International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

NBS-IMF praised Serbia for excellent results in challenging conditions

April 23, 2022
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group assessed that Serbia had a quick and efficient response to risks on the global market and confirmed that Serbia's medium-term prospects remain favourable, the National Bank of Serbia (NBS) said.
The statement said that key assessments were given during the meetings with the Deputy Director-General of the International Monetary Fund, Bo Li, and the Director of the Sector for Europe at the International Monetary Fund, Alfred Kamer.
Senior IMF officials praised the Serbian authorities for the excellent results achieved in the face of great challenges and pointed out that the Serbian economy was well managed throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and that Serbia’s cumulative growth in the two years of the pandemic was among the highest in Europe.
They assessed that Serbia has once again confirmed that it has a good crisis management system, that thanks to significantly better than planned tax revenues, the fiscal result in 2021 was better than expected, and that in the current conditions in Serbia the stability of the dinar and financial sector was maintained, which is important for maintaining business and consumer confidence, said the NBS.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/nbs-imf-praised-serbia-for-excellent-results-in-challenging-conditions/

Croatia’s state-owned pipeline Janaf resumes crude oil delivery to Serbia’s NIS

April 22, 2022
Croatia's state-owned pipeline operator Janaf said on Friday that a EU Council decision from earlier this months allows them to resume the delivery of crude oil to the Serbian national oil company NIS.
Janaf reported on 29 March that EU sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine would apply to its contract to deliver oil to NIS, as NIS is majority-owned by Russia’s Gazprom Neft company.
On Friday Janaf said in a press release that a more recent EU Council regulation of 8 April which amended the rules on sanctions allowed Janaf to continue delivering oil to NIS.
Janaf did not clarify how the new EU decision changed the rules, why they waited two weeks to notify the public, or the details on the amounts of oil meant for NIS held up due to the sanctions.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/croatias-state-owned-pipeline-janaf-resumes-crude-oil-delivery-to-serbias-nis/

Serbian human rights activist accused of hiding mass graves

April 22, 2022
A Serbian human rights activist known researching war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia has been accused of hiding information about mass graves.
The KoSSev news portal said that the head of the Kosovo Coordination Council for Missing Persons Ahmet Grajcevci accused former Humanitarian Law Fund chief Natasa Kandic of failing to volunteer information that she allegedly has about mass graves with the remains of Kosovo Albanians in Serbia.
Grajcevci told Pristina-based KTV that Kandic knows secrets. “What Kandic knows are secrets which she won’t reveal. (Serbian President Aleksandar) Vucic and (Parliament Speaker Ivica) Dacic openly threatened Kandic and all witnesses that anyone who testifies about locations of mass graves will be punished to the full extent of Serbian law. I believe that she knows more but is not talking. And it’s not just Kandic but many others as well,” he said.
According to him, the missing persons issue is completely political. He said that Serbian discovers mass graves when it needs to. Grajevci said the European Union is not interested in finding mass graves in Serbia. “If it were interested everything would be done in 24 hours. They know exactly where the mass graves are in Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia,” he said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-human-rights-activist-accused-of-hiding-mass-graves/

US Assistant State Secretary Donfried to visit Western Balkans next week

April 22, 2022
United States Assistant Secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs Dr Karen Donfried will travel to the Western Balkans from April 25 to 29, with stops in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia, the State Department said.
On April 25, Dr Donfried will thank Kosovo for providing refuge to Afghans and Ukrainians, encourage work on reforms for democratic consolidation and integration into European and Euro-Atlantic institutions, and review prospects for progress in the U.S.-supported, EU-facilitated Dialogue with Serbia toward an agreement on normalized relations centred on mutual recognition.
She will travel to Serbia on April 26 to urge Serbia to advance reforms for its European integration, enhance regional stability and prosperity, discuss opportunities for further energy diversification, and broaden our bilateral security and economic ties. She will reiterate the need for Serbia and Kosovo to reengage in the EU-facilitated Dialogue.
On April 27, in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Dr Donfried will encourage officials to resume institutional participation at all levels of government to advance functionality and common-sense reforms for greater prosperity and for BiH to obtain EU candidate status. She will urge BiH to hold fall elections on time and make progress in fighting endemic corruption.
In North Macedonia on April 28, she will meet with government leaders to signal our strong support for North Macedonia’s EU accession negotiations and thank them for their ongoing assistance to Ukraine. She will urge NATO’s newest member to continue close cooperation on a range of regional, security, and defence issues to promote democracy and regional stability.
On April 28 she will commemorate 100 years of U.S.-Albanian diplomatic relations and thank Albania for our partnership on the United Nations Security Council and for its commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression. She will also underscore our strong support for Albania’s EU accession and regional economic integration, as well as emphasize the need to fully implement justice reform and combat corruption.
Dr Donfried will travel to Montenegro on April 29, where she will highlight U.S. support for and the need to accelerate work on Montenegro’s Euro-Atlantic path and EU accession, strengthening NATO membership, and on supporting shared values, including tackling corruption. She will also thank Montenegro for joining EU sanctions on Russia in support of Ukraine, for providing humanitarian and security assistance, as well as for closing its airspace to Russian aircraft.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/us-assistant-state-secretary-donfried-to-visit-western-balkans-next-week/

First glance at the new Serbian parliament

April 22, 2022
The Serbian parliament will have 34 parties, movements and political groups with the biggest number of individual MP groups since the first multi-party elections in 1990.
The parliament will have 39 lawyers, 34 economists, 25 professors and 19 politicologists, 11 Mds and 11 pensioners as well as athletes, actors, former high-ranking military officers, an opera singer and a pilot. The number of women has dropped to 37.6 percent (94 MPs).
According to results released so far, the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) will have 95 of the 250 seats in parliament with 9 other parties sharing the seats won by the Aleksandar Vucic – We Can Do Everything election ticket. Former minister Rasim Ljajic’s Social Democrat Party of Serbia won 7 seats, the Party of United Pensioners of Serbia won 6 and the other parties on the SNS ticket will get 1 to 3 seats.
The Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) came in second with 23 seats and nine more seats won by its partners – Dragan Markovic Palma’s United Serbia (JS) and Greens Serbia leader Ivan Karic – on the Ivica Dacic Prime Minister of Serbia election ticket.
The United For Serbia opposition election ticket won 38 seats with Vuk Jeremic’s People’s Party (NS) winning 12, Dragan Djilas’ Party of Freedom and Justice (SSP) winning 11, the Democratic Party (DS) 10, the Movement of Free Citizens (PSG) three, the Movement for Change (PzP), Sloga Union and Homeland Movement one seat each.
The opposition NADA movement won 15 seats – seven each to the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) and Monarchists, one seat to retired army General Bozidar Delic and his No Turning Back – Serbia is Behind us movement.
The We Must (Moramo) coalition won 13 seats – five for the Don’t Let Belgrade D(r)own movement and four each to the Open Civic Platform Action and Ecological Uprising.
The Patriotic Block for the restoration of the Kingdom of Serbia (the Dveri Movement, Movement for the Renewal of the Kingdom of Serbia - POKS) won 10 seats with Bosko Obradovic’s dveri getting six and the POKS getting 4.
The only party that crossed the 3 percent threshold to win seats on its own was the Oathkeepers party (Zavetnici) with 10 seats.
Seats in parliament will also be held by five national minority parties – the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians will have 5 seats, Usama Zukorlic’s Party of Justice and Reconciliation will have 3, the Sandzak Democratic Action Party 2 and the Democratic Alliance of Craots in Vojvodina and the Together for Vojvodina Rusyn party will have one each.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/first-glance-at-the-new-serbian-parliament/

Lajcak meets chief negotiators from Belgrade and Pristina

April 21, 2022
European Union envoy Miroslav Lajcak said on Thursday that he was meeting with the chief negotiators from Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels.
The EU special representative for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue said that the agenda includes the implementation of agreements reached earlier.
“Today’s Chief negotiators’ meeting between Kosovo and Serbia is well under way. We have a full agenda of current issues, including licence plates, implementation of past Dialogue agreements and preparing the ground for a next High-level meeting,” Lajcak wrote in a Twitter post.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/lajcak-meets-chief-negotiators-from-belgrade-and-pristina/

Von Cramon says dialogue not a priority for Kosovo government

April 21, 2022
Pristina media reported on Thursday that European Parliament rapporteur Viola von Cramon said that the Kosovo government does not see the dialogue with Serbia as a priority.
“Unfortunately, despite the new energy created with the appointment of the European Union envoy for the dialogue (Miroslav Lajcak), I have learned that the mediated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, which remains a condition for Kosovo’s integration into the EU, is not a priority for the current government,” she is quoted as saying in the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee during a debate on a draft resolution authored by Vladimir Bilcik.
Von Cramon said that the dialogue should be a priority and added that Kosovo has to benefit from the new momentum in cooperation between the EU and US.
“The dialogue should become a political priority. We do not want key international partners to view Kosovo as the less constructive side in the dialogue. We want Kosovo to take the next step in realizing agreements reached on energy, vehicle license plates and missing persons. Kosovo has to use the new window of opportunity with its allies as along as full trans-Atlantic cooperation for the dialogue exists,” Von Cramon said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/von-cramon-says-dialogue-not-a-priority-for-kosovo-government/

Serbian president unveils Jasenovac victims memorial

April 21, 2022
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic unveiled a memorial plaque to the victims of the Croatian World War 2 Jasenovac death camp at the site of the Staro Sajmiste (Lager Semlin) camp on Thursday.
The plaque was unveiled on the banks of the Sava river in Belgrade which has been named the Shore of the Jasenovac Victims by the Belgrade city authorities. The Staro Sajmiste camp was on the side of the river governed by the Nazi puppet Independent State of Croatia whose troops guarded the camp. The death camp was intended for Jews and was one of the first places in which the Nazis used gas trucks to kill people. Jasenovac was a camp mainly for Serbs from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina who were executed brutally by Ustashi (Croatian fascist paramilitary formation).
Vucic told the unveiling ceremony that Belgrade had a death camp in the Banjica suburb and Staro Sajmiste “unlike other execution sites which were kept hidden”. He said that the Jasenovac death camp was “one of the most horrifying execution sites” in the former Yugoslavia during WW 2 and recalled that the bodies of the people killed there were thrown in the Sava and washed up where the memorial plaque was placed.
The Serbian President said that “mankind does not have the right to a third world war”. “Serbia wants peace and Serbia wants life for itself and all others at this difficult time which has affected Europe and the world,” he said and added that “in future we have to preserve the peace to avoid ever paying for anything with lives”.
Serbia observes its National Holocaust, WWII Genocide and other Fascist Crimes Victims' Remembrance Day on April 22.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-president-unveils-jasenovac-victims-memorial/

Bilcik-Serbia could face consequences over Russia sanctions

April 21, 2022
European Parliament rapporteur Vladimir Bilcik said on Thursday that Serbia would face unspecified consequences if it fails to impose sanctions on Russia.
Radio Free Europe reported that Bilcik told the European Parliament Foreign Policy Committee that he hopes official Belgrade will align with European Union decisions on Russia. “Sovereign states take sovereign decisions but sovereign decisions also have consequences on international partnerships, alliances and European integration,” he said at the presentation of his draft resolution which calls Serbia to align with EU policies.
“I hope the decisions taken in Serbia following the elections will reflect Serbia’s European tendencies,” Bilcik said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/bilcik-serbia-could-face-consequences-over-russia-sanctions/

Vucic-Serbia facing problems over Russia sanctions

April 21, 2022
President Aleksandar Vucic said that Serbia is facing a lot of problems because it hasn’t imposed sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
“Does this bring problems? No doubt a lot of problems from financial investors to a lot of others. There is no doubt that we are paying a very high price,” he told reporters.
Vucic told the Financial Times on Thursday that Serbia will not jeopardize its national interest by imposing sanctions on Russia. According to him, Belgrade won’t choose sides. “There talk of chosing sides. No, we have our own interests, Serbia’s interests. We were bombed by 19 NATO countries (in 1999) and sanctions were imposed on us,” he said and added that Serbia enjoys some kind of protection from Russia. He said that Serbia didn’t impose sanctions on anyone because the state leadership does not believe that would change anything.
He said that the Freedom House report would have been more favorable for Serbia if the sanctions were in place. According to him, the report is “part of the chain of pressure on free and fundamentally democratic countries”.
Asked by N1 about the draft resolution being presented to the European Parliament which calls Belgrade to impose sanctions on Russia, Vucic replied: “A free man and free country does not take decisions based on ultimatums and force but on the basis of what they are protecting and we are protecting our country and our citizens,” he said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/vucic-serbia-facing-problems-over-russia-sanctions/

Senator Murphy tells CNN-Serbia can’t be on the outside of sanctions

April 21, 2022
US Senator Chris Murphy told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that he told President Aleksandar Vucic Serbia can’t be on the outside of the sanctions against Russia.
Murphy visited Serbia with fellow Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Thom Tillis and met with Vucic to discuss the situation in the region and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine among other things. Murphy (a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee) told the Serbian President in Belgrade that they understand the complex history of Serbia’s relations with Russia but voiced hope that “we will continue working with Serbia to send Russia a clear message”.
Speaking to CNN following meetings with officials in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the second leg of the senators’ tour of the Western Balkans, Murphy said Serbia aspires to be “in the European tent”. “And so our message to President Vucic, someone who I have known for a long time, was also a simple one. If Serbia really wants to be part of Europe, then it can’t be on the outside of US-Europe sanctions against Russia. If it continues this outlier status, trying to play a game of neutrality, there isn’t going to be an invitation from Europe,” he said.
Murphy said that he believes Vucic wants his legacy to be the integration of Serbia into the European Union. “But our message to him was, the only way that happens is if Serbia joins us in our sanctions against Russia,” the senator said.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/senator-murphy-tells-cnn-serbia-cant-be-on-the-outside-of-sanctions/

Serbian, Kosovo FMs trade blame in UN Security Council

April 21, 2022
The foreign ministers of Serbia and Kosovo traded accusations at a UN Security Council session which debated the latest report on the UN Mission in Kosovo.
Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic told the session that the authorities in Pristina were “manifesting malignant nationalism towards the Serbs in Kosovo”. With the goal of initiating an exodus of the Serbs. He said that the situation in Kosovo was far from normal and stable.
The UN Security Council heard a regular semi-annual report on UNMIK from Secretary General Antonio Guteres.
Selakovic said that the Kosovo authorities were ignoring Serb political representatives in institutions and taking decisions without them. “Politically staged investigations and court proceedings are creating an atmosphere of insecurity,” he added. He warned against laying equal blame on the two sides in crisis situations. According to Selakovic, the causes of the problem have to be identified and a message sent to the people in power about the need to establish inter-ethnic trust by having Kosovo institutions abide by and implement agreements.
“The statements from Pristina are a message to the Serb people that they should not count on their collective rights,” he said and recalled that Serbian nationals living in Kosovo were not allowed to vote at elections for the first time since 1999 confirming what he said is the discriminatory character of the authorities in Pristina.
UNMIK chief Caroline Ziadeh told the UN Security Council that the leaderships in Belgrade and Pristina should engage more constructively in the European Union-mediated dialogue which has led to “significant results on various practical issues” but added that a comprehensive normalization of relations is still out of reach.
Kosovo Foreign Minister Donika Gervala accused Serbia of being the biggest threat to the stability of the region. “Serbia is the greatest threat to the normalization of relations and the stability of the region,” she said adding that “Serbia remains Russia’s satellite” which is the main cause of instability in the Western Balkans.
Gervala told the UN Security Council that Serbia is continuing to arm itself, that “all the countries of the region are facing danger from Serbia … which has military prepared to attack”.
She claimed that the recently reported assaults on Kosovo police officers near border crossings with Serbia were “terrrorism” and blamed the Serbian authorities for them. “Those attacks came from the territory of Serbia and would be impossible if (Serbian President Aleksandar) Vucic did not tolerate them,” Gervala said.
She said that Serbia has to accept the reality that Kosovo is an independent state.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-kosovo-fms-trade-blame-in-un-security-council/

Croatia’s weekly Covid case rate drops by 45 pct

April 20, 2022
Croatia's health authorities reported on Wednesday that 478 new cases of the coronavirus and 5 Covid-related deaths have been recorded in the country over the previous 24 hours.
The rolling seven-day case count now stands at 3,152 – or on average 450 per day, a 45-percent drop compared to the seven days prior. The 14-day case count is now 8,826, or 630 cases per day, nearly 50 percent down from the the previous two-week period – indicating that case count is continues falling to levels unseen since early September, more than six months ago.
On Wednesday, the rolling seven-day death count was 50, down from 61 deaths reported in the week prior. There are currently 3,623 active cases in the country, including 516 Covid patients in hospital care – the lowest figure since early September 2021.
To date, Croatia has registered more than one million coronavirus cases, and the total pandemic-related death toll now stands at 15,757. This amounts to an average of 20.1 deaths per day since the first case was detected in Croatia on February 25, 2020.
Some 2.31 million Croatians have received at least one shot of any Covid-19 vaccine to date, which health authorities say translates to 59.4 percent of the country’s entire population. This is the calculation released by health authorities which project the current population size at 3.88 million, in line with the results from the 2021 census results released in January.
This figure includes close to 2.24 million Croatians who have been fully immunized against the disease, which health services now say translates to around 68.6 percent of all adults, implying that there are currently some 3.26 million Croatians aged 18 and above living in the country.
Although the vaccination numbers have been pretty much unchanged for some time now, the slight increase in percentages in early April seems to have come from a change in methodology, as up until recently the authorities used outdated estimates saying that the country has close to 4.1 million people, including 3.4 million adults.
Even though the vaccines are widely available and free of charge, the interest in vaccines among pandemic-fatigued Croatians is reportedly very low – on Easter Sunday authorities reported that a single vaccine shot had been administered in the entire country, which was not a first-timer. Booster shots have been available since December, but authorities do not include these statistics in their daily reports.
The daily numbers come from official reports which only account for cases confirmed by PCR tests and which are reported daily to the World Health Organization and other international agencies. Positive results detected via rapid antigen testing (RATs), including at-home tests, are reported and tracked via a separate registry. These are sometimes leaked to the local media who conflate these with officially confirmed figures, creating considerable discrepancies in their reporting.
Due to the low intensity of reported cases, the government recently scrapped nearly all pandemic rules still in place, including mandatory face masks in public and Covid passes. However, face masks are still required in some public areas such as hospitals and retirement homes. In addition, although travelers from EU countries are now allowed entry into the country with no restrictions, non-EU visitors are still required to present proof of vaccination.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/croatias-weekly-covid-case-rate-drops-by-45-pct/

Coronavirus UPDATE: 4 deaths, 921 new cases

April 20, 2022
The Serbian Health Ministry said in its daily 3:00 pm bulletin on Wednesday that 4 people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 15,940.
It said that 10,500 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 921 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The total number of people tested to date stands at 9,405,605 with 1,998,776 confirmed cases.
The bulletin said that there are 471 hospitalized cases, including 22 patients on ventilators.
Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-update-4-deaths-921-new-cases/

Economy expert-Dodik wouldn't dare to betray Putin

April 20, 2022
It is clear that BiH Presidency member, Milorad Dodik, is a pro-Russian politician and that he would never dare to betray Vladimir Putin, economy expert, Svetlana Cenic, told N1.
Cenic predicted that other countries will probably follow the example of the United States and the United Kingdom, which introduced sanctions targeting Dodik due to his activities throughout the past months.
Dodik, who is also the leader of the ruling party in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity, has initiated a process to reverse post-war reforms that led to the establishment of numerous state institutions in BiH. The RS National Assembly expressed support for his initiative which would entail the unilateral withdrawal of the RS from BiH institutions, including the army, tax authority and judicial institutions, and the establishment of parallel institutions in the entity.
This prompted the US and the UK to impose sanctions against him.
Cenic said that she does not expect the European Union to follow suit as it is unlikely that the EU will reach a consensus that would be necessary for such a move.
“We already know that Hungary would not support it due to their own interests,” she said.
However, Cenic predicted that member states will individually impose sanctions against him and that the Netherlands will likely be the first to do so.
Cenic said that Dodik openly presents himself as a pro-Russian politician, noting that he could recently be heard shouting “long live Russia.”
“There is no need to ask whose player he is and whom he supports,” she said.
“He would not dare to betray (Vladimir) Putin, he would face harsh punishments,” she said, arguing that previous examples show what happens to “those who turned away from the hand that raised them.”
Dodik recently told reporters that the British special forces planned to kidnap him and even said that he acquired a list of items they were supposed to take from his home.
Cenic dismissed his statements as “conspiracy theories.”
“These are all performances that we have been watching for so long,” she said.
“I think he is more afraid of SIPA (BiH’s State Investigation and Protection Agency), but he came voluntarily to testify,” she said, referring to an ongoing investigation by state prosecutors who named Dodik a suspect in a case involving the ‘Pavlovic Bank’.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/economy-expert-dodik-wouldnt-dare-to-betray-putin/

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