cars with children through.

The farmers blocked the Kovin-Bavaniste-Pancevo road with more than 50 tractors, continuing their protest with demands for subsidies and lower diesel fuel prices. The farmers are blocking an approach road to Novi Sad and the highway at Kac.

Last week, the farmers blocked the Pancevo refinery and staged protest drives on road leading into the city of Novi Sad creating traffic jams on the road to Zrenjanin. They also blocked a major crossroads and approaches to the Subotica-Belgrade highway for hours.

The first day of protests ended with a stand-off between farmers and local ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) officials and supporters in front of the home of a protest organizer.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/farmers-continue-road-block-protests/

Kurti wants agreement to allow Kosovo Serbs to vote

November 20, 2023

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said that official Belgrade should propose an agreement to allow the Kosovo Serbs to vote in the December 17 elections.

Kurti’s letter to the OSCE mission chief in Pristina said that a draft agreement should come from Serbia as an interested part with full respect for the sovereignty and independence of Kosovo “in line with article 2 of the Basic Agreement reached this year”.

Kurti added that Serbia has to negotiate an agreement with Kosovo which would include the obligation from the Basic Agreement “to contribute to good neighbor relations based on equal rights and mutual respect of voter rights abroad”.

The Kosovo government refused to allow Serbs to vote in Kosovo for the April 2022 Serbian elections unlike previous elections when local polling stations were organized and the ballots taken to Serbia to be counted. Serbian regime opponents have been claiming since the 1990s that the votes of the Kosovo Serbs were manipulated.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/kurti-wants-agreement-to-allow-kosovo-serbs-to-vote/

NATO's Stoltenberg arrives in Bosnia for working visit

November 19, 2023

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Sunday evening.

The Secretary-General will stay in Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia and North Macedonia from November 19 to 22, 2023.

As announced, on Sunday night he will have a working dinner with members of the BiH Presidency.

Earlier, Stoltenberg said that BiH is among the countries that deserve special attention from NATO, as is the case with Georgia and Moldova.

On Monday, Secretary General Stoltenberg will meet with the High Representative for BiH, Christian Schmidt, NATO announced.

He will also meet with the BiH Council of Ministers Chair, Borjana Kristo.

Stoltenberg is planning to visit the NATO headquarters in Sarajevo and have meetings with military leaders and representatives of the international community.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/natos-stoltenberg-arrives-in-bosnia-for-working-visit/

Mass for Croatian defenders said in Madrid, commemorations held in BiH

November 19, 2023

A mass for Croatian defenders was said in Madrid's Pontifical Basilica of St. Michael on Saturday to mark on Homeland War Victims Remembrance Day and Vukovar and Skabrnja Victims Remembrance Day, observed on 18 November.

The mass was led by the basilica's rector, Juan Ramón García-Morato, and Croatian priest, Reverend Renato Kucic who in his speech thanked all Croatian defenders for the freedom and independence of Croatia.

In attendance at the mass in that baroque Roman Catholic church was also Croatian Ambassador Nives Malenica and other members of the embassy staff.

In the Croat-populated areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina, commemorative ceremonies were held to mark Vukovar and Skabrnja Victims Remembrance Day.

In Mostar, hundreds of citizens lit candles and told prayers in the city's Vukovarska Ulica Street on Saturday evening.

In Novi Travnik, central Bosnia, a 10-metre-long mural with Vukovar's Water Tower as the city's landmark, was painted in memory of the suffering of Vukovar residents in the 1991-1995 Homeland War.

Dozens of people from Vitez, Zepce, Orasje, Tuzla and Brcko, travelled to Vukovar to join Saturday's Remembrance Procession.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/mass-for-croatian-defenders-said-in-madrid-commemorations-held-in-bih/

Serbian farmers respond to Govt proposal: First, diesel without excise duty and VAT, then negotiations

November 18, 2023

he protesting farmers responded to the proposal sent by the Government of Serbia and stressed their request for fuel without excise duty and VAT, after which they are open to negotiations.

Farmer Vojislav Malbaski told N1 that excise-free diesel must be available at all gas stations.

Previously, the Government proposed the formation of a Working Group for „coordinating activities to improve commodity and market operations with agricultural products.“

Farmers responded with a letter stating that such a solution is a „pure waste of time.“

They said that if the government passes an act that provides relief for farmers to fill fuel at all gas stations without excise duty and VAT, they are ready to welcome government representatives to a meeting at the Farmers’ Club in Kisac on Monday.

Farmers are continuing their protests by blocking the road in Centa. The blockade lasted for one hour, after which they will allow drivers to resume traffic for 30 minutes, after which they will make another one-hour blockade and continue doing so indefinitely.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/serbian-farmers-respond-to-govt-proposal-first-diesel-without-excise-duty-and-vat-then-negotiations/

Palestinians with BiH passports and their relatives allowed entry into Bosnia

November 18, 2023

The Bosnian government held an extraordinary telephone session on Sunday and after yesterday's failure, unanimously passed a decision to allow the recently evacuated Palestinians who are relatives of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to enter the country.

Several dozens of Bosnian citizens and their relatives were evacuated from Gaza. They are currently staying in Cairo, where according to the law they can stay for only 72 hours.

After the Council of Ministers passed the decision, the Bosnian citizens together with their families will be able to enter the country without hindrance.

According to information from the Council of Ministers, there are some 30 citizens of Palestine. BiH Minister of Security Nenad Nesic said that all the necessary security checks have been carried out and that the said persons can enter Bosnia without any problems.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/palestinians-with-bih-passports-and-their-relatives-allowed-entry-into-bosnia/

N1 learns-The decision on entry of Palestinians into BiH prolonged

November 18, 2023

It is still uncertain whether Palestinian citizens who are relatives of Bosnian citizens from Gaza will be allowed to enter Bosnia and Herzegovina. The vote at the telephone session of the Council of Ministers was postponed to 8:30 p.m., N1 learns that one of the ministers from the Serb people requested the vote be postponed.

As N1 learned, the final vote was prolonged again due to certain opposition among the ministers of the Serb people.

An extraordinary telephone session of the BiH government was scheduled for Saturday with only one item on the agenda – the Decision regarding the permission for citizens of Palestine who are relatives of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to enter the country.

They were evacuated from Gaza and have been staying in Cairo for three days, which is the maximum number of days they can spend there, i.e. 72 hours. The Council of Ministers just called a session on Saturday to decide whether relatives of BiH citizens will be allowed to enter or not.

BiH Ambassador Sabit Subasic told N1 that he will try to extend the stay period for BiH citizens and their relatives in Cairo.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/n1-learns-the-decision-on-entry-of-palestinians-into-bih-prolonged/

Bosnia's special police apprehends alleged terrorist at Sarajevo Airport

November 18, 2023

Members of the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) Apprehended a man at Sarajevo International Airport in cooperation with the police officers of the BiH Border Police, who was suspected of being a member of the terrorist group ISIS, and having committed crimes of joining foreign paramilitary or parapolice organizations in connection with the crime of "Terrorism". Islamic State (ISIL).

He was taken to the SIPA premises for criminal processing and interrogation as a suspect, after which he will be handed over to the further jurisdiction of the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Local news outlets reported that the person in question was Adnan Catic, who previously fought alongside the terrorist organisation Islamic State (ISIS). He arrived in Sarajevo by plane from Istanbul. Catic left for Syria in 2013.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/bosnias-special-police-apprehends-alleged-terrorist-at-sarajevo-airport/

AFP carries report on Croatia deterring migrants from going to West

November 18, 2023

Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Friday published a report headlined "Croatia cracks down on migrants as Europe beefs up border checks" in which this French international news agency comments on reintroduction of border checks "amid a surge in illegal migration across the region."

AFP recalls that “it took Croatia years to finally enter into Europe's passport-free travel zone that promised to ease access for other European nationals travelling to the country and boost its tourism-driven economy.”

Croatia joined the Schengen Area on 1 January 2023, “when border crossings with European Union peers were dismantled”.

However, being faced with an influx of illegal migrants, Slovenia “re-introduced checks along its borders last month, following similar moves by Italy and other EU countries.”

AFP quotes the mayor of Krnjak, a Croatian municipality near the border with Bosnia, as saying that “people ask themselves what kind of fence could stop these people who passed so many frontiers and countries,”

Krnjak has been a hot-spot for crossings for some time. Mayor Perica Matijevic, who referred to a registration camp for incoming migrants that is being prepared in the area, “is not alone in his weariness.”

“Locals in the scarcely populated area complain that groups of migrants — almost all of whom are young men — moving through the area have only increased anxieties,” the agency reports.

“One should feel safe in his own house but migrants pass through our yards … there were thefts, it's not pleasant,” said a local student from the village of Dugi Dol, close to where the camp will open.

Croatia magnet for illegal migrants hoping to enter EU

Croatia, which guards one of EU's longest external land borders, has long been a magnet for illegal migrants hoping to enter the bloc.

“Over the years, the country gained an infamous reputation for fiercely patrolling its borders, leading to accusations that its authorities used violence to push back EU-bound refugees” AFP writes.

In 2021, major European media outlets made reports on “uncovered alleged systematic targeting of refugees by special units in Croatia, Greece and Romania.”

AFP on Friday commented that “migrants said little has changed.”

This news agency quoted two Afghani migrants as saying that they were treated “like animals” by Croatia's law enforcement authorities.

Atefa, a 29-year-old Afghan refugee who did not provide her surname for security reasons, told AFP that “Croatian police treated her and eight fellow migrants ‘like animals’.”

Along with forcing them to collect garbage and pouring water in their shoes, officers groped women and made obscene noises, she told AFP in a camp in Bihac, northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina.

A 21-year-old man, Raz Mohammad Saifi had the years-long sojourn from his native Afghanistan to the Croatian border which AFP described “an arduous and sometimes violent journey that has seen him travel overland from Turkey to Bosnia”. After entering Croatia, Saifi said he was assaulted by police.

Travellers and locals say temporary checks necessary

The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan along with a massive earthquake in Turkey and Syria in February and renewed unrest in the Middle East has left many fearing that the surge in illegal migration will continue.

At the Bregana-Obrezje crossing, one of Croatia's 73 former land border posts with other EU countries, travellers and residents said that the temporary checks were necessary.

Last year, nearly half of the more than 300,000 EU-bound migrants used the so-called Balkans route, the highest number since the 2015-2016 refugee crisis, according to the bloc's border surveillance agency Frontex.

During the first 10 months this year nearly 100,000 migrants relied on the route with almost 63,000 — notably Afghans, followed by Turks, Moroccans and Pakistanis — crossing illegally into Croatia, official figures show.

The number represents a 73 percent jump compared with the same period last year.

This year a total of 2,559 persons reported violent pushbacks to Bosnia from Croatia, mirroring figures from 2022, according to the Danish Refugee Council.

Rights groups warn violence against refugees will likely increase

But rights groups warn that violence against refugees will likely increase as security is beefed up across Croatia's borders.

“When the police caught us, they stripped and searched us, took our mobile phones, money, shoes,” Saifi told AFP, saying police also sicced dogs on him and others before forcing the group to cross a river back into Bosnia.

Residents from the border village of Trzac gave Saifi and four others clothes and shoes before an aid group organised the men's transport to a nearby camp.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/afp-carries-report-on-croatia-deterring-migrants-from-going-to-west/

Vucic-I did not order police to enter D Express premises

November18, 2023

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic denied that he ordered the police to enter the premises of the courier service D Express, which is owned by United Group.

During his tour of the stadium in Loznica, Vucic said that he found out about the police entry into that company only when the president of the Freedom and Justice Party, Dragan Djilas, and the leader of the Serbia Center Party, Zdravko Ponos, spoke about it.

„I don’t give orders to the police, except when it comes to the security of the state – regarding the Serbian Army. I didn’t even order the police to enter the Post Office,“ he said.

Vucic said that he didn’t even know that D Express was part of United Group, with the comment: „Those who have – they can.“

The premises of D Express company were raided by the Crime Suppression Service of Serbia’s Criminal Police Directorate on Thursday evening.

Previously, the pro-regime media accused D Express of being behind the strike of Post Serbia employees.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/vucic-i-did-not-order-police-to-enter-d-express-premises/

Former trustee-By raiding D Express, Serbian Govt ignores constitutionally guaranteed rights

November 18, 2023

Former Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Protection of Personal Data, Rodoljub Sabic, assessed that it is extremely worrying that the government increasingly relativizes and even completely ignores, even the basic constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights.

Sabic, who now heads the non-governmental organization Civil Committee for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, emphasized in a written statement that the violation of human rights always, and especially by the actions of those whose primary task should be to protect them, causes justified dissatisfaction among citizens and can lead to indignation and even physical conflicts with the police.

Sabic recalled that in recent days the police raided the premises of the Faculty of Special Education and the premises of the D Express company, which were carried out without a necessary court order.

He also referred to the provision of the Constitution, which states that no one can enter someone else’s apartment or other premises against the will of their owner, nor conduct a search in them, without a written decision of the court.

The premises of D Express were raided, on Thursday evening, by the Crime Suppression Service of Serbia’s Criminal Police Directorate.

Previously, the pro-regime media accused D Express of being behind the strike by Post Serbia employees.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/former-trustee-by-raiding-d-express-serbian-govt-ignores-constitutionally-guaranteed-rights/

Opposition member of Supervisory Board-Vucic abuses his position

November 18, 2023

The Supervisory Board member of the Serbian Parliament for the election campaign, Slobodan Prvanovic, who was appointed to that body at the proposal of the opposition, assessed that Saturday’s appearance of the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, on TV Pink was an abuse of office.

He called on the Supervisory Board to ask the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office to initiate proceedings to establish the criminal responsibility of the head of state.

Prvanovic sent an email to the Board in which he stated that Vucic was announced as the President of the Republic in the show and that he „engaged in political agitation that relies on insults to political dissenters,“ as well as that „agitated politically in favor of one political option“.

He added that at the end of the interview, the President of Serbia ended with a „political slogan from one of the electoral lists“.

„The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, attacked, on a political basis, certain participants in the election process, endangering their integrity and personal dignity, which is exactly what the Board condemned in our second statement,“ Prvanovic noted.

Early elections will be held in Serbia on December 17.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/opposition-member-of-supervisory-board-vucic-abuses-his-position/

Train collision in Serbia, five people injured

November 18, 2023

The Sombor hospital announced that after the train accident that happened Friday night in the town of Rakovo near Odzak, five people were detained for hospital treatment.

Last night around 7 pm there was a train accident when a passenger and freight train collided. The passenger train ran into a freight train from the rear and the force of the impact caused it to derail.

The dispatcher of the trains at the Ratkovo station verbally admitted the fault in the work that caused the accident, the Railway Infrastructure of Serbia said.

Out of five hospitalized people in the hospital in Sombor, one patient has severe liver injuries and a rib fracture and is in the Intensive Care Unit. The other four patients are currently in stable condition and have been admitted to the Department of Surgery due to head injuries and rib fractures, the hospital announced.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/train-collision-in-serbia-five-people-injured/

Vucic-We have a problem with the director of the Post Office

November 18, 2023

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that he was not happy with what was happening at the Post Office, where a strike by part of the employees had been going on for days.

Vucic said that he saw good and responsible people at the Post Office.

„But we have a problem with the director of that company because we wonder what he was doing and why he didn’t listen to those people, those responsible and serious people. Why didn’t he listen to them? Why wasn’t more attention paid to their problems,“ he told Pink TV.

Serbia’s Post Office employees were on strike due to low wages for days, and the first dismissals in three months have begun for all those who participated in the strike.

Part of the employees continued their strike even after Prime Minister Ana Brnabic’s agreement with the trade unions on increasing wages at the Post Office.

Early elections will be held in Serbia on December 17.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/vucic-we-have-a-problem-with-the-director-of-the-post-office/

After threats, N1 reporter gets a call from Dodik: He was yelling, cursing and offending her

November 17, 2023

After verbally attacking N1 reporter Snezana Mitrovic during a press conference on Thursday, President of Bosnia's Republika Srpska entity Milorad Dodik called the journalist, yelling, cursing and offending her.

Mitrovic said she feels disturbed and threatened.

Unfortunately, we are used to insults and verbal attacks at press conferences. It is very dangerous that the journalistic community remains silent about this type of attack. I am perhaps a little bit disappointed today, because the media in general remained silent on what was said at the press conference yesterday. I do not need a lawyer or to be defended, I have been defending myself with my honorable work for 20 years. But, when an official admits that he has a service that monitors the work of journalists, it is very dangerous and indicative for me. For me, it is a call for investigative bodies to look into these allegations, what kind of services are monitoring the work of the media and journalists and whether they are doing it legally,” she said.

A call from Dodik's office, curses and insults

A few hours after the said press conference, when Dodik addressed a series of accusations towards N1 and Mitrovic, the N1 reporter received a call from the RS President's Office.

A person established the call and then transferred it to Dodik himself.

Mitrovic said that everything happened fast, in one minute. She answered and thought Dodik was about to apologise for his words earlier that day.

“I naively believed that. It crossed my mind that he might accept an interview, because I send requests regularly. Instead, curses and shouting followed, I couldn't even get to start speaking. This is the first time I get such a call. Mr. Dodik was protesting and shouting because of the text published on N1 portal. He started shouting and cursing, it was very personal and unpleasant. Very stressful. In that minute of the conversation, he used obscene words, he cursed, he used F-words.I was not raised to repeat those words. I don't have an app on my phone that records calls, so I don't have audio evidence of that conversation, but there were colleagues there. I was very upset yesterday and I didn't know how to act. Whether to report it as some kind of a threat, whether to remain silent, whether to retreat into myself. The day after a sleepless night, I think it is very important to say it. I found out that some other colleagues received private calls from the Palace (the President's Office) and that they are regularly receiving private calls from the Palace. And every call from the president is a pressure on your work. The colleagues shouldn't be flattered by that, it's a pressure on the work of journalists, that's how I see it,” stressed Mitrovic.

She sees this incident as the worst so far.

Yesterday, for the first time, I thought about the darkness in which I walk. I have never felt unsafe before, but I consider this in some way a threat to safety and targeting of people who do this public work, which is very difficult. The stress we experience every day has consequences on our health, and I'm afraid that one day it will pay off,” she said.

Mitrovic reported everything to the Free Media Help Line. She hasn't gone to the police yet, but if she had a recording of the call she woudl have done that immediately. Mitrovic pointed out that she does not engage in illegal wiretapping, but that there has to be a trace of calls from the institution.

Snezana Mitrovic has worked for N1 since the founding of this media company. She proved herself with professional work. She is a journalist with almost 20 years of experience. She covers the topics of internal politics, economy, social processes, and culture. She has made dozens of documentaries. She has never been sued for defamation, nor prosecuted. Mitrovic was named the best student of her generation. She is the mother of two children.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/after-threats-n1-reporter-gets-a-call-from-dodik-he-was-yelling-cursing-and-offending-her/

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