International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Opposition official says new government continues old policies

August 29, 2022
Serbian opposition official Marinika Tepic said on Monday that the incoming government will continue the policies of Prime Minister Ana Brnabic’s previous cabinet.
“This will be a government of continuity that doubled Serbia’s public debt, caused double-digit inflation, destroyed the EPS (national power company), the judiciary, institutions and took us to first place in Europe in terms of corruption levels, creating an environment in which people are completely unprotected from the abuse of arrogant individuals close to the regime,” the deputy leader of the Party of Freedom and Justice (SSP) told the Nova.rs portal.
She added that it’s clear that “the group of people who will call themselves the Serbian government, headed by Ana Brnabic, are just a group of people with no political clout”. According to her, the fact that the new prime minister was named for a term in office half that of what the law says is more proof that it’s absolutely not important who the prime minister is.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/opposition-official-says-new-government-continues-old-policies/

General suspected of war crimes takes seat on Belgrade City Assembly

August 29, 2022
A Bosnian Serb general who commanded a war-time camp has become a new member of the Belgrade City Assembly, the Nova.rs portal said on Monday.
It said that Svetozar Andric took his seat on the city assembly following the resignations of two ruling party councilors. His name was put forward by Belgrade Mayor and Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) official Aleksandar Sapic.
Andric was a general officer in the Republika Srpska Army (VRS) during the war in Bosnia, setting up and commanding the Susica internment camp where up to 8,000 civilians were held between May 31 and September 30 1992, many of them tortured, raped and murdered. The Humanitarian Law Center filed charges against Andric for ordering the ethnic cleansing of some 10,000 Bosniaks from the Zvornik area.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/general-suspected-of-war-crimes-takes-seat-on-belgrade-city-assembly/

Pisonero-EC regrets Belgrade’s decision on Europride

August 28, 2022
The European Commission regrets the decision by the Serbian authorities to cancel or postpone Europride, EC spokeswoman Ana Pisonero told N1.
“We regret that Serbia announced it would cancel or postpone the Europride that it had initially decided to host in Belgrade this September and would welcome further clarifications,” Pisonero said in a written reply to N1 adding that the European Commission will follow the issue closely.
“We hope that a way will be found to ensure the Europride takes place in peace and security,” she said and recalled that the EU supports equality and rejects any form of discrimination.
“The Europride has been advocating the equal rights of LGBTIQ people across Europe for many years, giving a voice to those that are often discriminated because of their sexual orientation. These are fundamental rights for the EU and that we expect our closest partners to uphold,” Pisonero said in her written reply.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/pisonero-ec-regrets-belgrades-decision-on-europride/

Vucic-Agreement with Pristina makes it easier, not harder, for everyone

August 28, 2022
President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, said that Serbia managed to get the best possible out of the agreement with Pristina, emphasising that the agreement was verbal.
After a joint exercise by the police and the army members at the Pasuljanska Livada training ground on sunday, Vucic told reporters that the agreement, according to which Serbia abolishes the issuance of exit-entry documents for people who have Kosovo identity documents, and Kosovo does not introduce them for those who have Serbian identity cards, was verbal because the written agreement was signed in 2011.
According to him, since 2011, citizens have been crossing the administrative line using Kosovo documents which were accompanied by a paper that has now been abolished.
“Because of that decision, it is not harder for anyone, it is easier for everyone,” Vucic said.
He also noted that he is “always” ready for the session of the Parliament of Serbia regarding Kosovo, but that it should be arranged in accordance with his duties.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/vucic-agreement-with-pristina-makes-it-easier-not-harder-for-everyone/

Brnabic says no conditions for safe holding of Europride in Belgrade

August 28, 2022
Ana Brnabic, the prime minister-designate for the new Government of Serbia, said that at the moment there are no conditions for the safe holding of Europride in Belgrade, because all state capacities should be focused on preventing any violence in Kosovo from September 1.
Speaking to TV Prva, Brnabic said that the Serbian Progressive Party and President Aleksandar Vucic were making sure that the Pride walk is organised in Serbia for eight years, which, she stressed, showed the extent to which human rights are respected.
“This year is really difficult and this September is especially difficult and specific. On September 1, a hellish period begins for us in terms of what will happen on the territory of Kosovo, how the Albanians in Pristina will react, and what further unilateral moves they will make. No matter how you turn it, from any angle you look at it, the first indisputable thing is to ensure peace and stability,” said Brnabić.
She also said that despite the fact that a compromise was reached with Pristina regarding personal documents, “we still have nothing” for license plates.
Therefore, Brnabic added, all state capacities should focus on preventing any violence in Kosovo, and if part of these capacities were to focus on Europride, the peace would be more compromised.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/brnabic-says-no-conditions-for-safe-holding-of-europride-in-belgrade/

Europride coordinator-We will take to the streets of Belgrade on September 17

August 28, 2022
Europride will be held on September 17, Marko Mihailovic, the coordinator of the event, told N1, stressing that the event cannot be cancelled by anyone except the organisers. He also said he would complain if the police forbid the gathering.
“Europride will take place, on September 19 at five o’clock in the afternoon we will go out after 21 years of fighting for a better status of LGBTI+ population in the community. That 21-year-long protest brought minimal changes, all those changes happened in Belgrade. We got Europride in 2019 in the hope that we will give our country the opportunity to understand how important it is to react to the violation of human rights in our own country, to the non-reaction of institutions, to the legally unregulated status that causes us serious problems. What happened yesterday is the opposite of all that,” said Mihailovic, commenting on the Government’s decision to ban the Europride.
According to him, the Government of Serbia’s assessment that currently the conditions are not safe for holding of Europride is a political calculation.
Mihailovic noted that the Europride was used for “some kind of a spin” and that it was clear the moment when the information about the agreement with Kosovo came out.
The cancellation of Europride was also condemned by the UN Mission in Serbia, as well as the regional network of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR).
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/europride-coordinator-we-will-take-to-the-streets-of-belgrade-on-september-17/

Brnabic-Gentleman’s agreement with Pristina, government formation in September

August 28, 2022
Ana Brnabic, the prime minister-designate for the new Government of Serbia, said that the deal on personal documents reached with Pristina is a “gentleman's agreement” with EU guarantees.
Brnabic told TV Prva that the Agreement on Freedom of Movement signed by Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels in 2011 reads that each side can issue accompanying documents to the citizens of the other side.
“Until now, Albanians from Kosovo could enter with their identity cards and we gave them a piece of paper which they could use to travel through Serbia,” the prime minister recalled.
Now, she added, Albanians from Kosovo will not be issued any accompanying document, but at the crossings with Kosovo, there will be signs with a “disclaimer” which explains that enabling the use of identity cards issued by Pristina is done solely for practical reasons, and that it cannot be interpreted as recognition of the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo.
What is most important for Belgrade is that with the agreement reached, the Kosovo side will not issue accompanying documents to Serbs from Kosovo who have identity cards of Serbia, and they will be able to freely cross into central Serbia and return to the territory of Kosovo.
Brnabic also said that she believes the new Government of Serbia will be formed in September and that Sinisa Mali, Milos Vucevic and Ivica Dacic will certainly be part of it but that it is not yet time to talk about it in public.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/brnabic-gentlemans-agreement-with-pristina-government-formation-in-september/

Coronavirus UPDATE: 15 deaths, 3,497 new cases

August 27, 2022
The Serbian Health Ministry said in its daily bulletin on Saturday that 15 people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 16,631.
It said that 10,242 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 3,497 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The total number of people tested to date stands at 10,628,298 with 2,269,421 confirmed cases.
The bulletin said that there are 655 hospitalized cases, including 33 patients on ventilators.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-update-15-deaths-3497-new-cases/

Dodik-We don't want either Russians or Americans to interfere in our lives

August 27, 2022
Bosnia Serb Presidency member Milorad Dodik said he was glad that US Ambassador Michael Murphy clearly said that Bosnia and Herzegovina will be the one deciding on moving towards NATO, which, as he noted, denies all those who persistently lie that such a decision has already been made. He also said that the interference of neither Americans nor Russians is desirable in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“Anyone who insists that the matter is finished has unlimited trust in the American Embassy, and therefore I am glad that the answer came from that embassy,” said Dodik speaking to SRNA news agency, asked to comment on the US ambassador's statement that the decision to join NATO is on the sovereign Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Dodik also commented on foreign influence in the country.
“We do not want either Russians or Americans to interfere in our decisions and lives. We want to make sovereign decisions on all issues relevant to our lives. The least we want is for conflicts from some other parts of the world to be transferred to Bosnia and Herzegovina under the pretext of concern for its future,” Dodik said, referring to Murphy's statement that America will “not leave BiH to Russia.”
He also said that Bosnia and Herzegovina has a future if it functions according to the Constitution and if everyone finally understands this, stressing that no interview or statement by foreign diplomats will help if they do not support the constitutional arrangement of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/dodik-we-dont-want-either-russians-or-americans-to-interfere-in-our-lives/

Belgrade and Pristina reach free movement agreement

August 27, 2022
"Under the EU-facilitated Dialogue, Serbia agreed to abolish entry/exit documents for Kosovo ID holders and Kosovo agreed to not introduce them for Serbian ID holders", EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, wrote on social media on Saturday.
„Kosovo Serbs, as well as all other citizens, will be able to travel freely between Kosovo and Serbia using their ID cards. The EU just received guarantees from PM Kurti to this end. This is a European solution. We congratulate both leaders on this decision and their leadership“, he added.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/belgrade-and-pristina-reach-free-movement-agreement/

Serbian Government says conditions for Europride not safe

August 27, 2022
The Government of Serbia said that at this moment there are no safe conditions for holding of Europride in Belgrade, which was planned for September 17.
“Taking into account the current political situation in the region and the daily tensions that are present, and taking into account public order and peace and the safety of all citizens of our country, the Government of Serbia deems that at the moment there the conditions for holding of the Europride 2022 event are not safe, especially bearing in mind the fact that certain extremist groups could take advantage and abuse this event and Serbia’s will to organise it in order to further increase tensions and bring Serbia into instability,” the Government said.
Earlier on Saturday, the President of Serbia said that Europride will be cancelled or postponed. The organisers immediately reacted, noting that this is an unconstitutional decision and that the state cannot cancel Europride.
Kristine Garina, the head of the European Pride Organisers Association, said that President Aleksandar Vucic cannot cancel the event.
“Neither the hosts of EuroPride 2022, Belgrade Pride, nor us as the licensor will cancel EuroPride in Belgrade,” she stressed.
As she said, the right to hold Pride was declared a fundamental human right by the European Court of Human Rights and any attempt to ban it is a breach of Articles 11, 13 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which Serbia ratified as a member of the Council of Europe.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-government-says-conditions-for-europride-not-safe/

Vucic says Europride will be cancelled or postponed

August 27, 2022
In agreement with the majority of the Government members and the Prime Minister, the Pride Parade (Europride) scheduled for September will be cancelled or postponed, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday.
“They (Prime Minister and members of the Government) will explain all this in accordance with which law, the Pride Parade scheduled for September, or whatever it is called, will be cancelled or postponed,” Vucic said addressing a press conference in Belgrade.
According to Vucic, Europride cannot be held in the current political situation in Serbia.
“I’m not saying this because I’m very happy but we can’t do it at this moment, when we have the Open Balkans and the crisis in Kosovo, there is no progress, to be honest we have nowhere to move, we don’t want to give up neutral plates,” he noted.
The President further ntoed that the country is pressed by many problems such as drought, police issues, and that
„We are threatening the right of the minority, but at the moment the country is pressed by many problems because we have problems with the drought, all possible police issues, out of all the crises that we have…,” he added.
„Serbs from Kosovo cannot belong to the visa regime“
The President of Serbia said that in the next few days he expects the EU’s response to Belgrade’s proposal, according to which the Serbs from Kosovo would be able to enter and leave Kosovo with Serbian identity cards.
He stressed that Serbs from Kosovo “cannot belong to the visa regime.”
“It is important to us that every Serb from Leposavic, Kosovska Mitrovica, Gracanica can enter Kosovo and Metohija and leave with documents of the Republic of Serbia. If they in the EU guarantee that to us, we have solved one problem,” said Vucic.
Stating that there is “obviously no agreement” regarding license plates, Vucic said that the issue of the Community of the Serb Municipalities will be a precondition for talks with Pristina on any issue in the future.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/vucic-says-europride-will-be-cancelled-or-postponed/

Ana Brnabic prime minister-designate for new government

August 27, 2022
Ana Brnabic will be the prime minister-designate for the composition of the new Government of Serbia, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said at a press conference on Saturday.
According to Vucic, Brnabic will not act as the prime minister for four years but for a shorter period of time. He also announced changes in the government in 2024.
“But it is important that she remains the prime minister so that we can continue solving problems,” he stressed.
Vucic also said that the mayor of Novi Sad, Milos Vucevic, will be “a very important member of the new government,” as he said, “certainly the vice president.”
“(Ivica) Dacic will have an even more significant role and function in the state apparatus of Serbia. It shows the trust I have. Dacic, in addition to his important ministerial position, will have the function of coordinator of the security services. (Sinisa) Mali, in whom we have confidence, will be one of the vice-presidents,” stressed Vucic.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/ana-brnabic-prime-minister-designate-for-new-government/

Coronavirus UPDATE: 23 deaths, 4,025 new cases

August 26, 2022
The Serbian Health Ministry said in its daily bulletin on Friday that 23 people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 16,616.
It said that 12,611 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 4.025 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The total number of people tested to date stands at 10,618,056 with 2,265,924 confirmed cases.
The bulletin said that there are 671 hospitalized cases, including 34 patients on ventilators.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-update-23-deaths-4025-new-cases/

BiH Ambassador to Russia-Republika Srpska prevents sanctions against Russia

August 26, 2022
Thanks to the firm position of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity and BiH Presidency member Milorad Dodik, there was not nor will there be an agreement in the Presidency on any joining of BiH to sanctions or initiatives to condemn Russia, said BiH Ambassador to Russia Zeljko Samardzija.
He emphasized that Russia has been one of Bosnia’s most important foreign trade partners so far, and that he hopes it will remain so in the future.
“Given that BiH didn’t join the sanctions against Russia, we can count on a privileged status in foreign trade with Russia. For example, we hope to get gas at a very favourable price, and that means a lot for the economy and the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Samardzija told the Russian FAN Agency.
Noting that now the price of gas on the market has reached a record level, and that winter and cold days are ahead, Samardzija says that he does not believe that someone in Sarajevo, which is the main gas consumer in BiH, will turn off the gas in their apartment because they do not support the Russian aggression on Ukraine or because they do not like Russia.
Samardzija said that, in accordance with the Constitution, the BiH foreign policy is led by the country’s Presidency and that “this country can only function on the principles of agreement between two entities and three peoples.”
According to him, the “individual joining of sanctions” against Russia in Brussels, Strasbourg or New York “are the result of the arbitrariness of the ambassadors in those places who work on the orders of the party centers in Sarajevo.”
The Ambassador emphasized that there is a consensus in BiH regarding the European path, but that the question is how honest Europe is in its relationship with BiH.
“If the goal of the EU is the unitization of BiH and the abolition of the powers belonging to the RS in accordance with the Dayton Agreement, that path will become thorny,” he added.
Samardzija stated that there is no single position in BiH when it comes to NATO, and recalled that the RS entity Assembly passed the Resolution on military neutrality stipulating that the will of the “representatives of the people” must be respected.
“Joining NATO is impossible without the consent of the RS, that's obvious,” Samardzija concluded.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bih-ambassaros-to-russia-republika-srpska-prevents-sanctions-against-russia/

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