International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Veterans disrupt Kosovo parliament session

June 16, 2022
A crowd of war veterans disrupted Thursday’s session of the Kosovo parliament, protesting plans not to raise their pensions.
A spokesman for the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) veterans said that parliament should not adopt the law on minimum wages which does not include a rise in veterans’ pensions. “If the law takes effect we will send it tom the Constitutional Court and we are 100 percent sure that a violation of the constitution will be found,” Faton Klinaku said.
The veterans managed to break into the parliament garden amid a strong police presence with officers in riot gear.
Inside parliament, the session began with opposition MPs pounding their seats and should OVK (KLA in Albanian).
Opposition MPs then stood in front of the pulpit and voiced a number of demands for KLA veterans’ rights, demanding the inclusion of veterans in the law on minimum wages. Parliament speaker Glauk Konjufca broke the deadlock by calling MP group chiefs to his cabinet for consultations.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/veterans-disrupt-kosovo-parliament-session/

EUCOM delegation meets Serbian Air Force counterparts

June 16, 2022
A delegation from the US European Command (EUCOM) is in Serbia to exchange views on combat search and rescue with its counterparts in the Serbian Air Force, a press release said on Thursday.
It said that key Search and Rescue Service issues will be discussed as well as cooperation between the Serbian and US air forces. “The discussion focused on exchange of professional experience in applying operating procedures in planning and executing helicopter CSAR operations and use of modern devices and equipment which enable search, location and evacuation of personnel from surrounding areas and inaccessible terrain in all weather/ground conditions,” the press release said.
It said that the Serbian and US air forces have cooperated successfully for a number of years, “contributing towards AF and AD helicopter units’ capability building primarily in the field of flight safety on SAR operations”.
EUCOM Deputy Commander Lieutenant General Michael Howard visited Serbia late in April, meeting with Serbian Chief of Staff General Milan Mojsilovic.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/eucom-delegation-meets-serbian-air-force-counterparts/

Energy minister denies sale of Serbian power company

June 16, 2022
Serbian Mining and Energy Minister Zorana Mihajlovic denied media claims that the national power company (EPS) was up for sale.
She said the privatization of the EPS was never discussed. “I the newspapers that reported the sale of EPS did not ask the ministry for information. The EPS is certainly not for sale, nor was that ever discussed, nor does anyone think that an important company should be privatized,” she told the pro-government TV Prva.
According to her, the EPS should build new capacities, primarily water-powered plants as well as solar plants and wind farms with strategic partnerships for those projects.
Mihajlovic said that there would be no shortages of power or limits next winter, adding that the government has done everything possible to secure sufficient amounts of fuels. “We will continue getting most of our natural gas from Russia and that is important because we are 100 percent dependent on them. We have an agreement with Hungary to store gas along with our storage at Banatski Dvor and we have secured sufficient amounts,” she said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/energy-minister-denies-sale-of-serbian-power-company/

Schools in Serbia, Kosovo receive bomb threats

June 16, 2022
Schools across Serbia received bomb threats on Thursday, the Education Ministry said in a press release.
All schools in Serb-majority communities also received bomb threats, forcing evacuation. The Serbian Government’s Office for Kosovo said this was the first time that schools in those areas received bomb threats.
The ministry press release said all the schools were evacuated with police bomb squads searching for possible explosive devices. It added that the threats were e-mailed to the schools.
The Foreign Ministry was also evacuated due to a bomb threat but only after a meeting between Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.
The Internal Affairs Ministry (MUP) confirmed the bomb threats. An N1 reporter saw police at an elementary school in Belgrade.
Serbia has been plagued by bomb threats to schools, public buildings, hospitals and airports over the past few weeks. Some analysts believe the threats are connected to Belgrade’s failure to impose sanctions on Russia.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/schools-in-serbia-kosovo-receive-bomb-threats/

Von Cramon-Sanctions and recognition of Kosovo to join EU

June 16, 2022
Viola von Cramon MEP said on Thursday that Serbia has to impose sanctions on Russia and recognize Kosovo if it wants to join the European Union.
She said that this is not an either/or question,” she told the Nova newspaper adding that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic explained all the difficulties but that the EU still has to see that Belgrade is committed to the dealing with the sanctions and dependence on Russian fuels. According to Von Cramon, the EU expects a final agreement to include Serbia recognizing Kosovo.
She said the Kosovo authorities have to implement court rulings on the Serbian Orthodox Church’s Decani monastery and draw up a plan to form the Community of Serb Municipalities.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/von-cramon-sanctions-and-recognition-of-kosovo-to-join-eu/

Vucic tells Cavusoglu Serbia committed to promoting cooperation

June 16, 2022
President Aleksandar Vucic told Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that Serbia remains committed to promoting cooperation in all fields of mutual interest.
A press release from the President’s cabinet said that they discussed bilateral relations, regional issues and promoting economic cooperation with focus on investments, the energy industry and infrastructure projects. They also discussed an agreement which would allow Serbian and Turkish nationals to enter both countries with just their personal ID cards.
“We see Turkey as a strong partner and are very committed to developing and deepening overall relations. We have common economic interests and it’s important that Turkey has been helping the development of less developed parts of Serbia through large investments,” Vucic is quoted as saying. He added that he appreciates Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s personal contribution to bilateral cooperation and the arrival of Turkish investors.
“The construction and exploitation of the Turkish flow (gas pipeline) which supplies the region with natural gas is of exceptional significance for Serbia,” Vucic said.
He said that the peace and stability of the region are of key interest to Serbia adding that only intensive cooperation of all Western Balkan countries can bring prosperity and development.
The press release quoted Cavusoglu as saying that President Erdogan will visit Serbia and the region soon. He thanked Serbia for its support to Turkish investors. “You are doing an excellent job for your country and the region,” he said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/vucic-tells-cavusoglu-serbia-committed-to-promoting-cooperation/

Coronavirus UPDATE: 2 deaths, 312 new cases

June 15, 2022
The Serbian Health Ministry said in its daily bulletin on Wednesday that two people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 16,105.
It said that 6,988 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 312 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The total number of people tested to date stands at 9,808,682 with 2,021,264 confirmed cases.
The bulletin said that there are 80 hospitalized cases, including seven patients on ventilators.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-update-2-deaths-312-new-cases/

Dodik in Russia, announces meeting with Lavrov

June 15, 2022
Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of Bosnia's tripartite Presidency, has arrived in Sankt Petersburg where he will attend the International Economic Forum and meet Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
“I am glad that we have the opportunity to resume our earlier talks. There are no speculations, anything the others claimed two to three months ago has been missed,” said Dodik, adding that the talks will focus on “how to stabilise our relations, enhance the projects related to gas pipeline and two gas power plants construction, and how to strengthen our efforts to cooperate at the cultural and economic as well as other levels.”
Speaking to the public broadcaster RTRS, Dodik said that the event he is attending in Russia is one of the largest economic forums, especially today when it is being held in light of the conflict in Ukraine.
“There will be 70 or 80 representatives of the states and governments, the most important companies from the part of the world that does not belong to the West, because the West has obviously boycotted it,” said Dodik.
“According to our policy that we do not want to be a part that would support and praise or challenge someone, we equally want to be present and be part of a forum that should respond to many challenges in the world,” he added.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/dodik-in-russia-announces-meeting-with-lavrov/

German government approves deployment of soldiers to EU mission in Bosnia

June 15, 2022
Germany will redeploy soldiers to Bosnia and Herzegovina as a part of the European Union's military deployment in the country, the EUFOR Althea mission, the government decided on Wednesday.
The EUFOR Althea mission succeeded the NATO peacekeeping mission in the country and the deployment last included the German soldiers in 2012.
According to government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit, Germany will send maximum  of 50 soldiers back to the country and the mandate is limited to a year.
Defense Ministry spokesman David Helmbold said the troops would be deployed to the headquarters in Sarajevo and in two mobile observation and liaison teams that would act as the “eyes and ears” of the mission.
Germany's decision was welcomed by international peace envoy in Bosnia, High Representative Christian Schmidt.
The EUFOR mission has been recently reinforced by 500 more troops as what they called a “precautionary measure” to strengthen stability in BiH.”
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/german-government-approves-deployment-of-soldiers-to-eu-mission-in-bosnia/

Intl peace envoy welcomes Germany's support to EU military deployment in Bosnia

June 15, 2022
International peace envoy in Bosnia and Herzegovina Christian Schmidt has welcomed the decision of German authorities to support the European Union's military deployment in Bosnia and Herzegovina EUFOR/Althea with German soldiers.
The German Government approved the deployment of up to 50 soldiers to join the EUFOR mission in BiH. The deployment, which still has to be confirmed by the Parliament, would be authorised until June 30, 2023.
“This is a strong signal in the region at this crucial moment. The International Community stays committed to BiH,” said Schmidt, the German envoy who took office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina in August last year.
Schmidt was nominated in January 2021 and he succeeded Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko at the post.
The foreign media reported prior to his first appearance at the UN Security Council to speak about the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, that Schmidt warned about a “very real” prospect of return to conflict and called for reassessment of international military presence, if necessary.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/intl-peace-envoy-welcomes-germanys-support-to-eu-military-deployment-in-bosnia/

Turkish FM to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina

June 15, 2022
Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu will pay an official visit to Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo this week, according to the official sources.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Cavusoglu will meet the officials of the Balkan countries in the period June 15-19 to discuss bilateral relations, current regional and international developments, with focus on Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Cavusoglu will also meet the representatives of Turkish communities in these countries.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/turkish-fm-to-visit-bosnia-and-herzegovina/

Law changes introducing deputy police commissioner in HNC canton spark criticism

June 15, 2022
The ruling coalition in the southern Herzegovina-Neretva Canton adopted law changes on Wednesday introducing the position of the deputy police commissioner, which the opposition assessed as the interference of politics in the work of police.
The Herzegovina-Neretva Canton Assembly passed the amendments to the Law on Internal Affairs with the votes of the ruling SDA and HDZ BiH parties.
Asked why the HNC, out of ten cantons in the Bosniak-Croat shared Federation entity, will be the only to have both the police commissioner and deputy police commissioner, Minister of Interior Sladjan Bevanda (HDZ BiH) said this was solely for the purpose of replacing the police commissioner if he is not available.
“In terms of operational management of the police, absolutely nothing has changed,” Bevanda said, adding that the changes created a balance to avoid a situation where such important institution has no person in charge. “If there is no commissioner available, there is deputy commissioner, if there is no deputy police commissioner, there is the chief of uniformed police and everything is defined by law,” he stressed.
Serif Spago (SDA), the Assembly Speaker, said the opposition's criticism is actually a “pre-election politicisation,” adding that “there is no involvement of politics in the work of the police.”
Slaven Raguz of the Croat Republican Party voted against, assessing the law changes as an agreement between the SDA and HDZ BiH parties. He left the session alongside the SDP councilors and independent councilor Selma Drljevic left the session.
On the same day, the US Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina issued a statement noting that the country needs professional, independent police free from improper political influence.
“The fact that Herzegovina-Neretva Canton has been without a Police Commissioner for over three years is a failure of political leaders to support public safety and stability,” said the embassy.
They urged the cantonal authorities to turn their attention “to doing so in a way that ensures the functionality and professionalism of the police administration without introducing ethnic divisions or parallel structures.”
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/law-changes-introducing-deputy-police-commissioner-in-hnc-canton-spark-criticism/

BiH adopts temporary ban on wood exports due to increasing prices

June 15, 2022
Bosnia’s Council of Ministers unanimously passed a decision to temporarily ban the export of certain wood products and firewood, Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Minister, Stasa Kosarac, said after the emergency session on Wednesday.
This measure will be in force until the end of September.
“The ban on the export of roundwood, wood pellets and firewood is being introduced for the simple reason that the price of pellets has increased by 155 percent compared to last year. Exports increased by 78 percent with a further increase expected. And the price of firewood has increased by nearly 40 percent. For roundwood, the price increased by almost 400 percent and exports rose by nearly five percent,” Kosarac explained.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bih-adopts-temporary-ban-on-wood-exports-due-to-increasing-prices/

Croat-backed proposal for BiH Election Law changes passes House of Peoples vote

June 15, 2022
The Draft Law on Amendments to the Election Law of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was proposed by Bosnian Croat representatives, was adopted on Wednesday in the House of Peoples and was forwarded to the House of Representatives.
The draft law, according to which a member of the BiH Presidency from among Croats is elected by electors, was proposed by Dragan Covic, Lidija Bradara, Marina Pendes and Barisa Colak.
It was adopted with seven votes, while six HoP members voted against it and one abstained.
The draft will now be discussed by the House of Representatives.
Ovaj dokument je sada upućen u Predstavnički dom PSBiH.
HoP member and leader of the strongest Bosniak party in the country, Bakir Izetbegovic, addressed the representatives ahead of the vote, saying that adopting the draft would represent a violation of the recent agreement BiH political parties accepted in Brussels.
“It was agreed that under item 6d, we will do these things in agreement after the elections and after the new government structure is formed within six months,” Izetbegovic said.
Covic, who is the leader of the strongest Bosnian Croat ethnic party in the country, the Croat Democratic Union, did not attend the meeting in Brussels. He argued that no conclusions were adopted at that meeting.
Nikola Spiric, a member of ruling party in Bosnia’s Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) entity, expressed strong support for the draft law.
“If we are ready to build a democratic society, let us support the law today and establish a normal solution,” Spiric said, arguing that some members of the House of Peoples are, because of the current law, in fact working for Bosniak interests.
Proponents of this bill want the member of the Bosnian Croat in the BiH Presidency to be elected from among the Croat candidates according to the elector model, based on who won the most votes in at least three of the five Croat majority cantons, namely the Herzegovina-Neretva (HNK), Central Bosnia (SBK), West Herzegovina ZHK), Livno and Posavina cantons.
They want those representatives to be elected based on a new method in the House of Peoples of the Federation (FBiH) entity as well, so that out of 17 representatives of Bosnian Croats 16 are elected from cantonal assemblies by electing four from the HNK, three from SBK and ZHK, and two each from the Livno, Zenica-Doboj and Posavina cantons. The Tuzla Canton, Sarajevo Canton, Una-Sana Canton and Bosnia-Podrinje Canton jointly get one Bosnian Croat representative, the proposal states.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/croat-backed-bill-on-new-bih-election-law-passes-house-of-peoples-vote/

BiH Journalist Assoc-Authorities must investigate burning of journalist's car

June 15, 2022
The Steering Committee of the BH Journalists Association and the Free Media Help Line (FMHL) strongly condemned the burning of a car owned by RTRS journalist Natasa Miljanovic-Zubac which took place on Tuesday evening in Trebinje and demanded that authorities urgently investigate the case and arrest the perpetrators.
The Police station Trebinje received a report in the night between Tuesday and Wednesday that a parked vehicle was set ablaze in the town, and firefighters soon extinguished the fire. The local Prosecutor’s Office was informed about the case and an investigation is ongoing.
“We remind that in February last year, journalist Natasa Miljanovic-Zubac was the victim of verbal attacks and insults publicly directed at her by Vojislav Seselj, leader of the Serbian Radical Party,” the Association said, noting the criminal proceedings were initiated at a court in Belgrade regarding that case.
“The Steering Committee of BH Journalists and the Free Media Help Line express deep concern over this latest attack on RTRS journalist from Trebinje. Attacks on journalists, especially those manifested through vandal acts of destruction of their personal property, pose the greatest threat to media freedom in a democratic society and bring fear and insecurity to the entire journalistic community,” it said.
The association also said it will “inform all relevant domestic and international institutions about this case.”
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bih-journalist-assoc-authorities-must-investigate-burning-of-journalists-car/

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