International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Serbia’s coronavirus update: 53 deaths, 5,077 newly infected

October 17, 2021

Over the last 24 hours, 53 patients died from COVID-19-related complications and out of 15,437 tested, 5,077 were confirmed infected with the coronavirus in Serbia, the Health Ministry said on Sunday.

To date, COVID-19 has officially claimed 9,105 lives in the country. The mortality rate is 0.87 percent.

Currently, 6,629 people are in hospitals, of whom 275 are on ventilators.

Since the epidemic outbreak in March 2020, 5,999,577 people have been tested, and 1,048,835 have been confirmed positive for the coronavirus.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-coronavirus-update-53-deaths-5077-newly-infected/

Public companies in Bosnia's RS entity ended 2020 with losses of 79 million BAM

October 17, 2021

Public companies in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity, 67 of them, ended last year with a loss of as much as 79 million Bosnian Marks, according to data from the Agency for Intermediary, IT and financial services (APIF).

Those with the biggest losses are companies related to the entity’s public power company, Elektroprivreda, as well as the RS Railways company.

The list also includes companies whose founders are municipalities and cities, Capital reported.

Also on the list are public companies that the RS Government bought while they were in bankruptcy, establishing new entities on their property.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/public-companies-in-bosnias-rs-entity-ended-2020-with-losses-of-79-million-bam/

Dodik: Serbs just want what the BiH Constitution initially gave them

October 17, 2021

The Serb member of Bosnia's tripartite Presidency, Milorad Dodik, denied a possibility of a new war in the country and argued that he is acting in accordance with the Constitution with his calls for dissolving certain state institutions.

Dodik, who has been pushing for the separation of the Serb-majority semi-autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) entity from Bosnia for years, added that representatives of the RS are not doing anything in violation of the Constitution of the country which representatives from Sarajevo claim is theirs.

He accused pro-Bosnian leaders of trying to “diminish the rights of Serbs” even if it would mean war.

Dodik has recently been threatening to withdraw the agreement for the establishment of a joint army, a state court and a state-wide taxation system, which Bosnian Serb representatives agreed to in the state parliament years ago, although the Constitution which is part of the 1995 peace agreement foresees separate armies, judiciary and taxation systems for the two entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

International officials in charge of interpreting the agreement have stated that the agreement once achieved in the parliament cannot be withdrawn. Dodik, who has been advocating a breakup of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the possibility of annexation of the RS to neighbouring Serbia in the future, believes the agreements to a transfer of powers to the state can be revoked.

“The Constitution is the basis of our activities, everything is written there, it is valid. The Constitution does not say they (the state) have the right to have a court and we are fighting against it because they want to use it to take everything from us – our forests, territory, tomorrow the water and probably everything else,” he said.

“And probably the right to breathe the air they will take from us. They do not want to see us physically,” he added.

Dodik emphasized that the hatred of the Bosniak politicians toward Republika Srpska is “absurd.”

Dodik said that the leader of the main Bosniak party, Bakir Izetbegovic, “only yesterday remembered that he won’t say that Republika Srpska is genocidal, although he always said that before, most likely because he was in Banja Luka and he was afraid someone will sanction him.”

According to Dodik, Republika Srpska legally and legitimately is executing this procedure and that there is no contract in the world one side cannot cancel.

“Of course this can be done. It’s not the Dayton Peace Agreement, those are agreements that were given for the army after the foreigners forced the representatives of Republika Srpska back then to do so and that’s the essence of it. We don’t trust that system. We just want back what the Constitution has given us, nothing else, not a millimetre more,” he added.

Source: https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/dodik-serbs-just-want-what-the-bih-constitution-initially-gave-them/

Serbian Orthodox Church head on a two-day visit to Bosnia

October 16, 2021

Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Patriarch Porfirije arrived at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos in Sarajevo, where he was welcomed by the prelate of the Church in Bosnia, Hrizostom Jevic.

The SPC head is in a two-day visit to the Metropolitanate of Dabro-Bosnia on the occasion of Hrizostom marking 50 years of monastic and 30 years of episcopal service.

The Patriarch will hold liturgy on Sunday morning at the Cathedral and will meet with the mayor of Istocno Sarajevo, Ljubisa Cosic, and mayors of all six municipalities.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-orthodox-church-head-on-a-two-day-visit-to-bosnia/

State prosecutor asks for case to be formed against Dodik over threats to BiH

October 16, 2021

A BiH state prosecutor initiated the urgent formation of cases against Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, Milorad Dodik, over his recent statements containing threats to the territorial integrity and top institutions in the country.

Dodik has been telling the media recently that officials from the Republika Srpska (RS) entity will leave state institutions, that the RS will withdraw its agreements that led to the formation of the BiH Armed Forces, and reiterated threats of RS secession.

Prosecutor Dzermin Pasic told N1 that “the official duty of the prosecutor is to react.”

He said he cannot form a case on his own due to the procedure, but that the Prosecutor's Office must react due to grounds for suspicion of a criminal offence under Chapter XVI of the BiH Criminal Code, and that he sent an official email regarding the issue on Friday.

According to the Istraga.ba portal, at least four state prosecutors have requested an urgent case against Milorad Dodik, but Chief State Prosecutor Gordana Tadic did not respond to their requests so far.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/state-prosecutor-asks-for-case-to-be-formed-against-dodik-over-threats-to-bih/

SNS convincingly wins in two Serbia’s towns; Opposition claims foul play

October 17, 2021

The Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), led by the head of state Aleksandar Vucic, said it convincingly won local elections in a western and an eastern town on Sunday.

The party said it won over 70 percent of the votes in both Mionica and Negotin. In the latter, the SNS said it took 75 percent, while the opposition People’s Party, which secured 12.7 percent, said it suspected the authorities of annulling at least five percent of the regular ballots with votes for it.

It added that its members of the election boards were taken into custody during the voting without any grounds “to enable the election theft.”

In another event, an N1 crew was the first denied accreditation for covering the election but later was issued it.

Also, the Vlach minority party was denied participation for „collecting invalid signatories.“ The party said the SNS asked them to run on its list, but not as the minority organisation that it refused.

It is reported that independent observes were also banned from monitoring the voting.

The People’s Party said the Negotin’s local vote was a test and that it proved that fair elections in Serbia were impossible and announced charges.

It’s leader Vuk Jeremic pledged for one opposition list in the presidential, Belgrade and early general vote in April 2022.

The main opposition parties in Serbia warned the agreement in which the inter-party dialogue on election conditions facilitated by the European Parliament (EP) ended was not enough to secure fair voting. ,

On the other hand, SNS accused the People’s Party members of intimidating people and disturbing voting.

In Mionica, in the west, the turnout was 70 percent, out of which the SNS and Pensioners’ Party won 71.44 percent of the votes.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/sns-convincingly-wins-in-two-serbias-towns-opposition-claims-foul-play/

Serb List declares election victory in Kosovo’s Serb-majority municipalities

October 17, 2021

According to the first Exit poll results of local elections in Kosovo, in 11 municipalities mayors will be elected in the second round, while in the Serb-majority municipalities the Serb List declared its victory.

In Pristina, Arben Vitia from the Self-Determination party with his 43.7 percent, Perparim Rama from the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) with 27.1 percent and Uran Ismaili of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) with 20.8 per cent of the vote will be going to the next round.

In the second largest city, Prizren, incumbent Self-Determination Mayor Mytaher Haskuka won 39.9 per cent of the vote, while the other is Shaqir Totaj of the PDK with 35.3 per cent of the vote.
In Gjilan, there is a close battle between incumbent LDK Mayor Lutfi Haziri (46.4 per cent) but he too will go to the second round with Self-Determination candidate Alban Hyseni (40.7 per cent).

In Podujevo, the incumbent Self-Determination Mayor Shpetim Buliqi received the most votes, 47.8 per cent, but will most likely have to run in the second round with LDK candidate Ekrem Hysenikoji receiving 37 per cent of the vote.

LDK and VV are going to the second round of elections in the municipality of Vitina as well.

According to the Exit poll, the municipality of South Mitrovica will be headed by Bedri Hamza with 53.12 percent of the vote. He defeated the previous mayor of that municipality, Agim Hatiri, the candidate of Self-Determination.

In Kosovo, polling stations were closed at 7 pm, where citizens elected a new local government for the next four-year term in 38 municipalities. 1,885,448 voters had the right to vote, while 15,532 voters outside Kosovo registered to vote by mail.

The second round for the election of the mayor will be held on November 14. The total turnout in the local elections was 43 percent.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serb-list-declares-election-victory-in-kosovos-serb-majority-municipalities/

Lawyer: Removing official who uncovered Jovanjica case would represent revenge

October 17, 2021

According to the lawyer of Slobodan Milenkovic, the head of the anti-drug department of the Belgrade Police who is one of those responsible for uncovering the marijuana cultivation operation of the ‘Jovanjica’ plantation, removing him from the post would be an act of “revenge.”

Milenkovic was the one to arrest the owner of the plantation, Predrag Koluvija, who opposition parties said had connections with the brother of Serbia’s President.

The Nova.rs portal reported that the Chief of the Police Administration for the City of Belgrade, Veselin Milic, wrote a proposal for the temporary transfer of Milenkovic to the position of inspector in the War Crimes Department.

President Aleksandar Vucic told the media that he knows nothing about the official transfer of Milenkovic and that this is “not his job.”

Lawyer Zdenko Tomanovic, said that Milenkovic would be punished for “protecting the constitutional order” if he was removed from the post.

The evidence revealed by Slobodan Milenkovic and his team of anti-drug officers has become a political obstacle, and therefore, his removal would be a humiliation of the laws and institutions of the state, Tomanovic said.

„Chief Milenkovic, risking his life, together with Inspector Mitic and a large number of his colleagues, revealed the participation of high officials of state bodies and security services in the case of Jovanjica, and his removal would be revenge for his courage to apply the laws of our country and protect the legal order,” he said.

He argued that there is an ongoing campaign against those who cracked down on the case which began when the state leadership “affirmed” allegations from the person accused in the case, who said that there are political motives behind the actions of the police officers.

His statement said that, although the competent prosecutor’s office and the court are acting in the case regarding Milenkovic and his team, „no judicial institution has indicated to the authorities that the law prohibits them from evaluating evidence, evaluating statements and commenting on proceedings.”

According to the lawyer, this created the conditions for legally uncontrolled obstruction of justice due to the political risk posed by the further application of the law in the case of Jovanjica.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/lawyer-removing-official-who-uncovered-jovanjica-case-would-represent-revenge/

Serbia’s PM: We are considering methods for introduction of COVID passes

October 17, 2021

Serbia’s Prime Minister, Ana Brnabic, stated that the meeting of the government's Crisis Staff for the suppression of the coronavirus pandemic will be held in the coming week and that a method is currently being sought for the introduction of COVID passes.

There is a discussion ongoing on how to introduce such passes without leaving a possibility for abusing the system and forging those documents, she said.

„I will have consultations with the medical part of the Crisis Staff today, we are in constant contact, but today I will have special consultations, to see if we need to do anything extra,“ Brnabic told reporters at the Belgrade Fair, after she received her third shot against the coronavirus.

She said that she was „not worried about the number of people in hospitals“, because it remains up to, or below 6,500 people.

The Prime Minister added that more than 54 percent of the adult population was vaccinated with the first dose, while slightly more than 14 percent of citizens received the third dose.

She also noted that only 23.51 percent of young people in Serbia were vaccinated.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-pm-we-are-considering-methods-for-introduction-of-covid-passes/

Local election takes place in Serbia’s Mionica and Negotin

October 17, 2021

The citizens of Negotin are voting for their local government representatives at 72 polling stations, which were opened at 7 am without any reported irregularities.

The 37,313 voters in Negotin can opt for one of the six electoral lists. There are 45 local assembly seats in Negotin.

In Mionica, 10,987 citizens have the right to vote, and candidates from seven electoral lists are competing for 39 assembly seats.

No major opposition party is running in the local election in Mionica.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/local-election-takes-place-in-serbias-mionica-and-negotin/

Local elections taking place in Kosovo

October 17, 2021

Local elections are taking place in Kosovo on Sunday, with citizens electing mayors and councillors in 38 municipalities, including those with a Serb majority.

Polling stations open at 7 am and will close at 7 pm. By 11 a.m., the turnout in Kosovo was about eight percent.

Kosovo’s Central Election Commission registered a total of 32 political parties, 34 civic initiatives, one coalition and 23 independent candidates. The elections are monitored by 25,000 observers, and 1,885,448 voters have the right to vote. They will be voting for their mayors and 1,002 councillors for 38 municipalities.

According to the Central Election Commission of Kosovo (CEC), voting will take place in 883 polling stations.

There are 166 candidates running for mayors of 38 municipalities, and 5,198 people are running for municipal councillors in Kosovo.

The elections are being monitored by more than 25,000 observers from political parties, initiatives, coalitions and representatives of independent candidates, civil society, the media, as well as representatives of diplomatic missions accredited in Kosovo. The elections are also monitored by a special observation team of the European Union.

KoSSev reported that members of the Serb List in Kosovska Mitrovica went to the polls following a decision made the day before after consultations with Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic. The Serb List previously considered boycotting the election.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/local-elections-taking-place-in-kosovo/

Serbian Orthodox Church head: Sarajevo has always been a welcoming city

October 16, 2021

Sarajevo has always been an open city that welcomes all who want to visit it, Patriarch Porfirije of the Serbian Orthodox Church said during his visit to the Bosnian capital on Saturday.

Patriarch Porfirije arrived at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos in Sarajevo, where he was welcomed by the prelate of the Church in Bosnia, Hrizostom Jevic, who is marking his 50 years of monastic and 30 years of episcopal service.

“It is a very broad-minded city, open to all four corners of the world where people from different parts of the world came, brought gifts to it, but also came out of it enriched. The history of Sarajevo teaches us that after the failure and the fall, we again found ways to recognize each other and that we needed each other,” said Porfirije.

He stressed that there are few cities in the world like Sarajevo, and in Europe almost none, noting that places of worship of different religions can be found in the city within a few hundred meters from each other.

“Sarajevo has been an open city for centuries, and Orthodox Serbs in this city have been living in it since at least the 14th century and praying to God. The Church of the Holy Archangels testifies to this. But other nations that believe in the same God, but pray to that one God in different ways, have not only established their existence, but permeate each other in a true community,” Porfirije said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbian-orthodox-church-head-sarajevo-has-always-been-a-welcoming-city/

Hundreds of citizens protest against „state crime“ in Belgrade

October 16, 2021

Several hundred citizens gathered at the ‘Protest against state crime’ in Belgrade in front of Serbia’s Prosecutor’s Office building, with activist Aleksandar Jovanovic Cuta accusing prosecutor Zagorka Dolovac of ignoring alleged crimes by ministers Sinisa Mali and Novica Toncev.

Jovanovic was referring to revelations from the Pandora’s Papers project which imply wrongdoing by the two ministers.

Those gathered at the protest carried banners with phrases such as “For the right to justice“ or „Parents, where are you? This drove your children out of the country.”

At the beginning of the gathering, the organizers played audio recordings of news about the scandals of the current government.

The protest was organized by the movement Let’s Not Drown Belgrade and the Together for Serbia party.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/hundreds-of-citizens-protest-against-state-crime-in-belgrade/

Serbia’s PM says she would not agree to Kosovo’s independence

October 16, 2021

A historic agreement between Serbs and Albanians is possible, but it requires brave leaders with a vision, such as Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told Novosti, adding that she would not agree to Kosovo's independence.

Brnabic said that Serbia is under various pressures but that Vucic would not accept any ultimatums or imposed solutions.

She said that, at this stage, the European Union and the United States have not said that there would be no EU membership for Serbia without the recognition of Kosovo, but that there would be no membership without a long-term solution to the issue.

“Serbia is committed to resolving the frozen conflict, the country’s interest is in peace and stability, as well as joining the EU,” Brnabic said.

Finding a compromise that would ensure sustainable peace and stability and our European path are in Serbia’s interest, because they will ensure that we continue to strengthen economically, said the Prime Minister and stated that there are no leaders in Pristina with vision and courage.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serbias-pm-says-she-would-not-agree-to-kosovos-independence/

Izetbegovic: High Rep's silence bolsters secessionist policies in BiH

October 15, 2021

The international community High Representative in BiH’s silence to secessionist policies in the country additionally emboldens them which could lead to the destabilization in the country and the region, the leader of the strongest Bosniak party in the country, the Democratic Action Party’s (SDA) Bakir Izetbegovic said in Banja Luka, Friday, after a party leadership meeting in that Bosnian city prompted by Bosnian Serb Presidency member Milorad Dodik’s threats of possible secession of the Republika Srpska (RS) entity.

Izetbegovic noted that the secessionist policy of the ruling RS party, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) and its leader Milorad Dodik, began after the fall of the so-called ‘April Package’ of constitutional reforms which was agreed on in 2006 between the leaders of major BiH parties but was rejected in the state parliament later on.

He said that the SNSD’s policy is a “disruptive policy that constantly creates problems without which Bosnia would have had a much better standard of living and its youth wouldn’t leave the country.”

The Speaker of the BiH Parliament’s House of Peoples called the High Representative, in charge of overseeing the implementation of the civilian aspect of the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia, to monitor the situation in the country, recalling that it is his duty to react to the situation currently at hand in BiH.

“His indecisiveness and silence further encourage secessionist policies which can lead to the destabilization of the country and the region. If the OHR does not protect its latest decisions regarding the ban on genocide denial, the SDA leadership will file an appeal with the BiH Constitutional Court, citing violating of the BiH Constitution,” Izetbegovic said.

The leader of the SNSD, Milorad Dodik, said Thursday that the RS would adopt laws and amendments annulling all the previous laws imposed by the High Representative in the country, some 140 of them, and withdraw its previous consent on all the major reforms in the country such as the army reform, the reform of the fiscal council, the Indirect Taxation Authority, state police, state intelligence agency and others, returning the competencies earlier transferred to the state back to the entity. He noted that should the EU or anyone else introduce any sanctions against him or the entity, the entity leadership would declare the RS’ independence from Bosnia.

Raising the minimum wage

The SDA leader noted that it is high time the Bosniak-Croat shared Federation (FBiH) entity raised its minimum wage.
“We also concluded that the FBiH Parliament should hurry with the adoption of draft laws and amendments to the law on contributions and accompanying laws, so as to reduce contributions in order to create space for the adoption of a decree by the FBiH Government raising the minimum wage to 700 Bosnian marks (some €350). There is a lot of talk about this and it is high time that it was really done,” Izetbegovic stated.

He added that they had asked the FBiH Parliament to pass a law completing the implementation of Annex 7 of the Dayton Peace Agreement by allocating from one and a half, up to two percent, of the entire FBiH budget for this purpose, aimed at helping sustainable return to the RS, which would also help the return of Serbs to the FBiH.

Izetbegovic concluded by saying the SDA would support the joint appearance of all pro-Bosnian parties in the RS in the upcoming elections.

Source:  https://ba.n1info.com/english/news/izetbegovic-high-reps-silence-bolsters-secessionist-policies-in-bih/

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