International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

BiH's RS Const Court entity rejects request to review Law on Immovable Property

February 9, 2023

The Council for the Protection of Vital Interests of the Constitutional Court in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity rejected a request submitted by Bosniak members of the RS Council of Peoples to review whether the RS Law on Immovable Property Used for the Functioning of Public Authority is detrimental to Bosniak interests.

The law in question was passed by the National Assembly of the Republic of Srpska at the session held on December 28, 2022. Bosniak members of the RS Council of Peoples asked the RS Constitutional Court to look into whether it violates the vital national interests of Bosniaks as one of BiH’s three constituent peoples.

The RS Constitutional Court stated that the Council discussed whether there are procedural legal conditions for deciding on the law.

“In the request, the applicants pointed out, in essence, that the named law is directed against the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its institutions, that it negates the Constitution of BiH and the distribution of competencies between the state and the entities, and that in this way the vital national interest of the Bosniak people, because the Bosniak people tie their identity to the state of BiH, which was attacked by this law. Resolving the question of the admissibility of the request, the Council determined that such a request is not acceptable,” the council said, stating that it would not be in line with its rules and procedures.

It added that the applicant did not specify how the vital national interest of the Bosniak people was violated, because the explanation of the decision does not contain reasons that can be linked to the relevant provisions of the Constitution of the RS on the protection of the vital national interests of the constituent peoples.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/bihs-rs-const-court-entity-rejects-request-to-review-law-on-immovable-property/

Serbia first to ratify anti-cyber crime protocol

February 9, 2023

Serbia became the first country to ratify a protocol on cooperation in combating cyber crime at the Council of Europe (CoE) headquarters on Thursday.

“Today Serbia became the first state to ratify the Second Additional Protocol to the Cybercrime Convention on enhanced co-operation and disclosure of electronic evidence, after Ambassador Aleksandra Djurović, Permanent Representative of Serbia to the Council of Europe deposited the instrument of ratification, in the presence of Deputy Secretary General Bjørn Berge,” a CoE press release said.

It added that the protocol provides the tools needed to enhance cooperation and disclosure of electronic evidence including direct cooperation with service providers and registrars, effective means to obtain subscriber information and traffic data, immediate co-operation in emergencies or joint investigations.

The protocol updates the Convention on Cybercrime and needs to be ratified by 5 member states to enter into force. The press release said that 33 countries have signed but not ratified the protocol.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/serbia-first-to-ratify-anti-cyber-crime-protocol/

ODIHR chief, PM agree to continue cooperation

February 9, 2023

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic discussed cooperation to improve election conditions with ODIHR Director Matteo Maccacci, a government press release said on Thursday.

It added that they agreed to continue those efforts using the methods established by the Working Group for Cooperation with the OSCE and ODIHR.

The meeting with Prime Minister Brnabic came at the end of the ODIHR delegation’s visit to Serbia which included a meeting with Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/odihr-chief-pm-agree-to-continue-cooperation/

Russian Ambassador-Final status of Kosovo after end of Ukraine conflict

February 9, 2023

Russian Ambassador in Serbia Alexander Bocan Harachenko said on Thursday that the final status of Kosovo will be known after the conflict between the West and Russia in Ukraine is finished.

“The status of Kosovo and Metohija will be defined in different geo-political circumstances after the end of conflict with the West on the territory of Ukraine,” the ambassador told Beta news agency. He added that he is sure Russia will win.
He said the Franco-German proposal to resolve the Kosovo issue is not acceptable for Serbia since it “anticipates Serbia’s acceptance of Kosovo’s membership in international institutions”.

“Unlike UN SC Resolution 1244, the Franco-German proposal is not grounds for a long-term solution.. This plan, like many others, anticipates concessions from Serbia without giving anything in return. First of all, the base for the plan is that Kosovo will become member of the UN. That basically means that Serbia should recognize its independence, which the West insists on,” said the ambassador.

Kosovo was administered by the UN following the 1998-99 war, declaring independence in 2008. The Kosovo issue has been the main topic in Serbian politics and has often been used by the authorities to label opponents traitors.

Asked if Moscow will the EU plan in the UN Security Council, Bocan Harchenko said Belgrade’s attitude will be of crucial importance.

“President Vucic said during the last session of the Serbian Parliament that he refused the Franco-German plan. … I believe that there is not even the slightest chance that Serbia will accept this plan”, he said.

Asked why Russia is not more involved in finding the solution for the Kosovo issue, the Russian ambassador replied that Moscow is involved in it from “day one”.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/russian-ambassador-final-status-of-kosovo-after-end-of-ukraine-conflict/

European Council says Belgrade-Pristina normalization urgent

February 9, 2023

The European Council said on Thursday that Belgrade and Pristina need to urgently normalize relations and welcomed the European Union proposal to resolve the Kosovo issue.

“In the light of recent tensions in north Kosovo the European Council underlines the urgent need for progress in the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia through the EU-facilitated dialogue, led by the High Representative,” the Council said in conclusions from its meeting in Brussels.

It welcomed the European Union proposal “to put the relationship between both parties on a new and sustainable basis as a historic chance that should be seized by both parties, including with a view to realizing their European perspective”.

The European Council urged Belgrade and Pristina to unconditionally implement fully their obligations committed to during the EU-facilitated they dialogue, including the 2013 and 2015 Brussels Agreements to form a Community of Serb Municipalities.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/european-council-says-belgrade-pristina-normalization-urgent/

Vucic-Next trip to Brussels when CSM is formed

February 9, 2023

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Thursday that his next trip to Brussels would be when the Community of Serb Municipalities is formed.

“They have to tell me what sense the meeting (with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti) makes,” Vucic said commenting European Union High Representative Josep Borrell’s statement that he would invited Vucic and Krti to Brussels soon to discuss the Franco-German plan for Kosovo.

“If you are calling me to Brussels to convince me to say that the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM) comes with I don’t know what or after something, don’t call me,” Vucic said.

He said that Kurti’s statement that the 10 majority-Serb municipalities in Kosovo have a preferential position is “foolish and arrogant”. “He wants to identify the state-legal status of the Republika Srpska and what he calls the Republic of Kosovo. Vucic added that the statement by Kosovo Parliament Speak Glauk Konjufca that the CSM would not be formed was honest. According to him, the authorities in Pristina have finally been honest in saying that they don’t plan to form the CSM.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/vucic-next-trip-to-brussels-when-csm-is-formed/ 

Serbian Parliament adopts set of judiciary laws

February 9, 2023

The Serbian Parliament adopted laws on judges and prosecutors on Thursday as well as other judiciary laws required to amend the constitution.

The laws were adopted at the last moment under the law which says they had to be passed exactly one year after the Bill on Constitutional Amendments took effect on February 9, 2022.

Parliament adopted laws on the High Judiciary Council, Court and Judges, the High Council of Prosecutors and Public Prosecutors. MPs also passed amendments to the law on organizing and jurisdiction of state bodies to fight high-tech crime, law on jurisdiction in war crimes cases, on jurisdiction in combating organized crime, terrorism and corruption and amendments to the law on the Constitutional Court.

Justice Minister Maja Popovic told MPs that the laws are intended to remove politics from the judiciary by moving the election of judges and prosecutors from parliament to the High Judiciary Council and High Council of Prosecutors.

Opposition MPs said that the laws just alter the form of political interference with dubious criteria for election.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/serbian-parliament-adopts-set-of-judiciary-laws/

Vucic, Quint ambassadors discuss situation in Kosovo

February 9, 2023

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Thursday discussed with the ambassadors of Quint states to the OSCE Mission in Vienna and the five countries' highest diplomatic representatives in Belgrade the situation in Kosovo, the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and other regional affairs.

Vucic reiterated that Belgrade is fully committed to dialogue with Pristina, said a press release issued by his office.

The Serbian President insisted on the establishment of the Community of Serb Municipalities, agreed under the Brussels Agreement, without which the dialogue is pointless, said the press release.

Vucic and the Quint ambassadors also discussed the security situation in Europe as well as Serbia’s European integration.

The President noted that Serbia appreciates the good cooperation with OSCE as one of the most significant international organizations, as well as with its mission in Serbia, said the press release.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/vucic-quint-ambassadors-discuss-situation-in-kosovo/

No progress in negotiations until Serbia makes progress

February 9, 2023

At this point the situation is such that the European Union’s (EU) negotiations with Serbia have not stopped and no one is seriously considering halting the process, said European Parliament (EP) Rapporteur for Serbia Bladimir Bilcik, noting that it is clear that there will be no progress in accession negotiations if Serbia does not make progress on various issues.

Following the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (AFET) meeting on Thursday, at which Bilcik presented his 2022 Serbia Report, the Rapporteur said there is a big carrot for Serbia, which is membership in the EU, and that the EU is ready to help in this process. But we have to be fair, there are many tasks that we expect the Serbian partners to do and the EU is prepared to stand by Serbia as long as we believe that Serbia is with us, said Bilcik.

He said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave a moving speech at the Thursday plenary session.

That is also an important message to the Western Balkans and Serbia – we want you to stand with us, being clear about one’s positions, especially in times of war, is important, said Bilcik.

He stressed that Serbia should choose the right side which is why alignment with EU’s foreign and security policy, including restrictive measures against Russia, is so important and linked with progress in some other areas.

The Rapporteur said Serbia made progress in the rule of law, that the EU is expecting judicial reforms and welcomed the fact that the Serbian Parliament is now more pluralistic. However, said Bilcik, much more work needs to be done in order to improve democracy in Serbia and added that the EU is ready to help the functioning of democracy in Serbia.

Bilcik said the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue is the main topic is Serbia, that he is encouraged by the signals the EU is getting and that he highly appreciates Serbia’s constructive approach.

Increased tensions in Kosovo and unacceptable attacks and the shooting that occurred on Christmas Eve are the kind of events that we need to stop, he stressed.

The EP Rapporteur said that Serbia needs a European future and that the normalization of relations with Pristina will be a big step in this direction.

I hope that the coming weeks and months will bring good news that Serbia is with us, that it is moving toward Europe, that it is reconciling with and facing the difficult past and looking into the future, Bilcik said.

Asked if negotiations could be suspended over Serbia’s cooperation with Russia, Bilcik said he does not believe that the threat of suspending negotiations is a good strategy.

What Serbia needs is more friends in the European Parliament and the only way to win them is to make brave decisions, said Bilcik, adding he believes that Serbia is ready for this.

He said there was a quality exchange of opinions on his 2022 Serbia Report at the AFET meeting on Thursday, that everyone had already read the report and that the text will undergo certain changes. We will have amendments, I hope the whole process will be completed by May, Bilcik told the media in Brussels.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/bilcik-no-progress-in-negotiations-until-serbia-makes-progress/

Borrell will ask EU leaders for strong support for proposal on Kosovo

February 9, 2023

European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said he will ask at today’s EU leaders’ summit for strong support for the proposal to resolve the Kosovo issue that is “on the table.”

“I will ask the leaders for a strong support in order to avoid any kind of escalation, and ask them to work seriously on this proposal, which is the only way to try to solve and normalize the relationship between Kosovo and Serbia,” Borrell told me media prior to the meeting in Brussels.

He said he would brief the leaders about the situation of the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, about the last developments and last contacts.

“The proposal is on the table. I have been calling the two leaders [of Serbia and Kosovo] to come back to Brussels – soon, in a couple of weeks – in order to definitely push for this proposal,” said Borrell.

Noting that “we have been going from crisis to crisis,” Borrell stressed that “now it is time to de-escalate and to work constructively.”

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/borrell-i-will-ask-eu-leaders-for-strong-support-for-proposal-on-kosovo/

European Court dismisses Serbian pensioners’ lawsuit against Serbia

February 9, 2023

The European Court of Human Rights passed a decision rejecting applications of 11 Serbian military pensioners who sued the state of Serbia for reducing their old-age pensions from November 2014 to September 2018.

The court reasoned that the reduction in pension payments had been imposed by law, had not run counter to the Constitution or international treaties ratified by Serbia, had been justified by the public’s interest in ensuring the financial stability of the pension system and could be considered to be proportionate, bearing in mind a number of factors including social solidarity, the short duration of the measures and the fact that the applicants had not been made to bear an excessive burden.

Moreover, in view of the documents submitted, the Court said it had no reason to doubt that the measures had been in the public interest – to ensure the financial stability of the pension system.

The reduction followed legislative amendments introduced by the Government as part of a wider set of austerity measures and the legislation was repealed once it was considered that public debt had been sufficiently reduced, said the European Court of Human Rights.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/european-court-dismisses-serbian-pensioners-lawsuit-against-serbia/

BiH returns Uyghurs from border despite repression they suffer in China

February 9, 2023

Using the official records of Bosnia's Border Police, the Service for Foreigners, statistics from the Ministry of Security, information from the organization "Vaša prava" and the Uyghur community in Istanbul, Detektor.ba web portal confirmed that from 2018 to date, at least 17 Uyghurs have tried to pass through Bosnia and Herzegovina or stay in it. 

Two of them left the country on their own after several weeks in reception camps, five went through reception centres to Europe, while ten of them were returned from the border. 

The Asylum Sector of the BiH Security Ministry denied the mistreatment of Uyghurs but also confirmed that BiH does not have a special policy to protect this ethnic group, Detektor.ba wrote. 

In 2021, Bosnia and Herzegovina signed a joint statement at the United Nations (UN) expressing concern about the violation of rights of the Uyghur people, a majority Muslim ethnic group living in several countries, with the largest number of about 11 million of them living in the Chinese autonomous province of Xinjiang in the northwest of the country. 

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/bih-returns-uyghurs-from-border-despite-repression-they-suffer-in-china/

District head-Migrants clash in northern Serbia, two injured

February 9, 2023

Head of the North Backa District Bojan Soralov said that some twenty migrants from Afghanistan clashed near the northern town of Subotica and that two migrants sustained injuries.

„Two persons injured by firearms were found, who are suspected to have traveled several kilometers with their group. Thanks to the swift intervention of the Subotica police, the situation was put under control, a number of people were detained, while the others were transferred to the Reception Center in Subotica,“ Soralov wrote on the District’s official Facebook profile.

He added that the information was still unofficial.

He said there was uncontrolled movement of migrants in the Subotica forest.

“These are groups of migrants of five to 30 people on average, who travel many kilometers during the night, passing through a number of towns and municipalities, wanting to cross the state border illegally,” said Soralov.

He said the migrant situation in Subotica is better than it used to be and added that he will ask the Serbian Interior Ministry for additional forces to increased control of the area, primarily for the sake of additional security for citizens and environmental protection.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/district-head-migrants-clash-in-northern-serbia-two-injured/

Hill-I like that Open Balkan initiative is not imposed

February 9, 2023

US Ambassador to Belgrade Christopher Hill said that the countries of the Balkan region need to have models of cooperation, adding that the Open Balkan initiative is a very positive example.

I like it that it was developed here, in the Balkans, not imposed from the outside, Hill told the Serbian state TV (RTS), adding that the US supports this and other regional integration projects.

Asked what other challenges stand in the way of a more complete economic integration, the Ambassador said that „there are obviously political challenges – inherited problems and mistrust.“

I would say that there is a lot of historical heritage here, more than is needed, we have to find a way to overcome that, said Hill.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/hill-i-like-that-open-balkan-initiative-is-not-imposed/

German Embassy in Pristina-We do not approve of Kurti’s conditions for CSM

February 9, 2023

The German Embassy in Pristina said it does not approve of the conditions set by Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti for the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM).

“A constructive approach is important given the fragile security situation in the north of Kosovo, and preconditions should not be set,” German Embassy spokesperson Sebastian Leuschner told Gazeta Express.

He stressed the importance of the plan initiated by Germany and France, with the support of the European Union (EU).

“The European proposal, based on the Franco-German initiative, is a historic opportunity that must be used by both sides. The goal of the plan is to establish relations between Kosovo and Serbia on a new basis,” said the Embassy.

It noted that the Franco-German plan is a unique opportunity for major progress in Kosovo.

“An important part of the agreement is the establishment of the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities in Kosovo, which was agreed upon in 2013 and 2015,” said the Embassy, Kosovo Online reported.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/german-embassy-in-pristina-we-do-not-approve-of-kurtis-conditions-for-csm/

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