International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Troika, HDZ BiH propose Lidija Bradara for new FBiH entity President

February 20, 2023

Lidija Bradara confirmed that she was proposed for the new President of Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity, following the decision of the Our Party (NS), People and Justice (NIP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) known as the Troika and the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH) that she should be the FBiH President, and Igor Stojanovic and Refik Lendo entity Vice Presidents.

The FBiH House of Representatives and the House of Peoples, the Central Election Commission (CEC) and the Office of the High Representative (OHR) have been informed about everything. They expect the House of Representatives to confirm this decision.

“Today we used our constitutional powers and constitutional competencies. The three of us are confirmed and elected candidates for the FBiH President and Vice President. Lidija Bradara is the President of the FBiH, and Stojanovic and Lendo are the Vice Presidents,” Bradara pointed out.

Refik Lendo, a member of the FBiH leadership, did not appear at today's meeting. This is the third meeting without Lendo, who scheduled a meeting for Friday.

Lidija Bradara, Refik Lendo and Igor Stojanovic were officially elected last week after the confirmation by the FBiH House of Peoples, for the FBiH leadership.

With a total of 79 votes in favour, with no abstentions and no votes against them Lendo, Bradara and Stojanovic were elected as the new leaders of the FBiH.

According to the conclusion of the CEC, the voting was carried out by calling each delegate, who expressed their opinion on the proposed list, which included Lendo, Bradara and Stojanovic.

Earlier on the same day, their appointment was confirmed by the House of Representatives of the FBiH Parliament.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/troika-hdz-bih-propose-lidija-bradara-for-new-fbih-entity-president/

Covic-Blockade will fail, new authorities in FBiH by week's end

February 20, 2023

The Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH) leader, Dragan Covic, on Monday, ruled out the success of the obstruction by the Bosniak SDA party and said that the new authorities in the Bosniak-Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) entity would be formed by the end of this week.

Covic said that there would be no need for an intervention of the international community's High Representative Christian Schmidt.

The Party of Democratic Action (SDA) is demanding the post of Federation Prime Minister to unblock the process of government formation in the Bosniak-Croat entity, party official Refik Lendo, who was expected to take the post of entity vice-president, said last Friday.

Lendo did not show up for two meetings in Sarajevo with Lidija Bradara of the HDZ BiH party and Igor Stojanovic of the SDP BiH last week, at which they were to decide who would take the post of Federation president and who the posts of entity vice-presidents.

Lendo confirmed that his having failed to show up to the meetings was due to the SDA's decision to block government formation.

Under the Federation's constitution, the entity government can be appointed only based on a decision signed by the entity President and two Vice Presidents.

The SDA is now using this situation to blackmail the HDZ and the SDP because it was the only party that had the necessary majority in the Bosniak caucus of the House of Peoples of the Federation Parliament to nominate the Bosniak vice-president of the Federation, and Lendo fills this post.

In the Federation, the HDZ BiH and eight Bosniak and civic parties now make up the ruling majority, based on the results of the October 2022 general elections.

They agreed that Bradara should be the President of the Federation, while Stojanovic as the Serb representative and Lendo as the Bosniak representative should be the two Vice Presidents.

Today, Covic said that Schmidt did not need to intervene to unblock the government formation process, however, he admitted that the High Representative could use his broad powers under the Bonn agreement to penalise office-holders found to be breaching the Dayton agreement.

The government has already been formed at the state level and in the Serb entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Now it remains to be seen how the formation of the government in the Federation will unfold.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/covic-blockade-will-fail-new-authorities-in-fbih-by-weeks-end/

Bosnian Serb minister insists on Russian gas supply, announces blockade of work

February 20, 2023

Bosnian Serb ministers in the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) could block the work of that body if Republika Srpska (RS), Bosnia's Serb-majority entity, is not given the go-ahead by the end of the week to build a new pipeline to transport gas from Russia, the Foreign Trade Ministry reported on Monday.

This ministry is led for the second term by Stasa Kosarac from the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), headed by Milorad Dodik. In a special statement delivered to the media, he said that he expects the Council of Ministers to approve the construction of the East Interconnection gas pipeline in the session on Thursday, because he considers it to be the most important issue.

“If the East Gas Interconnection is not included in the agenda of the Council of Ministers by Thursday, my opinion is that the session should not be held at all,” said Kosarac, adding that the state government should not decide on any other issue until this is resolved.

Since the 1980s BiH has been acquiring all its natural gas from Russia and the only gas pipeline it has is connected to Serbia's gas network.

This has become a problem and come to the fore during the energy crisis caused by Russia's aggression against Ukraine as BiH is completely dependent on Russian gas and has been unable to replace it with gas from other markets.

In 2015, Milorad Dodik rejected the proposal from BH Gas, the country's main gas supplier, to connect Bosnia and Herzegovina to the gas network of Croatia via Slavonski Brod-Bosanski Brod, which was supposed to ensure the gasification of the northwestern parts of the country and the diversification of supply sources. This project was ready to be financially supported by the EU, which allocated one million euros in grants for the creation of a feasibility study.

Dodik then asserted that the EU's goal was to make the region “dependent on gas from European sources,” and that he wants the RS to get gas only from Russia.

Therefore, the urgent construction of an alternative route was selected, the so-called South Interconnection, connecting BiH via Mostar to the gas network of Croatia near Zagvozd, which would enable access to the LNG terminal on Krk island. However, the RS entity blocked that project until the construction of another gas pipeline to Serbia is approved and said that the project would be financed by the Russian state-owned company Gazprom.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and BiH Council of Ministers Chairperson Borjana Kristo confirmed during their meeting in Zagreb last week that the South Interconnection remains a project of strategic importance for both countries and announced that work on its implementation will be accelerated.

Minister Kosarac has now announced that he will block all energy projects that would be carried out on the territory of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosniak-Croat shared entity which makes another half of the country, until the request from the RS for another gas pipeline to Serbia is approved.

“That is a project that will increase the security of natural gas supply to consumers and ensure long-term energy stability in the RS,” Košarac asserted.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/bosnian-serb-minister-insists-on-russian-gas-supply-announces-blockade-of-work/

Osmani accuses Putin of destabilizing region

February 20, 2023

Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani told Sky News on Monday that Russia is using Serbia in an attempt to destabilize the Western Balkans.

Osmani accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to divert the attention of the West away from Ukraine. “The way he would be able to do that is by creating other conflicts in Europe, whether we’re talking about Moldova, Georgia or the Western Balkans” she said at the Munich security conference.

“They bring in paramilitary forces that are dressed in civilians within our territory through illegal routes, and then they send in weapons and they also send in green uniforms without insignia so that it doesn’t look like a traditional military attack… But in fact, they do prepare a lot of hybrid attacks, which is a mix of what these paramilitary forces do in northern Kosovo,” Osmani said.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/osmani-accuses-putin-of-destabilizing-region/

Commissioner-Poverty can be a cause of social instability

February 20, 2023

Serbia’s Commissioner for the Protection of Equality Brankica Jankovic cautioned that, according to the European Commission report for 2022, 46.1 percent of the population in Serbia self-identified as poor.

In a press release marking February 20, the World Day of Social Justice, the Commissioner said the data of the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia for 2021 shows that 21.2 per cent of the Serbian population is at risk of poverty.

“Based on many indicators, the quality of life of vulnerable social groups, children, persons with disabilities, the elderly, women, long-term unemployed persons, the Roma and other minorities is not at a satisfactory level. Having in mind the many challenges ahead of us, what must be taken into account is that poverty and social exclusion can be a cause of social instability,” the Commissioner’s office quoted her as saying.

The World Day of Social Justice was established in November 2007 by a decision of the UN General Assembly and has been celebrated since 2009.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/commissioner-poverty-can-be-a-cause-of-social-instability/

Vucic-We will invest heavily in the defense industry, military

February 20, 2023

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said “the Serbian military needs to be much stronger” than it is at present, even though it is “incomparably stronger than it used to be.”

“We have to invest a lot of money both in the defense industry and military, I have spoken with Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and (Finance) Minister Sinisa Mali,” said Vucic who currently is in Abu Dhabi for the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX).

The President said the plan is to procure 200 domestically-manufactured heavy weapons in 2023 and 2024, which comes out to some 300 million euros, and added that Serbian arms are attracting great interest in Abu Dhabi.

Commenting on the “rampant” armament in the world, he said that Pristina is planning to acquire 100 armored vehicles by the end of the year, partly from donations, which is “contrary to Resolution 1244 of the United Nations Security Council”.

Vucic added that the world has not seen such intensive armament in the past 70-80 years.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/vucic-we-will-invest-heavily-in-the-defense-industry-military/

Kosovo NGOs to Serbian Patriarch-“We feel like lambs before slaughter”

February 20, 2023

Several Kosovo NGOs addressed on Sunday evening the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC), Patriarch Porfirije, asking to be received by him because “the people feel left alone and abandoned, like lambs before the slaughter.”

The letter, signed by the leader of the Gracanica-based Serbian National Forum, Momcilo Trajkovic, leader of the Kosovska Mitrovica-based Movement for the Defense of Kosovo and Metohija Nebojsa Jovic and leader of the Fatherland movement from Kosovska Mitrovica Slavisa Ristic reads that this is the second time they are writing to the Patriarch in ten days and that they had expected an answer from him, even if a negative one.

“We know the Church does not engage in politics, but it has to focus on its faithful people. This is a ‘to be or not to be’ time for our people, so it is not a time for politics, but for a national struggle for the sake of national survival,” reads the letter.

The NGOs said they have no one to turn to in the state structures, that they have been rejected by the state and left at the mercy of the Kosovo-Albanian authorities and corrupt Serb politicians, which is why they are very sad, afraid and concerned.

“We are just sharing with you the opinion and the fears of a vast majority of Serbs in Kosovo. An absolute majority. A minority of our fellow citizens who only care about profiting from our misfortune have sided, through political engagement, with those who are against the survival of our people and our state,” said the signatories of the letter, adding that “this minority of political profiteers is becoming smaller and slimmer but, at the same time, increasingly cruel.”

This minority “only increases the fear and sense of hopelessness in our people. It acts in cooperation with the Albanian persecutors of the Serbian people, Church and state,“ reads the letter.

“Your Holiness, we ask you to understand this address of ours as ‘the voice of one crying in the desert’. We no longer have anyone to trust and to turn to. We turn to you like a child turning to a father for help. We see fatherly love in you. We place our hope in you,” wrote the NGOs, adding that if the Patriarch cannot receive them, they at least expect a reply from him, even if a negative one.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/kosovo-ngos-to-serbian-patriarch-we-feel-like-lambs-before-slaughter/

Borrell-Proposal is on the table, I hope Vucic, Kurti will accept it

February 20, 2023

European Union’s (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell confirmed that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti have been invited to Brussels on February 27, and added that Serbia is not sufficiently aligning with EU’s foreign policy.

Borrell met with both Vucic and Kurti during the Munich Security Conference.

“I will meet with the two of them in Brussels on February 27. Yes, I invited them to come and have all-day talks because we have a proposal on the table and I hope they will be able to accept that proposal as a way to normalize their relations,“ Borrell told Deutsche Welle.

This was preceded by months of diplomatic offensive on Belgrade and Pristina to accept the so-called Franco-German document as a basis for negotiations.

Asked how important the introduction of sanctions against Russia is for Serbia’s bid to join the EU, Borrell said the EU requires alignment from all members of the international community, especially from EU membership candidates who are asked to align with EU’s foreign policy.

Certainly Serbia isn’t aligning with our foreign policy as much as we would like it to, that is part of the talks and engagement toward Serbia, Borrell added.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/borrell-proposal-is-on-the-table-i-hope-vucic-kurti-will-accept-it/

Dveri calls on patriots to unite on Kosovo, Russia issues

February 20, 2023

The Serbian Dveri movement Main Board said it supports cooperation with the other patriotic opposition political parties and associations and “called on all patriots to unite against the recognition of the fake state of Kosovo and the introduction of sanctions against Russia.”

“These two pressures on our country by the West, growing by the day, are the biggest foreign policy challenges this year, and they call for the creation of a broad cross-party national front that would stand up to this,” said the Dveri movement.

The organization identified the NADA coalition, comprising the New Democratic Party of Serbia and The Movement for the Restoration of the Kingdom of Serbia, the Movement for the Defense of Kosovo and Metohija, the Serb Youth for Kosovo and Metohija and other patriotic organizations as potential partners in a new patriotic block. (Kosovo and Metohija is the official name for what the Serbian authorities consider to be the country’s southern province).

This bloc would be “able to prevent the damage that these new Western ultimatums would cause to Serbian national and state interests,” said the Dveri movement.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/dveri-calls-on-patriots-to-unite-on-kosovo-russia-issues/

Lajcak on CSM-Assumed obligations must be fulfilled

February 20, 2023

European Union’s (EU) Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajcak said that the Kosovo Parliament had ratified the Brussels Agreement thereby making it Kosovo’s international obligation.

Asked why the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM) in Kosovo has still not been established, Lajcak told the daily Politika the EU understands that this is a very sensitive issue for the Kosovo Government but that obligations must be fulfilled.

He said the position of the EU, US and other international partners is that any further delay is unacceptable.

The EU is currently working on two tracks to ensure that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue moves forward, he explained.

Lajcak said the priority is for both sides to agree on the EU proposal for the normalization of relations. At the same time, we continue to work on ensuring a full and immediate implementation of all the elements agreed on so far in the dialogue – which remain valid and are binding for both parties, said Lajcak.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/lajcak-on-csm-assumed-obligations-must-be-fulfilled/

Becirovic wants BiH and Serbia to finally sign an agreement on the state border

February 19, 2023

The Bosniak member of BiH’s tripartite Presidency, Denis Becirovic, wants the institution to adopt a decision necessary for the country to sign an agreement on the regulation of the interstate border with Serbia.

“In accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denis Becirovic, a member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, proposed on January 20, 2023, that the report of the State Commission for the Border of Bosnia and Herzegovina, regarding the state demarcation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, be included and considered at the upcoming regular session of the Presidency”, his office said.

He argued that the signing of the Agreement on the state border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Serbia would enable the demarcation of the state border between the two countries and confirm that good neighbourly relations and regional cooperation are key elements of the stabilization and association process.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/becirovic-wants-bih-and-serbia-to-finally-sign-an-agreement-on-the-state-border/

Russian Patriarch thanks SPC for supporting canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church

February 19, 2023

Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus' and Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill congratulated Serbian Patriarch Porfirije on the second anniversary of his enthronement, thanking him for his “courageous and open support” for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

„Thank you for your brave and open support of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, for your fatherly concern for refugees and all the victims,“ said Patriarch Kirill, as reported by „Sputnik“.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church belongs is part of the Moscow Patriarchate, while the separate Orthodox Church of Ukraine was granted autocephaly in 2019.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/russian-patriarch-thanks-spc-for-supporting-canonical-ukrainian-orthodox-church/

Le Figaro writes about Russian influence in Serbia

February 19, 2023

Serbia is one of the last allies of Russia on the European continent because it avoids introducing sanctions against that country, the French newspaper Le Figaro reported, noting that Russian influence in Serbia extends to all sectors of society with the approval of the Serbian authorities.

„That influence is so great that it started to bother the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, who was caught in his own trap“, the article said, adding that „Serbia certainly supported the resolution of the UN General Assembly on March 2, which condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but remains one from the last allies of Moscow on the European continent”.

The article says that the status of Kosovo is one of the main issues which Moscow uses to influence Belgrade as Russia uses its veto power in the UN Security Council to prevent Kosovo from becoming a member.

It points out that Serbia primarily depends on Russia in the energy sector. Directly or through its subsidiaries, Gazprom is the majority shareholder of the former local oil giant Naftna industrija Srbije (NIS) and is also the main owner of two gas pipelines that bring Russian gas to Serbian homes and industry.

Through its network of companies, the company has been a sponsor of sports clubs for years, such as the Crvena Zvezda Football Club and the Partizan Basketball Club, and it also finances a number of festivals, institutions and cultural events.

Le Figaro reported that graffiti with the Wagner emblem appeared in Belgrade, authored by the extreme right-wing movement Narodna Patrola, which organized demonstrations in support of Russia shortly after the start of the war in Ukraine, and that this prompted Vucic to react.

This time Vučić had to react. „Why do you, members of the Wagner group, invite Serbs to fight in Ukraine, when you know that it is illegal,“ he said.

The paper also quoted historian Milivoj Beslin, who said that „for Russia, the Balkans have always been a reserve front, so they are working to keep it in a state of permanent instability.“

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/le-figaro-writes-about-russian-influence-in-serbia/

New offensive right-wing grafitti appears at Belgrade park

February 19, 2023

New offensive graffiti appeared on the wall in the “Mitic's hole" park in Belgrade, where activists painted over the graffiti "When the army returns to Kosovo" a day prior.

„When the army returns to Kosovo“ was on the wall overlooking the children’s playground in the park for four months and previously before activists from the Krokodil association and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights painted it over. Because of this, they received fines from the communal authorities and were threatened that they will be reported for „damaging the facade“.

Meanwhile, unknown persons vandalised the wall in the night between Saturday and Sunday with the words “Kosovo is Serbia, Z”, “Death to domestic traitors” and other right-wing slogans.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/new-offensive-right-wing-grafitti-appears-at-belgrade-park/

Vucic expects Prokop railway station construction to be completed in October

February 19, 2023

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic said that he expects the "magnificent" Prokop railway station to be opened on October 20, Belgrade's Liberation Day.

In a video on his Instagram, Vucic spoke of „tens of thousands of square meters of new space, fantastically equipped for modern Belgrade, for modern Serbia“.

Vucic earlier visited the construction site at Prokop with Finance Minister Sinisa Mali, after which he wrote that he was happy that „the work on Prokop, at the main railway station in Belgrade, is progressing“.

The construction project in Prokop is based on a joint construction contract concluded between Serbia and PSP Farman.

According to the contract, PSP Farman will build the station building at its own expense and hand it over to the public railway company upon completion, and in return, it got approval to build its own business complex at the site.

The new station building on Prokop covers five and a half thousand square meters, and the building will also include commercial facilities.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/vucic-expects-prokop-railway-station-construction-to-be-completed-in-october/

isn eth zurichBSAdsNATOCentral and Eastern European Online LibraryEurActiv | European Union Information Website