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International Information Centre for Balkan Studies



Borrell-Western Balkans important to EU

May 16, 2022
The European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Monday that today’s meeting with Western Balkan foreign ministers is meant to show the importance of the region and its accession to the European Union.
The EU High Representative recalled that the Western Balkan foreign ministers will attend Monday’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting to discuss the situation in the region which he said is very much affected by an economic crisis.
The Foreign Ministers are scheduled to have a working lunch with the EU counterparts.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/borrell-western-balkans-important-to-eu/

Serbian FM to EU Commissioner-Region needs encouragement

May 16, 2022
Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic told European Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi in Brussels on Monday that the Western Balkans need encouragement on the European path.
A Foreign Ministry press release quoted Selakovic as telling Varhelyi that accession to the European Union is Serbia’s foreign policy priority and strategic determination. It said that they also discussed the situation in Ukraine and the region and the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue but did not mention possible sanctions against Russia.
“The minister said that Belgrade is fully committed to the dialogue with Pristina but that the commitment of the other side is doubtful, especially bearing in mind Pristina’s application for membership in the Council of Europe which does not contribute to the normalization of relations,” the press release said.
Selakovic said that maintaining the stability of the region and intensifying cooperation is one of Serbia’s crucial interests.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-fm-to-eu-commissioner-region-needs-encouragement/

Bomb threats force evacuation of schools, airport

May 16, 2022
Schools, a public building and an airport were evacuated in two Serbian cities on Monday morning following bomb threats.
The Education Ministry confirmed that dozen of schools in Belgrade were evacuated across the Serbian capital. A press release added that the police searched 97 schools and found no explosive devices. “Students returned to classes in some schools or were sent home in schools where searches are ongoing,” it said, adding that the false bomb threats were sent as early as 6:15 am.
The Beogradjanka building in downtown Belgrade was also evacuated while police and firefighters searched it. That 23-floor high-rise is home to shops and offices. Security guards told N1 that the bomb threat was sent to a private school in the building, forcing evacuation.
Police and firefighters also search the Konstantin Veliki airport in the southern city of Nis which also received a bomb threat.
Schools, shopping malls and other public buildings have received bomb threats on several occasions over the past two months with some sources claiming that the threats have come from Ukraine because of the Serbian authorities’ failure to impose sanctions on Russia over its invasion of that country.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/bomb-threats-force-evacuation-of-schools-airport/

Croatia has 543 new COVID-19 cases, five related deaths

May 15, 2022
In the last 24 hours 543 coronavirus cases, out of 3,145 tests, and five related deaths have been registered in Croatia, the national COVID-19 crisis management team said on Saturday.
There are 4,403 active cases, including 345 hospitalised patients, 15 of whom are on ventilators, while 2,454 persons are self-isolating.
To date, Croatia has registered 1,131,105 coronavirus cases and the death toll is 15,925.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/croatia-reports-543-new-covid-19-cases-five-related-deaths/

Serbia’s coronavirus update: three deaths, 239 new cases

May 15, 2022
The Serbian Health Ministry said in its daily bulletin on Sunday that three people passed away due to COVID-19 over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 16,049.
It said that 4,398 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 239 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The total number of people tested to date stands at 9,596,815 with 2,012,836 confirmed cases.
The bulletin said that there are 279 hospitalized cases, including 12 patients on ventilators.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-coronavirus-update-three-deaths-239-new-cases/

Izetbegovic-Electoral reform to be discussed only after October election

May 15, 2022
No agreement on the reform of electoral legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is possible at this moment, and talks should continue only after the general election in October, the leader of the ruling Bosniak SDA party, Bakir Izetbegovic, said on Sunday.
“There is no legal space to amend the electoral law because the Central Electoral Commission called the election ten days ago. And also, we are too far off from an agreement,” Izetbegovic said in an interview with the Bosnian Faktor news website.
He said that negotiations on the electoral reform had fallen through because the leadership of the Bosnian Croat HDZ BiH party had “too ambitious plans” about amendments that should be adopted. He added that the HDZ BiH's strategy was wrong because it was based on the blockade of the Bosniak-Croat Federation entity, cooperation with Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik and pressure on the SDA and Bosniaks.
Commenting on the announcement that a senior EU official would come to Sarajevo this month, when the question of the electoral reform could be raised again, Izetbegovic said that nothing would come of it and that he was certain that there would be no pressure to reach an agreement before the 2 October election.
“We have had some preparatory meetings with their advisers which clearly showed this approach and priorities,” the SDA leader said. He pointed out that talks with EU officials would focus solely on the implementation of reforms and obstacles on the path to EU membership candidate status.
Izetbegovic said that the electoral reform would be discussed “as soon as a new post-election coalition is formed.”
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/izetbegovic-electoral-reform-to-be-discussed-only-after-october-election/

Croatia’s FM asks for additional US engagement regarding BiH election reform

May 15, 2022
Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman on Sunday asked at a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken for additional US engagement on election reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina, warning that otherwise radicalisation was possible in the country.
“I told the US Secretary of State that we are very much concerned about the missed chance to amend the BiH election law. I also warned of possible radicalisation of the situation after the elections,” Grlic Radman told reporters.
He added that he had asked Blinken that the US enhance its presence and help ensure agreement between local Bosniak and Croat leaders on rules for general elections to be held in October.
The two officials were attending an informal meeting of the foreign ministers of NATO member countries which again supported Ukraine in the fight against Russian aggression.
“All the ministers reiterated their solidarity and expressed readiness for stronger engagement, not only by individual countries but by NATO as a whole,” said the Croatian minister.
He stressed that NATO was not a party to the conflict but that it supported Ukraine’s “just and defensive war.”
At a meeting with NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoana, Grlic Radman guaranteed full support to Finland and Sweden’s bid to join NATO.
“We discussed also the pace of the procedure and I believe the issue could be resolved before the NATO summit to be held in Madrid in June,” Grlic Radman said.
He repeated that he believed the doubts Turkey has expressed regarding the accession of Finland and Sweden would soon be removed through talks.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/croatias-fm-asks-for-additional-us-engagement-regarding-bih-election-reform/

Serbia’s Agriculture Min-Price of bread, flour won’t increase in next 60 days

May 15, 2022
Serbia’s Agriculture Minister, Branislav Nedimovic, said that Serbia will attract some 50 to 60 million euros because of its decision to export flour completely for free and that the situation in Serbia will not be endangered at any moment.
„We have a surplus of 170,000 tons of flour, and if we have Serbia exporting 10,000 to 12,000 tons, we have enough export for 15 months, and it should be taken into account that we have a million tons of wheat in stock that can be easily ground,“ Nedimovic told RTS.
He added that a good season is expected – a yield of 4.5 million tons of wheat – and added that the production of sunflower oil is three times higher than the consumption in the country.
The minister said he still believes that the decision to freeze exports for 45 days was good for balancing the stocks of goods in the country.
"Flour in a package of one and five kilograms and bread will not be more expensive in the next 60 days, but the government has the right to intervene if there are disturbances, and there is every chance that there will be a complete chaos on the world market," Nedimovic said.
In addition to the good yield of wheat of 3,400,000 tons, as well as corn and sunflower, the Minister also said he expects a good yield of raspberries this year.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-agriculture-min-price-of-bread-flour-wont-increase-in-next-60-days/

G7 ministers urge Serbia to harmonise its foreign policy with the EU

May 15, 2022
The G7 praised Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia for fully aligning their foreign policies with the EU, including the introduction of sanctions on Russia and their implementation, and called on Serbia to do the same.
The G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union urged Kosovo and Serbia to “engage constructively in the EU-facilitated Dialogue, to fully implement all past agreements with no delay, and to normalise their relations through a comprehensive and legally binding agreement, which will allow for the realisation of their respective European perspectives, contribute to regional stability and benefit all people in the region.”
They reaffirmed their commitment to the European perspective of the six Western Balkan countries “to ensure the security, stability and prosperity of the region.”
“We welcome that the Western Balkans stand united in condemning Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, especially in the UN General Assembly (UNGA). We commend Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia for fully aligning their foreign policies with the EU, including sanctions and their implementation. We urge Serbia to do the same,” the G7 statement said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/g7-ministers-urge-serbia-to-harmonise-its-foreign-policy-with-the-eu/

Vucic-We will refrain from imposing sanctions on Russia as long as possible

May 15, 2022
Serbia's President, Aleksandar Vucic, stated that Serbia suffers a lot because it refuses to impose sanctions on Russia and that life in the country would be significantly better if the country decided to do so. However, he said that Serbia will not do this because it has its independent policy.
Vucic argued that many politicians are trying to abuse the issue.
„Everyone would say that Vucic is announcing the introduction of sanctions. No, we will fight as long as we can to maintain our policy and we are pursuing that policy not because we gain something from not imposing sanctions. This is because I will listen to experts who are pointing out the costs of natural gas, which would be a loss of a billion, while now we are losing billions because of this, not to mention the reduced direct investments and that seven American producers and actors refused to come to make films because we did not impose sanctions on Russia,“ said Vucic.
He reiterated that Serbia knows how unfair the sanctions are and that his country is doing all this out of respect for the law, but also said that the people should know that the state is losing a lot due to it not imposing sanctions on Russia.
Vucic posed the question of why the international community is not bombing Russia now, as it bombed Serbia in 1999, stating that the international community now claims that the current events in Ukraine are "unprecedented on European soil".
The President said he expected a "normal" price from the new negotiations with Russia on gas. He added that he had received a promise from Bulgarian Prime Minister Kirill Petkov that Bulgaria would not cause problems with gas transit to Serbia.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/vucic-we-will-refrain-from-imposing-sanctions-on-russia-as-long-as-possible/

Croatia reports 543 new COVID-19 cases, five related deaths

May 14, 2022
In the last 24 hours 543 coronavirus cases, out of 3,145 tests, and five related deaths have been registered in Croatia, the national COVID-19 crisis management team said on Saturday.
There are 4,403 active cases, including 345 hospitalised patients, 15 of whom are on ventilators, while 2,454 persons are self-isolating.
To date, Croatia has registered 1,131,105 coronavirus cases and the death toll is 15,925.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/croatia-reports-543-new-covid-19-cases-five-related-deaths/

Serbia’s coronavirus update: one death, 327 new cases

May 14, 2022
The Serbian Health Ministry said in its daily bulletin on Saturday that one person passed away due to COVID-19 over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 16,046.
It said that 5,797 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 327 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The total number of people tested to date stands at 9,592,417 with 2,012,597 confirmed cases.
The bulletin said that there are 290 hospitalized cases, including 14 patients on ventilators.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-coronavirus-update-one-death-327-new-cases/

G7 Ministers-Secessionist policies of Bosnia's RS entity won't be tolerated

May 14, 2022
G7 ministers expressed concern about the “deepening political crisis” in Bosnia and strongly condemned attempts to “undermine the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country”, stressing that “secessionist policies” of BiH’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity will not be tolerated.
The G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union, stated that they met on Saturday “in a fundamentally changed strategic and security environment.”
“The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is a watershed moment for the 21st century and carries dramatic consequences far beyond Europe. We, the G7, want to make abundantly clear that we will not sit by whilst countries flagrantly disregard the international rulebook, on which we all depend for peace, prosperity, security and stability,” the ministers said in a statement.
“We are concerned about the deepening political crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina and condemn any attempt to undermine the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. We will not tolerate Republika Srpska’s secessionist policies, which endanger Bosnia and Herzegovina’s future and the stability in the region,” the statement stressed.
The G7 ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the European perspective of the six Western Balkan countries “to ensure the security, stability and prosperity of the region” and welcomed that “the Western Balkans stand united in condemning Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, especially in the UN General Assembly (UNGA).”
They commended Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia for fully aligning their foreign policies with the EU, including sanctions and their implementation, but also urged Serbia to do the same.

“We welcome the alignment of Bosnia and Herzegovina with EU restrictive measures on Russia and unilateral alignment of Kosovo with those measures. We must continue to help Western Balkans to reduce their dependency on Russian hydrocarbons and vulnerability to economic coercion,” the statement said.
“We are concerned about the deepening political crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina and condemn any attempt to undermine the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. We will not tolerate Republika Srpska’s secessionist policies, which endanger Bosnia and Herzegovina’s future and the stability in the region,” the statement stressed.
The G7 ministers urged the return to the full functionality of governments at all levels in BiH “to resume their work fully, putting aside divisive and inflammatory rhetoric and avoiding any act that could destabilise Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
They called upon all parties in the country to ensure that general elections are held as foreseen in October and expressed full support for the mandate of the High Representative of the international community who oversees the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, Christian Schmidt.
They also expressed support for the executive mandate of the EUFOR ALTHEA operation “to maintain a safe and secure environment in the country.”
“We urge Kosovo and Serbia to engage constructively in the EU-facilitated Dialogue, to fully implement all past agreements with no delay, and to normalize their relations through a comprehensive and legally binding agreement, which will allow for the realization of their respective European perspectives, contribute to regional stability and benefit all people in the region. We support progress on inclusive regional cooperation and energy transition especially through the Common Regional Market and the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans within the framework of the Berlin Process,” the statement also said.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/g7-ministers-secessionist-policies-of-bosnias-rs-entity-wont-be-tolerated/

Schmidt asks Una-Sana Canton authorities to regulate state property laws

May 13, 2022
Christian Schmidt, the international peace envoy in Bosnia and Herzegovina has called on local authorities in the Una-Sana Canton to “launch the process of revision of current laws and regulations that refer to various categories of the state and public property” in that part of the country.
Schmidt, who took post of High Representative in August last year with mandate to impose laws and dismiss officials, sent a note to prime minister of the Una-Sana Canton, one of ten administrative units in Bosnia's Federation entity (FBiH), reminding that the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina made assessment of a few laws in Republika Srpska entitiy (RS), which regulate the issue of state property and public good and established a few violations in those instances.
He said that the court decision primarily refers to a 2012 case, when the Court established that the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the owner of the state property and has exclusive competency to manage it through existing laws adopted by the Parliament of BiH. Other court decisions that affirm the initial one followed in September 2021 and February 2022, Schmidt recalled, stressing that the said decisions and principles established by the Constitutional Court apply to entire territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the Una-Sana Canton.
“In the interest of preserving the rule of law and protecting the property interests of the state of BiH and other entities, please initiate a process of revision of existing laws and regulations relating to different categories of state and public property in your canton. Some of these laws and regulations were adopted several years before the relevant decisions of the BiH Constitutional Court regarding state property, so it would be necessary for the competent USC institutions to carefully review all relevant laws and regulations, and to amend them if necessary in accordance with the principles contained in the relevant decisions of the Constitutional Court of BiH,” Schmidt wrote in the letter to PM Mustafa Ruznic.
He offered the assistance of the Office of the High Representative in completing this process, “if they find it useful.”
N1, which is in the possession of Schmidt's letter, learns that a note of similar content will be sent to authorities of other cantons in the Federation entity.
Schmidt recently suspended the application of the Law on Immovable Property in Republika Srpska entity until the Constitutional Court reaches a final decision on the matter concerning the disputed legislation.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/schmidt-asks-una-sana-canton-authorities-to-regulate-state-property-laws/

HDZ BiH's Pendes-Situation in Bosnia not bright

May 13, 2022
Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not bright and we are sending a message to the world as a dysfunctional state, member of Bosnia's House of Peoples Marina Pendes told N1, noting that the country needs reforms and law changes.
Speaking about the electoral reform, Pendes, who is a member of the HDZ BiH party, one of the participant of talks on Election Law changes, said both the party and its leader Dragan Covic are always open for talks.
“It is very important that we (the Croats) are equal with other two constituent peoples (the Bosniaks and Serbs) to chose president and representatives in the authority,” said Pendes.
She labelled the centre-left Democratic Front as “a Bosniak political party” based on election results.
“The Bosniak policy means that true procedure on electing the election commission is not carried out in parliamentary procedure,” said Pendes.
She also denied allegations about obstruction of allocating money for the October election, noting that Finance Minister Vjekoslav Bevanda, who is also a HDZ BiH member, is not responsible for the budget adoption.
According to her, the Central Election Commission, the country's top electoral authority, is trivialising the whole matter of the Election Law changes, wishing some “cosmetic changes” and digitalising the process.
She stressed that all Croats want a democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the right to elect their representatives in the authority.
HDZ BiH, which is the strongest ethnic Croat party in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and its leadership strongly objected the election of DF's Zeljko Komsic as the Croat member of Bosnia's tripartite Presidency, claiming that he was elected mostly owing to the votes of the Bosniaks. Within the electoral reform talks, the HDZ BiH and its leader advocate changes that would, as they say, enable the Croats to elect their representatives in the authority.
Pendes also commented on the report by international peace envoy Christian Schmidt on situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was presented this week at the UN Security Council, saying that she was not happy about it.
“There was no mention about the violation of the rights of the Croats and the report is not true. Not all of it but it is not true,” Pendes added.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/hdz-bihs-pendes-situation-in-bosnia-not-bright/

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