International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Florian Bieber: It seems the EU doesn't know what to do with Bosnia anymore

July 4, 2020

It is obvious that Bosnia is “stuck” in its reforms and European integration and it seems that the European Union does not know what to do with the country anymore as there is a sense that no approach so far has produced significant results, university professor and coordinator in the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group, Florian Bieber, told N1 on Saturday.

Bieber said that there are fewer voices within the European Union currently advocating for expansion and that a lot more attention was paid to Bosnia and Herzegovina a decade ago.

“The European Union believes that not one approach it had toward Bosnia so far brought about essential results and there is a feeling that it doesn’t know what to do with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Right now, there is no new energy within the EU for it to help Bosnia get out of its crisis,” he said.

Bieber also commented on the agreement which enables the city of Mostar to hold its first local election since 2008, saying that “there is a reason for skepticism as those who have been blocking solutions for more than ten years have now supposedly found a solution.”

“They must show this agreement in practice. The problem is that blockades being created at various government levels across all of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said.

Bieber said it is too difficult to predict whether Bosnia will amend its election law in accordance with court rulings in the near future but argued that “the main political actors have an interest in not finding a solution and they keep shifting the responsibility onto each other.”

“If there was political will, then solutions would be possible. I don’t see any political will here. It’s nearly impossible to predict this from the outside as the motivations of Bosnia’s politicians are not tied to a rational attempt to solve problems,” he said.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a445271/Florian-Bieber-It-seems-the-EU-doesn-t-know-what-to-do-with-Bosnia-anymore.html

Russian Ambassador: Russia supports Bosnia's sovereignty, territorial integrity

July 4, 2020

Russia supports the sovereignty, territorial integrity and the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the equality of its three constituent peoples but sees violations of the rights of constituent people and entities as a threat to the future of a multinational country, Russian Ambassador in Bosnia, Peter Ivantsov, said on Saturday.

The statement came after the media reported about the National Defense Authorisation Act for the fiscal year 2021, which the US Senate Committee on Armed Services adopted.

The document claimed that Russia has undermined the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina and has played a destabilizing role in the relationship between Kosovo and Serbia.

Russia is cooperating with the state institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as its entities and cantons, Ivantsov said.

“We are working together with all three peoples and representatives of others. We are working together with representatives of all religions. What’s the problem?” the Ambassador asked.

“Is it that our approach which is in line with the Dayton Agreement, does not fit the tasks issued from abroad with the goal to revise the basic principles Bosnia and Herzegovina was built upon?” he suggested.

Russia is against such a revision and believes that the violations of the status and rights of constituent peoples and entities jeopardize the multinational future of the country, Ivantsov wrote in an op-ed published by Glas Srpske.

He also asked whether the problem was Russia’s close cooperation with Bosnia’s Serb-majority semi-autonomous entity, Republika Srpska.

"Our special friendly relations with Republika Srpska are a fact. Not only do we not hide them, but we also highly appreciate and develop them in every way. And this is done without violating the interests of anybody else. Speculations about the ‘undermining of the sovereignty’ of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to put it mildly, have nothing to do with reality,” Ivantsov said.

The Russian Ambassador argued that such speculations are meant to deceive the public and create a tense atmosphere in order to fulfill certain tasks.

He pointed out that Russia is opposed to the NATO expansion, calling the alliance an “aggressive military-political bloc” and accusing it of “creating divisions in Europe” and undermining European stability and security.

"NATO has, out of purely political selfish interests, on its own initiative, in violation of international law, bombed cities and bridges, civilian infrastructure, caused the suffering of innocent civilians, did not hesitate to use depleted uranium, contaminated huge areas here in the Balkans, which will affect the health of everybody for centuries to come,” Ivantsov wrote.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a sovereign state, "has the right to / not / get closer to someone", and that there is no consensus in Bosnian society on NATO integration, he explained.

"Attempts to 'push' Bosnia's integration into NATO, which undermines the foundations of Bosnia's functioning as a state of three equal peoples and two entities with broad constitutional powers, jeopardize the security and the stability,” Ambassador Ivantsov stressed.

“Russia, as one of the guarantors of the peace agreement, has the right and the obligation to point this out and to work towards unconditional adherence to the Dayton principles," Ivantsov concluded.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a445205/Russian-Ambassador-Russia-supports-Bosnia-s-sovereignty-territorial-integrity.html

Croat Presidency member: We must be cautious about Russia's destructive role

July 4, 2020

In his latest statements, the Russian Ambassador in Bosnia has shown disrespect toward decisions of Bosnia’s state institutions which were reached with a consensus in the country which sends a bad and undiplomatic message, the Croat member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency said on Saturday.

The Presidency member, Zeljko Komsic, was responding to an op-ed by Ambassador Peter Ivantsov which was published by Glas Srpske.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a sovereign state, “has the right to / not / get closer to someone”, and that there is no consensus Bosnian society on NATO integration, Ivantsov argued.

"Attempts to 'push' Bosnia's integration into NATO, which undermines the foundations of Bosnia's functioning as a state of three equal peoples and two entities with broad constitutional powers, jeopardize the security and the stability,” he stressed.

Komsic argued that “such an aggressive approach from the Russian Federation and its attack on what Bosnia and Herzegovina has defined in its laws and decisions shows that the US Senate is correct in stating that Russia undermines the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

“Considering this, we have to be especially cautious when we speak about the destructive role Russia is playing in this region, as the messages coming from the Russian ambassador are not harmless,” he said.

Komsic said that Ivantsov thinks he can lead an “aggressive anti-west, anti-democratic policy as his country is doing in Serbia, as they are now doing in Montenegro in trying to destabilise it, as they tried to do in North Macedonia” in Bosnia as well, adding the Russian Ambassador should be aware that he is a diplomat of a foreign country on the land of independent and sovereign Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Presidency member added that Ivantsov should not be concerned with Bosnia’s NATO integration and that he should refrain from commenting on decisions made by Bosnia’s highest legislative bodies.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a445211/Croat-Presidency-member-We-must-be-cautious-about-Russia-s-destructive-role.html

Croatia reports 86 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours

July 4, 2020

In the last 24 hours 86 new cases of infection with the novel coronavirus have been identified in Croatia, and the number of active cases in the country stands at 798, the national COVID-19 response team said in a statement on Saturday.

Among those 798 people, 85 are receiving treatment in hospital, including three who are on ventilators. One person has died of the infection.

Since February 24, when the first case of infection with COVID-19 was reported in Croatia, 3,094 people have contracted the disease, of whom 113 have died while 2,183 have recovered.

A total of 5,272 people are in self-isolation.

So far, 84,166 people have been tested, including 1,264 in the last 24 hours.

All information related to the coronavirus is available at the websites of the Civil Protection Directorate and the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) and the website www.koronavirus.hr.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616448/Croatia-reports-86-new-coronavirus-cases-in-the-past-24-hours.html

Bosnia breaks its record in new daily coronavirus cases, 99 in Sarajevo alone

July 4, 2020

With 289 new coronavirus cases reported across Bosnia since Friday - 99 of them in the capital alone - the country has on Saturday reached its new record in the number of newly confirmed infections within a 24-hour time period.

Of the 1,288 samples tested in Bosnia's semi-autonomous Federation (FBiH) region, 186 came back positive, the FBiH Public Health Institute said.

Health authorities in the other semi-autonomous region, Republika Srpska, reported 103 new coronavirus cases.

Bosnia has seen a sudden spike in new coronavirus cases since mid-June and the total of people who tested positive for the virus in the country so far has surpassed 5,000.

Nearly 200 people have died due to COVID-19 in Bosnia and more than 2,500 have recovered.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616456/Bosnia-breaks-its-record-in-new-daily-coronavirus-cases-99-in-Sarajevo-alone.html

Coronavirus UPDATE: 8 deaths, 325 new cases

July 4, 2020

The Serbian Health Care Ministry said in its daily 3:00 pm bulletin that eight people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 306.

It said that 7,434 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 325 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The Stark Arena in Belgrade, the biggest events hall in the city, is being turned into a COVID-19 field hospital for people with mild symptoms and the Banjica hospital will be brought back into the Covid system as of Monday, the Ministry of Health said.

The total number of people tested to date stands at 434,415 with 15,829 confirmed cases.

The bulletin said that there are 2,347 active cases, including 86 patients on ventilators.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616460/Coronavirus-UPDATE-8-deaths-325-new-cases.html

Serbian President confirms purchase of Chinese drones

July 4, 2020

Serbia’s President, Aleksandar Vucic, confirmed on Saturday that the country purchased six unmanned combat aerial vehicles but added that he could not reveal how much they cost due to a clause on secrecy in the contract.

"They have a long range, they can shoot at targets from a distance of nine kilometers and record the terrain, objects of interest to Serbia deep within enemy territory," Vucic said at the demonstration of the new CH-92A drones at the Batajnica airport.  

He said that a "technology transfer" for the "Pegasus" system had been agreed with China as well.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616424/Serbian-president-confirms-purchase-of-Chinese-drones.html

Bosnian Serb parties join forces for elections in Srebrenica and Mostar

July 3, 2020

Leaders and representatives of Serb parties from Bosnia's Republika Srpska (RS) entity agreed on Friday to have joint candidate lists in the eastern town of Srebrenica and the southern city of Mostar for the country's local elections which will be held in November this year.

"Srebrenica is one of the strategic places for which we estimated that there should be a joint appearance and support for the joint appearance, and this was a kind of invitation to our political parties to sit down in the next few days and reach an appropriate agreement that will be welcomed by the leadership of all these political parties," said RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic.

She spoke after the meeting attended by the Serb Presidency member Milorad Dodik as the leader of Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD)Nedeljko Cubrilovic – the leader of Democratic Srpska (DEMOS), Snjezana Novakovic-Bursac (SNSD), Nikola Spiric (SNSD), People's Democratic Movement (NDP) leader Dragan Cavic, Socialist Party of Srpska's (SPS) leader Goran Selak, Democratic People's Alliance (DNS) leader Darko Banjac, Serb Democratic Party's deputy leader Rado Savic and Party of Democratic Progress (PDP) representative Mira Pekic.

According to Cvijanovic, the situation in Mostar is different, given that they are holding preparatory election activities, for the first time in many years.

"We have expressed our absolute dissatisfaction with the position of the Serb community in Mostar, but also the need to urgently resolve the constitutional, practical and political issues of the Serb people in certain cantons, and generally in the Federation (FBiH) entity,” she added.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616176/Bosnian-health-authorities-recorded-173-new-Covid-19-cases-over-the-past-24-hours-with-79-in-the-Se.html

Bosnia's Covid-19 cases count continues to rise - 173 new cases, two fatalities

July 3, 2020

Bosnian health authorities recorded 173 new Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours, with 79 in the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) entity and 94 in the Bosniak-Croat shared Federation (FBiH) entity. They added that the fatalities come one each from the two entities.

After testing 468 samples, the RS health authorities confirmed the presence of SARS-COV-2 in 79 persons.

The FBiH health authorities said they tested 1,383 persons of which 94 were positive.

Both entities reported one each virus-related fatality, with patients suffering from pre-existing conditions

The state Civil Affairs Ministry said that Bosnia has had a total of 4,962 confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic in the country, of which 2,550 recovered and 191 had died.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616174/Bosnia-s-Covid-19-cases-count-continues-to-rise-173-new-cases-two-fatalities.html

North Macedonia reports seven more coronavirus deaths

July 3, 2020

The North Macedonia Health Ministry on Friday reported seven coronavirus-related deaths over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths since the pandemic began to 328.

A press release said that 1,454 people had been tested in that period, including 165 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. It said that there are 3,583 active cases, including nine patients on ventilators.

A total of 64,837 people have been tested since the pandemic began, 6,787 of who tested positive.

The North Macedonia Public Health Institute said that 2,876 patients have recovered from COVID-19.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616272/North-Macedonia-reports-seven-more-coronavirus-deaths.html

Croatia reports 96 new Covid-19 cases

July 3, 2020

In the last 24 hours, 96 out of 1,464 tests performed in Croatia for Sars-CoV-2 have returned positive, the national Covid-19 crisis response team stated on Friday.

 Currently, there are 728 active cases, and of them 88 are receiving hospital treatment, including four placed on ventilators.

In the last 24 hours, there have been two more deaths in connection with this infection, bringing the death toll to 112.

Currently, 4,943 persons are placed in self-isolation.

Since 25 February, when the country reported its first confirmed case of this communicable disease, a total of 3,008 people have been diagnosed with it.

To date, 2,168 have fully recovered.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a445093/Croatia-reports-96-new-Covid-19-cases.html

Belgrade declares an emergency situation over Covid-19 pandemic

July 3, 2020

The Mayor of Belgrade Zoran Radojcic declared the emergency situation in the capital as of Friday with stricter measures in trying to curb an outbreak in coronavirus epidemic, N1 reported.

The measures include the ban on more than 100 people in closed space with mandatory face masks and physical distance and not more than 500 outdoor.

The night clubs will be closed from 11 pm to 6 am, while people without face masks in public transport will be sanctioned.

Radojicic told the state RTS TV it was not necessary to quarantine Belgrade due to the current epidemic situation.

Earlier, Serbia's chief epidemiologist Predrag Kon, a member of Serbia's anti-epidemic Crisis Team, said the coronavirus infection was at its peak in Serbia and that the intensity if virus transmission was the greatest since the start of the pandemic, the FoNet news agency reported.

He predicted that the number of newly infected would decrease later, and added the situation was not worse than in March and April, "but that it was not simple.""We must behave as we are facing the most intensive period of infection, and we will solve this in a couple of weeks," Kon told the state RTS TV.

He said the Government would adopt new stricter measures for the next 14 days, including mandatory face masks in closed space, and that those who violated that would be sanctioned."If those measures are implemented, a new increase in the number of infected is nearly theoretical."

Kon added that it was not possible to predict such a new explosion of the novel virus since it was believed it would weaken due to warmer weather.

On Thursday, Serbia reported six deaths and 359 tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The Health Ministry bulletin said 9,013 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours. The total number of people tested to Thursday stood at 418,879 with 15,195 confirmed cases.

It added there were 1,996 active cases, including 81 patients on ventilators.

The total number of deaths since March 6, when the epidemic was officially declared, was 287.

Serbia's authorities relaxed all the measures after lifting the state of emergency on May 6, ahead of the June 21 general elections.

They mostly blame people for disobeying recommendations to wear a face mask and keep a physical distance.

Source:  http://ba.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a444955/Belgrade-declares-an-emergency-situation-over-Covid-19-pandemic.html

Coronavirus UPDATE: 11 deaths, 309 new cases

July 3, 2020

The Serbian Health Care Ministry said in its daily 3:00 pm bulletin that 11 people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 298.

It said that 8,102 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 309 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The total number of people tested to date stands at 426,981 with 15,504 confirmed cases.

The bulletin said that there are 2,142 active cases, including 85 patients on ventilators.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616194/Coronavirus-UPDATE-11-deaths-309-new-cases.html

IMF: Serbia’s fiscal deficit 7 percent of GDP this year

July 3, 2020

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned on Friday that the coronavirus pandemic is having a significant adverse impact on the Serbian economy, adding that the fiscal deficit in 2020 will amount to more than seven percent of the GDP and that the public debt is expected to increase.

The mission, led by Jan Kees Martijn, held virtual meetings with the Serbian authorities between June 24 and July 3, 2020, to discuss the fourth review under the PCI.

“The pandemic has had a significant adverse impact on Serbia’s economic activity. The shock is affecting the economy through lower external demand, weaker foreign investment and remittances, domestic supply constraints, and disruptions in regional and global supply chains. Real GDP is projected to contract by 3 percent in 2020, compared to an increase by 4.2 percent in 2019, and is expected to rebound to 6 percent growth in 2021. Given the highly uncertain economic outlook, we recommend careful contingency planning,” Martijn said in a press release.

“Program implementation has remained broadly on track. However, the sharp deterioration in the external and domestic economic environment caused by the COVID-19 outbreak requires an adjustment of the PCI objectives for the remainder of the program, which is set to conclude in January 2021. In this context, policies should continue to focus on supporting the economy through the crisis while preserving macroeconomic and financial stability, managing risks adequately, and protecting vulnerable groups. Quantitative targets have been reset to reflect the major changes in the fiscal outlook for 2020,” he said.

Martijn recalled that the Serbian authorities implemented what he said was a “prompt and well-designed policy response” in the form of a fiscal package which is among the largest in emerging Europe and the National Bank of Serbia (NBS) cutting the key policy rate and injecting liquidity into the banking system among other measures to preserve monetary and financial stability.

“The implementation of the fiscal measures, together with the decline in revenues associated with lower economic activity, will raise the fiscal deficit in 2020 to more than 7 percent of GDP, compared with 0.5 percent of GDP in the initial budget,” he said and warned against that increases in public sector wages and pensions should be limited. “Public debt, which was declining steadily prior to the pandemic, is now expected to increase in 2020 while staying below 60 percent of GDP, but should resume a clear downward trajectory in 2021,” he added.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616306/IMF-Serbia-s-fiscal-deficit-7-percent-of-GDP-this-year.html

Serbia's President creates economic policy to fit his interest, professor says

July 3, 2020

Milojko Arsic, a professor at the Belgrade Economy Faculty, accused on Friday President Aleksandar Vucic about giving an advantage to personal and his party's interests over the healthy economy, the Beta news agency reported.

Arsic told the Direktno.rs website that Vucic's promise of Euro 900 average wage by 2025, was not sustainable even before the coronavirus epidemic, "let alone now."

"The problem is not in Vucic's understanding of the economy, but giving the advantage to his party's and his interests to stay in power as long as possible, over the long-lasting interest of the society," Arsic said.

He added that "the majority of politicians in the world want the same, but in organised countries, the institutions control them, while it's not the case in Serbia."

"The prolonged epidemic will cause additional fall in economic activities and the rise in unemployment, while the recovery will take longer than it seemed several weeks ago," Arsic said.

Asked what the state could do to prevent that scenario, he said "the fiscal possibilities for additional measures are very modest," since that this year, the Government "allocated a substantial package of some justified measures, but also some expensive, not efficient and socially not justified ones, like giving Euro 100 to all adult citizens in the country."  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a616142/Serbia-s-President-creates-economic-policy-to-fit-his-interest-economy-professor-says.html

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