International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

US Ambassador-Brussels agreement about Kosovo not minorities in Serbia

March 27, 2023

US Ambassador Christopher Hill said on Monday that the Brussels agreement is about Kosovo, not national minorities in Serbia.

Speaking in the southern Serbia town of Bujanovic which has a large ethnic Albanian population, Hill said that the European Union-facilitated dialogue is intended to resolve problems between Belgrade and Pristina and not other issues such as the question of national minorities.

The local news portal Bujanovacke quoted him as saying that the question of the Albanian national minority in Seria is solely an issue for the state of Serbia and has nothing to do with the Brussels dialogue.

The agreement has no intention of crossing borders, he is reported to have said.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/us-ambassador-brussels-agreement-about-kosovo-not-minorities-in-serbia/

North Macedonia, Albania FMs call for implementation of Ohrid agreement

March 27, 2023

The Foreign Ministers of North Macedonia and Albania called Belgrade and Pristina to immediately implement the agreement they reached in Ohrid.

Speaking at a joint news conference in Skoplje, North Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani said that he and his Albanian counterpart Olta Xhacka agreed to lend their countries’ support and provide assistance to Serbia and Kosovo if they need it. “They are our neighbors and we welcome any progress that brings stability and prosperity to the region,” Osmani said.

According to him, the important thing is that the agreement is comprehensive and brings mutual recognition at some point.
Xhacka told the news conference that Tirana welcomes the Ohrid agreement. “We feel that the agreement will improve the EuroAtlantic prospects of the region and we welcome the engagement of the European Union and US in implementing the annex which is an integral part of the agreement to normalize relations,” she said.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/north-macedonia-albania-fms-call-for-implementation-of-ohrid-agreement/

FM Dacic says Serbia will not be led into isolation over Ukraine

March 27, 2023

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on Monday that the authorities will not lead the country into isolation over their stand on the Ukraine war.

He said that official Belgrade has left open the option of imposing sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, adding that Serbia’s stand on that war has not changed and that it has supported the territorial integrity of Ukraine from the start.

According to the Foreign Minister, Belgrade could impose sanctions on Moscow if the Serbian economy and population suffer irreparable damage and come under more pressure but added that there is no need to look into that possibility at present.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/fm-dacic-says-serbia-will-not-be-led-into-isolation-over-ukraine/

DefMin says Kosovo events high risk for Serbia

March 27, 2023

Defense Minister Milos Vucevic said on Monday that events in Kosovo pose high security risks for Serbia.

He told TV Prva that Serbia will be under even more pressure as the war in Ukraine progresses and added that “we have to be calm, brave and wise”.

“What they, I mean the West, opened in 1999 and in 2008 with Kosovo is a Pandora’s box and we don’t how it will be used… depending on the situation which is why there is pressure on Serbia to unravel the Kosovo knot and, they think, resolve it once and for all,” Vucevic said.

According to the Defense Minister, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti won’t form the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM) based on the principles in the Brussels Agreement but only as an empty shell. “What has to be the content was defined in the Brussels Agreement with guarantees from the European Union,” he said.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/defmin-says-kosovo-events-high-risk-for-serbia/

Kurti-Tirana supports view of de facto recognition

March 27, 2023

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said that he received support from Albania’s top state officials for the view that the EU agreement means that Serbia has de facto recognized Kosovo, the KoSSev news portal reported.

It said that Kurti told Pristina daily Koha that he informed Albanian President Bajram Begaj, Prime Minister Edi Rama and other officials about the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and the meeting and agreement reached in Ohrid. “The meetings were heart to heart. The support was clear to see,” Kurti wrote in a Twitter post after Sunday’s visit to Tirana.

“We discussed the constructive approach of our Government during the Ohrid talks and the entire process leading up to them, as well as Serbia’s uncooperative stance,” the post added.

Kurti’s counterpart, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said that he encouraged the Kosovo Prime Minister to “take further steps, either to guarantee Serbian municipalities within the framework of the association that guarantees the sole engagement of the Serbian community, or to operate with the necessary guarantees of the Serbian Church in its places of worship in Kosovo, ensuring that in this process not easy he has my full support”.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/kurti-tirana-supports-view-of-de-facto-recognition/

Declaration on cooperation of green parties of W. Balkans signed in Sarajevo

March 26, 2023

A declaration on establishing a Platform for cooperation between the Green political organizations of the Western Balkans was signed today in Sarajevo. One of the signatories is the party Zajedno from Serbia led by Nebojsa Zelenovic.

Below is the full text of the Declaration:

„Taking into account our common challenges regarding the climate crisis, environmental pollution and biodiversity destruction;
Acknowledging the necessity for Green Just transition from fossil to renewable energy;

Recognizing the corruption and organized crime, which like the pollution exceed the borders of our respected countries, as one of the biggest threats to democracy and the well-being of our citizens;

Firmly committed to respecting and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms as an essential element of every modern democracy and prosperous society;

Acknowledging the need to maintain peace, stability, security and cooperation in the region; Highlighting the necessity for accelerated integration of the region into the EU,

We the undersigned Green political organizations from the Western Balkan region hereto agree:

1. To establish an operational and functional Platform for cooperation to communicate our individual and joint challenges concerning issues of the domestic and regional Western Balkan policies, as well as to seize the opportunity to accelerate the process of European integration of the region;

2. To organize joint actions along with other activists aimed at protecting the environment, natural resources and human rights of all our citizens across the region to secure and safeguard clean air, water, and land;

3. To educate our citizens and find solutions to reduce poverty and ensure decent life through adequate wages and pension insurance;

4. To help strengthen the model of local self-governance to have more direct influence on the environment and the protection of basic human rights of our citizens;

5. Undertake responsibility to further discuss models and structure of this platform that should be established in the following 6 (six) months and the process should result in formation of realistic, but ambitious goals for joint action, structure of this Green platform and written and adopted procedures which should define our further path towards greener, fairer and safer future for the region;

To invite other Green participants from the neighbouring countries of the region, who are willing to jointly discuss and seek the solutions for the issues of mutual concern.“

The Declaration was sighed by:

Indrit Abdiaj, Albanian Green Party, Albania

Amna Popovac, Hocemo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Zorislav Antun Petrovic, ORAH, Croatia

Milijana Vukotic-Jelusic, URA, Montenegro

Maja Moracanin, DOM, North Macedonia

Nebojsa Zelenovic, Zajedno, Serbia

Marijana Sumpor, Independent List Zagreb

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/declaration-on-cooperation-of-green-parties-of-w-balkans-signed-in-sarajevo/

Djilas: The party’s mission – Serbia’s membership in the EU

March 25, 2023

The leader of the Serbian opposition Freedom and Justice Party, Dragan Djilas, stated that the goal and mission of that party is Serbia's membership in the European Union by 2030.

It is not a battle to enter that community, it is a fight for democracy because there is no place for authoritarianism in the EU. Membership in the EU is an obligation towards future generations, said Djilas at the party’s Main Board session in Belgrade.

This nation is constantly being asked to endure something, and for decades political mistakes and government failures have been explained by the consequences of world conspiracies, not by bad government, he noted.

For a bad government, only a people who suffer is good, a people who hope that someday they will be well, because hope is the only thing such a government can offer in the absence of a system, Djilas added, who is convinced that citizens can live much better.

Some solutions, Djilas stated, were given to us by Zoran Djindjic – namely that the EU is not perfect, but it is the best we have and that membership in the Union must not be a Serbian society’s pipe dream, but a reality and the only guarantee that one can live normally.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/djilas-the-partys-mission-serbias-membership-in-the-eu/

Dodik responds to Power-We are copying the American model

March 11, 2023

In his response to a statement by USAID Administrator, Samantha Power, the President of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity, Milorad Dodik, said that the law on “foreign agents” he wants to introduce in the entity is a copy of the “American model”.

Power warned on Saturday that Dodik is going down “a dangerous anti-democratic path” in trying to pass “Kremlin-inspired” draft laws.

She was referring to Dodik’s announcement that a law on “foreign agents” will be adopted in the RS, as well as the criminalisation of defamation which the entity is considering.

Dodik responded several hours later on Twitter.

“Republika Srpska is inspired by American law and the highest standards in the protection of human rights and freedoms, among which is freedom of speech, which implies responsibility, which is the case in the most developed Western societies,” he posted.

“We are copying the American model that made the US one of the world's great powers. It is interesting that the director of USAID is reacting, knowing that many “projects” in Bosnia and Herzegovina are financed through USAID,” he added.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/dodik-reponds-to-power-we-are-copying-the-american-model/ 

Victims’ assoc urges High Rep to react to FBiH entity President's statement

March 11, 2023

The “April 16” war victims' association strongly condemned a controversial statement of the President of Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity, Lidija Bradara (HDZ), regarding convicted war criminal Dario Kordic, urging the High Representative of the international community to react.

In a recent interview she gave N1, Kordic spoke about her support for Kordic. When asked whether this means that she in some way also supported his war crimes, Bradara argued that Kordic served his sentence and should thus not be characterised as a war crime convict anymore.

“Such statements set an example for young people that crime pays, that the war criminal becomes a myth and a martyr among his people, which motivates future war criminals,” the victims’ association said, adding that the High Representative, Christian Schmidt, must react to this glorification of war criminals and sanction those who promote them.

It stressed that “war criminals are not in line with European values” and that the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ruled that those responsible for the atrocities in the village of Ahmici, including Kordic, were sentenced to long prison terms.

“He was released at the beginning of June 2014. Then he was welcomed in Busovaca by HDZ president Dragan Covic, Bradara, Marinko Cavara, Borjana Kristo…”, the association stated.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/victims-assoc-urges-high-rep-to-react-to-fbih-entity-presidents-statement/ 

Samantha Power warns about efforts to pass “Kremlin-inspired” laws in RS entity

March 11, 2023

She was referring to Dodik’s announcement that a law on “foreign agents” will be adopted in the RS, as well as the criminalisation of defamation which the entity is considering.

Power retweeted the statement of the US Embassy in BiH on the matter as well.

“The proposed laws would stigmatize and silence the independent voices in the Republika Srpska seeking to build a democratic and prosperous future for its residents. The proposed laws would make it harder for citizens to hold the Republika Srpska government accountable and make it easier for corruption to flourish unchecked. The proposed laws’ attacks on fundamental freedoms would discourage legitimate businesses from investing in the Republika Srpska. In short, the proposed laws would be bad for the democracy and prosperity the residents of the Republika Srpska want and deserve,” the Embassy said on Friday.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/samantha-power-warns-about-efforts-to-pass-kremlin-inspired-laws-in-rs-entity/ 

State Department rejects Dodik's comments and secession threats as irresponsible

March 10, 2023

The United States rejects Republika Srpska (RS) entity President Milorad Dodik’s March 9 comments, in which he sought to undermine the Bosnia and Herzegovina Constitutional Court and made repeated threats about the Republika Srpska’s secession from Bosnia and Herzegovina, US State Department said

“Article III (3) of the Dayton Constitution clearly states that the Republika Srpska must fully comply with the decisions of the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the final and binding rulings of the BiH Constitutional Court,” the statement said.

the State Department noted that the US is proud to stand with the people of BiH as they build a future in the Euro-Atlantic community of nations and strengthen the state institutions needed to take them there. Separatist rhetoric and threats to the Dayton Peace Agreement are irresponsible, dangerous, and detrimental to BiH’s progress towards further Euro-Atlantic integration.

“The United States has been and will remain the strongest supporter of and partner to Bosnia and Herzegovina and its people. We pledge to continue to uphold BiH’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and multiethnic character, and to hold responsible those who seek to undermine BiH’s institutions and the Dayton Peace Agreement. Our commitment is rock solid, and the United States of America is not going to give up on the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina,” the statement concluded.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/state-department-rejects-dodiks-comments-and-secession-threats-as-irresponsible/ 

Shameful birthday message to Ratko Mladic placed in the centre of Bratunac

March 10, 2023

Activists of the Citizens' Association "Eastern Alternative of Republika Srpska" put up a banner with a birthday message to the President of Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik and convicted war criminal Ratko Mladic, the former commander of the Republika Srpska Army, at the main intersection in Bratunac, a town near Srebrenica where the 1995 genocide took place.

In addition to photos of Dodik and Mladic, the banner reads “Happy birthday, live long and be healthy!”

The head of the “Eastern Alternative” Vojin Pavlovic told the Srna news agency that they put up the banner to meet the birthdays of Dodik and Mladic, which they both celebrate on March 12, in order to wish them happiness and health.

“It’s our sense of debt and respect and attitude towards these leaders and their merits that we express publicly, in a democratic way,” Pavlovic pointed out.

The chief imam of the Bratunac Muslim congregation, Elvir Hodzic, also spoke about the incident.

“There is a group of people, gathered around an Eastern Alternative Association, which tries in every possible way to draw attention to what they are doing. And the easiest way to disrupt inter-ethnic relations is by revitalizing the committed and judged genocide against Bosniaks in the UN-protected zone. They’re closely monitoring what the leader tells them and accordingly they measure their scope in denying the crime of genocide,” the imam said. “Given that the so-called international community isn’t reacting at all to the statements of the President of this entity, who goes further and further every time, we, the returnees, don’t expect any [legal] prosecution, neither regarding the statements of the ‘great leader’ [Milorad Dodik] nor regarding the occasional messages from the crime scene by this informal-formal group of people. Despite, nowadays, having the law against the denial of genocide, despite knowing who the perpetrators of this act are, if we give them a lot of media attention, I believe that they will have succeeded in their intentions,” said imam Hodzic said.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/shameful-birthday-banner-to-ratko-mladic-placed-in-the-centre-of-bratunac/ 

EU's Sattler-Another 4 yrs of FBiH govt in technical mandate inconceivable

March 10, 2023

The head of the EU delegation to BiH, Johann Sattler, told reporters in Sarajevo on Friday that the time has come to finalize the entire government formation process in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) entity.

“As for some deadlines, the time is running out, there are still three weeks left to reach an agreement. But, I believe that there is strength among domestic actors and those responsible to reach an agreement that will enable the formation of government in the FBiH,” Sattler noted.

He added that he cannot imagine that there is any responsible politician who would, on his part, cause further blockades.

“We already had a government in the technical mandate for four years. It is completely unacceptable that such circumstances continue. As for solutions, I believe that solutions are possible, that it is possible to reach an agreement on the home terrain,” Ambassador Sattler concluded.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/eus-sattler-another-4-yrs-of-fbih-govt-in-technical-mandate-inconceivable/ 

Prosecution confirms investigation against man who targeted journalists online

March 10, 2023

Bosnia’s state Prosecution is working on several cases related to Jasmin Mulahusic known for harassing and targeting journalists and labeling them as traitors, the Prosecution confirmed Friday.

Mulahusic, previously arrested and noted in international reports for his connections with radical groups, is still active on social networks through which he spreads hate speech and labels public figures from media, academic and political life, accusing them mainly of betraying Bosniaks, acting against the Democratic Action Party (SDA) or against the interests of the Bosniak people.

The BH Journalists Association has repeatedly stressed Mulahusic's attitude towards the media and journalists.

The Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina told N1 that they are working on several cases and that the public will be informed about everything when the prosecutor's decision is made.

“We cannot provide more information or details regarding the case,” they told N1.

The targets of Mulahusic's attacks and hate speech campaigns are mainly people for whom he delivers propaganda about anti-Bosniak activities, which encourages an avalanche of negative comments from individuals who glorify the activities of the Democratic Action Party (SDA), of which Mulahusic is an open sympathizer.

Previously, he met in Luxembourg with the Prime Minister of Bosnia's Federation (FBiH) entity, Fadil Novalic, and the SDA, leader Bakir Izetbegovic, after which the SDA leader described this meeting as accidental, and the party issued a defensive statement.

Back in 2021, Luxembourg police agencies searched his house where he resides.

In addition, Mulahusic was investigated earlier by international judicial institutions for his alleged connections with persons close to the Al Qaeda terrorist organization and other terrorist organizations.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/prosecution-confirms-investigation-against-man-who-targeted-journalists-online/ 

Schmidt-Candidate status was much-needed boost to BiH stability and progress

March 10, 2023

The High Representative, Christian Schmidt, hosted a joint visit of the Austrian Federal Minister for European and International Affairs, Alexander Schallenberg, and his Italian colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Antonio Tajaniwhere they spoke about current political developments in BiH and the Western Balkans region, with an emphasis on BiH’s European aspirations in light of the EU candidate status granted to the country.

“The EU Council’s granting of the EU candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina was a much-needed boost to the stability and progress of Bosnia and Herzegovina and a good response to the current geopolitical challenges,” noted the High Representative Christian Schmidt and voiced his expectation that domestic stakeholders will “use this momentum and make the most of it. The European Union has once again reaffirmed its commitment and dedication. The wider international community expects nothing less from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political leadership but full engagement and dedication to the accession process.”

High Representative Schmidt expressed appreciation to Ministers Schallenberg and Tajani for the continuous support of their respective countries to the development of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He also used the opportunity to thank them for the support of Austria and Italy to the Office of the High Representative and the HR’s mandate in accordance with the Dayton Peace Agreement.

Soure:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/schmidt-candidate-status-was-much-needed-boost-to-bih-stability-and-progress/ 

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