International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Dodik calls for ‘peaceful dissolution’ of BiH, blaming Bosniaks for ‘domination’

May 24, 2022

BiH Presidency member Milorad Dodik called for a "peaceful break-up" of Bosnia and Herzegovina Tuesday, arguing that any agreement on the country’s future is impossible.

Speaking in front of the journalists in Banja Luka, Dodik accused the Bosniaks of persistently trying to dominate Serbs and Croats, and that they are now using the war in Ukraine to that end, in order to gain additional Western sympathy for their goals by supporting sanctions against Russia.

“The time has come to try once again to activate the mechanism of peaceful dissolution in BiH,” said Dodik, adding that after the completion of this process, everyone could “live peacefully.”

He confirmed that he personally, like all other officials in his party, would continue to resolutely oppose any decision at the BiH level to join the sanctions against Russia.

He attacked BiH Defence Minister Sifet Podzic and BiH Joint Chiefs of Staff General Senad Masovic for attending a conference hosted by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

The goal was to agree with Ukrainian officials on how some 40 countries can help Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression.

Dodik theorized that all this is “part of a joint venture” by which Bosniaks want to destroy BiH.

“Muslim nationalism has gone so far as to try to use the Ukrainian crisis to reaffirm its goals,” Dodik said.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/dodik-calls-for-peaceful-dissolution-of-bih-blaming-bosniaks-for-domination/

BiH state official charged with corruption and violation of human rights

May 24, 2022

Dragan Sojic, the director of the Service for Joint Affairs of the Institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was arrested, the state Prosecution said Tuesday.

Police officers of the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) arrested him on suspicion of committing several criminal offences such as the “Abuse of official position or authority”, “Embezzlement in the service”, “Fraud in the service” and other offences prescribed by the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Prosecution also said that Dragan Sojic is suspected of corruption and “the criminal offence of violating the equality of man and citizen.”

The suspect is also charged with the inappropriate and illegal treatment of employees of the said Service and violation of their human rights, as equal citizens and members of constituent peoples of BiH.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bih-state-official-charged-with-corruption-and-violation-of-human-rights/

Croatian president rules out possibility of armed conflicts in Bosnia

May 24, 2022

President Zoran Milanovic said on Tuesday there was a risk of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina deteriorating and that his intention is to prevent that and help find "a framework for coexistence of the three constituent peoples in Bosnia", however, he ruled out the possibility of an armed conflict.

“Anyone starting to talk of a war erupting in BiH should get their mouth taped over,” said Milanovic adding that speculations like that amount to war-mongering propaganda.

“Who will attack whom in BiH? Perhaps, Serbs with their three armoured vehicles?,” Milanovic quipped ironically, insisting that not enough weapons existed for anyone to spark an armed conflict.

He announced a phone call to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg for Tuesday afternoon so as to inform him of what is going on in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Last week, the Croatian president sent a letter about this issue to Stoltenberg.

Milanovic said that “when it comes to knowing about the developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, international leaders are not updated,” accusing Croatia’s diplomats of that.

Milanovic accused Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic of boycotting his proposal to hold a session of the National Security Council to discuss the state of affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He also criticised Plenkovic over a lack of a joint position on the issue, and again ruled out that “there was anything personal in that conflict.”

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/croatian-president-rules-out-possibility-of-armed-conflicts-in-bosnia/

Ratko Mladic's closest associate “accepts responsibility” for Srebrenica

May 24, 2022

Former Bosnian Serb military commander Radislav Krstic has accepted personal responsibility for the war crimes committed in the eastern town of Srebrenica and has asked the President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) to reduce his 35-year sentence that the Hague Tribunal rendered in 2004.

Krstic sent a letter to IRMCT President Judge Carmel Agius in April this year, asking for his early release from prison in Poland after serving two-thirds of his sentence in March.

In the copy of a handwritten letter published on Tuesday by Bosnian Faktor online media outlet, Krstic, who was the commander of the so-called Drina Corps of the Bosnian Serb Army in 1995, wrote that during his prison years he “understood and accepted his responsibility” for the suffering and death of the victims in Srebrenica.

After the Bosnian Serb army and police captured a UN-protected enclave in July 1995, they killed more than 7,000 Bosniaks, mostly men and boys, which the UN court, formerly the International Criminal Tribunals for former Yugoslavia (ICTY), described in a series of verdicts as a crime of genocide.

Krstic does not mention the word genocide in the letter, which is explicitly mentioned in the ICTY ruling, but says he bears personal responsibility for “terrible crimes committed during and after the fall of Srebrenica.”

At the time, Krstic was the closest associate of former Republika Srpska Army commander Ratko Mladic, who was sentenced to life in prison for war crimes, including the Srebrenica genocide. During the trial in The Hague, one of the pieces of evidence of his guilt was the recording of a telephone conversation in which Krstic instructed one of his subordinates not to leave any captured Bosniaks alive.

“Words cannot express the painful remorse I feel every day for my actions,” Krstic wrote, expressing his desire for Agius to allow him to spend the rest of his life with his family in Belgrade without publicly speaking out and praising himself or other convicted war crimes perpetrators.

All persons convicted of war crimes by the ICTY were previously almost automatically given the opportunity to be released after serving two-thirds of their sentences, but the current MICT president has abolished the practice and is restrictively considering all such demands.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/ratko-mladics-closest-associate-accepts-responsibility-for-srebrenica/

EU's Sattler-No doubt elections will take place in BiH as planned on October 2

May 24, 2022

There is no doubt that elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina will take place on October 2, as planned, and this should not be questioned, European Union's representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina Johann Sattler told N1. He stressed that the EU's position on this matter is completely clear and fully harmonised with the position of all partners in BiH.

Commenting on the allegations among some political circles that he objects the decision of the Office of the High Representative in BiH regarding the financing of the October elections, Sattler said that “in these circumstances when the Central Election Commission called the elections, I don't even have to emphasise the need to secure funds for their holding.”

“There is no doubt that the elections will indeed be held as planned on October 2, and that should not be questioned. For my part, I can only call on the authorities, and above all I am talking about the Council of Ministers of BiH and the Ministry of Finance and Treasury of BiH, to make all necessary decisions in the coming days due to the urgency of this issue,” said Sattler, the EU Special Representative and head of the EU Delegation to BiH.

He also recalled that the EU commissioner for enlargement Oliver Varhelyi sent a special note to the Finance Ministry last week to act on this matter.

“I think that the positions of the European Union when it comes to elections and this topic are absolutely clear. There is no reason for anyone to question the elections and I would like to emphasise that we are united in our views on this issue with all our partners, not only in the EU but also in all our member states, the United States and the Office of the High Representative,” he underlined.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/eus-sattler-no-doubt-elections-will-take-place-in-bih-as-planned-on-october-2/

Podzic informs US delegation about situation in Bosnian Armed Forces and MoD

May 24, 2022

Bosnian Defence Minister Sifet Podzic and his associates met on Tuesday with a delegation representing the US Army Inspector General Agency led by Inspector General, Lt General Donna W. Martin.

The minister informed the US delegation about the current activities within the Defence Ministry and the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in light of the current political situation in the country, difficulties related to securing the defence budget, as well as other challenges that the defence institutions have been facing recently.

Podzic expressed his gratitude to the US Government for financial assistance in the implementation of several projects in BiH, which relate to the process of modernisation and capacity building of the the Bosnian Armed Forces through the purchase of new helicopters, HAMWEE multipurpose military motor vehicles, as well as training and education of the AF member in the US.

He praised the overall assistance and support of the US Army in the segment represented by Inspector General Martin and expressed special gratitude for the support in establishing and developing the structure and institution of the Inspectorate General.

Martin expressed satisfaction with the visit to the institution, expressing also full support for the work of the BiH Ministry of Defence, and she particularly referred to the openness to cooperation in the part related to the General Inspectorate in terms of further strengthening this segment in the defence system.

She expressed the commitment of the US Army Inspector General Agency to continue the training projects for AF BiH inspectors in the future, either through virtual programmes or training of the Bosnian inspectors in the training facilities of the US Command for Europe in Germany.

The US Army Inspector General Agency delegation is visiting the MoD and AF BiH as a part of their participation in the 16th Conference of the General Inspectorate of the BiH MoD and Inspectors in Commands and Units of the BiH AF to be held in Sarajevo on May 24 and 25.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/podzic-informs-us-delegation-about-situation-in-bosnian-armed-forces-and-mod/

US Ambassador-Denying Bosnians the right to vote unconstitutional, anti-Dayton

May 23, 2022

US Ambassador to BiH Michael Murphy said Monday that disabling the October 2 general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina would be unconstitutional and anti-Dayton.

“Elections are the foundation of democracy. Elections are something provided for in Article 2 of the BiH Constitution. It would be unconstitutional and anti-Dayton action for someone to deny the people of this country their right to vote,” Murphy said after a meeting with members of the BiH Central Election Commission (CEC).

He added that the United States is committed to a democratic and prosperous future for all constituent peoples and citizens of BiH, within Euro-Atlantic institutions.

“That is why we are working with the OSCE and the CEC to strengthen the election process in BiH and defend it from those who seek to corrupt it for personal or party gain,” the US ambassador to BiH said.

According to him, voters must have confidence in the integrity of the election process and confidence that the outcome of the election reflects the ballots.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/us-ambassador-denying-bosnians-the-right-to-vote-unconstitutional-anti-dayton/

BiH House of Peoples rejects proposal to fund elections

May 23, 2022

The House of Peoples of the BiH Parliamentary Assembly rejected the conclusion suggested by the Bosniak Caucus on securing funds for financing the General Elections to be held on October 2 this year, after a discussion during Monday's emergency session.

The proposed conclusion provided that “the Minister of Finance and Treasury in the Council of Ministers of BiH is ordered to make a proposal for a decision on allocating funds to the Central Election Commission of BiH (CEC) for the 2022 elections in the amount of 12,528,000 Bosnian marks, in accordance with the CEC request, and The Council of Ministers of BiH to adopt the said decision within 48 hours, thus making the said funds available to the CEC for the purpose of conducting the 2022 general elections.”

Out of 15 delegates, six voted “in favour” of the proposed conclusion, eight delegates were against it, and one abstained.

Six delegates from the Federation of BiH entity supported the conclusion, while four were against it. Four delegates from the Republika Srpska entity voted against it, while one abstained.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bih-house-of-peoples-rejects-proposal-to-fund-elections/

Serbian Church recognizes North Macedonia counterpart

May 24, 2022

Patriarch Porfirije said on Tuesday that the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Holy Assembly of Bishops decided to recognize the independence of the Orthodox Church in North Macedonia.


“The Holy Assembly of Bishops has unanimously decided to meet the request of the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Archbishopric of Ohrid and bless, accept and recognize autocephaly,” the Patriarch said.

The SPC and Orthodox Church in North Macedonia have been in dispute since 1967 when the Macedonian Orthodox Church declared its independence from the SPC. The dispute was ended recently following a decision by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to recognize the Ohrid Bishopric with no mention of Macedonia in its name.

The Presidents of Serbia and North Macedonia, Aleksandar Vucic and Stevo Pendarovski, welcomed the SPC decision to recognize its southern counterpart during their meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The Patriarch and Ohrid Archbishop Stefan served a liturgy in Belgrade’s St Sava cathedral last week and again in Skoplje’s St Kliment church on Tuesday.

“God did not set borders to pit people against each other. Borders means that each nation can organize itself to multiply the gifts it got from God, not to close up,” Patriarch Porfirije said.

The Patriarch said he is sure that all the other Orthodox Churches will gladly receive the news that the SPC has recognized the church in North Macedonia.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-church-recognizes-north-macedonia-counterpart/

Russian official praises Vucic for resisting pressure on sanctions

May 24, 2022

A senior Russian Duma official praised Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic for resisting Western pressure to impose sanctions on Moscow on Tuesday.

Alexander Babakov, deputy Chairman of the State Duma, told Belgrade pro-government daily Politika that Vucic “demonstrated great courage when he opposed the colossal pressure from the West that wants to force Belgrade to join in the sanctions against Moscow”.

“We are aware of that and appreciate it. We understand that the President of Serbia is prepared to pay such a high price not for the Russian spasibo (thanks) but for his personal belief that a state must have a sovereign policy, that this policy simply has not alternative,” Babakov is quoted as saying. He added that “Vucic knows that true sovereignty costs a lot and is easily lost”.

Babakov recalled that Russia failed to resist the huge US influence and oppose the introduction of sanctions against FR Yugoslavia in 1992.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/russian-official-praises-vucic-for-resisting-pressure-on-sanctions/

Serbian minister blasts Ministry of Croatian Veterans

May 24, 2022

Internal Affairs Minister Aleksandar Vulin on Tuesday blasted the Ministry of Croatian Veterans for criticizing the indictment of four Croatian pilots by the Serbian War Crimes Prosecution.

Serbian war crimes prosecutors indicted four Croatian Air Force pilots for the bombing of column of Serb refugees fleeing police and military forces during the 1995 Operation Storm to take control of areas held by Croatian Serbs.

An Internal Affairs Ministry (MUP) statement quoted Vulin as saying that “the Ustashe (WW 2 fascists in charge of the Nazi puppet Independent State of Croatia) can hate (Serbian President) Aleksandar Vucic …. but can’t accuse him of killing Croatian children”.

According to Vulin, “the civil war in Croatia began in 1991 when the Ustashe returned to power, the violent secession from the internationally recognized SFR Yugoslavia and the start of the killing and persecution of Serbs”. “If Croatia had put the pilots who killed women and children on the Petrovacka road on trial Serbia would not want to try them. I know it’s not easy to expect a state created on the idea that it’s permitted and desirable to kill to try someone for killing Serbs but a European Union member should do just that. Hope dies last and in order to prevent justice from dying with hope, Serbia named the killers on the Petrovacka road. They have slept peacefully next to the unmarked graves of the killed unarmed Serbs long enough. The criminal Operation Storm was declared a war crime by the Hague Tribunal but somehow they failed to find, name and condemn the criminals. They didn’t and now Serbia will,” Vulin is quoted as saying in the statement which added that the Croatian ministry statement included a series of lies against Serbia, the Serbian people and President Aleksandar Vucic.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-minister-blasts-ministry-of-croatian-veterans/

FM says Serbia wants to expand cooperation with ASEAN

May 24, 2022

Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic said on Tuesday that Serbia wants to expand cooperation and partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Selakovic told ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi in Jakarta that Serbia is carefully following the organization’s activities, adding that it shares its values and political principles based on respect for independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and the national identity of all people with no interference in the internal affairs of other states and overcoming all differences peacefully, a ministry press release said.

The press release quoted the Foreign Minister as saying that intensive contacts and visits to ASEAN member states will continue.

It said that Selakovic is on a tour of Asia with the meeting with he top ASEAN official at the end of his two day visit to Indonesia on the first stop of his tour.

Source: https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/fm-says-serbia-wants-to-expand-cooperation-with-asean/

Bilcik-Sanctions are important part of report on Serbia

May 23, 2022

European Parliament rapporteur Vladimir Bilcik MEP said on Monday that the issue of sanctions against Russia is an important part of his report on Serbia.

Bilcik told Kosovo Online that the European Union expects every country that wants to join the EU to join in the sanctions against Russia. He said that the sanctions are important and not just symbolic. “This is an opportunity for the new Serbian parliament and government… This is an issue which will not go away but is already an important part of my report on Serbia which will be debated in June and July. Depending of what Serbia does, the language and conclusions in the report could be very different by July,” the portal quoted him as saying and adding that there is no specific date for Serbia to impos sanctions.

According to Bilcik, aligning with EU foreign policy is crucial to progress in pre-accession talks.
He said that everyone in the EU is looking at the Western Balkans. The question is whether countries are working with us to help defend us from Russian aggression because the Ukrainians are fighting for us in Europe and for the European future of the Western Balkans, he said,adding that Serbia has an opportunity to become the European leader in the region but has to make some important choices in terms of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and in terms of standing shoulder to shoulder with the EU on the Russian aggression.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/bilcik-sanctions-are-important-part-of-report-on-serbia/

Vucic says Tirana Declaration not linked to sanctions

May 23, 2022

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told reporters on Monday that the Tirana Declaration has nothing to do with sanctions.

“That was a regional initiative in Tirana and had nothing to do with sanctions,” he said commenting the fact that the countries of the Adriatic Ionian Initiative, including Serbia, adopted a declaration which said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is illegal and unjustified aggression.

Vucic said that Serbia has not changed its state policies and added that Belgrade is under pressure because of that. He denied claims that the authorities would try to hide anything about the sanctions against Russia. “We will maintain our policies for as long as we can and when we can’t we will tell the people why we can’t if it comes to that,” he said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/vucic-says-tirana-declaration-not-linked-to-sanctions/

Bosnia, Serbia sign declaration on “unjustified Russian aggression”

May 22, 2022
Ten countries of the Adriatic-Ionian region, including Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, adopted at their annual meeting in Tirana on Saturday a declaration in which they called Russia's invasion of Ukraine an illegal and unjustified aggression, expressing commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania and San Marino gathered in Tirana for a forum called the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR).
In a joint declaration, they cited 25 items related to their future cooperation under the aegis of the European Commission, the first item being related to the war in Ukraine.
“We, the Representatives of the Governments… deplore in the strongest terms the illegal and unjustified aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine… Reaffirm (our) commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders…” reads the document.
The declaration is not binding but expresses the signatory countries’ general political position.
It was published after a closed-door meeting in Tirana, which was attended by state secretaries from the member-countries’ foreign ministries.
The representative of Serbia, which has not introduced sanctions against Russia, was unavailable for comment after the meeting.
“All the countries have accepted the text of the declaration in the form also distributed to the press,” said Josip Brkić, Deputy Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has taken over the year-long presidency of the EUSAIR.
The European Commission formed the EUSAIR in 2014 to help candidate countries and potential candidates draw closer to the EU. The EUSAIR brings together Adriatic and Ionian countries or countries that are in the hinterland of the two seas, with a total population of 70 million.
It was established after Croatia joined the EU in 2013 as the youngest member.
The war in Ukraine and Russia's actions remind us of the importance of the stability of the Western Balkans, which is realised through closer ties with the EU and membership prospects, said Slawomir Tokarski, head of the EC department responsible for EU policy on regions and cities (DG Regio).
That way we can fight against Russia's influence, he said at a news conference in Tirana.
Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnia-serbia-sign-declaration-on-unjustified-russian-aggression/

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