International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Memorial performance for Serbian femicide victims

October 16, 2023

A women’s rights organization staged a performance in the northern city of Novi Sad on Monday in memory of 26 women killed in Serbia this year.

The Women for Change organization activists gathered at a central square in the city for 26 minutes of silence in memory of the victims of femicide. They also put up a sign saying Stop the Violence Against Women. They also wrote those words on their hands. The performance ended following the 26 minutes of silence.

The Women for Change staged a gathering to show solidarity with women in Bosnia-Herzegovina in August, laying 24 pairs of red shoes across the square in Novi Sad in memory of femicide victims in that neighboring country in 2023.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/memorial-performance-for-serbian-femicide-victims/

Brnabic denies involvement in drafting media laws

October 16, 2023

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told reporters in Tirana on Monday that she had nothing to do with the changes to media laws.

“I am the Prime Minister of Serbia. I did not change anything at the last moment. I do not work on media laws. That is done by people from the Ministry of Information and Telecommunications. I will discuss what happened and what the final drafts are with the OSCE tomorrow and the European Union Delegation as well as with all the other partners working with us,” Brnabic said.

The government drafts of two media laws have drawn warnings from media organizations both in Serbia and abroad because they would give preferential treatment to pro-regime media with national coverage and the fact that the prices for cable providers could be set by the Regulatory Body for Electronic Media (REM – a body supposed to be independent but whose members are appointed by the parliamentary majority).

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/brnabic-denies-involvement-in-drafting-media-laws/

Government denies Serbian PM refused photo shoot in Tirana

October 16, 2023

The Serbian government denied reports on Monday that Prime Minister Ana Brnabic refused to take part in a photo session with other participants of the Berlin Process Summit in Tirana.

Media reports said that Brnabic refused to take part in the photo shoot because the flag of Kosovo was displayed at the summit.

“The government of the Republic of Serbia is forced to deny the writings of certain regional and domestic media, which reported that Prime Minister Ana Brnabic refused to be photographed with other leaders during the participation in the Summit of the Berlin Process in Tirana,” a press release said and added that she was there for the photo shoot.

“Serbia once again showed that it does not pursue a policy of isolation, but that it is oriented towards cooperation and solving all outstanding issues through dialogue.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/government-denies-serbian-pm-refused-photo-shoot-in-tirana/

Vucic-Kosovo Serbs should stand in elections

October 16, 2023

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told reporters in Beijing that he would like the Kosovo Serbs to take part in coming elections but that he will support any decision they make.

“I never force anyone, nor can I, nor am I the owner of their lives and their futures. I said that I think the circumstances have changed, that it would be good if they thought about it and that I am asking them to,” Vucic said.

He said that he would support every decision taken by the Kosovo Serbs even when that decision is not good for them or Serbia. The President said that Serbia wants to see the forming fo the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM) in Kosovo along with the implementation of the Brussels Agreement which, according to him, is the only signed agreement.

The Serbian President is on a visit to China during which a free trade agreement will be signed, allowing customs-free exports of fruit, beverages and pharmaceuticals. He said that Serbia supports the Beijing’s One China policy and added that China’s support for Serbia’s territorial integrity is a given.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/vucic-kosovo-serbs-should-stand-in-elections/

Kosovo’s Kurti-Dialogue with Serbia cannot continue as if nothing happened

October 16, 2023

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said ahead of the Berlin Process Summit in Tirana that the dialogue with Serbia cannot continue as if nothing has happened.

“The next chapter of the normalization dialogue must take into account the aggressive actions of Serbia through the September 24 terrorist attack, for which there is sufficient evidence and facts on Serbia’s involvement,” the Kosovo Government quoted Kurti as saying.

“Citizens in the Western Balkans today must not live in fear of conflict tomorrow but work for a future together. We as their leaders have a responsibility to build that common future. And as leaders we must engage in that process in good faith. A bona fide commitment is required in order to ensure the long-term effectiveness of our agreements and respect to all of the parties invested in the process,” Kurti said in his speech at the summit.

The Kosovo Prime Minister said the approach to the normalization process needs to be balanced, with respect for and full implementation of the Brussels Basic Agreement and its annex agreed on in Skopje.

“Serbia should give up on the public and factual rejection of the parts of the Basic Agreement related to the de facto recognition of Kosovo and our territorial integrity,” Kurti said.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/kosovo-s-kurti-dialogue-with-serbia-cannot-continue-as-if-nothing-happened/

Vucic took off to China, set to meet Xi Jinping

October 16, 2023

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will be paying a visit to China on October 17 and 18, where he will participate in the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation that is to be held in Beijing, said the President’s Office for Media Relations.

During his stay in Beijing Vucic will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the two presidents will attend the signing of a number of bilateral agreements between Serbia and China.

On the sidelines of the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, President Vucic will have a series of bilateral meetings with the officials of countries participating in the Forum, said the Office.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/vucic-off-to-china-set-to-meet-xi-jinping/

Albania’s Rama-Nothing wrong with Serbia financially supporting CSM

October 16, 2023

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said there is nothing wrong if Serbia financially supports the Community/Association of Serb Municipalities (CSM) in Kosovo and underlined that Kosovo should persist in implementing the Franco-German plan to achieve what it aims for, and that is final recognition.

“The French-German plan is the best deal Kosovo can get because it is de facto recognition. It is a live and let live proposal and paves the way for recognition by others,” said Rama, reported Euronews.al.

In an interview with the Inside Albania podcast, Rama he sees nothing wrong with Serbia financially supporting the Community/Association of Serb Municipalities.

“Serbia lost the war and cannot imagine a military revenge. This is over! Kosovo has been recognized by a community of countries that will never allow a turning back. Never! No matter what happens! That’s the first point. Secondly, if the Association is established within the constitutional framework of the Republic of Kosovo and is the result of an agreement based on that, then it will not be a space for armed people to come and claim they are members of that Association. It will be a space for municipalities to have self-governance and support from Belgrade. Why not?,” said Rama.

Commenting on criticism from Pristina regarding the Community/Association of Serb Municipalities and a conference on Kosovo, Rama said it is important to look to the future and do everything to get closer, rather than keep thinking about the past.

“The past is over,” said Rama, adding that the way forward is very clear and that it includes working tirelessly for peace, looking toward the future and not being a hostage of the past.

Commenting on the Berlin Process Summit due to begin on Monday in Tirana, the Albanian Prime Minister said a meeting between the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo has not been planned, but did not rule out the possibility of it taking place.

“We haven’t planned such a thing, and I don’t anticipate it. Anything can happen because in situations like this, where everyone socializes, if there is an opportunity or if the leaders of Germany and France, who will be here, want to talk to them as co-authors of the Franco-German plan on the table, it might happen,” said Rama.

Kosovo will be represented at the Summit by Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbia by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/albania-s-rama-nothing-wrong-with-serbia-financially-supporting-csm/ 

“Public to prepare for complete media blackout” if government media laws are adopted

October 16, 2023

If changes to the media laws the government wants are adopted, the public should “prepare for a complete media blackout,” said N1 TV News Director Igor Bozic.

“In this case the intention of the government is to racketeer operators. Someone tells you – you have to carry channels, and on top of that you have to pay the price that I will set,” said Bozic.

The Serbian Government has introduced changes to media laws that stipulate the operators’ obligation to list the TV channels in a way that the public broadcaster’s programs and the television stations with national broadcasting licenses – Pink TV, Happy TV, B92 TV and Prva TV appear at the top. The operators will have to carry these channels, and if they fail to reach an agreement on the price with the aforementioned TV stations, it will be determined by the Regulatory body for electronic media (REM).

Bozic recalled that last year Kopernikus asked the SBB (Serbian Broadband – operator of digital and analogue cable television and broadband Internet) to pay 36 million euros for the right to broadcast its B92 and Prva channels.

The same way the REM could set “some astronomical figure” that the operators would have to pay because the state is ordering them to carry these channels.

No one knows how the price will be determined, because the REM is politically elected and there are no guarantees that any of that will be fair, stressed Bozic.

The N1 TV News Director compared this with racketeering that will drive away investors.

“I think that no foreign investor will agree to this kind of racketeering and blackmail,” he said.

The point is, he said, “that when we don’t have an operator, where are we going to broadcast our program.”

“We already know what Telekom did to us when it purchased the small operators, how they removed our program within a few months,” said Bozic.

Bureau for Social Research (BIRODI) Executive Director Zoran Gavrilovic said that “the entire process” regarding these two media laws has “one goal.”

“And that would be for the government to deal with the more democratic part of Serbia,” he said.

What is currently happening in the media sphere is the “elimination of media actors that get in the way of the authoritarian government.”

Gavrilovic explained that 70 percent of the MTS operator’s viewers and 44 percent of SBB’s viewers vote for the government, adding that “this difference hurts them.”

He presented data according to which Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic “did not have a single negative second” in the Serbian state TV (RTS) news broadcasts from September 1 to 15.

On Pink TV Vucic had 98.9 percent of positive air time, and on two TV stations (Prva TV and B92 TV) owned by a person with close ties with a member of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) Main Board, Vucic 95.1 and 96.7, respectively.

“We have sheer propaganda that the REM is not reacting to,” said the BIRODI executive Director.

Gavrilovic emphasized that the two media laws are not just a media issue, but that they determine Serbia’s democratic future, and assessed that the opposition should reconsider its participation in the elections if these draft laws are adopted.

He says this is about the right to information, which is guaranteed by the Constitution, and that, if the solutions that the government is pushing for are adopted, it’ll be – “good night.”

Bozic said the goal is “to have only a good image of the government in the coming years.”

“The public may not understand this, but they (the government) are constantly trying to present this as ‘a war of two operators.’ It’s not about that, but about stifling free speech,” he said.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/public-to-prepare-for-complete-media-blackout-if-government-media-laws-are-adopted/

Opposition MP-If this media law is passed, opposition gains right to take drastic action

October 16, 2023

If the Government’s Draft Law on Electronic Media is adopted in the Serbian Parliament, the opposition will gain the right, that is, an excuse to take some more drastic action, opposition MP Vladeta Jankovic told N1.

Jankovic told the N1 TV New Day show that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has announced elections for December 17 because things are going “downhill” for him and that he is trying to “catch an early train.”

“There are also some circumstances that are fortunate for Vucic. Remember the elections held a year and a half ago, when the war in Ukraine broke out on February 24, right in the middle of the election campaign. That cut us down. Now a war in the Middle East all of a sudden. It is a tragedy, but it is just what Vucic needed, because it averts the attention of the international community and of all those the opposition could have potentially relied on for some kind of support,” said Jankovic.

He says the outcome of the vote depends on the opposition’s opportunity to address a wider circle of voters. However, Jankovic describes the Government’s legislative initiative regarding the media as “bullying and brash.”

The electoral conditions were dreadful and now they are becoming ridiculous, Jankovic said commenting the Government’s Draft Law on Electronic Media to which two paragraphs were added in Article 122, overnight, following a public hearing, stipulating that if an operator and a broadcaster fail to reach an agreement on the price of services, the final price is determined by the Regulatory body for electronic media (REM).

If this passes, if it is tabled in the Parliament, and I am sure it will pass – I would say that the opposition then gains the right, an excuse to take some more drastic action, said Jankovic.

He voiced his opinion that the opposition should unite in the demand for five to seven minutes in all Serbian state TV (RTS) news broadcasts “until the last Thursday before the elections,” and to propose two editors who would be put in charge of this section of the news broadcasts.

This is a demand that “the Progressives’ legions will scream at,” said Jankovic, adding that, if the Government refuses this, more drastic measures should be taken.

“In my opinion, that should be a 24-hour RTS entry and exit blockade, so thing are heated up to the maximum. Without this elections are pointless (…) If the government were to take drastic measures, then that would be a whole different playing field. I know this maybe sounds dangerous, but I see no other solution,” said Jankovic.

Asked whether the opposition should maybe boycott the elections, Jankovic said it definitely should not opt for that because “we’ve already played that game and we saw how it played out.”

“When under pressure, Vucic becomes increasingly dangerous”

If this Draft Law on Electronic Media is adopted as it is, we will practically lose all independent television stations, and that would be “catastrophic,” cautioned Jankovic.

He recalled that the government withdrew draft legislation in the past only when things “got tough.”

“So I am going back to my wicked, aggressive idea – when the ground starts to shake, they withdraw, it was like that with Rio Tinto and with some other laws,” said Jankovic.

He cautioned that Vucic becomes increasingly dangerous when he is under pressure.

“He and this entire corrupt system have been cornered into a situation in which they become particularly dangerous,” said Jankovic.

His message to the opposition is that “it is important to remove this criminal regime,” following which everyone can go their own way.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/opposition-mp-if-this-media-law-is-passed-opposition-gains-right-to-take-drastic-action/

EC President calls on Serbia, Kosovo to return to dialogue

October 16, 2023

European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen called on Serbia and Kosovo to return to dialogue and noted that the Ohrid Agreement, reached in February and March, was a basis for reconciliation.

Addressing a media conference in Tirana ahead of the Berlin Process Summit due to begin on Monday, Von der Leyen said it is very important that both Kosovo and Serbia return to the table to normalize their relationship, adding that this is the only way and that the right place for this is the European Union (EU)-facilitated dialogue.

This is the path to the future, as Kosovo and Serbia will be part of the European Union, so reconciliation, cooperation, commitment are absolutely necessary and the place to do this is the EU dialogue, said the EC President.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/ec-president-calls-on-serbia-kosovo-to-return-to-dialogue/

“March for Peace in Israel” held in Belgrade

October 16, 2023

A March for Peace in Israel was held Sunday in downtown Belgrade.

The participants lit candles for the victims of the attacks in Israel, read a peace prayer and held a moment of silence for all those who have been killed.

People carried Israeli flags and a banner reading ‘March for Israel’, and photos of the killed and kidnapped.

The Haver Serbia organization said the March for Peace is dedicated to all the victims of the October 7 terrorist attack, their families and friends.

“We condole with the families of the victims as we pray for all the hostages to be released and return home,” said this organization.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/march-for-peace-in-israel-held-in-belgrade/

Largest political groups in EP to demand punitive measures against Serbia

October 16, 2023

The largest political groups in the European Parliament (EP) have completed their draft proposals of a resolution on relations between Kosovo and Serbia, and on the latest armed incidents in the village of Banjska in northern Kosovo, and will seek punitive measures against Serbia, but have differing views on whether these should be imposed immediately or only if it is proven that official Belgrade was involved in the “terrorist attack in northern Kosovo,” N1 learns from sources from these political groups.

The European People’s Party (EPP), the largest political group in the European Parliament, believes that the official Belgrade’s support to the perpetrators of the “terrorist attack” should be condemned, but they will not insist on strong wording or on a priori punishment for Serbia because of the opposition of several members of the group, which, according to N1 information, are primarily from countries that have not recognized Kosovo as an independent state.

N1 learns that the EPP and Greens/EFA agree that Serbia should be punished, but only if the investigation proves the state is linked with the incident in Banjska, while the Social Democrats are of the opinion that Serbia is de facto responsible for the September 24 events, and that it should be immediately punished for this and for its past actions that did not support cooperation or the calming of the situation.

The EPP, Social Democrats and the Greens/EFA believe that the punitive measures imposed on the government in Pristina should be abolished, learns N1, so it is expected that this idea will receive sufficient backing when formulating the final version of the resolution, despite the previously expressed position of the EU External Action Service that all the reasons that led to the measures against Kosovo have not yet ceased to exist.

Most MEPs from the Social Democrats want the resolution to include clear condemnation of the rhetoric and actions by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, believing him to be “a destabilizing factor”, however, for the time being, this is not supported by the other political groups.

There is consensus among political groups that the EP Resolution on Kosovo and Serbia should condemn the “terrorist attack” in Banjska and demand full cooperation of Pristina and Belgrade in the investigation, including the prosecution and extradition of those responsible, “strongly call on” both sides to do all in their power to reduce tensions and to refrain from taking steps that would aggravate the situation, demand that Kosovo and Serbia fulfill EU proposals leading to de-escalation and return to the negotiating table, which, they all believe, is the only way to reach a compromise that would solve all problems and permanently regulate mutual relations.

It is unclear to what extent the MEPs will lay blame on themselves, that is, on EU institutions, for the inflammation of the situation in Kosovo, because in the debate held two weeks ago most of them pointed to the responsibility of the EU primarily for the absence of results in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. The Greens even called EU Special Representative for the dialogue Miroslav Lajcak to account, however, N1 learns that they are not insisting on his name being mentioned in the Resolution.

The meeting of representatives of the European Parliament political groups at which they will present their drafts and discuss the final version of the resolution text on relations between Kosovo and Serbia and the events in Banjska, will be held Monday evening in Strasbourg, on the sidelines of the first day of the EU Parliament session. The vote at the plenary session has been scheduled for 12 pm Thursday, October 19.

The EP resolutions are the institution’s official position, but they are not binding for EU institutions or for the member states.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/n1-learns-largest-political-groups-in-ep-to-demand-punitive-measures-against-serbia/

SSP-Flyers offensive to opposition leader distributed in Novi Sad

October 16, 2023

The opposition Party of Freedom and Justice (SSP) said that flyers containing offensive language, lies and an image of its deputy leader and MP Marinika Tepic have been distributed across the city of Novi Sad.

“All the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) politics fit into a single word: violence. Physical or verbal, all the same. Violence against the unlike-minded, political opponents, media, against all who refuse to accept their life being dictated by the Progressives’ commissars. This time around, for the umpteenth time, Marinika Tepic has been targeted. Flyers with offensive content, full of lies and hatred, have flooded Novi Sad. They have not been signed, but it is clear who is behind them. As if all the Pink TVs, Happy TVs, Informers, Serbian Telegraphs are not enough. Or the lies spoken by (Serbian President) Aleksandar Vucic personally, but flyers are also printed with the same massages repeated by all these megaphones of his. And with the following message at the end – to be continued,” said the SSP.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/ssp-flyers-offensive-to-opposition-leader-distributed-in-novi-sad/

Patriarch Porfirije in Podgorica: Here, better than in other places, we know who we are

October 15, 2023

Here, better than in other places, we know who we are, which religion we are, which nation we belong to, head of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Patriarch Porfirije said in Podgorica on Sunday.

This is the birthplace of all Orthodox Serbs, wherever they are, he stressed, explaining that this is the birthplace of Serbian prefect Stefan Nemanja, the father of the first archbishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church of Saint Sava.

Porfirije also said that the Serb people lived for many centuries without their own state but never once did they give up on themselves, on what they are, on their identity.

He never left the Orthodox faith and the church, and it guided, protected and preserved him.

The Orthodox faith was the driving force, strength and inspiration of the fertile and rich creativity that the Serbian people are proud of and admired by the whole world, said Porfirije, adding that “although we are scattered around the world, we are in several countries, there is one red thread that unites us into one, and that is the Orthodox Church and faith.”

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/patriarch-porfirije-in-podgorica-here-better-than-in-other-places-we-know-who-we-are/

24th Serbia against violence protest, citizens set demands for Supreme Public Prosecutors Office



October 15, 2023

Another 'Serbia against violence' protest, the 24th in the row, was held on Saturday evening in Belgrade with citizens walking down to the Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office building.

They demand that this institution does its job and investigate all government affairs that have not had an epilogue.

The rally was held in the spirit of the news that a member of the Gendarmerie, Nenad Vuckovic a.k.a. Vucko, was in charge of a criminal group, whose members were Aleksandar Stankovic a.k.a. Sale Mutavi and Veljko Belivuk.

The opposition claims that the case was not processed because the government kept it “in a drawer.”

They also said that they were ready to fulfill all the demands presented during the gathering after the elections.

Representatives of the opposition told N1 that they are negotiating among themselves about a possible appearance in the elections on December 17. Some of them say that there are several arguments for a single column, but that it will be revealed by the beginning of November.

The protest was held on Saturday evening in the city of Kraljevo, and a day earlier, on Friday evening, in Kragujevac.

Source:  https://n1info.rs/english/news/24th-serbia-against-violence-protest-citizens-set-demands-for-supreme-public-prosecutors-office/


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