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International Information Centre for Balkan Studies



Serbia’s Vucic: Imagine sanctions on Russia and its support of us in return

April 26, 2021

Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia's President, said on Monday his country would have only one request for Kosovo in the meeting in Brussels on May 11 – to implement everything that had been agreed and signed so far and added Belgrade should take care about own interests when harmonizing its foreign policy with the European Union.

Speaking to Serbia’s reporters in Brussels after he met the European Union top officials, Vucic said Serbia faced some limiting factors such as its territorial integrity and did not want to work against its interests and that it wasn’t easy to lead a ‘multi-vector politics.“

„Imagine we impose sanctions against Russia every day and expect its support of our territorial integrity in return,“ he added,

He commented on what he said was  a special political issue in his Brussels talks –  „our acceptance or unification with the EU declarations.“

„At this moment, it’s just above 52 percent. I told them that certain issues are not easy for us, especially regarding Kosovo, where our strategic interests intertwine. Still, we will do our best to increase the percentage and harmonize with the EU foreign policy by up to 60 percent,“ Vucic said.

Speaking about the forthcoming resumption of the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalization of relations, due on May 11, he said it should be seen what the Albanians would demand and that it shouldn’t be expected too much from a single meeting.

But, he added, it was good to talk because only that could ease the tensions.

„We come in goodwill and believe will knock on an open door and be able to talk about essential solutions, primarily about the preservation of stability and peace and compromises for lasting peace in the Balkans,“ Vucic said.

He added that the main topics in his meetings in Brussels were Serbia’s EU integration, the rule of law, and the harmonization of Belgrade’s foreign policy with the bloc.

Speaking about the rule of law, Vucic said Serbia had additionally dealt with that and added that many more good things could be done.

„I think the European Commission (EC) has noted it, but we’ll see what its next report will say. I believe that the EC will award our additional effort by the end of June at the intergovernmental conference in Brussels. And I believe Serbia can open several chapters, i.e., the whole cluster, and two by the end of the year,“ Vucic said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-vucic-imagine-sanctions-on-russia-and-its-support-of-us-in-return/

UNHCR donates Serbia’s MUP 15 dactyloscopy systems for migrants’ registration

UNHCR donated Serbia's Interior Ministry (MUP) on Monday 15 dactyloscopy systems for migrants' registration and exchange of those data with the international community.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said all migrants in Serbia’s territory should be protected and registered, adding that migrants in the country mainly did not possess any documents on them. In contrast, if they did, the validity was suspicious.

Francesca Bonelli, UNHCR Representative in Serbia, said her organization could help MUP develop the national asylum system „in granting refugee protection to all those who need it, through fair and efficient asylum procedures and the possibility of naturalization of refugees who would like to stay in Serbia. “

„Access to a territory is the first and most important condition for protecting refugees, without which there is no international protection. UNHCR has and will always have a constructive role in managing mixed migration, following international standards, which include access to the territory and the asylum procedure,“ Bonelli said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/unhcr-donates-serbias-mup-15-dactyloscopy-systems-for-migrants-registration/

State power company in Serbia suspends worker after speaking to N1

April 26, 2021

Serbia's Power Company (EPS) suspended an employee from 'Kosovo - Obilic' surface mines after he spoke to N1 about the company's non-compliance with the collective agreement.

Sasa Bigovic, a welder, is suspended for violating work discipline, the document he sent to N1 said. The reason is said to be „the disrespect of the standards and rules of business conduct in PE EPS“.

The explanation said that „on April 11, while speaking to N1, he published footage of main production facilities TENT.“

The suspension went in place on April 22 and would last „no longer than three months.

Bigovic has the right to appeal within two months.

He spoke to N1 about non-compliance with the collective agreement for EPS workers, claiming the employees were receiving days off for overtime instead of monetary compensation, which, as he says, is contrary to the collective EPS contract.

Two days after the story was published, Bigovic and another worker addressed N1 again, saying they were offered to sign a statement giving consent to use days off instead of being paid.

Bigovic said most workers signed the statement.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/state-power-company-in-serbia-suspends-worker-after-speaking-to-n1/

Croatia logs 410 new coronavirus cases, 51 deaths

April 26, 2021

In the past 24 hours a total of 3,417 tests were conducted in Croatia, with 410 returning positive to coronavirus while 51 people died in that period, the national COVID response team reported on Monday.

There are currently 13,432 active cases in the country, 2,315 of whom are hospitalized patients and 259 of them are on ventilators.

Since the first case was identified in Croatia, there have been 323,036 registered cases of coronavirus in the country and 6,905 people have died as a consequence.

A total of 302,699 people have recovered, with 2,207 recovering in the past 24 hours.

The share of positive cases among those tested in the past 24 hours is about 12%, which is 3% less than last Monday.

There are currently 31,841 people in self-isolation.

To date, a total of 1,762,625 persons have been tested.

As of 25 April, 795,597 doses of COVID vaccines have been administered, inoculating 627,216 people.

Of that number 456,398 have received the first dose and 168,381 have received both doses, while in 2,437 cases it is not sure which of the two doses they have received.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/croatia-logs-410-new-coronavirus-cases-51-deaths/

Bosnia registers 180 new coronavirus infections, 65 COVID-19 fatalities

April 26, 2021

A total of 180 people tested positive for the coronavirus and 65 COVID-19 patients passed away in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the past 24 hours, while 902 recovered, healthcare authorities reported on Monday.

In Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity, 1,161 people were tested for the virus since Sunday and 133 of the results came back positive, while 34 died from the disease.

In the other semi-autonomous entity, Republika Srpska (RS), 336 people were tested and 43 of them positive, while 28 COVID-19 patients died.

Bosnia’s Brcko District registered another four infections and three COVID-19 fatalities.

A total of 195,971 people tested positive for the virus in the country since the beginning of the pandemic and 155,647 of them recovered so far.

The COVID-19 death toll is 8,350.

There are currently 31,974 active coronavirus cases in BiH.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnia-registers-180-new-coronavirus-infections-65-covid-19-fatalities/

Coronavirus UPDATE: 30 deaths, 1,987 newly infected in Serbia

April 26, 2021

Over the last 24 hours, 30 patients died from COVID-19-related complications and out of 11,657 tested people, 1,987 were infected with the coronavirus, Serbia's Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

To date, COVID-19 claimed a total of 6,257 lives with a mortality rate of 0.92 percent.

On Tuesday, a total of 5,318 patients were in hospitals, of whom 183 on ventilators.

Since the epidemic outbreak in March 2020, 3,787,020 people have been tested,  and 681,654 samples have returned positive for the new virus.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/coronavirus-update-30-deaths-1987-newly-infected-in-serbia/

Bosnia's RS entity receives 25,000 new Sputnik V doses

April 26, 2021

A total of 25,000 doses of the first component of the Russian Sputnik V vaccines arrived in Banja Luka Monday, intended for the vaccination of the population against coronavirus in the territory of Bosnia's Republika Srpska (RS) entity, Anadolu Agency reported.

Alen Seranic, the RS Minister of Health and Social Welfare, who welcomed the contingent of vaccines, said that some 1,300-second doses of Russian vaccines are expected to arrive by the end of the week to make up for the loss from Prijedor, where vaccines were destroyed earlier this month due to a break in the cold chain at the local Health Center caused by a power failure.

Speaking about the next quantities of vaccines they expect to arrive, Seranic said that out of 50,000 doses of Chinese Sinopharm vaccines that arrive in Bosnia, some 18,000 doses will belong to the RS.

“Vaccines from the European Commission’s EU4Health project are expected in May, and this donation will be realized via a trilateral agreement between BiH, the Republic of Austria, and the EU, meaning some 16,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines belong to the RS,” he said, adding that around 32,000 doses are expected from the COVAX mechanism for the RS as well.

All of these vaccines will be made available after the Drug Agency performs quality control.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnias-rs-entity-receives-25000-new-sputnik-v-doses/

Bosnia expects 100,000 vaccines procured through COVAX to arrive in May

April 26, 2021

A total of 100,000 Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines against COVID-19 which were procured through COVAX are expected to arrive in Bosnia and Herzegovina between May 3 and May 9, of which 65,520 will go to Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity.

Austria’s donation of 32,000 vaccines is also expected to arrive in the country soon in three shipments.

Meanwhile, China’s donation of 50,000 Sinopharm vaccines is already on its way to the FBiH entity, China’s Embassy in BiH confirmed for N1.

Of those vaccines, 30,380 will be distributed to FBiH, 18,620 to the country’s other semi-autonomous entity, Republika Srpska (RS), and 1,000 will go to the Brcko District.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/bosnia-expects-100000-vaccines-procured-through-covax-to-arrive-in-may/

Sinopharm delivers another half a million vaccine doses to Serbia

April 26, 2021

Serbia received another half a million doses of the Chinese Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine on Monday.

The shipment landed at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport where Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that Serbia has received more than 4.5 million doses of vaccine to date. Brnabic said almost more than 1.9 million people or 34 percent of the adult population of Serbia have been inoculated so far.

“Today’s shipment of half a million doses means that Sinopharm has delivered three million doses of its vaccine to Serbia which has allowed for mass inoculation,” she said.

Earlier, the head of the government e-administration office Mihailo Jovanovic said that the Sinopharm vaccine would be available for people who have not registered for inoculation.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/sinopharm-delivers-another-half-a-million-vaccine-doses-to-serbia/

Slovenian MEP: Ideas from the alleged non-paper disgusting and sad

April 26, 2021

Everything that was said to be in the alleged non-paper regarding the redrawing of borders in the Western Balkans and the dissolution of Bosnia is nothing but disgusting and sad and contrary to European ideas of building legal democratic states, member of the European Parliament (MEP) Irena Jovova told N1 Monday, commenting on the alleged non-paper proposing the so-called “peaceful dissolution” of BiH.

“The Republic of Slovenia has always played the role of a sincere friendly mediator for the Western Balkans, and it must remain so. I do not believe that such ideas can ever come to life or gain a majority anywhere, and especially not at the European level,” Jovova said.

She also stated that the ideas mentioned in the non-paper are dangerous because they are nationalistic and instil fear in people who have suffered too much.

ple want to live normally, wherever they are. People need economic reforms, the rule of law, security, a better socio-economic status, a better health care system, and that is what needs to be talked about and worked on. Right-wing leaders give headaches and work to the great detriment and destruction of their own states, and they also create problems within the European Union. I think that these topics appear in order to divert attention from important topics, government reluctance and slow reforms, and then some individuals, even from the countries of the Western Balkans, ‘bite on’ to such unfounded ideas,” she said.

“Nationalism is a cheap instrument for scoring political points is still too often used. We would all like to see more honest work and ambition when it comes to reforms that will improve the lives of all citizens. I want to assure you that the EU's position is unchanged as far as the countries of the Western Balkans are concerned, and that is – the Western Balkans, which is in the EU, where the rights of all are respected, with strong and independent legal institutions, stronger economy and excellent regional cooperation. We want to see that and that is what we all need to work on together and move away from what takes us back, and in fact, leads nowhere,” the Slovenian MEP stressed.

She also emphasized that she believes that the end of the European Union is nowhere near.

“It is true that the EU has made mistakes in terms of its foreign policy so far, but everyone is very well aware of the situation in the Balkans and everyone is investing a lot of money and support in those countries in order to implement reforms as soon as possible. The Western Balkans are very important for the EU, not only economically but also politically, and after all, it is the EU’s closest neighbors, and culture and history connect us. Ideas from the non-paper will not be the subject of discussion in EU institutions, because the European agenda of complete, independent democratic states of the Western Balkans is unquestionable,” Jovova underlined.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/slovenian-mep-ideas-from-the-alleged-non-paper-disgusting-and-sad/

EU to Serbia: Improve rule of law, media freedom; adjust foreign policy

April 26, 2021

The European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borell said on Monday the bloc expected Serbia to fulfill its reform agenda, especially in the rule of law and media freedom, adding it was also important for Belgrade to adjust its foreign and security policies with that of the Brussels since many member countries demanded it.

After he met with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic, Borell told reporters at a joint news conference, the EU was committed to the Western Balkans European perspective and that the talks in the so-called Western Balkans Brussels’ Week focused on how to speed up the process.

„There is another issue which should improve, and that is Serbia’s adjustment with the EU foreign and security policy regarding restrictive measures in line with the accession negotiation framework. Many member countries request Serbia’s stronger adjustment to the joint security and foreign policy,“ Borell said.

Vucic confirmed the two discussed the topic and added that Belgrade promised to increase the adjustment level to declarations that Serbia would agree on with the EU.

„Of course, there will be exemptions due to our difficult position, and I, as you see, don’t hide that here in front of the High Representative,“ Vucic said.

Neither Borell nor Vucic mentioned any specific part of Serbia’s foreign and security policy. Still, Brussels had said it would like Belgrade to be closer to the EU on several occasions than to Russia and China.

Both Borell and Vucic denied having seen the alleged non-paper drafted by the Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, suggesting border changes in the Western Balkans. The EC also denied having any knowledge about that.

Borell added Vucic met all other relevant officials in Brussels, including the Commissioner for Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi and the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

The meetings included discussion about the Pristina – Belgrade dialogue on the normalization of relations that Borell said could resume on May 11 and the Belgrade – North Macedonia railway, which the EU was ready to support financially.

 

Vucic earlier announced the best news for his country, which turned out to be that railway. He also confirmed talks about the rule of law, energy sector reform, and other issues, recalling Serbia managed to increase the trade with EU countries for two and a half times in the last ten years to reach 25 billion euros.

„I’m absolutely convinced that we will do much more than before and have much better results, but I also expect a fair and unbiased EU approach. I explain to them some difficulties we have regarding the Kosovo issue,“ Vucic said.

He added Serbia’s delegation „will come to Brussels (for talks with Kosovo’s team) in goodwill, and we hope to have the same approach by the other side to reach essentially important solution in the future.“

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/eu-to-serbia-improve-rule-of-law-media-freedom-adjust-foreign-policy/

Opposition leader: More to testify about sex scandal in Serbia if protected

April 26, 2021

The opposition official who revealed a scandal involving a local politician who is alleged to have forced women to trade sexual favours for jobs walked into the police station in Serbia's central town of Jagodina, to give a statement on the allegations.

Marinika Tepic, deputy leader of the Party of Freedom and Justice (SSP), was summoned to make a statement about the allegations before the prosecution decided to transfer the case to the city of Kraljevo following claims of possible bias.

She had publically accused Dragan Markovic Palma, the head of Jagodina’s local Assembly and an MP who heads the United Serbia party, a part of the ruling coalition, on several occasions of organizing the so-called bunga-bunga parties which allegedly ended with the pimping of girls and women.

After leaving the police station, on Monday, Tepic told reporters she described what she had directly learned from at least seven people, both witnesses and victims, who were ready to testify against the local strongman for allegedly forcing women in Jagodina to trade sexual favors for jobs and benefits.

„However, what I did not dare to disclose are their identities,“ she said, adding that without the protection of the victims and witnesses, she could not put anyone at risk.

„Had I disclosed their identities, I’m sure their names would have been on Dragan Markovic Palma’s desk or his phone by tonite,“ Tepic said.

She added that, according to the Criminal Procedure Code, a prosecutor had a right to secure the status of a protected witness to all and each of them.

„Regardless of the outcome, if what we have done so far has saved a single girl, that’s big,“ Tepic said to the crowd’s applause.

Markovic denied claims, asking for polygraph tests for him and Tepic, while almost 400 women employed in the town’s institutions and public services filed a joint lawsuit against Tepic for „causing panic and unrest“ in Jagodina.

A crowd of some 200 people, including opposition activists and her party leader Dragan Djilas, staged a show of support outside the police station.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/tepic-in-jagodina-to-make-statement-to-police/

Brnabic says Serbia ready for Chapter 27: Environment

April 26, 2021

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Monday that Serbia has drawn up its negotiating position for Chapter 27: Environment which she said is the most expensive chapter in the pre-accession negotiations with the European Union.

She told a meeting with representatives of the National Convent for the EU that Serbia will have to continue aligning itself with EU standards after it becomes a member of the Union. According to Brnabic, Serbia did not have any filters on its thermal power plants before 2014, adding that 600 million euros have been invested in pollution prevention systems on power plants. She said that wastewater processing facilities will now be built in 27 local communities.

“I think it’s a good thing that we’re dealing with environmental protection which is a decades-old problem which we did not have the money and time to focus on because other things were a priority,” she said.

Speaking about criticism of wind farms and mini hydro-power plants, she said that she sees no alternative to power plants “unless we want to live without electricity”.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/brnabic-says-serbia-ready-for-chapter-27-environment/

US ambassador says malignant influence blocking Serbia

April 26, 2021

US Ambassador Anthony Godfrey said on Monday that a “malignant influence” was blocking Serbia on the road to the European Union.

He told the opening of a conference on Serbia, the Western Balkans, and Western Integration that Serbia is a European country both geographically and historically and in terms of European values such as tolerance, freedom, the environment, rule of law, and innovation. “The alternative to all that is the malignant influence that wants to block Serbia on the European path,” he said.

The ambassador said that “the many people in Serbian society who are not convinced that the European path is in its national interest are the constant challenge”. According to Godfrey, prosperity, freedom, and peace in Serbia are crucial to the peace and stability of the region. He said that the United States wants Europe to live in peace and freedom and that means that all the countries that share European Union values should be part of the EU because the alternative is a constant division which makes both Europe and the Balkans weaker, poorer, and less stable, he said.

Godfrey said that the US interest is to see Serbia, as the political and economic leader in the region, continue developing as a democratic European state at peace with its neighbors. He added that rule of law and the unresolved Kosovo issue are the main obstacles on the path to the EU. The ambassador said that a lot has to be done to consolidate rule of law, fight corruption, save the environment and provide fair and transparent business operations which he said Serbia can achieve.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/us-ambassador-says-malignant-influence-blocking-serbia/

Von der Leyen: Positive rule of law developments needed in Serbia

April 26, 2021

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday that the European Union needs to see positive developments in terms of rule of law in Serbia’s EU accession process.

A post on her Twitter account following a meeting with President Aleksandar Vucic said that they discussed “the accession process where we need to continue to see positive developments in rule of law”.

It added that they discussed the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue but gave no details.

Van der Leyen Tweeted that they also discussed the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, economic recovery and the Belgrade-North Macedonia railway which, she said, the EU is ready to support.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/van-der-leyen-positive-rule-of-law-developments-needed-in-serbia/

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