International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Education Minister Ruzic says coronavirus not transmitted in schools

March 1, 2021

Serbian Education Minister Branko Ruzic said on Monday that the school system is not where the coronavirus is being transmitted.

The minister told the pro-government TV Pink that just half a percent of all students and one percent of school staff had been infected. “The (anti-pandemic) measures are being observed and we can be satisfied and the efforts of the education system employees and the responsibility of students. That is the best way to prevent the negative effects of the virus,” Ruzic said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/education-minister-ruzic-says-coronavirus-not-transmitted-in-schools/

Bosniak, Croat members of Presidency make March 1st visit to Sarajevo memorials

March 1, 2021

Bosniak and Croat members of Bosnia and Herzegovina's tripartite Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic and Zeljko Komsic laid wreaths at the Eternal Flame Memorial, the Monument to the Killed Children of Sarajevo and the Kovaci cemetery on Monday, on the occasion of March 1, Bosnia's Independence Day.

“Bosnia and Herzegovina was defended from the aggression and today we are building it in peace. The forces that attacked BiH in 1992, unfortunately, exist today both in BiH and its surrounding. This is a chance to tell them to leave it alone, to finally come to realize they will never succeed in their intentions. BiH will always be an independent, autonomous state with all its peoples who will shape it and organize it the way they think they should be,” said Dzaferovic.

He also recalled that the holiday is not marked in one part of the country, noting that this is against law.

“March 1st is the state holiday, Independence Day. Those retrograde policies must leave the political stage. The ones representing those policies must change, must change their philosophy and their policies, and if they do not do so they will have to leave the political stage in BiH. There is no other way,” he concluded.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosniak-croat-members-of-presidency-make-march-1st-visit-to-sarajevo-memorials/

Srebrenica MC publishes ‘Genocide papers’, speeches of Karadzic, Dodik…

March 1, 2021

The Srebrenica Memorial Centre has gathered young experts including researchers, proofreaders, designers and IT experts, to create new-age generation tools, which would help in the research of crucial segments of the history of the Bosnian genocide. 'Genocide papers' they created are a compilation of searchable files and transcripts of sessions of the Assembly of the Serb People in BiH/National Assembly of Republika Srpska.

“These documents were available but were inaccessible and their format was not easy to search. Memorial Centre recognised its content as important in the process of raising awareness about a broader political consensus on the genocide operation against Bosniaks across Bosnia and Herzegovina. The ‘Genocide papers’ project was funded directly by the Srebrenica Memorial Centre, without the assistance of external donors, so we are proud that a larger part of the implementation of this project relied on the internal capacities of our institution,” said the Memorial Centre representatives.

The application that young experts created will be offered to universities and civil society organisations in the region as well as media outlets.

“We are open for cooperation with researchers, journalists and all individuals, groups and organisations interested in the use of this material to raise the awareness about the content and activities of so-called National Assembly of Republika Srpska from the 1991-1996 period,” said the Centre.

Some of the transcripts include the speeches of wartime Bosnian Serb leader and convicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic, politicians Momcilo Krajisnik, Manojlo Milovanovic, as well as Milorad Dodik, the current Serb member of Bosnia's tripartite Presidency.

Radovan Karadzic (February 13, 1995)

“The first stance in all Cutileiro's principles, if you can remember, was that Bosnia is a state that consists of this and that, but it was always said that Bosnia is a state and we never accepted it and we asked for a maximum that we can accept, Bosnia is a confederation of states, if we have to stay a part of a confederation, but it was our minimum that our state is a state and that it cannot drown in anyone's statehood or sovereignty except on our will in the statehood and sovereignty of the Republic of Serbia, not even Yugoslavia, because if it is Yugoslavia then we want to keep our federal unit, our state as a federative unit of that federation, although it was our priority to become a part of Serbia. Nobody ever offered us anything else but to disappear, to annul our state, to accept a common state with Izetbegovic i.e. with Muslims and Croats and they clearly told us during the cocktail parties and lunches, this is our gentlemen because we do not want to accept the Islamic state in Europe, which means we were sacrificed to avoid that state and have a mixed one, which means we would spend the lives of our generations to neutralise Islam and for Europe to become a community of happy Christian peoples while we are protecting its walls as a trench of muddy waters and exist for nothing else but to neutralise Islam. We accepted that. Someone said we are alone.”

Momcilo Krajisnik (January 8, 1993)

“OK gentlemen, we can now make a decision and take a stance, that Muslims as a people are a communist creation. We do not accept that artificial nation. We think that Muslims are a sect, an affiliation or a group of Turkish provenance. Does anyone have anything to add? No. I put these conclusions to a vote. Who is in favour? Is there anyone against it? Abstaining? Gentlemen, thank you for adopting these conclusions unanimously.”

Milorad Dodik (October 15-16, 1995)

“And the biggest mistake of the war is Srebrenica and Zepa and someone has to be held responsible for that. We did not have to give up so easily on the ground where we could make diplomatic points and we made a diplomatic disaster. Who is responsible for that? We legalised it before the IC (international community) that protected zones could be taken, and then five years later we shouted that the RSK (Republic of Srpska Krajina) protected zones could not be hit, and we did what we did five days ago. We lost the position we could defend.”

Karadzic responded:

“As a supreme commander I stood behind the plan for Zepa and Srebrenica, for Srebrenica in general, Zepa was something that goes without saying. Gentlemen, we would have lost the war if there was a Zepa with 90 thousand armed Muslims, we would have lost the war. I personally supervised the plan without knowledge of GS (chief of staff), not hiding but meeting by accident general Krstic and I advised him to enter the town first and to declare the fall of Srebrenica, and later on, we would be chasing the Turks in the woods, I also approved both the closer task and radical task and I do not regret it. It is not true we had Krajina for that, like until that moment Croatia did not intend to attack Krajina and it attacked because of Srebrenica, or because of this the world did not feel sorry for the Serbs.”

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/srebrenica-mc-publishes-genocide-papers-speeches-of-karadzic-dodik/

Bosnia and Herzegovina marks Independence Day


March 1, 2021

March 1st marks Bosnia's Independence Day declared 29 years ago, when the majority of its citizens voted in a referendum and chose a sovereign and independent Bosnia and Herzegovina, the state of equal peoples and citizens.

Bosnia declared its independence in 1992, with a 63.4 percent voter turnout and 99.7 percent of the votes in favor of the country declared independence from what was then called the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY).

On March 3, the first Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Alija Izetbegovic declared the independence of what was initially called the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which changed into Bosnia and Herzegovina after the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) which ended the 1992-95 war that followed soon after the secession from Yugoslavia.

On April 7, 1992, the United States and the European Economic Community recognized Bosnia as an independent state, and the country joined the United Nations on May 22.

Bosniak and Croat members of the Presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic, and Zeljko Komsic, conveyed a message on this occasion.

“Thanks to the legacy of the March 1, Bosnia today is an independent and internationally recognized country, becoming part of the European and Euro-Atlantic family, as a global symbol of security and prosperity,” said Dzaferovic.

“The future of our country lies in integration, connection, understanding and joint efforts to provide the generations to come with conditions for building a society based on European values and standards, in which dialogue and mutual respect for our differences will be the foundation of the betterment for all,” he added.

However, the country remains divided on this celebration. Since 1992, the holiday is being observed only in one of Bosnia's two semi-autonomous regions, the Bosniak-Croat shared Federation (FBiH).

The other half of the country, the Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) entity, does not.

Chairman and Serb member of Bosnia's tripartite Presidency, Milorad Dodik, who is elected in Republika Srpska, reiterated this year again that this cannot be a holiday in this part of the country.

But, acting on an appeal by a group of RS National Assembly members in 2017, who challenged the constitutionality of March 1st as Independence Day and November 25 as the Statehood Day, the Constitutional Court of BiH ruled that both holidays were in line with the Constitution and that did not violate international conventions.

Dodik said the Constitutional Court can make a decision on that as many times as it wants but that he will not implement them.

Due to the divisions, the holiday is a non-working day only in the FBiH, while in the RS it is the usual working day.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnia-and-herzegovina-marks-independence-day/


RS entity Council of Peoples reps ask Const. Court to review RS Law on Forests

March 1, 2021

Seven representatives in the Council of Peoples of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity filed an appeal requesting that the BiH Constitutional Court reviews whether the Law on Forests, passed in RS in 2020, is in line with the constitution, arguing that it is harmful to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

According to one of the signatories of the request, Alija Tabakovic, Bosnia’s two semi-autonomous entities are obliged to harmonize all their laws with the BiH Constitution when adopting them.

“We have the Decision of the Constitutional Court of BiH from 2019, where it is clearly defined that issues regarding the laws on state property must be resolved at the state level,” he explained.

He said that, with this law, the RS registered state property as its own, “which is contrary to the decision on the disposal of state property.”
Tabakovic said he expects the Constitutional Court to act on the matter and annul the problematic parts of the law and that the issue will be discussed in the BiH Parliament in the future.

Another one of the signatories, Senad Bratic, reminded that in 2012, the Constitutional Court of BiH assessed that the Law on the Status of State Property Located on the Territory of RS is also disputable because BiH has the exclusive right to regulate the issue of this property.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/rs-council-of-peoples-delegates-ask-const-court-to-review-rs-law-on-forests/

Politician asks EU's Sattler to help remove obstacles to vaccine delivery in BiH

March 1, 2021

Nenad Stevandic, a member of Bosnia's Republika Srpska entity parliament and leader of United Srpska party, addressed European Union ambassador in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Johann Sattler, asking him to use his status and authority and remove the obstacles to the “urgent delivery of Covid-19 vaccines to BiH, which were paid regularly and in advance.”

Stevandic wrote an open letter, saying that ambassador Sattler always showed “the highest degree of understanding for numerous issues in the country” and “always had balanced and fair behaviour in almost every situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

Bosnia's both entities, Republika Srpska and Federation, provided the necessary conditions to accept the vaccines that were procured through the COVAX mechanism, Stevandic said, stressing that it was “a valuable information” that the institutions of RS, FBiH as well as Brcko District during the pandemic was at a high level.

“The explanations that emerged with an aim to justify the companies that were paid the money and have not delivered the vaccines are untrue, cynical and hypocritical,” Stevandic emphasized, telling the EU ambassador that he is sending this note not only as a party leader or MP but as a medical worker and citizen.

“I kindly ask you to use your indisputable authority and goodwill in a noble mission to protect the health of all our citizens, more precisely the whole population of the country,” said Stevandic.

“I am not writing this oriented towards Republika Srpska only, whose authorities managed to get the vaccines and start the immunization of its population, but with a devotion to health and well-being of every citizen and members of all peoples in BiH. I also believe that a parallel immunization of our citizens with the citizens of all European countries is in the best European interest,” he added.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/politician-asks-eus-sattler-to-help-remove-obstacles-to-vaccine-delivery-in-bih/

SOS phone number for journalists in Serbia

March 1, 2021

Free SOS phone number 0800 100 115 for journalists in Serbia who believe their safety is jeopardised is operational as of Monday, the Government media office has said.

The service is launched as part of the Working Group for Safety and Protection of Journalists’ activities. The calls will be taken by lawyers experienced in cases of attacks on media people.

„This is the first step in protecting journalists and will make it easier for them to report threats and attacks. It will also inform and educate journalists about how to exercise their rights,“ Veran Matic, a member of the Group, said.

The state-owned Telekom Serbia donated technical support and equipment and provided coordination with all other operators for the free service available 24/7.

Journalists who seek help will be informed about the contacts in the police and prosecutor’s office in charge of the region where the journalists work or where the threat or attack happens.

If a threat or attack is not prosecuted ex offcio, the journalists will be advised about how to file charges and the professional media organizations’ support.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/sos-phone-number-for-journalists-in-serbia/

European Parliament says second phase of inter-party dialogue launched

March 1, 2021

The European Parliament said on Monday that it officially launched the second phase of the inter-party dialogue with the Serbian Parliament in a video conference with Speaker Ivica Dacic.

A joint statement from MEPs David McAllister (chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs), Tanja Fajon and Vladimir Bilcik said that a “constructive meeting was held with (Serbian Parliament) Speaker Ivica Dacic, co-facilitator of the process, where we agreed on the subsequent steps that will support consensus and trust building across the political spectrum in Serbia”.

“We firmly believe that the European Parliament facilitated Inter-Party Dialogue process is in Serbia’s best interest and that it is an important element in the country’s efforts to further strengthen democracy and enhance citizens’ confidence in the institutions and in the electoral process. In this process, the role of the European Parliament is not to bring ready-made solutions but rather to facilitate a dialogue where political parties could come to an agreement over pertinent issues and topics of their mutual concern and interest,” the statement said.

“The Facilitation Team will be conducting a series of consultations with all relevant stakeholders in Serbia on the agenda of the upcoming round of Inter-Party Dialogue. The team will propose possible participants and topics of common interest identified during these consultations to the National Assembly, it said adding that European Parliament Facilitation Team is made up of Bilcik (the Committee on Foreign Affairs Standing Rapporteur for Serbia), Fajon (Chair of the Delegation for relations with Serbia) MEPs Eduard KUKAN and Knut Fleckenstein who were involved in the first phase of the dialogue.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Dacic said the meeting was constructive, adding that he told the MEPs that “this is not starting from zero”. “I told them that the Serbian authorities want the inter-party dialogue to succeed. The European Parliament representatives were fairly constructive and in some ways this was the start of the second phase of the dialogue,” he said and called all political parties both those interested in taking part in the dialogue and others who are not to contact parliament. Dacic said more preparations would be conducted before the first round of the dialogue, including meetings with parties.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/european-parliament-says-second-phase-inter-party-dialogue-launched/

Srebrenica victims associations plan to sue members of Greek Golden Dawn

March 1, 2021

Srebrenica genocide victims associations plan to sue members of the far-right Golden Dawn’ party and Greek volunteers who they say participated in the crimes that took place in the eastern Bosnian town in 1995, Radio Free Europe (RFE) reported.

During the war in Bosnia, members of the Golden Dawn were among the Greek volunteers who fought alongside the Army of Republika Srpska and some were allegedly present in Srebrenica when more than 8,000 Bosniak civilians were killed.

“There is a lot of evidence that they took part in Srebrenica. There are photos,” the head of the Mothers of the Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves association, Munira Subasic, told RFE.

Subasic lost her son and husband in the Srebrenica Genocide.

She said the Greek volunteers who participated in the massacre were never brought to justice.

The head of the Women of Srebrenica association, Nura Begovic, who lost 16 family members in the genocide, said that Srebrenica even had a ‘Street of Greek friendship’ at some point.

The local assembly in the town in 1996, composed only of ethnic Serbs, decided to give that name to the street but it was renamed in 2000, she explained.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/srebrenica-victims-associations-plan-to-sue-members-of-greek-golden-dawn/

BiH Presidency members divided following publication of ‘Genocide Papers’

March 1, 2021

After the Croat member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency praised the ‘Genocide Papers’, a collection of transcripts from sessions in the parliament of the Republika Srpska entity during the war, the Serb member of Bosnia’s Presidency and its current Chair accused him of “comparing Serbs to Nazis.”

The Srebrenica Memorial Centre gathered young experts, including researchers, proofreaders, designers and IT experts, to create new-age generation tools, which would help in the research of crucial segments of the history of the Bosnian genocide. Among them is the ‘Genocide papers’ a compilation of searchable files and transcripts of sessions of the Assembly of the Serb People in BiH/National Assembly of Republika Srpska.

Some of the transcripts include the speeches of wartime Bosnian Serb leader and convicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic, politicians Momcilo Krajisnik, Manojlo Milovanovic, as well as current Serb Presidency member, Milorad Dodik.

The Bosniak member the Presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic, praised the work of the Memorial Centre, calling it a serious institution that maintains the memory of the genocide victims.

“The Memorial Center is well on its way to becoming one of the most respectable institutions of its kind in the world. This is also a debt to the victims of genocide. I thank the Memorial Center for taking such steps,” he said.

The battle for the truth and justice continues, and the publication of the Genocide Papers shows this, he said.

His Bosnian Croat colleague in the Presidency, Zeljko Komsic, said he was “appalled by the details” in the notes of the discussions in the RS Assembly during the war.

“These are, more or less, public data and information that you can find, but they have never been collected, researched and presented to the public in this way, as the team of the Srebrenica Memorial Center did,” he said.

Komsic stressed that the statements in the transcripts “indicate that the RS National Assembly was one of the tools of the genocide, as well as hate speech targeting all non-Serbs” at the time.

“The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has always investigated command and individual responsibility. On the other hand, it didn’t do what was done in the Nuremberg Trials – it didn’t establish the existence of criminal organizations – where membership in an organization automatically made you guilty,” he said.

“This is exactly what was missing in the case of the RS National Assembly, whose members supported genocide with their votes, who passed laws and decisions that were a guideline for the policies and actions of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic,” he said.

Komsic argued that what must be done in light of the transcripts is – the imposition of a law banning genocide denial, adoption of a law that will establish a special status of the Srebrenica local government unit and adoption of a legal framework that would prevent those who participated in making decisions on human rights violations, genocide and war crimes from holding public office.

Komsic’s statements, however, were not well received by the Serb member of the Presidency and its current Chairman, Milorad Dodik.

He said Komsic was abusing the transcripts to further his agenda as a “reserve Bosniak Presidency member” and to “compare Serbs with the Nazis, impose collective guilt on them for individual crimes, demand a change in the Constitution on the issue of Srebrenica, and still deprive us of the right to speak.”

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bih-presidency-members-divided-following-publication-of-genocide-papers/

Pristina court withdraws warrant for Kosovo Serb List official

March 1, 2021

The Pristina authorities withdrew the warrant for the arrest of high-ranking Kosovo Serb List official Milan Radoicic who was suspected of involvement in the murder of local Serb opposition leader Oliver Ivanovic.

Ivanovic was gunned down in front of his party offices in the city of Kosovska Mitrovica early in 2018. Investigations were launched by both the Kosovo and Serbian authorities. Radoicic and alleged Kosovo Serb underworld figure Zvonko Veselinovic were suspected of heading an organized crime group. They were not indicted because Kosovo law does not allow trials in absentia. Both men were not accessible to the Kosovo judiciary.

Judge Valon Kurtaj confirmed that the warrant was revoked by the Basic Court in Pristina at the request of the Kosovo Special Prosecution. Special Prosecution staff refused to say why the warrant was withdrawn, saying the reason was confidential.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/pristina-court-withdraws-warrant-for-kosovo-serb-list-official/

Government Office says Serbian athletes denied entry into Kosovo

March 1, 2021

The Serbian government’s Office for Kosovo said on Monday that a handball club was not denied entry into Kosovo for a game in Kosovska Mitrovica.

A press release said that the Kosovo Police refused to allow the Arilje handball team to cross into Kosovo to play a game with Trepca in Kosovska Mitrovica. It said that this was “a brutal violation of the agreement on freedom of movement”.

“The explanation given at the administrative crossing that no athlete from Serbia can cross into Kosovo unless the Ministry of Sport in Pristina is informed in advance is absurd and completely incorrect,” the press release said adding that there is no document that obliges athletes from Serbia proper to inform the authorities in Pristina or ask their permission to enter Kosovo to compete.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/government-office-says-serbian-athletes-denied-entry-into-kosovo/

Croatia registers 356 new coronavirus cases, 15 deaths, 344 recoveries

February 27, 2021

Over the past 24 hours, Croatia has registered 356 new cases of the infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, there have been 15 deaths, and the number of active cases stands at 3,213, the national COVID-19 crisis management team said on Sunday.

There are 762 COVID patients in hospitals, 67 of whom are on ventilators. There are 14,328 people in self-isolation.

To date, 1,344,652 people have been tested, including 5,810 in the last 24 hours.

Since 25 February 2020, when Croatia registered its first case of the infection, a total of 242,973 people have contracted the novel coronavirus, 5,526 of them have died, and 234,234 have recovered, 344 of whom over the past 24 hours.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/croatia-registers-356-new-coronavirus-cases-15-deaths-344-recoveries/

Bosnia reports 448 new coronavirus cases and eight fatalities

February 27, 2021

Bosnian health officials reported 448 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, along with eight virus-related fatalities.

The country's Federation (FBiH) entity reported 383 new cases after testing 1,692 samples for the new coronavirus. The entity's Public Health Institute said they recorded four deaths caused by the virus.

The Republika Srpska (RS) region said they registered 64 new cases of the disease after testing 468 suspected samples. This entity also reported having four fatalities over the last 24 hours.

Brcko District health officials said they recorded one new coronavirus case.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnia-reports-448-new-coronavirus-cases-and-eight-fatalities/

Bosnia's RS entity to receive 20,000 Sputnik V vaccines Monday

February 27, 2021

A total of 20,000 Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines will arrive at Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity Monday, Anadolu news agency reported Sunday.

The RS authorities announced that the shipment will arrive at 11 am in Banja Luka, the entity administrative centre, and that they would be accepted by the entity Prime Minister Radomir Viskovic and RS Health Minister Alen Seranic.

These doses are intended to continue the immunization of priority groups in accordance with the COVID-19 Vaccination Plan of the RS.

So far, 2,000 doses for 1,000 people have arrived in the RS, and another 400,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V have been ordered. The first vaccine doses in this BiH entity were received by employees of COVID departments at the University Clinical Center of RS in Banja Luka, on February 12.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnias-rs-entity-to-receive-20000-sputnik-v-vaccines-monday/

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